By TOM HONIG
Take 69 Santa Cruz County folks from a variety of businesses, school districts, government bodies and non-profits, put them on a couple of buses and what do you do with them?
This week, the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce took them to San Luis Obispo, where this aggregation met with leaders from similar walks of life to learn more about how another community -- somewhat similar to Santa Cruz -- handles the kinds of issues that people here do every day.
The San Luis Obispo trip was an idea promoted by Cabrillo College President Brian King, who looked at the trip this way:
"We have an opportunity to learn much from San Luis Obispo, a community that is in many ways like us. We will have an opportunity to evaluate how some of their initiatives might work in our counties and cities. We will be able to test and temper our notions and plans with their experiences. And, we will discuss mutual problems and complexities with them to explore solutions neither of us have yet imagined.
"However ... I believe that the greatest benefit will be the 30-some hours we will spend together getting to know each other better."
So did it work? In a word -- yes. Our group met with San Luis business leaders, politicians, school officials and others who are trying to figure out solutions to the same problems that exist here. One particular issue that reared its head time and time again was the question of how to balance economic vitality with environmental protection.
I'll follow up on that issue in particular in future articles. Also, I'll be publishing reactions and thoughts from those on the trip.
And as for the most obvious question: was the junket fun? You're damn right it was. No, it wasn't a party like the Merry Pranksters, but it served to remind the participants that Santa Cruz is blessed with community folks who are not only bright but also simpatico. It's nice to be reminded of that.