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Los Angeles
Monday, May 23, 2022

l-kaplan

City of Individuals

Your somewhat insightful piece on the state of Los Angeles’ civic culture (“Hello, L.A.! Anybody Home?” June 14) misses a critical point we don’t have a civic culture because most of us don’t want one.

L.A. was founded by, and continues to attract, individualists who have come here to escape traditional environments in order to have the freedom and “space” to do their own thing. This applies to a young woman leaving an ethnic enclave in Philadelphia or New York, a Mexican family escaping from a tiny village in the Sonoran desert, or a young man putting his small Midwestern town behind him.

They all come here to make it on their own an acting career, a small business, an Internet start-up. This is a city of free thinkers, risk takers and entrepreneurs. But politics and civic affairs are about collective action, joining organizations and working within, or in conjunction with, large organizations (such as government).

That is not part of L.A.’s psyche. While this individuality makes our city one of the most dynamic and exciting in America, it also undermines the capacity of government and political organizations to effect change when it becomes necessary.

LARRY KAPLAN

Los Angeles

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