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Jimmy 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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