GOOD

An Odd Campaign and a Missed Chance to Reinvent the Hollywood Sign

April 15, besides being that other checkbook-related deadline with which many of you wrestled, was the day that the Trust for Public Land was supposed to have scraped together $12.5 million to buy back Los Angeles's Cahuenga Peak—the land to the west of the Hollywood sign—from developers. In an effort to bring awareness to this cause, in February, the city embarked on one of the most bizarre campaigns that I've ever seen, temporarily draping the sign in screenprinted mesh fabric to read SAVE the PEAK. But it took so long to put up that for three days, Hollywood was temporarily re-named SALLYWOOD, SAVEYWOOD, and SAVE the POOD.

With such a dismal stunt for its launch, it should be no surprise to anyone that the $12.5 million was not met, but the deadline has been extended to April 30 to raise more money, which, according to a press release, has been coming in from local bake sales. Yes, Los Angeles is now buying land with the proceeds of Beachwood Canyon residents' homemade lemon bars. Maybe they can organize a few more bake sales to help cover the city's budget deficit.






The campaign was a failure because it was flawed in so many ways,. The Hollywood sign itself is in no danger whatsoever, so putting a message there was oddly misguided. Even if the land is owned by developers, which it has been for years, the chances that any building permits would even pass approval by the local neighborhood are very slim. But I see it mostly as a huge missed opportunity for artists, designers, and architects to engage with one of the planet's most recognizable structures. Where was the amazing competition to envision what might happen to the Hollywood sign if the land around it was given back to the city?



The funny thing is, in the last few weeks, I've been exposed to some amazing ideas about how to bring the Hollywood sign back into the public realm. The Danish architect Christian Bay-Jorgensen proposed embracing development by turning the Hollywood sign into a hotel. It's something that will never happen, of course, but it gets people to question issues about making this landmark more accessible. I especially like the public walkway that runs right beneath the hotel concept. It makes me question why exactly the public is kept away from the letters. Why can't we (legally) go closer to the sign? Why can't we stand behind it?



Or this idea, named HLYWD, by INABA and Darien Williams, which I saw as part of the show "UNPLANNED: Research and Experiments at the Urban Scale" at SUPERFRONT LA. Here the designers play upon the disproportionate value of the Hollywood sign (globalized fame) to its actual usefulness sitting up on that hill (no longer needed to point out a 1920s real estate development and/or the location of the film industry). So they propose that the letters should travel around the city, popping up in witty word clusters to help memorialize different neighborhoods.

Besides the fun of seeing WOOL pop up on downtown's Bunker Hill (where goats were recently employed to help clear brush), I like that the letters are literally taken down from their legendary perch up on high and become a tangible historic element with which people can interact. They don't have to be the real letters, even, we could make facsimiles, which could pop-up, unannounced, all over the city.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW3Vb3jXmBs&feature=player_embedded

A few days before the POOD sign went up, the singer Ke$ha made this video of herself and some friends supposedly embarking upon a late-night mission to change the sign. It's not real, of course, but the fact that they are so realistically and creatively engaged with the idea of changing the sign brings a smile to my face. From the video you can see Ke$ha and her team were actually up there, and their prankster motivation gives this the spirit of so many of the great Hollywood sign conversions in the past (my favorite was HOLLYWEED, to commemorate relaxed pot laws in California in the 1970s. It makes me wonder: Why don't we see more videos and artworks about such an iconic part of our city? People come from all over the world to see it, but for L.A.'s residents, it's just sitting up there, largely forgotten in our daily lives.



The Hollywood sign isn't as precious and sacred a monument as we'd like to think it is. And the land around it, even though it's the same sometimes-slippery chaparral as all of the Santa Monica Mountains, could fully support some more fun interactions with the city's most famous landmark. Why wouldn't we play with the sign more in a way that doesn't interfere with its physical well-being—using lighting, or projection, or augmented reality? Organizations could accept artist or designer proposals to temporarily transform it in a way that enhanced our knowledge about Los Angeles's history or created those all-too-rare shared experiences with our neighbors. At the very least, such exciting cinematic experiences would be completely true to the industry that the sign helped create.

Top photo by LA Philanthropy Watch; Peeps photo by Charlotte Johnson, winner of National Geographic's 2009 Peeps in Places contest.
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This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

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As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

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Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

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