I grew up in the fairly
infamous well-known area of Southern California known as Orange County. I didn't get out much when I was young, mainly because the OC can be kind of isolating, you know? I mean, I didn't drive until I was eighteen, and my family didn't go to Los Angeles too often (if ever), so almost my entire life occurred in a relatively small area (North OC, or Fullerton, if you want to get specific).
When I started applying to college, one university stood out to me. Not only was it near(ish) to home, but the community looked amazing and I could a great scholarship. So, obviously, I made the easy decision to go to Cal Lutheran.
CLU is located in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles (one of the first cities you'll encounter when you drive north of the Valley). There's not a whole lot there; it's a pretty sleepy city, and our bar options were kind of limited to TGI Fridays and the local pub. After we graduated, I ended up moving back to OC with my family, but a lot of my friends decided to stay in the area. About a year later, when Robert found out he was going to UC Santa Barbara, we ended up moving to where we are now.
Ventura is a small-ish city, about a half hour north of Thousand Oaks and a half hour south of Santa Barbara. We live less than five minutes from the beach, but beach-side houses here don't cost half of what they do in Orange County. I could go on and on and on about Ventura, but it's pretty much my perfect place. I want to stay here forever.
There's a point to this story, I promise.
A few weeks ago, I went to an ISES dinner that took place at a flower farm in Carpinteria (about twenty minutes north of where I live). The speaker was all about local - locally produced food and flowers and products and wine. There were over one hundred of us sitting at a long table in a greenhouse, and I couldn't help but think how incredible it was that we were all there for the same reason, eating food that was grown in our community, drinking wine produced by winemakers in the next town over, networking with businesses that work in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
I never had that feeling of community when I was in Orange County. There was no community pride; not the way there is here. Almost every person that I've met who lives here, loves it here. There's an intentional decision to stay local, to promote our neighbors and just be proud of our community. I'm constantly amazed that I can walk into the Whole Foods in Oxnard, and buy produce that was grown in Oxnard. I can walk to the industrial area ten minutes from my apartment, and drink beer produced right there. Not only that, but I can go eat downtown, and see the same local beer on almost every restaurant's menu.
I don't know that a sense of community is something you really understand until you've actually experienced it. I never realized the power of community when I was younger, that's for sure, but I have no doubt that I want to settle down and raised my family in a place like this. I mean, I have no problem saying that I would be perfectly happy staying in Ventura county for the rest of my life.
I'd love to know the story behind your home! Do you get that community feeling from your city or town?