Anika: Today we are talking about Linda Vista. If you take a left, when you leave campus, you can't miss it. We wanted to learn more about what it is like to grow up in Linda Vista and what it means to be from there. To learn about that, we talked to Erika, who has lived there her whole life. And despite having to commute for four hours a day, she has no plan to leave the area anytime soon. You might be asking yourself: who would spend four hours in their car driving to and from work every day? What do you even do to fill those four hours? That's a lot of time that you could be using to do other things. It's four episodes of your favorite hour-long TV drama, or eight episodes of your favorite comedy. It's a long surf session. It's a flight from San Diego to Chicago, a drive to LA on a bad day. Four hours is a lot of time to be spent driving every single day. And why not just relocate to another part of the county? How is this worth it?
Erika: I want to say again, it's just, this is home. We grew up here. It's been more than 18 years that I've been here. So it's like, I don't see myself kind of moving another place. Everything is here. My family is around here and everybody that I met is kind of here. So I don't know if I would move out that far out. Even if I did, it wouldn't be too far out from Linda Vista. It's like the surrounding areas that I would do.
Anika: Home. It's where you feel the most comfortable. It's where you want to spend the most of your time. In some cases, it's where you grew up. For Erika, what she remembers most about growing up in Linda Vista is the fun that she had with her friends.
Erika: And we used to always hula hoop around. That was kind of the first things that we would always do. We would have a pair of hula hoops and we'd take that out. And then every time friends came to visit, it was like the first thing because I was never athletic. So it was kind of like the only thing that I I enjoyed doing then.
Anika: Home is often where you find your best friends too.
Erika: Yeah. She lived like right across. So I would always like get out and be like, Hey, meet me out there. Or we already knew that as soon as school was over, we'll go home and drop off our stuff and then play around.
Anika: Home is where you relive old memories.
Erika: One of my friends that I went to a trip in Mexico with this past weekend, we grew up together. So we just were talking about how we were growing up. Remember this, remember that. Ad all the things that we used to do when we're kids. So I still run into some of them when when I stopped by other grocery stores and when I go eat out here.
Anika: So the reason Erika doesn't move to North County is because Linda Vista is her home. It always has been, and it always will be. But if Linda Vista is her home, why not work there? Why spend those four hours in the car every day? What is it that makes her want to be in both places, in both communities? Why is your job so important? Erika works for the city in public health and is based out of North County.
Erika: I grew up really liking the whole kind of advocating for people and doing all this public health work and it's all for the community. And so that's kind of, I really enjoy doing public health.
Anika: That's why Erika can't give up either location. She loves her work, she loves helping people, and she loves Linda Vista. One thing we couldn't help but wonder is why Erika doesn't just do this public health and public administration work in Linda Vista itself. Why drive those four hours to help the community that isn't your own when you want to help your own home? Well, we came to find out that Linda Vista just doesn't have those jobs or many jobs for that matter. Erika and her parents all commute out of the area to work in their respective fields. Erika's work does have multiple offices, but none of them are close to home.
Erika: I feel like a lot of people have to go outside of Linda Vista to get jobs outside. Um, for example, I had to get out of Linda Vista to get a job, even with a degree. So I feel like if I'm having a hard time finding a job in Linda Vista, then I feel like other people are having a hard time. My parents don't work in Linda Vista or don't work close by. They work more like up in North County area rather than anywhere close to home. So I feel like if we're experiencing that or at least if I'm experiencing that, I'm sure that everybody else is kind of experiencing that. At least my, um, there's another friend that works for the County as well. She's not working anywhere near Linda Vista, she works in East County. So I feel like you kind of have to go out of Linda Vista if you wanna find a job, a good paying job.
Anika: To do what she is passionate about, Erika has to work outside of Linda Vista. She knows that her own community would benefit from her work, but it's hard to find that work locally. Just because she hasn't been able to find a career in Linda Vista, that doesn't mean she doesn't have a passion for the work being done in the community.
Erika: So at first I got pulled because of a friend. She was actually facilitating. She's like, I need more people. So I kind of was like, sure, I'll support you. But then I actually really enjoyed going there because I learned how to communicate with local government and policy makers and we needed any change and we could be the voice of Linda Vista. So I really enjoy that, but I can give back to the community where I grew up. And then I just happened to be an undergrad in public health. So a lot of the public health issues that concern them, I was able to kind of speak on their behalf. And then now that I'm doing my MPA, I get to know a lot more on the policy side of it.
Anika: Living in Linda Vista, her whole life has allowed Erika to get involved in the community. One way she did this was through the Resident Leadership Academy. The Resident Leadership Academy, or RLA, is a program put on by the Bayside community center. It's an eight to ten week program that helps empower residents to speak up for themselves and become better leaders in and for their community. It's a great way to help the community and its members grow. Erika went into this program when she was starting college. Erika loved her time in this program. She did not expect it to change her life.
Erika: I became really interested about community health and that's kind of why I decided to stick to public health. So I got my undergrad in public health. That's why I'm where I am, like all the public health issues and all the things that Linda Vista is going through, not having that access to a lot of resources and I think that kind of played a role of why I moved forward with my degree and getting public administration. Cause I would love to eventually just kind of run programs and give back to the community. Now that I know more of the administrators outside of public health and the government and all of that I feel like it gave me more tools to advocate for certain things that I wanted to see happening in Linda Vista. I feel like I could be of support.
Anika: Erika's involvement in the Resident Leadership Academy helped shape her into the person she is today. It inspired her career path when she wasn't sure what she wanted to do next. Erika has always had a passion for helping people. Her original plan was to become a nurse, but through her work with the RLA, she realized that she had a passion for policy and public health and that she was good at it.
Erika: At the time. I kind of felt like it was forceful, but because I needed it as I would just fulfill a requirement. A lot of the times I feel like teachers just tell you, like you need to complete your hours, but they don't really tell you like the impact of your hours. For me it was like, and then at that time I remember her name, her name is Monica, she was so passionate about helping the residents and helping the students and helping Linda Vista. She wasn't even from Linda Vista. So just seeing her passion too, kind of shaped the way I was thinking about Linda Vista. She just, she never saw it as a negative.
Anika: While her start in community involvement came from required volunteer hours and friends bringing her along to meetings, Erika found her own passion for the community. Watching others show the same passion only inspired her more. Erika's love for her community is what drove her to pursue this career. She has busy days trying to balance being a full time student and full time employee. This keeps her out of Linda Vista for most of her time. When you don't get to spend too much time at home, it can be hard to feel like you're part of the community. Erika struggles with this a lot. Because of her long commute, her eight hour workdays ended up being more like 10 or 12 hours. Her four hour commute might not be ideal, but it is worth it.
Erika: I try to look at it as a positive thing, even though there's days that I'm like, I get frustrated cause of traffic, and again, just sitting in my car for two hours is not very healthy. And I wish that, yeah, I'm up at 4:30 and I can say like, Oh, I'll be home like in 10, 15 minutes. No, I have to be home in like two hours. So it's not the best. It's not the ideal job, but that's my income. But I try to see as I made it this far and I'm able to kind of manage my time better, having to commute so far out. So I became a better planner, I guess, or with time management because then I see the time that I get home, so I don't try to schedule a lot of things after. So I try to find little things that would make my commute better. And also now, like it gives me extra time to just kind of think of things and put on podcasts or some kind of things. So I use that as an opportunity.
Anika: It can be draining, physically and emotionally, to be split between two places. Erika loves her work in North County, but her heart is in Linda Vista. It's in the park she grew up in, in the Corner-store she visits, and in the diverse culture in the community.
Erika: It's one of the things that I miss from home. Just being home. Everyone is here. So that's kinda what I miss the most. Just coming home. And in North County there's no one. I know no one, I have no friends there. I mean, I have my coworkers that live around her, but just the fact that everybody is here. And then I'm able to just kinda drive less than five minutes and my friends are there. Even though we're like 20 something years old, we still hang around. And just being able to drive to a place if we're able hang out or just being able to walk to a place.
Anika: You might be asking yourself who would spend four hours in their car driving to and from work every day?
Erika: I want to say again, it's just, this is home. We grew up here. It's been more than 18 years that I've been here. So it's like, I don't see myself kind of moving to another place.
Anika: This is home. This is Linda Vista.