Don’t worry, we aren’t wearing 100% rose-colored glasses.
After a nice weekend when we kept running into friendly faces, I started thinking about why Montclair works for us. It’s a mix of the geography and the people, for starters. Yet we are making a conscious decision to live in Oakland, even though there are plenty of great places in the Bay Area.
What gives? As the season abruptly changes, it felt like time to describe why Montclair works – but with caveats included as well. So here are the Top Ten Reasons Montclair Works:
10. Flowers bloom all year – Right now there are lovely purple flowers, and last month we saw the naked ladies (really called that, too). Downside? Mother Nature also delivers mudslides, droughts and fire seasons.
9. That weather, that weather – In the hills, the weather cools at night and warms in the days. It’s nice up here. Downside? Some days, we crave a little morning sunshine and curse that marine layer.
8. Historical buildings aren’t old – We’re already preserving and honoring buildings less than a century old, like the Fernwood Drive storybook cottages. Downside? We don’t have anything on downtown Oakland, where it all really started.
7. Older guys standing sentinel – If you are living on the right block, then you know the older guy who’s been here for at least two score. Downside? He may know everything, maybe too much.
6. Shopkeepers who know you – Around here, merchants will remember you, know your preferences and likely trust you. Downside? Forget turning into a complete recluse, as it takes effort to do.
5. Schools of people – If you had or have kids in grade school, then you know about the intense parent, teacher and principal engagement. Downside? Putting money into buildings, grounds or maintenance isn’t a priority.
4. Our little, cute critters – We do like spotting deer, turkeys, airborne birds and occasional coyotes. Downside? We’re less fond of the raccoons, skunks, rats, spiders or ants invading our turf.
3. Oakland’s polyglot – There’s such a mix of different people, from so many different walks of life. Downside? The economic and geographic divides are very stark.
2. City or no-city – Montclair Village seems suburban or exurban, with the city this-close. Downside? Nothing like the hills as a magnet for stealing cars or robbing homes!
1. There’s a somewhere, there – Montclair boundaries are a bit amorphous, and we like it that way. Downside? Oakland divides us into pieces, for police beats and council representation.
With these reasons in hand, you should feel pretty good about living here but hardly complacent. As Hillary Clinton must have declared, “it takes a Village or District to make a difference, to speak up and pitch in.”