Mission Viejo Shoots Itself

By: Drew Hartanov

No one knows and loves your hometown like you do. No one, that is, except other people in your hometown. That's why the city of Mission Viejo has been giving out cameras to residents for months and asking them to capture the best of what their town has to offer. Though they probably could have hired professional photographers or slick ad agencies to create this kind of documentation, the creative public photo-shoot is a resonant way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this planned SoCal community.

The project, called My MV, is asking residents to send in photos that capture the city for them. With the tag line "give us your best shot", they're looking for pictures that represent what Mission Viejo means to the people who live there and love it. It's a great way to incorporate a diversity of perspectives into a single vision and should emerge into an interesting collective self-portrait. Once all the submissions are in, 350 final photos will be collected and displayed together in the "world's longest outdoor gallery" where residents can wander by and admire the reflections of themselves and the beautiful place they live in from March 22 to April 6 2008. The gallery will run from the Mission Viejo City Hall all the way to the Norman P. Murray community center, 1.2 miles away.

Twenty years in the making, Mission Viejo has a level of maturity that's worth taking pictures of. Once dismissed as un-usable land, this mainly suburban community is one of the most desirable places to live in the O.C. Clustered around lake Mission Viejo at the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains, this is also one of America's oldest and largest planned communities. The streets in MV neighborhoods snake through the contours of the expansive Saddleback Valley and the houses are built in the hills.

But forget about tract housing, My MV is a tribute to the fact that planned communities are communities first and foremost. While anyone can paint a picture of a valley filled with Spanish Mission houses, red tile roofs and palm trees in the yard, capturing what's truly special and loved requires a special kind of mirror.

Other happenings during the MV birthday week include parades, live music, games, special events with Mission Viejo celebrities, a time capsule sealing, free pizza and general good times.

America Properties
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