Con: Is the Orinda Bubble Good for Students?

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Elizabeth Chenok, Managing Editor

Orinda, CA. A small suburb located east of San Francisco and home to 17,643 people. It may seem like a suburban paradise, but unfortunately many of its residents get stuck in the tragic “Orinda Bubble.” Within this bubble, Orindians tend to get sucked into petty local dramas, and remain ignorant of the realities of the outside world.

The people living in Orinda often have been here since a young age; some haven’t moved since they were born. Because of this, the Orinda community grows with one another and stays put. There isn’t much diversity or change within this town and there are groups that never seem to change or leave.

Think about people who have moved to Orinda… they come to adopt the norms of this insular community. People dress and look very similar. They do similar things on the weekends. This cycle needs to stop.

Not everyone is stuck in this bubble – it is possible to live here and be open to outside experiences and cultures. Those who have friends from other towns, cities, states, and even countries are fortunate to have outside sources to influence them. However, for many, their life revolves around the school and activities here.

Diversity is essential. It is evident that some Orindians fear change – for example the low-income housing has created quite the buzz among the community. Some residents have expressed discomfort with the idea of new people entering town.

But why? The rich and diverse culture of the greater Bay Area is not seen in our town, and we are sheltered from it.

We are protected from the harsh realities right in our backyard. According to the East Oakland Project, almost 50 percent of the homeless in Alameda County reside in Oakland, which is a mere 10 minute drive from Orinda. Poverty surrounds us, yet our area is untouched. It’s a statistic, something unseen, which is not realistic in terms of our area hollistically.

Orinda is fortunate that it is so safe. That is one of the most wonderful things about it, having the safe community where parents needn’t worry about their children getting hurt or falling into gang violence. This aspect of the sheltered life is a positive one. However, kids in Orinda walk the line between safe and overly sheltered.

Before a student leaves Orinda, they need to experience something outside of the bubble. This can be achieved by having friends from other communities, traveling, or volunteering in underprivileged communities. In the real world, there are going to be people from all walks of life, and it is important to be able to connect with these people. Living in a place where everyone is fairly homogeneous paints a picture of the world that is warped.

Trapped in this bubble, if one does not ever leave, meet people outside, or discover passions that aren’t within this small town, one’s life has the potential to not be as fullfilling as it could be.