For this episode, John is joined by Tara Roth, President of the Goldhirsh Foundation, who is supporting cross-sector social innovation in Los Angeles. They focus the conversation on one of the foundation’s key initiatives, called LA2050. You’ll hear about the initiative’s origins, and exactly how it’s activating tens of thousands of Angelenos, year after year, in building towards a shared vision for 2050.
Links to subjects mentioned:
- Second Home coworking space
- Goldhirsh Foundation
- Covenant House
- City Year
- Lift LA
- Estolano Advisors
- My LA2050 Grants Challenge
- Heal the Bay
- The Herb and Marion Sandler Foundation
- Center for American Progress
- Center for Public Integrity
- RAND Corporation
- Milken Institute
- Roy and Patricia Disney Foundation
- Annenburg Foundation
- First 5 LA
- CAA Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Inclusive Action for the City
- LA N Sync
- California Community Foundation
- LA Economic Development Corporation
- The Hunger Games
- Griffith Observatory
- Imagine LA
- Nelson Mandela
- The Upside of your Downside by Todd Kashdan
- Le Petit Greek
Listen to our other podcasts here or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play
John Bwarie: I’m sitting here with Tara Roth and we’re sitting at Second Home, a shared coworking space in Hollywood right next to the Home Depot, and I can see the 101 out the window. Really cool, a lot of energy here, but this Goldhirsh Foundation didn’t start here. Can you tell us what is this Goldhirsh Foundation that we’re going to be talking about? How did it get started? What is it?
Tara Roth: Yeah. Thank you, John.
John Bwarie: What’s your [crosstalk 00:00:59] role?
Tara Roth: Yeah. Well, so I’m Tara Roth. I’m the President of the Goldhirsh Foundation, and I’m really excited to be here. Out the other window I can see Covenant House and a number of other organizations that are nonprofit that help support people experiencing homelessness, which is I think part of what makes the Goldhirsh Foundation and this location in Los Angeles interesting. That it is this collaborative, different mish-mash of organizations, whether it’s for profit, nonprofit, or government entities that are trying to do their part in the world at one way or another. The Goldhirsh Foundation is a private family foundation.
Tara Roth: We were founded via the sale of Inc. and Sail magazines and endowed to make the world a better place. We support social innovation mostly in Los Angeles. What I say is we act like a venture capital fund for social good, so we think about capital in different ways, for instance. We think about our financial capital, so our grants, our loans, and our investments that we make, and I’ll try to do as much good as possible with those different forms of financial capital. We think about our human capital, so the people we have on my team, me, and providing operational advice and input. We think about social capital, so ways that we can influence and amplify organizations in the impact sector via whether it’s our newsletter or our social media channels or just making introductions to other funders or influencers.
John Bwarie: You started the foundation?
Tara Roth: I did not start the foundation. The foundation was started probably about almost 20 years ago now, and it was started to initially fund brain cancer research, which is what Ben’s father was dying of when he endowed the foundation. I took over the foundation. I split the foundation very amicably between Ben and his sister, and then we basically relaunched the foundation in its current format, focusing on innovation, focusing on Los Angeles in about 2011. At that time, we had not really had a public-facing website. We didn’t have a Goldhirsh Foundation brand. We didn’t have colors and a brand guide and a way to talk about the foundation. We were being very opportunistic in what areas we were focusing on for our funding. After sort of taking that over, doing a new strategic plan, and relaunching the foundation, that’s where we are today.
Tara Roth: At the same time that we did that relaunch of the foundation, we also started looking at different discreet grants and investments that we had made in Los Angeles and we started thinking about, how do they all connect to each other? We’re all connected and all issues are connected. For instance, we in early days of the foundation brought City Year to Los Angeles and we brought LIFT, the anti-poverty organization, to Los Angeles. For instance, with City Year, we looked at the success City Year was having as an individual entity of getting kids to graduate from high school, but then, were there jobs that kids would want to take? Were there colleges where the kids could go? What’s kind of the continuum of a quality of life?
Tara Roth: With LIFT, for instance, we could talk about helping to get people out of poverty, but what’s happening while they’re there with their families? What sort of education are their kids getting? What sort of environment are the kids being raised in? We commissioned research in a report called LA2050 and launched this initiative that is now a standalone initiative of the Goldhirsh Foundation.
John Bwarie: Let’s take that a bit.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: LA2050 is an initiative that’s probably your most well-known initiative or project, and maybe one of the most well-known sort of initiatives of a foundation in Southern California/L.A. area, because it is very public-facing. It’s very much not for the elites or the decision-makers, but for everyone in L.A. to see themselves in that project. It came from, as you just described, your experience with a couple of organizations.
John Bwarie: What was that evolution to say from… You could have done that in a very internal and still very deliberate way, but you made a choice. You and your leadership made a choice to say, “We need to make a project for all Angelenos.” For context, L.A. County has 10 million residents. If you look at the region, we’re talking twice that in the region. It affects a lot of people. It’s a big issue to try to tackle L.A.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: That’s in air quotes, “L.A.”. What was the process to get from, “We’re funding these things, they’re interesting, and let’s do something concerted for the public”?
Tara Roth: We [crosstalk 00:05:26] I think there were a couple of things. One is we wanted to better understand how to leverage what we were doing in the best possible way. Kind of the highest and best use of the assets that we have at our disposal. I think that we’ve always done a good job that, that we thought about if we can provide a grant, can we then also take a board position? Can we also provide someone with space to have an event? Can we let people be who they are? Can we let organizations let us lead us into what their plans and their visions are? I think that that’s kind of at the essence of what we were doing, so [crosstalk 00:05:59]-
John Bwarie: Did you need to have a public-facing thing to do that, though?
Tara Roth: No, I think that that was a value, so I think that that was a value that hadn’t really been articulated by us. Then, we started articulating that a little bit more and thought about, “Okay, how can we basically punch above our weight? How can we give ourselves a roadmap?” Then, given we exist for the public good, how can we provide or offer a roadmap for the public good in a way that we thought would be helpful and additive to what’s already out there? For instance, even with our research, we looked at… We hired an organization called Estolano Advisors. We were their first client and we were pretty specific about the fact that we wanted them to look at research that was already existing.
Tara Roth: We didn’t want them to go out and create something that was going to be in competition with what L.A. County had already drafted, what different council members in L.A. County had already drafted, what a well-being project had already done. We said, “Please bring it all together, what L.A. River has done.” They aggregated hundreds of studies and reports and they pulled that together and for us it was the way in which we communicated about it. We made it very accessible. Our first LA2050 Report and really all of the communications surrounding LA2050 are for, as you said, the average community member who wants to be a steward of Los Angeles’ future. We also listened to Angelenos.
Tara Roth: We had experts come in and come up with the metrics by which LA2050’s guided as an initiative, but we also gave many grants to 20 different community-based organizations our first year to have them come up and tell us the metrics that were important to them. For instance, we had a Native American organization conduct a basket weaving and talk about metrics that were important to them. What we found is we’re all really connected. We all want to have clean air, we want to have safe streets. We want to have good, meaningful jobs. We want good education. We want to have a decent transportation system. We want to be able to have a place we’re proud of as neighbors, as community members, and we want to be able to raise our families in a great place.
John Bwarie: You said 20 organizations. How many do you think you talked to early on before you started?
Tara Roth: Well, we’d already started doing some of the research. A lot of this was done in parallel, but that first year that we did LA2050, it’s called LA2050 Listens where we gave the small grants, we talked to 30,000 people.
John Bwarie: Wow-
Tara Roth: Yeah.
John Bwarie: Amazing. Now, that’s amazing, but also it’s just in L.A. County-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: A drop in the bucket, right?
Tara Roth: Absolutely, absolutely.
John Bwarie: That’s a small city.
Tara Roth: Yes. Yes, exactly. It’s also a number that can change the outcome of a political election and it’s the number that can make a boycott or a buycott incredibly successful. I think that at the base of LA2050 is this is an accessible, beautiful report and goals and metrics that people should be able… that appeals to people on a layperson’s terms, that people should be able to contribute to and interact with, that’s not going to be too lofty or heady and that is out there to be helpful however people want to interpret that.
John Bwarie: As you did this, as you were part of the brain trust that was bringing this to bear, did you think of like a persona or a standard of the person you were thinking about? Like, “this is the person, if I could describe the Angeleno I’m trying to talk to and reach”, who was in your head?
Tara Roth: It was less about the person we were trying to reach. What we thought about more was the person, if we could personalize who LA2050 was serving in terms of like what we were projecting the future, if that makes any sense. We actually thought about… From the research, we thought about, “Who is the L.A. of the future? Who is that everyday Angeleno we should all be looking at? What do the statistics show?” We worked with a demographer and we looked at the growing number of demographics, for instance, in the Latina population. This baby who was born in 2011 we looked at as being a young Latina whose trajectory… We looked at her kind of trajectory in life, what things would look like in 2050 for her.
Tara Roth: It was less about the audience then, but we wanted, though, to make sure that everything that we put out there in terms of data or statistics was designed very easily, that we were strong on graphics. Everything’s been done in English. We’ve had a few tweets and other content on social media platforms that we’ve had translated into Spanish, but everything’s been done in English and I think we we were trying to appeal more to a sensibility than we were to a suburban housewife living in the 27 to 37 band and within a certain income bracket. It was more about a sensibility about, “We are all Angelenos”, and what can this be to them?
John Bwarie: You were trying to connect with people who already had a sense of place?
Tara Roth: Or who-
John Bwarie: Or had-
Tara Roth: Needed to find a sense of place and who needed to find an entry point for a sense of place.
John Bwarie: Gotcha.
Tara Roth: That’s where I think what we’ve done has been different and where it’s more of a… What I call it is a… I call it more of a consumer brand than a stakeholder brand. It’s also making the consumer the stakeholder in his or her future, but we try to make everything that we do and everything communicated about engaging and fun and optimistic. A lot of the stats that we have about the future of Los Angeles and our current state of being are not incredibly optimistic, but we try to find some hope that people can connect around.
John Bwarie: You started you said about 10 years ago, 2011, engage 30,000 in that first session. What did you do with those 30,000 people? It’s been 10 years.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: Has that number grown? Has it shrunk? Has it stayed the same but the actual 30,000 are a different group of 30,000? I’d love to know what the engagement is-
Tara Roth: Yes, yes.
John Bwarie: With those folks. How do you carry it?
Tara Roth: Yes. I would say that those initial 30,000 who served as kind of research resources for us, I’m not sure how much they have stayed with us or not stayed with us as a community. The way we really did get the engagement out there was we launched the My LA2050 Grants Challenge. That was really an exercise in saying, “Hey, Los Angeles, here’s this foundation you’ve probably not heard of”, because a lot of people don’t know that the Goldhirsh Foundation is behind LA2050, and that’s by design because we really wanted this to be… We don’t want this to be a topdown, that this is a Goldhirsh Foundation mandated initiative. We wanted this to be… this is about Angelenos.
Tara Roth: We want to listen to Angelenos and respond in an authentic way and put forth the research that we’re hearing with no agenda, truly no agenda. That’s what I often say about our work is that we are not in political office, so we will not be voted out. We are not seeking reelection. We are not in the private sector, so we’re not trying to make our investors happy and we’re not trying to show a certain volume sale at the end of the quarter. We are here for public good. We have been blessed by this privilege of having this endowment and we are trying to do the most good that we possibly can. That’s really… We’re coming at it with a pretty objective, neutral lens.
Tara Roth: To get back to your question around engagement, the biggest engagement piece for us is the Grants Challenge. This is an online crowd source Grants Challenge we do just about every year where we give away a million dollars of the Goldhirsh Foundation funding and we let Angelenos decide where that funding goes. That has been very successful in creating a list in a community of Angelenos for us. We then have a newsletter to keep people up to date about what’s happened with the organizations that have won, organizations who haven’t won. We always promote research and events. We have job postings. It’s a really nice entry point for anyone who wants to know a little bit more about Los Angeles and get a little bit more involved in a meaningful way.
John Bwarie: Have you taken… That list is-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: Is that a 30,000 person?
Tara Roth: It’s fluctuated. It’s gone over a hundred thousand-
John Bwarie: Wow.
Tara Roth: Like, I think we’re now at about 70,000 because we’ve also done list cleanup [crosstalk 00:14:08]-
John Bwarie: As you should [crosstalk 00:14:10] respectful [crosstalk 00:14:10]-
Tara Roth: We’re really… We’re very… Yes. Actually, a few years ago we did do an audit about best practices for lists and we are very… Probably to a fault, but we want to be very respectful about people’s time.
John Bwarie: The reason I ask the numbers, we talked about a small movement at 30,000. Now, you’re twice that. That’s a mid-sized city in L.A. County.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: L.A. County has 88 cities, the biggest being Los Angeles, the smallest being I think one of these smaller cities with like a hundred people in it. How do you use that list now? You have them, you’re communicating and people might forward or click, but are you creating a community that’s activated? Are you saying, “Hey, we can change an election”?
Tara Roth: Yep.
John Bwarie: “We can boy or buycott”?
Tara Roth: Yes, yes. We are trying-
John Bwarie: How do you use it?
Tara Roth: Whatever we can that is within legal parameters. This is tricky because we are a 501(c)(3) private family foundation. However, when you talk about 501(c)(3)s, for the most part we think of nonprofits that are public charities. Some of the organizations that we support that are known and loved like Heal the Bay in Los Angeles or City Year, I’ve already mentioned, those organizations have much more latitude to get political and to advocate more so than we as a private family foundation.
Tara Roth: We have to be very, very careful. I’m on the phone with our lawyer a lot, anytime things go out in the newsletter. We can report on what happened with a measure, for instance, like the stormwater wastewater treatment measure, but we can’t say, “Show up for this hearing about this.” There are a lot of [crosstalk 00:15:46]-
John Bwarie: You can’t [crosstalk 00:15:46]-
Tara Roth: Constraints we have [crosstalk 00:15:46]-
John Bwarie: You can’t advocate a position, but you can advocate engagement?
Tara Roth: We can advocate engagement as long as we do it the right way. There are also laws about [crosstalk 00:15:53]-
John Bwarie: Like go vote?
Tara Roth: Well, so we can advocate going out to vote, we can’t advocate for voter registration. It’s an interesting… This is where it gets… The devil’s in the details with having to talk to lawyers quite a bit. Even if we point to things, because our newsletter and our social media platforms are our best ways, our most consistent ways of engaging, especially at a higher level, even if we want to put something into our newsletter, we have to make sure that if someone were to click on a link and go to a site that they then couldn’t get to something that could be deemed illegal from a private foundation [crosstalk 00:16:30]-
John Bwarie: Wow [crosstalk 00:16:30]-
Tara Roth: Limiting.
John Bwarie: Are those state laws or national laws?
Tara Roth: I think there are some that are national [crosstalk 00:16:36]-
John Bwarie: IRS [crosstalk 00:16:37]-
Tara Roth: And some that are state. Yeah [crosstalk 00:16:37] they are both. Yeah.
John Bwarie: Interesting.
Tara Roth: I know, it really… It’s a tricky little… We have actually in times past thought about, “What if we spun LA2050 out?”
John Bwarie: Right.
Tara Roth: Not from the foundation, so it would be a separate entity from the foundation and the analog that we look at is, although we’re much smarter, but the Herb and Marion Sandler Foundation in San Francisco. Started Center for American Progress and Center for Public Integrity and ProPublica. We’ve actually worked with them to talk about how they incubated an idea, did the recruitment and training of a leader, and then spun that idea and that leader and that burgeoning organization out of the very safe confines of a foundation. Then, how they helped fundraise and support operationally. That’s an idea we’ve tinkered around with. We’ve had a couple of hiccups around that and we may revisit that.
John Bwarie: Yeah. What’s the pros and cons of that? Now, the idea here is creating a new structure-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: That would allow for greater engagement of this community you’ve built and clearly people that are surrounding you-
Tara Roth: Yes, yes.
John Bwarie: And for those who may have not been aware of you before, the attitude is that if you’re going to talk about sort of the vision of the future of Los Angeles, you might talk to our elected officials. You might talk to think tanks like the RAND Corporation or the Milken Institute. More recently, you would include LA2050 and/or Goldhirsh, depending upon the person in the know.
John Bwarie: In a very short amount of time, you’ve elevated your role in the conversation about the future of the second-largest city in the country and its surrounding communities that make it the largest I think metropolitan area in the country, it being Southern California. Why not spin it out to say, “Okay, 70,000, 100,000, or even 50,000 people, we can change Long Beach, we can change Culver City because of the number of people we have”? Where’s the pros and cons for doing that?
Tara Roth: Yes. A big pro to doing it is that we can get more teeth and we can-
John Bwarie: Right.
Tara Roth: Get more political, we can pick fights. LA2050 does not pick fights. We’ve been everyone’s best friend, and it’s been a good thing and a bad thing. There’s always the downside to the upside. That would be probably the biggest and best reason if we wanted to get really serious about taking a stance on something. The con to that is if that is spun out separately from the foundation, we are then establishing in essence something that could be deemed competitive by other public charities’ standards. We’ve talked with a number of our grantees because we really think of our grantees as our partners. I would say that they’re the people out on the streets, on the front lines who are seeing, hearing, and doing and that kind of feed us that information. We provide that support.
John Bwarie: Just how many [crosstalk 00:19:22]-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: Grantees are you talking about?
Tara Roth: Oh, we have… With My LA2050, which we’ve done six years in a row, we have anywhere between 10 to 15 grantees per year, so it’s close to a hundred grantees. Then, we’ve also have done… We really want to extend. When I talked about that social capital and what Goldhirsh Foundation has done with social capital, even though LA2050 is part of Goldhirsh Foundation, we really have tried to make sure that other funders have used the My LA2050 Grants Challenge as a platform for doing some of their funding.
Tara Roth: We’ve worked with The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, The CAA Foundation, First 5, The Scooter Braun Enterprises. We’ve worked with a lot of different foundations where we’ve constructed partnerships in which we have looked specifically at organizations who have applied to My LA2050 who maybe haven’t won but where we think there’s a good fit. We’ve been able to… We’ve had about 3 or $4 million go to outside of our [crosstalk 00:20:20]-
John Bwarie: You leveraged-
Tara Roth: We’ve leveraged that money, and directly leveraged. We’ve also heard anecdotes about people who have said, “Oh, the Ford Foundation found us because of [crosstalk 00:20:27] My LA2050 and other groups like that”, so-
John Bwarie: When you go to those partners and say, “Hey, we’re thinking about becoming… jumping in the pool with you”-
Tara Roth: Right, right. Some people say, “Well, how would that work, then, if we both go out to the same funder?” That’s a good question. One of our ideas has been, “Well, we can provide more oomph.” If there’s an organization… For instance, if you think about LA2050 as being a union of innovators essentially and if there is an organization like a Trust for Public Land or Heal the Bay in Los Angeles that’s working on environmental issues and then they’re working on a ballot initiative or they’re working trying to get someone elected or legislation passed, wouldn’t they love to tap into an organization or a community that’s been working on education reform issues? How could that work so that they could help each other so that there’s a guiding principle of LA2050 that’s about idealism and practicality for social good?
Tara Roth: Whether it’s… It’s almost its own political platform that it’s saying, “Okay, if you believe in high-quality public schools for all children, you most likely believe in high air quality and tree canopy for children as well.” How can organizations that are working at respective ends of the political issues, how can they band together and bring their respective constituent bases together?
John Bwarie: As you’re talking, I’m thinking, “Is it possible that you don’t need to be a nonprofit to do that?” Could you look at a social enterprise or a different structure than public charity to say, “LA2050 administers the Grant Challenge and convenes and has a voice”? Have you looked at that?
Tara Roth: We’ve looked at kind of a hybrid model. We’ve looked at like a C4 to get really, really political, we’ve looked at C3, and then we’ve looked at a membership model because we also believe [crosstalk 00:22:19]-
John Bwarie: That’s a C6.
Tara Roth: As… We [crosstalk 00:22:19]-
John Bwarie: Or, I don’t know [crosstalk 00:22:22]-
Tara Roth: I don’t even know.
John Bwarie: There’s a lot. See, those are all the IRS codes. I think there’s something like 30 [crosstalk 00:22:26] something-
Tara Roth: There’s so many [crosstalk 00:22:28]-
John Bwarie: Codes in the [crosstalk 00:22:28]-
Tara Roth: There are too many to keep track of, and I always invoke Albert Einstein, who said that, “If you can’t remember… Don’t bother remembering it if you can look it up”, and so if it’s good enough for Einstein, it’s good enough for me-
John Bwarie: Absolutely [crosstalk 00:22:38]-
Tara Roth: So yes, I’m [crosstalk 00:22:39]-
John Bwarie: I’m with you there.
Tara Roth: Going to just… Yes, thank you, Albert. I think that we could construct an entity that would have to have a number of different funding sources, which I think is again going to be important because, like I mentioned before, just in the physical location of where we are that it’s really important to engage the private sector, the non-private sector, and the government sector. That’s really the only way I see that we’re going to be able to make broad scale social change that is embraced by people who are not affiliated with the government or not affiliated with a private sector firm and vice versa. I think that that’s [crosstalk 00:23:14]-
John Bwarie: You just described [crosstalk 00:23:15] community, right?
Tara Roth: Yeah, that’s community [crosstalk 00:23:16] that’s it.
John Bwarie: Especially here in Southern California-
Tara Roth: That’s it.
John Bwarie: And the U.S.-
Tara Roth: Exactly.
John Bwarie: It’s that three-legged stool of the government, nonprofit, and private sector working together.
Tara Roth: They have to work together, so they also have to have some skin in the game together. That’s where I think that having a varied revenue base to support an organization like this would be critical. I love the idea of a social enterprise, and we’ve talked with our friends at KCRW about the fringe benefits model, or Step Up women’s organization has an orange card. We’ve looked at different models that museums have employed and we’ve talked with kind of membership consultants to say, “What would it look like to become a membership-based organization?”
John Bwarie: A card-carrying member [crosstalk 00:23:58]-
Tara Roth: A card [crosstalk 00:23:58]-
John Bwarie: Of LA2050 [crosstalk 00:23:58]-
Tara Roth: Of LA2050, exactly. Well, that’s a community that people identify with and want to be part of. What would that look like? You’re asking a lot of really good questions, and it’s really more than anything it’s about pulling all of that together and kind of constructing a plan to move us forward to the future. The other thing I will say is, as I said, there have been a couple of times over the last I’d say three years that we’ve thought really seriously about spinning this out, and for one reason or another we haven’t. Some of it has been political context, some of it has been transition in leadership. There are a lot of number of things. We need to make sure it’s also the right team in place to take it forward.
John Bwarie: Absolutely, and I think when you talk about team, you also think about, “How do you make sure”… You’ve talked a lot about these partners or others. How do you make that distinction if you’ve talked to enough people and enough of the… I don’t want to say the right people, but enough of the different people? It’s really easy and I think all of us as humans have this ease of getting into the echo chamber. You surround yourself [crosstalk 00:25:03]-
Tara Roth: For sure.
John Bwarie: With people that say what you want to hear-
Tara Roth: For sure.
John Bwarie: Or say what you believe, and so it must be-
Tara Roth: For sure.
John Bwarie: Must be true. How do you decide who to include when you make these decisions? How do you know you’ve got enough diverse voices?
Tara Roth: There is the magic, right? No, there’s where I will say I think that we’ve done a really good job. We did the LA50 Listens-
John Bwarie: You did it just once?
Tara Roth: Initiative.
John Bwarie: Or did you-
Tara Roth: We did it twice.
John Bwarie: Okay.
Tara Roth: We did it twice, and then we did something… Replaced it because we got enough data to construct really what we found to be very solid metrics that probably need to be revisited anyway, but at that stage we’re really solid. We looked around the room and we said, “We all the look the same in this room, essentially. We all have similar educational backgrounds. How are we going to really hear from people we may not have heard from before? Or we may not have access to them?” That’s where we said we’re going to give small grants. We gave anywhere… For the two times we did it, we did I think 2500 to $5000 grants and we said, “We don’t care how you conduct this conversation. We don’t care where you conduct this conversation, in what language you conduct this conversation, but we just want to know what’s important to your community.”
Tara Roth: We had organizations that conducted LA2050 Listens conversations into Gaelic. We conducted them into English and Spanish. We had another one just conducted in Spanish. I mentioned we had the Native American group doing basket weaving. We had people… We had a group of formerly incarcerated people gathered together in a town hall talking about the specific issues they are confronting, so we really cast a broad religious, racial, socio-economic net. We said, “You tell us, community base.”
Tara Roth: I will say, when you put money out there in a broad open public call, where we don’t really care, we just want to hear from people out there, you get a lot of people. We felt like with the 20 organizations the first year and probably about the 15 to 20 the next year that we had a decent cross-representation in addition to grantees we had from Goldhirsh Foundation. We had good inputs about an authentic experience and what Angelenos want.
John Bwarie: Is that just because of sort of anecdotally or emotionally you felt it was good? Or did you sort of set some benchmarks? Like, “Hey, we know these are the demographics of the community-
Tara Roth: Yeah.
John Bwarie: “We want to reflect them”?
Tara Roth: It was that and also giving them specific metrics to respond to, and these were metrics that were like academically rigorously defensible, that we had a cross industry, cross-sector group of academic advisors and “experts” in respective fields, from education reform to environmental quality, arts and cultural vitality. We had kind of a… This is where we had the topdown/bottom-up outcomes that we expected and had hoped for, but then we also monitored against. We also took some research that the “experts” had given us.
Tara Roth: It was refuted in some ways by what the community said. Not refuted in terms of its importance but in terms of its importance of being measured, and then we made modifications, so [crosstalk 00:28:06] we’ve done it. I feel like we’ve done a good job in that way of responding appropriately and balancing what the “experts say” with the people that are having the lived experience.
John Bwarie: Let me ask you one last one. This piece is… Do you feel like you’re able to in a space like Los Angeles get the geographic diversity? Can someone in Palmdale feel represented just as much as someone in Cudahy versus someone in Industry or in Palms or in Long Beach? Right?
Tara Roth: Yes. That is the immense challenge, and I think that that’s where we have had… We’ve done… Every year that we do the Grants Challenge, for instance, and when we did the LA2050 Listens, we did take into account geographic diversity. We did take into account diversity within groups as well. We sort of looked at everything from a portfolio perspective of we wanted to make sure that we had as many bases as broadly covered as possible, but with also as many high-quality inputs as we could possible have. It’s a constantly balance. I will say that there are areas where we are not as broadly represented. I can’t speak to everyone. I will say, though, also in the Grants Challenge, I believe that we’ve had… It’s about 97% of zip codes in Los Angeles County participate in voting. It’s going to be 3 to 5% who have not participated only because they’re in geographic locations like Walt Disney Studios. They’re nonresidential. It’s basically we’ve had almost every zip code in L.A. County vote-
John Bwarie: That’s great.
Tara Roth: In the Grants Challenge, which we feel is a wonderful metric to say, “Okay, we’re small, but we’ve got some muscle in terms of spreading our message.”
John Bwarie: As you did this process for LA2050 coming into your 10 or so here almost, what did you learn? Not everything goes… I mean, you painted a very both optimistic picture with a dose of reality, but let’s go real reality. What didn’t work? What did you try that just didn’t work? There may be someone that says, “Hey, we want to do an SF2050”, or, “We want to do an Austin2050.” What do the people need to know when you’re starting this kind of effort to really engage a large metropolitan region?
Tara Roth: Well, actually, as you even mentioned that, one of the things that I would like to do is I would like to work with more cities and regions who would like to participate in something like a 2050. I would love to have an off-the-shelf toolkit for different organizations, and that’s actually how we [crosstalk 00:30:40]-
John Bwarie: What’s the chapter said, “Avoid this”? What’s in that chapter?
Tara Roth: I think one thing I would say is be very clear about what you expect and would like this initiative to become, because I would say that we have fallen short on turning this into an entity that can take a stance on certain positions that could influence an election in some way, that possibly could stand on its own outside of the auspices of the foundation. That to me feels like lost potential, and to me, lost potential is one of the worst failures ever. Yes.
John Bwarie: If you went to the beginning again, would you say, “Let’s not start it ourselves, but let’s find a group that we can incubate outside of us to do this”?
Tara Roth: Well, no, because we actually tried finding groups and we said, “We’re happy to pay for the research, we’re happy to do this, but we don’t know that we’re the right person to take this forward.” We didn’t really find a great home for it that would also have approached it as aggressively as we did. I think we did it the right way. I probably would have gotten more potential funding stakeholders involved earlier [crosstalk 00:31:53]-
John Bwarie: Early.
Tara Roth: On in that so, that would be kind of a lesson learned, especially if the end goal were to be to spin this out and become its own funded entity. I also probably would have thought more about what that end goal of like the structure would have been like to your question about social enterprise and I talked about membership model. I would have thought more about the end I mean, I think that when we first launched it, we just said, “Let’s just do this research for us. Let’s get this research out there.”
Tara Roth: I would have thought a little bit differently about, “If this succeeds and people like this and people want to adopt this as a way of life, what would be our big, hairy idea?” We didn’t think about the big, hairy idea right up front, and I’m sorry that we didn’t do that because I think that would have changed the ways we would have engaged people.
John Bwarie: Do you see that the first nine years, because we’re coming into 2020, we’re at 30 years to achieve your goal-
Tara Roth: Yeah.
John Bwarie: You had nine years to sort of figure it out?
Tara Roth: Well, I actually.. I will admit [crosstalk 00:32:46]-
John Bwarie: Do you [crosstalk 00:32:46]-
Tara Roth: Okay [crosstalk 00:32:46]-
John Bwarie: Sure.
Tara Roth: Go ahead. No, I just want to say [crosstalk 00:32:48]-
John Bwarie: No.
Tara Roth: Because we didn’t even put the first research paper out until 2013, so I just want to give myself… It’s more like six years than [crosstalk 00:32:55]-
John Bwarie: Okay.
Tara Roth: I just want to say [crosstalk 00:32:56]-
John Bwarie: Oh, sure, sure.
Tara Roth: That because… Yes, okay. Sorry [crosstalk 00:32:57]-
John Bwarie: Some of this is runway-
Tara Roth: Yes, yes.
John Bwarie: But it’s true, even in the nine years or the six years, this is runway. Does LA2050 really launch in LA2020? I mean, is the year 2020 the year that it launches in a way? I [crosstalk 00:33:10]-
Tara Roth: It could be, but it’s in a way… What we’ve launched is we’ve launched a really great online community that also shows up for physical and live events when we have physical live events. We’ve done really good job about having a Grants Challenge that engages tens of thousands of Angelenos that sources amazing projects and organizations. We have not launched like an alternative political party, nor am I sure we will do that in 2020. 2020 would be a great time to launch that, so I’m going to put that in the back of my head. It could be, it very well could be, it’s just I’m not sure. We’ve launched something that I would say that we’re like one-third of the way there, but I know that we could do so much more.
John Bwarie: Okay, and so that being said, this is a project that theoretically when you launched it was going to span more than 30 years?
Tara Roth: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. That’s true.
John Bwarie: How many years have you worked at your longest job?
Tara Roth: Yeah. This is job-
John Bwarie: Okay.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: This job-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: Right?
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: I’ve worked 11 years at my longest job. I think most people… 30 years is about what their limit, and yours is going to last 36 to 39 years if done right.
Tara Roth: Yes. Yeah, that’s true.
John Bwarie: What’s the sustainability model for the next generation? Do you just continue to bring young people in so that there’s always someone who’s not going to be older than [crosstalk 00:34:31]-
Tara Roth: Right, right. Right, exactly. Exactly/
John Bwarie: Than the life of the project [crosstalk 00:34:33]-
Tara Roth: That’s what I keep talking about high school students and saying, “We need a high school student strategy. We need a young person strategy.” We’ve tried to… We actually have people… You’re allowed to vote in the Grants Challenges if you’re 14 and over, and this is something we want to make sure we retain because it is the future and it is the youth right now who are going to be inheriting this crazy, complicated, messy, beautiful situation that we’re in right now. I think that one of the ideas that we had tinkered around with was we have five goals in LA2050. We have L.A. as being the best place to play, create, connect, learn, and live. Those were all based on eight community well-being indicators that we came up with the academic advisors and based on also one of our friends who’d worked with the UN SDG Goals. We had a lot of different inputs from academia and research. We then collapsed those eight different indicators into these five goals that we thought could be easily translatable, they could be memorized. They were fun and accessible, but what we thought about doing is having kind of advisor goal owners and that could be intergenerational, where we have maybe it’s a high school/college club, or a nonprofit that serves youth and that have a multi-party cross-sector ownership committee so to speak-
John Bwarie: Wow.
Tara Roth: Of that respective goal. Then, have those groups meet and report out to each other, whether it’s every year or every three years. We’ve kind of tinkered around with different models where we know that we are tracking appropriately because we have about 60 different metrics against which we track. We track appropriately and then we can make changes and adjustments to make sure that we are indeed heading in the right direction.
John Bwarie: You’ve thought about that. How far have you tested that idea?
Tara Roth: We’ve tested it more with discreet audiences, so we’ve had… Again, it’s been more around we’ve had more activity around the Grants Challenge-
John Bwarie: Right.
Tara Roth: For better or for worse. I’d say for the Grants Challenge has been a wonderful outreach mechanism [crosstalk 00:36:35]-
John Bwarie: Entry point [crosstalk 00:36:35]-
Tara Roth: It’s a wonderful… It’s a great entry point-
John Bwarie: Perfect, yeah.
Tara Roth: But I will say that there’s been a lot of attention paid to the Grants Challenge internally and externally, for better or for worse. In order to get it beyond what the Grants Challenge has done and really keep our research current and keep our audience engaged and keep growing the audience, we need to think about more holistically and bigger about, “What is that policy agenda platform that we need to work on?”
John Bwarie: What is the… Do you have like a sustainability plan for the organization for 30 years?
Tara Roth: No, we do not. No, no, we do not.
John Bwarie: This is union and you made that [crosstalk 00:37:09]-
Tara Roth: No, that’s [crosstalk 00:37:09]-
John Bwarie: You said that. “I’ll be here for 30 years.”
Tara Roth: Right, right. Well, we have the Goldhirsh Foundation that’s committed to LA2050, but we don’t have… I think that… Like I said, and like you mentioned with the three-legged stool, we need to have multiple partners and multiple players involved and invested in some way, shape, or form. That’s where I would say that we need to do some work.
John Bwarie: Would you say that’s… I mean, I would say… Would you agree that any organizational project needs to have multiple stakeholders?
Tara Roth: Yeah, I think so. I think so because if you think about different industries, you have customers who are like invested customers because they’re paying and they’re voting with their dollars, or you have for a political base you have a constituent base who’s going to benefit from… You need to be able to show the benefits and incentives and the costs to each activity or action. Yes, I think you’re… I think I’m being hard on myself, but it’s also again because I see that there is so much potential that we’ve laid the groundwork with this potential, and now in order to really make it fly, we need to do some things a little differently.
John Bwarie: What’s on the horizon that no one’s heard about yet? Obviously, this podcast maybe heard three years from now, but at least today, what’s coming up in the next year or two that you think is on path? We’ve talked about a lot of stuff that’s being tinkered with and thought about. What’s actually said, “Oh, we’re going to do this?-
Tara Roth: Well, first [crosstalk 00:38:30]-
John Bwarie: “You’re going to see this coming”?
Tara Roth: For sure, for sure, we’re doing the Grants Challenge again. I mean, that has been… It’s changing this year, so it’s going to be… We’re going to be rewarding more organizations who apply financially, and we are also going to be making sure that people who apply and who drum up votes are rewarded because that’s been part of the… We constantly adjust and modify the Grants Challenge based on input that we get. When people said we can’t absorb a hundred thousand dollars over the course of the year, so we said, “Okay, you can apply for 25, 50, or 100K.
Tara Roth: This year, we are hearing loud and clear people say, “Oh, it’s so hard to get votes sometimes”, and so we’re saying, “If you get any votes, you’re going to get money for it.” It’s a different structure, so I think people will be happy to… That is what we are definitely going to be working on, and we’re going to be working… Some of it I can’t go public with some of it yet, but it’s a lot that we’re hanging around the Grants Challenge and around engagement and how we might be able to use it.
Tara Roth: Another thing that we’ve done is we have this archive of all the submissions form My LA2050 Grants Challenge that is publicly available and live, and we’ve just integrated a donate button so people can go ahead and make donations directly from that. It’s tweaks on what we already have, but it’s where we’ve made some visible progress.
John Bwarie: In the past, you didn’t have to be a 501(c)(3) to apply for the money.
Tara Roth: That’s correct [crosstalk 00:40:02] and you still do not have to.
John Bwarie: For someone to donate, they donate to you guys and you write the check?
Tara Roth: Oh, no, no. That’s a really good question. We just actually had a discussion about this. It’s the organizations who have applied to the Grants Challenges who are 501(c)(3) because [crosstalk 00:40:13]-
John Bwarie: Active 501(c)(3) [crosstalk 00:40:14]-
Tara Roth: Because it’s not via us. The grant goes through a group called Pledgeling. It’s Pledgeling’s data that they need to… Yeah. It would be easier… Well, it would be harder for us and easier for other entities if it could just go through us.
John Bwarie: I have questions about your favorite organizations and your favorite-
Tara Roth: Ooh.
John Bwarie: Solutions, but I’m not going to… That’d be mean.
Tara Roth: Okay.
John Bwarie: It’s like how [crosstalk 00:40:36]-
Tara Roth: Yeah, my [crosstalk 00:40:37]-
John Bwarie: Who’s your favorite kid?
Tara Roth: Favorite child, exactly.
John Bwarie: We’re not going to do that to you, but in the back of my head, all of us listening to you saying, “Okay, so who’s doing it right? Which organizations if you didn’t have a voting but they applied”… What your favorite… I guess, let me ask you this. What’s your favorite project that’s been… or one of your favorite projects that’s been launched in the last six years that really was innovative and actually showed results, not just a good idea?
Tara Roth: Right, right. One I can think of right off the bat, and I think this is the… I think we’ve had two that have won twice. This is one that’s won twice. It’s an organization that was started in 2013 by Rudy Espinoza called LURN. It’s now called Inclusive Action for the City, and this was started to… LURN was started to provide street vendors, of whom they’re are about 10,000 in the city with kind of a pathway out of poverty. I mean, that’s essentially the way we think about entrepreneurship is it provides an economic mobility tool. LURN was launched to help make sure that these street vendors were supported and were treated as legal small businesses within the City of Los Angeles and beyond. LURN got an LA2050 grant and… I’m sorry, $100,000 LA2050 grant in 2013 to basically launch it’s organization.
Tara Roth: They then won again I believe in 2016. Yeah, 2016 I think. I could be off by a year or so, but they then applied for another grant and won because they were able to legalize street vending. In the six-year timeframe, they were able to legalize street vending. They were able to streamline the process for street vendors. They have been requested to show the model that they’ve used in Los Angeles and New York and the California State level. They are now also providing loans to the street vendors. That’s been a model that was a great crazy idea and that has turned out to have tremendous ripple effects and in Los Angeles and beyond. That to me is a real marker of success that other cities and regions are coming to Los Angeles and saying, “Hey, what you guys launched in 2013, can you teach us how to do that?”
John Bwarie: Do you do the LA2050 Conference not for Angelenos but for others?
Tara Roth: Oh, I would love that, and [crosstalk 00:42:53] that’s actually where… When you talked about earlier about funding and if I thought about social enterprise, the other thing I was going to mention was we’ve started talking… This was a year or two years ago. I think we started talking to national funders who do not have much of a footprint in Los Angeles-
John Bwarie: Which is a problem [crosstalk 00:43:11] for L.A.
Tara Roth: Which is problem for L.A. and for everyone, but we started thinking, “Oh, this might be an interesting repository for them to get involved with helping to launch and be a funder of LA2050 and then get their feet wet in Los Angeles. That’s where we thought, “Okay, we can bring more funds to Los Angeles”, which then means that this competition argument is going to be mollified and that there’s more for everyone.
John Bwarie: Well, and it reminds me of the effort right now that Annenberg is leading I think the L.A. n Sync effort, and I don’t know-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: Have you been involved in this?
Tara Roth: Yes. I’m on their Steering Committee. Now, it’s with the California Community Foundation [crosstalk 00:43:45]-
John Bwarie: Sorry, it moved.
Tara Roth: Yeah. No, it moved and actually we talked with them about, “Is there something we could do?”-
John Bwarie: So what [crosstalk 00:43:51]-
Tara Roth: We feel like a sister organization.
John Bwarie: What is it, right? L.A. n Sync, I’m going to actually speak to them, but you’re on the advisory. It basically says, “How do we work together to bring more resources to this region?”
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: This podcast is based here in Los Angeles. We’re very connected to the activities in philanthropy and government and nonprofit and business in Los Angeles. We’re also participating and supporting as best as we can. How is that different, though? They’re trying to get resources. How does this complement that?
Tara Roth: What we’ve kind of referred to with L.A. n Sync and internally is we’ve talked about they’re kind of sister organizations. LA2050 is kind of on the ground about the citizen who… I use citizen, I mean a resident [crosstalk 00:44:31]-
John Bwarie: Resident.
Tara Roth: Of Los Angeles County who wants to get more actively involved in whatever it might be, whether it’s volunteering in Los Angeles, whether it’s showing up to vote, whether it’s like taking a position at a nonprofit, whether it’s showing up for a hearing, whatever it is. It’s really more about the person on the street, and L.A. n Sync is more about appealing to funding and funding bodies that are at an agency level or federal level in the hundreds of millions of dollars and bringing those dollars to Los Angeles for larger organizations. It’s kind of like a… I’ll use that again, kind of the stakeholder and the larger entity… Not versus, but in tandem with the consumer brand, so that’s… Yeah, that’s [crosstalk 00:45:15]-
John Bwarie: Interesting, interesting.
Tara Roth: We [crosstalk 00:45:17]-
John Bwarie: Is it [crosstalk 00:45:17]-
Tara Roth: There have been some interesting conversations about, “How could we work together?”
John Bwarie: Then, the missing leg of that stool is, “Who’s bringing the corporate dollars both for economic development and for corporate citizenship?
Tara Roth: Right, and I would say that that would be L.A. County and Bill Allen’s group [crosstalk 00:45:32]-
John Bwarie: LAEDC.
Tara Roth: LAEDC, exactly.
John Bwarie: Yeah, yeah. Really interesting work in the ecosystem that you’re both creating and existing within, and the more people that we can get to be part of that ecosystem, I think the stronger we’ll be in 30 years. I handed you a crystal ball and I want you to look in because you’ve cast a spell in that crystal ball. LA2050, if we’re sitting here today with nothing changing from where we are, what does it look like in one crystal ball? The other crystal ball I gave you is the one that is the work you’ve done for the next 30 years. What does it look like? What’s the difference of Los Angeles from where we are if you do nothing-
Tara Roth: Right.
John Bwarie: Or if everything happens as it’s been happening versus if you really work towards what you’re trying to do?
Tara Roth: Right, right. Well, there are a lot of people… I will say in the crystal ball where we do nothing, I don’t want to undermine-
John Bwarie: I know.
Tara Roth: Any of the-
John Bwarie: I know.
Tara Roth: Work that anyone else is doing. I mean, this is all… I think about 2050 as being like connective tissue in a support organization and a cheerleader and a champion for people who are doing the hard work. I mean, I’m kind of a doom and despair person right now around climate change especially and economic inequality especially in this county, so I don’t think things look particularly great right now. I think it’s really looking at more adaptability and sustainability and a little bit of a Hunger Games that… Not the best public message there, but [crosstalk 00:46:54]-
John Bwarie: You and I both have young kids. I’m [crosstalk 00:46:55]-
Tara Roth: I know, exactly. That’s-
John Bwarie: I’m frightened for them.
Tara Roth: Oh, no. I am. Oh, my eight-year-old turned and looked at me and said, “Mommy, you said it was going to be like Hunger Games, right?” I said, “Yes, that’s what I think it will be, so we have to work on some more skills in different ways.” Then, in 2050 we have specific metrics that we determined when we first launched this research, and again, with the community and with the experts. We have measurements that we can point to, like every Angeleno should be within a half-mile walking distance of a green space or a park. What was interesting about that… That was put forth by the experts, and then the community members said, “No, a quarter of a mile.”
Tara Roth: We said, “Okay. When we look at the crystal ball with the more sanguine crystal ball, we’ve been realistic, yet we’ve allowed for some imagination, and I said, “Yes. I would like every Angeleno to be within a quarter of a mile walking distance of a park. I’d like for people to be walking. People will be walking more. People will be in autonomous vehicles and more shared vehicles and public transportation more. I mean, I think it’s going to be a more equitable… Excuse me, more equitable in terms of natural resources and financial resources, but also, no matter what, no matter how hard we try, it’s still going to be a more challenging world in 2050. Yeah.
John Bwarie: We’re laughing because I reacted with silence.
Tara Roth: I think [crosstalk 00:48:23]-
John Bwarie: On that note [crosstalk 00:48:23] on that note [crosstalk 00:48:23]-
Tara Roth: No, but this… Actually, when we first launched LA2050, people said, “2050? That’s too far”. We first started having conversations about it in 2011 and then we went public with the research in 2013. People thought we were really crazy, and now with just… Probably by 2015, people didn’t think we were crazy about having chosen 2050, but 2050 allowed people to tap into their imagination. We worked with scientists like Griffith Observatory, for instance, to imagine like, “What is this more interesting futuristic look about L.A. in 2050?? We worked with Imagine L.A., works around people experiencing homeless. They had worked with artistic renderings about, “What could this look like?” There is something freeing. It’s close, but it’s also so far [crosstalk 00:49:11]-
John Bwarie: Where [crosstalk 00:49:11]. Let me give you this [crosstalk 00:49:13] crystal ball. This is the personal, like, where are you going to be in 2050?
Tara Roth: Oh boy. Well, I’d like to be retired.
John Bwarie: Okay. You’re not allowed to be [crosstalk 00:49:21]-
Tara Roth: I’d like [crosstalk 00:49:22]-
John Bwarie: Based on what you’ve done so far, I know that-
Tara Roth: Oh my goodness.
John Bwarie: We need you.
Tara Roth: Gosh, I’d like to… I think I’d like to be supporting the next generations that… Maybe it’s I’m working on kind of a support role for the different interconnected goals of LA2050 and all of us with next generations taking the lead in fighting some of the stronger fights because they’re going to be, frankly, much stronger than I in 2050.
John Bwarie: Yeah. Well, I think my challenge to you is in 2050, you and I’ll come back and whatever medium is the… Maybe holograms of us, we’ll still be alive, but [crosstalk 00:50:05]-
Tara Roth: Well, wait. Yeah, how old will be? 2050, that’s… Yeah. That’s… Okay, yeah [crosstalk 00:50:08]-
John Bwarie: That’s 30 years from now.
Tara Roth: Ooh, dear.
John Bwarie: Yeah, I know
Tara Roth: Yes, but my Mom’s almost that age and she’s great. She’s a fighter.
John Bwarie: No, no, and we look at like… In 2050, we should be having a conversation about, “Look how much we did. What is 2100 going to look like? That’s next [crosstalk 00:50:19]-
Tara Roth: That’s when it gets really weird.
John Bwarie: Yeah.
Tara Roth: That’s when it gets really weird.
John Bwarie: Yeah. I’m probably not going to be here for 2100.
Tara Roth: No, and I’m actually okay not being here for 2100.
John Bwarie: I’ll be close, but not all the way. Wow. That’s… I mean, the future’s bright because the work we could be doing, but I think-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: What I’m hearing is that it’s really about making sure we’re continuing to engage and innovate our engagement with the community that is going to inherit or take ownership of this community that is Southern California or Los Angeles as a model, really.
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: How do we replicate this? We’re only as strong as our weakest neighbors, right?
Tara Roth: Exactly, exactly.
John Bwarie: That’s for the hard times and the good times.
Tara Roth: Yes, for sure. I do think it is… I mean, one of the things that I’ve been looking at recently actually is AI and AI for social good and what we need to be aware of. There area lot of changes that are going to be occurring societally that no matter how good the work is that we’re doing, we have to be attuned to what’s happening in a broader conversation and, yeah, that takes us all in a whole different direction [crosstalk 00:51:24]-
John Bwarie: Wow.
Tara Roth: Yes, but yeah, so [crosstalk 00:51:25]-
John Bwarie: Well, I hope that maybe one of the initiatives you start in the next couple of years through LA2050 is the tech influence on community. What is automation, AI, and other things like that? How is our world going to be so different that we’re not even planning for it?
Tara Roth: Yes, yes.
John Bwarie: It’s exciting work.
Tara Roth: Yeah, it is.
John Bwarie: Then, how do we help nonprofits plan for it?
Tara Roth: Well, that’s it. That’s it.
John Bwarie: A lot of nonprofits still function in the ’80s-
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: And here we are in almost 2020, so how do we get them 50 years… How do we get them to the present, not even looking to 10 years or 20 years to the future?
Tara Roth: Yes.
John Bwarie: That’s a challenge for us-
Tara Roth: Yes, it is.
John Bwarie: As a community. I’m going to go to our lightning round.
Tara Roth: Okay.
John Bwarie: Are you ready?
Tara Roth: Sure.
John Bwarie: Okay. Just first thing that comes to mind.
Tara Roth: Okay. Oh boy.
John Bwarie: One or two-word answers.
Tara Roth: Okay.
John Bwarie: Don’t think about it, don’t explain it.
Tara Roth: Okay.
John Bwarie: Who’s a leader who has influenced you in your work?
Tara Roth: Nelson Mandela.
John Bwarie: What book has changed the way you think about the role of community in your work?
Tara Roth: The Upside of Your Downside.
John Bwarie: What local restaurant do you always bring friends to when they visit L.A.?
Tara Roth: Le Petit Greek.
John Bwarie: [inaudible 00:52:21] make me laugh. What’s the first place you turn to for information when working with a new community?
Tara Roth: I’d listen to the local radio station, understanding what they’re talking about and how they’re talking about issues.
John Bwarie: What, ’80s music? ’50s music?
Tara Roth: No, exactly [crosstalk 00:52:34]-
John Bwarie: Current music?
Tara Roth: AM.
John Bwarie: Oh, AM. Okay. What’s the… Oh, excuse me. What nonprofit in L.A. is doing great work and maybe flying under the radar? You may know about them but other people may not and they’re doing some great work.
Tara Roth: I really love what LIFT L.A. is doing, and they’ve been testing a member-to-member conditional cash transfer with each other that is flying under the radar that I think could be groundbreaking changing things.
John Bwarie: To you, what’s the most exciting thing about L.A. in 2050?
Tara Roth: I think the most exciting thing that L.A. in 2050 us what I’m seeing now as different, interesting ideas about what L.A. could be and how we could all work together to make L.A. better in 2050.
John Bwarie: What advice would you give 25-year-old you?
Tara Roth: Chill out. It will all be okay, and every single job opportunity skill, positive or negative work experience will serve you in some way.
John Bwarie: What’s the best career decision you ever made?
Tara Roth: Coming to work with Ben Goldhirsh.
John Bwarie: What so far has been your proudest professional moment?
Tara Roth: I’m proud of creating something from nothing, so that was creating a Goldhirsh Foundation brand and an LA2050 brand from really great ideas and being funded, but just creating something with a team and with a community that means something to others outside of my office walls.
John Bwarie: Great. Thanks so much, Tara. This is great.
Tara Roth: Thank you. Yay [crosstalk 00:54:12]-
John Bwarie: Yay. Thanks for listening to Community Intelligence, and for more information on this and other episodes, visit our website at stratiscope.com. At Stratiscope, we provide community intelligence services to businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Let us know how we can help you.