My Utopia would be a place in which our dogs were welcome to accompany us anywhere. A place that was warm, but not hot, comfortable, but not staged. It would have cafes with good food and well-made drinks. There would be music and energy, not simply noise. The people would be interesting, colorful and friendly; rich or not rich, well-dressed or happily clad in that odd garment that only they could wear well. The dogs of course, would be central to the community, more plentiful than young children, yet less dominant than the surrounding flavor.
When music was involved, we would dance, even if only in our heads (well, not all of us). The days would pass by the minute, not the hour, slowly and with full awareness. We would be with others but also be happily alone, together. The food would be good. I know I already said that but it is important enough to mention again. More important though is the service, the delight in making others have a good time, especially the dogs. The service is not just from those employed to serve us, but from those that wish to serve others, just because.
People would connect and interact; both strangers and friends (often with a shared love of dogs).
In this Utopia, there are many layers, which I prefer to unfold softly and with purpose, rather than irrationally, all at once. I think of Paris; a city to which I have never been. I dream of the cafes, bustling with…well, I don’t know but I imagine them bustling. The smells fragrant and rich, the people sophisticated and flawed but perfect and quirky or perfectly quirky and weird. The dogs are there; always there are dogs. It is a way of life rather than anything else; they are part of the family, why wouldn’t they be there?
This particular utopia is nomadic, not specific to just one location because in my Utopia it is not a make-believe place, rather, a way of life, that just happens to be localized to a certain parcel of land, for this moment in time, and hopefully the next moment, and the next moment again. Most recently, I experienced a little slice of utopia called Santana Row. This strip of land nestled amidst the San Jose Valley is a gathering place for both people and dogs. Everywhere we looked, there were dogs!
Dogs playing and sleeping, sitting, standing or being carefully cradled and held. The restaurants, bistros and cafes that lined the cobbled walks all seemed to have someone furry and four-legged mixed in. The dogs were part of the character, part of the Place.
Whether we were waking up to our cappuccino at the French bakery,
sipping on a cocktail under the trees at the tequila bar in the park,
munching on a basket of frites and picking at a plate of charcuterie at the Left Bank,
or washing down our tomato bisque with a glass of rosé at the Wine Bar,
we were accompanied by dogs. Cute, loving, likable dogs.
Meet Joey. Sweet Joey. It is hard to believe he is quite sick, with late stage cancer that will steal him away too early. On this sunny day though, in that moment, he was enjoying the world around him, breathing in fresh air surrounded by his loved ones as well as strangers, and still willing to share a kiss. He added joy to our day just by being there.
I am sooo thirsty!
Thirsty for more!
Just a day. In the life, at Santana Row.
Paula Rees (Tom’s mentor and our dear friend), of Foreseer (formerly Maestri Design) is the visionary behind making this particular utopia successful. If only everyone could see what Placemaking really brings, to a community, to our lives! Paula and Jeff, thank you for sharing this magical Place! Thank you for bringing us here! And, keep doing more of… this thing that you do, so well.
The crew, hanging out at the Valencia Hotel (minus me, the makeshift photographer equipped only with an iPhone) plotting our assault on the streets below…(and lunch, or was it brunch, or brunch, then lunch? Of course dinner also was divine).