Final Letter to the Editor UDJ
[Of all the great letters from our community urging our No on A vote, this one from Laurel is outstanding! -DS]
From LAUREL NEAR
This election about whether we should host a large shopping mall has me thinking about change; the huge changes I’ve seen here in this valley over the last half a century and more. Every so often, a pinnacle decision is made that then sets the tone for the future rollout of dozens and dozens of other changes that then ripple out in the community changing life for generations to come.
And what strikes me as important about the mall vote is that we may have enough hindsight now to know that if we say yes to the mall (even if they don’t build it) life here will be different. We know that instead of simply accepting change with a shrug from the sidelines that we can be actively shaping the very changes that allow for the healthiest, happiest, most bountiful life here. And yes, sometimes that takes patience.
When I do a whirlwind rewind of my life growing up here, I recognize some of the staggering changes I have seen have been great for this small town. However other changes have not always been in alignment with promoting our very best qualities as humans and as a collective community. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
In 1947, my parents bought an 1,800-acre cattle ranch in Potter Valley for $30,000 on Pine Avenue. Only three deeds or so before, the land had been the home of Pomo people for thousands of years. Can we imagine no fences and no pavement anywhere? When I was little, my mother drove us without seat belts to Ukiah on a road that went through where Lake Mendocino is now. There was an outdoor roller skating rink with a huge sound system and on hot summer nights, parents would sit in their cars and watch their kids skate under the stars as they listened to Elvis, The Four Seasons and The Supremes. The Pear Tree Shopping Center was a real field of pears, the drive-in movie was in a field off of Dora Street and I pretty much knew everyone in town. There was an award winning marching band led by Roland Nielson that marched down State Street and a thriving performing arts program at the high school theater directed by Les Johnson who directed fully staged musicals of the times to packed houses.
My parents didn’t have a credit card but then they didn’t buy a lot of stuff. In the fall, we went to McNabs, The Palace Dress Shop or Irene’s, Tots to Teens to buy one new outfit and a coat for school and sometimes we bought a 45 at Hayes Music. Most parents’ quality time with their children in Potter was doing chores, going for walks, swimming in creeks, fishing, shadow tag, 4-H, family meals, square dances at the grange, looking up at the sky full of stars but not shopping.