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.
On September 14, 2017 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation was pleased to welcome screenwriter and Santa Barbara Presidio descendant Darlene Craviotto to present her new novel, Californio. Ms. Craviotto presented an engaging illustrated historical introduction to her book, which traces one families journey north from northern Mexico to their new home in Alta California during the late-eighteenth century. She then read a passage from the novel.
Californio is one of the few publications that fully imagines this human story of migration and settlement that marked the beginning of the Spanish colonization of California. Copies of Californio can be purchased at our online store here.
On Wednesday, July 19, a group of international students from Santa Barbara’s EF School visited El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park for a tour. There were fifteen young adult students from over ten different countries. They brought with them their experiences and perspectives from their native countries. It was a pleasure and a wonderful learning experience to provide a tour of the park for this special group!
Here are some of the reflections from their visit:
Laura (Spain)- “It was really cool to see and learn about the Spanish history in Santa Barbara. My favorite part of the tour was the church. I felt like I was home.”
Alice (Japan)- “I never knew there were so many Japanese in Santa Barbara before. I liked seeing the cups and boxes that we still use today back home.”
Vittoria (Italy)- “It’s nice to learn something about the city that is your home for a little while. So much history and culture in Santa Barbara.”
Sarah Hilliard (EF instructor) – “For my students this is not only a language exchange but a cultural exchange as well. I love showing them how so many different cultures have created the town that I call home. I believe it’s important for them to learn a little bit about where they are living because its helps them feel like a part of the community. The tour is a great hands-on historical experience.”
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