We always wants to know what got our members interested in PB. Solaire Spellen, our West Coast Program Assistant, interviewed Long Beach District 9 Committee Co-Chair Kasia McDermott!
Solaire: Tell us about yourself, Kasia.
Kasia: My husband and I purchased our first home in Houghton Park (Long Beach, CA) in October 2013. We have three precocious children, Asa (5), Mary (3) and Jack (4 months), as well as one hyper puppy (Jayne), a geriatric cat (Juanita) and a fish (Seaweed II). Let’s just say, we have a very active (and loud!) house.
Living in North Long Beach has been great for my growing family. We were able to buy a house we could afford that gave us enough space for our expanding family to thrive. My neighborhood is quiet and family-orientated, allowing my husband to work from home while I jump start my real estate career (I’m a realtor). We have other young families who live on our block so our kids have neighborhood playdates and block parties. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a neighborhood.
Solaire: Kasia, how did you first get involved in PB?
Kasia: I like helping people and places to be better and think bigger. I guess you could say I love an underdog. North Long Beach has been unfairly characterized for years. Sure, 20 years ago the area had its share of problems, but even then, good people were taking steps to get us to where are today where a project like PB is even possible. And here’s a secret for you, it was a good neighborhood even back in the “bad old days!” I guess, I got involved in PB because I wanted to help the community come that much farther and become a city-recognized neighborhood that people want to visit. PB just seemed like the next logical step into making North Long Beach a more cohesive community.
Solaire: What did you end up doing in the PB process?
Kasia: As co-chair of the District Committee, my fellow committee members, co-chairs and I helped mold the PB process in the 9th District. That was a lot of fun. There were so many people from so many different parts of NLB, from so many different cultures and backgrounds. There were more than a couple times when the discussion got very heated, but in the end we reached agreement and made it work.
As head of the the Marketing Committee, we worked directly with the 9th District staff to enhance their outreach to the community and city of Long Beach in general.
I also worked as a Budget Delegate for the Parks & Recreation Committee and helped to develop a project that made it onto the ballot. My project didn’t win, but I met a lot of really neat people along the way.
Solaire: What most surprised you about your experience with PB?
Kasia: I was most surprised by the fact that so many different people from a myriad of cultures, backgrounds, political ideologies and what-have-you could come together and decide collectively the best way to get things done. Congress should take note! If we did it, why can’t they?
Solaire: What were the biggest impacts of PB on the community? On you as a person?
Kasia: I think the most important aspect of this project is that the city of Long Beach now has concrete, fully developed projects that it can enact in our community. The city of Long Beach knows that the 9th District needs their attention and support just like every other community in Long Beach. I think it’s very easy for people to unfairly characterize a community because of crime or some other marginalizing fact and forget that good people live there and have always lived here. PB gave the community of North Long Beach a platform, and more importantly, a microphone to amplify our collective voices and remind people that we’re here and that our issues matter.