Restoring the Los Angeles River as a welcoming and picturesque location was the focus of Megan Whalen’s ’08 summer internship with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan.
Considering a career in architecture and urban planning, she found the internship to be well-suited to her interests. The plan strives to improve the quality of the water, which has become polluted by run-off from nearby rivers and industries. The plan also organizes efforts to make the river more accessible to members of the community through parks and housing projects.
“River revitalization projects present issues that a lot of cities in the world are dealing with, Whalen said. “L.A. is a perfect palette, so to speak, to learn from, as it is an example of how you can really make a difference.
Her chief objective this summer was to “make the plan not be forgotten, and she worked alongside Project Manager Carol Armstrong to get the plan accepted by the public. This involved interacting with various organizations and railways that will be affected, as well as trying to acquire parcels of land to be transformed into parks and greenways. She also accompanied Armstrong to meetings regarding the plan at City Hall.
In addition to witnessing how an extensive river revitalization project gets into motion, one of the most rewarding aspects of the internship was working with the staff including Armstrong. “They were helpful, encouraging, and an inspiration as to what a strong work ethic and unwavering dedication to the cause can accomplish, Whalen said.
“It was really nice to be around people who cared about things I did, and worked hard to get the things they wanted, she said.