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Orange County is a wasteland. A pit. A bleak, dangerous, humanity-free expanse of wide roads and highways full of speeding killing machines.

On the other hand, it’s also a place where individuals are learning how to take control of their city’s destiny. It’s a beautiful place because resilient people there are trying to uplift each other, and it’s a place that I’ve been glad to call my home for most of the past three years.

Kristopher Fortin wants YOU to donate to Streetsblog California. Photo by Alex Green
Kristopher Fortin wants YOU to donate to Streetsblog California. Photo by Alex Green
Kristopher Fortin wants YOU to donate to Streetsblog California. Photo by Alex Green

During Streetsblog California’s brief life in Orange County, we’ve profiled up-and-coming transit advocates, highlighted the misuse of Level of Service measures leading to dangerously wide roads, and were the first to write about a tenacious group of youth that succeeded in getting a $2.36 million federal transportation grant for the City of Santa Ana’s first protected bike lane. With your continued support we’ll be able to increase our coverage of Orange County as well as the other widely varying regions of California.

The news out of Orange County usually focuses on gang injunctions, conservative culture, beach riots, or corruption—just take a gander at the wonderfully reported Voice of OC to see what I mean. That coverage is valid, because when a government seems to be run like a racket—or a cult—it is more than deserving of the negative attention.

But the stories that miss the headlines aren’t any less important. Neighboring cities Garden Grove and Santa Ana have pushed for and created Open Streets events in their municipalities in recent years. Anaheim is host to one of the most dynamic and engaging adaptive reuse projects in the region, The Packing House. Groups like Santa Ana Active Streets have become major players in Santa Ana transportation issues, advancing an agenda that goes far beyond safety to embrace issues of equity and the inclusion of people of color and low-income communities. (Full disclosure: I sit on the recently formed SAAS Leadership Committee; when I say SAAS is expanding its clout, that’s not hyperbole.)

I’ve wanted to write about Orange County transportation issues since I arrived in the area roughly three years ago. I had a few assignments during my brief time at the OC Register, where I cut my teeth on day-to-day reporting, gaining experience that I still cherish today. But that was nothing like the sustainable transportation beat that I knew Streetsblog, if only it were around, would just kill.

The seeds were planted a few years ago in conversations with Streetsblog California’s fearless, bearded leader Damien Newton. With Melanie Curry’s lead on editorial, we’re still nurturing the connections that will help us bring news from the varying regions in the state that are falling through the cracks.

I’ve donated $100 to our campaign, and I’ve also agreed to work on two stories per month, pro bono, centering on Orange County. While we hope that the winds of charity blow into your hearts, Orange County’s transit future is moving fast and is in need of coverage now. There is a lot to discuss. Orange County is the last stop for the High Speed Rail, and OCTA’s Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, the ARTIC Station, has been hemorrhaging money since it was built. Santa Ana remains a city where bicyclists and pedestrians are involved in collisions with motorists, leading to avoidable injuries and deaths.

There will be many more stories to write about this region, and I look forward to being a part of making that news coverage a reality. Please support Streetsblog California, and thanks.

Make a donation to Streetsblog California by clicking here.

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