The diversity in San Diego is fantastic… OK we’re no SF or NY, but we are a melting pot (or is it a salad bowl?) of various cultures, ethnicity’s and backgrounds. I grew up in a little place called Encinitas, once the Flower capitol of the world (we gave up the title when the Ecke’s and various other local flower operators decided to downsize and outsource to places like Columbia and Mexico), it is now more famous for Skateboarders, Surf breaks and Soccer Moms. Encinitas - a coastal hamlet bordered by Rancho Santa Fe to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west – is a great place to grow up and establish your world view… if your world view is that everything is clean, a 5 minute drive away, and magically 70 degrees year round. So maybe I didn’t receive the most objective upbringing, so what? I was so happy thinking that the earth was flat and that there was nothing of interest north of Carlsbad or south of Del Mar.
After I married (gasp! She is from La Mesa) and we moved down to Hillcrest I realized that the bubble I was brought up in had popped. I was forced into an urban environment with no defenses. I was like a DE-clawed cat sent into the wild to fend for himself. I discovered metered parking, San Diego’s homeless problem, and alternative lifestyles… just to name a few. We lived walking distance to the farmer’s market and spent Sundays cleaning up beer bottles thrown into our yard, followed by walks down to the market for fresh fruit and Gyros. There were sirens blaring 24/7… we realized we lived on an Ambulance thoroughfare. We walked to Sushi, healthy Mexican food, and to the local liquor store when we ran out of tonic for cocktails. When we got the puppy I walked even more. I walked and walked and as I walked I realized something… I never walked in Encinitas. Never. Why would I? Everything was a 5 minute or less drive. In Uptown you walk, its just what you do. During my walks I began to notice Architecture. I studied the house next to ours, a 1908 Sears Roebuck catalog house that was falling apart. I noticed the Mission cottages, the “Craftsman’s” perfectly sited on the roads hugging the cliffs. I wondered at the size of the lots, the colors, the trim, the beautiful simplicity of an A-frame. I began to scoff at the apartment complexes, imagining what gem of a home was torn down to make way for this concrete disaster. I shook my head at the quaint little homes run down, overgrown with weeds, neglected, wondering “Why? How could you let this happen to such a great place?” What really happened on those walks and the subsequent research was that my appreciation grew. It grew exponentially for well-planned and thoughtful design of Architecture and landscape design. New neighborhoods opened their doors to me, places I never knew existed. After being commissioned to interpret a concept plan by Landscape Architect, Todd Pitman (Verde Landscape) for the Vess residence on Mt. Helix, I delved into the Mid-Century movement. That led to modernism, which led to new-modernism, which forced me to learn why something is called ‘modern’, which led me back to the basics. I began to study the history of my profession: Landscape Design… just to understand why already love it so much.
My education continues and is a constant. I try to bring a little of me, a little of my client, and a little bit of everything else into each project I work on.
My point is… not everyone grows up in a place like San Diego, or even more specific: Encinitas. Most of us live in non-descript tract houses or apartments that offer little in the way of “charm” or “character”. It is up to us to enrich the spaces in which we occupy, to make them quintessentially “us”. Be it a ubiquitous Eames rocker (I still want one no matter how many houses in Dwell parade them around), a “real” Tiffany lamp from our grandparents or parents, an item hauled home in your backpack after a month in Europe, or a rock you found on the beach where you met your wife… what matters is that you put yourself into your space. I still love Encinitas, it will always be home to me. Wherever you grew up, or wherever you hail from… welcome to San Diego. Pardon our traffic, our freeways have been under construction for close to two decades. Don’t mind the weather, it will be like this all year. Whether you live in an Encinitas tract house, a Vista apartment, an MCM, or a 100 year old craftsman, make it your own.