Why should all Angelenos foster the development of a civic culture among youngsters and newcomers? Well, because neighborhood betterment does not occur spontaneously and jobs do not sprout at random.
Informed and participatory neighbors are the most powerful driving force to nurture safe, inviting and prosperous communities. City Hall alone cannot foster the conditions to attract businesses, prepare a skilled workforce, and improve our quality of life. We all need to engage in forging the future of the most important global metropolis of the twenty-first century. Investing in our civic culture will yield dividends in all aspects of city life from the provision of public services to the growth of strategic industries. Mobilized residents are key to increase the transparency and accountability of bureaucratic apparatuses, to coordinate workforce development strategies with educational and business leaders and to attract investors.
Given the independence of our educational and city governance structures, social leadership is crucial to advance an agenda synchronizing institutional priorities among different levels of government with overlapping jurisdictions and constituencies. The future of our city hinges on our ability to educate a generation of technically and civically skilled leaders propelling a virtuous civic cycle. Engaged neighbors seek information and resources to help their communities and they make sure that authorities fulfill their commitments. Empowered communities care for the environment and attract entrepreneurs. Smart businesses hire locally, build green and reinvest in their markets. Effective municipalities stimulate workforce development through education-industry partnerships. Visionary leaders create cultural, civic and physical contexts motivating all actors to engage.
Los Angeles can leverage its cultural, educational and infrastructure assets to draw greater financial resources and to abate political apathy and social disillusionment. On the one hand, we should work purposefully and strategically with expatriate diasporas to attract investment in niche markets and reduce transaction costs to launch new businesses. On the other hand, we should help newcomers develop a sense of civic pride and a disposition to participate in community and electoral enterprises. Particularly, we must assist our schools to instill an ethics of excellence, tolerance and entrepreneurship in our youth.