After a nice restful night boondocking in Garberville, it is a short jaunt back up to Arcata. Although I am sad to be away from the Ranch, I love being in Arcata.
Why? Let me count the ways!
* It will always be Hippie Central
While some of the original flower children have “grown up” there is always an influx of newer, younger bohemians looking for that Utopia, keeping Arcata the most left-wing town in the U.S. (as far as I know.)
* Big Business (note capital letters) is not welcome here
“That’s why the area remains depressed,” bitch the old-timers who may have once been happy to panhandle for food money. “It’s too anti-business here!” Yes, they burned down every McDonald’s that tried to open shop in town until Mickey D finally got it. “You don’t deserve a McDonald’s!” they said in a huff on their way out. There IS a McDonald’s out on the edge of town, but if you want burgers, you can get great ones at V&N’s or Stars, so who needs terrible fast food? There are no Starbucks, no Barnes & Nobles, no Bed, Bath & Beyond, no Best Buy, no WalMart…
* Everyone is Community Minded
Actually, the town is very supportive of its businesses. Everyone makes an effort to buy local. So if you have a unique product or service (or even a not-so-unique product or service) this is a great place to start. In recent years, there has been an even bigger push for Humboldt Made, in branding and marketing, and as long-time cannabis businesses get ready for the decriminalization of their product, there is much talk about how to “protect” Humboldt weed.
* Creativity Abounds
And they never put on that “I’m an artiste…” attitude. The first time I came here, I met a big group of artists. They were awesomely good, but many had day jobs as car stereo installers, sales clerks, etc. If these people lived in Tokyo, they would have been the biggest sensation! Every small town has its group of artists, but the people here are really, really good. It must be the long, dark winters. Central California is just too nice most of the year to be sitting inside making art (as I found out!)
* Materialism is the scourge
You won’t know that there are any wealthy people here because no one wants to be perceived as materialistic. There are tons of junker cars, junker bikes, thrift stores. Everyone looks like they are wearing 30 year old clothing. I fit right in. Here, Big Dog and I are not the eccentric weirdos we are elsewhere.
* It’s GREEEEEN
In every way. From the Green Party (Arcata elected the first-ever Green party city council majority in 1996 and was the first city in the nation to pass a law nullifying the USA PATRIOT Act) to its eco-consciousness to the land around, everything is green, green, green. It has the most amazing wastewater treatment system in the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, was the first municipality to ban the growth of any type of Genetically Modified Organism within city limits (with exceptions for research and education,) and tons of eco-activists.
* It’s Young
More than 30% of the population is between 18 and 24, and the median age is around 26 years. The City Council is sometimes composed in part by college students. But more than actual chronological age, it’s a youthful town. Or maybe I should say, ageless. My mother who came to visit a few years ago couldn’t stop giggling over all the grey-haired “youngsters” skateboarding around town. We all think we’re 18 here.
* It’s got a Heart
And I don’t mean compassion for the homeless, but a geographical heart. Most American towns no longer have a center. Arcata still has its Plaza and what an active plaza it is! From the weekly Farmer’s Markets to the start of the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race to the Oyster Festival to the political happenings to all the people just hanging out or sleeping, it is a plaza much like the zocalos of Mexico.
* The Local Baseball Team is named after one of my favorite foods
Arcata is home to the Humboldt Crabs, the nation’s longest continuously operated semi-pro baseball team that’s played every season since 1945! And they serve soy dogs at the ballpark.