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Why LA Feels Like Living in the Future

There's something brewing in Southern California.


“Most trends start in LA. They get validated in New York, then they get archived in London.”

I heard this quote when I moved to LA one year ago. I was surprised. I thought New York City was the center of the universe.

Then I spent time in LA. I noticed the talking crosswalks. The E-scooters. The CBD-infused elixirs. The sound bath yoga studios. The new-age health and wellness practices.

I realized: Living in LA feels like living in the future.

Ride an e-scooter

In Santa Monica, electric scooters whiz by on streets and bike paths. Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets fly through the sky, while his Boring Company drills new tunnels underground.

More people moving to LA don’t own cars. They can call a Lyft, rent a scooter, or ride an electric bike. “Transportation as a service” is the hot trend in urban mobility.

It’s getting safer to walk around LA as a pedestrian. Talking crosswalks in Santa Monica shout “WAIT!” at red lights, alerting walkers with impaired vision.

Dockless e-scooters first appeared in Santa Monica last September. (More recently, dockless electric bikes.) Their rise has been met with some controversy. But it’s clear these new, eco-friendly mobility options can reduce dependence on pollution-spewing autos. They’ll help transform how we get around cities of the future.

Save a tree

Sustainability is a way of life in LA. Paper straws instead of plastic. Reusable shopping bags (California imposes a ten-cent bag fee). Battery recycling stations. Electric car charging stations.

The most in-demand restaurants serve up ethically-sourced, plant-based cuisine.

The coolest brands are devoted to social impact. Venice-based Tom’s Shoes gives away free shoes to children in need.

LA Kitchen trains the formerly incarcerated and kids leaving foster care to turn food waste into meals for the disadvantaged. Its motto: “Neither Food Nor People Should Go to Waste.”

Santa Monica’s Living Building Challenge aims to create buildings by 2020 that sustainably generate all of their own power. It could be a model for green building practices in other cities across the US.

Biohack your health

It’s easy to poke fun of LA’s cult-like obsession with health and wellness. Turmeric bone-broth lattes at Erewhon Market. Kombucha in dozens of varieties. Cordyceps and collagen powder. Keto everything.

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find some of the most forward-thinking minds in health today. LA has become the epicenter of a booming health and wellness industry that’s rippling across the country.

A decade ago saw the rise of organic, farm-to-table restaurants. Today dinner plans in LA can hardly be made without asking, “Do you have any dietary restrictions?”

There’s a growing emphasis on preventive healthcare — diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Plant-based diets are becoming more common.

California’s Medi-Cal program recently began providing daily nutritious meals to chronically ill, low-income people.

Startups like Forward Health are reimagining primary care with genetic testing, wearable devices and real-time health data.

Healthcare providers at Cedars Sinai are using therapeutic VR to ease the pain of cancer patients.

Yoga and meditation studios are everywhere (and come in every flavor).

Breathwork is becoming a thing. Try it at RA MA Institute for Kundalini Yoga or with Lisa de Narvaez’s magical Blisspoint Breathwork. Ancient practices like “breath of fire” are being studied for their health benefits.

There’s ketogenic coffee and light therapy at Bulletproof Labs. Cryogenic therapy at Next Health. Sensory deprivation tanks at Float Labs. Floating sound bath meditation with MindTravel.

Plant-based medicine is booming. Consider Four Sigmatic’s adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms (Chaga, Lion’s Mane). People add the powdered extract to coffee and smoothies.

Or check out Moon Dust herbal supplements (in 6 flavors: Beauty, Brain, Sex, Power, Spirit, Dream). Beekeeper’s Naturals products for immune support.

Then there’s CBD (you know, the cannabis extract that doesn’t get you high). UCLA labs are studying its benefits for anxiety and pain relief. Experts believe CBD could become as common a health supplement as turmeric or fish oil.

Embrace the new 

Why do trends start in LA? Most people come here from different places (180 countries, 140 languages). They’re not as tied to history or tradition. People in LA tend to operate outside the system.

There’s a culture of risk-taking and experimentation. You can see it in the city’s booming tech ecosystem. Venture capitalists pumped $5.3 billion into LA-area startups in 2016, six times as much as in 2011.

Startups like Spring Labs are using blockchain technology to make credit markets more efficient and secure.

Snapchat are BuzzFeed are pioneering new forms of vertical video. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi (backed by $1B) aims to bring Hollywood production values to mobile video.

Filmmakers and game developers are creating next-generation VR and AR experiences. They come together in LA at the world’s largest immersive technology festival, VRLA.

Seth Godin says “Change almost always starts at the edges and moves toward the center.”

Come visit LA. See for yourself. Step onto a Bird scooter, sip a turmeric CBD latte, and ride into the future.

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