The Veterans’ Gardens
This is in response to the letter by Abigail Smith appearing in the Sept. 14 edition concerning the Veterans’ Gardens project to renovate and revitalize the Upper Picnic Area of the Palisades Recreation Center.
The $400,000 commitment to the Veterans’ Gardens project by Post 283 of the American Legion is a spectacular and generous matching grant. We are profoundly grateful to the members of Post 283 for supporting the beautification of our treasured park resource. The funds will become available once an additional $200,000-plus has been raised from the community.
It is important to understand that none of the open grassy area where kids play sports is part of the project. Two-thirds of the project (including gardens, five new picnic venues and an area for a bouncy house) will be located amid the existing trees, and the balance of the project (three bocce courts and a fantastic group picnic area) will be located where the dilapidated and unsightly concrete picnic tables are now found.
Further, this project will honor all the men and women who defend our country—those who served in the past, those currently serving and those who will serve in the future. A flagpole monument will be located prominently at the entrance to Veterans’ Gardens, and individual commemoratives celebrating the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will be featured in each of the picnic venues.
We are enthusiastic about this initiative in the “heart” of our beloved town and confident of the joy it will bring so many Palisadians. The expanded picnic area, the five garden settings featuring “living rooms in the park,” and the bocce courts will create memories for park patrons of every age. You can follow park news on Twitter @Palirec or on Facebook, PalisadesRecreation.
The Master Plan Committee of the Park Advisory Board
It was an honor to be included alongside the renowned thinkers in the Post’s Sept. 7 feature “Picture This: The Palisades, A.D. 2037.”
I hope the article will start a conversation that looks beyond our immediate community tensions and inspires us to think deeply and act intentionally with regard to the Palisades we want to pass down to our children.
Still, I must partially agree with your anonymous expert who quipped, “Anybody predicting anything is nuts.” While the perspectives of academics, technologists and entrepreneurs help us understand the context of the future—AI, AR/VR, urbanization, climate change—they are insufficient to determine our response to it.
Now that we know what they think will be, it’s our turn to articulate what we think should be.
My fellow practitioners of human-centered design and I draw our greatest inspiration from those who will be using whatever it is we are creating. We don’t predict, we provoke. We do that by asking “What if … ?”
What if the Palisades were energy self-sufficient?
What if we were a zero-waste community?
What if our kids’ teachers could afford to live here?
What if …
The Palisades is not defined by a single commercial development or zoning restriction. We like to say it’s defined by the kind, generous people who live here. Well, now it’s time for us to start literally defining it—or somebody else will.
So, my fellow Palisadians—especially the next generation—let’s start hearing some of your “what ifs” around town, in the papers, on social media. Be audacious. Our community’s unique combination of intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial capital actually affords us the possibility of bringing them to fruition.
After all, the old maxim holds: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Eric Marshall, Via Bluffs
Farewell, My Friend
I am deeply saddened to learn that Greg Willis has passed away. I first met Greg in 2014 when one of our reporters at Palisadian-Post interviewed him about his beautification project at Will Rogers State Beach. He had taken it upon himself to paint the deteriorating benches a bright blue with an image of Will Rogers on the backrests. He said the painting helped with his rehabilitation after several surgeries resulted in debilitating chronic pain that left the Hollywood teamster unable to work.
“I like to keep my hands busy,” he said in a 2014 article in the Post. “Helps take the focus away from the pain.”
After that article appeared, Greg began stopping in to chat at our office with his lovable American Staffordshire Terrier Vinny, and I couldn’t help but be drawn in by Greg’s rough-hewn but gentle nature. You could tell he’d been through some struggles, but he was always trying to do something to help others—part of his rehabilitation, he would say.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had another connection to Greg in one of those six-degrees-of-separation kind of ways. It was nearly two years later before we figured it out. At one point in Greg’s long career in the entertainment business, he had worked as a truck driver for a company called Showco in Dallas, Texas. My husband, Wil Sharpe, just happened to be the CEO of Showco back then. That realization rekindled a long lost friendship.
Greg (and Vinny, of course) stopped by our house in the Palisades several times in the past year, often shooting the breeze with Wil about major music tours they had worked on at Showco or excitedly filling us in on his many community projects. On some occasions, he would quietly seek a donation, which we were always happy to give to him. In return, he had T-shirts specially made for us emblazoned with the iconic Showco logo that is instantly recognizable to anyone who was in the music biz in the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s.
Now, whenever I slip on that shirt, I’ll think about my friend, a one-of-a-kind character who left this community a more beautiful place.
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