Sadly the economic downfall has hit us all, some harder than others, as a reported 40 businesses have closed their doors. Home prices have been falling for quite some time, and earlier in the year gas prices were at an all-time high.
Thankfully they, too, have fallen to a five-year low.
In 2008, our town went from a “beach buddy” to a “beach dummy.”
However, there is always hope the great culture of Laguna Beach is returning. Last week, as one family was burned out of their home for the second time in 15 years, our town — or better said, the people — once again rallied in support, providing the family with a place to stay, a stocked refrigerator and even a Christmas tree with gifts under it.
To me that is the true spirit of Laguna Beach, the same caring and compassionate spirit that has aided our town and its residents through many past disasters.
That is what defines Laguna beach — its people: their resolve, their fighting spirit and their loyalty to one another when needed most.
Laguna Beach, to me, isn’t about fancy cars and big homes, but the people. Those who care enough to get up and organize beach cleanups — because they care.
This includes people like Gary Arthur who have the ability to dream up such gatherings as the “manly tribal” games — that is just classic Laguna spirit. Because it’s not so much about the games but about the gathering of friends.
Friends and family have always been what Laguna is about, not the flipping of homes and making a buck.
Perhaps we have gone through this growth change and now in this economic downturn things will again begin to return to old values.
One thing that was a blessing in disguise for me personally during the harsh gas prices was rediscovering how wonderful it was to ride a bike through the streets of Laguna Beach. You’d be amazed how many great people you will run into, when you take the time. I can’t wait to see that great Laguna spirit continue in 2009.
JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfingandECOWarriorSurf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha SchoolofSurfing.com