Los Angeles as we know it is changing. Like all things, it is constantly growing, shaped by circumstances both internal and external. However, not all change is good if met with nothing more than apathy to guide it.
Today’s guest on the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast is working to replace that apathy with attention, to ensure a better future for ourselves, our community and our city.
In this podcast, our host and publisher Brian Calle sits down with Craig Greiwe, co-founder of Rise Together, a new civic-minded nonprofit in Los Angeles. In addition to his work in the community, Greiwe is known for his current role as Chief Strategy Officer of Rogers & Cowan/PMK, one of the country’s largest blue-chip marketing and strategy firms where he leads marketing, consumer and strategy efforts.
Upon first visit to the Rise Together homepage, its message is clear: “Los Angeles is at a crossroads of opportunity unlike any in the city’s history. In 2028, the eyes of the world will descend on us, and we can be a shining beacon of what it means to thrive in the 21st century. We can be a cleaner, greener, more helpful city, working to demonstrate what it means to eradicate social, income, and racial inequity, while creating programs and policies that support business, innovation, and growth for all of us.”
“This city doesn’t have to be a zero-sum fight between activists and business, between unions and innovators, between the rich and the poor, or the right and the left,” it continues. “Instead, Los Angeles can be a city where we all rise together.”
Through Rise Together, Greiwe invites Angelenos to work together to solve the problems facing the city. Regardless of political ideology, he hopes the community will understand the importance of caring about the city you live in, the people who live in it, and those who govern it. Rise Together is focused not on any individual candidate or ballot measure and as a non-profit organization (501c4), the money goes to engaging voters on these solutions through public advocacy, programming, events and media.
“The solutions are there, they’re bold but they’re straight forward,” explains Greiwe. “I’ve set out to bring that same level of impossible problem solving from the business world into the city world and hopefully engage the checked-out main population of L.A. into doing the same.”
The issue of lackluster civic involvement and voter interest is not new to our city. What galvanized Greiwe to say “enough” and decide that as a citizen, it was time for him to do something about it?
“I have been civically-minded my entire life. … There comes a time in every person’s life, where regardless if you have been in civic engagement, regardless if you have been part of the machine or volunteering at soup kitchens or sitting on charity boards, there comes a time in your life when you look around – let’s be specific – when you look around at L.A. and say alright, I’ve got to do something about this, clearly nothing is changing,” says Greiwe.
“The fact is, 14 out of 15 City Council members in this city have been on a government paycheck and in elected office for at least 20 years, some as long as 40 years, if they knew how to fix it they would have done it by now. So it’s time for us to take a look at what we are going to do from the outside, how we are going to shift public opinion, how we are going to shift the future, and not through a patchwork of neighborhood programs and short-term initiatives, but through big, impossible, consumer-facing shifts.”
What was a challenge L.A. faces that led to Greiwe’s passion for civic engagement? Like most Angelenos, he answers: homelessness.
“We are just not getting the basics right in this city,” emphasizes Greiwe. “Homelessness … the city’s response is unconscionable.”
With the launch and mission of Rise Together, as well as Greiwe’s podcast The World According to Craig, our guest hopes to keep his foot on the gas of meaningful change – bringing much needed eyes and ears to the challenges L.A. faces and fostering lasting solutions.