Below is a portion of an interview originally published on the Greenopia website in 2007.
Since founding TreePeople in 1970, Andy Lipkis has put his heart—and time and effort—into greening Los Angeles (two million trees and counting). Lipkis talked to Greenopia about his work and living green in L.A.
What’s the best part about your job?
I love so many aspects of it. Right now I like giving people a chance to see and understand that they are managers of the ecosystem.
What would you say is the city’s undiscovered or underrated jewel?
One is TreePeople’s headquarters: Coldwater Canyon Park. We have trails and a little amphitheater nestled in the woods that’s like a mini Hollywood Bowl.
Where do you like to take out-of-town visitors?
Almost anywhere in nature that will blow their minds. We might bike through the Ballona Wetlands or walk through the Venice canals or take hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
The Metasequoia glyptostroboides. It is know as the dawn redwood and it looks like coast redwood. It was only known in fossils until about a hundred years ago when living ones were found in China. They are beautiful with leaves that are soft and bright green until autumn when they turn red. There are a couple in the UCLA Botanical Gardens.
Describe your path to green: how and when you became eco-conscious.
I grew up in this city when the air pollution hurt and I watched open spaces I had played in disappear. I started planting trees when there wasn’t a professional for it and as a teen I had quite the crisis in following a green path when it wasn’t a known one. Back then I kept saying, I’m only going to do this for a while and grow up to be a professional of some sort. Now it’s a different story.