Activism and Environmental Challenges: Southern California's Open Spaces

Southern California has distinctive landscapes that people have protected and preserved throughout its history.
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Southern California is home to a variety of environmental regions, each with its own distinct weather patterns, wildlife, and vegetation. These beaches, deserts, and chaparral forests are all located relatively close to each other, which is a phenomenon that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But a number of social factors in Southern California (such as high population, large industry, and urban expansion), along with the prevalence of wildfires and other natural catastrophes, threaten the continued existence of these regions.

Over the past 200 years, locals and activists have come together to combat these challenges and preserve these open spaces in a multitude of ways. Photographs, art books, documentation, and preservation law campaigns are just of few of the methods that activists have used to contribute to the preservation of Southern California’s natural beauty.

This exhibition uses items from the University of California, Irvine Libraries Special Collections to explore some of Southern California’s most unique landscapes, the issues facing them, and the activists who have made a positive impact on them throughout history.

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Exhibition Images

The images in this exhibition can be found throughout UC Irvine's Special Collections & Archives digital collections on Calisphere, including the Artists' books collection, Edward W. Cochems Photographs, Wally Gerhardt Photographs, Hugh R. McMillan Photographs, and the Pleasants Family Papers.

Heading Image

The heading image shows Aliso Canyon, near Laguna Beach. Aliso Canyon looking toward ocean near Laguna Beach, California. Source: Edward W. Cochems Photographs


"Activism and Environmental Challenges: Southern California's Open Spaces" was curated and written by Brenna Davies, in collaboration with Christine Kim at Special Collections & Archives at the UC Irvine Libraries, in 2016.

Using this exhibition:

The text of this exhibition is available under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. You are free to share and adapt it however you like, provided you provide attribution as follows:

Activism and Environmental Challenges: Southern California's Open Spaces curated by Brenna Davies and Christine Kim, available under a CC BY 4.0 license. © 2016, Regents of the University of California.

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