Oh the Weather Outside

Rain in Santa Cruz

Rain in Santa Cruz

I feel rejuvenated. The rains are here, and like the rest of Santa Cruz I couldn’t be happier getting a little wet. Being in one of the worst droughts in history has provided an interesting backdrop to our work. In a literal sense we have been working to gather input on proposals related to the local water supply, and it’s been interesting. On another level the drought has proved analogous to the lack of genuine participation we have been seeing in the civic space, a metaphorical drought in awareness and motivation. Unfortunately though, in the context of my metaphor the rains have yet to come.

While I have been off buying a new set of rain boots it was reported that Santa Cruz just experienced the lowest voter turnout in recorded history. And in direct relationship with the topic of our drought the level of participation in our online workshop about water hasn’t been breaking records either, albeit still reaching close to 2,500 unique people. But in looking to the future I am optimistic, because sometimes you get lost in the narrative of thinking that if things don’t change over night they never will, and that’s rarely the case. Patience is a virtue for a reason. (It’s also hard to be upset when things are so green and beautiful outside, too).

What I should be focusing on, however, is telling the positive story. The story isn’t necessarily backed up by poll numbers, but by people and the sentiments they offer. Maybe it’s just the holiday spirit percolating through our collective mindset, but people have seemed more optimistic to me in general.

As a country one area where I do believe we could be telling a better story though is the economy. It’s interesting, because by any metric we have regained what we lost during the great recession (jobs, wealth, even home values), but the average person might still feel a bit stagnant. At least that was the takeaway message from Erik Davidson, the Chief Investment Officer for Wells Fargo, who I heard speak at a Business Council luncheon last week. What Mr. Davidson was able to discuss at length was a sort of “post traumatic stress” regarding the economy, an unwillingness to give in to the optimism for fear of getting burned again. And while Main Street is never as quick to recover as Wall Street, people have started to hire again, gas prices are at lowest point in decades, and revenue is on the up. So maybe it’s time to make some investments in the future huh? Maybe Jerry Brown can intervene in the rising tuition of UC, maybe Santa Cruz can commit more money toward reducing homelessness, maybe our country could invest some money into wearable cameras for police…

Who knows, maybe I do need to be wary of getting burned again when telling our story, but the weather outside is so nice and wet. And I know the more it rains, the better spring will be.

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