Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What makes your community unique?

Today, in my classes, I asked my students to write in response to this question: What makes your community unique?  As usual, I did the writing activity too, and (of course) I wrote about good ol' Fullerton:

One thing that makes Fullerton unique is that it did not tear down its historic downtown. Brea (Fullerton’s neighbor to the north), and Anaheim (It’s neighbor to the south) tore theirs down and replaced them with “faux-downtown” areas like Birch Street Promenade (Brea) and Center Street Promenade and Garden Walk (Anaheim). The problem with faux-downtowns is that they have no real sense of history, that which gives an area a cultural identity and richness. Fullerton has kept its historic downtown, and this gives the city a lot of character.

Architectural styles of the past (Mission Revival, Art Deco, etc.) make downtown Fullerton more than just a place to go consume things and leave. It’s different from a faux-downtown because people go there to BE, to feel a sense of place that is actually meaningful.

The cultural amenities of downtown Fullerton (the farmer’s market, the art walk, the museum plaza) all make Fullerton a place where community is possible, where people can interact with each other in real ways. Human interaction and exchange is possible in ways that are more difficult in consumption-focused centers like Birch Street Promenade, Gardenwalk, or the Irvine Spectrum.

Fullerton has been, historically, a suburban area, and suburbs tend to foster insularity and isolation, but downtown Fullerton is a unique place because it provides people from all walks of life, from very diverse backgrounds, with a place to meet and interact, which is the foundation of community.

Chapman Building
110 E. Wilshire Ave.
Sullivanesque/Classical style
built 1923

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