It matters where you live.

Having recently moved from the Central Coast to the Eastern Sierras, I’ve seen a very small version of how people do things differently because of the place they live, where they were raised and where they choose to go should they leave their first home. The differences are small but they are many and it makes a big impact on the place you live, how you look at it and how that makes you act.

Being in the Eastern Sierras, I’ve taken to getting the newspaper every time I go into town to look at what kind of jobs are available around here. In reading the local stories and what happens in the community, there is a strong sense of integrity and connection. As well, privacy is respected and serious issues aren’t blown out of proportion or given an uneven amount of attention.
The radio is an extremely valuable source of information. Instead of the airwaves being filled with incessant advertisements, the local business owners are speaking on local issues: monthly updates on housing rates in the county, fire safety and prevention, mental health resources and transportation resources. If you’re willing to listen, they will tell you how to make the best of everything that is available in the community.
The local scenery is there for you to enjoy and appreciate! June Lakes, Rock Creek Lake, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, Ownes River, Tom’s Mountain, natural hot springs everywhere, the list goes on of all these beautiful natural landscapes where you can fish, hike, bike, swim, boat, horseback ride for free as long as you follow the fire regulations and pick up your trash. If you want to, you can. Pay to rent the resources you need or bring it yourself and enjoy it for what it is.
As well, the community makes sure to provide things for people to do for fun all the time. A local carnival is coming to Mammoth for the next two weeks, benefiting the local mental health association. There is a jazz festival this weekend, a reggae festival another weekend in July, both free. There’s a community pool in almost every town to enjoy for only $5. There’s Mule Days, the Tri-County Fair, the Mill Pond Festival, the Eastern Sierra Music Festival and more events that I haven’t yet discovered. And depending on the season, the natural areas bring other forms of fun like snowboarding, skiing, ice skating and whatever else that is snow/cold weather related.
Most importantly, every person I’ve met and spoken to so far lives here because they truly want to. A majority of them have moved here because wherever they were before, they had a special connection to this area and visited as often as possible. When they were able, they made the move and it was easy to do so because they make it easy to live here. Even though it’s one of the richest areas in natural beauty, it is one of the least expensive to thrive in. The people who make up the community are here because they love what is already available and they want to preserve what made them come here in the first place.
Everyone has animals. Everyone loves animals and knows that everyone else loves animals. They’re allowed to have animals, so everyone does.

Growing up on the Central Coast, there wasn’t much I got out of the local newspapers. New Times was the best source of information for upcoming events and some information about changes in laws and regulations locally, but a lot of info was crammed into a little amount of space and made it difficult to fully understand an important situation with one major article and very little follow up.
The radio wasn’t the best in the first place and seems to be getting worse with the removal of popular music stations we all grew up on and enjoyed. As well, the air time available between music is gobbled up by people just trying to get your business -stagnant, annoying advertisements that don’t do us any good.
We are always grateful to have the many beaches to enjoy, but we don’t always appreciate these places fully and it is one of the only options for a place to go for us to gather freely with room to have fun. Locals as well as out of towner’s trash the beaches on a regular basis and very little government resources go to cleaning it up consistently. It is up to the community activists and volunteers, the far and few, to do the major upkeep that allows us to keep the beaches as beautiful as they are. Santa Margarita Lake, Lopez Lake and Naciemento cost money to use, a different fee for every little detail (boat, dog, extra car, etc.) and provides little ability to really enjoy the area and Lake Antonio is dried up, as well as the Atascadero Lake (more like marsh). People are forced far out of town or face repercussions from law enforcement for trying to gather in our homes, within city limits. Even still, the community doesn’t provide much for people to do without having to pay a lot or be of a certain age. Pozo Saloon can be a good venue, but is costly and inconvenient, as well as the Avila Beach venue. Besides wineries, restaurants and the Mid State Fair, if you want another version of fun, you have to make it yourself. This causes a lot of problems in itself. If people were allowed to gather in the ways they wish, we as kids/teenagers wouldn’t have had to go to such extremes as we did.
The Central Coast has been called a black hole repeatedly and too many times I’ve heard that “the people are awesome but that’s really the best thing about the area”. No one has any loyalty or feels much importance to their area. More so, there is a lot of resentment for not being able to find affordable housing, proper public transportation and lack of entertainment and necessary resources. People struggle to keep their heads above water and outsiders balk as if the area is the end all, be all. It isn’t when it doesn’t provide for ALL of the people who live in it.
Too many people wants animals, love animals but don’t have the ability to have them. The community as a whole won’t seem to acknowledge that way more people than not want an animal in their home, but aren’t allowed to because of strict rental agreements and low paying jobs that don’t provide people with the finances to buy their own home.

People are happier here in the Sierras. They say hello when you walk by on the street, they come together to create and they work to preserve all the different things they love here.
People are working too hard to live on the Central Coast. Everyone has things they love about the area, but as the community “progresses” more and more, people are getting crowded and frustrated and can’t find the appreciation they once had for their home.
The difference may be menial, but it effects how we react as a whole group of people, what we stand for and what we understand life to be about: what we find truly important and what we do with the life we have as an individual.

 

We’re witnessing a major divide in communities across this country because of the fear and panic from the various people who make up these diverse regions. The United States itself is so vast and homes so many different kinds of people, it’s almost laughable to still be using the word “United”. We’re united in very little.

Where we live has much to do with the lack of understanding that is felt from all sides. Though we can all communicate with each other through technological advancements over the years, we’re not truly listening to each other. The experiences of those who live in California are not the same of those who live in Florida. The sub-cultures of various states, and the assorted sections of states (NorCal v. SoCal) proves to give people different perspectives of what the world should be and how we should change it.

It’s important to understand that there is a lot you, as an individual, do not know because you haven’t lived in the neighborhoods of the people crying out for justice. You haven’t worked and walked the streets of the cities that are in major opposition within it’s own limits. This goes for every single person living in this world – our familiarity with certain issues don’t exist within personal history, but your own perception and third-hand stories from others.
There are people in the world who do not know the feeling of a soft bed, a full stomach and a warm home to feel safe in. There are people in the world who do not know the feeling of being truly targeted and discriminated against, of being without food for days, weeks on end and no resources to help, of being without clean water or a proper place to go to the bathroom.

Where you live has much to do with what you experience and the perceptions you build from those actions. The conclusions you build from what you’ve been through is the basis for how you look at the world, but it is a mistake to close your mind to lifting yourself out of your own perception.
Empathy, and the ability to try and feel the feelings of others, to put yourself in their position, is one of the most powerful traits a person can have. It is then that we open up possibilities for understanding, clear communicating and coming to a place where we can share ideas and plan for a better world, starting with our small neighborhoods and communities. We need to let go of our ego and what we think we know and be open to accepting that other people know more, know better, know differently and their knowledge is valid.

Every place, community, in this country has an individual and unique personality like every individual person within them. Like people, these communities can be and are flawed and needs to look within itself and admit to the actions it makes, and the effects those actions have. The people within are those effects – we are all a product of where we came from in some way or another.

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