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· 1 hour 30 minutes

El Pino in Peril: Development Threatens the Beloved Sentinel Tree of East Los Angeles

Tue, Sep 27, 2022 · 7:00 PM · Pacific Time (US & Canada)
About This Webinar

Join Esotouric, L.A.'s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for the fourth in an occasional series of free webinars exploring timely historic preservation issues and how YOU can get involved.


Our special guest is distinguished horticulturist Dr. Donald R. Hodel.


When Dr. Hodel published “Exceptional Trees of Los Angeles” (1988), he selected as the representative example of the Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) the massive tree at the center of the quad at Rancho Los Amigos, the County Poor Farm that was established exactly 100 years earlier, in 1888.


The cult classic film “Blood In Blood Out” (1993) had yet to be made, so it was mainly the community of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights that knew there was another ancient tree with a claim on the title of L.A.’s most exceptional Bunya Pine.


With the fencing of Rancho Los Amigos, the many fires and the ongoing demolition of historic structures, Downey’s Bunya Pine is hard to visit, and that tree is now suffering the after effects of a lightning strike.


But East L.A.’s beloved El Pino remains healthy and highly visible, whether you’re mourning a loved one at Evergreen Cemetery, inhaling a taco at Los Cincos Puntos or cruising with your sweetheart down old Brooklyn Avenue—the big tree on the hill is always there.


But El Pino is in danger—and needs your help.


Around Christmas 2020, disturbing rumors circulated on social media that a new owner had deliberately cut the trunk to harm the tree, and had plans to chop El Pino down. Hundreds of concerned community members came to the corner of Folsom and Indiana to mourn and bear witness. A petition was circulated. Newspapers and local television stations covered the story.


We’ve been tracking the threat to El Pino here.


It turns out that the rumors were exaggerated, but a new owner does have worrying dense residential development plans for the property—plans that if they go forward as proposed will almost certainly kill El Pino.


But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tune in to this webinar as Dr. Hodel shares a prescription for preservation of this iconic living landmark of East Los Angeles, explains where Bunya Pines come from and why they’re so special and potentially deadly. Plus he’ll introduce you to another rare tree in El Pino’s shadow, and asks Supervisor Hilda Solis to help save El Pino and commission a Flora study of rare trees in East Los Angeles.


Then we’ll take your questions about El Pino and Bunya Pines, tools for saving endangered trees and how you can help.


Watch this short webinar when it airs at 7pm on September 27 (or later, on demand), then help amplify Dr. Hodel’s prescription for saving this beautiful tree, so it can be a friend and a beacon to future generations and to Angelenos today.


This webinar is an illustrated lecture that will bring the history and future of El Pino to life, while empowering you to help preserve this tree and other historic trees in your community. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app. So tune in and discover the incredible history of Los Angeles, with the couple whose passion for the city is infectious. Can’t join in when the webinar is happening? You can tune in later, though you’ll miss the opportunity to ask questions in the chat.


FYI: Immediately upon registering, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join the webinar. The webinar is reliable on all devices, Mac, PC, iOS and Android.


About our special guest: Donald R. Hodel is emeritus landscape horticulturist with the University of California, Cooperative Extension, a position he held for 36 years, all in Los Angeles, before retiring in 2019. He led a varying career, performing applied research and conducting educational programs primarily for the landscape and tree care industries and secondarily for the residents of Los Angeles County. His expertise is in the taxonomy, selection, and management of woody plants, primarily trees and palms. He conducted over 150 research projects, made over 600 presentations to varying audiences, and authored or co-authored 110 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 600 other publications, including eight books about the classification, selection, planting, water use, nutrition, and disease and pest management of woody plants. He is the recipient of several awards for his work and is often invited to peer-review others’ publications. Don has earned a national and international reputation and been an invited speaker at numerous symposia, conferences, and meeting across the United States and in other countries. He has traveled widely and performed research in most of Latin America, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and southern Europe. Don received a B.S. in ornamental horticulture from California State Polytechnic University in 1974 and an M. S. in tropical horticulture from the University of Hawaii in 1975. He worked in nurseries and botanical gardens in Hawaii and California before landing his job with the University of California in 1983. Upon his retirement in 2019, the University awarded him emeritus status and he now continues work on selected projects and publish articles sharing the results of his work.


About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one other on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high-level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging ever deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.


Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.

Who can view: Everyone
Webinar Price: Free
Featured Presenters
Webinar hosting presenter Kim Cooper

After his undergraduate studies in art history at UC Santa Cruz, Richard Schave set out to explore the American interior as an itinerant brick mason. His return to his native Los Angeles coincided with a renewed acquaintance with Kim Cooper, a once-detested academic colleague who would become his bride. Together, fusing scholarly research with new digital tools, they launched the 1947project time travel blog, along with In SRO Land, and On Bunker Hill, as well as the Esotouric tour company. With the success of Kim’s True Crime tours, Richard developed a series of Literary and California Culture excursions. Richard is a dedicated preservationist, and the host of the LAVA Sunday Salon and the LAVA Literary Salon series, named Best L.A. Literary Salon by Los Angeles Magazine. He also curates an ongoing series of forensic science programs at Cal State Los Angeles. Richard is also a reader at the Huntington Library.

Webinar hosting presenter
Donald R. Hodel is emeritus landscape horticulturist with the University of California, Cooperative Extension, a position he held for 36 years, all in Los Angeles, before retiring in 2019. He led a varying career, performing applied research and conducting educational programs primarily for the landscape and tree care industries and secondarily for the residents of Los Angeles County. His expertise is in the taxonomy, selection, and management of woody plants, primarily trees and palms. He conducted over 150 research projects, made over 600 presentations to varying audiences, and authored or co-authored 110 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 600 other publications, including eight books about the classification, selection, planting, water use, nutrition, and disease and pest management of woody plants. He is the recipient of several awards for his work and is often invited to peer-review others’ publications. Don has earned a national and international reputation and been an invited speaker at numerous symposia, conferences, and meeting across the United States and in other countries. He has traveled widely and performed research in most of Latin America, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and southern Europe. Don received a B.S. in ornamental horticulture from California State Polytechnic University in 1974 and an M. S. in tropical horticulture from the University of Hawaii in 1975. He worked in nurseries and botanical gardens in Hawaii and California before landing his job with the University of California in 1983. Upon his retirement in 2019, the University awarded him emeritus status and he now continues work on selected projects and publish articles sharing the results of his work.
Webinar hosting presenter

Kim Cooper (“one of L.A.’s brightest torchbearers” – Electric Literature) is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including Pasadena Confidential, the Real Black Dahlia and Weird West Adams. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

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