It has been over a week in Long Beach, CA, and I have come to accept that I now live in southern California. As a native NorCal resident, I have always heard stories of this land of heat, smog, consumption and materialism. “Why do we have major cities in the desert to begin with?!” I would wonder. And after a week here, all I can say is “I LOVE IT!”
Long Beach, CA sits at the southern point of Los Angeles County, about 25 miles south of Downtown L.A. and just north of Orange County (aka “the O.C.” for those of you that watched pop television 10 years ago). Long Beach is a port city of about 462,000 extremely culturally and socio-economically diverse residents sitting along more than 3 miles of beach. As far as I can tell, it’s Oakland, but with more surfers. Perfect.
Katt and I have moved from Berkeley to Long Beach in order to continue on our paths to work for positive social change locally and globally. Next week, Katt will begin her PhD program in Social Movement Theory at UC Irvine. Currently unemployed (I prefer “early temporary retirement”), I will begin to integrate into the city and look for what work I can do to support the local community on a small scale. But, as I have said before, our ability to help others begins by caring for ourselves, so step one here in LB is to get ourselves together.
For us, creating a healthy life for ourselves begins with our home. Living in a house with people that share vision for change, common values and a passion for this world is key to our personal happiness. Yesterday, we finished settling into an 8-bedroom house with a total of 9 roommates…so that’s a start! We have already begun conversations about composting, vermiculture (worms!), meal sharing and hosting house events.
At the same time we are getting settled, Katt and I are considering starting our own cooperative house in a nearby neighborhood with others interested in a home dedicated to open communication, consensus decision-making, a shared house food system and a dedication to local activism/community work. We held our first community event this past weekend introducing the idea of the LBCooperative to a group of 10 people we found through Craigslist (see above photo). Having come from an 18-person cooperative house in Berkeley, we are excited to share this experience with our new community. Living “cooperatively” in this way is not for everyone, but when done well it can bring all the joy in the world.
In the past short week, we have also worked in a local community garden with friends, found free yoga in the park, toured local collective houses and celebrated a Honduran World Cup Qualifying victory at a local pupusas spot. In just a short time, Long Beach has inspired me with the kindness and passion of the local community, and I am excited to see what will come next. First up: Saturday work day in our yard (below) to get the projects started!