Love and Hate in the Urban Evolution of Los Angeles
I hate it when San Franciscans debase Los Angeles for its sprawl and smog. I abhor when New Yorkers belittle L.A. on the basis of its egotism and lack of intellectualism. Here is why none of those comments work for me: Disdain is part of the love here.
Are you someone with a love and hate relationship with Los Angeles? I may understand the quality of your conflicting emotions. It has taken my entire childhood and adult life as a native Angelena to figure out one important insight to LA—our urban evolution rests in the balance between our love and hate for it.
Los Angeles and all her residents know some important truths:
- We have Hollywood—for better or worse.
- We are multicultural with a westside, an eastside, the valley, and south central.
- We have Japantown, Koreatown, Chinatown, downtown, and dogtown.
- We have all kinds of food trucks here including kimchi burgers and cream cheese sushi.
- We have racism and segregation, and we have buses and metros that move through those segregated neighborhoods.
- We have the beach, mountains, desert, a river, and boulevards.
- We have a ton of independent creative professionals unemployed and looking for work.
- We have a ton of employed creative professionals trying to stay employed and feed their children.
- We have world-class schools, and those that can barely afford to pay rent.
- We have teachers being pink-slipped every year.
- We have Disney Concert Hall and KCRW.
- We are major consumers of cars to the point of it being a huge environmental waste.
- We cater consumerist values.
- We have smog.
- We have awesome sunsets as a result of that smog.
Los Angeles knows that her residents are relentlessly irritated, exhausted, and simultaneously inspired by her diverse landscapes, cultural centers, tumultuous histories, her struggle to survive and her objective to thrive.
We, the sun-soaked dwellers of sprawl, know that Los Angeles’ is not easy to love, and therefore, the feeling of hate often percolates when we feel the city may have left us unseen, unheard and alone, sitting in traffic. Here is when the chance for urban evolution becomes a practical and feasible progression.
This past Saturday I went to Emerging Art Leaders/Los Angeles’ symposium entitled, “Designing Disruption: How Art Innovators are Shaking Up the L.A. Experience.” As I listened to many of the speakers discuss their unconventional methods for building community platforms in L.A., I realized something important to the function of disruption as a catalyst between love and hate.
When the belief inherent in love meets the passion of disdain, there is a unique disruption wherein a chance for change is possible. At the beginning, change is signaled only as a chance in the individual.
When individuals spark conversation with others, thereby contracting the space of disruption, strong sentiments can lead to creativity and action, both of which lead to change.
Los Angeles is not as individualistic as its facade may be perceived.
Los Angeles has provided enough compelling evidence to move the ‘I’ to ‘we’ and ‘me’ to ‘us.’ The urban evolution happens inside of us, first, and begins with inquiry:
1.) How can we get more people out of their cars and bicyclists on the road?
2.) How can Los Angeles’ diverse art scenes support a thriving urban culture?
3.) How can we develop the small neighborhood experience therein making people work, play, and live closer to home?
4.) How can we honor cultural diversity in the city?
5.) How can the passion-driven missions of the nonprofit sector in L.A. work in collaboration, not competition?
6.) How can members of our communities experience agency and incite more positive improvements?
Challenging conversations lead to creativity, and creativity is the jump-starter to change. Positive change increases the love-factor. Love breeds more love, and trades in hate for civic pride and responsibility.
Los Angeles is fortunate to have many organizations pioneering such conversations and facilitating change.
For example, LA 2050, an organization who believes that Angelenos have the power to shape the future of our city, has a challenge for us to get our creativity and action in service. They are giving $1,000,000 to a variety of projects in education, income and employment, housing, public safety, health, environmental quality, social connectedness, arts and cultural vitality. (To learn about the innovative projects and to vote for the winners, please click here.)
LA 2050 believes in Los Angeles, and the collective resources of its residents.
We need more belief, then, nestled in the conversations between friends, colleagues and strangers where we share our emotions and experiences associated with this super city. Los Angeles is challenging us to face our emotions and apply our imagination to utilize resources that honor our diversity, our environment, and our resources creatively.