Conversations in Place to Combat Old Perceptions of Southern California

Now in it’s third year, Conversations in Place will present its final two explorations of “Southern California - Yesterday and Tomorrow” on Sunday, October 19 and Sunday, November 2 at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach.

Contemporary narrators will assess how new narrators of Southern California are affecting how our region is perceived at home and worldwide. Each speaker has created a national audience for their views of Southern California.

Included on the speaking roster:

  • Jonathan Gold, renowned restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, was the first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and was a finalist in 2011. Gold was born in South Central Los Angeles, attended UCLA and began writing the column “Counter Intelligence” for LA Weekly in 1986.
  • Jared Farmer, author of Trees in Paradise: A California History, won the Francis Parkman Prize for his landscape history On Zion’s Mount. The prize recognizes the best written non-fiction book on an American theme and honors the “union of the historian and the artist.” Farmer is a writer, historian and self-proclaimed “geohumanist.”
  • Lisa See is an acclaimed novelist who has interpreted historic events in China and the United States through her Chinese American family.
  • Andrew Bowers is a former NPR White House correspondent, London and Moscow bureau chief and is now executive producer of Slate’s award-winning podcasts "Political Gabfest" and "Cultural Gabfest."

These new narrators, raised in Southern California and diverse in ethnicity and experience, have taken up the task of redefining old dichotomies. Southern California’s conflicting reputation for being a place of “health, wealth and sunshine” contrasted with Hollywood excess, lonely transplants and the negatives of perpetual sunshine are outdated viewpoints just waiting to be disproven.

Courtesy of Conversations in Place, below you can find the discussion topics for these remaining two events.

Sunday, October 19, 2014, 1:30PM to 3:30PM
Urban Nature Isn’t What You Think

The Speakers: Jonathan Gold & Jared Farmer
The Conversation: Jonathan Gold, Jared Farmer & Jon Christensen with co-moderators Claudia Jurmain & D.J. Waldie

From the reclamation of the Los Angeles River to iconic open space and the surrounding oceanic and mountain “wilderness,” we still typecast urban nature as places apart, open oases of refuge. But over the region and the globe, more people live in the mythical concrete jungle than the idyllic scene embedded in our American psyche, and nothing seems untouched by human hands. When talking about culture and environment, one plus one equals one. For on the streets we drive, the sidewalks we walk, the products we buy, and in the restaurants where we eat, are everyday encounters with urban nature redefined. From priorities to process to people involved, follow the food chain of pursuits over time to make the connection.

Sunday, November 2, 2014, 1:30PM to 3:30PM
Who’s Talking Now? Southern Californians Shaping the Message

The Speakers: Lisa See & Andrew Bowers
The Conversation: Lisa See, Andrew Bowers and David Kipen with co-moderators Claudia Jurmain & D.J. Waldie

Today, we’re bombarded by points of view and lots of talk. But in the national cacophony, is there a particular message coming from Southern California? Our final Conversation brings together Southern Californians whose voices carry across the nation. Lisa See’s acclaimed books on Chinese-American culture have hit The New York Time’s best seller list. Andrew Bowers, NPR White House correspondent, London & Moscow bureau chief, and now executive producer of Slate’s audio programs, taps into our “Political and Culture Gabfest”. David Kipen, journalist, critic, past director of NEA’s reading initiatives, and founder of a free lending library in Boyle Heights, reaches the Latino community. With a national audience in hand, what are these influential voices from Southern California saying?

For more information about each speaker, click here. To make a reservation and purchase your tickets for either event click here.

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