2013 has slunk away and 2014 has slipped into place. Everyone has or is making a set of resolutions or goals for the year – a list of things to attain and achieve. In the midst of resolution setting, I’m offering up an additional idea: make a list of things you can do for your hometown. After all, we are as strong as our own community.
1. Lend a Hand: Volunteer your time. Extra hands make all work easier, and our local charities can always use assistance. The list is endless, but includes local organizations such as Laguna Food Pantry, The Marine Mammal Center, the Friends of the Library, The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, Sally’s Fund, and the Boys & Girls Club. The hours you spend will make a difference, not only in the lives of those you are helping, but also in your own.
2. Get Involved: Docent programs are fabulous ways to both obtain an education and share that knowledge. The tide pool program developed by the Laguna Ocean Foundation focuses on water issues and tide pool protection. Citizens on Patrol supplement the police department’s manpower by patrolling in a car for volunteers, on bikes and on foot in the downtown area. The Laguna Art Museum also has a docent program that trains ambassadors to the arts.
3. Participate: The Pageant of the Masters recruits volunteers for their living pictures during the month of January, a commitment of time and camaraderie that lasts well after the summer show has closed. Zero Trash, the first Saturday homegrown effort, keeps our neighborhoods sparkling clean. Adopt-a-Beach, the sister to Zero Trash, let’s you choose your own special mile or two of sand and commit to making it debris free.
4. Support Local Businesses: We’ve got gyms, yoga shops, personal trainers, surf and paddle instructors, financial planners, independent mortgage brokers, CPAs, insurance brokers, attorneys, architects and contractors. Add to the long list of services you can contract right here in town – housecleaning, party planning, landscaping, pet sitting, jewelry creation and more. Is there any reason to cross our city boundary?
5. Contribute: Dollars and merchandise go the distance. There isn’t one 501c.3 organization in town that wouldn’t welcome a cash infusion. Whether a one-time contribution, a recurring sum, or even an inclusion in estate planning, our local charities survive by the generosity and beneficence of our population. The efforts of the Friendship Shelter and the Food Pantry focus on improving the lives and living circumstances of our most needy population.
6. Join: Expand your friendships and your community involvement. Put your name in the hat for appointment to a city commission. Join the museum, the auxiliary at Laguna’s Mission Hospital, the Laguna Garden Club, the Crystal Cove Alliance, to name a few…
7. Attend: Try something new in 2014. On the list: LBHS theatre, dance concerts and sporting events; Laguna Beach Business Club meetings; Laguna Film Society screenings, Concerts in the Park, First Thursday Art Walk, a Playhouse show, and City Council meetings.
8. Mentor: Laguna Beach High School, the Boys and Girls Club, Susi Q Center, the Laguna Beach Library all welcome the offer of skills and knowledge. What a great gift to share your talents with those who want to learn.
9: Shop Local: As easy as it is to shop on-line or at the big box stores, exploring our local independent retailers can provide surprising finds. Local “green” merchants such as The Organic Cellar, and Roots support the planet as well as the community. And our newest shop, Pearl Street General Store, carries specialty beach and household goods.
10: Eat Local: What’s not to love about Laguna restaurants; we have more than our share. City records show the current count is 111. Between coffee shops, ice cream/gelato/yogurt shops, juice bars and smoothie centers, we have sandwich shops and high-end restaurants. Every flavor of food is available, all within a walk, bike, bus, drive, cab or summer trolley ride away.
11: Explore: Try a new patch of sand. Our coves are unique and each offers a slightly different view of Laguna. Shaw’s Cove is one of the easiest spots to launch a SUP board or kayak, Thousand Steps will prove (or disprove) your cardio fitness level, and Moss/Pearl Street are divided by a stunning rock arch. Dusty-up those boots with a short or long hike in the broad expanse of trails connecting Crystal Cove State Park with the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, to the fire trails up Moulton Meadows down into Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park. Enjoy a picnic under a native oak, and soak in the views of our coastline surrounded by open space.
12. Support the Arts: We are an art colony so do your part. Shop the galleries and support the Festival of Arts, Sawdust Festival, Art Affair and the Artist Guild. Our local artists and galleries have that perfect piece of art for gift or home!
Catherine Cooper is a Laguna Beach native.