Eidt: Finding Our Community Voice

Opponents of the Banning Ranch project gather outside the Coastal Commission meeting Thursday.

In this era of media agglomeration and mergers, where 11 multinational corporations control what we read, we hear, we see, we follow, we tweet: Where is our Voice?

Our free and open internet is closing, net neutrality (maybe) eliminated, and Chief Executives own the medium of mass communication and public discourse. Where the oversight of politicians and governmental agencies has been obfuscated in favor of visioning of bottom lines, are they really telling us what we need to know? Keep shopping? Get to work on time? Do as you are told, and you might have a 401k to spend on false teeth and bifocals when you reach your golden years?

The spectrum of media discourse must grow beyond the dictates of the ever-self-enriching capitalist comfortable class. Who will speak for the commons that cannot be bought, the wild winds, the great blue heron mucking through the drainage ditch? Can we hear the voice of flowing rivers into endless oceans, and the last gasp of swordfish and steelhead trout whose quiet survival may not seem to mean much when you’re posting about a new cold brew venue with gluten free surprises down at the new mega-themed-village-centre?

Do the Chief Operators care about defining just why the sun will not quit drying out our tropical birds of paradise? Has the Finance-Guru defined why peace and quiet seem like something quaint that our great-grandparents used to care about? Who will speak up for peace when the machinery of growth, development, and war remain profitable?

The Voice of OC has opened their doors to the community not heard much these days in mass communications. Some years back I tired of banging my head against the editorial gatekeepers at the LA Times and Orange County Register. As an urban planner and environmental advocate not punching my time clock or under surveillance by the appointed warden of government and non-profit organizationdom, I had to start my own organ of communication.

Yet, working on protecting the last wild spaces in Orange County required publication in a credible informational venue frequented by the decision makers, community leaders, and interested people among the millions calling this coastal corner home. The Voice of OC has become that venue.

When our toll road agency has overstepped its governmentally-mandated bounds in its zeal to run a road through a park, or down your favorite carpool lane, or even over your condo, The Voice helped me remind people to show up, and also to consider other options.

Last year’s regulatory capture of the Coastal Commission and Air Quality Management District were both covered in these pages. We documented Governor Jerry Brown’s role in the Coastal Commission coup, and mused on the multitude of controversies of corruption and the will to clean house at that agency. The culmination of this journalistic effort with a healthy dose of informed skepticism saw the 400-acre Newport Banning Ranch gambit to build hotels, condos, and frozen yogurt emporiums on Burrowing Owl habitat went down in justified flames.

The Voice has provided the community with a forum, and the people heard the call and showed up en-masse. Today’s Coastal Commission has changed markedly, with help from the governmental entities, community leaders, and interested people like you and me. Well, not everyone agrees, of course, and so their Voices can be heard as well.

The Voice of OC deserves your support!

Jack Eidt is director of Wild Heritage Planners, editor of WilderUtopia.com.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org