By David Vanderveen
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
–St Paul in his letter to the Philippians (3:13).
Laguna seems to have more than its share of fires, floods and slides. They are dramatic and challenging to all of us. Having a flood hit our own struggling downtown merchants and residents just before Christmas made life more difficult for many.
The floods also signaled the way our community can work together and is a good metaphor for the economic mud of 2010 that we need to dig ourselves out of in 2011.
It’s time to move forward.
There have been a lot of stories of all the various residents who gave aid to their neighbors and friends. The question, “Who is my neighbor?” took on new meaning, forcing people who live in proximity to one another to roll up their sleeves, get dirty and help each other.
Brent Jamison went downtown to check on his wife’s store (Bushard’s Pharmacy) and stayed till 5 p.m., helping other shop keepers remove mud. My favorite Facebook pictures are of the Laguna Beach Alpha Groms, the downhill speedboarders, who have been much maligned, helping Michael McFadden clean up at Rock Martin Jewlers. Could it be that skateboarders are the new Boy Scouts?
Clarke Brogger from Little Church by the Sea and my brother, Joel Vanderveen, picked up shovels and went into the canyon to help whomever needed it. They have continued organizing canyon work parties since. As Russel Radach, one of the volunteers put it, “It’s good for our kids to put some sweat equity into this community, and there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.”
It can be easy to get depressed by outside events that hit us hard and make a real impact on our lives. Some of us who dodged a bullet in our own backyards may feel lucky. In an age of new media isolation it may feel like we are each an island. These small disasters help me realize that online worlds don’t compare to community friendships.
Now that we’re out of the mud, we need to get back on our feet. We need to look forward.
The big question to me is: What can we do this year to make it better? Make a list. Write it down. Create a plan to actually do it—make time and make it real.
Reading macroeconomic predictions and outcomes are always interesting, but they should not direct our lives. We are not trends. We are each microeconomic events. We are individuals and anomalies. What happens to us is much less important than what we chose to do about it. We can break free from cycles.
When we make decisions about new products and plans at our company, we buy and read industry research. What makes our products unique is when we decide to go off road and make our own way instead of riding on the same highway as every other product we compete against.
If life is a journey, and we are people on a path, are you just cruising with society or forging your own way? What message do you broadcast? What are your mission, vision and values? How does it impact each daily decision and your actions? Where do you spend your money–your daily, weekly and monthly economic vote?
My personal challenge for 2011 is to be more deliberate about my own personal paths and actions. Regardless of my successes and failures in life, it is a journey of continuous improvement.
David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is email@example.com.