THE INLAND EMPIRE’S BEST GHOST STORIES

My column about the haunted Inland Empire (check it out at sbsun.com/johnweeks) included a number of my favorite local ghost stories. Here’s an expanded anthology of tales, featuring several more that had to be cut for space in the newspaper.

SOBERING ENCOUNTERS: The Mission Inn in Riverside was built in 1903 by Frank Miller, a strict teetotaler who would not permit the selling or imbibing of liquor in his hotel. When he died, in 1935, his family wasted no time opening several bars throughout the establishment and adding spirited libations to the room-service menu. It is said that the indignant ghost of Miller still roams the place, especially in the vicinity of the hotel’s Glenwood Tavern. Guests also have reported a sensation of being pushed from behind by unseen forces while ascending or descending the hotel’s famous spiral staircase.

SPIRIT IN THE SKY: Giant Rock, north of Yucca Valley, was the scene of a reported 1953 encounter between an extraterrestrial named Solgonda and local resident George Van Tassel. The man said he was instructed by the alien visitor to build a contraption that would extend human life. The Integratron, housed in a dome-shaped building, is now a High Desert attraction famous for its purported geomagnetic energy and perfect acoustics. It is open for tours and “sound bath” sessions. Van Tassel died in 1978, while he was still working on the Integratron, but some say his spirit still can be felt there, especially during moments of deep meditation.

THE GIRL IN THE CHURCH: The old First Christian Church in Rialto, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was haunted for years, it is said, by the ghost of a young girl named Kristina. Her father, a prominent local physician named Dr. Merlin A. Hendrickson, bought the then-abandoned church in 1963 to save it from demolition. After Kristina died of leukemia in 1967, at the age of 11, the building was renamed the Kristina Dana Hendrickson Cultural Center in her honor, and her ashes and memorabilia were preserved there, as they are to this day. Her ghost was active there until 2004, when her father died, it is said. Though she may have departed, other ghosts have taken her place. The church contains a busy portal between the mortal and spirit worlds, it is believed. Read more in two books by Rialto historian John Anthony Adams, “The Little Girl in the Window” and the brand-new “Scammers, Schemers, and Dreamers: The Turbulent History of Early Rialto.”

STEAK, SEAFOOD AND SPIRITS: The Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga dates back to 1848, when it was a small inn and tavern on the old Santa Fe Trail. In 1862, pioneer Cucamonga land owner John Rains was murdered in the dining room there. His wife, Maria Merced Rains, and ranch manager, Ramon Carillo, were considered suspects, but the case was never solved. In 1864, Carillo himself was shot dead on the inn’s front steps. That case also remained a mystery. Today it is said that workers at the Sycamore Inn sometimes will hear strange noises or experience odd sensations, especially in the kitchen and dining room. Interesting footnote: Marilyn Monroe, the actress, is said to have dined at the Sycamore Inn the week before she died in 1962. Another actress, Elizabeth Short, the “Black Dahlia,” also dined there shortly before her death in 1947, according to local lore.

THE LITTLE BOY AND THE BALL: The ghost of a little boy haunts the schoolyard at Mariposa Elementary School in Redlands, according to local lore. He likes to play with a ball at night. You rarely see the boy, but you see the ball, rolling or bouncing along on its own.

THE WEEPING WOMAN: Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery, in southwest Colton, is San Bernardino County’s oldest graveyard. Local legend has it that the place is haunted by a ghost named La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, who searches endlessly for her lost children. Also, on the rural road outside the cemetery, nighttime motorists sometimes see, in the distance, an old man walking his dog. As the motorists draw closer, the man and dog vanish.

LIGHTS IN THE WOODS: Holcomb Valley, north of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, was settled in 1860 by gold miners from around the country. It soon became a bloody Civil War battleground, as prospectors with rival Union and Confederate sympathies started gunning for each other. Old graves and a still-standing Hangman’s Tree are spooky reminders of the past. Ghosts of old miners can be glimpsed at night, sometimes, carrying their lights through the woods, it is said.

THE PHANTOM OF THE PROM: San Bernardino High School is haunted, some say, by a ghost named Vicki Baxter, who returns every four years on the night of the senior prom. She was killed in a late-1920s car crash, on her way to the prom. It is said she also can seen on occasion near the corner of Highland and Waterman avenues, loitering, as if waiting for a ride. The corner is next to Mt. View Cemetery, where supposedly she is buried.

THE GHOSTLY GOURMET: The old Virgina Dare Winery in Rancho Cucamonga, now the site of a commercial and office plaza, used to be the scene of much ghostly activity, it is said, especially in the winery’s kitchen. Phantom sounds and aromas were common. According to local lore, a son of the winery’s founder hoped to start a restaurant on the premises, but died before realizing his dream.

A REAL GHOST TOWN: Calico Ghost Town, eight miles north of Barstow, is a popular and family-friendly tourist attraction, but it’s the site of a hell-raising silver mining town of the 1880s, and some say it’s a ghost town with real ghosts. The Old School House and Maggie’s Mine are places of special interest, ghost hunters say, as is Hank’s Hotel, which is so full of ghosts it has been closed permanently to the public.

THE WHITE LADY: The Glenn Wallichs Theatre at the University of Redlands is haunted, it is said, by a ghost named Marianne, also called the White Lady. She pulls dresses off costume racks, floats luminously above the stage curtain, and disturbs the stage lights. She is supposedly the spirit of a onetime drama student who died in a car crash on her way to a performance.

THE SCENT OF VIOLETS: Bracken Fern Manor, a picturesque bed-and-breakfast inn in Lake Arrowhead Villas, just off Hwy. 18 between the Lake Arrowhead turnoff and the community of Sky Forest, once was a brothel built by gangster Bugsy Siegel. It was connected by an underground passageway to Siegel’s casino and speakeasy, Club Arrowhead in the Pines, located across the street (now known as the Tudor House). Is is said that a prostitute named Violet, who died of a broken heart after a favored client was murdered at the establishment, still haunts the place. Her violet-scented perfume lingers faintly when she passes by.

Have favorite local ghost stories of your own? Email me at john.weeks@inlandnewspapers.com.

BAD DRIVERS TRAFFIC IN HUMAN MISERY

My most recent column, a rant against bad drivers (which you can find at sbsun.com/johnweeks), mentioned an expert on the topic, Tom Vanderbilt, who spoke recently at Cal State San Bernardino. He’s the bestselling author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)” (Vintage, 2008). Here are excerpts from a Q&A with Vanderbilt that appears on amazon.com:

Q: Is it true that the most common cause of stress on the highway is merging? Why of the myriad things to cause stress on the road is this at the top?

A: Merging is the most stressful single activity we face in everyday driving, according to a survey by the Texas Transportation Institute. People who have done studies at highway construction work zones have also told me of extraordinarily bad behavior, triggered by this simple act of trying to get two lanes of traffic into one. Sometimes, it’s simply the difficult mechanics of driving — trying to enter a stream of traffic flowing at a higher speed than you are, for example. But I also think there’s something about the forward flow of traffic that makes us register progress only by our own unimpeded movement; as in life, we seem to register losses more powerfully than gains, and registering these losses boosts stress.

Q: You say that, “For most of us who are not brain surgeons, driving is probably the most complex everyday thing we do in our lives.” How so?

A: Researchers have estimated there are anywhere from 1500 to 2500 discrete skills and activities we undertake while driving. Even the simplest thing — shifting gears — is a decision-making process consuming what is called “cognitive workload.” We’re operating heavy machinery at speeds beyond our long evolutionary history, absorbing (and discarding) huge amounts of information, and having to make snap decisions — often based on limited situational awareness, guesses about what others are going to do, or a hazy knowledge of the actual traffic law. When we forget that driving isn’t necessarily as easy as it seems to be, we get into trouble.

Q: Drivers polled in America say the roads are getting less civil with each passing year. ‘Road Rage’ is an ever more common term. What is to blame?

A: Every year, more people are driving more miles, so one reason for the sense that the roads are getting less civil is simply that there are many more chances for you to have an encounter with an aggressive or rude driver. It’s tough to put numbers on it, but I happen to feel, like many people, that behavior has gotten qualitatively worse — surveys have suggested, for example, that using the turn signal is an increasingly optional activity. Leaving aside the issue that not signaling is illegal (because, let’s face it, we’re never going to be able ticket everyone who doesn’t do it, nor do we probably want to), it’s one of those small things, requiring little effort from the driver, that makes traffic flow more smoothly — I myself have honked countless times at “idiots” slowing for no apparent reason, only to seem them eventually make a turn. It’s antisocial behavior, the equivalent of having the door held open for you and saying nothing in return. Traffic is filled with people who think that roads belong only to them — it’s “MySpace” — that being inside the car absolves them from any obligation to anyone else. People are glad to tell you that their child is a middle school honor student — as if anyone cared! — but they deem it less important to tell you what they’re going to do in traffic.

Q: So much of what you uncover about life on the road seems counterintuitive. Like the fact that drivers drive closer to oncoming cars when there is a center line divider then when there is not; that most accidents happen close to home in familiar, not foreign, surroundings; that dangerous roads can be safer; safer cars can be more dangerous; that suburbs are often riskier than the inner city; the roundabout safer than the intersection. When it comes to traffic why are things so different from how we instinctively perceive them?

A: I think part of the reason is it’s easy for us to confuse what feels dangerous or safe in the moment and what might be, in a larger sense, safe or dangerous. We have a windshield’s eye view of driving that sometimes blinds us to larger realities or skews our perception. Roundabouts feel dangerous because of all the work one has to do, like looking for an opening, jockeying for positioning. But it’s precisely because we have to do all that, and because of the way roundabouts are designed, that we have to slow down. By contrast, it feels quite “safe” to sail through a big intersection where the lights are telling you that you have the right to speed through. We can, in essence, put our brain on hold. But those same intersections contain so many more chances for what engineers call “conflict,” and at much higher speeds, than roundabouts. So when what seems quite safe suddenly turns quite dangerous — will we be as well prepared? Similarly, we might be reassured that that yellow or white dividing line on a road is telling us where we should be, but how does that knowledge then change our behavior, to the point where may actually be driving closer — and faster — to the stream of oncoming traffic? Accidents are more likely to occur closer to home. Mostly this is because we do most driving closer to home, but studies do show that we pay less attention to signs and signals on local roads, because we “know” them, yet this knowledge actually give us a false sense of security.

Q: What were some of the things that most surprised you in researching this book?

A: Things that surprised me the most were those that challenged my own long-held beliefs as a driver, like that roundabouts were dangerous places, that warning signs were there because they must be working, that car drivers were more of a contributing factor in truck-car crashes than truck drivers. It was also quite a revelation to learn about the many ways our eyes and our minds deceive us while driving, the ways we “look but don’t see,” the way we sometimes believe, to slightly change up the warning our mirrors gives us, that objects are further away than they actually are. Then there were the things I had never really thought about, but were surprising nonetheless — that drivers seem to pass closer to cyclists when those cyclists are wearing helmets, how the ways in which drivers honk at each other contain subtle indications of status and demographics, how much traffic on the streets is simply people looking for parking. I was also unpleasantly surprised to learn how far the U.S. had slipped in terms of traffic safety in the world, where it was once the leader.

Q: You write, “The truth is the road itself tells us far more than signs do.” So do traffic signs work?

A: The bulk of evidence is that people don’t change their behavior in the presence of such signs. Children playing? School zone? People speed through those warnings, faster than they even thought, if you query them later. To take another example, the majority of people killed at railroad crossings in the U.S. are killed at crossings where the gates are down. If this is insufficient warning that they should not cross the tracks then is a sign warning that a train might be coming really going to change behavior? At what point do people need to rely on their own judgment? We as humans seem to act on the message that traffic signs give us in complex ways — studies have shown, for example, that people drive faster around curved roads that are marked with signs telling them the road is curved. We tend to behave more cautiously in the face of uncertainty.

Q: What is “psychological traffic calming”?

A: Traditional “traffic calming” relies on putting big, visually obvious obstructions in the road, like speed bumps, or the wider, flatter speed humps. Unfortunately, since the bulk of drivers, like tantrum-throwing toddlers, really don’t like to be calmed, a lot of these don’t work as well as hoped, or produce negative, unintended consequences, like the fact that people will raise their speed between the bumps to make up for the time lost slowing to traverse the bump. So-called “psychological traffic calming” basically tries to calm traffic without drivers even realizing they’re being calmed. It does so through things like reducing the width of roads, using pavements of different colors or textures, even removing center-line dividers, which studies have shown is one way to get drivers to slow down. Even creating visual interest along the side of the road, a no-no in traditional traffic engineering because it’s a “distraction,” can be used to calm traffic — when something’s worth seeing, after all, people slow down. The most radical approach is removing any signage at all, and forcing drivers to rely on their own wits, as well as the dynamics of human interaction, as has been seen in some interesting experiments in the Netherlands.

Q: You cite 20 miles per hour as the speed at which eye contact becomes impossible. How central to understanding traffic, and human communication generally, is this statistic?

A: Eye contact is a fundamental human signal — all kinds of studies have shown, for example, how people are more likely to cooperate with one another when they can make eye contact. When we don’t have it, when we become anonymous, we not only lose some of that impulse towards cooperation, we seem to become susceptible to all kinds of behavior we might not otherwise engage in. In most driving situations, of course, we lose eye contact, and have to make do with our rather limited vocabulary of traffic signals. At much slower speeds, however, like those seen in the experimental roundabouts in the Netherlands were most signage has been stripped away, it is fascinating to see how intricately all the traffic can interweave — exactly because some of those human signals have been restored.

Q: You talk about numerous experiments going on around the world to study traffic, what are some of the ones that you found most interesting?

A: One of the most fascinating things that is happening, thanks to technology like TiVo style cameras and feedback sensors, is that researchers are becoming increasingly able to study how drivers really behave on the road, learning curious details about, for example, how much time drivers spend looking in certain places — forward at the road, in the rear-view mirrors, away from traffic, at the radio, etc. With companies like DriveCam, this information is actually being used to coach drivers — beginners but also experienced drivers — based on the crashes they narrowly avoided. The work of Hans Monderman, who unfortunately died in January, in the Netherlands was also utterly fascinating. Faced with a visually unappealing, traffic clogged intersection in the heart of the Dutch city of Drachten, Monderman turned it into a roundabout, with fountains and plantings but no traffic lights and virtually no signage — the result, more than a year later, is the traffic moves more efficiently through the town, and there have been fewer crashes. It was also quite memorable to be in Los Angeles’ “traffic bunker” on Oscar Night. They set up special traffic patterns so that the stars’ limos can all get to the red carpet at roughly the same time. It was striking to see how one person, sitting alone at a computer screen, can orchestrate the whole city’s flows, its competing patterns of desire.

Q: You have been all over the world studying traffic. So, where was it the worst and how does the city in which we live dictate our highway behavior?

A: It depends on how you define worst! I’ve been in nasty jams from Seoul to San Francisco. The places that felt the most chaotic were cities like Hanoi, which currently has the highest level of motorbikes per capita in the world, and where, in many parts of the city, the only way one can cross the street is by simply wading into the flow. New Delhi was also quite unnerving, not just for the hustle and bustle of so many modes of transportation on the road at once, but the chronic disobedience of traffic rules. In Beijing, where “driver” not that long ago was only the title of a job, driving was hectic but I found it quite difficult as well to be a pedestrian — drivers were always plunging into the crosswalks when I had the “walk” man, I was always having to climb bridges or submerge into tunnels to cross streets, and the city’s “super-blocks” are sort of oppressive — I walk quickly but it took me nearly an hour to walk around the block on which my hotel was located.

Q: You seem to feel pretty strongly about what constitutes an “accident” on the road. While drugs and alcohol are called out as criminal, cell phone use, texting and general disregard for traffic laws are not. Do you think we are heading toward stricter laws on this front? Should we?

A: Since the car was invented, drivers have been reluctant to give up what they see as their “rights,” even as these supposed rights keep changing. This is why, for example, cars are sold without “speed governors,” a device that would greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the illegal — let’s call it what it is — act of speeding, and certainly reduce fatalities and injuries. It took years for people to accept that drinking and then getting behind the wheel was not a good idea, and obviously many still do think it’s acceptable. As the science emerges that cell phone conversations, not simply dialing, can seriously impair a driver’s attention and reaction times, the very reasons we criminalize drunken driving, I’m not sure what the distinction is that should be made if a driver kills a pedestrian while drunk versus while on their cell phone, or for that matter who kills a pedestrian because they were driving 25 miles over the speed limit. Does one get years in jail and the other a slap on the wrist? Don’t they both show an equal disregard for the law? People are leery of imposing stricter laws on negligent driving because it’s always been viewed as a “folk crime,” like fudging your taxes, sort of widespread and not as serious as others. People are reluctant to criminalize what they see as “normal” behavior. But how did it become normal behavior?

Q: What is “a forgiving road”?

A: This is a school of thought that says, drivers are only human, they’re going to make mistakes, so let’s build things so that if they do make a mistake, they won’t be seriously injured or killed. Sounds good in theory, and in some places, it’s good practice. If you’re cruising along the highway at 75 mph and your tire blows out, wouldn’t you want a guardrail to prevent you from crashing into a tree? The problem is: Where do you draw the line? The early traffic engineers thought the forgiving road was such a good idea they argued it should be extended to every road in the country. Even residential streets, they argued, shouldn’t be lined with trees, and instead should have massive “clear zones” for people to skid off into without killing themselves. The problem, apart from the fact that forgiving roads don’t really make for nice residential or city environments, is that the forgiving road principles, can, in effect, give permission to drivers to drive more recklessly, which is not good for other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists — and often not good for them. Just as the only safe car is the one that never leaves the garage, the only truly safe road is the one that’s never driven. Trying to make roads “too safe” for drivers leads to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Q: You write about the cars and technologies of the future and as you put it, “It is probably no accident that whenever one hears of a “smart” technology, it refers to something that has been taken out of human control.” Are we headed towards the driverless automobile?

A: We’re definitely already in the era of “driver-assist” automobiles, with blind-spot warnings and adaptive cruise control and the like. As people who study automation have noted, these “semiautomated” processes come with very particular challenges — drivers may relax their vigilance, thinking everything is fine thanks to the car’s technology, but something might happen that actually confounds the car’s systems, and suddenly the driver is “out of the loop.” This kind of thing has been seen in airline crashes. That said, were it to be fully achievable, full automated driving would have all kinds of benefits, from smoother traffic flow to a reduction in crashes. But that’s a ways away — the legal issues, for one, are massive — but maybe by 2050, like in the film “Minority Report,” we’ll all have little autonomous pods connected to a grid…

Q: If you had to choose from the vast array of prescriptions, what would be some of the top things you would recommend to make our roads safer and our traffic less maddening?

A: 1. Pay attention to the task at hand. You are operating heavy machinery, not driving a big phone booth or a make-up mirror. Every glance away from the road, every phone call, every fumbling for your last McNugget, not only disrupts traffic flow, it boosts the risk for a crash, which is itself one of the leading causes of congestion. Even though we often read about how much money we’re losing because of traffic congestion, which people often site as reason to build more roads, it’s been estimated that crashes cost us more in economic terms than congestion itself.
2. Remember the ants. Army ants are among the world’s best commuters, for a single reason: They’re all cooperating. They move in unison, they help each other out, the individual doesn’t consider his own interests above that of the traffic stream. We all want to assert our individuality, or our sense of superiority on the road, but as everyone does that, it makes it worse for everyone else, and the whole system gets worse.
3. Keep in mind you’re not as good a driver as you think you are. On the road, we’re moving faster than our evolutionary history has prepared us. We cope pretty well regardless, but we’re still susceptible to all kinds of flaws and distortions in our sensory and decision-making equipment. Just because your eyes are on the road and your hands upon the wheel doesn’t mean you’re actually prepared to deal with an emergency.
4. We can’t build our way out of traffic, but we can think our way out. Building more roads when they’re already under-funded doesn’t seem workable, and given that most roads are only congested part of the time, it’s not really the most efficient solution anyway, for loads of reasons. As a former Disney engineer told me when I asked why they didn’t just build more rides instead of worrying about new ways to manage the long queues, “you don’t build a church for Easter Sunday.” But being able to clear a stalled car quickly because sensors detect the traffic flow has changed, knowing which routes are crowded in that moment, and possibly charging accordingly; or, perhaps, making traffic lights adapt to changing demand — or getting rid of traffic lights altogether — there’s countless innovative solutions out there that are more sophisticated, and more sustainable,than simply laying more asphalt, and that don’t necessarily involve not driving — though that of course is the ultimate traffic solution.

Q: Okay so the big question. We know you have learned a lot about traffic but what have you learned about we humans behind the wheels?

A: In a word, that we’re …human! We make mistakes, we misjudge our abilities, we’re not as aware of what’s happening in traffic as we think we are, we act differently in different situations, we get angry over things that matter little in the long run, we’re susceptible to distortions in our sense of time, we have trouble living beyond the moment, of seeing the big picture — oh, and also, that everyone has a different opinion on who the worst drivers are and where they live…”Los Angeles! L.A. drivers are the worst… No, Atlanta has terrible drivers… No way, Boston drivers are nuts…” Try this with your friends sometime.

THERE IS LESS JOY IN VALYERMO

I was saddened to report, in my most recent column (which you can find at sbsun.com/johnweeks), that even our local Benedictine monks, with God on their side, are struggling with the poor economy. They have canceled this year’s Valyermo Fall Festival at St. Andrew’s Abbey, located in Valyermo near Pearblossom, about 30 miles west of Victorville.

The festival is one of the Inland Empire’s great rites of autumn. For more than 50 years it has taken place like clockwork. This year, though, the clock has ground to a halt.

Here’s the full text of the brotherhood’s announcement, which includes their stated resolve to “re-imagine and renew” the festival and bring it back, better than ever, next year. For more information on St. Andrew’s Abbey, visit its Web site at saintandrewsabbey.com:

Fall Festival

Welcome to the online home of the Valyermo Fall Festival. Since 1957, we’ve hosted some of the finest arts & crafts events offered anywhere. This year however (2009), due to the economic crisis, the monks have decided to take a one-year hiatus.

Certainly, one of the things the monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey have been grateful for is the number of friends that have been so generous over the years in both time and financial aid. Among these friends, none have been more loyal or generous in the giving of their time and assistance than those who have worked, organized and helped at the annual Fall Festival. The entire community has firsthand experience of the generosity and hard work of so many oblates and friends of the Abbey; so great an outpouring of love and concern for the monastery and its monks. The friendships and sacrifices that our festival friends have made, the sense of family that has developed over the years, has nurtured all of us.

Having said this, a major factor has arisen these past few months that has caused the monastic community to do some serious rethinking about the festival: the grave economic situation. It takes a formidable outlay of cash to put on the festival every year: the tent rentals, the sanitation expenses, the security expenses are among the significant financial outlays. There’s a gamble involved every year, hoping that we will make enough to cover the expenses and still make a profit by trying to keep overhead down. This year we really don’t have the funds to take the gamble; prices are increasing and there’s no guarantee that we will be able to make even enough to cover expenses, let alone make any kind of profit given the grim economic picture.

After prayer, discussion and consulation the monastic chapter overwhelmingly decided that it is in our best interest to take a one year hiatus from the festival. The purpose of this, in these difficult financial times, is to re-vision, re-imagine, and re-new the festival and the original feeling and character of the artistic and spiritual that typified earlier, smaller festivals.

Be assured we will do our best to use the time to make the festival a true sign of joy and creativity in a world so desperately in need of both. Pray for St. Andrew’s during this time of re-thinking and renewal. And always be assured of our thanks, and above all, of our prayers for all of you.

The Monastic Community of St. Andrew’s Abbey

YES, THERE IS INTELLIGENT LIFE IN RIVERSIDE

Riverside has been named one of the 21 most intelligent communities in the world by a New York-based think tank called the Intelligent Community Forum. Read my column on the subject at http://sbsun.com/johnweeks.

Here’s what the think tank judges had to say about Riverside:

“Located 60 miles from both Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Riverside is a bedroom community and university town, home to four colleges and universities. It is also an agricultural community specializing in citrus and a warehousing and transportation hub. But none of these industries has provided Riverside with sustainable growth. Today, Riverside is fighting with increasing success to build a tech-based economy that seizes the opportunities of the broadband revolution. A Smart Riverside nonprofit chaired by the mayor focuses on technology initiatives, and a CEO Forum of local tech companies has produced a plan for tech-based transformation. Under a city manager hired in 2005, the community has partnered with its universities to develop tech parks, incubators, business accelerators and mentoring programs. Carriers have deployed fiber and wireless networks reaching 80% of the city. The city serves as the anchor tenant, but the network offers low-speed WiFi access free to residents as well as paid tiers. Any family that completes a training class can receive a free PC refurbished by reformed gang members, which has made Smart Riverside the largest collector of “e-waste” in the region. The city has added more than 4.5 million square feet of industrial, commercial and retail space in recent years.”

Only five other U.S. cities or counties made the list:

Arlington County, Virginia
Bristol, Virginia
Dakota County, Minnesota
Danville, Virginia
Dublin, Ohio.

Go, Virginia! Three spots on the list!

The rest of the list is comprised of non-U.S. communities. Here they are (for judges’ comments on all 21 communities, visit intelligentcommunity.org):

Ballarat, Australia
Besancon, France
Dundee, Scotland
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Gold Coast City, Australia
Moncton, Canada
Ottawa, Canada
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Suwon City, South Korea
Tallinn, Estonia
Taoyuan County, Taiwan
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tianjin Binhai New Area, China
Trikala, Greece
Windsor-Essex, Canada

Go Canada! Three spots on the list!