Ocean Beach: Catching The Wave of the Spirit
As the 8 West comes to a halt, traffic slows down as cars bottleneck their way into the unique neighborhood of Ocean Beach. A community unlike any other in San Diego, Ocean Beach residents are eclectic artists, entrepreneurs, travelers, and spiritual gurus. They live out their slogan, “no bad days”, each and every opportunity that they can by offering passersby a hug while breathing in life on the waves.
A small group of residents have made an intention to challenge themselves to be for the betterment of the community, no matter the cost. They have made a pact to engage in their own personal development, have eyes and ears wide open to the needs of the community, and provide a place of spiritual encouragement for those looking for direction. One’s a member of the OB Town Council, another a small business owner, there’s a pastor, a couple of doulas, a philosophy professor, an artist, a pair of social workers, and a spiritual director. They each have their own perspective on the town and meet quarterly, at their “living room” space on Newport Ave. called the Spiritual Journey Center, with other spiritually-minded neighbors who are committed to partnering with the assets already present in OB. The members of this quarterly gathering, known as the Spiritual Journey Alliance (SJA), all have a story to tell.
Member Melanie Williams, owner of TriPower Yoga and town council member has co-created the largest yoga festival in San Diego. There’s no question that spirituality is one of the defining characteristics of the Ocean Beach community. Crystal shops, churches, yoga, and even a small nun community fill the streets of Ocean Beach as residents are longing to put words to the awakenings of their spirits.
At the end of this month, OB is hosting the San Diego Yoga Festival, inviting teachers and participants from around the country. The festival will include both the youngest and oldest yoga teachers in the country, surf yoga, live music, and offerings of spiritual nurturing. Their website lists out their deep, meaningful intentions, one being, “to positively transform the lives of every individual who attends or works with this event from a mental, physical, energetic, emotional, spiritual, conscious, subconscious and super conscious level.” They are dedicated to healing and transformation of the whole person, and believe that yoga can be a part of that process.
In addition to the healing they are expecting to happen, the Yoga Festival aims to put San Diego on the map in the yoga world, as a place that has insight, training, available space, and plenty of willing participants.
SJA member Carter Moss serves as the pastor of Newbreak Church in Ocean Beach. Journeying from the Midwest just a couple years ago, he has quickly gained the favor of the community at large by valuing the things that they value, and gathering volunteers to help make an impact. Whether it be cleaning up the graffiti that’s distracting from the beautiful ocean view, painting the cafe on the pier, or volunteering at the community pancake breakfast fundraiser, Moss has challenged his congregants to care about the neighborhood as they would their own homes.
At the end of 2016, Newbreak was awarded for “Community Service” by the OB Town Council in recognition for their dedication to serving the town of OB. The announcer giving the award proclaimed, “Regardless of your opinions on God or religion, you have to respect this church for their commitment to our community.”
Stasi and John MacAteer invite people over to their house weekly for a hot meal and conversation. They recognize that we are both spiritual and physical beings, and that there is something that happens when gathering around the table. Stasi was recognized for being a “homegrown community hero” at an annual Peninsula award gathering for opening her home for what she calls Friday Family Meal, as well as for her involvement as an admin in the local BuyNothing group that encourages neighbors to gift to neighbors. John is a philosophy professor that offers his wisdom by teaching classes on Jesus and unpacking religious film.
Clay and Jess Connolly are parents of four young girls and began an organic time of coffee and parent interactions every Friday at OB Elementary. They wanted to get to know the parents that they would be doing life with over the next several years, and so just started showing up with coffee–and soon others joined. Clay spends his time as a realtor in town, helping partner people with places so they too can “love where they live.” Jess, when she’s not giving birth to her own kids, is coming alongside other women as a doula–helping them love and respect the process of birth. Together they founded the Spiritual Journey Center and helped give birth to the SJA.
When asked, “Why do you do what you do?”, Corey Bruins, town councilman and co-facilitator of SJA said, “We live in a world where information can be shared instantly, and many people spend a significant amount of time reading about, caring for, and grappling with situations around the world. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I believe it has caused people to spend less time caring for their neighbors, engaging the communities that they live in, and supporting local businesses, events, and movements. I do what I do to show the folks in our community what life can look like if you focus your first energies on your hometown.” Even though he has only been an OBtian for the last couple of years, Bruins quickly joined the town council meetings and was elected onto the executive board in 2016. His passion for the town as the place where he lives, works, and plays really shows when he helps plan and execute the philanthropic endeavors initiated by the council.
Each member carries with them different interests, passions, abilities, and connections, but the true beauty of this collective of individuals is their desire to see the place where they reside be the best it can be–physically, spiritually, and mentally, for all who call it home. And they hope to challenge others to do the same, wherever they call home. For more information, you can read about who they are and upcoming initiations on their website: www.spiritualjourneycenter.org.