Hansen: With people like this, Laguna may survive doomsday

March 27, 2014|By David Hansen

Almost every day you read stories about impending world destruction because of our own mistreatment: too much carbon dioxide and not enough sustainability.

But not in Laguna Beach. There's a strong case to be made that if the world ends tomorrow, Laguna would be exempt.

At least that's what Brian Seveland hopes.

Seveland, 49, is one of those behind-the-scenes Laguna guys who has had multiple lives. In the end, they arrive here, making something new and different.


You may have bought coffee from Seveland at the farmers market on Saturdays. Or maybe you ate his homemade butternut squash gratin at a Transition Laguna Thanksgiving.

The 23-year resident is tall and quirky with a sideways glance. You might underestimate him at first, but there is something more under the surface.

And in his case, it's dirt.

"I've always been about growing my own food. I love that," he said, explaining his view on sustainability. "I grow tomatoes. I grow all my greens — mustard greens and collard greens, lettuce and cabbage, stuff like that.

"Grow what you like and start simple. That's really the goal: Go toward simple. If you make it complex, it will never work."

But this is not just a feel-good story about organic mulch and all-natural pesticides. It's about taking responsibility for your own contribution.

The fact is, the end-of-the-world warnings are not coming from zany street preachers anymore. They are coming from people of science and technology.

The United Nations, NASA and top scientific groups around the world are becoming more strident about the warming planet.

Put it this way, how many people in Laguna have not thought about a rising coastline?

"It's insane," Seveland said. "I don't know how we do it on a global scale; that's why Transition Laguna is really all about doing it on a local scale. When you start thinking about it as a nation with over 300 million people, it's overwhelming."

Seveland started by looking at his life.

An information technology executive for a major company, he was living bicoastal with homes in Miami and Laguna Beach. He would fly more than 200,000 miles a year.

"I'm a type A, trying to work on being a type C," he said. "I used to be the Range Rover-driving guy on the hill, making $300,000 a year and not worrying about anything. That's not my life today."

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