Love where you live!
LA MESA -- The great thing about summer vacations is the distance you can gain on your own life, your own job and town.
The tiresome elements of your routine can look petty and inconsequential with the benefit of the longer view travel gives.
Still, on a recent trip east, I found myself discovering little aspects of life which, with leadership, could add a little polish to the Jewel of the Hills.
I share them here not at all as a scold, but as reminder that the difference between a good town and a great town can be the little human things that differentiate one town from the next.
In a small town in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, I walked one morning through its old downtown. Trees lined the streets, flower-filled baskets hung from the light posts. Virtually all of the shops were filled. The local merchants credited the town's Business Improvement District and its executive, John Hicks, with finding the grants, polishing the little details and creating a "buzz" and sense of ownership of the downtown that went beyond the merchants who happened to be renting space at this time.
Looking a bit further, I learned that the BID's leader was not an expensive employee, but a retired executive who had held high-powered jobs and wanted to keep contributing in his latter years. The untapped talents of our senior workforce might be something to consider as La Mesa looks to build on its niche as a great, livable small town city.
THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE
Traveling a bit south, I was walking along the Hudson River in one of New York City's great public spaces -- Riverside Park -- when I suddenly had a déjà vu experience. I stood before a garden in full summer bloom. The array of flowers were framed by a wrought-iron fence and filled with a colorful variety of plants that, even in one of the world's largest cities, managed to attract the kind of butterfly and bird life you'd expect to find in Julian.
This was confirmed to me by a Manhattan architect who happened to be spending his morning weeding his portion of the garden. It turns out this stretch of park -- so beautiful it attracted the keen eye of great film-makers -- is a volunteer effort. They call themselves "The Garden People" and the architect estimated the dedicated "core" of the group numbered just 40 or so spending a few hours each week.
La Mesa is, in fact, famous for its volunteers. We honor the most dedicated with a star on our streets. But this garden along the Hudson made me wonder if a similar dedication to the new downtown Village here might reduce the worries of on-going maintenance of the new downtown streetscape.