Lately I’ve had some great brainstorms on how to frame my storytelling project this summer. My friends, sis, and I have come up with a list of eight ideas that I’m excited about and, the longer I sit with this list the more excited I feel about one idea in particular.
The question that I want to answer is: Why will people be excited to move to Los Angeles in 10 years? In an era where Hollywood has been killed by distributed content creation and distribution (a la YouTube), where foreign investors are no longer pouring money into skyscrapers in Los Angeles (but rather new megacities in the Far East), where Americans are immigrating abroad for blue collar jobs, why will people still pack up their lives and move, with excitement and purpose, to the city of Los Angeles? What is it about LA’s DNA, its lifeblood, that will continue to draw both fresh immigrants and tourists? What are the immutable, timeless values that can be found in LA and nowhere else?
I like this question because it’s one that I’m genuinely curious about, and it’s one that I feel that Los Angeles, and America more broadly, will really have to grapple with if (when?) it’s overtaken, economically, culturally, and militarily, by the rising tigers of the Far East. Other former superpowers — take France for example — have gone through this introspective process (arguably after WW2), and have done a pretty good job at finding their core values (or articulating their story). Over 80 million tourists go to France annually (more than the country’s population!) to fall in love with French culture — that timeless, unique, immutable set of values that can only be found in the alleyways, boulevards, parks, and art galleries of France.
So why will people come to Los Angeles when its skyline is unimpressive, its economy is stagnant, and its cultural impact is negligible? What are LA’s other assets that fill a big hole in the hearts of its residents, many of whom may not be interested in Hollywood, or a glam lifestyle, or may have better job prospects elsewhere, but stay in LA because they love the idea of raising their families there? If I can help LA to answer this question, perhaps I can help America to find itself in a world where its economy is second to China’s (or, according to the Wall Street Journal, in 10 years).
My main concern about this story is that it’s so big. I have this hypothesis that the more specific the story, the more compelling it is. And so one of my challenges is how to tell this story in a way that’s extremely personal, and yet speaks to the larger narrative. Here’s to figuring that out-
A few related thoughts:
– Professor Antonio Muntadas: “The fastest way to determine if you have the right story is to try to tell it. Before you head to LA, interview people in Boston. You’ll know very quickly what works and what doesn’t”
– Professor Ricardo-Pitts Wiley: “The difference between story — and news — is how deeply the person is invested in sharing it.” What I like about this story is that I feel that most residents of Los Angeles (those who plan to stay there indefinitely) have a vested interest in sharing it. This is potentially powerful.
– If I do tell this story, I’d love to integrate it into my cross-country drive to Los Angeles. One idea is to ask for peoples’ (say a farm-hand in Kansas) opinion’s on Los Angeles. Perhaps people outside of LA have an easier time articulating why it’s a great city than those who live in it.
– As I think of this story, I’m often brought back to the “Lose Yourself in Melbourne” commercial presented in my marketing class by Professor Ritson.