Jeanne Carney

When one considers the matter, the desirable natural and architectural charms of a community, and the lives lived in these surroundings, are actually composed of fragile elements, difficult to maintain, difficult to balance. A restaurant chain was planning—and came close, very close, to achieving—a restaurant and bar of more than one story on the land which became, thanks to community efforts and Council resistance, the first portion of Seagrove Park. How many recall the elaborate developments once planned for Crest Canyon? Another irony is that many of the talented university professional people drawn to live here in the ‘60s and ‘70s were startled to realize that they would probably no longer qualify for a mortgage loan to purchase their own houses.


“And perhaps the ultimate irony would be to fail through too much success—too many attractions to tourism, development, speculation. Such possibilities are no more remote than a few “simple” changes here and there in the [Community] Plan, a few innocuous-seeming alterations to zoning ordinances and Floor Area Ratio restrictions. No amount of money will buy what is essentially unpurchasable—that is, a natural environment harmonious with the business of living. ‘Community’ can be created only out of dedication and belief.


The elderly lady—she must be in her eighties—who walks the hills and byways of Del Mar for hours at a stretch is engaged in serious purposeful activity in Del Mar, and I believe that she daily earns the right to natural beauty, to greenery, to sea-views and breathable air. She deserves the power of Torrey pines to cool and shelter with their five-fingered fans, to filter and absorb noises from the freeway. I hope she’s still around to enjoy this lovely city of the sea, by the sea, for the people.”



Editors note: The above is excerpted from an exceptional long-form essay, “Business As Usual,” written by Del Mar resident Jeanne Carney (d. June 29, 2021), and published by The Del Mar Spectator (Jan McMillan, Editor), in its June/July 1984 issue. The full essay is published on the Sandpiper’s website with the permission of Jan McMillan. 


Click here to view the full essay online


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Jeanne Carney, performing Appalachian music at the first First Thursdays performance at the Del Mar Powerhouse on May 4, 2000.

Jeanne P. Carney, who was in her late 90s when she died in June 2021, was born and grew up on a small family farm near the Kentucky border in northern Tennessee. She comes from a line of several hundred years of mountaineers and homesteaders, some of whom crossed from North Carolina through Cumberland Gap. In her childhood, traditional Anglo-American folk music—including ballads and folksongs, hymns, fiddle tunes and play-party pieces—formed a vital part of rural experience. She holds a doctorate in English literature and linguistics, and has taught university courses in Anglo-American balladry and folksong.  [Photo: Jeanne Carney performed on May 4, 2000 for the Del Mar Foundation’s inaugural First Thursdays performance at the Del Mar Powerhouse Community Center, presenting a program of “Ballads and Bluegrass from the Southern Uplands.”  (Quilt handmade by Sherryl Parks; photo courtesy of Del Mar Foundation.)