Oral Histories

Interview of Miguel Luna

Principal in DakeLuna Consultants, an urban design consulting group. Stream restoration specialist for Heal the Bay, founder of Urban Semillas, and creator of youth-oriented educational courses on watershed issues known as “Agua Universities."
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Biographical Note:
Principal in DakeLuna Consultants, an urban design consulting group. Stream restoration specialist for Heal the Bay, founder of Urban Semillas, and creator of youth-oriented educational courses on watershed issues known as “Agua Universities."
Collings, Jane
Luna, Miguel
Persons Present:
Luna and Collings.
Place Conducted:
DakeLuna office 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, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by attending the panel discussion series Just Add Water, co-sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and reading relevant primary and secondary sources, among them the “Aqueduct at 100” issue of Boom: a Journal of California.
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. Luna was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
3.5 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.
Early life in Colombia includes family trips to a local river--The family water rationing system--Luna learns an appreciation of the importance of water from his grandmother--The family move to San Diego and on to LA--Lives in Columbia for several years as a teen--Maintains the household water tanks as a teen--The above ground cisterns in the town--Changes in the thinking of Angelenos about rain water--The impact of the drought as a factor in changing minds about water--The Army Corps of Engineers' work on the LA River--Luna's background in computer science and commitment to community organizing--Brings experience as an organizer to Heal the Bay (HTB)--Interest in stream restoration, water quality monitoring, and geographic information systems mapping--A special focus on reaching monolingual Spanish speaking communities, particularly youth--Works in Compton and South Gate on LA River issues--Collects baseline water sampling statistics from Compton Creek while on the HTB Stream Team--Community engagement in the Compton Creek Watershed Management plan--The issues surrounding both the financing of environmental improvement plans and the spending of the monies--Ensuring that bond and proposition money be spent in disadvantaged communities--Assembly Bill 41, which allocates funds to state parks to increase recreation space in park-poor areas--Assembly Bill 8530 proposes a working group to form an LA River revitalization master plan for the lower reaches of the LA River--The principle that every green space be an opportunity to capture storm water--The group Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL)--A high level of knowledge about water issues among local electeds--The new style of politics mandates a high level of community engagement and response to community concerns--The importance of park space for non-affluent families to use as recreation and relaxation space--The importance of empirical data for decision making--Mayor Eric Garcetti's "back to basics" election campaign.
Works with The River Project on Tujunga Watershed Coordination--The development of a Master Plan for the Tujunga and Pacoima Wash--Engagement with stakeholders in order to elicit feedback on the plan--Community concerns about long-term maintenance for watershed projects--Concerns of Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding flooding--Luna’s belief in the importance of rivers and streams for recreation in an urban environment--Develops Tujunga Watershed University, held at LA Valley College--Develops Urban Semillas out of an interest in bringing the Tujunga Watershed University work to monolingual Spanish-speaking communities--Raul Macias, founder of Anahuak Youth Soccer Association-- Lupe Vela, senior staff to Council District 1 Councilmember Ed Reyes--Reyes' pivotal role in revitalizing the Master Plan--Urban Semillas focuses on community engagement along the LA River--Informing the community and neighborhood council about the LA River Master Plan--Reyes hold first Youth Summit for the LA River--The Alianza de los Pueblos del Rio c(onsisting of Anahuak Youth Soccer Association, the William C. Velasquez Institute, Mujeres de la Tierra, The City Project, UCLA’s Remapping LA)-- Community responses to engagement and outreach--The great debt owed to Dorothy Green for her work on water issues and the effectiveness of Dorothy Green’s presence and approach--The contribution of Lewis MacAdams to the conversation about water in LA--Collaborates with Raul Macias, founder of Anahuak Youth Soccer Association--Develops Agua University, focused toward youth, with Macias--Techniques for building relationships and conducting community reconnaissance--The Elmer Avenue Project, a pilot Green Streets project--The importance of cultivating relationships in realizing projects--Willingness to engage in community concerns on the part of Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as TRUST South LA, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Pacoima Beautiful--The Urban Semillas' work, which includes policy work and an education component--Partners with Pacoima Beautiful on an iteration of Agua University--The DakeLuna Consultants business venture--The Real Vistas project--DakeLuna work with the California Conservation Corps on community gardening.
Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL)-- WELL conferences and workshops--The need to look at consumer demand for water-intensive crops--Recent improvement in being able to know how much water there is in California and how it is being used--Changing attitudes toward water conservation--The challenge facing the state with regard to water issues--Discussions at WELL about implementation of water capture and conservation plans--Fracking as an example of an issue that creates divisions and distrust--Ways that WELL participants have put what they have learned into practice--The growing water restrictions as the drought continues--An Arbal University class through Urban Semillas, in concert with the LA Conservation Corps and the UCLA Institute of the Environment, works to calibrate satellite data on tree canopy in the LA area--Eleven thousand years of tree ring data from trees in the Sierras--The challenge of talking about climate change outside of the scientific realm--The role of desalination in the water crisis--The increasing amount of conversation among water stakeholders--Governor Jerry Brown’s actions to settle differences among water stakeholders--Dorothy Green's vision of integrated regional watershed planning--LA's record on water use and capture--The need for better relationships between environmental groups and environmental justice groups in LA.