Bodhi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology

Bohdi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Bohdi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

There have been many studies about technology leading to feelings of isolation, insecurity, and loneliness. We asked Dawa Tarchin Phillips, resident teacher of the Santa Barbara Bodhi Path Buddhist Center, for insight on dealing with this digital conundrum. 

Why do these feelings emerge, and how do we overcome them? When we do use technology, oftentimes we are isolating ourselves. Making an effort to connect with others, particularly around meaningful endeavors, is one way one can combat that. Whether it is volunteering for an organization where we care about the cause, or joining groups with similar interests — anything that gets us away from the screen and gets us around something that we find valuable is one way where we not only combat isolation, but [also build a sense of confidence through] involvement in something meaningful. … That also helps us with general insecurity, and doing it with others is something that helps us deal with loneliness. 

What are some techniques we could use? Practices such as mindfulness and self-compassion, which are proven to improve what is called positive affect, the general positivity of one’s thoughts and emotions. They help with releasing hormones in the brain that actually make us feel good or make us feel better. 

How can we help children prepare? The more that we can explain to children and youth about how their brain works, how their nervous system works, and how their emotions are generated, the more children are able to pay attention to that and also to restore their own balance by just understanding themselves better. 

Should we fear technology? Technology is not going to go away, so we need to move out of this idea of perceiving technology just as a threat to our well-being and to be asking the question, How can we work with technology in a way that does not diminish the quality of our lives and actually helps us maintain or increase the quality of our lives? 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

AHA!’s Peace Builders Put Social-Emotional Education First

AHA From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

AHA’s Peace Builders From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Nonprofit Makes Social-Emotional Learning Engaging and Fun 

Today’s students live in a world where fear of violence and concerns about mental health, anxiety, stress, depression, and feelings of isolation are sadly an acknowledged part of their lives. But there are also several bright spots in this picture. 

For one thing, educators, parents, students, and employers increasingly recognize the value of social-emotional learning (SEL) as a way to combat these challenges. Here in town, the nonprofit AHA!’s Peace Builders program works in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria schools “to help build a learning and doing community for young people who want to use their SEL skills to play a leadership role in improving the climate of their school campuses,” explains Melissa Lowenstein, AHA! programs director and facilitator. 

Ryan Sportel, the dean of student engagement at Goleta Valley Junior High, is a fan. “What is unique about AHA! that nobody else has is that they have figured out how to present and teach and practice the skills associated with social and emotional learning in a way that’s really incredibly engaging and fun and also makes sense as a human being,” he said. “It’s very relatable, and it’s very natural and organic.” 

The curriculum trains participants to be great listeners, clear and courageous communicators, and allies who can confidently support others who are being bullied or who are otherwise struggling, explained Lowenstein. 

“We believe that students gain self-confidence on how to navigate through different points of views and being more accepting to all of the different people we are surrounded with in our community,” said Nathan Mendoza, dean of students at Santa Barbara High. 

Santa Barbara High teacher Mario Rodriguez praises the program’s diversity. “Some students are recognized strong leaders, active in the direction of the peace circles and whole group conversations,” he said. “Other students are timid yet finding positive role models to fortify their own role within the organization. Some students are very sure of their identities, confident in knowing who they are as adolescents within our school and community. Other students are in the process of finding themselves, feeling safe because they will not be judged in this setting but rather supported in their personal process. To be a part of AHA! is to be heard, celebrated, and uplifted.” 

Explained Sportel, “It’s at least as valuable as any other course of study that we provide to our children.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

2019 Best of Santa Barbara

SB Independent Best of

From the Santa Barbara Independent, October 17, 2019.

So, I had the honor of writing up the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa winners this year. It was a huge, fun project. People were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing (203 winners at last count) by clicking here, or on the PDF below.

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part1

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part2

Santa Barbara Independent Best Of Oct. 17 2019_Part3

Best of Independent Cover

Growth Experience

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Funk Zone Farm.

Urban agriculture is having a field day at Funk Zone Farm (Instagram: @funkzonefarm) in Santa Barbara, which opens its farm stand on the first and third Saturdays of each month in the Funk Zone.

“The response has been nothing short of heartwarming,” says Carter Hallman, who runs the farm with Sami Weiss. The couple share a background deeply rooted in food and wine and a “passion for quality grown food and how food affects our environment, health, and culture,” says Hallman.

Created on unused land surrounding the Funk Zone’s Green House Studios artists’ workspace, the farm—which produces a wide variety of veggies, fruits, and flowers—comprises 30 raised beds and a small greenhouse and involves 50 tons of soil and 30 tons of compost.

“We are hoping to influence and educate more people on what local really means on the Central Coast, how good farming affects flavors and nutrients in crops, and how good farming greatly affects our environment,” says Hallman.

“The biggest response is how joyful people look when they leave the farm. They share how we’ve inspired them to start their own backyard gardens [and] how they come back week after week to watch the crops grow, creating a connection and a newfound appreciation for what they’re eating.”  —Leslie Dinaberg

805 sept 2019 coverClick here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019

Puppy Love

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

September 2019 805 Living Magazine Story on Tombot.

Are robot puppies the next frontier in dementia treatment? Tombot, Inc. (tombot.com), working with experts from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, has created a realistic robot companion that may help improve the quality of life for a senior who can no longer care for a pet.

“Seniors in general and particularly seniors with dementia have been ignored by the tech world,” says Westlake Village–area resident Tom Stevens, founder and CEO of Tombot. Inspired in part by his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and subsequent need to give up her beloved dog, Stevens and his team have concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign and are now ruggedizing the design specs to ship their first robotic dogs in August 2020. The basic model bot costs $450. With the World Health Organization reporting nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year, the future looks bright for helping seniors with a new kind of puppy love. —Leslie Dinaberg

Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine, September 2019. 805 Living Pulse Sept 2019 805 sept 2019 cover

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in The Current (UCSB) on August 5, 2019.

Mind, Body, Soul

Mind, Body and Soul, published in 805 Living, July/August 2019.

Click here to read these stories as they appeared in 805 Living magazine, July/August 2019. 805 Living MBS Jul-Aug 2019

SB County Food Action Plan Meeting

Come to a free community listening and activation session on Wednesday, October 25 from 6-8 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library (40 E. Anapamu St.) where participants will explore the vision, progress and next steps planned for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan. This is a great opportunity to share what your neighborhood, business, or organization is doing, and connect with others engaged in making a secure food system for our county.

Come learn about the goals of the plan and hear about successes from the organizations and individuals actively pursuing these goals. Attendees, including individuals, businesses, schools, and organizations of all types, will also be encouraged to inform the process by sharing about their own regional work to create a more secure, sustainable food system. A networking session will provide time to seek out new partnerships and opportunities to support each other.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 24, 2017.

 

Cocktail Corner: 7th Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, courtesy photos.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years, but the 7th  Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival (SBFF) is coming up this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be even better than ever. For those of you who’ve never attended, SBFF is an annual gathering that showcases the history, benefits, and preparation of fermented foods while encouraging attendees to learn, engage, share, eat and drink!

Touted as “every bit as fun as it is healthy,” SBFF features four stages offering hands-on fermentation experiences, educational panels and presentations, tastings, live music and more. New this year are DIY Fermentation Stations, “so the whole family can make ferments and enjoy the endless activities on our festival schedule,” say festival Co-Founders Lynn Hartman and Katie Hershfelt. “Get there early and plan to stay all day.”

Exhibitors  include a number of food artisans, brewers and health experts including brewLAB, Biomic Sciences/RESTORE, Wild at Heart Ojai, Fermentality and others. Do-It-Yourself fermentation stations will offer lacto-fermentation recipes including cherry tomato bombs, sweet lipstick peppers, carrot coins and spiced squash pickles. Expert panelists will discuss the latest research around gut health, the microbiome and childhood development, among other critical topics. A complete list of panelists can be found here.

My personal favorite section, the Farm-to-Bar, will feature extended hours to sample locally made adult beverages from more than 40 purveyers, including:

  • 101 Cider House
  • Ascendant Spirits
  • Boochcraft
  • brewLAB
  • Captain Fatty’s Brewery
  • Cutler’s Artisan Spirits
  • Draughtsmen Aleworks
  • Farm to Bar
  • Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company
  • Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop
  • Leashless Brewing Company
  • Libertine Brewing Company
  • Martian Ranch & Vineyard
  • Smoke Mountain Brewery
  • Telegraph Brewing Company
  • Test Pilot
  • The Apiary Meadery and Ciderworks
  • The Good Lion
  • Third Window Brewing Company
  • Valley Brewers
  • Ventura Independent Beer Enthusiasts
  • Wylde Honey Wines
  • and more!

This year’s festival will be held on Sunday, September 10, at Rancho La Patera & Stow House (304 N. Los Carneros Rd.) in Goleta from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are available at www.sbfermentationfestival.com/tickets.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 8, 2017.

A Day Away: The Oaks at Ojai

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Healthy spa cuisine at the Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Looking for a bit of spring cleaning for the mind, body and soul? The Oaks at Ojai (122 E. Ojai Ave.) is a great place to refresh and recharge your spirit any time of the year. I had a girlfriend getaway for a few days last fall and was pleasantly surprised and charmed at every turn.

Spring is an even better time to visit The Oaks, as April in Ojai brings special celebrations to honor the Pixie Tangerine, a special orange orb grown only in that area. In prior years, The Oaks’s guests have devoured more than 7,000 sweet, seedless Pixies during Pixie month. Expect to find special deals on tangerine tints and scents everywhere this time of year.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is a great spot for a getaway with friends, courtesy photo.

The Oaks is first and foremost a health spa, offering an all-inclusive healthy fitness and weight loss program with up to 15 optional fitness classes every day; hikes; three surprisingly tasty calorie-conscious meals per day, plus snacks and beverages; an on-site health advisor; evening activities and wellness lectures; and complete use of all resort facilities.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Fitness classes are a key component of the packages at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

Other than spa treatments (which are included with some of the package deals), you won’t have to open your wallet for anything additional at The Oaks. Everything is included, which makes it a perfect time to try out new types of fitness classes. In just a couple of days, I was able to take classes in yoga, aqua cardio, Qigong, stretching, Zumba, aqua tone,Pilates and world grooves dance. Hiking, cardio/sculpting, balance, ballet/barre, dance Beliu and ball & band toning are also offered, along with other classes. There’s also a pool and a nicely outfitted weight room, for those who can’t get enough fitness!

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

A complete menu of spa treatments is available at The Oaks at Ojai, courtesy photo.

The pampering side of the spa experience is also well done, with a nice steam room and sauna available, as well as any spa treatment your heart desires. I had an excellent Skin Authority Signature Facial, as well as a pedicure that lasted several weeks beyond my spa experience.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

Fresh local ingredients are on the menu at The Oaks at Ojai, including Pixie Tangerines, which are only grown in the Ojai area. Courtesy photo.

The food was also surprising tasty. Quinoa was once a dirty word in our house, but after trying Chef Christine Denney’s clever incarnations, I’m hooked and have tried several ideas from her Recipes From the Heart cookbook. All in all, the 1,200- 1,500-calorie-per-day menu was balanced and tasty, inspired by an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein featuring wild fish and poultry, all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Sure, my friend and I brought in our own wine to reward ourselves at night after all of those exercise classes, but it wasn’t because we were actually hungry!

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

The Oaks at Ojai is located right on the main drag in Ojai, within walking distance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. Courtesy photo.

An active and inspiring presence at the resort is founder Sheila Cluff, an internationally known fitness expert who created cardiovascular dance in the 1950s, later known as “Aerobics,” and pioneered the concept of the modern destination spa in the 1970s. Now an 80-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Cluff still leads some of the brisk morning walks and hikes at The Oaks and absolutely embodies the lifestyle she teaches.

Cluff has said that she created the retreat to fit the needs of women over 40, and we certainly make up the bulk of the clientele these days. That’s not to say that all ages (and men) are not welcome. The Oaks at Ojai is truly a great place for a girlfriend getaway, but the spa’s approach is casual and welcoming to all, as well as affordable and fun. Plus the charming 1920s Spanish Mission Revival-style hotel fits right in with the artsy laid-back vibe of the town and is right on the main drag of Ojai, within walking distance to boutiques, restaurants, galleries and more. It’s an excellent place to regenerate or spring clean your mind, body, and spirit.  

Leslie Dinaberg

The Oaks at Ojai, 122 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, 800/753-OAKS (6257), oaksspa.com.

Originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.