Photos by Jonathan Alcorn.
Last night at the expansive Pritzker residence way above Holmby Hills, more than 100 civic leaders, movers and activists gathered to lend support to a new effort to engage Los Angeles leadership in fresh ways. The new organization, Future of Cities: Leading in LA, was convened by Donna Bojarsky, a longtime community and Democratic Party activist who was a co-founder of LA Works, is a contributing editor at Los Angeles Magazine, and serves on the county Human Relations Commission. She is president and founder of the group, along with co-founder and general counsel Bob Johnson, advisor William Deverell and sponsor Community Partners. There was much talk of building community and activating community leaders, with speakers that included Deverell, the Huntington and USC historian and author; LACMA director Michael Govan; Bob Ross of the California Endowment; and Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney|ABC Television Group.
The new group has an Oct. 19 future of cities event planned at LACMA. From the new website:
Cities are now recognized as the most important laboratory for a successfully organized society, and ground zero for creative ambition. Los Angeles is an important hub with powerful symbolic value. Yet, it is often overlooked for the role it plays in the world both financially and culturally. We are hindered by a traditionally weak civic fabric. LA is a segmented city lacking a dynamic, engaged and representative leadership cadre. Furthermore, we have precious limited infrastructure to bring forth a new generation dedicated to a sustainable world-class city.
There is glorious LA history to be built upon, and change is happening. This is the perfect time to promote a new kind of civic stewardship representative of today's Los Angeles – a region of unparalleled diversity, technology, entertainment, media, venture capital, environmental consciousness, and creative capital. Accomplishing this here would not only benefit our important city, but also have an impact far beyond our shores.
Future of Cities: Leading in LA is a civic initiative and project of Community Partners that aims to reinvigorate the involvement of civic leaders in creating a vibrant, cutting edge future for Los Angeles. Our goal is to marry vision, leadership and results to fulfill LA's ambitions and uplift this city. And if we can do it here, it would not only benefit our important city, but also have an impact far beyond our coast.
It was a bold-face names event, with a lot of the schmoozing attention directed at Los Angeles City Councilman-elect David Ryu, departing deputy mayor Rick Cole (recently named city manager of Santa Monica) and retired county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, there with his wife Barbara. Others spotted included Ambassador Michael Lawson and his wife Mattie McFadden-Lawson; Moby; KCRW's Jennifer Ferro, Madeleine Brand and Frances Anderton; Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times; KCET's Mary Mazur and Juan Devis; Los Angeles Magazine's Mary Melton, Chris Nichols and Marielle Wakim; Zocalo Public Square's Gregory Rodriguez; Curbed LA's Adrian Glick; Tina Daunt of The Hollywood Reporter; Ted Johnson of Variety; former state controller Kathleen Brown; Mitch Katz of LA County Public Health; DWP commissioner Michael Fleming; planning commission president David Ambroz; planning commissioner Richard Katz; Garcetti advisor Matt Johnson; Cynthia Kennard of the Annenberg Foundation; Adele Yellin of Grand Central Market, architect Mia Lehrer, CicLAvia founder Aaron Paley and a lot of others I didn't see and Hollywood people who I wouldn't know.
There was some questioning in the room about why everyone was there — Zocalo's Gregory Rodriguez took a little dig at mention of Christopher Hawthorne's "Third LA" notion by lamenting a shift in civic discussion from jobs and people to bike lanes and quality of life concerns — but the prevailing vibe and the comments from Govan, Deverell and Sherwood were more optimistic that the group would prove its value. Bojarsky joked that if all the organization accomplished was to get Govan the money to carry out his vision for LACMA it would be worth it, because without it he would probably leave town for other opportunities. Bojarsky also 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.
David Ryu, the new City Councilman-elect, between LACMA's Michael Govan and planning commission president David Ambroz.