This year at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design graduation, Dean Jennifer Wolch introduced the commencement speaker, landscape architect Randy Hester, by calling his Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park one of her favorite public parks in L.A. Opened in 2000 in a former pipe-storage yard used for William Mulholland's water empire, the park has a serene, grassy field with picnic tables, and a web of winding paths leading to areas organized by plant type, such as a wetlands, a citrus orchard and a cactus garden. This oasis in a neighborhood of concrete warehouses is named for the first African-American congressman elected west of the Mississippi River, who worked on labor issues and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while representing South Central from 1963 to 1991. 5790 Compton Ave., Central-Alameda. (323) 581-4498, —Zachary Pincus-Roth

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