Loco For Local and a Happy New Year

By Gwyn Lurie   |   December 26, 2019

As 2019 comes to an end, I’m choosing to focus on what’s right in front of my nose and how grateful I am that Montecito is my home.

Today, seated at Merci near Vons in my favorite corner booth (for which I really should be paying rent – thank you Elizabeth and Stephane), before I could even unpack my computer, Kyle, Merci’s world-class barista, placed an exquisitely made oat-milk latte in front of me. I’ve always wanted to walk in to a place and say: “The usual.” At Merci, I don’t even have to say it. So… Merci!

No sooner had I sipped the deliciousness of Kyle’s smoothest-ever latte, when Tim from Montecito Barbers next door rushed in to inform me that my car’s lights had been left on. I don’t know Tim, but still, he sought me out to save me from the fate of a dead battery. Who does that?

We all have stories like this. Montecito is filled with Kyles and Tims – our wonderful neighbors. The people around us who have our backs.

We’d only lived in Montecito three days when someone in a giant Mercedes SUV rang our gate. “Are you Gwyn Lurie?” a stranger’s voice said. “Why?” I asked. “Because I found your wallet. Your address is on your driver’s license.”

At the time I thought this was an exceptional story. But it has turned out to be the rule. My husband always says, Montecito is the idyllic town from a model train set.

As someone who was raised in a big city, I have come to appreciate that beyond the psychic benefits of living in a place where community is so valued, I’ve been impressed by the environmental and economic benefits of living and giving locally. Like buying organic food from local farmers’ markets. Food that hasn’t been pumped with preservatives so that it can travel great distances. But there are other important reasons to appreciate and support “local” efforts.

As the two-year anniversary of our community’s disaster approaches, I think about so many groups that have gone above and beyond to make us safer. As this year winds down and we rush to complete our annual giving, I hope you will consider supporting the work of some of these local organizations that strengthen and protect this place we call home.

A few groups that stand out for their out-sized local impact: The Partnership for Resilient Communities (TPRC), The Bucket Brigade, The Montecito Association, Montecito Fire Fighters Association, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, MERRAG, One805, The Montecito Trails Association, The Montecito Foundation, and UCSB’s Bren School for Environmental Science.

While you’re at it, please consider buying coffee beans from Patrick at Wine and Cheese in the Upper Village which sells delicious blends with beautiful packaging that commemorate local events and heroes, giving a percentage of sales to communities affected by disaster.

Though it’s not a charity, you may want to drop in and say thank you to Alison Hardy, the owner of Jeannine’s. She has given back so much to this community during our most challenging moments. And as you try to get your kids off of their screens for the holiday (if you figure out how, let me know), consider buying some books from Mary at Tecolote or from the friendly staff at Chaucer’s in Loreto Plaza, if you’re outside Montecito. We are so fortunate to have these community-engaged independent book sellers in our midst. Then, when you’re finally ready to take a break from it all, go around the corner to the San Ysidro Pharmacy Café and relax over a delicious bowl of soup served proudly by Debbie or Paul. Say hello to Ringo over at Lucky’s if you have a hankering for steak.

And when your charitable giving and shopping is done, and you’re finally ready to say farewell to 2019, stop by Pierre Lafond and grab a Wine Cake for the road. Trust me, your diet doesn’t start until tomorrow.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday, and a New Year filled with opportunities to know each other better, to celebrate what we have in common, and to appreciate our differences. I believe that connecting with people with different perspectives makes our lives richer. In a world that seems so divided, we can emerge as a community that has never been more engaged.

My very best to you and yours,

Gwyn Lurie


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