A group of civic machers held an inaugural event Tuesday for “The Center for LA and New Urban Leadership.”
About the only thing Angelenos love to talk about more than how much they love Los Angeles is what is wrong with Los Angeles. Interestingly, it is often those who are most passionate about the city who are also the most focused on digging into the challenges that prevent it from being better.
Amidst a struggle with homelessness and education, Wasserman spoke at the Future of Cities: Leading in L.A., saying, “A city like L.A. can do a lot of things. Let’s be honest, if we don’t host the games, we have no opportunity to elevate this city. We have no opportunity to show the world what L.A. is. We have no opportunity to unite the city around a singular event. And we still have those other problems.”
Founded by LA native Donna Bojarsky, a longtime political advisor and strategist, the launch event, #LEADINGINLA, was a Ted-like gathering of diverse voices speaking about the opportunities and challenges facing LA.
Convened under the auspices of the new Future of Cities initiative, Moby, Casey Wasserman and others joined civic activist Donna Bojarsky in envisioning "what L.A. is and can be."
Speaking at the Future of Cities: Leading in LA summit on Monday, Wasserman said, “A city like L.A. can do a lot of things. Let’s be honest, if we don’t host the games, we have no opportunity to elevate this city. We have no opportunity to show the world what L.A. is. We have no opportunity to unite the city around a singular event. And we still have those other problems.”
The new group that calls itself Future of Cities: Leading in LA held its first public event last night, a gathering of about 500 people in the Bing Theatre at LACMA. They heard from panelists such as sports macher and philanthropist Casey Wasserman, the musician Moby, restaurateur Bill Chait, LACMA chief executive Michael Govan, UC Regents chair Monica Lozano, preservation developer Wayne Ratkovich, City Councilman David Ryu and CicLAvia founder Aaron Paley. (Whole list at the group's website.) This was the follow-up "summit" to the event last June that organizer Donna Bojarsky called to get a conversation going about civic leadership in Los Angeles. Some of the other panelists Monday night included community activists, education reformers and media types such as ABC 7 anchor Marc Brown,Los Angelesmagazine editor Mary Melton, KCRW host Madeline Brand, KCET senior VP Juan Devis andLA Timesarts and culture columnist Carolina Miranda.
Last night, leaders from around Los Angeles gathered in the Bing Theater at LACMA for a singular event: an evening of conversations about the future of the city. Part civic check-in, part brainstorming session, the evening was intended to encourage cross-discipline networking and problem solving.
Future of Cities is a civic initiative that aims to reinvigorate the involvement of civic leaders in creating a vibrant, cutting edge future for Los Angeles. Given our size and enduring economic inequality, we are indeed a city that needs to better marry vision, leadership and results to fulfill L.A.'s ambitions and achieve our potential.
But here we are, trying to get arms and brains and imagination all the way around this place that can seem as large and mysterious as the Louisiana Purchase of old. I am optimistic, with the caveat that we all know that optimism alone won't take us very far. History can help, I think; history should always be one of the tools by which individuals, groups, or entire societies tackle their present or future. It exercises its power regardless; better to acknowledge and learn from it than to ignore it. First, second, third LA --history marks those sequential divisions and has so much to teach us.
You might remember my posts back in June on a new leadership gathering of civic activists, power players and others at the Tony Pritzker home above Beverly Hills. The event was well attended and generated a fair bit of buzz. Now it's going public with an October 19 event at LACMA's Bing Theatre called the Future of Cities: Leading in LA summit event, "to make civic leadership a top priority for LA." Admission starts at $100.
Future of Cities founder Donna Bojarsky appears on Press Play with Madeleine Brand to discuss civic engagement.
Are Angelenos really engaged—like New Yorkers and Chicagoans—in trying to make our city a better place to live? Do we volunteer and give money to our museums and cultural institutions? Do we feel connected to our city? According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, not really. Los Angeles ranks near the bottom when compared to volunteerism in other big cities.
Los Angeles has a rather checkered history with the term “civic engagement.” Its disconnectedness seems to translate into low voter turnout for citywide elections or participation in cultural institutions. Hollywood, the industry, seems more apt to portray the city’s apocalypse than its moves toward livability. Earlier this week, a group of civic leaders gathered at the Beverly Hills home of Tony and Jeanne Pritzker to try to mobilize an effort to strengthen the civic fabric. The initiative is called Future of Cities: Leading in L.A., led by political consultant Donna Bojarsky, with the first major public event planned for Oct. 19. “People are not better in other cities,” Bojarsky told the gathering. “They just have more social obligation to do things. So we need a little more push, a little more clash of civic elite, a little more civic competition, in order to make L.A. to really be the world class city we want it to be. Because I hate to tell you right now. We’d like to believe it is a world class city, but we are not quite there.”
At a kickoff event this week, Donna Bojarsky brought a Beverly Hills living room crowded with movers-and-shakers from virtually every facet of Los Angeles life up to speed on her plans to bring that process back home in a grand new salon whose purpose is nothing less than the reimagination and revitalization of her city’s civic culture. Her new initiative — which is receiving final support from Disney, ABC, Sony Studios, ICM, and CAA — is called Future of Cities: Leading In L.A.
More than 100 civic leaders, movers and activists gathered to lend support to a new effort to engage Los Angeles leadership in fresh ways….Bojarsky took a show of hands to see how many in the crowd were native Angelenos or had moved to LA (about half and half) then made a point by asking how many planned to leave. I didn't see any hands, which gave her an opening to press for their greater involvement in local affairs.