Community Commentary: Hospitality over hostility

It is officially November, and with the election behind us there is no denying that the holidays are upon us.

My family kicked things off last weekend with a visit from my sister and her family. We carved pumpkins, made a costume for her baby and took lots of pictures. We were all together, and everything felt right.

That same weekend my neighbors on Shalimar Drive set up for our annual C3 Basketball Tournament. C3 stands for Cops, Church and Community.

Seven years ago, Officer Ryan Walker pitched the idea of a 3-on-3 tournament, where each team would be made up of a local police officer, a young person from the community and a representative from a local church.

Since then, it has become an annual tradition that we look forward to in our neighborhood. It has taken on more significance than just a fun day to play together.

In the past several years, when community relations with the Costa Mesa Police have become strained, C3 reminded us that we are on the same team. When we are all together, everything feels right.

C3 is a day when my neighbors offer hospitality to our city. This year, we invited several community agencies to share information about the services they offer.

In addition to the Costa Mesa Police Department, we had eight churches represented, and members from five neighborhoods played.

Local businesses participated by giving prizes and recruiting players. The Neighborhood Action Committee from Shalimar was our host.

Those who are often offered services, served. Those who are often seen as recipients were those who gave.

Petra and Susana opened up their homes for the players and volunteers to use the restrooms. Veronica donated the tables and chairs. Chevo loaned us his truck to move the hoops. And Don Mario gave the welcome on behalf of the neighbors.

Last Saturday, I witnessed my neighbors offer their homes, their energy and their resources to our city.

Their hard work to host the event and their generosity communicated, "Welcome, come in. We want to know you. We want you to know us."

Cops gave up their time and shed their uniforms to engage with neighbors in a fun way.

This is not about solving problems together. It is not about busting anyone. It is about being together, learning each other's names and playing on the same team. It is an opportunity to look beyond status and profession, and be neighborly.

There is a risk in inviting people you don't know into your neighborhood, your home or your life. It is especially risky when you have been characterized as the problem area of the city. There is a temptation to put your head down and go about your business without worrying about anyone else.

However, my neighbors are choosing hospitality over fear, relationship over isolation. In a season of division in our city, we are choosing unity.

Costa Mesa Community Foundation board member Bill Turpit said it best when he gave his welcome. He said that the foundation chooses to support initiatives that bring our city together, and he believes C3 does it best.

Our desire is for that attitude to ripple out beyond the tournament, where friendship is chosen over hostility every day. Who will you risk relationship with this week?

Lifelong Costa Mesa resident CRISSY BROOKS is the executive director and co-founder of MIKA. She lives on the city's Westside and is active in community service. She can be reached crissy@mikacdc.org.

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