78. Apologia

The hullaballoo of my retirement has ended, the Long Beach Press-Telegram has had its say, and if I may, I'd like to add a few more words about Lakewood and the purpose of my work there.

Successful communities aren't handed their residents ready-made. Success requires patience and the constant mending of relationships, including relationships between community members and their city government.

Over more than three decades, I've focused my work on making and sustaining a sense of shared responsibility for the city in which I live. I'm proudest of my part in working with city council members, the city manager who has served Lakewood through my 32 years, and city staff members. We have sought to bring community members and their city together.

In our fallible way, we have made and mended relationships.

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Trust between institutions and those they serve isn't easy, particularly in a time of deep distrust of all governments. But it is imperative that cities reach out to their residents and give them reasons to be loyal to the place they call home.

It has been my privilege to explain why loyalty to Lakewood is deserved. I've had help from city officials and staff who hold Lakewood in the same high regard and whose work is far more significant than my own. They have done the hard part. I've done what I love to do. I have been a storyteller.

And as a storyteller, I've found the words that articulated values and hopes, that framed the issues of the day for citizens to appreciate, and that may even have led voters to make good choices for Lakewood's future.

I've mourned Lakewood's losses and I've celebrated its milestones. I did good work.

I share a tradition of faith that emphasizes the acceptance of a vocation. The work that was given to me has been my vocation. What I have done is my witness to my beliefs.

All cities are like Troy in their potential to mingle tragedy and the commonplace, Homer knew. Even a nondescript suburb may claim someone's allegiance, answer his longing, and persist in his memory. And Homer knew such places are as sacred as they are vulnerable.

The image on this page was made by Flickr user lavocado. It was used under a Creative Commons license.

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