When thinking about the cities we live in, it’s easy to point out the annoying problems or shortcomings we encounter, yet what’s more important to recognize about these places is what we like about them.
On Thursday night, the City of Goleta sponsored a workshop at the Goleta Valley Community Center, inviting residents to come and share the things they love about their city through open discussions and hands-on activities. The result: a room full of enthusiastic Goletans with inspiring ideas for how to improve The Goodland.
Guided by Peter Kageyama — author of For the Love of Cities — the workshop included an interactive presentation outlining the things that make cities lovable and fun. From bike paths to dog parks, Kageyama explained, a lovable city is one that will “surprise and delight” its visitors and residents through its amenities and meaning, by emotionally engaging people with its charm.
Kageyama noted how “we expect something more from our cities” than just functionality and safety, and that “the things we love about our places tend to be small things, intimate things, personal things.” This then brought up the question: “Do you love your city?” to which the audience responded with an unanimous “Yes!”
Through a number of activities — such as listing favorite things about Goleta, T-shirt designing, and community development project ideas — the entire audience was able to participate and have ideas heard not only by each other but also by numerous city council members who were present at the workshop. When asked what they love about Goleta, some people expressed their appreciation for the beaches and native wildlife while others noted their adoration for the city’s schools, library, and farmers markets.
“These people who are in love with their city, they step up and do extraordinary things,” explained Kageyama. “It’s up to us to say, ‘We care about this city, we love this city,’ because when we love something, we go above and beyond, we forgive its shortcomings, and we fight for it. We need more people to fight for Goleta. We need more people to fall in love with Goleta and do something positive for the community.”
For the final activity of the evening, Kageyama invited each group to create and present a development project idea for Goleta with the winning group receiving a $500 prize to go toward the completion of the group’s project. Project ideas ranged from murals to community gardening, with the winner being a “Pop-Up Patio” that will move throughout Old Town Goleta and showcase all that Goleta has to offer. In addition, one group was so excited about the idea for an Old Town mural that one attendee anonymously donated funds to the Goleta Valley Art Association to help carry out the project, explained Valerie Kushnerov, Goleta’s public information officer. Kageyama finished the workshop by explaining that “the goal really is a better, more interesting, more lovable city,” and he encouraged the attendees to “go and make meaning in [their] city.”