Huffpost Impact
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jason Foster Headshot

The LA River Connects Us All

Posted: Updated:

On Wednesday night, the Ignition LA Campfire brought together people from all over Los Angeles to hear the personal narratives from eight young people that had participated in the Ignite Good training over the past weekend. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the speakers. I was also unlucky enough to be chosen to close the event. To bring everyone together to close the event and show how my organization the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation is working to revitalize the LA River and its surrounding communities. How the possibilities for the future of LA are what makes this city great. And how Los Angeles does not have to be known as the city that exports all our great ideas through film and music.

Like many of you have felt it you've ever done public speaking, my speech did not go as planned. The power of the speeches before me caused me to drift from that topic and speak more about my personal journey to Los Angeles. How the unemployment after graduating from Howard University, the recession and my parents losing their home has cause me to work in the non-profit sector through organizing, youth mentoring, and affordable housing. Acknowledging we all have struggled in some way since 2008, but everyone at the Campfire event was there because they believe in the possibilities of the future.

Like after any speech, I had some speaker's remorse. I realized that I did not mention how the LA River connects us all to the possibilities of a new Los Angeles and a new way of finding solutions to the problems that each of us work to solve everyday. Our river could give Chris a blank canvas to display public art in south LA. Our river could give G the place she needs to bring people together to talk about how to make LA a safer city for its young people. Our river could give Tiffany's mentees a way to exit their lives of hardship through a kayaking trip. Our river could give Kelly the perfect backdrop for her I'm Just Like You Campaign. With all the various causes that we have in our hearts, we can all use the LA River in our work. I understand that I could ask all of you to support our Greenway 2020 Campaign to connect all 51-miles of the LA River with a bike path or sign our petition to support AB 1922 and greenways in Los Angeles. But I want to ask you to use the river to connect with what YOU are passionate about. Help me revitalize the river in the hearts and minds of people in this city through sharing your talents.

This is the power of the Ignite Good organization. I no longer feel the speaker's remorse from last night will be permanent. I now understand that my personal narrative is an ever-evolving story with many characters, twists, and turns. The missed opportunity from last night only opened the door to another opportunity today.

If you are in Philadelphia, please apply to attend the next Ignite Good training happening May 2-4.