Guest post by local friend and thoughtful writer, Nadine Bailey. It first appeared in Facebook as something of a reaction to an article about our Sundial Bridge that appeared in the Sacramento Bee. I asked if I could repeat it here, and she kindly agreed:
I came back to Northern California in the middle of the debate over the Sundial Bridge. Working for a conservative state senator I became the minority voice, on our staff and conservatives in general, for the support of the bridge. During construction I would take my lunch and park and watch as the bridge propelled itself across the river. Even then the language my lunch companions told the story of what this might mean for our community, as the diversity of the languages spoken by the visitors each passing week increased.
While most people would like to think of themselves as California Natives, most people who live here are from somewhere else. They came searching for gold, timber, rich farm and grazing land, weather and anything else that felt like a dream that could be realized. They stayed and carved out the communities that exist today and for every success there are the memories of those who fell along the way. We know the famous ones, of Donner and the parties who never made it to the California dream. Most families have tales of their own, a baby that died on the trail, or a husband lost to sickness on the journey west, great uncle killed in a mining accident and loggers who failed to conquer the tall trees.
The Sundial Bridge stands like the dream of all who came to California with the vision to seek a new life; of those who succeeded and those who, even in their failure built the communities that stand today. These communities who send their sons and daughters to war, who raise up men and women to fight the weather and the land to grow our food and forgo the charms and benefits of the urban life to build communities that never give up, even when it seems that the whole world is trying to pound them down. When I see the white spire of the Sundial Bridge rising against the backdrop of the shimmering river and green of the forested mountains, like the bones of oxen left along the trail, I see the strength and determination of the people of the West, who take so little and give back so much. I see the future and the past calling us to new visions and dreams.