Left: David Ryu, the new City Councilman-elect, between LACMA's Michael Govan and planning commission president David Ambroz. Right: Michael Lawson, President Obama's ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization, with Bob Ross, president of the California Endowment. Photos by Jonathan Alcorn.
Los Angeles Magazine, the Hollywood Reporter and Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times have followed up with stories on the Future of Cities gathering earlier this week convened by Donna Bojarsky at the home of Tony and Jeanne Pritzker. Here's my post from Wednesday.
"Future of Cities is an initiative that seeks to galvanize Los Angeles leaders into doing away with L.A.’s overt lack of civic cohesion and replacing it with an invested network of impassioned citizens," the Los Angeles Magazine report says. "More than anything, the evening provided a platform for partygoers to sound off about where we as a city fall short and how the Future of Cities initiative hopes to turn things around.
“One thing New York definitely has is a sense of civic responsibility and leadership,” Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney|ABC Television Group, says in the article. “It’s almost considered a tax to participate in city life. This has existed in L.A., but what happened, and why?”
Zocalo Public Square founder Gregory Rodriguez had an answer. Rodriguez "spoke out most vehemently against our current focus on quality of life over more pressing issues like, say, the creation of jobs. 'How many people voted in the last election? No one, because we’re talking about things no one cares about,' he said."
“Building a bike lane at the farmers’ market won’t build a great city," Rodriguez added. "It would build a great Danish village. I miss the notion that we’re building a great city by talking about ports and jobs.”
on the THR website, Tina Daunt's story is headline Hollywood Tapped to Support 'Future of Cities' Initiative. How to engage Hollywood philanthropists and political activists in local Los Angeles issues was an underlying theme to the whole event.
Political and philanthropic adviser Donna Bojarsky has long reigned as activist Hollywood’s unofficial “queen of conversation.” Her long running Foreign Policy Roundtable has used the old-fashioned salon format to introduce entertainment industry notables to the new realities of global politics.
At a kickoff event this week, she 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 LA.
Sitting in the living room of billionaire philanthropists Tony and Jeanne Pritzker’s ultra-modern, art-filled 49,000 square foot hilltop compound on Tuesday evening, Bojarsky laid out her plans against a glittering vista that seemed to stretch from one end of Wilshire Blvd to the other.
And I see that LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has also posted his piece on the gathering. Excerpt:
The 3-year-old house owned by Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker, high on Angelo Drive in the upper reaches of Beverly Hills, is a vast and imposing neo-modern chateau, loosely Richard Meieresque in feel, that holds a notable collection of contemporary art and covers 49,000 square feet. It opens onto a lawn as long as a fairway and offers a view stretching from the downtown skyline to the ocean.
It was in the sunken living room of that house that Donna Bojarsky, former aide to Tom Bradley and archetypal "connector" in the Tipping Point mold, convened a high-minded discussion Tuesday evening on what she considers the pitiful state of civic engagement in Los Angeles.
The guests, perhaps 150 in all, included Michael Govan, director of the L.A. County Museum of Art; California Endowment President Bob Ross; the musician Moby, who is an L.A. architecture buff; Madeleine Brand of KCRW-FM (89.9); and David Ryu, newly elected member of the L.A. City Council. They were nearly outnumbered by a phalanx of waiters, bartenders, valet-parking attendants and security guards.
Bojarsky is right, of course, that L.A.'s civic fabric has long been flimsy and prone to fray; for many decades, the city has been far better at promoting, and enabling, individual than collective ambition. Yet the precise outlines of her fledgling group's agenda remained fuzzy. As the program wore on, the crowd in the living room thinned. When Bojarsky called out for Moby, the answer came back from a far corner that he had left already, to deal with a balky mixer, presumably somewhere down the hill and far from the 90210.