Couched as it was with reminders of the earthquake, the wildfires and the sagging economy, our question to readers was simple: Why do you stay in the San Fernando Valley?
In dozens of poems, essays and even a limerick, written on manual typewriters, computers or scrawled on note cards, you responded, defiantly defending your neighborhood, your strip mall, your Valley.
For some, it is the memories that keep you here: of orange groves, farmlands or the deer that once roamed the Valley floor. For others, it is as simple as the convenience of nearby malls or the endlessly sunny days. Others point to something less tangible, a collective spirit that rises in the face of each new disaster.
But we asked for your words, so we'll let you explain. Here are some of our favorite remarks, illustrated with photographs by Brian Vander Brug about why there's no place quite like the Valley to call home.
Don't Even Try to Stereotype Valley
I am an old man. Not, God help me, a senior citizen, but, (bless you) old enough to remember when The Times was a respectable Republican newspaper.
I have lived in the Valley for 55 years. I lived in Burbank when Burbank was nothing more than Lockheed surrounded by mortgages, and civilization as we knew it ended at Sepulveda Boulevard; in Woodland Hills before it developed an ego; in Reseda for reasons known only to God; and in Sylmar for the past 32 years and two earthquakes.
I have visited friends in every township, subdivision and settlement in this Valley, and I have news for you: \o7 There is no such thing as 'The Valley'\f7 -- no homogeneous entity that can be cajoled, wheedled, taken, patronized or ignored. There \o7 are\f7 different neighborhoods, different towns, and especially different people. Proud of it, too. If the Valley is changing, it only shows that there is life in it.
Indeed, I have visited many places on the surface of this terrestrial globe. Some of them were habitable; some were not. They were all populated. Most of the people living in these places rather liked them--I even met one who loved Yuma and wouldn't leave if you paid him. \o7 Where\f7 one lives is important, perhaps, but not nearly as important as \o7 how\f7 one lives.
Why would anyone want to live in the San Fernando Valley? Who needs the heat, the earthquakes, the traffic, the taxes, the prices, the fires, and the supercilious attitude of the mountebanks that cavort in the halls of government? Why do I stay? Why do people visit zoos?