August 2013

Son No. 1 recently pounced on a get-rich-quick opportunity. After he described the product (“healthy” energy drink) and the sales strategy (recruit collegians to spend $500 for a few cases, then have them recruit other collegians to spend $500, then have them recruit …), I offered that maybe multilevel marketing isn’t the best use of a $50,000-a-year business school degree.

He explained how this was “different,” and made me feel just awful for failing to encourage his dreams.

So I’ve been thinking about the importance of perspective, not just to recognize a pyramid scheme when you see it, but to understand that great things seldom happen overnight. Three people featured in this issue know that better than most.

Henry T. Segerstrom is one of the best-known people in Orange County. But decades ago, long before the world-class arts venues and public spaces that bear his family’s name, he understood that a cultural nexus would be critical to the county. And then, bless him, he committed his time and treasure to create it. [“Regarding Henry”]

Ken Smith is stalled at the start of a similar journey. In 2006, he won the right to design our Great Park. Three years ago, he found himself out of a job. The plan he developed is brilliant, ambitious, and—for the moment—all but dead. He’s frustrated, but he also notes that the designer of New York’s Central Park was fired, quit, and rehired before that project was finished 20 years later [“The King of What Isn’t”]. That’s perspective.

Finally, architect Alan Hess recently wondered why planners want to gut the 1970s-era California modern design of Dana Point Harbor and replace it with an ersatz New England fishing village. Why replace something real with something fake? He argues this refreshing perspective in this issue [“The Beauty of Authenticity”].

I toast them all with a “healthy” energy drink. If we need more, I know a guy who knows a guy.

Martin J. Smith

Illustration by John Ueland

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