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LCAD students partner with Net-Works to design flags for crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Venturing across Coast Hwy in Laguna got a lot safer on Wednesday as students from Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) delivered flags they created for pedestrians using the crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St. As locals know, walking across Coast Hwy, even in a designated area, is tricky business. 

Beloved Laguna poet John Gardiner expressed it best in an excerpt from his poem “Crossing the Street In Laguna Beach.” Thank you for not killing me in the metal-grilled cross-hairs/of your monstrous SUV as I crossed the street/cautiously, in full view, in daylight, in the crosswalk/where I thought I had a lawful right to be…

 “Flags have been used off and on forever here and around 400 of them have been stolen,” said Don Sciortino, who founded Net-Works Laguna Beach and runs Laguna Exchange on the corner of S Coast Hwy and Anita St, a nonprofit Buy, Sell and Trade boutique that aims to help the homeless enter a new season of life. 

LCAD students mom and son

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Without flags, cars don’t stop for mom and son who attempt to cross the street

However, the new flags aren’t just any flags, these are works of art. Although LCAD and Sciortino have collaborated for a couple of years, this is the first project involving the students designing flags.

Sciortino said, “Robin Fuld, Director of Career Services at LCAD, wanted to partner with us and recruit students for community service as volunteers and to build bridges between us. They want to learn, and I’ve hired one or two to work in the stores. Robin and I had a vision that they could help with the artwork. In the future, we are looking to create student designed inspirational graffiti on the side of the store and T-shirts produced by students, with a percentage of sales going back to them.”

LCAD students with Don

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(L-R) Don Sciortino, founder of Net-Works Laguna Beach and LCAD students Noel Rabina, Samantha Ames, and Jordyn Wong

Fuld says, “We have had students who volunteer at Net-Works by teaching art classes and helping feed the homeless on Sundays. We have a very nice relationship with Don, and as he said, some students have worked in the store.” 

Assistant Dean of Students at LCAD, Julian Velarde, adds, “It’s important for students to work for the common good, by giving back, in particular. Students took part in the project, working between classes and at lunchtime.” 

Fuld continues, “At LCAD, we want students to graduate as global citizens and think outside themselves and volunteering is important. These projects help them build confidence and leadership skills as well as experience in team building.”

LCAD students Jordyn Wong, Samantha Ames, and Noel Rabina helped design and deliver the flags.

LCAD students walking across

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Noel, Don, Jordyn, and Samantha walk safely across the street

Students were excited about the opportunity to be part of the creation of the flags and feel safety is a big priority.

Jordyn said of the project, “I decided to help create the flags and promote safety in Laguna, so people would feel safe downtown. Sometimes drivers speed up and do not slow down.”

Samantha said, “It was a good thing for the school to do for the Laguna Beach community. It’s a great step in raising and spreading safety awareness.”

So, if you’re down that way, take a look at the colorful and unique flags on either side of the crosswalk at S Coast Hwy and Anita St, grab one, wave it wildly so the cars see it, and feel a little safer as you step off the curb.

Laguna Exchange is located at 995 S Coast Hwy.

For more information, go to www.lagunaexchange.org or call (949) 436-3379.