Shauna Nep: Los Angeles

Security Check: Shauna is a bioethicist and smart cities geek, currently Director of Community and Innovation at the Goldhirsh Foundation/LA2050.

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?I’m pushing four years in Los Angeles (whoa!) and before that, went to grad school in NYC.

Describe your experience in LA and your experience in NYC
NYC felt like home, instantly. It was so easy to love. When I made the move to Los Angeles, I hated it for not being NYC. But once I stopped trying to make it something it wasn’t, I fell hard and fast. I think LA is really at its best right now. There’s amazing food, great art to see, a thriving tech scene and a lot of excitement around what the future holds. I feel like LA is really having a moment. I feel lucky to be working on a project that is so entrenched in the region and invested in its future.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to LA?
NYC has such a clear brand and narrative – while LA suffers from a major branding problem (everyone knows LA is all Hollywood and freeways, right?). This was hard to come to terms with upon moving here. Despite being an incredibly diverse region with a rich culture, a robust transportation system, and just about every industry you can imagine – LA has a reputation that reduces it to just Hollywood and car culture, and it’s hard to compete with that narrative. And for a city filled with the best storytellers the world has to offer, somehow, we suck at telling our own story. This is something I’m passionate about – challenging that narrative and changing the external facing brand of LA.

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
I’ve found in both cities a (surprising) lack of awareness of the other, but a genuine interest to learn and connect more deeply. That is a great place to start. In the areas I focus on (civic engagement and smart cities), LA and NYC have so much in common, we could do a better job at sharing lessons learned to bolster ideation and ultimately create more meaningful change in both cities. We have complementary resources, experiences, and challenges – and if we work together, our impact will be stronger and longer lasting.

Favorite LA secret spot
Any of Charles Flemings’ Secret Stair walks, which are interlaced in the hillsides of several LA neighborhoods (my personal favorite? Santa Monica – Bluffs and Beach Walk).

Favorite NYC secret spot
There’s nothing secret about it, but I’d fly 2462 miles just to have the hummus at 12 chairs. Also, the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm boasts one of my favorite views of the city.

If you were not at LA2050 what would you be doing?
Living with my parents?

Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately. NyQuil + wine cocktail

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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