Oral Histories

Interview of Joe Linton

Early member of the Friends of the Los Angeles River and author of Down by the Los Angeles River, a guide to river walks. Member of Bus Rider’s Union; advocate for bike lanes; resident of Los Angeles Eco-Village.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Early member of the Friends of the Los Angeles River and author of Down by the Los Angeles River, a guide to river walks. Member of Bus Rider’s Union; advocate for bike lanes; resident of Los Angeles Eco-Village.
Collings, Jane
Linton, Joe
Persons Present:
Linton and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Linton's apartment at Los Angeles Eco-Village in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by reading a book on walking tours near the Los Angeles River authored by Linton called Down by the Los Angeles River, and reviewing literature produced by the Los Angeles Eco-Village about intentional communities.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Linton was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.Additional partially processed interviews are available through Library Special Collections.
Family background—Religious background—Involvement in church activities—Humanitarian activities at the church—Mother’s experience of ostracism at church—Family’s economic situation—Mother’s background—Interest in humanitarianism as a youth—Peer’s career goals—Loyalty to Occidental College—Anti-apartheid campaign at Occidental College—Inspired by fellow student Janette Sadik-Khan’s activism—Involvement in student government at Occidental—Personal growth philosophy—More on involvement in student government at Occidental—Finds role models in student government politics—More on involvement in student politics at Occidental College—Career goals—Search for direction after college—Involvement in local politics—Professional computer-related positions.
Early interest in FoLAR—Gives up his car—Impact of the automobile on neighborhoods—The importance of reconciling lifestyle and convictions—Genesis of Linton’s interest in the L.A. River—More on early interest in FoLAR—Long Beach Area Citizens Involved—Negotiates associations with diverse groups—A group of anarchists—Food not Bombs—Long Beach Organic—Bicycle Kitchen—Linton’s style of activism—More on an anarchist group—A history of living in vibrant neighborhoods prompts Linton’s interest in Eco-Village—Conflict in work styles between Linton and Lois Arkin—STREETS—Jackie Goldberg—The Station Area Neighborhood Plan—The activist background of Eco-Village residents—More on conflict in work styles between Arkin and Linton—An Eco-Village effort to save a neighborhood slated for demolition—The dissolution of the building committee at Eco-Village .
The shared streets project at Eco-Village—A bike path project for the Arroyo Seco—Relationships with L.A. City and County staff —More on a bike path project for the Arroyo Seco—Linton’s incrementalist approach to activism—Linton’s belief that one must live in the world one is attempting to bring into being for others—Changes in the culture of Eco-Village—the high percentage of Eco-Village residents that work in non-profit or community sector—The Eco-Village decision-making process—Residency policies at Eco-Village—Initial involvement with Friends of the Los Angeles River—Begins a series of river walks—A series of river events coordinated with Occidental College—More on river walks—Writes Down By the Los Angeles River—Participants in the river walks—Linton’s first impressions of the L.A. River—Early city council involvement in the river revitalization planning process.
Conflicting visions with regard to restoration of the L.A. River—L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan—More on conflicting visions with regard to restoration of the L.A. River—The challenge of balancing urban and environmental concerns—“Creek freaks” —The importance of considering the entirety of the L.A. River watershed—The first FoLAR cleanup—Ethnic make-up of the environmental movement—FoLAR outreach to ethnic communities—Lewis MacAdams' stewardship of FoLAR—The battle over the Cornfields—The Bus Rider’s Union (BRU) —BRU pressure on the MTA to fulfill a commitment to running CNG busses—Decline in seating capacity of MTA system redressed by BRU through a lawsuit—The request by the City of Manhattan Beach to eliminate bus service from South Central L.A. to the beach—The MTA tendency to invest in large capital projects—The goals of Livable Places—The challenge of building affordable housing in L.A.—More on the goals of Livable Places—The revitalization of downtown L.A. —The participation of celebrities in the environmental movement—The tendency of media to focus on an individual activist rather than the activity of the collective—Bike culture in L.A. —Mentors.