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Proceedings of the PetroLA Symposium: Energy and the Development of Southern California are now available online in a special issue of Progressive Democracy.

Articles include:

Collected with an overview essay written by Char Miller.

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives

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Signal Hill, Long Beach. Oil fields and homes. Detail from a postcard circa 1926. Image from Digital Collections, Loyola Marymount University Library.


In conjunction with the exhibition Petrochemical America: Project Room at Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona College will host PetroLA on October 10 & 11, featuring a distinguished panel of historians, scientists, and policy advocates who will examine some of the ramifications of the oil industry on the region—past, present, and future.

The event begins Friday, October 10 at 7 p.m. with the screening of How to Look at a Southern California Sunset, a student documentary on regional air pollution, produced by Travis Wilkerson of the Pomona Media Guild.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., the PetroLA symposium presents:

  • “‘Sacrificed on the Altar of Oil:’ Los Angeles’ Uneasy Relationship with Petroleum,” Nancy Quam-Wickham, professor of history, CSU Long Beach
  • Black Tides of Change: The Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969 and its Consequences, Roderick Frazier Nash, America’s foremost wilderness historian, author of books including The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics, and professor emeritus of Environmental Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara
  • Petrochemical America: Picturing Cancer Alley, Kate Orff, SCAPE founding principle and associate professor of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University;
  • Air Quality, Greenhouse Gases, and Energy in South Coast Basin, Aaron Katzenstein, climate and energy program supervisor, South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • Fracking in Southern California: Protecting Our Communities From Risky Oil Development, Damon Nagami, senior attorney and director of the National Resources Defense Council Southern California Ecosystems Project
  • Convener: Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College and the author 10 books including Public Lands, Public Debates: A Century of Controversy and On the Edge: Water, Immigration, and Politics in the Southwest.

PetroLA is held in collaboration with the Pomona College Museum of Art’s presentation of the traveling exhibition Petrochemical America: Project Room on view from September 2 to December 19, 2014. The Pomona College Museum of Art is located at 330 N. College Avenue, Claremont, CA, and is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Sunday, from 12-5 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5-11 p.m. For more information, call (909) 621-8283 or visit

PetroLA is sponsored by: the Pomona College’s Mellon Foundation-Elemental Arts Initiative, the Pomona College Environmental Analysis Program, the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, and the Pomona College Museum of Art. The museum’s presentation of Petrochemical America: Project Room has been made possible, in part, with support from Lee Walls, Jr. and the Turner Foundation and in part from the Elemental Arts Initiative at Pomona College, a four-year arts-based academic initiative supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Elemental Arts mourns today the loss of Katherine Hagedorn who passed away peacefully on November 12th after a long illness.

Katherine did much to bring the Elemental Arts Initiative to life. She shepherded the beginnings of the Elemental Arts idea of creating a vibrant arts culture in the campus and community of Pomona College, oversaw the setting up of the Initiative, and led the Steering Committee in its first year. Throughout, she led with calmness, generosity, fairness, pragmatism, a twinkle in her eye, and great good humor. She was an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. Her music, and her laughter, will be missed by all.

The Elemental Arts Steering Committee joins with the Pomona College community, and all who loved Katherine, in sadness at her passing, and in reaching out with our hearts to her family.


On Char Miller reviews the Smithsonian Institution‘s traveling exhibit, “Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography” now on at the Ontario (CA) Museum of History and Art until September 23.

Related link: Ontario Museum information for Lasting Light.

July 12 to September 23, 2012. 12:00pm to 4:00pm, Thursday through Sunday. Free.

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World Water Day 2012

How much water is needed to produce our food?

How does water scarcity affect our food security?

Can we produce more food with less water?

These are the questions the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization is focusing attention on in this year’s World Water Day.

The World Water Day website has more information, photos, and animations about how water and food security are closely intertwined and what we can do about it.

World Water Day 2012



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One of the Elemental Arts themes is WATER . Here is an inspiring example of how one artist brought her awareness of water issues and her art to the community at large.

Art for Water is an organization founded and directed by artist Christine Destrempes in New Hampshire. Art for Water draws attention to global and local water issues through monumental public-participation art projects.

13,699 is an installation by Ms. Destrempes made of clear plastic, recycled, water bottle caps representing each person who dies every day from preventable, water-related diseases. Pictured is an installation at Annmarie Garden Art Center & Sculpture Park in Solomons, Maryland, October 2010. A crocheted coral reef by Mary Ellen Croteau with Aviva Alter and Mary Buczyk from Chicago is in the background.


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Brave New Planet

Pre-Conference Lecture
Thursday, October 27, 2011, 7 pm
Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College 

Bill McKibben will lecture on his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, on the Pomona College Distinguished Lecture Series.

Tickets for the Claremont Colleges will be available 9/26/11 at the Bridges Auditorium box office. Tickets for the general public will be available 10/3/11.  Tickets are free. Limit two per person.

For more information on tickets call Bridges Auditorium (909) 621-8031.

Pomona College
Bridges Auditorium

450 N. College Way
Claremont, CA 91711

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