Jon Christensen Interviewed in BayNature

I tell all of our writers that what we want to do in the pages of the magazine is, once a quarter, host one of the most lively, interesting, fun, and provocative dinner party conversations in California. It’s as if you’d invited a dozen of your friends, from all walks of life, over for dinner, and you’re having a super passionate conversation about the things you all care about. That’s the voice of Boom.

Boom: A Journal of California editor Jon Christensen talks to BayNature about his editorial vision for the quarterly journal, why he loves both Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and what intrigues him about people’s connection to the environment. Read the full interview here, then head over to Boom to browse the new Fall 2014 issue.

Join Boom at L.A.’s Natural History Museum for Just Add Water: The Discussions

Boom Editor Jon Christensen is moderating a series of discussions on water issues at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles this summer. Just Add Water: The Discussions, presented in conjunction with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Boom: A Journal of California, focuses on the most important water issues facing Los Angeles today, and how the city will adapt to water shortages in the future.

Covering topics ranging from the L.A. river to climate change, the series explores possibilities for living in harmony with the region’s natural resources. Don’t miss this Thursday’s discussion (July 24th) on the subject, “Chinatown, Revisited.”

Boom Editor Jon Christensen Sees Green Future for L.A.

Bike lane in downtown Los Angeles
Bike lane in downtown Los Angeles (via Wikimedia Commons)

On KCRW’s Press Play with Madeleine Brand (segment starts at 41:30), Boom Editor Jon Christensen argues that despite popular perception, Los Angeles is now becoming a model for urban sustainability. Echoing arguments made in his recent High Country News article, “Brave new L.A.”, Christensen points to L.A.’s progress on water conservation, solar energy, bike lanes, and denser development as positive signs that the city is on its way to a less car-centered, more livable future. He cautions, however, that there is still more to be done and Los Angeles should “hold [Mayor Eric Garcetti’s] feet to the fire” on these issues.

Listen now for the full story and to hear freelance journalist Emily Green’s counterargument to Christensen’s optimism.


Boom Editor Jon Christensen on the L.A. Aqueduct at 100

Last weekend, All Things Considered interviewed Boom editor Jon Christensen about the history of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Boom’s Fall issue looks at the Aqueduct at 100, exploring how the project transformed the American West, and arguably, the world. Many people remember the Aqueduct from the 1974 film, Chinatown. However, Polanski’s film gets the environmental politics of the deal wrong, Christensen argues. Listen to the interview to hear the real backstory of the city of Los Angeles’s relationship with the rural Owens Valley. For more on the Aqueduct, listen to Christensen’s interviews on KCRW and KPCC.

And below, watch a short video produced by the UCLA Newsroom about this important anniversary and what it means for the future of Los Angeles’s water.

Boom Reboots


SEPTEMBER 12, 2013



Berkeley, CA—Veteran journalist and UCLA historian Jon Christensen has taken over the editorial helm of Boom: A Journal of California, an innovative quarterly from the University of California Press. The journal has moved from UC Davis to the English Department at UCLA, and the fall issue, Christensen’s first, was mailed to subscribers today.

Christensen plans to build on the early success of this award-winning publication, which the Library Journal said “finds a sweet spot by combining the best… of scholarly journals and popular magazines” in a lavishly illustrated format. “Our goal is to host one of the smartest, liveliest, most passionate and fun dinner conversations in California each quarter,” Christensen said, “by bringing writers, photographers, artists, policymakers, advocates, entrepreneurs, and others together with the best researchers and scholars to talk not just about California, but about California in the world.”

The dinner party is not just a metaphor, Christensen said. He and some of the authors in his first issue, including book critic David L. Ulin and historian William Deverell, will host dinner party conversations around the Los Angeles area with readers to talk about the subject of Boom’s fall special issue on the Los Angeles Aqueduct’s 100th anniversary. By looking at the past, present, and future of the city’s water supply, this special issue reveals the myriad ways that water connects LA to California, the American West, and the world.

Columbia Journalism Review [see link below] recently wrote that Boom “is breaking ground, in terms of the character of its content and its business model.” The review continued: “The best academics and smartest journalists should be natural allies in the effort to bring new ideas to the public square. Boom has made a nice start toward fostering such an alliance.”

“Christensen’s journalistic and scholarly bona fides include a long career as an in-depth environmental and science writer and a stint as the executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, an interdisciplinary effort located at Stanford University that attempts to meld scholarly research and smart journalism,” wrote the review.

Now at UCLA, Christensen “brings unparalleled energy to Boom,” said UC Press Publisher Kim Robinson. “He is already at the center of many conversations about the current state and future of California. And we couldn’t be more thrilled that Jon is sharing with Boom his enormous creativity as a writer, thinker, and switchboard for people and ideas.”

While centered on the core print and digital publication, Boom extends its reach well beyond. “Our mission is to start, inspire, and sustain conversations,” Christensen said, “with a beautifully illustrated, elegantly written quarterly journal, a fresh, interactive web site and social media, partnerships with other media, and lively, stimulating events with partners around the state.”

In addition to dinner parties around Los Angeles, which readers will be able to join, Boom will also host an open public party to celebrate its reboot on October 24th from 7 to 9 p.m. at 830 Traction Avenue in Los Angeles (RSVP for the dinner parties and public party at Future issues in the works—on visions of California’s future in the world and California in world literature, music, art, and culture—will be accompanied by other innovative conversations with readers and public events around the state.

For more information, see Boom’s web site at Follow Boom on Twitter @boomcalifornia. For more on Christensen’s vision for Boom, see the Columbia Journalism Review’s story on Boom.

For a preview of the fall issue, see the cover below and click here for a preview of the table of contents.

Jon Christensen
Jon Christensen is an adjunct assistant professor and Pritzker Fellow in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, Jon was executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, an interdisciplinary center for research, teaching, new media and journalism at Stanford University. He has been an environmental journalist and science writer for 30 years and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Nature, High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, and radio and television shows. He was Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford in 2002-2003 and a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University in 2003-2004, before returning to Stanford to work on a Ph.D. in History. Jon’s passion for California, his cross-disciplinary approach to research and writing, and his new home within the UC make him an excellent fit for taking up the journal at this critical point in its development.

University of California Press—Bold, Progressive Publishing
UC Press publishes works that illuminate the convergence of history, culture, science and technology in order to change how we think, plan and govern. As the non-profit publishing arm of the University of California we share the progressive mission and values of the UC. Our bold, forward-thinking publishing initiatives integrate and distribute knowledge in exciting new ways for researchers, leaders and public audiences worldwide.

For More Information

Media contact: Meg Sullivan
UCLA Newsroom
(310) 825-1046

UC Press contact: Jeff Hester
University of California Press
(510) 642-8883

Jon Christensen on Elon Musk’s Flight of Fancy

Illustration by Elon Musk/Tesla Motors.

Is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop like a 21st century version of the transcontinental railroad? Jon Christensen, the Editor of Boom: A Journal of California, draws some interesting parallels between the two in the New Yorker’s Elements blog. Both seemed impossibly fast for their day and age, and both have the power to shape and destroy people, cities, and economies.

Christensen recalls the uncannily relevant words John Muir wrote about the railroad in 1872: “Last year tourists were whizzed over plain and mountain from San Francisco to Yosemite in two days; and I learn that arrangements are being made for next season whereby the velocity of the shot will be increased to one day. Thus is modern travel spiritualized. Thus are time and space—and travellers—annihilated.” Is annihilation—metaphorical or literal—a real concern if the Hyperloop is built? Read the article to hear Christensen’s case.

Boom: A Journal of California Launches Website

Boom March IssueWe’re pleased to announce that the website for Boom: A Journal of California is live. Thoughtful, provocative, and at times playful, Boom aims to create a dialog about the vital social, cultural, and political issues of our time, in California and beyond. At, you can find blog entries from Boom‘s contributors, a calendar of community events throughout California, photo galleries curated by the journal, and more. It’s also a great place to learn more about new and forthcoming California titles published by our books division.

Headed by Editors Carolyn de la Peña, Professor of American Studies at UC Davis and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute, and Louis Warren, UC Davis’ W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, Boom includes a wide range of works, from scholarly articles forming the gravitational center of each issue, to shorter, often informal works.

The first issue of Boom publishes March 2011, both in print and online.

Boom: New UC Press Journal

The University of California Press Journals division announced the forthcoming publication of Boom: A Journal of California, a new peer-reviewed, quarterly journal dedicated to social, political, and cultural issues in the Golden State.

Edited by Carolyn de la Peña, Associate Professor of American Studies at UC Davis and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute, and Louis Warren, UC Davis’ W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, Boom will bring in-depth intellectual study of California to a wide audience, and inspire discussion about California’s past, present, and future. Each issue will feature thoughtful and provocative articles by a range of contributors, from researchers and scholars to writers and photographers.

Boom breaks new ground in California studies, and has global relevance: “One in eight residents of the U.S. lives in California, and the state has become an unprecedented cultural, economic, and political force in the U.S. and abroad. And yet, no journal has explored the origins and meaning of today’s California in an interdisciplinary and intellectual way. With Boom, we aim to fix that,” said Warren.

The new journal also addresses a need for a greater understanding of California: “To truly grapple with the crisis facing California, we have to gather new knowledge about who we are, how we got here, and what common ground can be built for the future. By featuring the work of researchers in multiple fields and combining that with community voices, we believe Boom will uncover fresh perspectives on the state we’re in,” de la Peña said.

Boom‘s debut issue will appear in February 2011.

Boom is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for fostering scholarship in California Studies at this critical moment,” said University of California Press Director Lynne Withey.

Read the press release announcing the new UC Press journal Boom: A Journal of California.