Sunday, April 22, 2007

what is beautiful?

The other day I had coffee with Billy Calderwood and Chris Henson from the Coastal Housing Partnershipto talk about strategies for involvement of faith leaders in advocacy for affordable ad workforce housing Santa Barbara. It was a wide ranging conversation with laughter and cynicism, ideas and excitement. They're both great guys who are also bright and insightful so it was a good time.

In the course of the discussion Billy brought up an idea that struck me as important enough to steal and put on my blog. We talked about the contrast between the breathtaking physical beauty of the area and the ugly underside of selfishness and exclusion that is seen in some sections of the community. Billy then shared that people often think of Montecito - the most ritzy area where many celebrities live (Oprah has a $50 million + house there) - as being a "clean" place of great beauty. Many of the homes there are hidden behind huge fences or tall hedges and massive gates. Many are not even visible from the streets. Neighbors are isolated from one another. Class and social barriers are strictly followed. This neighborhood was compared with Isla Vista, the student ghetto near the university which also has a significant population of mostly poor Latinos. IV is densely populated. The apartment buildings are right on top of one another. There are too many cars and thousands of bicycles on the streets. It is noisy. You cannot live there without rubbing shoulders with others. People are on the street interacting. Weekends can be wild and wooly. When there are social issues, the students take to the streets in solidarity with the poor, calling for justice for those who are oppressed, working for care of the environment or ending of unnecessary wars.

So here is the question... which locale is more beautiful?

1 comment:

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


You raise an excellent question. We generally think of beauty in non-relational terms. And thus, IV isn't a beautiful place, and yet . . .