Brooks: City still a place for connections, dreams

It's been a great view from the beloved Mesa this week.

There have been plenty of moments that reminded me of what is good about our community. Here's the week in review:

Monday night my boyfriend and I rode bikes over to Triangle Square (I'm sorry, I can't call it The Triangle) to see "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on the big screen.

We weaved through the scaffolding with women dressed in Audrey Hepburn-style dresses and enjoyed the classic along with a good crowd.

It felt good to do dinner and a movie and see people milling about at Triangle Square. I left feeling hopeful that it will once again be a community hub for entertainment and connections.

Tuesday I was reminded that the Costa Mesa Sanitary District is honoring a Mika neighborhood leader, Jose Hernandez, with the Environmental Excellence Award. Jose was the inspiration and motivator behind the Shalimar Neighborhood Action Committee's community garden.

They took a parking lot patch of dirt where people threw old furniture and made a garden where neighbors connect and grow food together. Jose is a teenager and his idea not only solved the junk problem, it inspired the adults in our neighborhood to trust and follow young people.

Wednesday was a day to honor other young people worth following. A group of 17 students called the Youth Action Team graduated their first class. These students have spent the school year exploring the city from arts to business to government to education. In the process they have been learning about themselves and their role in our community.

The celebration banquet, which was hosted by the Center Club, debuted the students' short films about themselves. What a joy it was to honor who they are and recognize their leadership in our city.

This is the same group that recently presented the City Council with research they collected that proposed solutions for engaging more of their neighbors in city recreation programs. They have a meeting this week with a local foundation about putting their ideas into action. It is inspiring to see them work together toward a vibrant community.

Thursday I had a lunch scheduled with my former high school teacher, Barbara Van Holt. She is a woman who inspired me to action when I was a teenager. BVH (as so many call her) believed that youth were totally capable of putting together every aspect of a theater production. She set the bar high and turned us loose to bring a script to life.

I read an ancient poem in a leadership book this week that made me think of BVH immediately: "When the best leaders' work is done, the people say, 'We did it ourselves'."

As young people in Estancia High School's drama department, we had that sense of empowerment and accomplishment. BVH was an incredible example of what it is to bring together people from different backgrounds, focus them on a common goal and follow them to success. She showed us our own strength and made space for us to try and flourish. And she believed in us enough to lead by following us.

From all I have seen this week, I am encouraged that Costa Mesa continues to be a place of connections where the dreams of young people can flourish and be celebrated. I'm excited to see what Friday will bring.

CRISSY BROOKS is co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.

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