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Water Stewards Procession in Los Angeles State Historic Park

A bright sunny day along a gravel path in a park. The path is full of people dressed in traditional Japanese robes, most of whom are also carrying paper parasols and other shade. In the background are several folks holding support poles for a light blue ribbon of fabric representing the Los Angeles River.
Procession Community Event at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Led by Lazaro Arvizu Jr., Tina Calderon, and Nobuko Miyamoto. Photo by Fulcrum Arts.

The sun was blazing, but that didn’t stop 600 community members in Los Angeles from embarking on a unique civic journey with Procession, a moving arts festival that traced multiple historic paths of the Los Angeles River. This dynamic social art project celebrated the vital importance of water through three walking performances across the city streets, converging at the iconic Los Angeles State Historic Park.  The performance was led by local artists, including members from multiple tribal communities.

Orchestrated by artists Debra Scacco and Joel Garcia, Procession has been five years in the making, with a goal of building awareness of both natural and cultural resources that have been erased from the urban landscape, as well as growing a sense of unity around global issues such as climate change. (Source)

Lazaro Arvizu Jr. (Gabrielino/Tongva), Tina Calderon (Gabrielino/Tongva, Chumash, Yoeme), and Little Tokyo’s Nobuko Miyamoto guided participants along the river’s former paths, with each artist sharing their distinct cultural practices and traditions along the way. Community members carried light-weight sculptures representing local river flora and fauna, to highlight the importance and sensitivity of riparian ecosystems such as the L.A. River’s, which have largely been destroyed. Read the artists’ statement about Procession here, and find local news coverage here.

A parade of people walk down a dirt path surrounded by lawn and trees on a sunny day, with the downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background. Parade leaders are wearing kimonos and carry paper umbrellas and a long white banner on poles.
Little Tokyo’s Nobuko Miyamoto guides participants along a former path of the L.A. River. Photo by Stephanie Campbell.
On a large park lawn are three large white open shade tents with no sides. 50+ community members are milling about, some with white paper umbrellas. The downtown Los Angeles skyline is visible in the distance.
An overview of Procession participants with the Los Angeles cityscape in the background. Photo by Stephanie Campbell.