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Earth Day, A Santa Barbara Story

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Earth Day was conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson following a trip he took to the Central Coast where he witnessed the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The Senator was so outraged by what he saw that he went back to Washington and helped pass a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth. An estimated one in 10 Americans took part in the first Earth Day, observed across the country on April 22, 1970. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”


Happy 233rd Birthday Santa Barbara!

Today marks the 233rd anniversary of the Founding of El Real Presidio and the City of Santa Barbara by his Majesty King Carlos III of Spain.

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara was the birthplace of Santa Barbara and home to the original founding ceremony, held on April 21, 1782.

There will be a two-day celebration this weekend which will include three events: Candlelight Dinner in the Historic Presidio Chapel, Founding Day Festival, and Rancho Roundup.  The candlelight dinner in the Historic Presidio Chapel has never been done before and will be a once-in-a-lifetime evening… for more information, CLICK HERE.


Newsman Makes News: Rob Kuznia, Former Santa Barbara Journalist wins Pulitzer Prize

By Cheri Rae

EzpbtQQlCongratulations to reporter Rob Kuznia, who won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, along with his colleagues, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci at the Torrance Daily Breeze. It is the first Pulitzer ever for the newspaper, for a series of investigative reports about excessive financial rewards for the former superintendent at the Centinela Valley Union High School District.

After Kuznia was one of the many reporters fired in the News-Press “meltdown,” he covered school district issues here in Santa Barbara for the online publication Noozhawk. His notable series of articles there shined a light on problems in the district’s special education department, and led to the hiring of an outside agency to investigate and analyze ways to improve services.

I had the pleasure of working with Kuznia briefly at a local magazine, where both of us landed—along with a few other disenfranchised reporters—during those difficult days of local journalistic upheaval. He was soft-spoken, conscientious, thorough, and most of all, fair in his approach to his subjects.

We often used our lunchtimes to walk around the neighborhood near the office, always talking about writing, research and responsibilities to the reader. How wonderful it is to learn this news about a genuinely nice person and fine journalist who suffered personally and professionally at the hand of amateurs in the publishing business. His rise to the top of his profession is proof of the old phrase, “you can’t keep a good man down.”

Congratulations, Rob Kuznia, for this great honor based on your good work.


From Ruin to Reclamation and Reuse: an Eastside Story

By Sharon Byrne

Carol Ashley is a quiet, busy resident genius in the Eastside’s industrial zone. Nestled in among the construction trades just west of Milpas, she runs Demo2Design, a humming hive of harvesting construction materials, building casitas out of them, and educating college kids on how you turn old doors into display kiosks and more. Carol started with the intention of diverting construction materials from the landfill. So she’d turn up at every remodel job site, armed with a screw gun, and busily deconstruct whatever was being remodeled. Then she’d haul it back to her shop on Union Ave, between Quarantina and Nopal, and look to resell it to homeowners looking for authentic fixtures, designers and architects. Need a Tiffany lamp shade? Some vintage stained glass windows? Doors and hinges for your Craftsman home?  A Victorian lamp post? Go see Carol. Her door inventory alone is like a walk through the history of architecture and building trends in this town.
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Over the years, she’s developed a keen eye for what can be reused from remodels and demolitions in other building and design projects. There are some real jewels and surprises in her inventory. She’s got the arched doors and arch from the Van Halen estate and a front door from a historic landmark home. Over here is the sink from the very first home in Hope Ranch. Upstairs are vintage Victorian lamp fixtures. In a drawer are the glass globes that used to adorn the old Stateside bar in La Arcada. They were throwing them into the dumpster. Carol got them, and used them to architect a gorgeous lights display for a wedding. And so on. This woman knows materials, and what they could be used for in future.

Her birthday is Earth Day, April 22nd, of course.

Over time, her genius evolved from demolition, harvest and reuse into creative repurposing, and here is where she shines. Her creations can make you stop, scratch your head, and exclaim, ‘huh. Would have never thought of that.’

reclaimA 1960’s aqua toilet serves as a planter for a bright and colorful flowerbed. She created a portable show kiosk that can be assembled / dissembled in minutes using old doors, shutters, and other materials. She crafted garden benches out of furniture bits and old wrought iron. She’s got a casita in her driveway constructed totally out of harvest materials. It’s got a bit of a modern and funky architecture to it. She teaches people to build these using reclaimed materials, and the dimensions she uses render them outside of the city’s planning scrutiny. She made flowerbed planters out of Montecito gutters. She put some 1930’s picket fences together with a couple of sinks from an old school, and voila! Yard art. She created a giant rolling podium / work table out of old bed frames and doors. She can see the quality material in something old, deconstruct it, and revision it into something new, creative and useful.

There’s a genius to that, a particular, rare genius, and Carol’s got it.

Marborg refers customers to Demo 2 Design for questions about reuse.  Construction trades call her for demolition work before they start a remodel. And City College Construction Academy students turn up for work sessions to learn how to harvest, reuse, and revision materials in hands-on projects at Demo2Design. She also takes on UCSB interns to help with marketing and organizing the constant flow of materials. She puts on workshops for homeowners for $10 to come learn how to take old materials and do creative things with them in their homes.

She’s been a treasure in this area, dominated by construction trades. She’s moving to a new spot soon, and won’t say more than ‘come buy a piece of history, and find out where we’re going to be.’ I hope she stays in the Eastside, as she’s one of the hidden jewels in this bustling area.


EcoFacts: Juicy Flesh, Butter on Our Toast‏

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

No one wants their meat bony and dry, at least the animals themselves and those who eat them don’t. The point being, in the words of a favorite eco writer –  “It takes a lot of water to grow and feed a large mammal, and yet more water to cut it up into small pieces and clean up the mess.” Besides beef and pork, the raising and processing of our poultry and of our dairy cattle for our milk, butter and cheese are also water intensive. Growing alfalfa here uses more water than cash crop almonds, and most of it goes to dairy cows.

ecocattleHow much water? California, behind only Texas, uses between 100 and 250 million gallons of water PER DAY of freshwater withdrawals for livestock production – 47% of all water used in California. In short, most of all of the water used in agriculture in the state is for meat and dairy.  A pound of beef took at least 1600 gallons of water, some estimates run much higher. A half pound burger required the equivalent of tens of showers (at 2-4 gallons per minute).

21% of the country’s milk comes from California and dairy farmers are struggling in this drought. Estimates do vary but some say it takes 109 gallons of water to produce one stick of butter, 683 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. (Soy or coconut milk wins in the milk category, using the least.)

Clearly vegetarians and vegans win with their water footprints.

Thanks to reader Susan for inspiring this research!


Saturdays with Seibert, Part II

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

Friday morning I saw an article on the Independent website, “Coast Guard Clashes with Yachters.”

The story begins… “Last week, during the Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s Wet Wednesday sailing race, harbor officials began fielding complaints from multiple boaters that Coast Guard crews guarding a nearby cruise ship were aggressively ordering them away from the ship and leveling their rifles and .50 caliber machine guns at race participants.”

Wow, if it is true they very well could have threaten city councilman Randy Rowse, a regular in the Wet Wednesday series. The Coast Guard apologized for the incident but it seem beyond bizarre to me. A couple years ago I paddled a two person outrigger canoe to the 100 foot safety zone. It’s difficult to see how my friend Michelle and I could be a threat.

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Saturdays with Seibert

Local views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

The Santa Barbara City Council had an item on this week’s agenda regarding aggressive panhandling on State Street.  It seems like whatever measures are taken, the homeless just move to different places.  At 8 a.m. this week I passed a large, older RV stopped on Santa Barbara street at Padre.  No more RV parking on Cabrillo, they just show up somewhere else.

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In the Headlines: Part II

Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne

Congrats to the Dons Net Café!
They’re in the Big Apple! This group of budding entrepreneurs at Santa Barbara High School starts and runs their own businesses as a way of spurring young people into becoming future entrepreneurs. Instructor Lee Ann Knodel puts them through the paces of business planning, start-up, and execution. The Dons Net Café currently has 14 student-run entrepreneurial businesses, and they are presently on a serious bi-coastal hot streak. Underclassmen won 2nd place out of hundreds of schools at a UCLA competition last week. The Seniors took their yearly trip to New York City, paid for by their businesses! We’ve been tracking them on Facebook as they went on a private tour of CNN, the Ground Zero Museum, Wall Street, Intrepid, and an International Business Trade Fair. Way to go Dons! You can follow the Dons Net Cafe on FaceBack, Instagram, and Twitter. Give them a ‘like’ and send them a note of congratulations!

beer_pairKudos to Telegraph Brewery for making USA Today’s list of the top 25 beers you need to try before you die.
Their Reserve Wheat was declared “the best wheat beer you’ll ever drink” by the magazine. Their tasting room makes a great happy hour spot in this area, open till 9 PM Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 PM Friday and Saturday. They also do rotating art displays to keep it fresh. We’re delighted to have you guys here on the Eastside!