Starting New in and Old Place

ImageWow…I’ve lived in LA for almost 3 weeks already.  How did that happen?  I’m almost out of all my boxes —I’ve hit that point where I’m tempted to just throw out all the things that still need to be unpacked, but you never know, there might be something I need in there.  Let me see if I can quickly answer a few of the usual questions.

1.  How do you like living in LA?

It’s been amazingly easy to adjust to Los Angeles  –I did live here for 9 years prior to moving to San Diego.  Living in Koreatown is great –good food, easy access to public transportation, and amazing access to all sorts of culture.  On my first full weekend here, I went to see a modern hula troop perform for free at Grand Performances –a downtown art performance space.  The extra special added bonus –my amazing friend Zoe called me 4 hours before a concert and says – —“Belinda, I’ve got extra tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wanna go?”  My response, “Are you serious??  Ummm…YES!”  Well it turns out the tickets were on the 14TH row –just to the right of the stage!  Anthony Kiedis is a one man advertisement for yoga  –he looks as good in his mid 40’s as he did 25 years ago.   Such a fun concert!

I feel very lucky to have moved back to a space where I have some really good friends.  They’ve helped make the settling in process so easy –and more importantly given me really positive energy as I let go of the old, and embark on this new journey. 

2.  How’s the new job?

Two words. “Rigo’s crazy!”  Just kidding (well sort of, but he’ll probably never read this and he knows I say that with lots of love).  In all seriousness,  I might just be in the honeymoon phase, but it’s been really fantastic.  Working on “place based,” systems change initiatives is fascinating.  Although I’m hyper-scheduled with meetings (yes more than I was at USD) I’m starting to get a real sense of the long term goals we’re working with organizations to achieve.  In short, place based initiatives means investing resources in particular locations over an extended period of time (10 years or so) in order to improve community outcomes.  In a recent presentation on place based initiatives she noted that her organization (Center for Study of Social Policy) began it’s work 15 years ago.  It started when they heard one specific statistic –that in New York State, 65% of inmates in NY prisons were from 4 zip codes.  She argued that what this simple statistic illustrated, was that if you invested resources long term, in those 4 zip codes, working to improve health, education, employment, etc outcomes in these communities you could decrease incarceration rates and potentially stop cycles of poverty, recidivism, and joblessness.    In short, I’m working on teams that are using that philosophy to help communities help themselves.  While I still find myself overwhelmed at the magnitude of the work, I am excited by the potential and all that I’m learning.  So much of the foundational philosophy and methodology are social science based and it’s nice to be applying my expertise in different ways.   

Anyways –that’s the update for now.  As difficult as it was to leave San Diego –I have to say that the new start in LA is just what I needed.  Ask me in a month and I’ll let you know if I still feel the same way.