Arroyo Grande is anything but a metropolis, but former big city gal Jan Scott has easily called this small town home for almost 20 years.
“There’s a lot to be said for big cities,” said Scott, who is curator at the South County Historical Society. “But you can take all the best qualities you can think of, and they don’t equal feeling the sense of belonging that comes from living in a place (like Arroyo Grande) that nurtures you as much as you try to nurture it.”
Scott has lived in Chicago, Manhattan and Los Angeles but chose to move to Arroyo Grande in 1996 to experience a slower pace of life. While she quickly became a fan of the historic village, where the occasional rooster crosses the street, and the slower pace encouraged by the countryside’s rolling hills and rock outcroppings, she knew she wasn’t ready to take up residence on her couch. The former stage actress and producer and director of educational films was worried she wouldn’t find anything to do in her new town.
“I was terrified I would be bored,” she said. “But my new neighbors were politically involved, and I thought that might be something I could do to keep busy.”
She and her husband, Kirk Scott, soon became movers and shakers of the community. Kirk Scott, who died in 2013, served on several city committees and commissions and was president of the South County Historical Society for six years.
Jan Scott plays a pivotal role at the historical society as its curator of collections. She also has drawn on her stage background to launch a readers’ theater series dramatizing local history.
She’s also had a hand in local politics, supporting candidates and speaking up at council meetings on various issues.
Recently she has been busy spearheading a new volunteer organization that is working with the city to operate Arroyo Grande’s Elm Street Dog Park after a previous organization withdrew its management.
“When I moved here I discovered that anything can be accomplished in a small town,” Scott said. “I’ve never in my life had this feeling of community and ability to make friends and make a difference. I live surrounded by people who care about living here. They share their skills and time with others, for the good of all, creating a vibrant, dedicated community. It is a wonderful life.”