Opinion: Village Matters


There is a Season

ann christoph

“To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die” – Pete Seeger

This was the season for Bonnie Hano to leave this world. But it was not a circumstance of her choosing. She said she didn’t mind dying. Her eyesight was failing. She could no longer read. She could no longer do the things she had done her whole life, there was just no energy. But she wished she could die knowing that the world, country and community were at peace and on an upward trajectory. That the world was better off for her and her generation’s having been here. Instead, she told me, it is so upsetting to know that there are deep conflicts at every level, and things look more and more bleak every day. “Are there any young people?” she wanted to know, anyone to carry on, take up all the causes we fought for all these years? I stumbled with an answer to that question.

I couldn’t fix Ukraine, or get Congress straightened out. I don’t even have the power to get our councilmembers to have a peaceful, positive meeting, but I could give her a better answer to her question. And the more I thought about it the more hopeful I became. There was more to tell her. There are young people, and middle-aged people joining the elder team that has been running the marathon—who have upheld our community, protected our neighborhoods and saved our environment all these years. This second wave of activists is carrying on. They are bringing their expertise to saving the character of our town. They are on our city committees working on housing and climate change. They’re involved in our schools, PTA and youth activities. High school students plot negotiations between countries in the Model United Nations program. They do community service. Their opportunities for affecting the world around them so exceed those that were available in the schools of our generation—their accomplishments are bound to be more impactful. Laguna’s generous scholarship program supports students going on to college and they are returning to contribute.

Some of them are promoting “vibrancy” and testing out their theories about how our town could be extra exciting with more night life. All part of the learning experience!

Some seek vibrancy by growing plants at the Community Garden. “Can I help? Do you need anything?” the 20-year-old gardener wants to know. “I can do that.” He eagerly prunes and weeds. Another shows off his first radish and volunteers to set out the trash every week. Another explains what she has learned about affecting public decision making. “You have to go there, talk to the Councilmembers, get a lot of people to speak… It does work.” Full circle, that is what Bonnie has been doing her whole life here in Laguna. Bringing about change by being involved. Bringing concerned people together. Always moving ahead with a vision for how our town can hang onto its soul and become even more exceptional.

Now is the season to heal, “A time for peace,” Bonnie, “I swear it’s not too late.”

Ann is a landscape architect and former Laguna Beach mayor. She’s also a long-time board member of Village Laguna, Inc.

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