NY Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote a pessimistic piece about our country”s “long term loss of solidarity, rise in estrangement and hostility…society that is dissolving from the bottom up…Americans have been acting in fewer pro-social and relational ways….” His words got a lot of pushback in letters to the editor, painting a more optimistic picture of everyday American communitarianism. Looking around our own community we also see more neighborly interactions without regard to political differences.
At the top of the list to celebrate is our 94% vaccination rate, a pro science figure that achieves a strong measure of self protection but also reflects our commitment to keep other community members safe from virus exposure. Of course COVID does not care about municipal boundaries, but within our direct sphere of influence we can congratulate ourselves for practicing good public health.. Unfortunately, the vax rates of 2-3 million visitors probably tell a different story.
A random selection of every day anecdotes paints a picture of very caring community members. Neighbors checking in with seniors living alone. Volunteers taking vulnerable neighbors to medical appointments and grocery runs. A plate of fresh baked cookies left on the front patio by a neighbor. Water dishes by curbs kept full for the burgeoning number of thirsty Del Mar dogs. Sunset celebrants gathering nightly at key spots all over town. A food delivery tree hastily organized for a neighbor recovering from hip surgery. A beach area owner leans over her deck to beckon a kid-loaded car looking for parking to use her driveway for the day. Neighbor leads piano sing along in her living room, then moves to zoom during the pandemic. Email joke networks. Offers to trim trees and shrubbery to enhance neighbor views. Neighbor walks with seniors to give family caregivers stress breaks.
Our town also sponsors more organized community building activities sponsored by our many non profits, staffed mostly by volunteers. DMCC hosts numerous programs as varied as senior lunches, valentine deliveries, and computer and smart phone coaching. DMF programs range from kid activities, to public art, music and lectures. We can see the extraordinary beauty of Garden Club efforts all over town. DMVA reward our many public health workers with food from local restaurants, as well as other downtown gatherings.
We can never forget the courage and dedication of our city staff members working diligently through the pandemic to keep our neighborhoods safe and functioning well.
These are only a few examples of our version of a thousand points of light (apologizes to President Bush). We celebrate community every day. Our town benefits from a strong ethic of civic volunteerism. There is much natural and planned beauty that attracts people to live here but the friendly caring nature of its citizens makes this a very special town and offers hope for a more optimistic future. BFF.