Yesterday my home for 41 years turned 50 years of age. In September 1964 a small group of home owners met to deliberate their future status, to become part of an established neighborhood or to declare independence.
The town of Portola Valley, current population 5,000, was formed. Several overriding sentiments were part of the corporation. First was retaining open space. Second was encouragement of citizen participation in governance (300 unpaid volunteers serve on numerous committees). Third was respect for local wildlife. Deer and coyotes are neighbors.
The little town, 30 miles south of San Francisco, sits directly on the San Andreas Fault, and grins at any small tremble. It is in the lee of the coastal range of hills, which serve as the parapet over which the evening fog of Tony Bennett fame spills nightly. This provides edenesque weather, a banana belt between the SF cool and the San Jose heat just to the south.
Portola Valley is home to many of the pioneers of Silicon Valley, many are recent products of Stanford University which geographically surrounds much of the town's perimeter. Others are immigrants of many national origins which serves to ensure a grand diversity of citizens much as USA.
PV has a grade school, a secondary school, a private school (the Priory), three churches, a grocery store, a hardware store, three wineries, many orchards, a farmer's market, no liquor store, or post office. And more miles of trails than miles of roads.
Yesterday, over 1,000 of us met to sing "Happy Birthday" to home.
The day started at 8 a.m. with the ringing of the three town church's bells, abetted by the clanging of the original schoolhouse bell restored from disrepair just for the occasion. An ecumenical convocation brought an appropriate piety and jubilee that gratified even the heathen as myself to loving our lucky neighbors. I particularly appreciated the wide age span that was represented, some in coats and ties, some in shorts. I wore my running clothes as that is the costume in which I am generally recognized. As such I serve as an unofficial litter fairy to keep our neighborhood streets clean, ZEI, while jogging. The absence of a collection plate at the occasion was noticed.
The volunteer Town Council underwrote the total costs of a barbecue picnic with local wine, for all. A time capsule invited us to inscribe a prophecy for 50 years hence. Many games entertained the afternoon. A treasure hunt and the debut of the town song were featured. Our eldest child, Danna Breen, served as co-proprietor of the day. In her several decades of being a PV-ite I would estimate that she has given thousands of hours in numerous capacities as chair of the architectural review commission, etc. No monster homes allowed.
A square dance was the appropriate finale. It was a PV lovefest.
May the citizens of Portola Valley in 2064 feel as blessed as we have been for our 41 years here.
Happy Birthday, Portola Valley.