Smits Joins PBS's
"Edens Lost & Found" Series
Fresh from the West Wing, where his character was elected president
of the United States last season, actor Jimmy Smits is speaking
up his adopted city of Los Angeles. Smits will host a PBS special
titled "Edens Lost & Found" airing January 11, 2007
on KCET (28) at 10 p.m.
The hour program reports on the environmental transformation of
Los Angeles from a poster city for smog and pollution to an emerging
role model for metropolitan areas trying to correct disastrous urban
planning decisions of prior generations.
"Edens Lost & Found", a four-part special PBS series
about restoring the urban environment and improving the quality
of life in American cities premiered in May 2006 with hour-long
programs on Chicago and Philadelphia. The series turns west this
winter with programs devoted to Los Angeles and Seattle.
Smits says in the hour-long episode: Los Angeles: Dream a Different
City, "Like many Angelinos, I wasn't born here. I chose Los
Angeles. My heart may be in Brooklyn, but my dreams live here. Sure,
I can recite the litany of reasons why L.A. is a stupid place to
live: earthquakes, smog, droughts, floods, fires and the gridlock
that links hundreds of miles of urban sprawl,"? he concludes.
But he sees encouraging environmental progress in Los Angeles,driven
in part by organizations of citizen activists like TreePeople, "Can
the hope and future of a city begin with such a simple act as planting
a tree?" Smits says. "I believe it not only can, but already
has. Hey, I'm from Los Angeles, the home of the happy ending."
LA made smog and pollution into household words. No longer. "Edens
Lost & Found" tells the stories of LA citizens who have
said enough, including the city's 24/7 Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa,
who understands that environmental justice, public health and quality-of-life
are all integral as Los Angeles moves into the 21st century. Andy
Lipkis, who founded TreePeople, is working with the Mayor to plant
one million trees in the next decade. Darrell Clarke, Co-Director
of Friends of the Expo Line, has spent nearly two decades convincing
the city to build the first east-west light rail line in Los Angeles
in 50 years. Friends of the LA River and the Rivers & Mountains
Conservancy are reclaiming the Los Angeles River.
The community-based program Girls Today Women Tomorrow in Boyle
Heights is helping young Latinas to see a bright future, building
their self-esteem to stay in school and connecting them to nature
with a community garden that has transformed from a former dumpsite
into a vegetable producing community park.
"Edens Lost and Found" is an ambitious multimedia project
created and produced by Santa Monica based The Media & Policy
Center Foundation in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting.
A companion book titled Edens Lost & Found: How Ordinary Citizens
Are Restoring Our Great American Cities was written by Executive
Producers Harry Wiland and Dale Bell and published by Chelsea Green
Publishing in Spring 2006. A project website www.edenslostandfound.org
is a growing resource that offers free downloads including the project's
community action guides and teacher's guide. An Academic Curriculum
for high schools and community colleges has been written and will
be available in later 2007. A sustainability certificate program
will be available online and through institutes of higher education.
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