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Laguna Beach

City to celebrate its history in May, Heritage Month


May is Heritage Month in Laguna Beach.

Festivities will begin with a trolley tour of artists’ homes from 1 to 3 p.m., May 4. The tour is co-sponsored by the City’s Heritage Committee and the Laguna Beach Historical Society. Eric Jessen will lead the tour, which will begin at City Hall. Seating is limited to 32. For reservations, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The annual Laguna Charm House Tour is not an official city celebration, but is always held on the Sunday after Mother’s Day in the middle of Heritage Month. The 2019 tour will include five North Laguna homes, ranging in style from a 1918 cottage to mid-century modern. Pre-tour tickets are $50, $60 on the day of the tour. The proceeds fund scholarships for Laguna Beach High School graduating seniors and provide financial support for political candidates of a like mind to the Village Laguna members. For more information, contact (949) 472-7503.

Heritage Month will be highlighted by a panel discussion and slideshow by the publisher and creators of the book, The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism, set for 7:30 p.m., April 25 at the Third Street Community Center. 

city to tell

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Photo by Damon Nicholson

Years ago, Jerry Burchfield & Mark Chamberlain at Nix Interpretive Center, backed by an image from The Tell mural leading to the trails

A quintet of panelists consisting of the editor and contributors to the book will include Ron Chilcote, UC Riverside professor emeritus and founder of Laguna Wilderness Press; award-winning journalist Liz Goldner, contributor to and editor of the book; former Mayor Paul Freeman, who was hired by both the Irvine Company and the City as an intermediary during the negotiations to buy land in the canyon from the developer, and a contributor to the book; Mike Philips, former executive director of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy and also a contributor to the book; and photographer Tom Lamb, Festival of Arts Board member, who worked with the late Jerry Burchfield and the late Mark Chamberlain photographically documenting Laguna Canyon Road when it was under the threat of major development. 

city to refining

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Submitted photo

Inside “The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism,” a book replete with photos of the fight to prevent development in the canyon

Mark Chamberlain wrote the main essay in The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism.

The maverick environmentalist Chamberlain and photographer Burchfield, co-founders BC Space Gallery, began the “Laguna Canyon Project: The Continuous Document.” When they began photographing the road, Chamberlain believed the click of his camera was documenting the death knell for the canyon. Instead their work was an integral part in preserving the land. 

Published in 2018, The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism documents the environmental art project created between 1980 and 2010 that preserved the history of Laguna Canyon Road. “The Tell” was its beating heart.

A tell is an archeological term for an artificial mound created from refuse from an earlier civilization. “The Tell” in Laguna Canyon was a 636-foot photomural created from thousands of donated photographs and erected in 1989. It is credited with inspiring “The Walk to Save the Canyon,” and inspired residents to tax themselves to prevent the Irvine Company-approved development of Laguna Canyon.

The preservation of the open space is Laguna’s legacy to Orange County, worthy of celebration.

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