Photos by Mathew Scott

FEATURED STORY: Eric Kenyon White

The River Teacher

For more than ten years, Eric Kenyon White has lived on the LA River. After losing his home, Eric spent some time between shelters before living on the banks of the Glendale Narrows. This was not a choice Eric thought he would ever have to make, but life in the shelters was becoming increasingly difficult.

Often shelters have a first come first serve policy. If he would arrive too late, an open bed was not guaranteed, and he would be out on the streets. Living on the river provided Eric with more stability and the reassurance that he would have a place to sleep in at night—usually.

Yet, the river was not much safer; dangers were everywhere, and adjusting to this new life was extremely difficult. Over time, Eric turned to the river for guidance, learning to listen to it and to the animals that live there. Listening to the sounds at night offered warnings of possible incoming dangers.

“If you’re peaceful and quiet, the animals talk to you, and they can let you know if there’s people around. If I come in at night and come into an area, I tend to walk down along the bottom of the river at night, and if you hear these certain birds go: beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, you know there’s nobody there because the birds would not be there if there was someone hanging out there.

If you’re hip to it and in tune with the natural sounds of all these creatures—and there’s coyotes too—they will really let you know if there’s somebody there.”

Learning to listen to the river and the sounds of wildlife have greatly aided Eric while living in this environment. He also credits his no-fear mentality for allowing him to stay alive in such harsh conditions.

“I’m not afraid of anything. No matter where I am, I feel pretty confident in my creator and that I’m on a path that I’ll be okay.”

Eric Kenyon White is an artist, photographer, graphic designer, electrician, and general jack-of-all trades. The son of two avid mountain climbers, his upbringing has greatly influenced the ways he interacts with his environment. When he’s not creating art around the river, you can find him skateboarding all over Los Angeles.