My favorite songwriter, Sara Groves, says, "If you go looking for offense, you're going to find it. If you go looking for true love, you're going to find it."
I'm not one of those people who believe you can just make things appear by saying it out loud, but I do think we tend to see most clearly the things we are focused on. Sometimes we have to shift our gaze and refocus.
As of late, it has been easy for me to focus on the disunity in our city. The Costa Mesa City Council and police can't stand each other. Each group — whether its homeowners, political parties, homeless neighbors, educators, or day laborers — has a reason another group is the root of all their problems.
But that's not the whole story. There is more going on in our city, and I have come to believe that the subtle, quiet movements can be the most powerful. There are glimpses of unity happening around us that give me hope our city can be the community we long for it to be. Perhaps in shifting our gaze and calling out good when we see it, we will find that when we are weak, then we are strong.
In the next few columns I would like to call out where I see the things we long to see in our city: unity, leadership and trust. Today, I want to mention some of the ways I see unity in Costa Mesa:
Concerts in the Park
(6 p.m. Tuesdays, until Aug. 2, Fairview Park, 2323 Placentia Ave.)
Nothing brings people together like music and food! Tuesday kicked off the summer concert series with the Concert of Hope sponsored by Palm Harvest Church.
Concerts in the Park are a great time to enjoy good music, good neighbors and the great outdoors. The Costa Mesa Community Foundation, along with several local business sponsors, has put together a line-up of bands, food trucks and community resources. Go next door, invite your neighbor and join the community each Tuesday in the park. It's free to attend. You can park at Estancia High School. See you there.
(Next gathering is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Crossing Church, 2115 Newport Blvd.)
In the midst of a divided city, there is increasing unity among churches and leaders in our city.
OCforOC (One Church for Our City) is a community of Christ followers uniting across political and denominational lines to care for Costa Mesa. About 25 churches and leaders have mobilized to coordinate efforts around homelessness, to increase literacy and support local schools and to respond to crisis in our community.
Churches are collaborating creatively and strategically across sectors to care for Costa Mesa. If you would like to know more, join us for our August gathering.
Neighborhood block parties
(Contact your neighborhood association or come to Shalimar Park, 782 Shalimar Drive, from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday)
On Wednesday night, the hearty smell of meat on the grill drew me to our neighborhood park.
As I got closer, I saw cops and kids playing soccer in the street. I heard men shouting out to their teammates in an intense game of street ball. I joined the group of women chatting in the park and sighed at the end of a long day.
It was good to be together. At our weekly block party we pass around new babies, we exchange references and information about potential jobs. We catch up on the week and compliment each other's food. We remember that we are not alone.
As I drive around town this week, I've seen posters for Fourth of July block parties.
Maybe this weekend is your chance to meet your neighbors. Maybe this weekend we can get over our strong feelings either way about fireworks and choose to enjoy each other's company.
Where do your neighbors gather? How often? Will you join them?
At a tough time in Costa Mesa's history, where will we choose to focus? Will we choose to lean in and display unity? How do you see unity in Costa Mesa?
CRISSY BROOKS is executive director and co-founder of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.