Keep Tustin Small

Keep Tustin Small

Animated video and GIF a-la After Effects and Illustrator. And personal protest founded on uncertainty.

Not too long ago we were talking to a young-ish couple running the Rye Truck (as in Ryes & Shine; clever, no?) and they were explaining that the town in which we live is making moves to redevelop the quaint downtown area. I was disheartened to hear that the Irvine Company – developer of all things boring – was involved and that all the fantastic trees are going to be ripped out. Adding insult to injury they want to build three and four story buildings all up and down the block. Probably with palm trees. The most useless of landscaping options.

Downtown Tustin is oddly removed from the world seemingly tucked away even though it’s near two major freeways and wedged between some of the more populated areas in the region. That’s one of the things that I love about the place. It’s quiet. Slow. But not so far removed from other places that we feel isolated. Quite the opposite actually, we sometimes feel overwhelmed. Plus, there is enough local color to breathe life into the otherwise pastoral personality. Now that it sounds like that all of that is on the verge of being crushed under the pressure of tax revenues and corporate soullessness I find myself a little incensed.

For the first time in my life I feel the pangs of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Back Yard). When we lived in more depressed areas of the State several potential railroad projects received the ire of locals and it didn’t make any sense to me. Why hold yourself back when you have so few opportunities. Anything is better than nothing.

However, Tustin, while not the biggest city in the area, certainly has a more to offer than the previous places we’ve lived. The downtown area is a big bonus for our family which is gladly noticing younger faces joining the crowd. With a shift in demographics slowly appearing (25-44 years old are actually down by 5% in the last decade) I believe that Downtown Tustin is primed to take advantage of the new energy that comes with it in the form of craft fairs, restaurants, and entertainment that typically wouldn’t be found in an area dominated by the older generations.

In all honesty I don’t know whether that kind of change is under threat if Irvine Co. is indeed plowing the old, historical brick buildings. Maybe it’ll plant the seeds for more growth that ultimately helps people like me in an otherwise oppressive economy. However, if that toll comes at the cost of the Mayberry qualities that I’ve come to enjoy, then I’m not onboard.

Stewing on these thoughts for the summer finally made me wonder: what if there was a campaign? What if we could boost the local economy by informing the residents about the great things already going on and provide a stronger foothold for the existing small businesses? What if we could show the greedy city planners and developers that we don’t need them here?

That could look like the “Shop Small” stickers in the windows of mom and pop shops that are disappearing. It could incorporate people like me who appreciate a tiny pocket of Main Street feel in an ever swelling mass of humans pressing in on each other. On the flip side, perhaps everyone simply wants their property value to keep skyrocketing so that imaginary buyers may some day stack home debt on top of their college loans and create an economy built on people who can’t afford to eat because they are in over their heads.

That side of it I don’t like, but Tustin has a commodity that most places don’t which is empty land. Inheriting the defunct Marine base was a blessing to developers and Tustin which is boxed in by larger neighbors. Geographically small it has no choice, but to build up. Unfortunately there aren’t too many places where that can occur and I guess the downtown is one of the areas that can accommodate that kind of planning. In the one spot where Tustin still has a soul. An identity. All of which will likely be lost in the name of development.

And out of all this tossing and turning, this sermon from an inward looking nobody, comes an animation inspired by the things I typically don’t promote. It’s most likely a shout into nothingness. A call among the millions who are screaming at each other daily  online in a contentious political season. If this message somehow finds you and strikes a cord, would you let me know?

Maybe together we can make some positive change in the world.

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