This weekend I came almost full circle on something important to me. The park that has been the most constant focus in my life at the Foundation had its groundbreaking ceremony this weekend. I was there, along with State Senator Kevin de Leon, State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, City Councilman Gil Cedillo, former City Councilman Ed Reyes, who did so much to make this park real, Fabian, Raul, and so many more; even more significantly, my fellow troublemakers, Sean Woods and Stephanie Campbell, from California State Parks. I’ve been through so much with the two of them, especially Sean – so many programs, so many campaigns, so many long phone calls, so, so many meetings … It’s hard to believe that I won’t be working with them anymore.
As we threw that first shovel of dirt, I thought about that day back in December 2001, when I stood with Sean looking down at that brownfield, listening to then-Governor Grey Davis talk about the park that would someday be there. I thought about the 65+ public meetings – most of which I attended, most memorably one that compelled me to leave a board meeting that was headed out to Disneyland – drat! I thought about the design competition – all of the drama, the submissions from all over the world, the committee’s work and the public meetings, and all of the effort I put into it. I particularly remember this quote from Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic for the L.A. Times: “But perhaps even more important than the proposals — especially given that funding for constructing one of these visions has yet to be secured — the event Saturday offered a reminder of how dramatically a single design competition, if well organized, can elevate the level of discussion about planning and urbanism in Los Angeles.”
I posted the picture of me, Sean and Stephanie on Facebook, and aside from several comments (positive ones!) about my hair, the comment that made me feel the proudest was this one, from Sean: “Sara, LA won’t be the same without you. Thanks for all your help and support over the years. Thank you for your legacy. You will be deeply missed.” Even though leaving is hard, hearing that I made a difference, and seeing the result of my work after so many years, definitely helps eases the pain.