The final field methods class took us to the beach. Not just any beach, but Carbon Beach in Malibu. But boy was it a loooooooooong drive there. Because of the never-ending traffic and the one way streets, it took my group about 4 hours one way to get to Malibu. After such a long ride it was pure joy to finally get out of the car. I wasn’t looking forward to the ride back so instead I focused on the assignment.
So why Carbon Beach instead of the many other beaches available to us (and much closer)? Carbon Beach presents a unique landscape in terms of the battle between private and public space. Because of the desirability of the area and its many wealthy occupants, they fight to keep the public from accessing the beaches, despite the fact that the majority of the area is in fact public property. Many residents put up fake signs saying that people cannot park along the street and hide public access points so that people cannot find a way down to the beach from the road. This can create a very hostile environment between the public and the residents.
For our assignment, we observed the landscape, seeing ways in which this battle is visible, while also examining how the landscape made us feel. Unlike previous trips, for this one we had to record ourselves and interview each other on how we felt about what we saw as we walked along the beach. Of course we all agreed the beach and ocean view was beautiful. The string of houses and restaurants between the beach and the road though produced mixed feelings for us. Some homes looked Bohemian and very beaten up by the sea wind. Others looked like typical wealthy residents. The newest looking building appeared to be a restaurant. Mixed in were also empty lots, which seemed very out of place among such a landscape.