Editorial: Activism is alive and well in O.C.

A wonderful upswing in activism is taking place in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine and much of Orange County, and it's assuring to see that a community once wrongly assumed apathetic is making itself heard on a wide range of issues. We're not here today to weigh in on Banning Ranch, the 19th Street bridge or Occupy O.C., but we want to make it clear that we support those who have, whether by exercising rights to speech and assembly, writing letters or posting comments.

The latest example of grass-roots activism took place in Costa Mesa this week at the home of Michelle Simpson, who gathered residents to discuss concerns about the proposed Banning Ranch development, the possible 19th Street bridge connecting the Westside to Huntington Beach, Sunset Ridge Park's arterial road and other development issues. These types of meetings are what community engagement is all about. We hope to see more.

Costa Mesa is leading the way locally, particularly with all of the back-and-forth concerning the proposed layoffs and City Hall. Both union supporters and detractors have mobilized grass-roots campaigns and the exchanges, though sometimes ugly, are ultimately to the benefit of us all.

Over in Newport Beach, a group of high school students gathered recently to protest the expansion of the nautical museum on a stretch of the Fun Zone. The kids were fighting to preserve the community's heritage, and we're glad that even at a young age they have a strong sense of what's important to them.

Occupy organizers gathered recently at John Wayne Airport and have long staked out an area outside of Irvine City Hall, taking part in the national movement. And UC Irvine, once viewed as one of the quieter campuses in the University of California system, has become an interesting place where ideas are freely exchanged, resulting even in criminal prosecution of protesters.

Agree or disagree with the positions of those on the picket lines or in the tents, but support political engagement. It's what this country is all about.

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