Category Archives: Education Programs

Tule Mat Making: A Lesson in Resourcefulness

by Amanda Gonzalez

Karen Osland teaches the group about the history of tule reed. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.

On Saturday, October 8 the second workshop from the Arts and Traditions of the Presidio Neighborhood Workshop Series was held in the comedor of the historic Casa de la Guerra house museum. Karen Osland, experienced docent, expert on Native California plants and basketry for over 25 years, and co-owner of Lavenpine Consulting, instructed the class.

Participants learned the history of tule reed in early California and the variety of peoples that utilized this plant. Tule is a plant that grows in wetland habitats in California and in many different locations worldwide. Karen taught about the variety of uses that tule had and taught about the historical significance of the plant in Chumash life. Tule stems were used to make floor and sleeping mats, cordage, skirts, for thatching houses, for baskets, and much more. Once the Spanish and Mexican peoples arrived to the Santa Barbara area, the Chumash were able to share their knowledge of this useful plant. The resourcefulness of the Chumash, and subsequently Spanish citizens, was a key lesson learned from the workshop. 

Torie Quiñonez concentrates on making her own tule mat during the workshop. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.

After a stimulating history lesson, participants were given tule reeds to make their own mats in the same style that early Californians would have made them. Each participant was able to have one-on-one time with Karen to learn the technique involved in mat making. As the mats were being made, everyone learned the patience and technique involved in the process.

Karen Osland brought samples of basketry she had made from tule reed for the group to enjoy. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.

Once the workshop ended, participants were able to leave with a mat that was evidence of the new skill they had learned; additionally, all left with a new appreciation for native California plants and the resourcefulness of early California peoples.

The next opportunity to participate in an exciting workshop will be on November 5 for Early California Dance with Diana Replogle-Purinton. Now that you’ve had a lesson in resourcefulness, why not join us for a dance?

Amanda Gonzalez is the Office Manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Early California Dance Workshop: Saturday, November 5

By Diana Replogle-Purinton

Las Fiesteras, sponsored by the Reina del Mar Parlor #126 of Native Daughters of the Golden West, performing early California Dances at Santa Barbara's Founding Day.

When is the last time YOU got up and danced?  Humans have danced for joy and sorrow, birth and death, and to get close to the opposite sex … especially to get close to the opposite sex, for millennia.   During the era when young ladies were heavily chaperoned anytime they left the house, dancing was an acceptable way to meet a potential partner.  The dances we will be learning revolve around that historic element of getting “better acquainted” with that special someone.  At least one of the dances we’ll learn, was at one time, frowned upon by “polite society,” and banned by the Mission fathers, due to its closed dance position.  (I often wonder what those Padres would think of today’s dance styles.)

Don’t be concerned if you feel you are not a dancer, the dances we are learning are folk dances, done by the everyday “folks,” from children to grandparents.  If you’ve watched “Dancing with the Stars” you know that dancing is exercise that can be enjoyed by anyone from Nancy Grace to professional wrestler Chris Jericho!  A great benefit is the opportunity to exercise both your body and mind while having fun at the same time!    Partners are not needed, as we will work as a group.  I’m looking forward to having you join us Saturday, Nov. 5th, from 1-3 pm at the Presidio Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.  Come in comfortable clothes and shoes and be prepared to have a good time!  Who knows, you may just discover a new passion! For more information about the workshop,and to make a reservation, please call (805) 965-0093.

The author (in the yellow skirt) performing with Las Fiesteras.

Dance has been a passion for Diana Replogle-Purinton since the age of seven and continues to play an important role in her life.  She currently teaches ballet at the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet, where she am also a member of their Board of Directors, and will be appearing in their 37th annual production of The Nutcracker at the Arlington Theatre Dec. 10th and 11th.  She also directs the historic dance group, Las Fiesteras, sponsored by the Reina del Mar Parlor #126 of Native Daughters of the Golden West.

Sugar Treats … Not to Eat!: Dia de los Muertos Craft Day, Sunday, October 30th

By Karen Schultz Anderson

Sugar Skulls Decorated by Stephanie Ingoldsby at Dia de los Muertos Craft Day

When children come to our Dia de los Muertos Craft Day, they are often drawn to sugar skulls waiting to be individually decorated (but not eaten!).  These sugar skulls are an important part of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries from midnight of October 31 through November 2. The holiday is now also celebrated in many cities across the United States. Dia de los Muertos, a rich combination of pre-Hispanic and Roman Catholic customs, is a wonderful example of the synthesis of cultures that has come to define Latin America, and in part, reflect the history of Santa Barbara.

According to popular belief, on Dia de los Muertos the spirits of the dead return to commune with the living.  Dedicated to remembering and honoring those that have passed before us, the celebration also focuses on the artistic expression of the living as families leave homemade offerings for these deceased family members. Decorated sugar skulls are part of these offerings, along with food such as pan de muerto, candles, marigolds, and folk art skeletons, to name just a few things that can decorate specially-designed altars.

Diane Ruiz and Judy Pearce--Volunteer Assistants with Sugar Skull Decorating.

SBTHP purchases unadorned sugar skulls from a local business, La Bella Rosa Bakery, and two wonderful volunteers, Diane Ruiz and Judy Pearce, teach children and their parents how to use “Royal Icing” with a pastry bag and make their very own personalized sugar skull.  This folk art is not to be eaten … but rather enjoyed as it adorns a Dia de los Muertos altar or simply smiles down at you from a kitchen shelf!

We hope to see you at our free Dia de los Muertos celebration at Casa de la Guerra on Sunday, October 30 from noon – 3:00 pm. Bring the whole family!

Karen Schultz Anderson is SBTHP’s Director of Education and enjoys putting on this well-attended event.


Taiko Drums at the Santa Barbara Presidio

By M. Kay Van Horn

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation began plans in 2009 for an Asian Festival to honor and remember the Japanese and Chinese American families who once lived on the Presidio property located on Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara Streets prior to and after World War II.

Togen Daiko. Photo by Clint Weisman.

I reminded the Asian American History Advisory Committee that in 1991, we celebrated “Nihonmachi Revisited” with a two day exhibition at the Presidio.  We had two Taiko drum troops from Los Angeles County, of which one was an excellent youth group.  We wanted to revive that festival spirit for “Presidio Pastimes, the Santa Barbara Presidio’s Asian American Neighborhood” to be held in 2010, and nothing could be more exciting than to watch and hear Taiko drums. To my surprise there were committee members who had never heard of Taiko drumming.   At that point, I decided to make it my mission to find a Taiko drum group.

The Santa Barbara Buddhist Temple was located on the Presidio site at 131 Canon Perdido Street, the center of Nihonmachi, or Japan Town, where they had the traditional memorial Obon festivals each year.  My sister, Dianne Takeuchi, and I took Japanese dance lessons when we were teenagers at the Buddhist Temple and participated in Obon Festivals there.  I contacted the Priest who presided over the memorial service in 2008 for my mother, Masako Saruwatari, who gave me a few leads, and I was finally able to contact the Oxnard Taiko drum group, Togen Daiko.  SBTHP arranged to have Togen Daiko, with their colorful “hapi coats” or “hanten festival coats,” perform in 2010 and again this year, on October 1, 2011.

Togen Daiko. Photo by Clint Weisman.

The first American Taiko group was formed in 1968, so it is relatively new to the states.  Many years ago in Japan drums were carved from trees that were 1200 years old.  Drums of various sizes would create difference pitches, so many were carved out of the same tree.  Today, drums are made from wine barrels.  While Taiko drums are usually performed at Obon festivals, there are now troops that give concerts or use them in theatrical performances such as Cirque du Soleil.  Last year, the San Jose Taiko drums appeared at the Granada Theater.  Look for our announcements for the third annual Asian American Pastime in 2012.  You won’t want to miss the excitement of Taiko drumming.

M. Kay Van Horn is a member of the Asian American History Advisory Committee. Her family’s relationship to the Presidio neighborhood goes back almost a century to 1912, when her grandfather operated a barbershop in Nihonmachi.

Thanks team, Presidio Pastimes: The Santa Barbara Presidio’s Asian American Neighborhood was a Hit!

On Saturday October 1, SBTHP hosted our second annual living history day featuring Santa Barbara’s Asian American traditions at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Over 500 visitors attended the event to watch performances of Taiko drumming, Hula, and Tai Chi, and try their hand at origami and Chinese brush calligraphy among many other activities.

SBTHP's Asian American History Advisory Committee with Education Department staff. Top row, from the left: Peggy Hergenroether, Karen Anderson, Kay Van Horn, Ambi Harsha, Keith Mar, Deborah Cristobal. Bottom Row, from left: Meredith Brockriede, Juliet Betita, Helen Wong, Terease Chin and Paul Mori.

We are grateful to our Asian American History Advisory Committee for their boundless enthusiasm and hard work in pulling off this ambitious event. SBTHP maintains many volunteer committees who assist with all of our projects and programs. We rely on these community members for the creativity, dedication to partnership, and sweat equity that help take our programs from good to great.  Thanks team—and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Sushi Making: “The rice is like glue!”

Sushi-making instructor Fukiko Miyazaki. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.
By Amanda Gonzalez

On Saturday, September 10 the first of four workshops from the Arts and Traditions of the Presidio Neighborhood Workshop Series was held at the Japanese restaurant, Kobachi. Fukiko Miyazaki, owner of Studio Nihon, led the workshop in an ambient room filled with murals depicting men fishing and various other sea life. Fukiko was assisted by Chikako Shinagawa, a lecturer of Japanese linguistics and language pedagogy at UCSB.

Fukiko Miyazaki assisted by Chikako Shinagawa. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.

The restaurant was filled with laughter and enjoyment as Fukiko taught the group the history of sushi in Japan, the history of the California Roll, and other traditions from Japan. Fukiko taught how to make Makizushi or California Roll sushi, a Vegetarian Roll, and Temakizushi or Hand Roll sushi.

One of the favorite stories among the group was about Fukiko’s grandmother who taught her that rice is like glue. The group had the opportunity to learn this firsthand when they used rice to make the Nori seaweed stick together, a necessary step in making the Hand Roll sushi.

David Bolton looks on as another workshop participant chops cucumber. Photo by Amanda Gonzalez.

Once all three types of sushi were made, the group indulged in their delicious creations, accompanied by soothing green tea. At the end of the afternoon everyone thanked Fukiko and Chikako for an exciting afternoon where they successfully learned a new skill. The workshop ended and people left with recipes for sushi and a newfound skill set. Our participants wanted to know how to express their thankfulness in Japanese, so Fukiko and Chikako taught the appropriate response, arigatou gozaimasu or thank you very much.

ありがとうございました (arigatou gozaimashita) to Fukiko, Chikako, and to all our participants! If you missed the workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Fukiko at Presidio Pastimes on October 1st! Learn more about Studio Nihon.

The workshop participants enjoying the fruits of their labor. The author is in the green sweatshirt. Photo by Meredith Brockriede.
Amanda Gonzalez is the Office Manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Whirlwind Tour

Last Friday we gave a tour of the Presidio to five travel agents from the United Kingdom who had never been to California, let alone Santa Barbara.  Our challenge: give the entire tour in twenty minutes or less!

Mike Imwalle leading the tour. Photo by Anne Petersen

Our neighbors at the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission organized this visit for foreign travel agents, who visited Santa Barbara for a scant twenty-four hours.  At the start of the day, they broke up into small groups of five and, scavenger hunt-style, followed clues that led them to venues all over downtown; at each location they spent a total of twenty minutes.

We hope we made an impression at the Presidio during their very busy day.  The good news is, we walked the entire site, and we think we covered the highlights.

If you had twenty minutes to give a tour of the Presidio, what would you make sure not to miss?