As of Today 21784 Blog Posts

posted on 09.01.09

"LA-based geographers, environmental and art historians, artists, curators, architects, and others – who aim, with both wit and a healthy dose of sincerity, to facilitate creative, critical, head-on, oblique, and crisscrossed investigations into our sprawling metropolis and its various ecologies. Fashioned as a mobile and site-specific interpretive force, and appropriating the figure of the stereotypic park service ranger, we offer educational campfire programs and guided hikes throughout Los Angeles." -from L.A Urban Rangers website:

What better place than Los Angeles to have been the genesis for 'urban rangers'?  A sprawling manufactured city with few monumental or representative buildings, mostly a collection of places surrounded by a dramatic topography of mountains, ocean and desert but filled with fauna from around the globe with few indigenous species.  The L.A. Urban Rangers have stepped in to make sense of this city that seems to have been created purely to be a gigantic set.  Whether helping city dwellers to navigate the narrow legal path between the public beach and oceanfront mansions in Malibu or the joys of instructional stories around the campfire on empty lots, the Rangers are always there to explain, discuss and educate. 

This survey of L.A. Urban Rangers activity over the past few years gives a sense of their mission and approach.  On the website guides are available to download and links provided for the like-minded organizations that have hosted them.  Although the Malibu excursions are now over you can email them to get on the list for future events.  (tv)


Malibu Public Beaches
Summer 2007 - present

Tired of Zuma and Surfrider? Want to find and use the other beaches in Malibu--The twenty miles that are lined with private development? These safaris show you how to find, park, walk, picnic, and sunbathe on a Malibu beach legally and safely. Each safari visits two different beaches. Skills-enhancing activities include sign watching, trailblazing the public-private boundary, a no-kill hunt for accessways, and a public easement potluck.


SITE2F7 Ontdekkingstocht
Summer 2008

The Los Angeles Urban Rangers create their very first trail system in Almere, Netherlands, in collaboration with the Museum De Paviljoens' SITE2F7 Festival and artist Maarten Vanden Eynde of Enough Room for Space. Almere is one of the newest and fastest growing cities in the Netherlands, built over the last three decades on the Flevoland polder's reclaimed sea bottom. Mowed in collaboration with the city's landscape maintenance crew, our modest pathway system encourages visitors to explore the vacant lot surrounding the contemporary art museum, named SITE2F7, the last urban wilderness remaining in hyper-planned Almere. Signage marks the intersections where trails extend from established concrete sidewalks and asks visitors to ponder questions such as “who decides what grows here?” and “when can a dead end wander?” With special guests including a botanist and a forester, Ranger Sara Daleiden led an ontdekkingstocht, or “explorer's hike,” for museum visitors and local residents on August 23, 2008, with particular attention to the panoramic and close-ups views the site affords.


Animal Estates Guided Estate Tour
2008 Whitney Biennial

May 25, 2008


What does the mighty bald eagle – with eye like telescope and magnifying glass – have to teach us about the power of vision? Join Ranger Emily Scott in surveying New York’s most recently discovered eagle’s nest, perched atop a rocky outcropping above the steady flow of Madison Avenue, with spectacular views of the Whitney’s soaring granite cliffs. Tour will begin at 1pm in the museum lobby; field notebook and binoculars recommended.


Fair Exchange
Curated by Irene Tsatsos

September 8 - October 1, 2006

In addition to leading weekly hikes through the L.A. County Fair -- a haven of lively farm animals, deep-fried delicacies, carnival rides, and hard-earned blue ribbons -- the Los Angeles Urban Rangers have created a self-guided tour. Both are intended to offer orientation to the fairgrounds, but also to stimulate idiosyncratic exploration and mental map-making on the part of fairgoers.

Theodore B. Modra, First Los Angeles County Fair (1922)


June 7, 2006, 5-8pm

Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
6522 Hollywood Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90028 | 323.957.1777

The Los Angeles Urban Rangers explore the ambiances of legendary Hollywood Boulevard and how this urban trail constructs the Hollywoodness of Hollywood. Ours is one of three presentations for Hollywood Confidential, an evening event co-hosted by LACE and Woodbury University on the occasion of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention. Other presenters: Margaret Crawford and Teddy Cruz

Interstate: the American Road Trip
Curated by Alyson Baker and Andrea Zittel with Robyn Donohue and Shaun Caley Regen

For Interstate: the American Road Trip, we developed a series of public programs, a customizable Interstate Road Trip Specialist Field Kit (including a copy of our Field Guide to the American Road Trip), a West to East reverse pioneer road trip, and an Interstate billboard for the entrance at Socrates Sculpture Park. All are intended to facilitate sharpened observational skills for reading 21st century roadside geographies, particularly in light of the ever-increasing standardization of the American landscape (the Interstate Highway System – begun in 1956 and characterized by consistent speeds, straightened corridors, limited access points, and repetitive models of urban development and architectural design – is emblematic).

Everyday Wastelands and Other Attractions

February 27, 2006

College of Architecture and Planning I University of Colorado, Denver

For the Los Angeles Urban Rangers' Rocky Mountain debut, Emily Scott presents "Everyday Wastelands and Other Attractions," about artists' and architects' commonplace taste for ugly, mundane, and wasted landscapes. How and why, she asks, have such sites served as a foil, or critical counter-destination, to scenic 'natural' spaces in recent decades? How is history inscribed in the landscape, or does landscape function as a vivid cultural index? How might investigations into our landscape attractions, fantasies, stereotypes, and aversions help us better interpret subtle nuances of history, politics, and culture?

The Urban Picturesque, or Lure of Empty Lots

April 24, 2005

‘Construction Site’ by Temporary Services
Vacant lot on Sunset Blvd. between Alvarado and Park
2014-2022 Sunset Blvd. I Los Angeles, CA 90026

Gather round the fire to learn more about The Urban Picturesque, or Lure of Empty Lots. Rangers will also be on hand for informal tours of the site itself. Marshmallows provided; bring your own beer and wienies.



Campfire Talks and Guided Hikes
Art Center's Wind Tunnel, September 18 - October 16 2004

Los Angeles Urban Rangers initially formed for the 2004 GardenLAb Experiment – a large-scale ecology-themed exhibition at Art Center College of Design, curated by Fritz Haeg and François Perrin – for which we created a relatively simple installation space with faux campfire circle and log benches; produced the limited-edition Los Angeles Urban Rangers Official Map and Guide; and organized a series of public events both within the exhibition space and throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Thoreau Goes to Los Angeles

How can we write about nature in L.A.? Why have nature writers shunned this megalopolis? Why should L.A. in fact be a mecca for nature writing? Why would an interest in cities save nature writing from being so terribly boring? Ranger Jenny Price explores these questions and more as she surveys a wide range of urban nature stories that this literary genre has entirely ignored. Join her as she describes our connections to nature in L.A. through such topics as mango body whips, murdered chihuahuas, the social geography of L.A.’s air, and the saga of the L.A. River – which is arguably the most important L.A. nature story of all.

End Landscaping: Los Angeles Freeway Gardens

Everyday, countless Angelenos whiz along the freeway at many miles per hour without noticing the landscaping at their side. Join Ranger Emily Scott to learn more about who manages these edgy green spaces, which plants cover the more than 8,000 acres of sinewy freeway “gardens” in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, why various flora are chosen for their ornamental value and/or abilities to endure drought, buffer sound, control erosion, resist weeds, and even counterbalance auto emissions. Discover, also, the wonderful world of “transportation art,” intended for maximum community pleasure and minimum driver distraction. Finally, consider how and why these areas – first pitched as ideal picnic stops for leisurely Sunday afternoon excursions – are now almost entirely access controlled, or off-limits to embodied exploration and occupation.

Los Angeles and the Nature of Time

How we experience time in Los Angeles is structured by everything from cell-phones, which seek to minimize it, to movies featuring natural disasters in town, which seek to maximize it. Both are examples, however, of living only in the present. Ranger Bill Fox will help us rediscover time across a longer spectrum in Los Angeles – from the La Brea Tar Pits to the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks to the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Along the way we’ll detour into the human neurophysiology of time, how to make lava for Hollywood, and why Los Angeles has the largest collection of faux classical Italian sculpture in its gardens.

Hunting and Gathering in the Big City

Often when we think of hunting and gathering, ancient or “traditional” cultures come to mind. In many of America’s greatest cities, however, the urban poor still forage for wild and domestic food simply to meet their daily caloric needs. These resources are not just limited to discarded trash, but include wild and feral urban animals such as birds, cats and dogs, fish, and rodents. In cities like Los Angeles, those without daily food security may also be forced to trespass onto private property in order to collect fruits, nuts, and other edible plants. Join Ranger Pete Alagona as he explores L.A.’s networks for finding, collecting, sharing, and preparing these urban foods. How do these foraging activities change traditional notions of human ecology, hunting and gathering, and ecological resources? And what do these practices – and our reactions to them – say about urban America today?

Toxic Tourism in Los Angeles

Ranger Donna Houston explores the toxic history of Los Angeles from the perspective of environmental justice. Participants will learn about the history and politics of environmental justice activism in Los Angeles as well as become acquainted with some important sites of environmental struggle via a virtual toxic tour of the city. Toxic touring is a way of reclaiming landscapes blighted by industrial pollutants and wastes as places of community and cultural memory. Toxic touring involves developing different strategies for ‘walking in the city’ in order to recover histories suppressed through the often violent reorderings of L.A.’s urban and industrial landscape.

Alley CAT (a special guided hike, departing from and returning to the Wind Tunnel):

Led by Ranger Chris Kahle, the alleyCAT tour will explore several alley sites located between Art Center’s Wind Tunnel exhibition space and downtown Los Angeles. This is both a driving and walking tour with multiple stops, so be prepared to carpool/caravan and hit the alley trails. We will encounter illegally dumped trash, graffiti and tagging, as well as sublime views and wildlife. Your ranger will lead you on an encounter of these urban landscapes to spark discussion on their current state and provide a forum for participants to share their own reactions and visions. Alleys are a world away right behind our homes, a lesser-explored touch-point between public and private urban space.

Industrial Habitat: The Baldwin Hills

Did you know that the only canine that can climb trees lives in the very heart of Los Angeles? Ranger Therese Kelly will share the story of the rare Gray Fox whose crazy feats also include living amongst 400 bobbing oil derricks in a massively degraded habitat. The Baldwin Hills – heavily industrial yet ecologically fragile – is set to become the largest urban park in state history. Rising 500 feet above the L.A. basin, the Baldwin Hills command impressive views to the Santa Monica Bay, the San Gabriel Mountains, the whole of developed Los Angeles, and even Point Dume. Come learn about this fascinating brownfield site in the middle of the city, which supports a rich array of native plants, insects, and animals.

Sustainability vs. Sprawl: Revisiting Banham’s Four Ecologies

Long maligned as the poster child of smog, sprawl and unsustainable development, Los Angeles has in the past few years surprisingly emerged as a leader in “green” urbanism. The three “greenest” buildings in the U.S. are located in Los Angeles, pioneering efforts in integrated watershed management throughout the L.A. River basin, locally-based efforts to reclaim abandoned industrial lands for parks, gardens and open space, and innovations in transit planning in the L.A. region are just a few of the growing number of important “green” designs, plans and policies shaping the city. Join Ranger Alan Loomis as he explores the beaches, the foothills, the freeways, and the flatlands of Green L.A.


“For those who like Fritz Haeg, host of Animal Estates, he will be in NY with tents set up at X-Initiative on September 16th. He'll be celebrating the release of an awesome book, The Sundown Salon Unfolding Archive. ”
Posted over 5 years ago
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