No, we can’t, if we keep blaming and asking others to fix it for us. We’re feeding an environment that nurtures stagnation.
I wrote two op-eds about the dire condition of our Village, the first on becoming conscious about our situation. It had about 800 responses, 20 percent were residents. Most readers agreed but consequently just blamed politicians, landlords, political PACs, etc. and ended up attacking each other for having a different opinion. At last, there were a few big property owners that completely denied the existence of anything wrong with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and one restaurant closing after another. My second letter, searching for the cause of Laguna’s plight of not being able to move in any direction, asked for observations. I got five responses, no question was answered. Are we relegated to downtown to stare at a wall or hit it?
Our neighborhoods seem to function, what about just existing without any downtown? Like a gated community, if a city experience is desired, let’s just visit our neighboring towns. This solution would perhaps save our city money but will separate us even more from each other because we are herd-animals that have an inherent need to socially expand. Or let’s decide on something else but we have to make a decision, a vision plan or vote to keep the Village just like it is without changes. The key is to define what we want, not what we don’t want.
There is a lot of wonder in Laguna, but there is a refusal of self-examination and an increasing void and community self-awareness that keeps us idle. When we don’t understand that a town without community spaces breeds more isolation and robs us of our most valuable gift, the interaction with other human beings, then this is not negligence but disrespect to ourselves. No social platform will ever be able to replace person to person human contact.
Yes, restaurants for locals are community spaces that nurture the belonging and togetherness of residents which nurtures civic pride that stimulates “doing what needs to be done” for the whole city, not just for a few. It is not enough to love Laguna; if we are not able to find the reason(s) why we stagnate, we can never start progressing together. I will certainly try.
Michaell Magrutsche, Laguna Beach