Residents and organizations come together to send a message — Laguna stands with Ukraine
Across the city of Laguna Beach, city officials, local organizations and residents are coming together to send a message that he hopes will send waves of peace and solidarity during this time of international crisis – Laguna is at the sides of Ukraine.
In the days following the Russian invasion, residents of Lagun described a growing sense of dread at the tragic events unfolding abroad. This week, a series of local acts and tributes began to sprout across the seaside town.
At dusk on Wednesday, city officials turned on the lights switch on the Laguna Beach Lifeguard Tower, now illuminated in blue and yellow to represent the Ukrainian flag.
The symbolic gesture was initiated by Mayor Sue Kempf during a city council meeting.
“The Lifeguard Tower is probably the most iconic architectural feature we have in our city, and when significant events occur, we periodically light it up,” Kempf said Friday.
“We have a number of people here who are concerned and sympathetic to what is happening in Ukraine,” she continued. “I think there’s an underlying concern that people have for the world at large right now.”
City Clerk Ann Marie McKay said people stopped by her office to ask what could be done on a civic level to support those affected by the war as well as Ukrainian residents or who might know people there. .
“It’s important that the city does what it can to tell them our hearts are with them,” she said.
McKay took part in an act of solidarity Thursday morning, standing with at least 50 local residents in front of Laguna Beach City Hall for a group photo. Dressed in blue and yellow and holding sunflowers – a sign of Ukrainian resistance – they gathered on the lawn.
The effort was organized by local resident Denny Freidenrich, a retired marketing executive who galvanized similar demonstrations of support at historic times, including the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the reopening of businesses in June. last after long-lasting pandemic shutdowns.
Before the photo, Freidenrich, 73, addressed those gathered.
“People, in real time, see the horrors of war,” he said. “Can you imagine what it would be like if here in the city bombs were falling? Imagine having to make a shared decision to stay or go.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, but I want to change that just a little bit to four words – Laguna stands with Ukraine,” Freidenrich said, as the crowd chanted the phrase and the shutters flapped.
Among the attendees was Kathleen Quinlivan, 63, who works at the Chakra Shack, a metaphysical supply store. She was born out of a desire to help foster a sense of peace and help ease her own feelings of helplessness.
“My heart is broken for them,” said Quinlivan, who created a small laminated Ukrainian flag with the image of fingers making a peace sign for the photo. “That’s what we need now – we need peace. It’s all about love right now. It’s absolutely necessary, even if it’s only a group of 50 people.
Freidenrich encouraged people to share photos on social media and to consider donating to the humanitarian aid organization UNICEF, at unicef.org, or the European Federation of Food Banks, at eurofoodbank.org.
During a special monthly prayer service Thursday night at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, residents were encouraged to light a candle, meditate and say a prayer for those suffering abroad.
“We tell people if they have a sunflower to bring it to the prayer service,” office manager Ryan Martin said beforehand. “We will reflect and offer prayers for Ukraine.”
The people of Laguna Beach are aware that actions alone will not solve the global crisis. It is more about creating energy and becoming aware of peace and unity.
“When you see other people in your community coming together on the lawn of City Hall to support others, it gives you a sense of warmth and compassion that we have,” Kempf said, “not only in our community, but for sufferers everywhere.
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