I ran for mayor because I enjoy Mountain View so much, but it’s never been easy to quantify exactly why. The Town Clerk told me a story today however, that helped bring it into perfect focus.
A delivery person brought something to the office the other day and said, “There’s something really special about this town. It feels different! As soon as you cross into this town, you can feel it.”
And she’s exactly right.
I think this is typical in rural areas, but pretty rare in urban places. Mountain View is the kind of town where driving down the street, you raise a few fingers off the steering wheel to say hello to the person driving past you, because although it’s possible you don’t know them, it’s quite possible you do. And if you don’t know them at the moment, you might just meet them soon, so you might as well start saying hello now!
Walking down Ames Street the other day, a neighbor named Mike came out the door and I think we both noticed at the same time that someone’s gate was open, allowing a dog out accidentally. We coordinated getting the dog safely back into the yard, and then Mike let his neighbor know, and as I continued on my walk, I heard the neighbor say, “Thank you, Mike,” and Mike say back, “No problem, Travis,” as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world. Because it is!
Today as I was passing a neighbor sitting on her porch, I was happy to hear her friendly greeting, “Hello Emilie! Nice to see you!” Greeting her back, I couldn’t help feeling the warmth of community, and loving it even more because this particular neighbor only moved here a few months back and already she knows the local ways.
I sometimes go to a coffee shop across Sheridan, in Denver. And almost every time I notice that on the east side of Sheridan, in Denver, people act like strangers to each other when they pass. But on the west side of Sheridan, in Mountain View, we invariably smile and say hello. It doesn’t matter if you know the person or not. It’s just what we do.
Another walk yesterday brought me upon a large black bird who was harassing something in the bushes nearby. As I stood there observing the bird, several people came walking up and stopped nearby. Did the bird need help? We ended up agreeing that no aid was needed, and the bird was not wounded. But the very idea that three people who didn’t know each other converged on a bird argument, and we all stopped to consider whether the bird needed help, made me smile again, and think about how much I love Mountain View.
It’s pretty much the norm these days. Our police officers ride in pairs on electric bikes down the street (when it’s not raining!) and stop to chat with the community, hear people’s vacation plans, learn their new pets’ names, and share a story. A new baby is born and we bring brownies. Someone has surgery and I get a text when all is well afterward, because not only am I their mayor, but I’m also their neighbor, and neighbors feel like friends here. Because we are. That’s Mountain View for ya! And I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Emilie Mitcham is the mayor of Mountain View.