Berggruen Institute Giving: Summer 2020

Rachel S. Bauch

As millions of our fellow citizens are feeling struggle like never before, the Berggruen Institute is taking action to help the city that inspires our work. While the Institute develops and nurtures ideas to promote systemic change on a global scale, we are also partnering with local organizations serving the most vulnerable members of our community. Our recent challenge donations of $125,000 have helped to raise a total of $500,000. Read on for details about these gifts and their impact:

Supporting Homeboy Industries’ 130 Challenge
Homeboy Industries is a local treasure that has turned into a global model for kinship, gang rehabilitation, and advocacy. We’re thrilled to support their vital service to former gang members through on-the-job training in these difficult times. Our $50,000 donation will go toward facilitating the Homeboy 130 Challenge from August 17 to September 19. An adaption of Homeboy’s annual 5K Run/Walk, this event challenges participants to commit to and share 130 acts of hope, miles, minutes, or any other measurable metric in service of the community. We’ve long been fans of Father Greg Boyle’s transformative ministry and are honored to boost their mission of hope, training, and support.

Helping foster youth stay in school with Foster Nation
As schools have been closed and students confined to learning via laptop, the digital divide in our community has been crudely exposed. That’s why Foster Nation, a Santa Monica-based non-profit, has since the pandemic’s outset focused on providing meals and laptops to foster youth in college. To help this crucial effort, the Berggruen Institute supported a fundraising challenge with $25,000 in matching funds, helping to raise a total of $100,000 – enough to purchase Chromebooks for over 550 students.

Keeping LA fed with the LA Regional Food Bank
Feeding the millions of newly hungry has been perhaps the pandemic’s most urgent crisis. At the LA Regional Food Bank, demand has increased by 80 percent as laid-off, furloughed, and wage-cut workers have found themselves needing food assistance for the first time. The Berggruen Institute made a $50,000 challenge gift to help meet this demand, raising a total of $350,000 – worth enough food for 1.4 million meals. We were additionally excited that this gift helped mobilize Hollywood: matching contributions came from Ted Danson & Mary Steenburgen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Carole Bayer Sager, and other local notables.

The Berggruen Institute wouldn’t be what it is today without Los Angeles: a city of creators, where diversity and innovation are celebrated, and where far-reaching ideas are given the chance to take root. We’re committed to helping our community survive and flourish through 2020 and beyond.


About the Berggruen Institute
The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, we bring together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to explore fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. To date, projects inaugurated at the Berggruen Institute have helped develop a youth jobs plan for Europe, fostered a more open and constructive dialogue between Chinese leadership and the West, strengthened the ballot initiative process in California, and created Noema, a new publication that brings thought leaders from around the world together to share ideas. In addition, the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award, is conferred annually by an independent jury to a thinker whose ideas are shaping human self-understanding to advance humankind.


composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.