We had the good fortune of connecting with James Rice and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“We will raise each other up no matter the hardships” is a quote I go back to frequently. It’s not attributed any one person. I think I just heard it in passing at some point. I believe we should always try to help one another. We’re social creatures and the connections we make helping others and letting others help us, whether it be strangers or loved ones, is important for our the personal growth of everyone involved. Life can be difficult, espcially during times like these amidst a pandemic and increasing social injustice in our society. The quote just reminds me of how important helping and making positive connections with others is. I think this quote is directly applicable to the non-profit work we do at the Los Angeles Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. We help commuities with water access, water quality, access to electrical power, and other engineering projects. Whether we’re assisting a community domestically in the US or abroad, we’re not just helping that community, but their helping us as well. We make social connections and exchange cultural and technical knowledge with the communities we serve. We learn from the experiences they share with us and become better peope because of it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a civil engineer who for over the past 5 years, since graduating college, has worked for the civil engineering consulting firm KPFF in Downtown LA. There was what felt like non-stop project deadlines that were typically challenging and kept me constantly learning new things. It was not an easy job. It taught me the concept of “failing forward”, which is the importance of embracing and learning from your failures and continuing passed them to the next task. It taught me the importance of building relationships aomgst your co-workers and clients. The better you know a person, the easier it is to work and communicate with them. It taught me the importance of organization in prioritizing work tasks to ensure deadlines are met and to reduce work related stress. I’m very grateful for all that I’ve learned at KPFF. However, I left the company this February and I’m now working for the Publi Works Department of a City in LA County. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and I’m now applyng it to infrastructure projects that directly benefit the public. I look forward to continuing to learn and develop my professional skillset at this new job as the concept of being a “lifelong learner” is very important to me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Pretending COVID isn’t a thing for a second, I’d start by taking them to the beaches in Malibu followed by checking out the Getty Villa and catching some views and doing some hiking in Tuna Canyon Park. We would go thrifting in Silver Lake, grab some ramen at Silverlake Ramen, ride the paddle boat swans at Echo Park lake, and then hit up the bars and restaurants on Sunset Boulevard. In Downtown LA I’d take them for some awesome tacos at Guisado’s and then check out The Last Bookstore and then maybe go to Perch or Spire 73. I’d also want to take them to Little Tokyo and the Art’s District. I’d take them glow golfing at Busby’s East, grab some Salt & Straw icecream and drinks in West Hollywood. We’d go explore the Getty all day and then see if there is live music to check out at Harvelle’s, Zebulon, the Echoplex, Rockwell Table & Stage, Los Globos, the Satellite, TR!P, the Bootleg Theatre, and all the other awesome small music venues Los Angeles has to offer.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my fellow members of the EWB LA Professional Chapter and all the other chapters nationwide. Our organization has managed to bring some amazing people together in the mission of aiding and partering with in-need communities around the world. The work we do for this organization is all done on our spare time outside our day jobs. Everyone who is inolved in chapter projects, chapter managament, social activities, fundraising, or whatever it may be is vital to the sucess of the chapter and the success of our projects.