Growing up in Castro Valley, I deplored the lack of entertainment and activities. There’s the bowling alley, mini golf, and a theater which shows one movie at a time. While attending San Diego State University, I told people, Castro Valley is the Bay Area equivalent to any town you would encounter along the 5. If you need to stop for gas or fast food--you’re in the right place--but if you want an exceptional experience, your choices are few.
Traveling to other parts of the world has made me appreciate Castro Valley, and realize that conceptions are more important than settings. I was (and to some degree, currently) guilty of conforming to an individualistic mindset, slowly forgetting the giants that allowed me to see further. It took me twenty five years of living to humble myself and develop my desire to give back to a community that molded me into the man I am today.
My search for a community organization led me to Smalltown Society. After attending an event, and one performance from Smalltown Society (the band), I knew there was something special going on at “The Space”; and I had to contribute. The only thing that we had solidified at the beginning was--we are a community space--focused on providing an environment where community members can feel welcome. I hopped on the website and social media, harnessing my marketing experience, attempting to capture the voice of a movement. Growth is slow, but we are learning from each other; we want to be as inclusive as possible, but we avoid dogma and closed-mindedness like the black plague. We acknowledge our fallibility, humble ourselves, embracing the knowledge of the community. We gather, appreciate local art, and cherish the simple things. Eventually, we hope to produce a replicable model for other communities to implement, but first, we need to succeed.
My credo, “leave this world better than when you found it.” Brooding about global issues will never solve them--take action when and where you can--spend time with people and events that are immediately present.
To Smalltown’s everywhere, remember, “dropping a pebble into a pond will send ripples to all edges of the shore” (Neal Shusterman).