On Feb 25th, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) welcomed 7 students and 4 volunteers from the Braille Institute for a tour of the Presidio grounds. These adults have varying degrees of vision loss so SBTHP’s docent, Valerie, and I worked together to find ways to diversify our standard tour. Each group that comes on site requires special consideration on behalf of our docents to ensure that visitors are walking away with an equal experience of a tour that is both fun and informational.
This tour started like any other one with a big welcome and brief overview of ourselves and the birthplace of Santa Barbara. Valerie then led the group to the Northwestern wing to listen to our introductory video, build some context, and answer any additional questions. Valerie then brought the group outside to the second defense wall to discuss Spanish colonialism along with ongoing archeological efforts.
We then transitioned to the chapel where students had a chance to explore a little bit on their own after given some background information, including fascinating tidbits about the invaluable painting of Saint Barbara that is hanging on the chapel wall. Next, we went to an interactive station that Valerie and I prepared in advance that had all sorts of objects that students could touch and feel. Some of the objects included the Presidio A5 branding iron, adobe bricks, clay tiles, and a Spanish adarga, or leather shield.
Our last stop was in the Comandancia where everyone gathered at the big dining room table and got to smell, feel, and learn about the different types of cooking ingredients that the soldiers and their families would have used at that time. Valerie was so thoughtful that she took it one step further and brought traditional champurrado and hominy for everyone to taste. We spent the rest of the time in the comandancia’s dining room chatting about Presidio life and segued into talking about Pearl Chase and the more contemporary history of the Presidio neighborhood.
Overall, I believe Valerie’s unique tour showcases the creativity and flexibility our docents have to have in order to ensure that a tour is both educational and memorable. We hope to activate our visitor’s curiosity and develop a connection with this historic site so that they will be interested in coming back. Furthermore, one of SBTHP’s value statements is to strive to be more inclusive and accessible for all of those who visit the Presidio. We are thankful to Brianna and her students from the Braille Institute for visiting and we look forward to their welcoming their next group soon. If you are interested in undergoing training to become one of our volunteer docents, please click here!
Danny Tsai is the director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) broke new ground with a co-sponsored event to commemorate this year’s Chinese New Year, which began on February 5th. The outcome of this partnership was a free public event that took place in the Faulkner Gallery at the Central Library. Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is renowned as today’s largest annual human migration in the world with over three billion trips expected to be made during the entire season. 2019 is the “Year of the Pig” and people with this zodiac symbol are characterized as realistic, energetic, and hard working. To learn more about the Pig Chinese Zodiac, you can click here1.
We welcomed over 100 visitors to a lively atmosphere filled with candy, music, cheerful laughter, and the sound of Mahjong tiles being shuffled. Volunteers educated visitors about the Santa Barbara’s Old and New Chinatown, the Chinese Zodiac (and the Year of the Pig), Chinese geography, and Mahjong. Other stations focused on teaching people how to use chopsticks, fold dumplings, write calligraphy, and create dragon puppets.
One of our most dedicated volunteers, Kathi Brewster, did an outstanding job speaking with guests about the history of the once prominent Chinatown on East Canon Perdido St. She was equipped with captivating photos and stories to share. SBTHP also had a display up in the main hall of the Public Library for the month of February, which showcased photographs and artifacts from the Chinatown that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
On Wednesday evening, January 30, 2019, Mr. Koji Lau-Ozawa a doctoral candidate from Stanford University’s Anthropology Department offered the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) community a fascinating presentation of his groundbreaking research regarding the use of gardens and gardening at the Gila River Incarceration Camp (a WWII Japanese internment camp that was located in southern Arizona). Gila River held over 13,000 Japanese-Americans, most of whom were from California. The success of Mr. Lau-Ozawa’s extensive research, based on a four-year archaeological survey of the camp’s material remains, has led him to expand his project. He now hopes to connect those material remains he and his team found at Gila River to the pre-War communities where the camp internees came from. Among the pre-War communities is Santa Barbara’s historic Nihonmachi (Japan Town) which was located in the Presidio Neighborhood, and is an important history shared with visitors to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park daily.
Presented with a combination of aerial and up-close archaeological photographs, oral history quotes, and individual character portraits, Mr. Lau- Ozawa’s presentation showed why understanding the use of gardens at Gila River tells us so much about the everyday experiences (especially the many hardships) of the Japanese-Americans that were interned there during the war.
Mr. Lau-Ozawa’s lecture brought approximately forty attendees on a very chilly Wednesday evening. His talk took place in the historic Alhecama Theatre, Santa Barbara’s newest City Landmark and was followed by a Q & A session and light reception.
Over the next year, Mr. Lau-Ozawa will be working with SBTHP staff, including Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Michael H. Imwalle, to study our collection of material remains from Santa Barbara’s Nihonmachi. We look forward to welcoming him back to Santa Barbara, and we hope to share his future findings in a forthcoming issue of La Campana and another public lecture.
Kevin McGarry is the associate director for public engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
To celebrate Chinese New Year and Santa Barbara’s Chinese-American community, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) is displaying a temporary photo exhibit highlighting the history of Santa Barbara’s Chinatown inside the Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) entrance foyer. Up for the month of February, the large shadow box display offers daily library patrons a glimpse into the lesser-known history of the Chinese families that resided in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood starting in the 1860s.
Our temporary display also coincides with a special Chinese New Year educational program that will be hosted by the Library on Wednesday, February 20 from 3:30 to 6:00pm. At this event, SBTHP staff and volunteers will be collaborating with SBPL staff to offer a family-friendly Chinese New Year celebration in the library’s Faulkner Gallery. This free program will include numerous hands-on, child-friendly activity stations including Chinese arts and crafts, learning the proper way to use chopsticks, learning how to count in Chinese, dumpling rolling lessons, learning the basics of Mah Jong, Chinese and Geography lessons, and more.
Lastly, our display at the library also highlights our upcoming docent training program that will begin on March 14 and go through mid-May. The training will be held every Thursday from 9:30 AM to Noon at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, and the course is a great opportunity for those interested in learning and teaching about local history.
Kevin McGarry is the Associate Director for Public Engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
On Saturday, November 10, 2018, at 6:00pm The Environment Makers, New Grit and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) unveiled 1918, a two-night immersive multimedia installation created to commemorate the armistice of World War I and honor our local veterans, living and deceased. The opening program, led by SBTHP’s Executive Director Anne Petersen, introduced the project to the community. City Councilmen Greg Hartt and Oscar Gutierrez, SBTHP staff and volunteers and many community members gathered together at Santa Barbara’s birthplace El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park to witness the unveiling. Speakers at the opening program included SBTHP Board President Debby Aceves, City Councilman Greg Hartt, and the projection artists who created 1918, Kym Cochran and Jonathan PJ Smith. Over sixty people attended the opening program and afterward enjoyed a reception with delicious food donated by Rudy’s Presidio Restaurant.
The planning for 1918 began over a year ago when, on a sunny afternoon in early November 2017, local projection artist Jonathan PJ Smith (founder of The Environment Makers and co-founder of New Grit) met with SBTHP’s senior staff to discuss his innovative idea to create a WWI centennial anniversary projection display that would cover the front walls the Presidio with dynamic WWI film and imagery for two evenings over Veterans Day weekend, 2018. Jonathan’s hope was to use historic imagery that is now available in the public domain to bring to life the experience of the war and its aftermath through multiple projections on the whitewashed walls of the Presidio. Jonathon explained his vision with such ingenuity and enthusiasm that we (SBTHP staff) started to imagine the impressiveness of his vision. It was clear that Jonathan wanted to create a profound and moving way to mark this very special Veterans Day. We jumped at the opportunity and then a year-long journey began to make his dream a reality.
Jonathan’s creative partner and co-founder of New Grit Kym Cochran came on board and she helped shepherd Jonathan’s artistic vision and worked with SBTHP staff to turn it into what became our 1918 program. Through New Grit, Jon and Kym hope to help others find creativity through education, participation and exploration of arts and technology. 1918 was the first of many community projection art projects New Grit hopes to provide the Santa Barbara community. In fact, they are already working with the staff of the City of Santa Barbara to bring more thematic projection installations to other historic locations in downtown Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara is home to over 38,000 veterans. Each year, SBTHP and Los Soldados Real del Presidio de Santa Bárbara host a Veterans Day Ceremony to honor our local veterans for their service. 1918 was another, very special way to do this. We already have discussed ways we hope to collaborate with Jonathan and Kym of New Grit again in the future. We’d like to thank them for their ingenuity and hard work in creating 1918 as well as Rudy’s Presidio Restaurant, the Towbes Foundation and the Outhwaite Foundation—all organizations that continue to support SBTHP’s efforts to activate the power of places of memory to engage the public with a deeper understanding of the past and inspire action to shape a better future.
Kevin McGarry is the Associate Director for Public Engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
The Santa Barbara Educators Roundtable (SBERT) is a consortium of southern Santa Barbara County nonprofit organizations dedicated to education in history, nature, science, art, culture & conservation. For years, SBERT’s focus was its Passport Program, which encouraged families to visit SBERT organizations’ sites for informal educational visits outside of school tours and classroom hours. The children that visited the museums and sites with their parents, friends or family members would get their “passports” stamped each place they visited. If they visited five sites over the course of the academic year, they would then receive a prize at the end of their school year. Over the past five years, SBERT’s paper-in-hand Passport Program grew outdated and interest among local youth subsided. The program failed to continue to reach the number of students and families it once had. Accessibility for parents’ to get their kids to the sites was part of the problem.
This reality led to SBERT’s shift in focus in 2017 from trying to reach students and enhance their classroom learning through the Passport Program to trying to reach them through direct contact with their teachers. Hence, Teachers’ Night Out was born. Teachers’ Night Out is a free social event for local teachers where representatives from all participating SBERT organizations hold informational booths, highlighting their educational programming for students.
The August 16 Teachers’ Night Out was strategically scheduled to take place the week before public schools began classes. The event was a huge success. Altogether, over 300 teachers and guests attended. There were raffle prizes donated by each SBERT member organization. Santa Barbara’s DJ Darla Bea spun records and the guests enjoyed delicious food catered by the Santa Barbara Unified School District Food Services.
The SBTHP booth engaged over 60 individual teachers from public, private and charter schools. Our Programs Department staff provided information about our educational tours, public programming and our available facility rentals. I’d like to personally thank our staff for their help and local photographer Fritz Olenberger for taking wonderful pictures of the event.
With its renewed focus and relevance, SBERT is working on a way to better market and brand the organization and is looking forward to the next Teachers’ Night Out in August 2019 that just might take place at our historic Alhecama Theatre.
by Kevin McGarry, Associate Director for Public Engagement
The community enjoyed a wonderful ceremony, including a reenactment of the founding of the Presidio with the Soldados de Cuera, dancing by Baile de California, the debut of this year’s Saint Barbara (our Executive Director Anne Petersen!), living history demonstrations, local businesses and institutions, and a gathering of Presidio descendants!
Special thanks go to our photographers Fritz Olenberger, Brittany Myles, Paul Mori, and Suzi Calderon Bellman. For more great photos from the day, visit our Flickr album here.
We were pleased and surprised that 100 people turned out to attend the event, resulting in a last-minute scramble to set out more chairs. Executive Director of SBTHP Anne Petersen made a short presentation summarizing the history of the Chinese and Japanese communities in Santa Barbara, who settled on or near the site of the eighteenth-century Spanish Presidio after that site had fallen into disrepair. Director of Programs Kevin McGarry followed with save-the-dates for several upcoming programs hosted by SBTHP to honor those communities, including the Asian American Film Series, which takes place every Friday in July at 7pm in the Alhecama Theatre, and the Asian American Neighborhood Festival on October 7, 2018 at El Presidio SHP.
After the presentation, most of the attendees walked down to El Presidio SHP and split into two groups. There one group took a 1/2 hour tour of the Nihonmachi Revisitedexhibit in the Visitor Center of El Presidio SHP, hosted by Anne Petersen and Kay Van Horn, whose family resided in the neighborhood. Van Horn shared wonderful stories about her family’s relationship with Nihonmachi (Japantown) as well as the challenges they faced preceding and during World War II. Historian Kathi Brewster hosted a tour of Old and New Chinatown for the second group, covering the first and second blocks of East Canon Perdido Street and the movement of Chinatown to the East after the 1925 earthquake. After each group finished their first tour, they switched, ensuring that all guests were able to experience both tours.
SBTHP is grateful to the Santa Barbara Public Library and to our program hosts for an educational afternoon that fostered a shared sense of community and empathy for the diversity of experiences among those who helped contribute to the Santa Barbara we enjoy today.
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