The phrase, “I see retired people,” seems to be on the minds of writers wanting to blame someone or some group for stopping what they consider to be progress. Maybe the description “old timers” or “older generation” or “seniors” are substituted for “retired,” but this underlying theme persists enough to be damaging to community spirit.
In recent local publications “retired people” have been accused of passing a law limiting the streets that skateboarders can use, of being poor companions to take on a trip, of building the greenbelt to protect us from outsiders, not wanting anything “fun” in the downtown, and—worst of all—saying “No” to everything.
Age has nothing to do with the amount of devotion and concern for the welfare of the community and world in which we live. It doesn’t limit the ability of an individual to have empathy for others, young, old or in between. It doesn’t prevent someone from evaluating all sides of an issue.
There is an added perspective an experienced person has after dealing with situations over time, and there is the fresh look at things offered by someone considering a problem for the first time. What assets both offer!
In speaking about our city’s environmental activism at the Greenbelt annual meeting Feb. 29, Greg MacGillivray told of his son Shaun and daughter Megan’s being part of “Next Gen” a new organization of friends concerned about community issues. Now we will have more leaders to work on solving problems and keeping Laguna the beloved place it has always been.
The changes in Laguna’s population since 2000 have been discussed a lot, with a big emphasis on our “aging population.” The 2010 census counted 1,066 more Lagunans over 55 years old than there were in 2000. But our young population has also increased, there are 250 more between 5 and 24. That explains all those eager faces at the school bus stops.
The population in 25-54 age group has declined, however, by more than 3,000 people. Some writers speculate that the reason for this has something to do with Laguna being old and boring. Just not enough trendy things to do.
The city’s housing element puts a different spin on it, explaining, “High land and housing costs make it difficult for young adults to live independent of their parents in Laguna Beach.” Young adults who do manage to find housing are working very hard to make those stiff payments, while raising children in an era of very high expectations.
Considering all that, how remarkable it is that “Next Gen” has formed and that its members are dedicating a portion of their limited time to considering the community as a whole and planning for its future.
How exciting it will be to have intergenerational partners in protecting and moving our community forward. Rather than seeing others as part of an already described category, our sixth sense will lie in the ability to see all of our partners as individuals with unique insights and contributions to making and keeping Laguna the home we all love.
Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former council member