TSRA 50th Birthday: Purpose

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The Sea Ranch 50th Birthday Celebration Logo
Spring 2014

Celebrating The Sea Ranch 50th Birthday

The Sea Ranch is like no other community on earth. A former sheep ranch, it lies along the northern Sonoma Coast, ten miles of grassy coastal meadows that meet the Pacific Ocean along a rocky shoreline strewn with black and white sand beaches, and stretches one mile inland, up into towering redwoods and then down to the Gualala River. The Sea Ranch offers an unusually rich and diverse landscape.

In 1964, Oceanic Properties purchased this land and filed their plans with the county of Sonoma for a housing development to be called The Sea Ranch. With unusual sensitivity to the consequences of their project, they hired the great landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin, to create a land-use plan where the beautiful and dramatic natural setting would predominate. A Design Committee was appointed to help guide and approve all construction, bolstered by a strong set of CC&R's (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions).

The first buildings were designed by young, cutting-edge architects -- Joseph Esherick, the firm of MLTW (Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull, and Richard Whitaker), and Obie Bowman. Completed in 1965, MLTW's Condo One was honored with the AIA's 25th year award in 1990: the most important structure built in the entire country that year. The Sea Ranch style became defined as homes designed to blend in with their surroundings as well as to reflect the surviving, historic ranch structures. The first major American ecological development, today more than two thousand houses have been completed, their owners bound by a shared vision of respect for the natural environment: living lightly with the land. This concept is woven through everything.

The Sea Ranch will soon be fifty years old, a momentous birthday. One year has been set aside, from Memorial Day weekend 2014 through Memorial Day weekend 2015, to better understand not only what the journey has been, but more importantly, where to steer The Sea Ranch toward its healthiest future.

There will be workshops, lectures, concerts, hikes, parties--a myriad of intellectual, physical, and joyful activities. All of the events will celebrate the notion that The Sea Ranch is Making Waves at 50. Our clear message will be that The Sea Ranch is a strong, exciting, vital community, highly relevant in today's world and still showcasing state-of-the-art ideas about how to live on the land in this new century.

Lawrence Halprin was concerned with not only how The Sea Ranch could best merge with its natural environment, but also how it could live in consonance with the communities that provide the services, medical care, schools, churches, groceries, and gas, key to living in an isolated area. Following his lead, another goal for the 50th Birthday Celebration is to form stronger bonds with our neighbors--to work to erase the lines that separate us, both physically and mentally.

The 50th Birthday Committee, working under the umbrella of the Vision Committee, hopes that many Sea Ranch groups will contribute a 50th Birthday event or join with others to do so. In planning sessions with our community manager, we have developed a short form to help describe and formalize a proposed event and to provide the initial information we need as we act as the clearinghouse and central calendar for these projects. We have identified categories that are central to the 50th Birthday Celebration and hope to have at least one event that addresses each of these areas: Celebration, Community, Future, Inspiration, Legacy, and Stewardship.

Ideas and volunteers are most welcome. Please join with us!

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