Lewis MacAdams is a political activist, poet, journalist, and filmmaker. He is one of LA’s premier social entrepreneurs.
In 1985, Lewis co-founded The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) with the goal of returning what had become a massive flood control channel and environmental scar into a semblance of the waterway it had once been.
He has served as FoLAR’s most determined and effective advocate over the ensuing years and, as a result of his leadership as Board Chair and foremost evangelist, the organization has achieved many victories. One of the biggest: The United States Environmental Protection Agency proclaimed the largely de-natured but struggling river as a federally recognized “river.” With that proclamation has come federal expertise and awareness.
As Lewis noted in a 2010 interview with Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times, reclaiming the River has been and remains a massive undertaking. He characterizes the project as “a 40-year artwork” noting that “I vastly underestimated how long it was going to take. My theory was, it took 40 years to screw it up; it’ll take 40 years to fix it. Somebody said no good idea is ever accomplished in one lifetime. Ultimately, the river’s going to be there. My attitude is, if it’s not impossible, I’m not interested.”
A graduate of Princeton, Lewis is the author of Birth of The Cool and The River: Books One, Two and Three along with dozens of books and tapes of poetry. He has also written for such publications as Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and Los Angeles Weekly. His films include the documentary What Happened to Kerouac?