BECOME A WARRIOR FOR THE PLACE YOU LOVE

BECOME A WARRIOR FOR THE PLACE YOU LOVE

I have two daughters. I gifted each of them with a summary statement declaring WHO THEY WERE when they were only two years old. I was forecasting, observing, guessing, but I was also right on. My first daughter was a calmer, more reflective child; the second I referred to as a “warrior child,” because from the beginning she was eager to move, to get her life going in a physical way.

And in their adulthoods, they are both WARRIORS. One is a landscape architect on the east coast, working with schools who want to repurpose their buildings so they are “green”—using healthy paints and building materials. The other lives on the west coast raising my grandchildren, but also working with organizations to help disadvantaged women and children.

And me? I am part of a group of women who fight for progressive government actions, help disadvantaged families, register teens to vote, elect the right school board members and make phone calls to support honest and decent political candidates.

FLY-OVER STATE? Maybe they don’t exist. Here’s why…

A month ago, my husband finished a call with an old friend, who had proclaimed, as only this old friend could—that California is a fly-over state. The urban dictionary defines fly-over as: States in the middle of the United States that generally aren’t destinations for travelers or tourists and are generally flown over when traveling from place to place. Of course, it’s a derogative term.

We lived in Iowa for 17 years. I loved living there, though one thing I did complain about was having to transfer when flying to LA or New York City. So for Iowa, that definition has a partial meaning, but certainly not a full meaning! When I lived there, Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses. I studied at the University of Iowa, known for its school of creative writing. In the capital city, we had an excellent symphony, a wonderful opera and Broadway theatre events that arrived just later than the true Broadway. Plus, I met and went to lectures with amazing thinkers, writers and politicians. Small can be mighty. Small can be a warrior.

BUT WHY THE SLUR ABOUT CALIFORNIA? 

The guy doesn’t live here. I’m not sure he has ever visited. CALIFORNIA is not a fly-over state, but he obviously does not agree with the things we are doing here. Like: fighting global warming (our wind and solar farms); saving water (we need to work harder in that area); creating a diverse population—we are a diverse state, our elected officials are diverse and a great number of them work hard to help our citizens through expansive healthcare plans, public education, libraries & public transportation. Yes, our state has made mistakes (insufficient affordable housing, insufficient transportation from suburbs to cities where most of the jobs reside, high fuel prices.) Often the decisions that were made in the past (like falling in love with automobiles instead of public transportation) are hard to change when the infrastructure (and the surrounding mountains) are fighting such a change.

But in terms of educational centers, art galleries, recreational centers and the ability to experience the beauty of nature, history and culture—we are a destination state. And to continue to maintain that calling, we have become a warrior state, made up of many warriors. From the northern wine country, through the literary-art centers of San Francisco, the tech centers of Silicon Valley, the film industry and entertainment centers of LA to the Naval bases in San Diego—the state is working to stay ahead of the curve. Some battles it is winning, some I fear it might be losing, like our autumn fires. Like money having more power than the needs of the people. Like some people in Silicon Valley thinking only of making money and not of helping upcoming generations.

But it’s so easy to be out of loop of information and decision-making, to simply toss out a label. I read the LA TIMES every day and I’m not thrilled with all the decisions that are being made, but I also see our state struggling when Washington makes judgments that go against what we want. One example being fracking. But we will fight back.

WARRIORS ALL

Maybe the answer is for each of us to attempt to do ONE THING each week that increases our knowledge concerning our country, state, city, village, neighborhood. You decide. You choose. AND READ

Where we live and how we live is vital to our mental and physical health. Sometimes the smallest change (like educating ourselves on a subject we don’t fully understand) can help more people in our communities than just us.

My youngest child, my son, has lived in many diverse neighborhoods, and now in Chicago, he has become a warrior of the present, using his warm smile and open heart to do his job, reach out to others, write music, live his life. My husband works with people who have become homeless, who need and want a job. He has had many successes, understands the process, has become damn good at it.

Each of us can choose something WE CAN DO. Whether it’s writing a check or getting out there with hands eager and a smile to help—we can all be warriors—eager to move, get life going in a physical and dedicated way. No fly-overs here.

Thanks to MARK NELSON, ART: DOWN TO THE TOWN