This is one of those stories that appears in the news for a day and then disappears.
But I think it’s worth spending some time with it, because it’s a sweet story.
And isn’t that a sweet relief?
We’re going to travel to La Mesa, a town of about 60,000 residents, nine miles east of downtown San Diego:
I’ve never been to La Mesa and don’t know much about it, so it was research time.
“La Mesa” means “the table” or “the plateau” in Spanish, so named because it’s located among rolling hills and mesa tablelands (a broad, high, level region), and is part of a larger area that was settled by Spanish missionaries.
La Mesa also has a nickname: Jewell of the Hills. I wasn’t able to learn how or when that originated, but according to one article, “most who grow up there say it lives up to that reputation.”
Among its attractions, La Mesa can claim:
The Secret Stairs:
The Walk of Fame:
And the Walkway of the Stars:
What La Mesa could not claim was one of these:
Unlike many local cities and districts, La Mesa does not have an archway sign.
So several years ago, the La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) decided to do something about it.
And now, after countless meetings and many focus groups and the inevitable pandemic delays, the La Mesa archway is on its way to becoming a reality. Here’s an artist rendering, complete with the Jewel of the Hills:
Pam Rader, with the La Mesa Village Association, was firm in delineating that the archway was a district sign, not a gateway sign:
“Gateway signs are normally placed at an entrance or exit to a city.”
Rather, this district sign will welcome you to The Village, La Mesa’s quaint downtown area on La Mesa Boulevard.
We’re coming to the sweet part of this story.
Actually, there are two sweet parts, and I’ll start with the second.
According to this article:
“The cost of project is currently estimated to be $400,000 total, which includes design, construction, marketing and administration costs.”
But, says Rader, “We feel we will be able to fund this project through fundraising efforts without the need of public funds.”
No public funds – sweet part #2.
So how will the archway sign be paid for?
According to the La Mesa Courier article,
“The La Mesa Village Association has raised 63 percent of the needed funds to complete the sign through pledge sales of tiles and plaques.”
Let’s take another look at the artist rendering. The plaques (right) being sold will be located here, at the top of the two support columns:
The LMVA website says the “personalized plaques are a great way to honor family, friends, loved ones, a branch of service or promote your business for decades to come.”
Here comes sweet part #1:
Below the plaques on both columns there will be artwork – 756 hand-painted, 4-by-4-inch tiles (left).
And who is going to hand paint those 756 tiles?
“It will be children, adults, it will be businesses,” said Rader. “Anybody will be able to hand paint the tiles.”
The community artwork tiles are $125 for the public and $200 for businesses, and are limited to four tiles per family or business, “thus ensuring everyone can participate.”
Can you imagine the fun families could have, planning how to decorate a tile and then making their plans a reality? And once the archway is completed, strolling around The Village and stopping to admire their artwork? And perhaps, when the kids are grown, taking their children to see the tiles?
“In 15, 20, 100 years they can see how great they are,” said Rader.
Kids will paint those tiles, and adults will have fun with the tile painting, too. They can be silly or serious and either way, they’ll make their mark on the La Mesa archway.
Truly making the archway a community project for all to enjoy.
As I sit here on this Wednesday morning, worrying about Russia in Ukraine, worrying about another coronavirus mutation, worrying about Republicans taking back the House and the Senate and the presidency…
It’s been sweet, instead, to spend a little time thinking about a community of people coming together to support the funding of their archway.
And actively participating in its appearance: