Our Own Day Here
by Richard Risemberg
Urbanist, cyclist, and sustainable transportation advocate Richard Risemberg wrote these essays between 1997 and 2014, focusing on urban life and community. Most, though not all, have to do with Los Angeles, and many were first posted on his website Sustainable City News.
An LA native, Risemberg’s observations on automobile culture, consumer culture, the Great Recession, the LA River and many other topics will resonate strongly with those who have lived awhile in Southern California, even if they disagree with some of his conclusions. The comments, anecdotes, and scenes are sharp, on point, and still relevant.
Favorite essays: “Real Revolutionaries” (those who buck the predominant automobile/corporate culture and get around LA without a car!); “Imprisoned River” (now being restored…a great look at where we started, with a few paragraphs about the Glendale Narrows); and “Rhapsody in Gray”, in which Risemberg makes a compelling case that:
America’s small-town values live on in her cities. America’s small-town culture, such as it was, vanished under the floods of asphalt we poured to float the armadas of automobiles that now dominate our lives. If you want to live someplace where you can walk to the corner for your groceries and meet your neighbor on the sidewalk on the way to work, your only chance is to move into a city, as close to its downtown as possible.
The small towns we revere in our nostalgic mythmaking were really the mid-sized cities of a less-crowded land, and few true villages ever existed west of the Appalachians, thanks to the Homestead Act’s division of the land into 640-acre plots, with each house separated from its neighbor by a country mile.
A great collection of works that truly speaks to urban dwellers, especially those of us in Southern California.