Two things at once

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Gelato should never be enjoyed alone. Of course I don’t mean you shouldn’t go to the gelateria sol0 (if I always waited around for a gelato-eating partner I’d probably consume 1/3 the gelato I do). I mean that a gelato serving comes as two flavors, and it becomes a question not of simply picking two flavors, but of picking two flavors go together well. Every time you order, it’s an opportunity to consider what two things will interact and play off of each other to make something new. (And if a gelateria tries to tell you that you don’t get two flavors in a single serving, run.)

Last week as a speaker at Big City Forum, I was honored to be paired with the folks from Designmatters at Art Center who do some pretty amazing work as an NGO for the UN. Art Center staff Mariana Amatullo and Sean Donahue talked about their work, notably, the earthquake preparedness initiative that strips away the ho-hum scare tactics and makes learning about earthquakes…well, kinda fun and cool.

So pair that with my talk about gelato as a catalyst for change, namely, the beauty of combining two things that go together well to make something else that’s even more beautiful. The evening also featured real-life, catalyzing gelato:  Yet another beautiful spread from my friends at Paciugo, who brought along sea salt caramel, stracciatella, fondente dark chocolate, watermelon sorbet and amarena black cherry so all the attendees could put together their own personal winning combinations. Sea salt caramel and dark chocolate was a big yes for me, but if you don’t believe me, why not visit their Hermosa Beach store for a free scoop on July 9? Tell them I sent ya.

I’ve been lucky enough to combine what I love (design) with what I love to do (writing). I talked about some of my recent articles where I was able to take it a step further, combining design with gardens or even design with pie. I’m able to combine my love for design with Los Angeles at events (GOOD Design, de LaB). And in the last year I’ve been able to focus in on the unique intersection of design, Los Angeles and walking (starting with City Walks Architecture: New York—now available for preorder!—Twittering about public transit, Street Walker). And two slides I showed on that note got me more excited than anything else. This one:

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And this one:

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This is the route for the BIG PARADE, a two-day, 40-mile, 100+ stairway walk from downtown Los Angeles to the Hollywood sign on one of the most unique infrastructural elements of the city, the public stairways. The instigator behind this insanity is Dan Koeppel, a StairMaster who I wrote about last year when we bonded over our love for vertical gain. The route will take us from Angels Flight in downtown LA, into Angelino Heights, through Echo Park (and over Echo Park Lake) and to Silver Lake, where we’ll stop to camp right by my house. The next day, Silver Lake to Franklin Hills, up into Los Feliz Estates, into Griffith Park, down into Beachwood Canyon and finishing up above the Hollywood sign.

I’m planning on walking the entire thing, but you should plan to join us for “five minutes or five hours” as Dan puts it, or check out the route and let me know if your home or business is on it. We’d appreciate some offers of refreshments, water or toilets along the way. Or just your undying love and support.

I think this is a perfect pairing of two very tasty ideas. It’s perhaps the biggest, boldest and most ridiculous statement we can make about how awesome it is to walk in LA—because it shows how the city is literally built for walking. But the absolute best thing about this is that after you’re done? You can have as much gelato as you want.

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