It's definitely feeling like fall; the days are shorter, the weather is crisper, and the leaves are beginning to shed. I absolutely love this time of year when summer is behind us, when pumpkins decorate the doorways, and when the holidays are just around corner. It's festive to be sure, and there's loads of good old-fashioned fun to look forward to (Tristan is coming home for Thanksgiving, so I'll have both boys for the first time in many years.) Like the playoffs, October feels like the 7th inning stretch. There's just enough of a breather in our calendars to consider the entire playing field. Sometimes we're so totally engrossed in what's on this week's "TO DO" list, that there's NO time to assess the BIGGER picture. (It's been a hectic couple of days.)
But the BIG PICTURE is important to be sure . . .
It's where we remember that our humble real estate practice works within a much larger community, AND that community works within a city, that works within a state, that works within a country, and so on, and so on, and so on . . . .
I was reminded of that again last night while at my partner's gorgeous home in Piedmont. Sarah had been asked to host the "Empty Nester" party (Sarah and John are natural entertainers and their view was spectacular.) which brings together those of us whose kids have already passed through the school district and lived to tell the tale. It's a fundraiser for the Piedmont Educational Foundation which was fortunate enough to raise $3 million last year to fill in the gaps that the state of California woefully under funds, and seems well on track to do the same this year. (That's not chump change; it has a huge impact.)
Having sent our kids through the public school district in Piedmont, it was great to reconnect with friends I no longer sit next to on the baseball bleachers, and I happily wrote my check, even though my kids are now through college and off the payroll . . . except for the cell phone. (What's with our GROWN kids not having their own phone plan and Netflix accounts?)
Still, as a Realtor, I can attest to the fact that the number one thing that drives most Buyers to Piedmont beyond the beautiful tree-lined streets, the extraordinary homes, the manicured parks, the city services, and the close-knit community, are the highly coveted public SCHOOLS, which in turn, keep ALL your property values HIGH. Strong public schools were the reason Cliff and I pulled up stakes and left SF 18 years ago. While we loved the City, the cost of private school tuition for two boys made saving enough for college tuition a long shot - unless we won the lottery.
"That's not a viable financial strategy," our financial planner repeatedly advised us. (It isn't? What about retirement?)
So like many of you, we loaded up the truck and moved across the Bay Bridge, looking for an educational system that would support our kids' goals - and ours. (Let's be honest; we were struggling with the costs of private-school education.)
Mind you, I'd never even heard of Piedmont before getting serious about our kids' educational options and once we landed, it was a blessing on several fronts. (The friendships we made along the way were an added bonus.) However one is feeling about the last 18 months: the Covid crisis, vaccinations, masking, homeschooling, the loss of nearly an entire academic year, or the school district at large, there's something amazing about a group of school-board members, teachers, parents, grandparents, and empty-nesters that can come together to put aside their differences and recognize that we're blessed to be in a position to help fund the shortfall. These efforts insure that our kids have robust STEAM programs, art and music enrichment, and attention to mental health concerns.
It can't escape any of us that right outside the Piedmont borders, Oakland public schools don't nearly have the capacity to match the fundraising power of Piedmont. (That's unfortunate and completely inequitable but a much larger problem that should, and must be addressed.) Coming together for a greater good felt downright joyful, and yes, lucky on many levels. Gratitude, gratitude, GRATITUDE.
By 8:45, I said my goodbyes, wrote a check, and headed home to bed. (I'm a very early riser.) I want to thank everyone who put on last night's event when they could have been at home watching the Giants/Dodgers playoffs instead. (Bummer; that was a tough loss in the 9th inning.) It was great to see so many of you, but also, it was important to be reminded that we are raising the next generation of brilliant young minds who are hopefully going to save our planet. (Is that too much to ask?)
BTW, if your BIG PICTURE includes a move next Spring, now is not too early to reach out to Sarah and me to schedule time to set a calendar in motion. While we've learned we can push a house to market quickly - if need be - the process is far more sane when we've got a good 3-4 weeks of prep time (3-4 months is even better).
P.S. - If you couldn't join last night, you may still make a donation to the Piedmont Educational Foundation by clicking here.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.