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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: ABCs of the SCV: V is for Val Verde | 07-27-2013
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1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Jul 27, 2013

JenniferFischerWe are nearing the end of the ABCs of the SCV: Animals, Bicycles, Central Park, Drums,  Education, Family Dinner, Golf, Hiking, Imagination, Jammin’, Kids in the Kitchen, Libraries, Movies, Newhall, Out of Town, Pizza, Quakes, Reading, Summer Meals, Taste, Unsung Heroes and now we arrive at Val Verde – a little known part of the Santa Clarita Valley off of Highway 126.

We moved to this small town when I was pregnant with our first child – lured by the ability to have a home and a yard, rather than a twi-bedroom apartment. I’ll admit that Val Verde is probably not for everyone: its lack of uniformity in homes, no sidewalks, unique.

I love it. We’re surrounded by beautiful mountains. I walk my boys up the street to feed a neighbor’s chickens on a regular basis. This same neighbor drops off produce at my back steps once a week (we both get fresh produce through Abundant Harvest Organics).

It’s not surprising for us to be passed, on our walks, by people riding horses. I love the connection with nature and animals that my boys can experience. We see quail and rabbits every day, as well as many beautiful birds, including red-tailed hawks overhead.

I also appreciate that for a very small town (there’s only one store), Val Verde has a busy community center with programs for youth – a tot program and various youth programs serving children ages 6-18 – food programs for families in need, and a senior program.

There’s also a pool (free swimming every afternoon during summer), a nice playground, tennis courts, basketball courts and a baseball field. There are community events almost every month, such as an upcoming Back to School Fair on Aug. 3 and various holiday celebrations.

What a traffic jam looks like in Val Verde.

What a traffic jam looks like in Val Verde.

Val Verde also has a state-run preschool and a Volunteers of America preschool and a health clinic, and the Santa Clarita Valley Bookmobile stops in most Wednesdays. In short, given how small the community is, it has a wealth of resources and activities available four our family.

I love sitting on our patio in the quiet of the night, looking up at a star-filled sky. I love the hiking trails and natural explorations and experiences the area provides for my sons.

Most of all, I love the friends we’ve made in this small community. My boys stick out everywhere we go with their crazy, curly hair, blue eyes and tan skin. In Val Verde that means everyone knows them – and I’m fine with that.

I also love the history of Val Verde. We know people who live in the home that was once the family home of James Earl Jones. Every May, reunion weekend happens with many families now living in L.A. returning to Val Verde and camping in open spaces in the community – families that once lived here but now live elsewhere.

Hattie McDaniel from 1939's "Gone With the Wind" attended the dedication of Val Verde Park the same year. Photo: SCVHistory.com

Hattie McDaniel from 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” attended the dedication of Val Verde Park the same year. Photo: SCVHistory.com

There’s a history to this small town that lives in on in its own small ways. Val Verde was once known as the Black Palm Springs. (Zach Behrens wrote a piece about it for laist, and quotes Leon Worden). As he notes, it was first a Mexican mining town, but it became a haven for African-Americans in Hollywood at a time when segregation was still very much the norm. The 1930s was the height of the town as a celebrated resort community with a pool, barbecue spots, nightclubs, theaters and much more.

Today, few remnants of that time remain. Instead, around me in Val Verde I find other young families looking for a quiet place to raise their families affordably, in a home and with a yard; CalArts students and alums and other artists; and a mix of others attracted by the uniqueness or quiet or obscurity of Val Verde. It can make a welcome and stark contrast to the traffic and noise of Los Angeles or, for some, the uniformity of much of Santa Clarita.

For us, it just felt like the right place to start our family four years ago when we came to look at a house. Now, with two active and energetic boys, I am grateful for a large backyard for them to play in – something that would not have been possible for us in Santa Clarita. We’ve built a patio, put in a sandbox and built an outdoor train table, and I can’t imagine life without them.

Hope to see you at The Good Long Road on Facebook. Please share your favorite things about your home – wherever it is.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

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