With the main Occupy L.A. encampment having come to an end, there are many questions regarding what it all meant — what it meant for the community and what it meant for similar movements striving for social change. The meaning and effects will take a long time to be clear.
Events like these need the perspective of hindsight to be fully understood and put into adequate context.
Some ancillary effects, however, are already becoming obvious.
In Skid Row, the Occupy Skid Row festival demonstrated the movement’s ability to inspire others.
Even more apparent is the physical effect Occupy L.A. had on City Hall. Several weeks of camped occupation have left the front lawn badly damaged.
The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks has created a website for three proposed solutions to the City Hall lawn problem. Of the three, one actually shines: It fixes the damage and allows for further positive alterations.
The first plan would be to renovate the north lawn with decomposed granite and native plants. After the grass grows back, it would be essentially the same.
The second proposal, which has already won a straw poll in a neighborhood council meeting, suggests extensive incorporation of drought-resistant and water-saving plants into both lawns while maintaining a comparably sized lawn for events.
The third and most drastic plan entails the widespread planting of native plants, except in the paved walkways, and keeping the remaining lawn space scarce.
The second plan is the clear frontrunner. It can truly bring concrete, positive change in the wake of the eviction of the Occupy L.A. evictions on Nov. 30. The installation of drought-resistant plants — while maintaining the general configuration of the lawn — helps on two fronts.
First, it is sensitive to Los Angeles’ water shortages.
Of course, this is not saying that a few water-retaining plants are going to solve the problem, but every drop helps when the temperatures rise and the humidity plummets in the summer, and what better place to set an example like this than City Hall, the center of Los Angeles?
Second, the preservation of an open lawn helps send the message that, although Occupy L.A. was evicted, City Hall is by no means attempting to restrain the constitutionally given right to assemble, even in the same place that played host to what they probably saw as a nightmare during Occupy L.A.
By contrast, the first proposal ignores the possibility of improvement Rebuilding the lawn to its original set-up would be fine, and it’s certainly the safest option. The local neighborhood council has shown, however, that this can be seen as an opportunity.
The third proposal seems to take it to the other extreme, overhauling the configuration of the lawn and at the same time ignoring the double benefits of promoting water conservation and tacitly endorsing the right to assembly.
The second proposal must continue its path toward implementation. It makes an opportunity out of one of Occupy L.A.’s negative externalities.
For some time, the famous movement will be shrouded in ambiguity.
If this step forward can be taken by City Hall, however, then it could be said that, in a way, Occupy L.A. has already helped achieve one tangible improvement in the city — albeit not the intended one.
Daniel Grzywacz is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience and anthropology. His column “72 Degrees and Shaking” runs Wednesdays.