Opinion: Happy New Year, neighbors

Editor’s note: In light of the shootings in Tucson over the weekend and what we see as increasing rancor in public debate, we think Joe’s comments below deserved special emphasis. La Jollans should take his words about building a strong community to heart.

By Joe Dicks

Chairman, La Jolla Shores Association

Another year has passed and a new year has begun. This is always a time for reflection, and recent events have me thinking a lot about what it takes to build a strong community. What I have concluded on this point is really quite simple. But, first, there’s someone I want to tell you about. …

Recently, our dear neighbor Maggie Hahn passed away at the age of 89. Among those who gathered for her memorial service at Mary Star of the Sea were a number of Maggie’s neighbors.  At that service, we heard wonderful stories about Maggie’s dynamic younger years. Maggie had campaigned for President Kennedy in the early 60s as one of “The Kennedy Ladies” and she danced at the Inaugural Ball. While Maggie’s life slowed in her later years, one of the most significant stories about Maggie came from neighbor Barry Graceman who spoke of her steadfast calm during the winter storms of 2005.

Barry and his wife Susan (who know a thing or two about being good neighbors) hosted Maggie in their home for a week after a city drainage pipe flooded Maggie’s yard. Yet, in the face of this flood, Maggie was not only undaunted, she was absolutely inspiring to her hosts. You see, Maggie was an optimist, and as a result, she was a good neighbor. She lived in the real world, but she lived here with hope, faith and good cheer.

As chair of the La Jolla Shores Association, why am I telling you about my neighbor, Maggie Hahn? Because I believe that our community is built upon blocks and blocks of good neighbors — neighbors who, like Maggie, share their good cheer with fellow neighbors, day in and day out, year in and year out. The gestures of good neighbors need not be grand — they often come in the form of a wave and smile when you drive by, a “how are you doing” when you see each other on the sidewalk, or an occasional phone call just to say hello.

So, this year, how can La Jolla become a stronger community? Let’s start by becoming better neighbors. Wishing you all the best in 2011.



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