A BALCONY VIEW:

Last week I wrote about the ambiguity of the Crescenta Valley territory. As I did, I compared that open-ended definition to what I believed a good local column should be. Namely, that my topics could expand beyond the mere boundaries of our area and cover issues of a more broad scope.

As I write this column, I’m out of town attending a conference as part of the duties for my other job. That fact aside, my thoughts right now are back home and on the weather there.

This morning, I woke up to national TV news reports focused on La Crescenta. Specifically, their concern was the burned out areas and how the forecast of rain could wash mud and other debris into the homes and streets of our area.

I watched the TV, feeling rather helpless but nevertheless proud of the images I saw of neighbors pitching in to help one another shore up properties with sandbags and other barricades.

Local fire departments are making sandbags available. The Crescenta Valley Town Council and Chamber of Commerce have done a spectacular job providing residents with a wealth of information on preparedness techniques. And Town Council President Steve Pierce worked diligently to set up a sandbag-filling station at Two Strike Park in La Crescenta. The sand will most likely be available for the next five to six months.

I think of these efforts and realize that there are many more unnamed community members reaching out to lend a hand and offer support of all kinds to the community. And while I can’t know what will happen as a result of the rain and can’t report on it, I can report that there are good people doing the best they can to protect one another in a time of need. If nothing else, maybe that thought can provide a small ray of light on an otherwise stormy forecast.

As I went downstairs to my first meeting, I was greeted by the usual obligatory, “How’s everything going?” from a co-worker. As ritual goes, my usual response should have been, “Fine. How ‘bout those Dodgers?”

People often don’t want to hear anything bad when they greet one another. They’re simply making polite small talk. Unfortunately, this time I couldn’t return the favor.

“I’m pretty worried about home,” I said. “People in my neighborhood are very concerned about the potential mudslides that could happen this week.”

My friend had seen the same national morning show that I was watching. He expressed his concern as well, stating that he went through something similar.

“You really get to find out who your friends are and what kind of community you live in at times like this,” he said. “Judging by what I saw, it looks like people are really trying to pitch in and help.”

I walked into my first conference and heard a speech about teamwork from David Olsen, senior vice president at DIRECTV. He cited Michael Jordan as not just a great individual star, but pointed out his attribute of being a great team player because of his willingness to put team success above individual glory.

I know it might seem like a stretch — drawing upon a corporate motivational speech as a comparison to the efforts of our neighbors — but I think the people in our community who fill bags for others, who want to keep others abreast of resources and who are literally willing to get down in the mud are the Michael Jordans of the Crescenta Valley. They are the ultimate team players who find their personal victory in helping others.

Last week I wrote about the borders defining our area and expressed my desire to expand the column topics beyond them. So it’s only fitting that this week I write about the character that defines the Crescenta Valley. That is subject matter that transcends our borders and makes me proud of where I live.


 GARY HUERTA is a Crescenta Valley resident and author. He is Senior Manager of Communications for DIRECTV and a copywriting professor at Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Gary may be reached at garyrhuerta@gmail.com.

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