Episode #2: Making Change Happen with Chris Larsen

Ben Kaplan
Ben Kaplan
min running time
July 18, 2023

In this in-depth conversation, host Ben Kaplan is joined by Chris Larsen, the billionaire co-founder of Ripple and renowned San Francisco philanthropist. They delve into the challenges that San Francisco faces, as well as the potential solutions that could bring about transformative change in the city.

Larsen, known for his passion for the city and significant contributions to its development, shares his journey from implementing a camera network to tackle crime, to supporting local businesses and sponsoring police recruitment campaigns. Kaplan and Larsen scrutinize the city's image in media and politics, affirming its status as a global innovation hub despite the criticisms. They reflect on the city's inclusive and progressive culture, examining how it can be balanced with pragmatic solutions to issues like homelessness and police shortages.

The conversation also explores how individual involvement in areas like elections, community dialogue, and police appreciation can have a profound impact. It highlights the power of using personal skills and talents in service of communal objectives. The discussion concludes on a hopeful note, with both Kaplan and Larsen optimistic about the city's potential for reinvention and evolution into a model for future cities.

Tune in to hear their perspectives on navigating city bureaucracy, police resource management, the importance of mayoral power, and the vital role of community engagement. This episode is a rallying cry for collective action, emphasizing how everyone can contribute to improving the city's trajectory.

Episode Insights:

  • San Francisco is special because of its sense of open-mindedness and acceptance of individuals — but that needs to be paired with a pragmatic approach to solving very fixable problems that affect our collective quality of life.
  • Misalignment between the mayor and San Francisco Board of Supervisors makes it unnecessarily difficult for us to fix our most pressing problems.
  • San Francisco operates in a competitive environment — we’re competing with other cities for everything from police officers to job-creating and tax-paying businesses.  To thrive, we need elected leaders, community organizations, and voters who think about San Francisco’s big picture — rather than single niche issues.
  • All too often in San Francisco, good intentions have unintended consequences.
  • The so-called downtown “doom loop” is overstated.  Why not have a “boom spiral” instead.
  • There’s reason to be hopeful.  The raw ingredients of what makes San Francisco great hasn’t changed and the city’s incredible creative energy can make progress happen quickly.

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