Photos by Ana DiGiallonardo
Article and styling by Popover
Location by LEVEL Furnished Living
Special thanks to our guests from Skid Row Housing Trust, G&B Coffee, The Simple Things Project, and LA Downtowner
Perched high above the cars, construction, and people found all around Downtown LA a group of individuals from different backgrounds gathered together to talk about their connection to the growing city, which was also our backdrop for the evening. Downtown LA has been the focal point in many debates about growth, development, and the blending of million dollar condos with the often overlooked tent camps lining the streets. LA’s rapid growth upwards and outwards brings with it a lot of excitement for new opportunity, but we wanted to explore how the new would interact with the old and what a city in the middle of a rebranding would look like a few years from now. Popover teamed up with LA Downtowner, a trusted voice in all things Angeleno related, to bring together a group of individuals for an evening of family style food and learning. Each guest had some connection to the city and a passion for their LA home, whether it was seen through the eyes of an artist reflecting on his time working in an arts district co-working space, a business owner changing the way we as consumers view coffee, a student whose campus is fully integrated with the city, or a spokesperson and advocate for the support and awareness of homeless housing. It was one of our most diverse gatherings to date, one that undoubtedly got people thinking about how they contribute to the reshaping of an iconic city and what it means to support LA.
LA Downtowner does an incredible job of not only highlighting the new and emerging locations, but also exposing the hidden gems that have remained nestled in the city for years. Their team is also comprised of marketing pros so a conversation about rebranding a city was only natural. The evening discussion was split into sections about the newbies of the city, the originals, and what the blending of the two could look like in some future vision of the city. In true family meal fashion we passed around platters of food filled with items like pesto and shrimp toast, corn and mint salad, prosciutto and figs, shortcakes and jam, then topped it off with lemon and thyme cocktails. Taking full advantage of the seasonally warm evening and the sounds of the city we set up on the sprawling patio at LEVEL Furnished Living, tucked into a quiet corner hidden by lush green bushes. Towering iconic landmarks like the unmistakable turquoise of the Eastern Building, the cursive sign of the Orpheum, and the exposed beams of the soon-to-be-completed Wilshire Grand rose high above the table making our conversation about the old and new of Downtown LA much more poignant.
There was no denying that sitting on the beautiful patio of one of Downtown LA’s newest condo high rises really pointed out how quickly the city is changing, but the dialogue remained focused on how the new and the old could and should work together. After all, at the end of the day when we find ourselves back at street level, face to face with the homeless people that nestle themselves among the new construction, it becomes apparent that we can’t push fixing the issue off on someone else. Remarks about a business owner’s duty to represent the city the correct way highlighted that the advocates around the table really take their roles seriously when protecting LA. Questions about how to cultivate the talent found among the artists setting up shop in co-working spaces led into discussions on how housing can and should be attainable to the homeless. Insight into the real origins of the name skid row lead into thoughts on rebranding a population. The dinner lingered well past sunset and even after the food was gone the discussion forged on. there were no heated moments or issues of complete disagreement, but rather a desire to understand our city a little better, promote it’s growth, and shed positive light on the homeless population.