By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Around 8,000 people live in Brentwood. But according to the city’s website, our population swells to 22,000 during the day. Think about that for a second.
Does it mean that when we go off to work, scores of out-of-towners quietly arrive at our houses and hang out while we’re gone? That sounds crazy but I have to admit it would explain all my family’s dirty dishes.
Not to get sidetracked here, but it feels like I spend a good 20 percent of my life loading and unloading our dishwasher. Kitchen cleanup is a responsibility I happily adopted in exchange for my wife’s great cooking. But over the past year our aging dishwasher has turned it into a labor-intensive time suck. It doesn’t help that the model we own is so old that in order for your dishes to come out clean you have to pretty much put them in clean.
That requires a lot of pre-wash scraping and rinsing, which not everybody in my family has time for. Because apparently, despite being mere college students, my two sons must dash off on a daily basis to stop terrorists, cure cancer or perhaps advise the Pope — anything but rinse those bits of sauce off their plates. The sauce that, if left to harden, can be removed only with scalding water and a belt sander.
But of course Brentwood’s daily population surge is not caused by temporary squatters who leave dirty dishes (and, by the way, drink all the orange juice). It’s due to the fact that our tidy 1.96 square miles contains over 1,350 businesses. That figure, also from the city’s website, explains why our population almost triples in the daytime: thousands arrive to work and to shop.
That’s exciting to me, the owner of a newspaper, for two reasons.
Most obviously, it provides the Brentwood Spirit with businesses that might buy ads. More ad sales mean bigger and more frequent newspapers. Ultimately it could lead to my goal of diversifying to offer mail-order Spirit Steaks and Spirit Super Premium Vodka. It’ll be yuge.
Second, this newspaper helps project the town’s identity to our thousands of visitors every day. We put stacks in high-traffic areas like restaurants so visitors at lunch can disengage from the digital matrix for 15 minutes and get an idea of what and who Brentwood is — besides Carl’s and the moguled ski run known as Brentwood Boulevard.
When surveyed, our residents repeatedly express a desire for their community to have more of a shared sense of place. Part of gaining that is establishing central gathering places and events, as I talked about last month. But it’s also proclaiming who we are as a town, to build a stronger sense of identity.
Few things can do that as well as a newspaper. In our April print issue alone, visitors can see that Brentwood students start learning engineering in elementary school, a business owner here traded his future as an opera singer to open a photography studio, and a high school senior named Sophia has a decent shot at one day reaching the Olympics. There’s definitely a lot going on here and it’s full of interesting people. At least two of whom sometimes forget to rinse their dishes.