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Place that's Home
May, 2016 - Issue #139
Even if you belong in Santa Clarita, and you know that you do, where exactly you belong is another question entirely. We like Santa Clarita in the abstract, but what about the day-to-day realities of geography? Does the Target in Valencia or the one in Canyon Country feel more like home? Do you feel like cursing at traffic on Soledad or McBean? Will personalities on Stevenson Ranch or Northbridge HOAs be easier to endure? Finding one's niche is no easy matter.
"Voting on whether to install speed bumps in Canyon Country isn't as flashy as debating BILLION-DOLLAR BUDGETS."

Cameron Comes Home
Sometimes a family name becomes synonymous with a place, like Kennedy in Hyannis Port or Kardashian in Calabasas. The Newhall Dynasty is certainly Santa Clarita's first family - the name and history are everywhere - but there are plenty of other locally storied family names, too. Smyth comes to mind, especially because one Cameron Smyth may run for Santa Clarita City Council. His father, Hamilton "Clyde" Smyth, was Hart District Superintendent and a former mayor. Cameron followed in his father's footsteps and served on the council from 2000 to 2006, leaving only to represent Santa Clarita in the California State Assembly.

As of this writing, Cameron Smyth is officially just exploring a run for City Council. "Exploring" means giving people time to get their donations and endorsements ready for the official announcement. Many would say that going from assemblyman to councilman is a pretty big title demotion. Voting on whether to install speed bumps in Canyon Country isn't as flashy as debating billion-dollar budgets. But it's clear that Santa Clarita is home for Smyth, and, if elected, the council will look very familiar. Three of the five members he served with are still there - Marsha McLean, Bob Kellar and Laurene Weste. Sometimes, you really can come home again.

Which Home is Home?
Most kids in Santa Clarita have a stable sense of home. It's the little patch of Claritan soil where they and their family belong. Not all are so lucky. That point has been dramatized this spring by the case of Lexi, a 6-year-old girl taken from her SCV foster family. Lexi is part Choctaw, so the federal Indian Child Welfare Act plays an important role in dictating her placement. Though she has lived with Rusty and Summer Page for much of her life, she was recently removed to live with extended relatives and blood siblings in Utah. She knows them through visits over the past years, but that hasn't made things any easier. When social workers came to remove Lexi, the tearful upheaval of the Page family was captured in heartbreaking images and video.

The community has been very supportive of the Pages. Neighbors have held a vigil, the City Council has asked to be kept apprised of the situation and over 100,000 have signed a change.org petition to "Bring Lexi home." This situation is a confusing mix of legal and emotional arguments involving Lexi, the Pages and her Choctaw family. The only thing that's clear is that Lexi is suffering as a result.

Home to Art
Despite its many artists, the impressive institution that is CalArts and an official arts commission, the City of Santa Clarita felt compelled to hire consultants to help it develop an arts master plan. There's nothing like letting the arts happen organically. The master plan enumerated 10 key points to guide the city. Among them were findings that, "The community is generally satisfied with the current arts and cultural offerings," and that, "Arts and culture are seen as an excellent way to promote diversity and inclusion." So helpful!

One of the most entertaining parts of the plan was a suggestion that different SCV communities could be home to specific sorts of art. Councilmember TmBen Boydston somewhat liked the idea, which he said reminded him of themed areas at an amusement park, but he wasn't certain that communities should be preemptively saddled with specific artistic identities. He noted Valencia was to be home of contemporary and abstract art while Newhall would host art celebrating history and heritage. Saugus's artistic yen was identified as youth, family and diversity, and Canyon Country was named home of nature-focused artistic endeavor. Santa Claritans heart the arts, but sometimes it's best to let artists find their own home, their own place to belong.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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