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Those of us who came from other places in the world realize how lucky we are to be able to live or to work in Santa Monica, or even to be able to spend some time here. Those of us who were born here and chose to stay know that Santa Monica is one of the most beautiful environments anywhere in the world. In Santa Monica we are soothed by soft ocean breezes, we always have a close-by spot to look out over the ocean or watch the sunset, to have space, to gain peace.

Yet there has been a lot of anger and frustration vented recently about our city’s shortcomings: too little space for the deluge of traffic that comes in and goes out of the city daily, tall buildings going up that block the sun and the fresh air coming off the water, rising home and apartment prices that prohibit all but the elite from moving into our neighborhoods.

Many interests want a piece of that natural beauty that is Santa Monica. Arguments have divided neighbors, city officials, developers and business owners.  We who live in Santa Monica do care deeply about our city, and that’s why our residents have had to step up time and again through our city’s history to save that elusive “peace” that permeates our surroundings.  Now we all need to work together once again to find common ground for preserving what we already have, that which makes our city shine. Think about the things you love about Santa Monica. How can we make sure they remain for future generations?

Our SMa.r.t. group did just that and here is the Thanksgiving potpourri of ideas that came to mind:

“I’m thankful that this city has so many citizens willing to serve officially and to participate in countless ways of making our lives better. I do not agree with all of them all the time but their willingness to serve and participate rebounds to all our benefit.”

“I am thankful to own a house in a city that has become too expensive for many. I know that I am one of the lucky ones who was able to build my house before it became too costly to do so.”

“I am grateful for the growing and energetic commitment of aroused residents in pursuing and demanding a quality environment, and who show foresight in addressing problems and meeting goals for social equality and sustainability.”

“I am grateful that we have our beach and ocean that gives us the opportunity to breathe fresh air and enjoy unfettered views to forever.”

“I am thankful that my city has groups of neighbors who have banded together into neighborhood associations and preservation organizations to protect our quality of life, such as the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Historic San Vicente Coalition.”

“I am thankful to share my city with the world in the summer but even more thankful to have it back in the fall, winter and spring.”

“I am thankful for our many and varied small neighborhoods. I especially enjoy walks up Montana Avenue and the families I see doing the very same thing, and meeting someone, as I did yesterday, who was visiting from Spain. And I’m grateful for the wonderful conversations and exchanges of ideas that arise from these chance meetings.”

“I am thankful that our city is capable of producing more than its share of affordable housing.”

“I’m grateful for Heal the Bay which keeps the health of our beach and ocean in the public forefront.”

“I love that we have classic, timeless, varied and unique restaurants such as Chez Jay, The Galley, Melisse and the original Hot Dog on a Stick.”

“I am grateful that we have a community of residents that seek to preserve our fresh air and sunshine, and who fight to resist the few power brokers that would change our unique quality of life.”

“I am thankful for the rich tapestry of the arts in Santa Monica — for organizations such as the Ruskin Theatre, The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, Santa Monica Playhouse, Beautify Earth’s murals and other public art, and so much more.”

“I am thankful to live in a City where the residents care as much about their urban and natural environment as I do.”

“I applaud all the service groups in Santa Monica whose members give their time and donations to help others in need.”

“I am thankful that because of our residents’ resistance of large scale high rises and their work towards preservation of existing housing, our town maintains a rich diversity of population.”

“I am grateful for easy walking access to our Palisades Park and the magnificent vistas it provides of the sand, the Pacific Ocean and the always colorful sunsets.”

“I am thankful for our great public education system — all the excellent elementary and middle schools leading students to Samohi, and our rapidly growing secondary institution, Santa Monica College.”

“I love that we have extraordinary public parks, playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks and swimming pools to keep our bodies and minds sharp, and most of all to have great fun. We need more of these.”

“I’m grateful for all the tourists who help keep our economy very healthy and add even more to the diversity of the daily experience in our city, and I hope they love Santa Monica as much as we do.”

“I am thankful to be living in a place where normal citizens can talk to government and attempt to influence its course, without repercussion. I’m also very glad to be surrounded by folks who have committed ethics, and are willing to act to make this a better place.”

“I’m thankful for Santa Monica’s great library system.”

“I am thankful for the generosity and camaraderie of my neighbors and fellow citizens who sacrifice their time and energy to preserve the unique qualities of our City for all to enjoy.”

“I am thankful for our new city manager who brings a fresh outlook to our community – a manager whose varied background has led him to realize that it’s human-scaled design and spaces, not flashy buildings, that create a quality environment.

“I am thankful to be cooled by the ocean breezes in summer, warmed by the temperate climate in winter and powered by the sun all year long.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Phil Brock for SM.a.r.t (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)

Ron Goldman FAIA, Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Daniel Jansenson Architect, Samuel Tolkin AIA, Armen Melkonians Civil & Environmental Engineer, Phil Brock Chair, Parks & Recreation Commission. For previous articles, see