Now that the summer has ended for most of us, we face the inevitable transition into fall (ever notice that the word "fall" has a somewhat negative connotation like fall down or fall off a cliff?
In order to reach a calmer state of mind (aka denial), I tried to avoid most of the news during the last weeks. Let's see, we have local "scandals," massive environmental pollution, an unpopular war, a national economy on the edge, huge unemployment in our golden state–far above the national average.
Not to mention individual finances in disrepair, and, oh yes, a state budget that cannot be reconciled by our local representatives due to partisan politics.
Is it any wonder that we Alamedans feel so frustrated and, at times, powerless?
But I am not here to regale you with news of doom and gloom. Rather, I am here to tell you about a bit of what is inspirational here in our wonderful town of Alameda.
What delusions am I under, you ask?
Well, let's think about it. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most beautiful urban spots in the world. My family travels quite a bit but we always look forward to coming "home," no matter how beautiful a spot we visit. The local weather is temperate and you never have to shovel snow in winter (just talk to anyone who was raised back east to understand what I mean).
On any given day, you can walk around Alameda and find people who not only acknowledge you exist but who know you by name. I have found that most Alamedans will stop and chat as if you matter.
Alameda is a diverse community: demographically, economically, and politically. I also find that it is an intelligent community and that, despite our differences on politics, religion, and a host of other issues, when most Alamedans discuss matters face-to-face (not on the internet!), they usually are able to come together for the common good.
We have got our wonderful local theatre that our kids can walk to from all over town. We have Park Street and Webster Street where many of us know the business owners by their first names. We have the Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge and the Pinball Museum—two of the reasons probably why in the Aug. 2010 issue of Travel & Leisure Alameda was rated one of the top 12 coolest suburbs in the United States.
But few things make me feel prouder to be an Alamedan than opening day of schools around town, no matter whether it is public or private. This year, I watched hundreds of parents taking their children off to school. The kids were excited, most choosing to run or bike to school as fast as possible with parents in tow.
And I couldn't help notice that the cars actually stopped at crosswalks as drivers waved at their neighbors. And it didn't hurt that the temperatures were summer-like as well.
At times like these, Alameda really does feel like Mayberry. Don't get me wrong. We have a lot of issues outstanding. But what I notice is that it is so easy for people (and politicians) to "go negative," yet most people want something better. And for the future of our society and our town, we should demand better not only from our neighbors, but from ourselves.
This is not always easy.
However, all you have to do is look around and you will find that most people in our wonderful small town, through their actions and behavior, continue to make Alameda a truly special and wonderful place to live.