Why Build Relationships?
I support any activities in Portola Valley that help neighbors build community. Our PVForum provides a resource that brings people together, despite some disagreements.
When I moved to Portola Valley, almost 30 years ago, I knew from my own upbringing in a similar-sized town that it would be hard to get to know people because we had no children. So I invited everyone who lived around us to a party. The late Van Judah said it was the kindest thing anyone had done for him since he arrived in Portola Valley.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed with work, chauffering children and scheduling family. We need Portola Valley to provide a community for rest and relaxation. Having a strong sense of community can help us when there are disasters and tragedies, but also when there are good times to be enjoyed together. The Alpine Inn reopening, gives us an example of where a local business has helped foster relationships between residents.
Town Staff, Council & Committee Relationships
I have worked on two committees - the Bicycle, Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Committee, and the Sustainability Committee. This has enabled me to get to know town staff and members of the Town Council. I want to encourage more residents to build relationships with the town through volunteering.
Welcoming The Newcomer
If you move to Portola Valley with a family that has children, you are likely to get to know other families with similar-aged children through the school system and through children playing together. If you come without children then it can take longer to know what facilities are available to residents. I propose we provide town events to welcome newcomers, as has happened in the past, where new residents can meet each other, town staff and officials. It is also an opportunity to showcase some of the services provided by the town, town committees and volunteer groups.
We have neighborhood watch groups and emergency preparedness neighborhoods. We need to make resilient neighborhood groups because in an emergency, neighbors will need to help neighbors. Where are those who cannot drive who might need a ride? Who would need help turning off their gas or water in an earthquake? Some neighborhoods have Friday night street parties, other neighborhood groups have get-togethers for special days like July 4th. We need to strengthen our neighbourhood relationships to increase neighborhood enjoyment and safety. Maybe neighbors can car pool, helping the town reduce energy use too.
The trail users have changed since they were developed. There are more mountain bikes wanting to use Portola Valley trails. Mountain bikes are useful for children riding to school. We need to work with the schools to find ways that children can bike together to reduce the number of cars going to schools. Safe Routes to School have been identified, but are they in the right place.
We need to look at whether we need parallel trails for horses and bicycles in some places, ensure crossings are well-marked and signage is appropriate.
To ensure that trail walkers and joggers feel safe, I recommend that a volunteer group arrange hiking meetups for town residents to increase social interaction.
Aging In Place
The Portola Valley Women's Club has held some Zoom sessions on Aging in Place. There are swimming pool activities open to all at Alpine Hills. Various town committees organize talks and events. We could still do more to help older seniors stay engaged and make new friends as old ones leave the community. We don't have a senior center in Portola Valley, and with many very active seniors, maybe we don't need one. However, it may be useful to have daytime activities in the town center for seniors to reduce loneliness and anxiety.
Angela Hey is a candidate for Portola Valley Town Council. She is an experienced technology marketing consultant who serves nonprofits, as a volunteer.