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Thematic Learning Initiative - Blog
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Picture At the beginning of Spring quarter A&L made available 200 free copies of Ashton
Applewhite's book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism to interested readers.
Books were available at UCSB and at the Santa Barbara Central Library.

Thematic Learning Initiative activities were as follows: a Friday morning invitation-only
working group session with Ashton titled, A Sense of Purpose, that involved 20 people
from local organizations that work directly and indirectly with older populations. The
meeting was held at the Santa Barbara Foundation board room. Participants spanned
the spectrum of ages and experiences: from a young nursing practitioner specializing in
acute geriatrics to highly active seniors working and volunteering in the community,
including the moderator Joe Wheatley. A few days before the session, participants
received recommended readings, links to Ashton's work and on the topic of aging, and
conversation talking points.

Representatives from the following government and non-profit organizations
participated in the discussion: a Santa Barbara City Councilperson, Independent Living
Resource Center, Center for Successful Aging, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's Office, SB
County Adult & Aging Network, Friendship Center, Hospice SB, Unity Shoppe,
Community Action Commission, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, Ventura County
Community Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation Caregiver Initiative, Easy Lift
Transportation and several others.

The engaging discussion between Ashton and the attendees touched on ageism issues
they experienced personally and in their professional lives. In addition, Ashton provided
useful replacement words for discriminatory language. One grateful participant wrote:
Thank YOU! It was such a pleasure and privilege to attend with my colleagues Ashton's
words of wisdom. It's very beneficial when we stop and ask ourselves "Why do what we
do and Say what we say, when it comes to aging those with "many years" under their
belt. Very Much Appreciated!

In the afternoon A&L TLI and the Santa Barbara Public Library produced Aging While
Female. This event for adult learners found an appreciative, standing room-only,
audience focused on the double impact of both ageism and sexism. Ashton's illustrated
lecture transitioned into an authentic and vibrant audience exchange touching on many
cultural and historical facets of thinking and behaving. The event attracted a high number of registrants as well as walk-ups which resulted in a fully packed Faulkner
Gallery with live-stream overflow in a library room, amounting to over 200 attendees.

The following day on Saturday, May 19, radio host and personality, Catherine Remak,
moderated a Town Hall entitled Aging: The Lifelong Process that Unites Us All at UCSB's
Campbell Hall. Ashton's TLI-themed Creating A Meaningful Life presentation dismantled
standard "isms" and championed living a life to its potential at any age while recognizing
and pushing against fighting against ageism. Audience members experiences and
comments were woven into the exchange between Remak and Applewhite. A book
signing allowed individuals to personally validate and express themselves directly with
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Picture Photo credit: David Bazemore Prior to Nicholas Kristof's visit -- on April 18 -- TLI presented a free screening of the film
A Path Appears: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty (Episode 2) at the Faulkner Gallery at the
Santa Barbara Central Library. Also, A&L made available for free 400 copies of the Spring
2018 Thematic Learning Initiative Book Selection -- Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl
WuDunn's book A Path Appears.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Nicholas Kristof came to Santa Barbara on
April 23, 2018. In the afternoon A&L TLI and the Santa Barbara Public Library produced
Taking Action Matters: Santa Barbara Organizations as Global Change Makers. This
event for adult learners focused on Santa Barbara-based aid agencies working on an
international scale on issues such as medical assistance, poverty alleviation,
sustainability, nutrition, education and global human rights. The panel was led by Jen
Lemberger of the Santa Barbara Public Library and featured a short conversation with
Nicholas Kristof followed by presentations by Cydney Justman, International Program
Manager / Latin America for Direct Relief; Randal Avolio, CEO for Vitamin Angels; Linda
Cole, Founder & Executive Director for African Women Rising and Amy Steets, Senior
Program Manager for Surgical Eye Expeditions International.

In addition to their informative slide-illustrated individual presentations, the panelists
joined Nicholas Kristof in responding to audience questions and comments. Topics
ranged from the efforts to achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency in economically and
politically challenged communities to creating effective delivery models and programs.
The 155 attendees were also able to collect information and meet representatives from
the local non-profits at tables after the event staffed by African Schools of Kenya,
Vitamin Angels, Unite to Light, Human Rights Watch, SEE International, African Women
Rising, and Shelter Box USA. Additionally, everyone received suggested readings and a
Resource List of Santa Barbara Organizations as Global Change Makers.

A private reception hosted by Direct Relief and UCSB Arts &Lectures took place at the
Goodland Hotel in Goleta and was followed by an evening A&L TLI Town Hall: Building a
Resilient Community: Turning Adversity into Opportunity, moderated by local reporter
John Palminteri. Kristof lectured for 50 minutes sharing insights and personal stories
about global development and poverty alleviation based on his reportage and
experiences abroad. Afterwards, Palminteri moderated the Town Hall portion of the
event calling on various people in the audience who have been touched by the recent environmental devastation in Montecito (fires / flooding / debris flow) including
government officials, volunteer community members and audience members.
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Picture On February 22 & 23, 2018 UCSB Arts & Lectures hosted sociologist Matthew
Desmond, the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. His public
presentation on February 22 focused and expanded on his influential book
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

As part of A&L's Thematic Learning Initiative a working session the following
morning with Matthew Desmond was arranged for community leaders,
developers and housing advocates involved in addressing housing needs, growth
and community sustainability and affordable housing participated in a productive
and engaging conversation moderated by Alice O'Connor, the director of the
UCSB Blum Center for Global Poverty Alleviation & Sustainable Development. The
session was held at the administrative office of The Fund for Santa Barbara.

Participants included 25 key representatives from the Annual SB Housing
Conference, CAUSE: Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, C3H:
Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, Coastal Housing Coalition, Families
Act!, Grace Housing/Village, Home for Good SB County, Housing Authority of the
City of SB, Housing Trust of SB County, League of Women Voters SB, PATH SB:
People Assisting the Homeless, People Helping People, People's Self Help Housing,
Transition House, and the Towbes Group. Specific topics were culled from
invitees, converted to talking prompts and distributed in advance to attendees.
These included Experiences and Challenges unique to Santa Barbara,
Development, Social Consequences, Eviction, Severe Deprivation & Poverty,
Policy and Community Organizing.

Desmond's genuine engagement with the group motivated participants to discuss
opportunities for subsequent meetings to further explore the issues raised in the
session. There was a consensus that people in the housing community need more
opportunities to come together, including with constituents not in the room such
as tenants' rights groups, elected officials and members of underserved
communities. Despite significant challenges, made more difficult by the current
administration including federal housing aid cuts, there was overall agreement
that now is a unique moment of opportunity for addressing affordable housing
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Picture Photo credit: David Bazemore ​Santa Barbara was privileged to receive multiple community engagement opportunities
-- both private and open-to-the-public - by physician, author and activist Dr. Nadine Burke
Harris on April 16 and 17, 2018. Events and sessions included her public lecture --Healing
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity -- to over 1,000 attendees at UCSB plus Live
Streaming of the talk via A&L's Facebook page; Grand Medical Rounds with more than
70 physicians and healthcare workers at Cottage Hospital; a dinner with philanthropists
devoted to investing in preventative childhood health education and interventions; and
a transformational Thematic Learning Initiative cross-sector working session with 40
providers at the offices of the District Attorney of Santa Barbara.

The April 16 TLI session at the DA's conference room established important connections
and movement towards a community-wide effort to educate and train through
collaboration, expand the Resiliency Project pilot at the SB Neighborhood Clinics, and
identified actionable follow-ups by participating services. The 40 participants in the
round-table discussion with Dr. Burke Harris included representatives and directors
from Cen Cal Health, CALM, several health-based Santa Barbara County departments,
Family Service Agency, Cottage Population Health, SB Unified School District, the Santa
Barbara Probation Department, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Community
Action Commission, Carpinteria Resource Center, Office of the Public Defender,
American Indian Health & Services, several foundations and other organizations. The
dialogue with Dr. Burke Harris was led by Ed McKinley, Kids Network Director Barb Finch
and the JS Bower Foundation President, Jon Clark.

Clear objectives were determined and prepared for each session by a small planning
group committed to turning Dr. Burke Harris' visit into a catalyzing opportunity to
propel Adverse Childhood Effects (ACEs) strategies and awareness in Santa Barbara
County. These goals included accelerating community-wide embrace of a childhood
trauma lens through which to address social, educational, health and criminal justice
issues. Wide-ranging and effective outreach efforts encouraging attendance at the
public lecture were made to help educate the broadest possible cross section of the
community on the role of childhood trauma in adult health and other community issues,
as well as to communicate widespread support for the ACEs approach.

The Grand Rounds session at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on the morning of April 17
highlighted to importance of including ACEs screening by pediatricians as a standard
part of a wellness and health protocols as well as encouraging healthcare professionals
to become advocates for a trauma-informed approach to physical and mental well-being
across all sectors of the medical establishment.
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Picture ​The Faulkner Gallery at the Santa Barbara Central Library was the location of a very
successful and rewarding Thematic Learning Initiative special event titled Exploring
Treasures of Our Local Libraries and Archives featuring renowned writer, Brain Pickings
blogger, and curator of interestingness, Maria Popova on April 5, 2018. UCSB Arts &
Lectures partnered with the SB Central Library to highlight various public and private
collections and archives across Santa Barbara. Facilitated by the Community Relations
Librarian Jace Turner, the 140 community members in attendance learned about the
histories, missions and accessibility of local archives. The program included selected
slides from collections and a series of historic photographs by Edson Smith taken in
Santa Barbara between 1870-1940.

The event featured an engaging dialogue between Popova and Turner; 10-minute
illustrated presentations by four curators; followed by an opportunity for audience
members to ask questions of Maria Popova and the panelists. The presenters were:
David Seubert, the curator of the Performing Arts Collection at the UCSB Library, who
focused on digitization of early sound recordings and played an early cylinder; Rachel
Hatcher Day, associate archivist at SB Mission Archives-Library which contains historical
documents, photographs and artifacts from all of the California missions; and Norman
Cohen, Executive Director of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, highlighted the
extraordinary and eclectic collection of priceless historic letters, scripts, and ephemera
displayed and housed in this unique Santa Barbara museum.

The audience was extremely receptive to learn that these libraries and collections were
accessible to them, and appreciated receiving a printed list of library and archive
resources available in our community. Afterwards each of the panelists staffed an
information table in the lobby with additional materials about their archive. In addition
to the 3 local presenters there were additional resource tables with representatives and
from the following libraries: the Braille Institute Library; Ridley-Tree Cancer Resource
Library; Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society Sahyn Library; Santa Barbara
Historical Museum Gledhill Library; Santa Barbara Natural History Museum Collections;
the Santa Barbara Public Library; Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Presidio
Research Center and the Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Library and the OPUS
Archives and Research Center at the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

One of the highlights of the TLI event took place at the beginning when current and past
curators, archivists and librarians in the gallery were asked to stand and be recognized.
The appreciative applause from the attendees was extraordinary. All of the librarians
wore specially made ribbons declaring them "community treasures." The event was
such a success that the Santa Barbara Central Library is considering offering a similar
program annually. In addition, outreach for both the Thematic Learning Initiative event
and the public event with Maria Popova in conversation with Pico Iyer was promoted to
all of the libraries in Santa Barbara.
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Picture The second session of Ben Franklin Circles met at the Santa Barbara Central Library on February 26, 2018 with 24 Santa Barbara community members. 

The monthly ongoing in-depth dialogues based on Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues are a program of the Santa Barbara Public Library and a significant Thematic Learning Initiative outcome, originally initiated from Arts & Lectures' two-day residency with and presentations by Emily Esfahani Smith in November 2017.
The local Ben Franklin Circles leader is Programming & Marketing Librarian Jen Lemberger, who has connected the SB Library with national organizations such as New York City's 92nd Street Y, the Hoover Institution at Stanford and Citizen University in Seattle. The second session in Santa Barbara and first virtue to be discussed was Temperance which Franklin defined as "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation." The group was broken into two self-lead circles, before joining back together and sharing highlights from each discussion. The diverse conversations covered modern day interpretations of moderation, gluttony, privilege, accountability, self-control and discipline. Also raised were keystone habits, digital overload impacts, regulation influencing others, and supporting "thy neighbor".

Get Involved
  • Attend the next Ben Franklin Circle meeting on Mon March 26, 6:30-8:00pm.
  • More info >>
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Picture Film Screening: An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story

Monday, March 5,  2018
Santa Barbara Public Library
Public Event

Following the screening UCSB Global Studies Professor Mark Juergensmeyer, shared his memories as a Masters student at Union Theological Seminary in NYC where Niebuhr was one of his teachers. Professor Juergensmeyer also fielded questions from the audience and further discussed the importance of Reinhold Niebuhr and his writings, such as the well-known serenity prayer that reads:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
- Reinhold Niebuhr 
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Winter 2018 Thematic Learning Initiative events are now live! Registration recommended. View 2017-2018 TLi Events
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Picture History Book Club Discussion: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Santa Barbara Central Library - Faulkner East
Public event

Get Involved

Attend the next history book club meeting, Mar 25 at the Santa Barbara Central Library. The read is 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.  
More Info >>
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Picture Artist Discussion with Cameron Carpenter

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
UCSB Elings Hall
Public Event

Cameron Carpenter met with community members, students and faculty from the UCSB Media Arts and Technology program, where students of diverse artistic background integrate new media into their practices. Moderated by faculty member Joanne Kuchera-Morin, chief designer of the AlloSphere, the conversation covered Carpenter's perspectives on the history of the organ, the role of the digital organ in contemporary musical culture, and the technology used to create and design the instrument.

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