A Visionary Community

by Lance Mason

Low Tide Hike – Photo Courtesy of Gail Osherenko


Isn’t Santa Barbara a beautiful place to live? I think it is. When is the last time you complained to friends or family, who live in Los Angeles or San Francisco or Las Vegas, or almost anywhere but here, about how unpleasant it is to live in Santa Barbara County? Perhaps never. While some of the beauty, convenience, charm, and general livability (except for property costs!) of our surroundings are due to natural geographical attributes and climate, Los Angeles and the Bay Area used to have more of those things too. One of the reasons Santa Barbara County hasn’t been as spoiled by human beings, is that we have the benefit of far-sighted individuals and a local community who are generous, value the common good above personal gain, and are willing to put personal effort and influence into the social and political mechanisms that protect the gifts of this area for us and future generations.

One local organization staffed by, and run by, the kind of far-sighted people I’m trying to describe is the Gaviota Coast Conservancy. I won’t name names here because I’ve only met two of them, and I know there are dozens who are responsible for the group’s invaluable work.

On 26 November, I had the great good fortune to be part of an exploration by foot of 2 miles of coastline east of the El Capitan parking lot. No, it wasn’t my first time roaming a beach north of Goleta in the autumn. No, it wasn’t my first time basking in the coastal afternoon sun with the sea breeze for company. But it was the first time I did it with people whose life’s mission is to maintain and protect those pieces of incomparable beauty and value. Steve and Janet were our Gaviota Coast Conservancy guides and advisors who put a truly human face on one of the many organizations who run the gauntlet fighting off inappropriate development while protecting the rural landscape on the Gaviota Coast.

The point I want to make is that these natural treasures are not protected for us from exploitation without hard work. They are protected by human beings sacrificing their time and commitment in saving these tangible, as well as symbolic, assets that create the good side of the world we live in. Without the people, no amount of money or even power can be exercised in the right directions to save and preserve Gaviota, Refugio, El Capitan, Naples, or, for that matter, dozens of other natural attributes of our home and its surroundings.

Please be one of these people. Please support the Gaviota Coast Conservancy or one of its brother/sister organizations.

Hike Break – Photo Courtesy of Gail Osherenko

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