Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together. - Vincent Van Gogh

We use the terms neighborhood and community interchangeably, yet these two words have distinctly different feelings and meanings. Neighborhood refers to a shared physical place, whereas community signifies a psychological place where individuals share common goals and values.

Community members interact frequently, feeling ties of connection binding them together. This emotional closeness among community results in shared experiences, and it is these shared experiences that create a general feeling of belonging, ownership, and an emerging collective spirit. Members feel part of a united entity larger than one single self.

When members of a community feel an emotional connection to one another and their shared identity, they experience a collective sense about what is desired, and will unite with a sense of solidarity and cohesion. Through the sum of these unique members, they find strength to engage and work together to act for the good of the community.

Can Downtown’s neighboring projects get together to create a community spirit, shared identity, and ultimately a sense of solidarity? Can an emotionally charged issue such as the train horns unite and create a sense of cohesion? Can a series of small things create the synergy necessary to bring our neighbors together to form the community we all desire?

I consider…Can our community become more than the sum of our neighborhoods?

Gregg Maslak (Kettner Row) spearheaded the "keep kids alive - drive 25 " program in Little Italy, benefiting school-age children as well as all pedestrians. He was instrumental in the placement of new stop signs by Washington Elementary School as well as increased police patrol of the area to slow speeding cars.

Tom Ryan (Renaissance) publishes a monthly newsletter for his neighbors. His May edition included information on how to quiet those blasted train whistles.

Pat McArron (Marina Park moving to Pinnacle Towers) created the Pinnacle’s website and emails construction updates to his future neighbors.

Todd and Marie Ruth (Marina District) launched SD-FUN for parents and their children to socialize and take on serious civic activity. They believe involved parents make Downtown more kid-friendly.

Dave and Sandy Gonzales (City Walk) are working with social chairs from other condominium associations to “Get-Together” and meet their neighbors, creating a community where everyone knows your name.

When Ted Etsell moved into Columbia Place and none of his neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves, he took action and formed the building’s social committee to create a community with a sense of belonging. Now, the Social Committee welcomes new residents when they move in and makes them feel part of a large “family.”

I believe great things are beginning to happen in Downtown. I witness it each and everyday, through small things such as emails, telephone calls, and meeting my neighbors on the street. Together, I believe we will create a community where everyone knows your name. - May 2004

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