Overarching Principals

From 805 Living Magazine's Pulse section, winter 2021.

From 805 Living Magazine’s Pulse section, winter 2021.

The global pandemic may have made it difficult to hang out with neighbors, but Spotify has made it easy to plug in and connect.

The new Archewell Audio podcast series (sptfy.com/5nto) from Montecito residents Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, launched in December with a holiday gathering of inspiring guests from around the world.

Joining the royals to reflect on the challenges of the past year and offer hopeful toasts to 2021 were former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, University of Houston research professor and best-selling author Brené Brown, self-help guru Deepak Chopra, CBS’s The Late Late Show host James
Corden, music icon Elton John, three-time tennis Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, and entertainment mogul Tyler Perry, among others. The series continues this year.

Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

The pandemic has been stressful for all of us, but the abrupt shift to online learning —coupled with social isolation, political unrest, and the loss of just about everything that makes college fun— has been particularly difficult for students.

Last spring, Smaranda Lawrie, a graduate student in UCSB’s Department of Psychological
& Brain Sciences, saw how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her students’ lives. “My students were really struggling,” she said. “I was teaching a lab course online, and there were a lot of hard conversations with them. There were tears and lots of emotions, so I started incorporating positive psychology practices into the class.”

Using techniques designed to “help individuals be stronger versions of themselves,” Lawrie observed such positive results with her students that they were thirsty for more.

Working with undergrads, particularly Samantha Blodgett, “We thought, ‘Let’s just start a series of talks and see what happens,’” said Lawrie. The speakers they approached were enthusiastic, and students even more so. “We were hoping for 20 students, and we ended up cutting it off at close to 1,000 because we didn’t know how to manage everyone.”

Now, four sessions into the UCSB Resilience Summit and Certificate Program, “I’ve just been surprised about these discussions that students are having during the actual lectures,” said Lawrie, who taught the first course, called Positive Psychology and the
Science of Thriving, before opening up to other lecturers on such topics as mindful
attention training, conditioning for resilience, and overcoming imposter syndrome.

“They are very vulnerable and very open, and it seems like they are really relating to the material and appreciating the information and appreciating the speakers,” added Lawrie, who is trying to make the summit live on. “It’s the pilot year, so we’ll see how it goes. I would love to get this info to as many people as possible.”

Upcoming seminars will discuss finding your inner hero, monitoring mental wellness in students, finding silver linings in negative events, supporting “at-promise” students, post-traumatic growth, and more. See ucsbresilience.wixsite.com/resiliencesummit.

Santa Barbara Independent Cover, Self-Care, January 7, 2021.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on January 7, 2021. To see this story as it appeared in print, please click here.

Coding Meets Community at Providence School

Coding Meets Community at Providence School, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Coding Meets Community at Providence School, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Students Create App to Connect Kids with Nonprofits

Challenged by their teachers in their coding class to create some sort of an app, Providence Engineering Academy junior Sydney Whited and sophomore Ruby Kilpper created the Santa Barbara Volunteer Opportunities (SBVO) app, matching service-minded students to volunteer-seeking nonprofits.

Coding wasn’t either one of the girls’ favorite aspects of engineering prior to the project. But Kilpper explained, “I like to tackle each problem on its own and each assignment on its own, so I kept an open mind, and I really ended up enjoying it.”

Inspired in part by Whited’s experience with the National Charity League’s sign-up program for volunteering, the pair designed the SBVO to improve on that concept with an easier interface and a bit more emphasis on the types of work (homeless services, elderly, special
needs, children, animals, etc.) that might interest students. The idea is to find a service opportunity with the best fit for you.

“Especially in the beginning of the app, I was definitely the brainstormer,” said Whited. “But Ruby was the go-getter the whole time,” she said, recalling the various challenges they went through to create the project. “Having a one-step signup was something we thought would really increase the amount of student volunteers in Santa Barbara.”

The girls were recognized for their creative efforts by Representative Salud Carbajal, who presented them with the Congressional App Challenge award on January 6, 2020, and invited them to a reception at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. “My office and I looked at all the entries,” Carbajal told them. “It was a very competitive pool, but your app rose to the top very quickly. It was innovative, practical, and user friendly. Concept-wise it is very strong, but the way you approached it was very well executed.”

The students were excited to go to D.C. to participate in the annual #HouseOfCode on March 24, but that was canceled due to the pandemic. Additionally, work on the app, which is still in the development and testing stage, was derailed a bit when school went online last spring. But with Providence students back in class as of mid-October, Whited
and Kilpper are hoping to continue to fine-tune SBVO and eventually make it available for the whole community to use.

providencesb.org

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Irises—and Intellect—Bloom When the Garden Is a Classroom

Using the garden as a classroom is certainly a welcome adaptation during the days of COVID. But this type of outdoor education has been a key curriculum component at Santa Ynez Valley Charter School since its founding in 2000, said Executive Director John Dewey.

Last year, the public charter school added a new iris garden to the mix, planting more than
120 unique irises. Each student in grades 3-8 chose and planted their own individual breed of the flower, complete with fun (and legit!) names like Rainbow Shadow, Milk in My Coffee, and Ice Sculpture. Tending these flowery plants and their showy flowers, students
learn about planting, cultivating, harvesting, and composting, and teachers are able to incorporate lessons about the natural world, plant biology, ecology, and the environmental impact of humans on the planet.

The Iris Garden is the newest feature in an almost three-acre garden on the property, which is cared for exclusively by students and parents. In order to plant the irises, the team
reclaimed a hillside and the 5th graders did the work to terrace it, using railroad ties and “other bits and bobs,” said Dewey. “We have also logged the names of each plant, who planted it, as well as a photo of their blooms.”

As students start to return to school, the new 3rd graders will plant their irises, and so will all the staff members — they might even “dig down” to 2nd graders.

“It’s pretty exciting for the kids,” said Dewey. “They have ownership of it, and they get so excited when their iris blooms.”

Also in the works for this school year are a series of grade-level gardens, which the students take care of and choose the themes for. The first gardens had a native plant theme and a butterfly garden focus, with flowering plants that attract insects
and butterflies.

Santa Ynez Valley Charter School also recently became an Ocean Guardian School, a program sponsored by NOAA for schools to do projects that foster the protection of watersheds and the ocean. They are using the funds to separate food waste from trash and turn it into compost for the gardens.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

An Update on the College’s Signature Project

The SBCC Promise — which provides regional high school graduates the opportunity to attend Santa Barbara City College full-time, free of charge, for up to two years — started its fifth year this fall, with 5,000 students projected to have benefited by the end of the year.

SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green gave us an update.

Have there been any changes to how the SBCC Promise works? We’ve been adjusting the offerings of the Promise based on feedback, so for us it’s a real-time experiment. One of the things we’re trying to figure out is how many students complete two or three years of the Promise but still have to stay one or two or three more semesters to be ready to transfer.

We’ve also gotten requests from a few students saying, “I’m ready to go, but I can’t afford to pay for all of these transfer applications.” So we just added that if they go to a counselor and say, “I need help with this,” we’ll pay for their transfer apps. We’ll do that for students who were Promise students in, say, 2016-17 and are just now completing what they need for transfer.

You also changed the program so students who have a unit load accommodation, and take fewer classes because of a disability, can stay in SBCC Promise for longer. Yes, as we learn about different things, we’ve been doing that kind of stuff as we’ve also tried to measure and monitor.

Does SBCC Promise pay the college the same amount it would get if the students were paying individually? Yes, and in fact this was one of the unanticipated benefits that [former SBCC president] Jack Friedlander told me about the first semester we did this, before he retired. He said, “Do you realize you actually generated a half million dollars last semester for the college? All of those students, who based on previous data would not have been full-time, they went full-time so they could take advantage of the Promise. Because of those additional units they paid for, that equaled half a million dollars of revenue for the college.”

How are you doing right now in terms of funding? It’s tough. We have now sustained it for 4.5 years. [Initially,] we raised about $3.5 million within six months. So we raised enough money to get all the way through year one and two and part of year three very early and then it sloughed off. Basically, we were excited, we put all our energy into the program, and now we have to circle back and kick up our fundraising. So you can expect after the pandemic moment starts to shift back to whatever our new normal is, you’ll see a big public campaign around funding the Promise.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

O’Connor Family and AHA! Engage Students on a Hope Ranch Annex Property

Organic farming utilizes the interconnectedness of nature, but an even more bountiful example of community connectedness has sprung to life on the Littlest Little Farm.

Tucked away in the Hope Ranch Annex neighborhood, this dynamic collaboration brings together teens from AHA! to work alongside two facilitators/farming educators to create, maintain, and grow a biodynamic farm. And it all takes place at the home of Laurel and Matt O’Connor, who host the farm in what is literally their backyard, working alongside the team to turn a little less than half an acre of “hard pan dirt” into an impressive urban farm.

Along with revitalizing the land, the Littlest Little Farm has also sparked something special in the teens. “At the beginning of the program, I’ll admit I was reluctant to join because I’m normally not someone who enjoys the outdoors,” said Owen Hubbell, a senior at San Marcos High. “But the amazing facilitators and environment allowed me to enjoy the outdoors more than I ever have before. I was able to learn about the value of nature and the value of taking care of it. Not only that, but I also learned the science of farming, which was very eye-opening to me, because I was never aware of the amount of work that goes
into farming. The feeling of watching something grow and develop, and to do it with a community of people I trust, is a gift I will never forget.”

The Littlest Little Farm, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, was indeed inspired by the documentary The Biggest Little Farm. Both Laurel (a clinical therapist) and her friend Jennifer Freed (the cofounder of AHA!’s nonprofit social-emotional education
program) were fans of the film.

“I was having my dream of wanting a farm, and she was trying to figure out how to bring a farming program to the teens,” said Laurel. “It happened really fast. Jennifer is a visionary; she’s amazing. That was in the summer a year ago, and (with support from the Manitou Foundation and other generous donors) we had kids with boots on the ground in early
November.”

Under the guidance of two AHA! alums — Julian Castillo, a clinical therapist, and Stevie
O’Connor, a facilitator (and Laurel and Matt’s daughter) — teens learn about soil nutrition, composting, row planting, amending soil, irrigation installation, worm composting, and noninvasive and chemical-free pest and weed management at the same they’re building social and emotional skills and self-awareness.

“I work with a lot of adolescent boys, and it’s definitely way better to meet outdoors and explore something than just sit there,” said Castillo. “The bigger picture that I like to tell them is that this is a little part of changing the world. The soil can actually sequester carbon. A lot of them have taken home not only plants and produce, but they’re starting
their own little home gardens. So we really think it’s a lot bigger deal, and I think they’re getting that it’s a much bigger thing than just putting stuff in the ground.”

“It’s exciting to see teens get excited about their impact on the planet,” said Stevie. “Also, we’ve harvested a ton in the last couple of months, so the teens are able to take some home and then we donate the extra produce to the Unity Shoppe. It’s great to be able to give that fresh produce back, because we want this to be appreciated.”

“Once we get more volume going, then we can expand to give to other nonprofits,” said Laurel. “So many people are always like, ‘Thank you so much for this,’ and I always feel like I’m the one who should be saying, ‘Thank you.’ I feel so lucky. It’s just a win-win situation. And especially given this time. Things are hard, and this is just such a positive
experience out here every time. It’s just a feel-good place for all of us. And we all come together in a safe way and get in touch with ourselves, with each other, with the soil, just all of it. It’s really amazing.”

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

Laguna Blanca’s New Center for Science and Innovation

Schools of Thought introduction, originally published in the November 19, 2020 issue of Santa Barbara Independent.

Schools of Thought introduction, originally published in the November 19, 2020 issue of Santa Barbara Independent.

Hope Ranch Campus Provides Proper Home for Project-Based Learning

Sometimes it’s all in the timing. Take Laguna Blanca’s new Center for Science and Innovation, the school’s first major facility addition in at least 20 years.

“We decided to go forward with construction on March 11 of this year, and two days later we were closing school because of the pandemic,” said Head of School Rob Hereford.

Plans for the 5,500 square feet of modern, dedicated space have been in the works since 2014, a drought year where the first big rains damaged the chemistry lab. They did a short-term fix, but Hereford knew it was past time to do some real improvements.

“When I give tours to people who were here back in the ’50s and ’60s, and they say, ‘Oh, it looks just like when I was here as a student,’” said Hereford. “That is comforting on one level, but a little disturbing if you’re trying to teach chemistry in the 21st century.”

Working with the school’s buildings and grounds committee, KBZ Architects, and the science department, the team settled on renovating two older existing locker rooms that had morphed into what Hereford called “the campus junk drawer, where anything we didn’t know what to do with we would just throw it into that space.” But the size was right, and there was already plumbing, which would be needed for lab space. One of the “odd advantages” of having closed the campus for so many months is that the project — which
includes biology and chemistry labs, a STEM Research and Innovation Lab, outdoor research areas, a physics lab, and a teacher innovation lab, which gives teachers from different grades and disciplines a space for collaboration — is now on schedule to open sometime in January 2021.

“We had an outstanding science program, and we were doing it in spite of our mediocre facilities,” said Hereford. “This allows us to have really up-to-date facilities that we can grow into. There is space for teachers to be able to do more and expand the programs in ways that are really going to be terrific. When I think of what we’ve been able to pull off in these substandard facilities, it’s exciting to think about what our teachers will be able to do in these brand-new spaces.”

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

Streaming Culture

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention these days, and performing arts organizations are pivoting in creative ways to bring entertainment directly to home audiences.

“Music is the common denominator that brings humans together, no matter the time or the place in history,” says New West Symphony (newwestsymphony.org/2020-
21-virtual-season) CEO Natalia Staneva.

With that in mind, Staneva and the symphony’s artistic and music director, Michael Christie, have developed Global Sounds, eight mini music concerts and festivals inspired by cultures from around the world and presented virtually through June 2021.

“We discovered that our community contains a variety of cultures with vibrant musical traditions that have inspired and influenced classical music composers for generations,” says Christie. “And thus was born the concept of turning each concert experience into a mini cultural festival.”

Along with the orchestra performing symphonic works, each concert week will feature in-depth interviews with cultural experts and solo and ensemble performances of orchestra members and guest artists. Visit the website for tickets and more details.

UCSB Arts & Lectures (artsandlectures.ucsb.edu) brings cultural events home with House Calls, an interactive, online series of concerts, conversations, and question-and-answer sessions with musicians like Danish String Quartet and Rhiannon Giddens and authors such as Anne Lamott and Cheryl Strayed.

“House Calls is one way that Arts & Lectures is serving our community during a time when people are craving connection,” says Celesta M. Billeci, UCSB Arts & Lectures Miller McCune executive director, “to each other as well as to the major issues our nation and our world is facing right now.” For more information about individual events or to purchase tickets, visit the website or call 805-893-3535.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Flavor of the Month: Caramel

Photo © DARINA KOPCOK/STOCKSY UNITED

Photo © DARINA KOPCOK/STOCKSY UNITED

Celebrate National Caramel Month with these luscious, autumn-inspired interpretations of one of fall’s favorite flavors.

What: Handmade from her Great Grandma Edith’s 1930s era recipes, Anne Marquart’s made-to-order caramels, including the buttery, apple cider and cinnamon–spiked bites, available only for a limited time

Where: Online from Paso Robles’ Sugar + Spoon (sugarandspooncaramels.com) and at retail locations in the Paso Robles area

When: Through October

What: Caramel-flavored beers, such as Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Company Unfiltered DBA with notes of toffee, caramel, and toasted oak; Carpinteria’s IIsland Brewing Company Avocado Honey Ale with hints of caramel and honey; and Westlake Village’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. Finney’s Irish Red Ale with layers of rich caramel malt flavor

Where: Finney’s Crafthouse (finneyscrafthouse.com) locations in Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo

When: Year-round

What: Jessica Foster’s dark chocolate bonbons filled with tangerine caramel or sea salt caramel and pepitas

Where: Online from Jessica Foster Confections (jessicafosterconfections.com) and at multiple retail locations on the Central Coast

When: Through Thanksgiving

What: The Sea salt Zookie, caramel-pretzel ice cream, Nutella, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and cookie crumbles atop a fresh-baked, fish-shaped pastry

Where: Coastal Cone (coastalcone.com) in Ventura Harbor Village

When: Year-round

What: Caramel Apple Popcorn, a colorful combo of caramel popcorn and green-apple-candy flavored popcorn

Where: Popped Fresh (poppedfresh.com) in Agoura Hills

When: Year-round

What: Hot Caramel Sticky Buns, fresh-baked fluffy cinnamon rolls, topped with a rich caramel glaze

Where: Sticky Fingers Baking Company (stickyfingersbakingcompany.com), Ventura

When: Every other Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. until they run out; year-round

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Porch Swings Over to Summerland

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and the works of local artists at Porch on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and
the works of local artists at Porch
on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

“The building itself is an object of art. I feel like it was meant for us,” says Diana Dolan, owner of Porch (porchsb.com), about her shop’s new digs on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. The relocation to the larger space is her dream come true for the unique home and garden store that she has operated in Carpinteria for the past 12 years.

Featuring furnishings, kitchen goods, textiles, bedding, jewelry, candles, coffee-table books, succulents, and works by local artists, such as Pedro de la Cruz, Will Pierce, Lety Garcia, Colette Cosentino, and Michael Haber, the business is known for its thoughtfully curated space and inviting indoor/outdoor vibe, and Dolan says the new location will embrace that same spirit.

“Our soul remains true to our essence,” she says. “We’re going to continue to offer beautiful home and garden furnishings inspired by nature.”

Porch and other recent newcomers to Summerland—Sweet Wheel Produce, Field+Fort, and The Well—join businesses like The Sacred Space, Botanik, Garde, and Summerland Oriental Rugs in what is fast becoming an exciting design destination. “I think shoppers are looking for a real connection to something heartfelt and soulful,” says Dolan.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.