Date in Santa Barbara History: The Great Quake

On June 29th, 1925, Santa Barbara was rocked by an earthquake…

sbmissMinor temblors were recorded as early as 3:30 am on the 29th, and they continued for three hours. Then, at at 6:44 AM, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the city killing 13 people and destroying over 600 buildings.

The Wharf, Granada Theater and most homes survived in decent shape. However, much of the downtown region crumbled. Hotels collapsed, the Sheffield Dam cracked, and the Mission bell towers were wrecked, picture above. All in all, over $8 million of damage was done by the great quake of 1925.

PS: As noted in the History of the City, one of the catalysts for the architectural development of Santa Barbara was this earthquake which destroyed many commercial buildings in the business district, most of which were built of un-reinforced masonry.

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Saturdays with Seibert: Husband Day Care

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

This sign is in the window of the Snack Shack located next to the launch ramps in the SB Harbor. Right next to the white bakery truck with giant letters spelling, “HOT DOGS.” Gotta love this little part of town.
daycare

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EcoFacts: Biochar

By Barbara Hirsch
biocharIn the past several years, this stuff called biochar has been seen as a potential planet changing product, providing ways of simultaneously mitigating climate change, cleaning the air, generating energy and managing waste. It does sounds like a game changer, eh?

Biochar is an un-manufactured form of charcoal. It is created by very slow burning of biomass in a low oxygen environment – pyrolysis – creating a charred substance that contains about half the carbon that was in the original material. The other half is emitted in the burning process, and can be used as fuel. The story goes that if left to rot, or simply burned, the biomass would release its carbon into the atmosphere, but as biochar it sequesters a large part of its carbon, indefinitely. In fact it (terra preta) remains deep in the soil of ancient civilizations.

Some research has shown that when applied to fields, biochar boosts agricultural yields by increasing microbial activity, retaining nutrients and water. And the making of it, using agricultural waste or almost anything organic that is handy, also produces fuel as heat or syngas, to be used in place of fossil fuels. A devoted researcher describes 55 uses for the stuff here.

A microcosm of this system can be seen in a modern but simple cook stove, that could greatly improve the lives of three billion people who cook their food on open fires, often suffering health problems from the spewing smoke. With it they could use much less valuable fuel, breathe no smoke and sell the biochar they make while cooking!

Back in the U.S., Kingsford charcoal is owned by Clorox (few things are as black and white) and their charcoal production, although energy intensive, employs the heat from the charring as energy for a later part of the process. Of course the charcoal then goes on to emit its carbon, as the grills nourish and entertain us for the summer barbecue season

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Santa Barbara’s Painted Cave Fire: 24 Years Ago

Today marks the 24th anniversary of the Painted Cave Fire in Santa Barbara. On June 27, 1990, at 6:02 p.m. a fire started up in the mountains near a place called Painted Cave. A long drought had made the brush very dry, and a several day heat wave was further drying up the area. Just as the sun was setting, strong winds began blowing the fire down the mountain towards town.

The Painted Cave Fire as seen from the corner of Constance and De La Vina

Two hours later the fire had done the impossible. It had traveled five miles downhill cutting a swath between Goleta and Santa Barbara setting afire entire neighborhoods in it’s path. The fire jumped the combination of Santa Barbara’s six-lane freeway and the two side roads, Calle Real and Hollister and continued burning down stores, restaurants, businesses, apartment buildings, and more houses on the other side. All roads between Santa Barbara and Goleta were blocked by the fire, it was impossible to get from one side to the other.
Continue Reading →

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Mission Santa Inés

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th). 

Mission Santa Inés
sbmissionweek2Mission Santa Inés, often (mis)spelled Santa Ynez, was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís.  This mission is the ninetieth of twenty one California Missions and the third to honor a sainted woman.  It was chosen as a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purísima Concepción and named for Saint Agnes, also known as Saint Inés, of Rome, Italy (patron saint of girls), it was the first educational institution in California and today serves as a museum as well as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Mission Santa Inés expanded rapidly, the other eighteen Missions were at the height of prosperity and many trained neophytes (baptized Indians) from other missions helped found this gem situated in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley. With fertile lands Santa Inés became famous for its large herds of cattle and rich crops.  At one point the Mission boasted 13,000 animals.

Troubles started with the earthquake of 1812 that destroyed Mission Santa Inés and many of the other California Missions.  Rebuilding began in 1813 and the new church, constructed with 5-to-6-foot-thick walls and pine beams brought from nearby Figueroa Mountain, was dedicated on July 4, 1817.  Prosperity ensued until the Indian revolt of 1824.  When the fighting was over many of the Indians left to join other tribes in the mountains; only a few Indians remained at the Mission.

In 1834 the missions in California were secularized and most of their land given in land grants as ranchos.  In 1843, California’s Mexican governor Micheltorena granted nearly 35,000 acres of Santa Ynez Valley land, to the College of Our Lady of Refuge, the first seminary in California. Established at the Mission by Francisco García Diego y Moreno, first Bishop of California, the college was abandoned in 1881. By then the Mission buildings were disintegrating.

It was through the efforts of Father Alexander Buckler in 1904 that reconstruction of the Mission was undertaken.  After 20 years of extremely hard work, Father Buckler retired. The Catholic priests of the Order of Franciscan Minors (O.F.M.) were asked to come back to the Mission but declined. Instead, priests from the Capuchin Franciscan Order of the Irish Province took over control of the Mission and continued the process of restoration.  The Capuchin Franciscans redesigned the Mission’s inner garden, you can still see the hedge in the shape of a Celtic cross planted today.

Major restoration was completed in 1947 when the Hearst Foundation donated money to pay for the project. The restoration continues to this day and the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers still take excellent care of this beautiful Mission.

We hope you enjoyed this journey of the Central California Missions with us. We’ve certainly been inspired to visit each of these beautiful Missions and will enjoy them with an added appreciation for the sacrifices of the native Indians of the area and the indomitable fortitude of the early settlers.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources.  If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them. 

3D rose arbor at Mission Santa Inés, by Bill Heller.

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Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara™

After being called out on Santa Barbara View for a number of years, the High Tide Smoke Shop at 336 Anacapa St., is finally getting a face lift! The downtown structure was so dilapidated that tarps, some graffiti-laden, had to be placed over the building.

Pictoral history below the jump…  Continue Reading →

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Mission La Purísima Concepción (The Immaculate Conception)

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission La Purísima Concepción (The Immaculate Conception)
sbmissionweek2On December 8, 1787, the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Father Fermín Lasuén founded La Misión de La Concepción de la Santísima Virgen María, (The Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary). This was the eleventh of the twenty-one Franciscan Missions of California. Actual construction began in 1788 and was completed in 1791, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. The Mission was then moved to a new site and new buildings were erected 1815-1818. For many years the Mission enjoyed a period of marked prosperity, however many misfortunes befell the Mission and from 1834-1843 the buildings of La Purísima Concepción were abandoned, the lands were granted to Ranchos and by 1934 the Mission was in ruins and only nine of the original 100 or so buildings remained intact.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 as part of the New Deal, pledged to restore the mission if enough land could be provided to convert it into a historic landmark. The Catholic Church and the Union Oil Company donated sufficient land for the CCC to proceed with the restoration. The nine buildings as well as many small structures and the original water system were fully restored and the mission was dedicated on December 7, 1941. Today, La Purísima Concepción is the only example in California of a complete mission complex.

Photo by Bill Heller

Photo by Bill Heller

The mission is now part of the La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, part of the California State Parks system, and along with Mission San Francisco de Solano is one of only two of the Spanish Missions in California that is no longer under the control of the Catholic Church.

The Mission is reportedly haunted by the Indians and Spaniards who died there and was featured on the paranormal reality TV show Ghost Adventures. http://www.travelchannel.com/video/spirit-soldiers-at-la-purisima-mission-12249

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

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Mailing Money

Column by Loretta Redd

With a story that begins in 1792, I’m not sure I’ll get to all the details in one brief article.  But if you don’t mind speed dating through the history of our Postal Service, we’ll at least hit the high points.

It was President George Washington who first recognized the importance of postal delivery;  he understood that mail enabled anyone access to information, especially in rural areas.   Our forward thinking President made the Post Office a Cabinet level department, naming Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General.

Roughly fifty years later, Congress granted the Post Office a monopoly for delivery.  By 1860, parcel post service was instituted and mailboxes were installed, for which Hallmark card recipients should be eternally grateful.

What I didn’t know, and few of us recall, is that the Postal Service also operated as a banking system.  Following the financial panic and bank closures of the 1900′s, the Postal Service began allowing citizens to open small savings accounts, as well as make check withdrawals.

By the end of WW II, the Post Office had over $4 million in accounts, and more than $3 billion in deposits.  These financial services, mostly used by low to moderate income Americans, were offered through the postal system from 1911 until 1967.

And they could be again.

bankMassachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, has proposed the reinstitution of the post office bank, “If the Postal Service offered basic banking services–nothing fancy, just basic bill paying, check cashing and small-dollar loans– then it could provide affordable financial services for underserved families, and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing.”

Our mail delivery system has weathered some difficult challenges over its history, including Congress which seems to have systematically ravaged any efficacy and efficiency from today’s USPS.  The inscription on the New York post office building may read:  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from swift completion of their appointed rounds,” but it didn’t take Congressional greed into account.

The post office came close to collapsing under its own success in the mid 1960′s, given the volume and demands of mail service.  Unfortunately, the Postal Department was not allowed to make investments or to borrow money for infrastructure.

With the 1971 Postal Reorganization Act, Congress abolished the United States Postal Department and created an independent agency, called the United States Postal Service.  The “new” USPS was to be based more on a corporate model:

” The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people…”

Unfortunately, Congress did not see fit to reestablish the banking portion, but did leave the post office open to stiff competition from private industry in other areas, like package delivery, copying services and ‘payday’ check cashing .

An article in the Nation cites a discussion paper by the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs,  “The essential characteristic distinguishing postal financial services from the private banking sector is the obligation and capacity of the postal system to serve the entire spectrum of the national population, unlike conventional private banks, which allocate their institutional resources to service the sectors of the population they deem most profitable.”

The United States was not the only country to offer banking services through the postal system.  Other nations such as China, Japan and Germany still do, most with very lucrative assets.

Most of today’s challenges to the fiscal soundness of the United States Postal Service are due to Congressional meddling and “oversight.”  In 2001 the General Accounting Office discovered a piggy bank…the USPS had overfunded its pension obligation by more than $80 billion.

In a sane world, the USPS would be allowed to use this overage to pay down debt, invest in technology and expand services,” writes an investigator in the Huffington Post.  But since the Post Office is part of the Federal  budget  the capacity to use the overfunded money for investment would in effect, raise the deficit, so it was held for other services.

Elaine Kamarck of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government summed the post office conundrum up this way, “Congress wants it to be self-sufficient, but doesn’t want it to make money.”

What could have been a boon for the USPS in the age of e-commerce, Congress would not allow discounts for parcel shipping.  Lobbyists for alternative delivery and mail services, such as FedEx or Mailboxes, Etc, have continually used financial influence to decimate proprietary postal services.

It would seem, then, that Congress strongly favors competition with the private sector…well, until it comes to the banking industry and their well-heeled lobbyists.  Restoring the Post Office bank would compete with banks, and take away from the very profitable “payday” check cashing companies.

“Yes,” you say, “but their customers are high risk, irresponsible low-life, so they have to charge more.”  A Pew Charitable  Foundation study found that separated or divorced women, ages 25-44 with incomes under $40,000 were the least able to secure normal forms of credit or to qualify for standard banking services.

So, single women are largest users, or ‘victims’ of these services that have a finance charge of $14.99 to cash a $100 check, which is an APR of 390.8%.  That’s a lot of dollars with President Washington’s face printed on them.

Senator Warren’s legislation will not only return stability to the USPS, it will pressure the predatory practices of these check cashing companies, give ‘big banks’ some competition, and be a pathway to pride and fiscal responsibility for millions of Americans.

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Mission Santa Barbara

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission Santa Barbara

sbmissionweek2Mission Santa Barbara was founded on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, by Father Fermín Lasuén, who had taken over the presidency of the California mission chain upon the death of Father-Presidente Junípero Serra. It was rededicated December 16, when the new Governor of California, Pedro Fages, could attend. Mission Santa Barbara is the tenth of twenty one California Missions and is known as the “Queen of the Missions.” It is the namesake of the city of Santa Barbara.

Mission Santa Barbara is the only California Mission to remain under the leadership of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M) since its founding. Today its parish is a church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Mission itself is owned by the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara, the local parish rents the church from the Franciscans.

Santa Barbara was the third mission established in the land of the Chumash people, this one near the native site of Xana’yan, a Chumash village that existed in Mission Canyon. The neophytes (baptized Indians) were referred to as Barbareños (after the mission).

Bill Heller Photography

Bill Heller Photography

Early missionaries built three different churches during the first few years, each larger than its predecessor. The earthquake of 1812 destroyed the third adobe church of 1794. The present church, built in stone, was started in 1815 and dedicated in September 1820, it had only one tower. In 1831 a second tower was added, it fell in 1832 and was rebuilt in 1834. In 1925 another earthquake damaged the Mission and in 1950, cracks began to appear in the façade as some of the materials used in the 1925 repairs weakened the church and it had to be rebuilt again with steel-reinforced concrete. The stone facing retains the contours, dimension and appearance of the original.

The Neoclassic facade was inspired by a mission archives copy of the Spanish edition of The Six Books of Architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman architect of 1st century B.C. The work is one of the most important sources of modern knowledge of Roman building methods as well as the planning and design of structures, both large (aqueducts, buildings, baths, harbours) and small (machines, measuring devices, instruments).

The appearance of the inside of the church has not been altered significantly since 1820. The original Moorish fountain built in 1808 is still intact near the entrance to the Mission.

The Mission church is filled with original and noteworthy paintings and statues, including a unique abalone-encrusted Chumash altar dated to the 1790s. The two largest religious paintings in all of the missions are at Santa Barbara. One painting, 168″ high by 103″ wide, depicts the “Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin.” It is thought to have originated in the Mexico City studio of Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera (1695-1768) and was acquired by the mission in 1798. “The Crucifixion” (168″ by 126″) is not attributed to a specific artist. Mission Santa Barbara has the oldest unbroken tradition of choral singing among the California Missions and of any California institution. The Mission archives also contain one of the richest collections of colonial Franciscan music manuscripts known today.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

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On the Docket: Dealing with the Drought

Today, the Santa Barbara City Council will pickup the discussion about drought. In May, the Council declared a Stage Two Drought in response to a continued water shortage forecasted for next year and the need for the community to reduce water usage by 20%. The City Council requested that staff keep them informed and here is the monthly report:

“The Water Supply Outlook remains unchanged from the May 20, 2014 Stage Two declaration. The earliest our region generally receives significant rain is late October, and staff continues to work on securing additional supplemental water, accelerating drought related capital projects, and sustaining a strong message for extraordinary conservation.

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

Santa Barbara View photo: Cachuma Lake, April 2014

The City has secured supplemental water to meet the projected shortages for next year, provided that the community can achieve the 20% reduction in water usage, and our wells are able to be operated as planned. Staff continues to work with the Central Coast Water Authority to identify additional opportunities for supplemental water, should it be necessary.

Staff is moving forward with the design and construction of capital projects to assist with water supply during the drought. This includes the acceleration of groundwater well replacements, including the use of poor quality groundwater wells in place of potable water for irrigation, and preliminary design work to restart the City’s Desalination Facility, should it become necessary.

Staff has increased the Water Conservation Outreach Program through an enhanced drought media campaign, including:  Continue Reading →

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Mission San Buenaventura

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission San Buenaventura
sbmissionweek2Mission San Buenaventura was founded by Father Junípero Serra on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, it would be the last of the California Missions that Fr. Serra founded and one of six he personally dedicated. The Mission was intended to be the third Mission, after San Diego and Monterey, and was to be named for Saint Bonaventure “in order that he defend it.” St. Bonaventure, known as Bishop and Doctor of the Church, is regarded for his leadership of the Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M) as well as his great intellectual contributions to theology and philosophy.

It’s not known what caused the twelve year delay, but it’s been said that troubles at other missions required many guards and military escorts could not be spared. At last, in 1782 a large group of settlers including eight soldiers and their families, arrived at the location of the new Mission; a Chumash Indian town of about 500 inhabitants.

They quickly set about building a chapel, a dwelling and a stockade. Local Indians gladly helped with this work and were paid in beads and other trifles. That said, they were slow to give up their freedom for confinement behind the Mission walls.

Mission_San_BuenaventuraThe first Mission church burned down within 10 years and a new larger one of stone was started in 1792, although half finished in 1795, it was not completed and dedicated until 1809. The violent earthquake of 1812 severely damaged the Mission and it was feared that the Mission itself would be swept into the sea. The Mission survived and was reconstructed in 1816, it was fully restored in 1957 to approximately its original form.

Today, the church functions as a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

This week, Santa Barbara View will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th).

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
sbmissionweek2Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was founded by Father Junípero Serra on September 1, 1772. It was the fifth mission to be established in California and was named in honor of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, France.

The site for the mission was located between two creeks providing ample water sources and was near Llano de los Osos, “Valley of the Bears” (now simply Los Osos), so named by Don Gaspar de Portolá as he traveled through the San Luis Obispo area in 1769 when he encountered an abundance of bears. This is significant because in 1772, 3 years after the first mission was founded, supplies dwindled at the then four missions and people faced starvation. Remembering the Valley of the Bears, a hunting expedition was sent to bring back food in the summer of 1772. Over 25 mule loads of dried bear meat and seed was sent to relieve the missionaries, soldiers, and neophytes (baptized Natives). It was after this that Fr. Serra decided that the area would be an ideal place for the fifth mission.

The Mission was attacked by hostile Indians on three occasions prior to 1774, thatched roofs were set ablaze. As a result of the fires and to protect the mission from further damage from flaming arrows, the padres developed curved roof tiles, recalling the tiles of their native Spain, to protect the structures. These are said to be the first such titles made in California. The titles were copied in all other missions as new ones were built.

SLO MissionThe present building was built 1793-1794. The belfry and the front of the church were added about 1818, when the mission bells arrived from Lima, Peru. The bells were recast in 1878. The mission was restored in 1933-1934. Interior restoration was done is 1947. It has the distinction of being built with a combination of belfry and vestibule, found nowhere else among the California missions. It is also the only “L” shaped Mission church.

At different eras the Mission was under the authority of various powers. From 1835-1845 the Mission was under the rule of Mexico. In 1845 the Mission was sold and its title was given to buyers for $510. Then in 1859 the Mission was returned by the United States Government to Bishop Alemany, the Catholic Bishop of Monterey and the parish has remained a Catholic church of the Diocese of Monterey serving the area ever since.

Note: Content was gathered from many online sources. If you see any discrepancies, they are unintentional and we will be happy to correct them.

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Missions of California

Last year, Santa Barbara View presented a series on the History of the City of Santa Barbara, ten major historical periods, according to the general plan – use the top-right bar to search History of the City. Over the next five days, we will take you on a journey of discovery as we share the history of the five Missions that grace our local community; Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (5th), Mission San Buenaventura (9th), Mission Santa Barbara (10th), Mission La Pursima Concepción (11th) and Mission Santa Inés (19th). They are all just a one day horseback journey away. Go visit them all!
sbmissionweek2
Missions of California Overview
The Spanish missions in California are comprised of twenty one settlements established by Catholic priests of the Order of Franciscan Minors (O.F.M.) between 1769 and 1823. They were part of the first major effort by Europeans, notably Spain, to colonize the Pacific Coast region of California, the most northern and western of Spain’s North American claims.

In 1769, the Portolá expedition, led by Don Gaspar de Portolá and accompanied by a group of Franciscans including Junípero Serra, a member of the Order of Franciscan Minors, was the first land-based exploration by Europeans of California. The expedition established the overland route from San Diego to San Francisco which became known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road). The route was essential to the settlement of coastal California by the Spanish Empire and made it possible for the Franciscan friars to establish the Spanish Missions. The first mission was founded on July 16, 1969 at San Diego, the second a year later, and 650 miles away, at Monterey.

The settlers introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses, ranching and technology into the region; however, the Spanish colonization also brought with it serious negative consequences to the Native American populations with whom the missionaries and other Spaniards came in contact.

Today, the surviving mission buildings are the state’s oldest structures and the most-visited historic monuments.

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Dream Foundation & The Flower Empower Program

Ali Azarvan volunteered for 25 local non profits in May and shares his chronicles:

Dream Foundation
During my May Days marathon I’ve been exposed to some amazing nonprofits – and I’ve been asked by many people “if you could work at anyone of them, which one would you pick?”. I’d have to say that my answer would probably be Dream Foundation. You’ll understand why very soon.

Before May, I didn’t know much about Dream Foundation. All I knew was that my dear friend, Diana Wilson, was at one time on their board of directors. Diana has been my main consultant / therapist / witch doctor throughout the development of Just a Little Push. Diana is one of the coolest and most intelligent women I know – oh yeah, and she was the president of Deckers and just so happened to take them public. So, yeah, she’s kind of a superhero and I’m lucky to be able to pick her (huge) brain!

Anyways, since Dream had a special place in Diana’s heart, I had to check them out. I called them and was immediately put in touch with Kaitlyn Turner their Manager of Volunteer Services. Kaitlyn seriously could not have been more excited about my project and asked me to stop by and take a tour of their offices and brainstorm with her. If I have one random skill I can be proud of, it’s that I’m pretty damn good at getting a good read on someone as soon as I meet them – and I immediately liked Kaitlyn. Note- she is now my buddy – another new friend I have gained from my May Days campaign!

I stopped by their offices and Kaitlyn literally introduced me to everyone in the office – and I thought that was so awesome. I can honestly say that they have assembled one of the kindest teams I’ve ever been exposed to. This tour was perfect as it truly gave me an idea of what Dream actually does.

What do they do? They literally make dreams come true for adults facing life-threatening illnesses (Sort of a Make-A-Wish for adults). Just think about that for a second. Picture this as your job – a woman who is dying of breast, spine, liver, and lung cancer comes to you. She is a poet and writes on yellow notepads. Her only wish before she dies is to have her poetry published. This is your job – make her dream come true. This sounds like such an awesome and exciting job to me. By the way, this is an actual dream that this amazing charity fulfilled – check the story out here.

Needless to say, I became a believer immediately and couldn’t have been more excited about my day with Dream. Kaitlyn thought the best way to spend my time would be to team up with her and Valerie Banks, an awesome big-hearted lady who heads up their brilliant Flower Empower program. Flower Empower is a volunteer-driven program that delivers hope and compassion – in the form of beautiful bouquets – to those in need.

I got to the farmer’s market in Santa Barbara at 8am to meet the Flower Empower team and make bouquets. I have to admit – I have a black thumb. I should not be allowed to be around plants of any sort. Lucky for me, Val and the team of volunteers helped turn my absolutely terrible bouquets into borderline-attractive bouquets by the end of the day. It honestly couldn’t have been more fun and the crew was great to work with. I’m a marketer – so I really appreciated what they had going on there. We were at the entrance of the farmer’s market – there is a ton of foot traffic. Everyone naturally stops by to ask “hey, what are all these beautiful bouquets for?” (note – not once did someone point to my bouquets and ask this question). It was such a great way to “spread the word” about the amazing things Flower Empower and Dream Foundation are doing.

dreamF

We then loaded up the customized van for a day of delivering flowers. We delivered these gorgeous bouquets around town to senior living homes and hospice care facilities. A few things in particular stood out to me:

  1. Flowers literally bring smiles to every single person who receives them
  2. Val and Kaitlyn have a special ability to connect with those who are literally on their deathbeds – I found myself struggling for words and feeling awkward.
  3. I was lucky enough to deliver flowers to an amazing man and wife who were literally celebrating their 28th anniversary that day! He was a referral from Hospice and looked like he was having a great day
  4. Flower Empower is such a needed program – and I can understand why it’s been around for so long

We ended the day delivering flowers to a former dream recipient, Arthur. Arthur used to sing opera professionally throughout Europe. He is now 93 years old and suffers from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases). His dream was to attend the Opera Falstaff at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. So, guess what? Dream Foundation made it happen. Not only did they send him to the Opera with his caretakers. They also send him to Bouchon (an amazing local restaurant) as well. To top off the night, he got to hang with the performers at a nearby bar (Arlington Tavern) until almost midnight!

To be totally honest – Arthur was having a rough day. He was on oxygen and couldn’t get out of bed. It was difficult for me. I felt a connection to him after hearing his story and it was tough for me to see him in that condition. With that said, he was visibly happy to receive the flowers and was even more happy to receive an amazing album of pictures that a few high school volunteers put together documenting his dream. The staff and volunteers navigate these difficult situations beautifully. It’s truly amazing to witness.

To learn more about this awesome charity, please visit their website . . . to donate and help make more dreams come true, visit here.

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Athena the Barn Owl

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Athena the Barn Owl
This week I made it over to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Although I was especially looking forward to the Butterflies Alive exhibit, on the way to the pavillion we bumped into this beautiful creature. (You may have noticed, she’s not a butterfly!) This is Athena, a barn owl who was rescued after being hit by a car left her with limited eyesight. With limited depth perception she has trouble landing on perches and would not be able to catch food in the wild. Athena and her friends (a group of seven raptors, including Max a great horned owl and several falcons) were adopted by the Santa Barbara Audubon Society when it was determined for various reasons they could not be released back to the wild. You can learn more about them at their website. And you can meet them at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History most afternoons (check their online calendar for times).

Oh and, we did eventually make it to the Butterflies Alive exhibit, and they were absolutely amazing too!

-Bill Heller

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