by Lisa Klinkhammer
In 2007, I met the love of my life and moved from Sacramento, California to Dupont, WA for two years before my (now) husband and I moved to Oakbrook in 2009. I was a first time home owner in Sacramento. It was a home built in 1918 and the older Tahoe Park area was undergoing gentrification with a very active Homeowner’s Association.
In 2009, when we moved to Oakbrook, it was the height of the housing market crash and we (as newlyweds) were able to purchase an expansive newly remodeled 1982 home that we would never have been able to otherwise afford. Immediately we fell in love with our home that overlooked the perfect and immensely powerful sound with Olympic mountain views. Five and a half years later, I drive around and find many reasons to be grateful for the community we call home.
With a world filled with negative news, today I want to stop and promote an attitude of gratitude, starting with my own. Here are the 10 things I love about Oakbrook…
10. Beauty. Our community is filled with numerous indigenous trees and bushes that make it a very natural and serene environment. When I take evening walks or drive through the neighborhood, I am in awe of some of our surroundings. I can’t wait for my favorite fall tree to turn red and fill the yard with leaves (that I don’t have to pick up) in some unknown person’s front yard. And just sometimes when I take a deep breath in and get a big smell of the pines, I am transported to vacations in Lake Tahoe, CA.
9. Uniqueness. In Oakbrook, you will not see a sea of homes between which you cannot distinguish. What I love is driving down the street and seeing homes that I’ve seen before. No two homes appear to be the same!
8. Water. In Sacramento, we had two rivers that ran through it with a few lakes sprinkled around the outskirts. Living there, I thought we were “lucky” to have these places of respite and enjoyment. Living here, you can’t throw a stone without hitting some kind of water – hence the name Lakewood. We are incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such resources! We can sit by them and have lunch, enjoy a long walk, jet ski, kayak trip, watch the watercraft go by or just enjoy the serenity that it provides.
7. Balance. Typically I prefer more urban areas (like North Tacoma or West Seattle), however, Oakbrook has a nice blend of residential and access to great places. I love the close proximity of needed businesses, Ft. Steilacoom, Steilacoom and Chambers Bay. There are two great dog parks at both parks and the City of Steilacoom reminds me of Portland, Maine – a cute little port community that is a well kept secret (although much smaller). I absolutely love that we are surrounded by two golf courses and a large green belt and close gun ranges.
6. History. As our circle of community widens in Oakbrook, it never ceases to amaze or give me perspective of my limited time here in Oakbrook. I have met people who have lived here for 10, 20 and 40 years. The other night, we ran into our neighbors who have lived here for 30 years while we were dining at Mis Tres Amigos. With very little prompting our friendly conversation ended up with them sitting at our table while they proceeded to tell us about the history of our home and its inhabitants.
At a recent Lakewood City meeting, we heard a woman speak of the early years when Lakewood was being formed and why they voted Oakbrook to be incorporated – so they could have a voice and be heard 18 years ago. Talk about perspective!
It gives me reverence when I look at the Oakbrook Park, which wasn’t a park until our neighbors Warren and Kathy with dozens of others helped make it into an open green space for all to enjoy. For all these people, their pioneering efforts, energy and dedication to their family and community, I am grateful.
5. Renaissance. When we first moved to the area, as I said, it was the height of the housing market crash. Many homes then had some deferred maintenance and there were many foreclosures on the market. We then learned that many homes were non-owner occupied (aka rentals). Throughout the years, we were discouraged but understood why many people weren’t maintaining or fixing up their homes.
This year, we are very encouraged by the apparent renaissance of work being done in yards, roofs, homes, etc. We hope that this gentrification continues well into the future to keep the positive momentum going.
4. Friendly. I always called Sacramento the “wanna be” town. Growing up there, it wasn’t LA, it wasn’t San Francisco, but yet I got this distinct feeling people were many times acting very important like those in bigger towns tended to act (distant, impatient, self serving, etc.). This is a harsh generalization, I know, but it was my experience.
Everywhere I go in Oakbrook, someone is opening the door (gentleman), smiling or being as friendly as one could possibly be. My experience is that everyone who works at Albertson’s is as friendly as can be (and with a family of 5 I am there almost every day!). I’ve never encountered a rude person behind the counter anywhere in Oakbrook – well, save and except a few fast food experiences. Even standing in the line to get my favorite drink at Starbuck’s, I always have a friendship encounter – a friendly face, a small but refreshing conversation, a gesture of kindness. For these small moments, I am grateful.
3. Good & friendly food / restaurants. I fancy myself a bit of a restaurant snob. My husband and I go out to eat as often as we can. Our favorite restaurant is Asado’s in Tacoma and Daniel’s Broiler on Lake Union. However, the restaurants here locally are friendly and good dining experiences also – especially the Oakhouse (which feels like Cheers), Mis Tres Amigos (most authentic Mexican I’ve had in WA yet) and Topside Grille (okay, it’s in Steilacoom).
We don’t have to go far to have a varied and very decent dining experience! I am grateful that we have locally owned and operated restaurants that we can patron and keep our dollars in our community.
2. Litter Angel. One of my biggest pet peeves is litter in our neighborhood. Since we started cleaning up the front entrance four (4) years ago, I’ve had a more vested interest in the beauty and cleanliness of our streets / neighborhood. Every time I would see litter, my blood would literally boil and invariably my husband would hear the broken record of me saying “I just can’t believe people….” It’s not difficult to pick up and takes only about 30 minutes to really do a decent job. It’s the thought that someone could so carelessly dispose of their garbage as they drove or walked by. Many times, we would pick up the litter one day and the next few days it would all be back. It seemed like a never ending nightmare!
Since we have installed the beautified front entrance, it *appears* that we either have a litter angel among us OR people are taking greater pride in their community because it’s more beautiful and other people care. Either way, I am grateful!
1. Caring. A community is only as good as its people.
People wave at each other in Oakbrook. All within September 2014, an elderly man fell while walking the other day, several people stopped to help him. Two dogs were lost and a woman stopped traffic to capture them and return them home. Burglar alerts are being posted on Facebook – all because people care about their neighbors and their community.
We went to the Lakewood City meeting about the apartment development issue on Ruby Drive. We walked in the room and there was a standing room only meeting of over 100 people. All were concerned citizens from Oakbrook. Many of whom simply came to show their support but there were many spoke at the podium against the development and the harm it would do to our community. It was extremely moving.
Even more inner circle are my own close neighbors, I am grateful to my neighbor Rachel who brought us a plant and some goodies when we moved in. Our other neighbor Sean who has cooked us the most delicious egg rolls in large quantities. Our eagle eye neighbor Debbie who always has a friendly smile and wave and who is our neighborhood watch person. Our neighbor Barbara who diligently worked on our local swim team and who brings us fresh organic eggs and volunteers for the Grand Theatre. Our neighbor Pricilla who helped develop the 7th Edition HOA when it was first being formed (no easy task). Our neighbor Jack led the 7th Edition HOA for many years to help make our community a better place. Our neighbors, the Buck, Sharon, Tammy and Rich always have a friendly moment to stop and commiserate with us about this, that, golf game or the weather. Chad jumped in to help us in our most dire hour with the Entrance Beautification project… and continues to be a strong force for good in our community with his equipment and heart for service.
Most of all, we are the most deeply grateful for our dearest friends and neighbors, Ed and Chere for the enduring dedication to country, our community and to our friendship. Without having moved here and having met them, our lives would not be as full nor as rich. For this and so much more, on this sunny day in Fall 2014, I am eternally grateful.
What are you grateful for?
Lisa Klinkhammer, wife to beloved husband, step mom to 3 lovely young people and one adorable furbaby. Works remotely and owns her own marketing firm – Red Door Group Marketing + Digital. Lover of Oakbrook Community, Lakewood, WA. Loves photography, service to community, a good bottle of wine and international and domestic travel.