One Day in the American City


The Love of City

Homelessness, gentrification and new technology are explored.

AIRED: May 04, 2016 | 0:25:11
TRANSCRIPT You rolling?

Man: Camry and Nicole interview, take one.

Uh, check, check.

3, 4, 5.

Do you want me to address you or the camera?

Man: Let's make sure this is rolling. Man 2: Got it.

Uh, excuse me? Is the film still on?

Uh, so, my name's--

Man: Actually, hold on one sec.

Take one.

Narrator: Simultaneously, during a one-day period,

thousands of people in 11 U.S. metropolitan areas

were asked to film 10 questions about the future of their city.

We uncovered many stories about our cities,

learned more about our challenges,

and found many ideas and plans

for a collective better future.

Filmed entirely in one day across the U.S.,

this is "One Day in the American City."

In order to unify creative participation in this project,

we presented 10 questions to thousands of people

across the country.

This experiment in democratized filmmaking

produced diverse and profound stories and answers.

In this episode, we will explore 3 questions

that focus on the positive aspects of cities.

Why are you in your city?

What do you love about your city?

And what is the best thing happening in your city today?

Major funding for "One Day in the American City"

Man: I think people live in cities

to be around other people.

I think people like the energy of cities,

the friction of cities, the exchange of cities.

The thing I love most about a city is the fact that

it's about creating a place where human beings

can meet with each other.

Man: Why are you in your city?

Why am I in Boston?

I was born here. Born and raised here,

so, I belong here, I guess, you know?

I am a California native. I'm a fourth-generation Californian.

I was born in the city and I fell in love with the city.

Woman: So, today, on April 26,

our little baby girl was born here in Los Angeles.

It's surreal but everything went really well, so...

Woman: For me, it's family.

My family is really close by.

-Family -Family

-Family -My family is here

and I think family is the glue

that holds our whole world together.

I came here for college and I never left.

Man: I'm in Boston because, uh,

honestly, MIT's in Boston.

I'm a southerner, so, I would prefer to be where it's warm.

Well, at the most basic level, I'm in Denver for this job.

Traditionally and still today, people live in cities

for the most part for economic opportunity.

Man: Opportunity's a big thing.

There's a lot of opportunity in Denver.

And I think to be happy, you need that opportunity to thrive.

So, I am here 300 feet above

the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado,

refreshing the paint on the Daniels and Fisher clock tower.

Building was renovated in I think 19...85,

so, it hasn't seen a fresh coat of paint

for, what, 30, 25, 30 years.

You know, it's kind of funny. I love this job

because you can come up here,

and you would think that you would be considering,

oh, you know, am I gonna die, am I gonna fall off,

or is anything gonna happen, but

it's such a good-- such a good time to

really think about things and think about

all your troubles go away when you're painting

a couple hundred feet off the ground.

I grew up in southern Indiana and I kind of got tired of it

and I kept watching these movies about ice climbing.

So, I decided I was gonna hop a train,

and I had my bike and a backpack,

and I came out west.

And the train dropped me off in Glenwood Springs,

and I've been in Colorado ever since.

I actually moved to Colorado to do the ice climbing,

and that kind of worked out for several years,

but then I realized I needed to do other things,

so, I took my passion for hanging on ropes

and started a painting business that

paints clock faces on 30-story buildings.

And it's kind of funny how you can be

so high up in the air and you can see everybody,

but less than 1% of the people actually see you.

Man: The beauty of cities is that

they can support extraordinarily diverse populations.

So, you can hear dozens of languages being spoken.

Man 2: If you take a city like New York,

it has always embraced vast inputs of

high-octane energy from immigrants.

And of course, the entire city is produced out of what arrives.

Man 3: For all those process like

verification, all those things going on,

it took about 4 years.

It was July 7, 2004.

I was right in there at 1 p.m.

That was like that-- that is still in my memory

that I was like, I can't believe it.

I'm in another new world.

Man 4: One of my favorite things about Los Angeles

is being able to leave my home in Marchmont,

ride my bicycle to downtown Los Angeles,

and go through something like 20 different cultures.

Whether it's Korea or any number of Latin American cultures,

there are something like 74 different cultures

just on Wilshire Boulevard.

Man: I'm from Congo, Kinshasa, which is central Africa.

-From Poland. -From Macedonia.

-El Salvador. -Cambodia.

-Armenia. -[Indistinct].

-Turkey. Woman: We left El Salvador

due to the civil war that was going on there.

Man: I think that people have a tendency

to come to New York

and to Texas, to California.

They are looking for a better life.

They're looking for a better living.

Woman: We are a very small country that we come from, Liberia,

so to come here and be able to see

the same people that you saw back home, or

just speak the same language.

It's very important to be able to know

that if I come to a strange land,

I have other supporters.

My country was in a war for a long time.

I got pregnant, so, I came into this country to have my baby,

and I stayed.

So, I've been here now for over 20 years.

Well, we are at the Jambo Africa.

This is a restaurant that we have opened for 3 years now.

This is pretty much for my Africans,

to be able to see and come in and know that

they have somewhere to relate to.

You know, because of my African people,

we are standing here still,

because the rent here is not easy.

I'm telling you. But because of my people,

we are still doing business.

I love Minnesota. This place has been

one of the best.

And I tell you, if you really want to get started in anything,

come to Minnesota.

If you want to be moved or to push forward,

this is the place to do it.

Woman: My parents are from Palestine,

and my dad basically came here in the eighties.

Like, he found that there were more opportunities

for him here than there were in Jordan.

So, when I was turning 15, I was 14 at the time,

my father, um, got picked up by ICE.

It was kind of like he just got sent to immigration jail.

But basically, he was in jail for 3 1/2 years.

At some point, some judge was like, hey, listen,

doesn't matter how much you fight your case.

You've been doing this for 3 years.

It's not gonna happen, The U.S. does not want you in this country.

You're not getting out of this.

And then he finally was just like, you know,

I can't take this anymore.

It's not working.

So, he said, you know what, I'm just gonna put in, like,

self-deportation papers, I guess, and--

and--and he decided to go live in Jordan.

When I was saying bye to him in the airport, it was like,

OK, see you next year, and I started crying,

and...[laughs] Sorry.

It's literally been exactly one year,

and I don't know if I'm going.

Tickets are not--you know, cheap, in either way.

It's like, I'm gonna see you for two weeks and then go back.

It's like, you know, vacation with your dad kind of a thing.

It's really weird.

Man: We have here is a river.

Some people say that it's a river that divides two nations.

Others like to think it's a river that unites two nations.

We were fishing out here once

and we had a--a body float up.

It's possible somebody was just trying to cross the river

in that pursuit of happiness,

and the river got them.

So, unless they make that fence electrical

with, you know, 10,000 watts or something going through there,

some high amperage, the river's

much more dangerous to cross than the fence.

[Woman speaking Spanish]

Man: What do you love about your city?

Why do I love this city? It's my city.

I have no--no other city.

Though I've done a lot of traveling around the world,

I keep coming back to this place.

All my people are here, all my jobs are here,

all my history is here.

The things I love most about New Orleans

is the utter acceptance of every culture

and shade of person and lifestyle.

Man: Yes, there's every type of a person

you'd ever want to meet in this city.

Woman: I love the way everybody knows each other.

Like, it's so big but it's so small at the same time.

I feel like things, like, problems are manageable here.

You know, as bad as some things are,

as bad as some of the neighborhoods that I cover are--

Roxbury, Mattapan--you know, there are--

I think there are a lot-- there are possibilities.

There are solutions.

Man: I see--this is a city on the upswing.

Creative people come here, whether it's to

engineer a rover to put on Mars

or whether it's to, you know,

cut the newest mashup

that's gonna take people in a different direction for music.

L.A. is still the place to be.

Woman: There is a kind of harmonic diversity

when you come to a place like Brooklyn.

Woman: It's an incredible American city

that feels like nowhere else in the U.S.

Man: I feel like a lot of people who have money

kind of suck.

And, uh, I don't like to hang out with people

who have a lot of money, so,

it's kind of nice to be, like,

in a city where, like, nobody really has much money.

Man 2: Why do I like this place?

Because it sucked so bad in the eighties.

What I like about it is the people

who came together over the past 30 years

to take a dying urban core

and create an extraordinary place

that gave job opportunities to people

who never would've had job opportunities

30 years ago.

Man 3: Maybe that's what I like about New York.

The place has got a certain style, you know?

A lot of people can't handle it.

You want to get humbled? Come to New York.

It'll show you what you got.

Man 4: What I love most about New Orleans

is the people, the way they treat you.

Second, the food.

I'm gonna say food.

There is so much food here.

Man: No one can season a meal

like--like we get food seasoned down here.

Man 2: Tons of museums. There's tons of history.

There's just countless things to do.

You'll never be bored in Boston.

[Train rolling on tracks]

Man: I think New York is kind of like

the modern Rome, in a sense, where you have

this big mecca of people and cultures that are meeting up,

and it's just a nice place to be.

Especially for parkour. We get a lot of people

internationally that stop here

for extended periods of time to train.

So, it really shapes the way you move,

to see people from different countries

kind of express themselves in places that

you're comfortable with and used to,

and seeing new things all the time.

Man: I get to truly appreciate the things

that are made by people.

And I get to see the city for what it truly is,

and what it is is just a piece of art.

It's kind of awe-inspiring how people were able to create

something so vast and so complex.

Yeah, it's really hard for people that don't actually go up

and look from the rooftops to understand,

like, what the city is really like.

It's a completely different world.

Man 2: We get to see it through fresh eyes every day.

I always want to kind of remind people

that that's a thing, that, you know,

you can only see the city in a new, fresh way.

Man: Well, my name's Shaun. I live in San Francisco.

I'm the host of a show called "The Love Drive,"

which is basically a show about sex, love, and romance

that gets filmed in my taxi in San Francisco.

So, usually the way it works is,

I pick somebody up, they get in,

and I go, "Hey, welcome to "The Love Drive,""

and I immediately hand them a stack of these questions,

and then they pick one of the questions

and then--and it's pretty self-explanatory.

They just start talking about it.

The reason I--I'm doing it is because, "A," I'm a taxi driver,

"B," I love people, and "C," I spend, uh,

incredible amount of time thinking and talking about

sex, love, and romance.

Welcome to "The Love Drive," by the way.

You gotta pick a question.

Both: Ooh!

Are circumcised penis heads making a comeback?

No. They're not. No. No, no, no.

Wait, can we-- can we--

Let's talk about that one.

Male passenger: Talk about? Shaun: Yeah.

I'm helping people make connections, right?

I'm helping people connect with other people in San Francisco, right?

And I'm also giving people not just in San Francisco

but outside of San Francisco a snapshot of what happens in the city.

Right, because there's nothing more

interesting and raw and real than candid conversations

between a taxi driver and their fare,

which are supposed to be anonymous.

Which after I get done with it is no longer anonymous.

I can totally answer that one.

What? What's wrong with women in San Francisco?

What's wrong with men in San Francisco? Wait, OK, just stop...

I will do that!

What is wrong with men in San Francisco?

I think in whole, San Francisco is a city

that people flock to

that are trying to find themselves.

It's not a--a city that people come to to settle down.

It's actually a city to play.

And when people come to San Francisco

to find a relationship, that's kind of a misnomer.

I don't think it's something that-- that exists.

Shaun: San Francisco's always been a place where people come

to, to create and to do art and to connect.

I mean, it's like leave your heart in San Francisco.

That's the thing--you fall in love with the city.

At the end of it all, it's not how much money do you make,

what kind of apps did you, did you leave the world with

but, like, how did you love?

That's what really matters at the end of it.

Woman: What is the best thing happening in your city today?

Man: Best thing happening in San Francisco today.

Oh, I don't know.

There's so much great stuff going on here.

I just can't think what's best.

The best thing happening today without a doubt is my wedding.

Do you mean today's date today?

Best thing to happen in San Diego today

is actually, like, in my kitchen.

I just got two big yellowtail.

Today? Well, my friends are playing a show tonight. [Laughs]

That should be pretty good.

Our earth festival.

The jazz fest.

Other than just today? I would say...

I'm a big fan of the new mayor.

We got a new major, so, we have a fresh mind, fresh eyes.

And one of the best things happening

is the dramatic expansion of our public transit system.

It is the exact kind of change

that we need to have happen in Los Angeles.

It's our urban agriculture scene.

Woman: Recycling, conservation.

Community involvement in our conservation project.

Man: The best thing happening in Boston today is

the unity that the city has shown

in the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombing.

Man 2: This city, you know, has a grit to it

that says, you know, if you're, if you're gonna mess with us,

we're gonna come back together

and we're gonna fix it and make it bigger.

To have such city pride is pretty special about Boston.

Los Angeles was second in the country

and third in the world for venture capital investments.

So, yeah. The-- [Chanting] L.A., L.A., L.A.

the startup community is awesome,

and it's really, you know, this is just the beginning.

Tip of the iceberg.

Man: I think the best thing happening in the city right now

is probably this new music scene.

You know, you had to make your own community

and do the things yourself,

because that's the only way that you're gonna get to do it.

Man:♪ He gave his life...♪

Man 2: We live on the outskirts of New Orleans.

Crown Seekers--just a few people got together 49 years ago, uh,

and tried to start a gospel group.

Uh, I'm the only original member left.

Woman: The Crown Seekers love to sing.

They will sing anywhere.

So, we just can't help it.

As a family, being a part of it, we just sing.

Being in New Orleans, there is no way

you will get away from any music,

and everywhere you go.

You just in the neighborhood, you gonna hear the sounds of music.

Group:♪ Did it for you♪

♪ And he did it♪

Group:♪ And he did it for me♪

Man:♪ He gave his life♪

We have the best talent

that never make it big,

and if you come to the city of New Orleans,

you can go down Bourbon Street and hear

the best trumpet player you've ever heard,

but you've never heard them on a album.

I think that the art community in Detroit

has always been there.

The difference seems to be now that

there's less need to leave here.

There's always been creative people in Detroit,

but there was a mentality for a long time

that to be successful in creative,

you had to go to New York, you had to go to L.A.,

you had to leave Detroit.

It's kind of flipped to the point where

it's not only people stay,

people are also coming now.

Man 2: I--I feel that the art community in the Bay Area

was very accepting, continued things,

was very accepting of accessibility

and disruptive art.

I was just in Italy for a month

and people said, "Have fun in Italy.

You know, you're gonna love Italy."

And by the end, I was like, "I love Italy, but

I miss San Francisco."

There's a pride in craft here, you know.

There's a pride in art.

Man 3: A lot people here, like,

they have this one life,

but they also have a creative side.

Like, everybody creates something here,

and that's what New Orleans really is.

It's a gumbo. Like, everybody's throwing

something into the pot.

As a kid, everyone thinks New York is everything,

and especially in the arts.

If you're really-- if you're kicking ass

and you're really making it, will you go to New York?

And that's just not something I ever wanted to do.

Like, even whatever peaks and valleys my career has ever had,

uh, I'm proud as [bleep] to have done it from here.

Man 2: I have a, uh, old business partner

who said to watch the evolution of any city,

follow the artists.

They me where it's cheap.

They are very creative, so they

make it interesting and cool,

and then the yuppies move in, the prices go up,

and all of a sudden, the artists have to move out

and go do it somewhere else.

Woman: In the arts, everywhere, when you're talking about

fine arts or performance art

and we're talking about modern dance and things like that,

it's hard for them to get support

even in a big city, bigger than Boston, um,

so, here, definitely, they're gonna struggle a little bit.

Fish: I am, like, more proud of the fact that

I sit in one of the most expensive

neighborhoods in what is now

the most expensive city in the United States

and I sit around drawing pictures for a living.

I need to be all day, every day, grateful to San Francisco

that I have this career and that they--

it continues to allow me to live here.

Woman: I found living here, it's a very expensive place to live,

and dance, even though it's really well supported

here in the city, uh, wasn't paying the bills at all.

You know, I kind of thought working nights

would afford me a little bit more flexibility in the day.

[Static on radio] Voice on radio: Dispatch message.

Call type: medical aid. Location...

Oh, 2-story window.

[Engine starts]


This is gonna be the fastest, uh, south.

Yeah, you're good. Cool.

Just grab a board.


Woman: Jessica.

Can you squeeze my hand, Jessica?

Can you squeeze it? OK, that's good.

[Indistinct]. Can you move your feet?

Can your move your feet?

No, no, no, no, leave your--

leave your--leave your head down, all right?

Jessica: Let go of my arm. [indistinct].

We can't. Woman: I can hold this right here.

Does that make you feel better?

Jessica: No. Please let go of my arm.

Man: Just keep her still, sweetie.

[Jessica speaking indistinctly]

Hi, General. It's Medic 6-8.

We're en route Code 3

with a trauma activation.

We have a long fall.

Um, uh, a-- about a 20-foot fall.

We have her in [indistinct] precautions,

and IV's established,

and we're gonna be there in about 5 minutes.

Man: So, the initial report on our computer reported that,

uh, it was someone who had, uh, fell

from a second-floor window and wasn't breathing.

Um, so, we, you know, again, I was going in anticipating

that I was going to arrive to someone who died from a fall,

um, and then when I first walked in, right as I walked in,

she sat completely up with her friends there,

so, it was a relief to see her sit up.

I was like, oh, good, OK, well, this is

much better than obviously her having died.

We agree that when the big one happens,

that we-- we report to duty.

Um, I think technically, you have

4 hours to secure yourself, your home, and your family,

and then you have to begin making your way to work.

So, we do have a commitment to the city that we made.

It's our job. It's our job to show up.

It's that sense of responsibility for each other.

The city has a way of, uh, winning you over.

Narrator: In this episode, our filmmakers found

their cities to be global attractors

of opportunity and creativity.

Our urban centers give rise to

many of humanity's greatest achievements.

While many people filmed

wonderful things about our cities,

during their exploration, they also found

many challenges.

In our next episode, we'll take a hard look at issues

ranging from homelessness to crime to climate change

when our filmmakers ask,

what are our city's biggest challenges?

Next time on "One Day in the American City."


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