Our daughter in-law Tatiana always calls it Beautiful Cambria. Her musical Portuguese accent makes it sound almost magical. Main Street is lined with a fantastic range of galleries, small restaurants, antiques shops, winetasting rooms, small local breweries, plus a church, two theaters – a slice of American heaven that my wife and I stumbled upon during a drive up the west coast. With the ocean to the west and the mountains to the east, Cambria sits in what I believe is one of the most perfect spots in California. It captured our hearts the first time we visited, and drew us back as we readied ourselves for the next adventure in our lives. The many feet of snow we found on our roof when we returned to our home in Connecticut made the serene, temperate climate of Cambria even more undeniable. So, here we are!
We brought a pared-down representation of our lives with us as we made the transition from East Coast to West. We kept the important things – our favorite art pieces, our musical instruments, some furnishings that hold special memories, and all those important papers we all have tucked away somewhere. We also brought our individual and shared passions. Music. Art. Writing. If you could open our soul that’s what you would find – family, music, the arts. They feed us.
So why this blog?
I also brought with me my long-time interest in communities – how they work, why they thrive, where they struggle and how the people interact. I grew up in a Bronx neighborhood, on a street that had almost as many people as the whole of Cambria. That street linked to other streets, defining the neighborhood. A short distance away the pattern repeated, forming another neighborhood, then another, and finally a Borough, which linked to 4 other Boroughs to make New York City. 8 million plus neighbors – one heck of a big community.
With kids came a move from the urban to the suburban lifestyle. We made our way through a few towns, always looking for the better school, the more comfortable house, a better neighborhood for everyone. In each town I’d try to find the local government. It is amazing, and in some ways comforting, to see the same people engaging in the different flavors of community governing. There are the parents, the activists, the earnest and the angry. The one who claims to know everything but knows maybe not so much, and the quiet, determined one who goes in, head down and does the tough work of moving things forward for the good of everyone. There is always a gadfly or two. Always a sage advisor who shares when asked. A reporter or two, a retired someone who hides an amazing well of experience. The anonymous and the active.
Beautiful Cambria. So Unique. So Familiar.