During my time covering Irvine and the Great Park project I attended the Society of Professional Journalists national convention in Chicago. While in Chicago I visited Millennium Park, the most recent large park project in the United States, to write about the park and how it relates to the future Great Park. This was also one of my first multimedia projects for the Register.
Writing about the Great Park planning and old El Toro base demolition allowed me to meet many interesting people. People like Don Croucher. At every Great Park meeting I’d find Don. He always wore a Hawaiian shirt, sat in the same seat and took notes. I introduced myself and inquired about his interest in the park. Turned out he was an ex-firefighter who loved the history of firefighting. All he wanted was to build a fire museum in the park someday.
The Great Park project is one of the most contentious matters in Orange County. Ten years of fighting over the land’s future turned into fighting over how the Great Park is designed and built. This story discusses many of the attacks made about the project highlighted by an Orange County Grand Jury report.
What will people do for love. Well, this man stole a picnic table. A daily check through the police blotter one morning revealed something strange: a stolen picnic table. And this was no small feat: the table had been unbolted and packed up. This is quite possibly my favorite story. I was given a chance to reveal a love story out of a simple line in the cop logs. Once you’ve read the story linked to check out this story revealing what happened to the table thief.
The Great Park project is full of pretty pictures, captivating designers and dynamic social ideas. But money is required to make the big idea come to fruition. This story exposes financial concerns about the project and explains the array of revenue sources for the project.