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mike sewall

Does it mean murals? Does it mean the place you can afford to live while you work in Santa Barbara? Does it mean rockets, federal prisons or windy weather?

Spending a lot of time in our oddly wonderful little city, I see all types of people, things, events, stories unfolding. What I see is life unfolding in real time in schools, at restaurants, in stores, on the sidewalks of Lompoc, everywhere.

It’s a good life for many. Others, not so much. I know some people have complaints about our city. I could probably think of a few. I decide not to. I can gripe along with anyone, but I decided a while back to go forward with the positive. Sounds naïve, I know.

The realist in me prays at the alter of pragmatism. But we can dream. Or simply see things in the best light. “Community” seems like a blasé word. It means so many different things to different people. Lompoc is not one community, not one pond. It is many communities, all happening at once. Circles of friends, circles of nonprofit service organizations, circles of artists, circle of business folks, all touching occasionally, dancing from one circle to another in concentric rings that float around our city every day.

The point is this — a city, a community can be whatever it wants to be. Often it is many things at once, like “four seasons in one day” to quote a favorite songwriter of mine. But the choice is ours. What do you want it to be?

I have been helping with the Lompoc Theatre Project, a sometimes herculean task to renovate the historic 1927 theatre into a performing arts and education center. It’s still a long road and vast work has been done, with tons more to do. And I noticed frustration creeping in me of late. Every task takes longer than it should, costs more than it should. Delays happen for various reasons, new discoveries happen, some good, some not. Red paisley wallpaper behind paneling equals fun. Crumbling plaster and lathe walls equal not fun. Every challenge leads to another.

Then a wedding happened. Right in the theatre, with 190 guests in attendance sitting in vintage church pews, and it was stunning. It was a lot of work for the families involved and our volunteers. The bride’s vision was not always clear to us. Until the day it all came together. The city and Fire Department worked hard to make sure the event was permitted, safe and went off without a hitch. Everyone rowed in the same direction, and magic happened. All the worked payed off. And it was because we all decided this is what we want Lompoc to be — a community working together to make great things happen.

As we gear up for our Capital Campaign this year, finally getting the big money to do this project right, I think of the payoff — a lot of hard work by everyone that will lead to magic.

Permanent life is also coming to the theatre. Three of the retail spaces facing H Street are nearly ready. The tenants are ready to move in. The concentric circles of community are swirling around this project. Everyone wants it to happen and many have donated their time and money to prove it.

To find out more, please visit lompoctheatre.org or call (805) 380-6777

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Mike Sewall is a Lompoc resident.

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