Shade Redux

Roman Mars [00:00:02] Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is mostly known for its 60 miles of beaches. But what you might not know about “the beach,” as they call it, is that it’s a bona fide live music destination. You’ll hear live music playing every day and night. Whatever you like to listen to, Myrtle Beach plays and celebrates it. Myrtle Beach is home to the largest country music festival on the East Coast and has venues big and small, playing music that brings people together. The beach is 60 miles of tunes for you. Push play on good times. Plan your trip at Squarespace is the all-in-one platform for building your brand and growing your business online. Stand out with a beautiful website, engage with your audience, and sell anything–your products, content you create, and even your time. You can easily display posts from your social profiles on your website or share new blogs or videos to social media. Automatically push website content to your favorite channels so your followers can share it, too. Go to for a free trial. And when you’re ready to launch, use the offer code “invisible” to save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain. This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars. This past May, the city of Los Angeles rolled out a brand new, state of the art feature for bus shelters. It’s called La Sombrita. La Sombrita is a metal screen that’s intended to provide shade for the thousands of people who ride the bus every day. The shade screen is about two feet wide, ten feet tall. And it kind of looks like a curved, teal, metal surfboard filled with tiny little holes. Right away, Angelenos were not happy. 

Angeleno [00:01:39] I was wondering why it was here because I was like, “Well, what’s the point?”

Newscaster #1 [00:01:42] Criticism has been swift online with people comparing this to a cheese grater. 

Roman Mars [00:01:47] Many of the online complaints cited La Sombrita’s size. While the designers say La Sombrita can provide shade for two or three people, critics say it doesn’t look big enough for even a single person. And many people are furious about the cost. The La Sombrita prototype cost around $10,000. Clearly, La Sombrita isn’t perfect, but in Los Angeles, a little shade goes a long way. The controversy around La Sombrita got me thinking about a conversation we had in 2020 with the journalist Sam Bloch. Sam is working on a book about the politics of shade and how shade coverage in LA has become one of the city’s biggest hot button issues. Today, we’ll get Sam’s thoughts about La Sombrita and whether the controversial shade fixture could actually be a good thing for shade starved Angelenos. But first, my conversation with Sam Bloch from 2020. What did you notice about Los Angeles when you started walking around the city? 

Sam Bloch [00:02:49] What did I notice? I noticed that there was no one around. I noticed that the people who were around would have to position themselves in such a way to protect themselves from the sunlight. 

Roman Mars [00:02:58] What do you mean? 

Sam Bloch [00:02:59] I noticed people waiting for the buses behind telephone poles. I noticed people waiting behind the telephone poles because there’s only that small sliver of shade that people were protected from the sunlight. 

Roman Mars [00:03:11] Why is shade so important? 

Sam Bloch [00:03:13] Los Angeles, like most every city in the world, is heating up. There are some scientists who I speak to who have found that in hot, dry, arid environments like Los Angeles, but also Phoenix, that shade is the most important factor when it comes to human comfort–more than air temperature, more than humidity, more than wind speed. And there’s a close relationship between human thermal comfort and mortality and illness and heatstroke. If you don’t have shade–if you’re not protected from the sun–you can become dizzy, you can become disoriented, you can become confused, lethargic, dehydrated. If you are obese or elderly or pregnant, that can tip into more dangerous things, like heart attack or organ failure. 

Roman Mars [00:03:56] And so what is the magnitude of the problem in LA? 

Sam Bloch [00:03:59] There are a few different ways of thinking about it. We can talk about shade in terms of tree canopy, which is a very serious problem. Los Angeles has a terribly unequal tree canopy. And by tree canopy, I just mean coverage. Let’s say you’re in outer space looking down on LA, you’ll see parts of the city that are covered in green, and you’ll see parts of the city that are not–that are baking in asphalt. And those, to a T, follow the lines of wealth. It’s a problem with tree canopy. It’s a problem in terms of the built urban form. Los Angeles is notoriously anti-density. Los Angeles has this image of itself as not being New York City–in fact, being the anti-New York City. So, sunlight in open space is a part of the culture. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it becomes a problem when you can’t escape it. 

Roman Mars [00:04:43] Right. So, there are no tall buildings to provide some measure of shade?

Sam Bloch [00:04:47] I wouldn’t go as far as to say there are no tall buildings. However, there are a few tall buildings.

Roman Mars [00:04:52] They’re spaced pretty far apart. 

Sam Bloch [00:04:54] Correct. They’re located in certain height districts–downtown being one of them–and even some areas that city planners have designated to be taller neighborhoods. Even today, they’re still fought and contested by neighborhood activists. 

Roman Mars [00:05:07] So I’ve seen those pictures, and I get a sense that Los Angeles used to be greener–that there was a lot of shade. So, tell me how the city was designed and how it developed into this. 

Sam Bloch [00:05:18] So timewise, Los Angeles was a prairie. If you look at photos of LA from 150 years ago, it’s all grasslands. And when it was settled by the Spanish, downtown–which was the original settlement–was laid out according to the Law of the Indies. The city would roughly conform to a 45-degree angle. So, you could have sunlight in the winter and shade and shadow in the summer. 

Roman Mars [00:05:38] So explain the Law of the Indies? What does this mean? 

Sam Bloch [00:05:41] The Law of the Indies means build your cities at 45 degrees, basically, completely unlike the way we think of most American cities, which have this sort of north, south, east, west, very rigid grid. So, you have these original settlements that are laid out in such a way as to be able to create shadow when you need it, and also to bestow sunlight also when you need it. Spanish architecture tents have a very strong sense of natural comfort. So, you’ll see a lot of these kinds of missions and adobes that have these internal courtyards that are shaded. You’ll have covered walkways, paseos. And even today you’ll see a lot of this in, like, Spanish revival architecture or, you know, outdoor malls that have goofy Spanish-ish names. Los Angeles was also, in a way, sort of a dusty old West town. So, you think about these covered boardwalks. You think about large canvas awnings that are cooling people who are, you know, living outside and also cooling indoors, which at the time didn’t have air conditioning. And another way that Los Angeles tried to stay cool was through rich, beautiful, kind of flamboyant, not just tree canopy, but a syncretic, overwhelming variety of exotic flora and fauna. 

Roman Mars [00:06:45] So during this period, there was a recognition of the environment and how to be comfortable inside of it. And when did that go wrong? 

Sam Bloch [00:06:54] Funny that you put it that way. Things started to go wrong after cheap electricity came down to Los Angeles with the completion of what’s now called the Hoover Dam. So, you start to see the city rebuild itself and the new development becomes like we see today. You have controlled air conditioning. You have the automobile, which comes to dominate the city in the ’30s and the ’40s. And with the automobile, you just have a whole new way of seeing the city. 

Vintage Announcer [00:07:21] The names of the streets are household words translated into magic. Fabulous stacks of freeways…

Sam Bloch [00:07:30] The city started to think about how to market itself and how to make itself seem more attractive to outsiders. And this is where you get palm trees. “Palm trees,” one essayist said, “were about as useful for shade as a telephone pole.” She hated them, but the city was enamored of them. And interestingly, you have different philanthropists and celebrities starting to think about trees as being a public good. But the palm tree in particular being one that doesn’t just message LA as a kind of semitropical paradise, but also, as Mary Pickford said, “it’s very good for window shopping from the sea to your car” because the tree trunks aren’t that robust. So, if you’re driving down some boulevard, you can see all the great stuff because the palm tree is so narrow. So, Los Angeles was also rezoned in the 1930s to become a single-family city. Los Angeles, in order to sort of not pacify, not suck up, but to sort of remake itself in the image of the FHA decided that all new single-family homes had to come with a front and a side yard. So, you start to create a lot of space around them. Los Angeles really starts to hate the idea of density. 

Roman Mars [00:08:33] And so when you have this type of sprawling, not very dense city, how is the shade distributed? 

Sam Bloch [00:08:43] Unevenly. Shade is distributed to people who can afford it. If you go into these neighborhoods that were laid out to be wealthy residential enclaves, you have very wide sidewalks. And the strip of grass where you can tree plant, which is called the Parkway, becomes four or five, maybe even ten feet wide. And when you have these wider parkways, you have a greater space to plant a bigger, thicker, leafier tree. 

Roman Mars [00:09:05] Okay. So, the parkway is the area between the sidewalk and the road? And those can be pretty wide and therefore have trees in them

Sam Bloch [00:09:12] Correct. In other neighborhoods that have been redlined, that were designed as sort of worker housing, that were meant to sort of jam people in together, you don’t have these kinds of wide residential sidewalks. Instead, what you have are very narrow sidewalks because these neighborhoods are designed to facilitate automobile passage. So, if you have a narrow sidewalk, you don’t really have the space to plant a thick, leafy tree. Furthermore, it’s been incumbent upon property owners and renters to maintain this sort of semipublic space of the Parkway. You would think that in a city, whatever is on the sidewalk–whatever is outside of the property line–would be managed by the city. That has not historically been the case in Los Angeles. It’s been incumbent upon property owners to water trees to maturity and to maintain them. If there’s a tree there, it’s because someone has taken it upon themselves to water it to maturity and to care for it. 

Roman Mars [00:10:01] So each part of that process–the design of where the sidewalk is relative to the street, the fact that a person of wealth could plant and maintain a tree, all these things–cause more uneven distribution of shade trees?

Sam Bloch [00:10:15] That’s right. And I would also add that in some neighborhoods… I’m thinking about a neighborhood called Hancock Park, which is a flat neighborhood, landlocked in the center of the city. There is nothing about it that naturally lends itself over to being a lush, verdant, tree-festooned paradise. But the neighborhood was developed as an exclusive, wealthy, residential enclave. And when that happened, the power lines were undergrounded. There is nothing in the way. It is designed specifically to allow for tree growth. This is not the case in most of Los Angeles. 

Roman Mars [00:10:47] So because of this lack of shade trees, there have been efforts to build in shade, especially around bus shelters. But it’s been incredibly hard, according to your reporting. So, in your article, you talk about one bus shelter at Glassell Park. Can you tell me about that and why it was so hard to put shade there? 

Sam Bloch [00:11:07] It was hard because shade is a trip wire. In the instance of the Glassell Park Transit Island, you had a concerned neighborhood resident and a neighborhood activist–maybe you’ll call them a homeowner–who wanted to throw just a simple bus shelter over a space where she saw people naturally congregating. She ended up talking to an architect who said, “Let’s not do a regular bus shelter. Let’s throw some big shade sails in here.” And when that happens, you have to start thinking about how are we going to fix this shade sails to the ground. And when that happens, you have to start thinking about what’s underneath the ground. And you have water mains. You have underground utilities. In order to upgrade a sidewalk or a transit island, you then have to start honoring newer regulations. Like the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, then you have to start making curb cuts to make it wheelchair accessible. So, you have to take care of all these other things before you can decide to do this very lightweight, sort of low-res fix.

Roman Mars [00:12:05] Sort of the enemies of shade are not always bad guys in this case. ADA compliance is not a bad guy. Curb cuts–not a bad guy. Like, all these things are not bad. You know, it’s not just sort of around sidewalks. LA doesn’t have a lot of shade in its city parks either. So why is that? Why was this never considered valuable? 

Sam Bloch [00:12:26] I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was never considered valuable because I’m thinking about a park downtown called Pershing Square that up until the 1950s was a tropical paradise. It was incredibly shady. It was meant for people to kind of hang out and shoot the breeze. And after a while, the business elite in the neighborhood decided, first of all, to install underground parking, which gets rid of the whole root system, so you can no longer plant thicker, denser tree canopy. And part of the reason why Pershing Square was redeveloped and shorn of its tree canopy is because Los Angeles is a city where residents are worried about crime–a city where residents are worried about homelessness. As I was working on this story, I came across multiple instances where LAPD had installed pole cameras in parks or in public housing projects. And I had been told about something called crime prevention through environmental design, which is this idea that we need to have increased visibility in public spaces. And you can go on Google Street View and go back five, six, seven years. And you can see over time when a pole camera goes up, a mature street tree goes down. 

Roman Mars [00:13:41] So there’s all these selective pressures where other things are just more important–whether it’s… I would call it somewhat the illusion of crime prevention. 

Sam Bloch [00:13:51] Correct. No one told me that it actually prevents crime. What this detective told me was that it helps the police catch and prosecute criminals–not that it stops them. 

Roman Mars [00:14:03] Right. And then this preference for this underground parking, which makes shallow ground, which therefore you can only have trees that have, you know, ball root systems like palm trees. It just seems like everything is working against it, especially in this city. And so how do you think about how to balance these, you know, different factors and their value in an urban setting? 

Sam Bloch [00:14:27] Great question. There are a few ways to think about this. I mentioned that in Los Angeles, it’s homeowners and residents who are responsible for the maintenance and cultivation of street trees. Why does it have to be that way? Why doesn’t the city decide that a public urban forest– Why isn’t that a value? You might also think about the question of density. I spoke to an architect. And what he told me is that maximizing floor space is the name of the game, which means if you only have so much space to work with, which developer is going to say, “Let’s actually carve out some of our floor space to make an arcade or a portico”? That’s a tough sell. So why doesn’t the city properly incentivize developers to create these sort of semipublic, shaded environments behind the property line that are contiguous with the sidewalk? 

Roman Mars [00:15:21] And what about just planting trees? I mean, what is LA doing about just adding to the canopy in general? 

Sam Bloch [00:15:27] The city is trying to plant more trees. The city has a goal of planting 90,000 trees in the next few years. I am not sufficiently convinced that the city recognizes the infrastructural challenge to planting 90,000 trees because as we’ve been talking about, the space in which you can plant a tree is limited. When you have things like a narrow sidewalk or overhead power lines or even regulations that limit or prohibit the planting of a street tree within 45 feet of a driveway–which, let’s be real, that’s practically all of Los Angeles–that makes me think that the city is not understanding the complete wholesale re-imagining of the street that’s needed in order to plant 90,000 trees. 

Roman Mars [00:16:12] So we’ve talked a lot about informal urbanism in the show and sort of interventions. People could install umbrellas and canopies without permission to fix this kind of problem just in their own neighborhood. Did you find evidence of people doing this? And what is the reaction when this happened? 

Sam Bloch [00:16:27] People do it all the time, particularly, I will add, in Latino neighborhoods. There’s an urbanist named James Rojas who writes about Latino urbanism. And he has a pretty compelling theory that Latino residents of Los Angeles know how to use the shade. And he leads these wonderful walking tours where he’ll point out shade sails that have been connected between two garages and an alleyway for kids to play in because it’s more comfortable under the shade. Or he’ll point out these elaborate front yards where you have blue poly tarps just strung across the space or maybe exotic trees that are sort of overflowing into the street. 

Roman Mars [00:17:01] Well, that sounds great to me, but I get the impression that the city doesn’t always see things the same way. 

Sam Bloch [00:17:06] What I did find is that in the private realm, those things are tolerated. When they step into the public and when they step onto the sidewalk, things become more complicated. I write about a grassroots shade shelter on Figueroa and Avenue 26, in the Cypress Park neighborhood near the LA River, and a barber named Tony Cornejo would not admit that it was he who made this really great, fantastic shade shelter made out of, like, an I-beam and a gray tarp and a couple of bus benches. But he told me that he recognized the need for people when they’re waiting for the bus just to have some protection. Tony–or someone–had to take down this grassroots bus shelter because it was an obstruction in the public right of way. The city processes 16,000 obstructions in the public right of way every year. If property owners–if residents–did not fear that the city would come after them, threatening them with fines, perhaps we would see more grassroots urbanism. 

Roman Mars [00:18:08] I think it’s pretty surprising to think of shade as a political and equity issue. I think it surprises a lot of people. Tell me about your awakening of this and convincing people of it, and just make your best case for what it is that you want people to think about when they think about shade in the city. 

Sam Bloch [00:18:24] Shade in the city is, to me, respect for people who can’t afford to duck into an air-conditioned cafe or a Lyft when it gets too hot. Shade is, to me, an understanding that the world is changing, and we want to protect citizens–the most vulnerable citizens–who can’t protect themselves. And it’s also just nicer to be in the shade. It’s cooler in the shade. I always walk on the shady side of the street. It’s easier to see in the shade. You know, I spoke to a scientist who said that direct sunlight is the kind of light that you have when you perform oral surgery. 

Roman Mars [00:19:07] It’s not pleasant. 

Sam Bloch [00:19:08] Now, dappled light is more like reading a book. 

Roman Mars [00:19:11] Yeah. 

Sam Bloch [00:19:12] So I want my city to help me read a book. I don’t want it to perform oral surgery. 

Roman Mars [00:19:18] Thanks for coming in. I appreciate it. 

Sam Bloch [00:19:19] Yeah, Thanks for having me, Roman. 

Roman Mars [00:19:23] When we come back, Sam Bloch talks about La Sombrita and the future of shade in Los Angeles. This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. Sometimes in life we’re faced with tough choices, and the path forward isn’t always clear. Whether you’re dealing with decisions around your career or relationships or anything else, therapy helps you stay connected to what you really want while you navigate life, so you can move forward with confidence and excitement. Trusting yourself to make decisions that align with your values is like anything–the more you practice it, the easier it gets. And if you’re thinking about starting therapy, give BetterHelp a try. It’s entirely online, designed to be convenient, flexible, and suited to your schedule. Just fill out a brief questionnaire to get matched with a licensed therapist. And switch therapists at any time for no additional charge. Find more balance with BetterHelp. Visit today to get 10% off your first month. That’s A few weeks ago, Los Angeles debuted a new shade structure called La Sombrita. In a lot of ways, it seems like a perfect solution to the problem Sam Bloch mentioned in our interview. It’s easy to install, and the city believes it could help thousands of people stay cool. The city says the shade structure is designed to help with gender equity, since most of LA’s transit riders are women. But for the most part, Angelenos aren’t thrilled with La Sombrita largely because of the underwhelming design. La Sombrita is a metal grate that is shaped like a surfboard and pockmarked with tiny holes. Critics say it’s too thin to provide any meaningful shade at all. After a social media backlash, La Sombrita became a national news story earlier this summer and not for good reasons. 

Newscaster #2 [00:21:27] A plan to provide more sun protection and safety for LA bus riders seems like a no-brainer, right? But the new shades have left some shaking their heads. 

Roman Mars [00:21:38] Hey, Sam. Welcome back. And tell me, why are people so angry about La Sombrita? 

Sam Bloch [00:21:44] The frustrations with La Sombrita emerged from a few causes, let’s say. Los Angeles public officials have been telling bus riders and constituents and other Angelenos for years that they want to create more shade. One example of this is with bus shelters. There are, I think, around well over 600,000 boardings on buses every day in Los Angeles. And only about a quarter of those bus stops have any kind of shelter from the sun. And as temperatures rise, heat waves become more common, and, as I would say, rhetoric ramps up about the importance of taking public transit instead of driving for ecological and emissions related purposes, many Angelenos are finding that the street conditions just aren’t conducive. They’re not comfortable. They don’t entice people. People would so much rather be in the comfort of their own car instead of taking the bus because they’re made to wait in the elements. So, La Sombrita–when it arrived–was also couched in the rhetoric of gender equity. Now, I want to back up for a second on this because this is an important point. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation–one of the many agencies that controls, well, transportation but also just various ways of getting around the city and various, let’s just say, right of way jurisdictions–has for a few years now been working with a design group to try to figure out how to better serve its female bus riders. Ridership on buses in LA skews female. Women, the way they ride the bus, tends to be different from men. You know, the system is set up essentially to make sure that commuters can get to work from nine to five. But there are a lot of people in LA who maybe take the bus in the middle of the day–maybe they’re chaining more trips together because they, you know, are trying to run more errands, let’s say, or they’re picking up their kids from school. It’s not really designed for them. So, gender equity is an attempt to address those problems. The reason that La Sombrita caused this uproar–this Twitter revolt–is because the high-minded language of gender equity, the magnitude of the problem, let’s say, of gender equity not matched by this minuscule 24 inch, you know, screen bolted on the side of the road to this bus pole… To say that you’re solving gender equity with this is a little bit insulting. 

Roman Mars [00:24:10] So what are some of the good things about La Sombrita? There must be some good things. 

Sam Bloch [00:24:13] La Sombrita makes shade. And any shade is better than none at all. I like to talk to a heat scientist at Arizona State University. Her name is Ariane Middel. She uses this heat index called the mean radiant temperature, which is basically how much heat is crashing into your body from the sun, from the air, from all the reflected surfaces. And I called her after this thing blew up. And I asked her about it. And she said, you know, “What is wrong with all you people? Why are you all dumping on this? What this does is it blocks direct solar radiation from hitting you. And direct solar radiation is the number one input in mean radiant temperature.” So, it helps; it does create some cooling. 

Roman Mars [00:24:51] Yeah. I mean, we talked about this a few years ago. It’s like people will line up behind a pole just to get a little bit of relief from something that’s two inches wide. 

Sam Bloch [00:25:02] Someone described that to me as the game we all play when you ride the bus in Los Angeles. You queue up behind telephone poles or utility poles. You queue up behind someone else. I don’t think it’s very dignified having to sort of hide from the sun in these accidental shady spaces on the street. But people do it because it works–because you’re getting the sun off your skin–and there are a number of psychological and physiological things that happen when you do that. 

Roman Mars [00:25:25] Okay. So, we are getting to the crux of this because this is exactly why I thought of you when I saw this thing. And to me, the shape of this thing is exactly the negative space created by the various regulations and bureaucracies of everything else surrounding it. There are many things stopping shade structures from being built, and some of those things are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. They’re ADA compliance. There’s a reason why a shade structure has holes; you know, it needs to not collect garbage on it and water and things like that. So, could you describe La Sombrita in terms of the design constraints as you understand them? 

Sam Bloch [00:26:09] Sure. Let’s talk about the shape of La Sombrita–this, you know, skateboard, popsicle, kind of oval shape. It couldn’t be fatter, let’s say. It couldn’t be truly circular, like a parasol, or, you know, octagonal, like a stop sign, because if it was too wide, this structure–which is, again, bolted to a bus pole–would blow over in the wind. So, it had to be aerodynamic, let’s say, for this specific purpose. It had to be perforated also for wind permeability. So, you don’t want a sail for the whole thing to sort of get picked up and blown away. But the reason this screen is bolted to a bus pole instead of affixed to the ground where people are in the first place has to do with the tough knot of regulations around how the public right of way is used and allocated and controlled in Los Angeles. And almost none of it has to do with making shade. ADA clearance is important. We want accessible sidewalks. For that reason, a narrow sidewalk–which UCLA researchers have found tend to be more common in POC neighborhoods in LA. than white neighborhoods–narrow sidewalks that were designed before modern ideas of accessibility are pretty much gobbled up by this need for ADA clearance, which, again is a good thing. 

Roman Mars [00:27:37] Totally. 

Sam Bloch [00:27:38] The solution to me seems to be, well, if you need more space, you can expand the sidewalk. You can work with the transit agencies to build into the road, to take some space away from cars and give it to pedestrians and bus riders, which, again, city leadership in Los Angeles says they want to encourage that kind of behavior. Or the other thing you can do, which some transit agencies have done in San Antonio, is to get an easement on private property and to take some of the private property that’s next to the sidewalk and give it to the public. The other reason why this shade structure is so spatially constrained is because there is this tendency amongst the many agencies in Los Angeles that control the public right of way not to work well together. And if you speak to people in the Streets Department or somewhere else in public works, they all have their good reasons for wanting to work within their own agencies. They have not been properly directed to collaborate and coordinate on projects that holistically serve their constituents, which are the public–who, to be honest, don’t really care whose jurisdiction the sidewalk is. They just want an accessible place where they’re not going to pass out waiting for the bus. So, if you’re only working, let’s say, with the Transportation Agency, which has a very limited real estate that they had permitted in the sidewalk, you’re only going to be able to work on that bus pole. If you want to work with the streets department, you have to get permitting–you have to go through another process. And then if you work with them, you find that there are all these other obstructions that don’t have to do with ADA, but have to do with, say, the vision triangle and clearance. You know, if there’s a driveway, you can’t be, you know, six to ten feet within that driveway, so drivers can see what’s happening, so they don’t run over a pedestrian. If there’s guy-wire, you know, holding up an overhead power line, you can’t be building a bus shelter or planting a tree near there. All these other infrastructures that we know are important for cities–they all come well before anyone ever gets to say, “I want to put a tree there. I want to put a bus shelter there.” So, it comes last or in some cases, not at all. I think part of the problem was that this was announced with this triumphant tone of achievement when, as other people have since suggested to me, what if the press conference could have instead been: “Look at what we’re allowed to do because of the way we govern public space in Los Angeles. Look at this minor incursion that we are only allowed to do here. What if we could do something bigger?”

Roman Mars [00:30:10] I mean, to me, it’s pretty interesting because I think La Sombrita is exactly the size of our desire to fix the problem. If you’re criticizing its size, you should be criticizing the fact that this is all you get. And that should be the story. 

Sam Bloch [00:30:27] Well said. 

Roman Mars [00:30:29] Sam, this has been great. It’s been great reconnecting with you. It’s nice to see you again. Thanks so much. 

Sam Bloch [00:30:34] Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it. 

Roman Mars [00:30:41] 99% Invisible was produced this week by Chris Berube. Sam Bloch is working on a book about Shade, and he’s looking for stories about how shade is changing people’s lives. If you have a great shade story, visit our website at, and we’ll have instructions for sharing your story with Sam. Sound mix for today’s episode by Martín Gonzales. Music by Swan Real. Delaney Hall is our senior editor. Kurt Kohlstedt is our digital director. Our intern is Anna Castagnaro. The rest of the team includes Emmett FitzGerald, Christopher Johnson, Vivian Le, Jayson De Leon, Lasha Madan, Jeyca Maldonado-Medina, Kelly Prime, Joe Rosenberg, and me, Roman Mars. The 99% Invisible logo was created by Stefan Lawrence. 99% Invisible is part of the Stitcher and SiriusXM podcast family, now headquartered six blocks north in the Pandora Building… in beautiful… uptown… Oakland, California.  You can find links to other Stitcher shows I love as well as every past episode of 99PI at 

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