Editor Dan Evans gives the scoop on the LA TImes' two year experiment in starting a Pasadena area community newspaper. We admire their dedication to newsprint, but it may be a dying form these days.
We're publishing the column ourselves, after the jump.
Altadena Junction: the end of the line
by Timothy Rutt
Here’s a test: your house is on fire. Your family and pets are out and safe. The fireman says you can go back inside to save one item. What will you save?
The vast majority of people answer “photographs.” Could be photo albums, the family portrait on the mantle, treasured pictures on the refrigerator -- that’s what most people answer.
It’s not because of their intrinsic value; it’s for what these photos represent. They record happy occasions, important events, people long gone ... the pictures represent stories, stories that define your life and identity.
Eleven years ago, our family moved from Pasadena to Altadena. I didn’t really know very much about Altadena, thinking only that it was the red-headed stepchild of Pasadena, an unincorporated, slightly wild-and-woolly place.
But living in and growing to love a place, you absorb its stories, and people share their stories with you. I found Altadena to be -- not just something that existed in Pasadena’s shadow -- but a place with a flavor of its own -- kind of contrarian, kind of down-home -- a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s where you can find people riding horses on the street. It’s a place with no sidewalks where spacecraft engineers live. There’s a whole culture here -- I’ve been trying to come up with a name for it -- that encompasses urban organic farmers, backyard chicken coops, a mansion-turned-goat farm, artisanal coffee roasters and ice cream makers and craftspeople.
I can say without fear of contradiction that the people of Altadena are all interesting. I’ve met a jazz musician who’s been on many classic albums in my collection. I’ve met an A-list film star who lives here quietly so his kids don’t get caught up in the Hollywood thing. I’ve met many people who juggle more than one thing and do it well (leather artist/yoga teacher/ultrarunner, say, or author/teacher/photographer/podcaster, or British invasion-era one-hit wonder turned music historian). And lots of people just getting through the day, but each with a story to tell.
It’s a place where people go to create, or re-create, themselves. It’s a place where people care about their community. And yes, it’s a place with some rough edges and dangerous places, some folks scrambling for a living any way they can, legal and not.
In 2007 I started Altadenablog to capture some of those stories, to reflect back on a community its joys and sorrows, because nobody else was really doing it. More than one Altadenan has told me that we’re now more of a community than ever because someone’s keeping track of it all. I think we’re more of a community because we now realize that we’re all together, living in a story that is being written every day.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share some of these stories with you over the past two years in this experiment called the Pasadena Sun. Thanks to editor Dan Evans, who recruited me and gave me a place every week to share this story of my community as it unfolds.
Altadena Junction was the place where, at the turn of the last century, the urban rail lines came together, connecting both to the burgeoning city of Pasadena and up Thaddeus Lowe’s railway to the sky, high up in the mountains. The end of the line, yes; but only because you were about to change directions and go somewhere else.
And now we've come to the end of one line. But the journey continues, and you can see it every day, online, at altadenablog.com. Stop by once in awhile to see what great things Altadena is up to.
We love this work; we love Altadena. And thank you.
UPDATE: Finally went live, but you just read it! (Period in the headline ... ouch!)