Just a Thought – “Quality of Life”

In all the tumult about the council race, there is a flyer being distributed on doorsteps that is not financed by a campaign, but by an Ad Hoc Committee. This raises my eyebrows, as I have a really serious aversion to anonymity. Say whatever you want to say, but own it. The flyer attacks the council candidates that have been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce. Other sources have reported that both a council member and a local publisher are facing a lawsuit for weighing in against this flyer.

Perhaps you recall the hateful anonymous flyer of the 2016 council race? Or the pervasive, wildly inaccurate anonymous yellow flyer of the 2013 school board race? None of these tactics achieved their desired results.

There is a phrase from the flyer that leaps out as the key to understanding (or trying to understand) the Ad Hoc Committee and that is ‘quality of life.’ It is used in the context of  ” [They do not care about ] quality-of- life concerns of Culver City residents.”

Looking at this as philosophy, it’s a phrase that makes assumptions about what Culver City residents consider ‘quality of life.’ I’m sure there are people who would like to have had Culver City to remain as it was decades ago. But that creates a vision split between stability and stagnation. Maybe two sides of the same coin, or different currencies altogether.

Cities cannot stay still, just as human beings can’t. We blossom or we rot, but we don’t petrify.

I have lived here for almost two decades, and the changes that I have seen have been tremendous. Many of them have honestly improved my quality of life. I like restaurants and museums. I like theater companies and bookstores. All of this is recent. To me, this is good.

I also like diversity, and this is a moment when we are really struggling to remain inclusive while the price of living here continues to rise. It’s the downside of our success, but it’s also a long established pattern.

An interview I did with Tim Robbins, creative director of the Actors’ Gang,  a number of years ago comes to mind. “Artists move in because the rent is cheap. If the art gets popular, people want to come and see it, so then restaurants move in to feed those people. Once the art gets really popular, the rent goes up, and the artists have to move elsewhere.”  Robbins also felt that, art being art, moving was almost inevitable.

While the Ad Hoc Committee seems to feel very strongly that the Chamber of Commerce is working against the residents, it’s been my experience that many, but not most, of the Chamber members are residents. People who live here like to do business here.  Still, the concept of a Chamber of Commerce is a 19th Century idea that survived into the 20th, and perhaps has simply outlived it’s usefulness. Our local economy is not about cutting the ribbon in front of the new dry cleaners anymore.

The death of long time Chamber President Steve Rose will have an effect on the future of the Chamber, but it’s too soon to even speculate what that will be. What direction the new Chamber President, Colin Diaz, wants to lead towards is an unknown.

I’d bet that everyone has a different concept of ‘quality of life.’ But without a thriving business community, Culver City would not be the 21st Century bell-weather that it is.

It’s just not possible for anyone or any place to remain unchanged. If anyone thinks we can or should stop time, I’d point to the recent death of physicist Stephen Hawking. He was a man who understood more about time than most of us. He had said that when he was first diagnosed with the muscle wasting illness that left him in a wheelchair, he thought it a kind of gift – he would not be required to teach, and so could spend all his time on research. Which turned out to be a gift to science and so, to all of humanity.

What’s the quality of life of someone confined to a wheelchair with a degenerative illness? That depends on who it is, and how they feel about it.

Every election cycle of the last decade has been punctuated by one of these anonymous flyers, and they do not seem to have made any difference in the numbers of voters. They spark a lot of conversations, but that’s about all. We do need to get more people to the polls, but statistically, angry flyers are not having that effect.

Anonymous hate mail does not enhance anyone’s quality of life.  Not even, I suspect, those who write it.


Judith Martin-Straw





The Actors' Gang


  1. I’m also wondering if we should make a flyer to counter the “other” flyer by speaking to people about kindness and personal responsibility? Perhaps we need to teach others another way to be in the world? We could point out that lashing out about another person is about the perception of one’s pain. Does lashing help? Maybe for a moment. Later, not so much.

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