Friday, May 31, 2013

Reducing gun violence

Radio Commentary

            Sadly, firearms are second only to motor vehicle accidents in their claim on young lives. 
Research indicates that educational efforts aimed at persuading young people to behave responsibly around guns are limited in their effectiveness.
Parents must monitor children’s exposure to guns and protect them from unsupervised use. Any stored guns in a home should be locked, unloaded, and separated from ammunition.
Community leaders can also help. They can promote young people’s safety by sending unequivocal messages that gun violence is not an acceptable way to resolve conflict. 
It’s also been shown that requiring safety features on guns can reduce unintentional shootings among children and youth.
In addition, emerging technologies will enable manufacturers to personalize guns and prevent unauthorized users from operating them.
Most important, as a society we must limit the flow of illegal guns to youth. Federal and state laws regarding gun sales should be tightened so that fewer weapons are accessible to young people.
The physical, economic, and emotional toll of gun violence against young people is unacceptable, regardless of one’s position on adult ownership and use of guns

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Children of addicts

Radio Commentary

Research shows that one in four young people lives in a family where a person abuses alcohol or suffers from alcoholism.
Children in these situations need to know they are not alone. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a disease. When one member of the family has this disease, all family members are affected.
Children need to know it is not their fault. They didn’t cause the disease and they can’t make it stop. They need and deserve help for themselves.
It is critical to know that young people with addicted parents are four times more likely to become addicted if they choose to drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.
They need to keep firmly in mind that they can’t get addicted if they don’t drink or use drugs.
Children in these situations should talk with an adult — a teacher, school counselor, or nurse, a friend’s parent, a doctor, grandparent, or neighbor — anyone who will listen and help them.
They can also ask a school counselor or social worker to recommend a support group. 
These are great places to meet other young people struggling with the same problems at home. 
Children should know it is important to find caring adults who can provide the guidance and support they need to stay healthy. 
They will feel better and can have a safe and productive life. It’s in their power if they understand these facts and act. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer schedules

Radio Commentary

            In most households, summertime means a change of schedule from the usual routine. When children are involved, this change can get tricky to navigate, because children tend to be creatures of habit.
            Here are some suggestions to help make the transition as smooth as possible:
If children will be home alone for a while, discuss your expectations and household rules. Tell children what they can’t do, what they can do, and when they can do it.
Be very specific and try to cover as many contingencies as possible.
Stage a practice run before you leave children alone. Let them rehearse the routine while you’re away but nearby.
They can call you if they run into any snags, and you can show them how the situation should be handled in the future.
Make sure your children know that you trust them, and that letting them stay alone is helping them become even more responsible. But be sure to warn them that if they can’t follow the rules, they will lose the privilege of caring for themselves.
Post the rules on the refrigerator door where they will be easily accessible.
As an example, many families allow snacking but no cooking. Children should not be allowed to have visitors except for those you have approved in advance.
Rules of this sort protect your children’s safety while giving them a sense of importance and responsibility for their own actions. It’s never too early to start on that important road.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Local schools are jewels of state's community colleges

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
As members of the Class of 2013 prepare for their high school graduation ceremonies across California, hundreds of thousands of them are also preparing to enroll in one of the state’s 112 community colleges.
Local students don’t have to look far to find two great choices — Santa Barbara City College and Allan Hancock College. Both have long been jewels of the state system, and they recently received overwhelming confirmation of their lofty status.
City College was named one of two top community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute, which cited SBCC’s outstanding achievement in student learning outcomes, degree completion, labor-market success (students securing good jobs after college), and facilitating the success of minority and low-income students.
Hancock is regularly ranked as one of the five best community colleges in California and one of the top 120 in the nation. This spring, it got a huge vote of confidence when it received the largest gift in its history — nearly $12 million — in a bequest from the late Patricia J. Boyd, a former faculty member.
These high-profile affirmations are important, and well deserved. The public may be tempted to take this excellence for granted — but it doesn’t come easily. Faculty members and administrators work every day to serve their students and the larger public, and students know it. Nearly 21,000 of them enrolled at Hancock last year, and nearly 27,000 at City College. They may be planning to get an associate’s degree in one of the many specialties the two colleges offer, transfer later to a four-year college or university, upgrade their professional skills, or retrain themselves in mid-life for another career. Perhaps they’re studying purely for personal enrichment.
Students of all ages and life experiences find a wide range of degree and certificate programs, outstanding faculty, impressive facilities, and great support services. Both schools can boast of their students’ career successes and excellent acceptance rates to four-year universities, and they can point to alumni who have achieved national and international success.
Two former Hancock students, for example, were prominent at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony — best-actress nominee Jessica Chastain and Oscar winner Mark Andrews. Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Robin Williams and Tony award-winner Boyd Gaines are also alumni.
Other examples of successful Hancock alumni include the late Admiral Owen Siler, international business executive Michael Henry, retired Major League pitcher Bryn Smith, the late artist Milford Zornes, retired NBA player Mike Bratz, and NFL coach Gunther Cunningham.
On its roster of famous graduates, City College can list two winners of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grants” — Dr. Angela Belcher, now an MIT professor and an authority in nanotechnology, and Dr. Yoky Matsuoka, a technology executive and an authority in neurorobotics — as well as World Series-winning pitcher Jesse Orosco and operatic tenor Eduardo Villa.
With more than 2.4 million students, the California Community Colleges are the largest system of higher education in the United States. They educate 80 percent of our state’s firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical technicians, and 70 percent of our nurses.
Santa Barbara County’s two community colleges haven’t achieved this excellence alone. They rely on community partners — businesses, individuals, and nonprofit agencies — for raising money, providing expertise, and giving advice on how to shape programs that will make their graduates’ skills relevant in the marketplace.
This level of excellence is a further testament to the amount and importance of community support received by local schools. Congratulations to all the administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and community members who make SBCC and Allan Hancock two crown jewels in our national community college system.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival slated for May 25-27

Artist- Cecelia Linayao, Photo by Michael Brown

          I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival will celebrate its 27th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 25, 26, and 27 at the Santa Barbara Mission, with a special ceremony at noon on Monday, May 27, on the mission steps to honor Marilyn Zellet. This year’s festival is dedicated to her, in recognition of her work for the past 13 years in developing and coordinating the festival’s wonderful Italian Market on the mission’s lawn.

         The I Madonnari, the first festival of its kind in North America to present the performance art of street painting, is presented by and is a benefit for the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The festival is sponsored in part by The Berry Man, Loreto Plaza Shopping Center, Granite Construction, Bella Vista Designs, the Girsh and Hochman families, Union Bank, and Yardi Systems.
Artist- Julio Jimenez, Photo- Neil Campbell
              Marilyn Zellet and her family members have been closely involved with the production of the Italian Market since I Madonnari began in 1987. They owned an event planning and rental company in Santa Barbara and helped plan the Italian Market for the first festival. After selling the company, Marilyn was invited to join the Children’s Creative Project Board of Directors and soon served as its president. Taking on more responsibility for the production of the market, Marilyn became the festival’s Italian Market coordinator, a position she has cherished. Donn Zellet has continued to coordinate the festival’s famous lemon-rosemary barbecue chicken, eldest son Ian participated as a street-painting artist for eight years, son Trevor is owner of Bella Vista Designs and provides electrical and sound equipment, daughter Cristina and her husband Simon Bentley serve on the CCP Board of Directors, and granddaughter Gaia operates the festival’s coffee and dessert booth.
Artist- Tom Meaney & Family, Photo- Neil Campbell
              Although she is now spending more time with her grandchildren, Marilyn said she is excited to help guide the festival’s new market coordinator, Bryan Kerner.
             The festival features 150 street-painting squares drawn on the pavement in front of the Santa Barbara Mission. The “squares” range in size from 4 by 6 feet to 12 by 12 feet, and in price from $125 to $650, each one bearing the name of its sponsor — a business, organization, family, or individual. As the public watches, 300 local artists transform these pavement canvases into elaborate compositions in unexpectedly vibrant colors. Members of the public can sign up at the festival’s information booth to become a street-painting sponsor or apply to be an artist for next year.
              Featured Artists Cheryl and Wayne Renshaw will create a 12-by-16-foot street painting as the public watches from the mission steps. This year, the two artists will share their three-dimensional image (in what’s known as anamorphic perspective) of what angels see when they look down from heaven. Sentinels of the portal connecting heaven and earth will include Father Junipero Serra, to celebrate his 300th birthday; the late Father Virgil Cordano, longtime pastor of the mission; Saint Francis; and Saint Clare of Assisi. The angels will play in and around the portal as they witness the sights below.
Wayne Renshaw is an architect and his wife Cheryl is a landscape designer. They live in Santa Clara, a short walk from Mission Santa Clara, another mission founded by Father Serra. This will be their 14th year celebrating I Madonnari at Mission Santa Barbara.
Artist- Tracey Lee Stum, Photo-Neil Campbell
            An expanded area for children to create street paintings will be inside a private parking area at the west side of the mission. Some 600 Kids’ Squares are available; when completed they will form a colorful, 40-by-60 foot patchwork of street paintings. Throughout the three-day event, 2-by-2-foot Kids’ Squares can be purchased for $10, which includes a box of chalk.
Live music and the Italian Market will be featured on the mission lawn throughout the three-day event. In the mission sanctuary, there will be free concerts of sacred music from 6 to 7 p.m. by The Quire of Voyces on Saturday, May 25, and the Adelfos Ensemble on Sunday, May 26. The fabuloso Italian Market offers authentic Italian cuisine produced by the Children’s Creative Project Board of Directors. According to Board President Phil Morreale and Market Coordinator Bryan Kerner, this year’s market will include lemon-rosemary roasted chicken, pasta, pizza, calamari, Italian sausage sandwiches, gelati, coffees, and specialty items designed from the prior years’ festivals, including T-shirts, posters, notecards and more.

Photo by Michael Brown
I Madonnari is produced by the Children’s Creative Project and benefits its arts education program. The organization is the first to create a festival in North America featuring the public art form of street painting. After traveling to a street painting competition in Italy, CCP’s Executive Director Kathy Koury created the concept of sponsored street-painting squares as a fundraiser and produced the first event in 1987.
The I Madonnari festival also was one of a yearlong series of events that celebrated the Santa Barbara Mission’s bicentennial. The late Father Virgil Cordano and the mission’s bicentennial committee members worked with Koury to include the street-painting festival in the mission’s celebration. The festival has continued to grow and now is being replicated in more than 100 cities throughout the U.S. and Mexico.
In November 2012, five I Madonnari street painters — Ann Hefferman, Cecelia Linayao, Meredith Morin, Melody Owens, and Phil Roberts — traveled to Santa Barbara’s sister city of Puerto Vallarta to create street paintings with local artists and children. Koury has continued to work with Santa Barbara and Puerto Vallarta Sister City representatives to further develop the festival that has taken place in the city’s main plaza since 2006. The project is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara-Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee.
Since 1992, the Children’s Creative Project has produced a second festival at the San Luis Obispo Mission Plaza to raise funds for CCP arts education programs in that county. This year’s festival Sept. 7 and 8 is co-presented with the American Institute of Architects California Central Coast Chapter.
Photo by Michael Brown
Street painting, using chalk as the medium, is an Italian tradition that is believed to have begun during the 16th century. Called “Madonnari” because of their practice of reproducing the image of the Madonna (Our Lady), the early Italian street painters were vagabonds who would arrive in small towns and villages for Catholic religious festivals and transform the streets and public squares into temporary galleries for their ephemeral works of art. With the first rains of the season, their paintings would be gone. Today, the tradition lives on in the village of Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, where the annual International Street Painting Competition is held in mid-August in the piazza of the Catholic Sanctuary.
Festival proceeds benefit the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The project sponsors fine arts programs conducted during school hours for 50,000 children in county schools. Through a program of resident artist workshops, 43 artists conduct visual and performing arts lessons for 23,000 children. Fundraising from the I Madonnari festival helps continue the work of the Children’s Creative Project to support annual performance events, among other activities.
In February at the Arlington Theatre, the CCP presented free morning performances of the African Children’s Choir of Uganda for 4,000 local elementary schoolchildren. Additional funding support comes from Yardi Systems, The Towbes Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, and The Dreier Family Foundation.
This year 50,000 children at nearly 100 school sites have viewed more than 450 performances presented by 50 touring companies sponsored in the Children’s Creative Project’s Arts Catalog. To support this program of touring artist performances, festival proceeds also provide every county public school with a $200 arts credit to partially subsidize touring company performance fees.
Photo by Neil Campbell
For festival photos (including photo credits and artist credits), further information about the Children’s Creative Project and I Madonnari, or for help scheduling artist interviews, call Kathy Koury at 964–4710, ext. 4411 or go to

Marilyn Zellet — (805) 452-5891
Featured Artists Cheryl and Wayne Renshaw — (408) 247-3428
Artist- Delphine Louis Anaya, Photo- Michael Brown