Lev Kushner: The Plunge

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

 (Lev Kushner)

The suddenly reeling economy can sometimes feel like a "Bullitt"-like ride up and over San Francisco hills, but Lev Kushner sees an opportunity to design an economy for the future.

My uncle Howard, a good man with a warm face, and my Aunt Linda, a chatterbox, were visiting my parents from Detroit. It was their first time in San Francisco. They rented a car. Studiously following my mother’s directions from their hotel to her house on Russian Hill, they called her, confused.

“Karen, you gave us bad directions. We’re sitting here at Fillmore and Broadway looking out over the bay, and it says to keep going, but the road ends.”

“No,” my mom said. “Keep going. Over the edge. Past where you can see.”

Silence. Then, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh!”


It’s easy to laugh at people who are scared to keep driving when the road ahead is invisible, but the economy is in free-fall, and I’m as clueless as the rest of us about what comes next.

If this is the big drop and we’ll have to rebuild ourselves and we will do just that now is the time to think about what we want. Should we price in environmental impacts, so the next generation of companies are sustainable? Should we rewrite the rules on political districting so our leaders reflect the center and not the fringe? How should we redesign the safety net?

Imagine yourself driving over that lip into the yawning free-fall, your stomach lurching, your head involuntarily leaning back into your headrest. People come here from all over the world to experience that moment, of the terrifying unknown giving way to the panoramic embrace of San Francisco Bay.

As the pandemic pushes us over the edge, we are not powerless. We get to decide what view unfolds beyond the dropping hood of our car. Now is the time to start designing our future.

Now. Right as we tip into the unknown.

With a Perspective, I’m Lev Kushner.

Lev Kushner is a real estate and place-making consultant who lives in San Francisco.