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Laguna Beach

Waking up to war in 2020

Waking up to war talk reminds me of what real war looks like. 

In a real war, the Nation is mobilized in common purpose as industry transforms overnight to produce war material. All good Citizens rally together to work in factories and laboratories to ensure troops have the best protective clothing and equipment to win each battle in a long, grueling war.

War also means mobilizing the population through conscription – The DRAFT. By current federal law, all young men are still required to register with the Selective Service when they turn 18 years of age. The Military Selective Service Act, as it is written, only authorizes the registration of “male persons.” In order for the Selective Service to be authorized to register women, Congress would have to pass legislation amending the current law. Nationwide gender and economic discrimination can end when everyone is equally required to serve their country.

With the economy strangled by this latest “war,” young men and women finally have a chance to serve their country as we militarize our response to COVD-19. 

Colleges and most workplaces are permanently closed so drafting young Americans from 18 to 25 of age can offer a meaningful contribution to the country while they learn what a real “Boot Camp” will provide in learning basic life skills for self-reliance. Among those skills is nutrition in chow halls, strength training exercises with long runs and Physical Training (PT), team building patrols in difficult remote rural and urban terrain to deliver life-saving services, and advanced technical training all aimed at defeating a powerful, invisible, insurgent enemy – COVID-19.

Our new militarized effort can requisition idled cruise ships for floating hospitals here and abroad since a global economy is also a global ecology. Elite Cadres of new Recruits, trained by Navy SeaBees or the Army Corps of Engineers can be deployed to repair old buildings for new housing of the homeless and restore the homes of senior citizens, many who have served in and survived earlier wars. Massive vacant shopping malls will be upcycled to house the ill. Guerilla goodness neighborhood pop-up gardens in vacant lots or “Amer-I-Can Bean Bucket” planters or hydroponics can decentralize food production while increasing local food security and solidarity.

Once a person’s service is complete, skilled veterans will serve as the foundation of America’s new national health care system offering free basic medical care at the community level for a society free of disease. Other young veterans can earn college credits for a free education and a chance to advance in their chosen career. Low interest loans to reliable veterans will house our next generation of leaders and innovators just like WWII veterans did in raising families for the wildly innovative 1960s and 70s Boomers.

This will be history’s first world war aimed at saving lives rather than taking them. The DRAFT will blend us together as one America with a single purpose….for in a war, we all bleed red. 

Be the “us” in the US of A and I will thank you for your service while stepping up when most needed.

Letter Beanan

Submitted photo

Mike Beanan avoided the Draft by reluctantly joining the US Navy while 17. He served in the “unjustifiable Viet Nam War” as a Platoon Sergeant, SEAL Team One, Detachment Alpha and left the military when he turned 21.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

Although we feel powerless, there are ways we can help

Overnight the pandemic has made us re-evaluate our goals and those of our society. Village Laguna has, of course, suspended our regular meetings and canceled what would have been our 48th Charm House Tour. This seems minor in the overall picture! There is much regret and pain from closing down and stopping our normal way of life, but the eerie quiet also gives us an opportunity to consider where we have been as a community and where we are going.

In recent months Village Laguna, along with many other concerned Laguna activists, has been overwhelmed with proposals from City Hall that we feel threaten our treasured village character and community: the mushroom sculpture at the Village Entrance, demolition of the historic digester building, gutting the historic preservation ordinance, increasing height limits and decreasing parking requirements in the downtown, removing mature and healthy trees on Forest Avenue and Broadway, and budgeting $14 million to “refresh” the landscape. This is an unprecedented list of impactful proposals and Village Laguna was spending every available volunteer hour to respond, analyze, document, advocate, and testify against these threats as we see them and propose positive alternatives. It was like a runaway train. We were holding on tight and dragging our feet on the ground to try to slow it down.

Suddenly it all came to a halt as the train crashed into an unanticipated barrier – this invisible virus. The governor issues daily restrictions, City Hall closes, and we stay in our homes. How trivial and frivolous those city proposals look now that we are facing life and death challenges!

Although we feel powerless, there are ways we can help. Here are organizations that assist the most needy:

Friendship Shelter needs sanitizing and cleaning supplies. These can be dropped off at the rear of its Coast Highway building in the garage on the alley. (No need to contact anyone.) Donations are being sought for providing meals with a $50,000 goal.

Laguna Food Pantry is receiving less food contributed by local markets because there are few leftovers these days, and they have more shoppers. Donations will help to keep food on the table for hungry families who are out of work.

Laguna Beach Community Clinic is on the front line of this health crisis. Donations will help the clinic keep low-income clients healthy.

For a tasty relief from stay-at-home routine, you can help our local restaurants and enjoy a special meal for pickup or delivery to your home.  See this guide produced by the Chamber of Commerce.

Still, despite all the alarming media messages we can enjoy beautiful Laguna Beach – what better place is there to be sequestered! Good health to you all!

Johanna Felder, President Village Laguna

Laguna Beach

Thanks Diane Armitage

Our local economy is driven, in part, by Laguna’s many restaurants. That said, I want to thank Diane Armitage for keeping everyone in town up to date on the challenges each establishment is facing these days. Keep up the good work, Diane. Your “Best of Laguna Beach” column is serving a very useful purpose.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

Think local, and act local too

Like most of you, I’ve been searching for how this happened and the existential meaning of it all. I’ve read all the theories – the straightforward, scientific explanation of a “wild jump” of pathogens from feral animal to human (known as zoonosis); the conspiracy peddling of a biochemical terrorist villain, or a nefarious government seeking to destabilize society or cull the population. Of course no good crisis goes without blaming the Deep State, the Dems, the Illuminati, Soros, Rothschild, the Clintons, aliens, or some lonely guy in a basement with an axe to grind and a chemistry kit. We all know the “go to” playbook of the church – it’s the apocalyptic prophecy, caused by decadent, sinning sybarites. “Have no fear, because god has a plan. And please, send money!” 

But it’s so obvious and in front of our faces. It’s us. Humans - the collective species, and our voracious appetite to colonize and consume every tree, every animal, and everything in the dirt and ocean beneath us. Our market based, global system of exchange for profit that puts animals into pens and bred for slaughter (and disease). Or raked from the sea floor, and shipped in refrigerated cargo right to our doorsteps. It has wreaked destruction on every corner of our planet, and wrought a far greater problem that has receded from our collective amygdala – climate change. According to the NIH, “Pandemics have increased over the past century because of increased global travel and integration, urbanization, changes in land use, and greater exploitation of the natural environment.” These trends will continue and will intensify, unless we radically change how we live. 

The message couldn’t be clearer. Don’t mess with DNA. Mother Earth is out of balance and in a toxic state. One thing this virus is teaching us is that we do not have dominion over the earth. The planet and all its sentient beings have dominion over us, and we merely occupy a place in its order. We can exist just fine without Chilean sea bass, New Zealand wine, and Italian cheese (much as it pains me to say). We can get or make all that within a small geographic area. We don’t need cars made in Germany, oat milk from Sweden, T-shirts from Nepal, and just about everything else from China. We have so much bounty right here. 

This crisis has taught us that we can do more with less. We can make our time on the planet more meaningful, our human and animal connections more sacred, and our joy of having the little things more in focus. In two short weeks without human exploitation we have already seen a planet healing itself, with air pollution receding, birds returning to cities, and most miraculously, dolphins swimming in the Venice canals. 

Imagine how we could restore our oceans, land, and skies if we could just scale back our globalism a tiny bit. And build local economies that can meet the needs of its inhabitants. Oregon is a shining example, where more food is sourced locally for its urban and rural populations than anywhere else. Where they have micro economies and stores of only “made in Oregon” goods. 

This awful and unprecedented moment in our short history on the planet is a cautionary tale to developed nations whose citizens rely on a vast, carbon-based transportation network and global industrialized food system that is collapsing on its own weight – and poison. There is a future waiting for us out there that is kinder, smaller, simpler, quieter, cleaner, more just, more reverent for our elders, ancestors, and each other, and infinitely happier and more connected to this unimaginably beautiful place.

As we consider aesthetic improvements to our downtown, can we not look again at planting trees that are dual purpose and can feed us? Can we not prioritize planting sustainable food forests on the borders of our open spaces where we can all have a garden plot? Can we develop a local fishing co-op where we responsibly and sustainably feed our community? Can we teach our children to plant, grow, and cook food, an essential life skill? Can we recycle our wastewater and capture our ground water? Can we make a real effort to reduce the number of cars on our roads by building perimeter garages, a networked system of multi-modal transit, and encourage electric bikes in every home? Can we build a light rail from our downtown to the Irvine station so we could travel the state without a car? Can we revitalize our downtown – which will be harder for merchants than ever post-Corona – by making it a social gathering experience with carless pedestrian plazas? And can we end homelessness with compassionate care, rehabilitation, and permanent supportive housing? 

We can meet everyone’s needs to improve our town by taking us back to our roots of a quiet, shining, compassionate village on a hill that is self-sufficient, resilient, free of rancor, and deeply caring of one another. 

Billy Fried is founder of La Vida Laguna and host of “Laguna Talks” on KXFM Radio. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bill Fried

Founder of La Vida Laguna

Patience in growth and healing

I’ve come to terms with the fact that to strengthen my spiritual and mental health, I have to practice patience.

People’s strengths and weaknesses vary. We are all unique, so it makes sense that while I’ve watched some people struggle with patience, others practice it with ease. As I try to learn how to be more patient, I turn to the people around me for insight and guidance. Sometimes I learn from the mistakes they tell me about, or from the way that I see them struggle. Other times I am inspired by the way they move through the world without impatience or force.

But while these examples are helpful, when it comes to practicing patience with myself, I find it most useful to read spiritual guidance. I have sought this spiritual guidance in divine scriptures, like this potent Baha’i passage:

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds? Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.

Healing Is not linear

A common saying in mental health spaces states that “healing is not linear.” One of the most obvious forms of emotional healing is the way we process a catastrophic event, such as the loss of a loved one. In my social work graduate program, we learned about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But while we might like to imagine that when something grievous occurs, people move through the stages one by one, the fact is that these phases can mesh together. Often, we loop back to stages we already passed through before. Grief can be complex, and it is not a linear process.

Patience through spiritual guidance

The process of grief requires patience. Most will find themselves sorely disappointed if every time they face a challenge, they assume that they’ll glide through the process. The Baha’i writings suggest that we have to continually reorient our minds towards a divine source when processing something difficult.

In my own experience, keeping God in mind is necessary in my process to cultivate a stronger sense of patience. When I am frustrated with myself or other people in my life I try to remember that we were all created by God. When I feel upset or confused about different seemingly desirable opportunities passing me by, I try to remember there is a greater purpose that God understands. When that line of reasoning doesn’t calm my anxiety, I often try to remind myself that no matter what my life circumstances, there are always ways I can find to worship God and grow spiritually.

Remembering to forgive

Even when I’m not grieving something, I’ve learned that I have to be patient in my efforts to develop new habits. Once I’ve recognized a pattern that gets in the way of my functioning, I want to change, but awareness of the issue does not naturally result in the change I hope for. Even putting in effort to change doesn’t necessarily guarantee that I will be successful, which requires that I be patient and forgiving of myself throughout the process.

In addition to practicing patience by not hurrying, patience also means persisting in putting forth energy. It isn’t a passive virtue, but rather an active one. It’s tied closely to persistence.

The Baha’i writings tell us:

He [God], verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience. (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries)

An active approach to patience allows for growth. Wise people in my life have often reminded me that you have to try and try again to succeed. When we do this, the reward we imagine for ourselves probably isn’t even a fraction of the bounty we might receive. 

Makeena Rivers


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