Village Matters



Trusting, a crow perched on our patio steps.  Just standing there, looking up. He’d spread his too-short wings and jump-fly from one step to another, then look around bewildered as if to say, “How did I get here? And now what? I don’t see mom and dad anywhere.”  Fortunately our cats were on their leashes and the juvenile crow had happened on a good place to land, just out of their reach. Now, what to do with this little guy?  Alfredo brought him a dish of water and another of seeds, but it was clear he was not safe there for very long.

Enter our neighbor and hero, who had raised young crows before. He easily picked up our bird, no fuss, and put him in a traveling box. Now he’s Cuervo, lives in special cage with an ocean view deck, eating scrambled eggs and fruit.  Testing his wings every day, he’ll soon be able to join the local family of crows singing their lovely songs all around the neighborhood. One family’s contribution to a humane town, and a small contact with the world of nature.

Who does this stuff?  In one weekend we experienced just a bit of the community activity and contribution that happens continuously in Laguna. A troupe of volunteers had just been working at the community garden, readying the lower section for vegetable beds.  Plants, rocks and water lines were installed. Dumpster loads of debris were raked and readied for export. Next day was the Charm House tour where over a hundred volunteers managed a mobile show of our town and six very special houses. There’s more every day, schools, clinic, greenbelt, resource center…the list is huge, as a review of will show.

Generosity, leadership and activism build community. It’s not just limited to private organizations, but it’s part of Laguna’s governmental tradition as well. Thus we have been able to help victims and restructure neighborhoods after disasters, develop innovative arts programs, build beautiful parks and conserve a model open space system.   “We have been forward thinking,” said Roxane deGarmo when I asked her to sign the open space petition.  “We passed the school bond, and now our schools are fine, not like most other districts in the state that are in crisis. This is for our future. We need to keep on doing things like saving open space.”

A common refrain in today’s media is that we should contribute as little as possible to our government.  Cutting taxes will somehow force government workers to do more with less, and to cut back on regulating business activities.  Another approach is to look at it as our government, nudging it forward to do the good things we need, and giving the resources needed to do them.

Helping our government to be good, is so much better than starving government trying to keep it from being bad.

Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former mayor.

Here’s an update on Cuervo.

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