[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the workshop.]
Why do you love Goleta?
Kageyama is an acclaimed expert on community development and adept at getting citizens engaged in their community. Earlier in the day, he gave a keynote address to civic leaders.
“There’s a gap between the city you all desire and the city you can afford,” he said at the workshop.
The answer isn’t to wait for the city to get rich, but have citizens fight for the city and do something fun — for the love of Goleta.
“We need more opportunities to play with our city,” Kageyama said. “People don’t make (a happy) face when you fix potholes for them. They make that face when you surprise and delight them.”
The winning idea was to create a pop-up patio at different locations around Old Town. It would take up three parking spaces temporarily and is intended to get people eating and hanging out in Old Town.
The winning group — Ben Werner, Annie Hernandez, Darryl Mimick, Summers Case, Britta Gustafson and Beth Anna Cornett — have already set up a meeting for this week to move forward with their idea, said Valerie Kushnerov, the city’s public information officer.
The city also awarded a $300 grant to a proposal for a chalk art festival or other event at Girsh Park.
Another crowd favorite, to create a mural in Old Town, wasn’t funded officially, but an anonymous donor personally gave the money to the Goleta Valley Art Association representative at the workshop.
The lasting impacts from the workshop haven’t end there. People have been adding to this “I want” thread on neighborland.com, which features many of the ideas for new city activities.
Kageyama told the crowd that Goleta residents and officials should find the balance between the rules and the goal of a friendlier, more interesting city. Solutions may not always come in a predictable package, he said, and cities shouldn’t be afraid to try new, “out-there” ideas.
As an example, he pointed to Grand Rapids, Mich., where 22-year-old Rob Bliss came up with the idea of a citywide lip-dub video to boost the municipality’s reputation after it was placed on a national “dying cities” list for losing population size.
With the help of city support in blocking off streets, fundraising and 5,000 participants, the Grand Rapids video became a viral hit and got picked up by national media.
“You need to unleash the creative potential of your citizens,” Kageyama explained.
For the workshop, Goleta residents shouted out what they loved about Goleta, drew up Goleta T-shirts and came up with ideas for city rituals and traditions. The city also handed out plastic eggs of bright orange Silly Putty — how’s that for fun?
Some of the popular shirt slogans were: “Put zest in your life,” “When life hands you lemons, you’re in Goleta” and “From the mountains to the sea, walk like a Goletian,” complete with an Egyptian-style figure on the front.
Then there was “Monarchs Rule in Goleta,” “The Monarch Seal of Approval” with a butterfly on a lemon, and the more obscure: Michelangelo’s David with a monarch covering its privates and “Lots to share” slogan, as well as pictures of the World War II shelling of the Ellwood oil fields by a Japanese submarine with a slogan of “Get blown away in Goleta.”
There were dozens of ideas for city rituals and traditions, and many of them focused on the annual monarch butterfly migration to the Ellwood Butterfly Preserve, the California Lemon Festival and bringing more events to Old Town.
People wanted parades in Old Town — for monarch butterfly migration season, dog parades or Old Goleta Valley Days — and said they wanted to expand the festivals the city already hosts. One group suggested a “used lemon festival” at the fall Lemon Festival, which would be a car show for old junkers.
Residents also suggested bringing back drag races, since Goleta had the first sanctioned drag strip in the country; Christmas tree bonfires behind Goleta fire stations; and adding a Fiddler Formal Fling dinner and dance to Stow House’s annual Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention.
Other ideas included a Monarch Madness 10K (in butterfly costumes); dinner at the dam at Lake Los Carneros; community service days; game nights at the community center; historical reenactments; having City Council members occupy a random building once a year since they don’t own a City Hall; offering an “urban crawl” to look at architecture, neighborhoods and cultural sights around town; and hosting a citywide water balloon fight to celebrate Goleta’s “Great Simoon” of 1859 when the temperature reportedly hit 133 degrees on June 17, which was a record for decades.