Other Voices: Leaving our community in good hands | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Leaving our community in good hands

After reading some of the dialog about the kids misbehaving in Calanan Park, I decided to head down and see what all the fuss was about.

I arrived at the park armed with a pack of cigarettes and some spare change to use for bribery to, hopefully, get the so-called “troublemakers” to talk to me about their position on the subject. From what I have read about in the paper, I was expecting to find angst-ridden, self-loathing, anti-social snarling delinquents, ready to pounce upon me with attacks of hostility and anarchist litany. What I found was quite the opposite. While their choice of hair style and fashion sense wasn’t what I would select for myself, I am sure that they felt the same about me.

A few young men were hanging out chatting, and I plopped down on the stone bench next to them and introduced myself. They were friendly and welcoming and, as expected, asked me if I could spare a smoke. They seemed a little disappointed that the strongest thing I had to offer was tobacco but gratefully accepted my peace offering, reciprocated with the offer of some local pastries and struck up a conversation as they sucked on coffee or bottled water.

I found the young people loitering at the park to be friendly, articulate, educated, some world-traveled, all Nevada County natives, well-groomed and fairly clean-cut.

Most of the young people at the park had met each other there and were regulars.

When I asked why they chose the park to hang out, they said they liked being outside

where they have the freedom of discussing topics of interest, reading a book, or just relaxing for a few minutes without the distractions of loud music, noisy wait-staff or crowded rooms. Most of the kids work at nearby businesses and hang out before work, after or during breaks.

It reminded me of the time when I was in college and hung out with friends between classes and talked about life and our place in the world. The kids I met at the park came from homes with college educated parents in successful careers, have parents who love and care about them and all the kids have attended college classes at some time in the last two years.

I was at the park for about an hour and engaged in some very thought-provoking discussions about the direction of the future and prospects for the community and what they felt was important for Nevada County. They expressed youthful invincibility that they were going to save the world from conservative, stodgy, uptight, old people. They plan to create a world where people can be free to be themselves and peacefully co-exist harmoniously without threats of dogma, censorship or limitation of ideas, as long as they don’t inflict harm on others.

As I drove away, the few kids I had chatted with waved good-bye and I had feelings of inspiration and confidence that the future of our community will be in good hands if these independent, free-thinking young people influence the shape and direction of our county.


Liz Warkentin lives in Grass Valley.

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