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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
November 1, 1999


Today is the beginning of the Celtic new year, marking November as a month of renewal and letting go. Never has this been so clear to me. Hope is very prominent this time of year, not only is it when America elects its Presidents, it is also the month when we gather with our families to give thanks for our bounty, and start preparing for the approaching winter.

Hope is really about vision, and what Southern California needs, particularly North San Diego County, is a vision that is more than just a financial plan. Regardless of all the ideology to the contrary, money does not make the world go round. Ask anyone with a sixth grade education and they will tell you it is really about gravity. Said gravity is also responsible for seasons, tides, and appples falling to the ground when a tree releases them. It's elementary.

Believe it or not, many of my friends consider me to be an optimist. Pessimist maybe, a realist certainly, but I would never describe myself as even remotely optimistic. Hope for me is all about possibility, and recently environment restoration is beginning to seem possible. This can be traced to growing grassroots activism among residents. Citizens who are finally standing up and demanding that city councils stop bulldozing environmental quality.

It's as if an awakening has taken place. People from all communities are filling council chambers with the same concerns; overcrowding, traffic gridlock, lack of adequate mass transit, dwindling open space, insufficient parks, and disappearing beaches. In Carlsbad citizens are in a war of druidic proportions to save trees from the axe of "improvement." In Encinitas, the city council, save for James Bond, has actually embraced the community's vision to restore creeks and riparian habitat.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the Pilgrim Creek Wildlife Refuge in North East Oceanside. Purchased by SANDAG, as mitigation for the environmental destruction resulting from the expansion and realignment of highway 76, this 121 acre refuge connects directly to the Camp Pendelton and it's vast tracks of wilderness. In and of itself however, the Pilgrim Creek mitigation area actually encompasses several biotic communities. Had it not been for hard fought regulations that require such mitigation. It is likely that Pilgrim Creek would have been "improved" enough to allow for development along it's banks. For those of you who would like to experience the joy of environmental restoration, organizations such as People for Trees, San Diego Earth Works, and the Cottonwood Creek Conservancy offer volunteers many opportunies to get up close and personal with the earth while making a huge contribution to environmental preservation. Although groups such as San Diego Baykeepers organize beach cleanups regularly, my solitary efforts to clean the beach is a time for reflection and a renewed sense of commitment, and higly recommended

Donating sweat equity is always good, but donating brain power is better. If we are to create change in the region individuals must look beyond themselves to see how much we have lost, and continue to lose, under the not so wise stewardship of those who see pavement as power, natural resources as something to exploit, and the environment as something to endure.

Make no mistake, all of this is happening. Even as the growth machine continues apace, grassroots activism is beginning to catch up. And it is only a matter of time before the Pavement Party is finally voted out of office. Hopefully they will go quietly. How's that for optimism. Happy New Year everyone, and Blessed be.

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