November 29, 2009

Ladies' Tea? Yes please.

You know it's going to be a good time when they greet you at the door with sherry. This was not how I thought "ladies high tea" would begin, and I was gratefully surprised. Usually potential members have to be nominated by current well-established members, but The Santa Barbara Women's Club open their doors once a year and invite potential members to a rush tea on their lovely estate tucked in the hills just above the Santa Barbara Mission.


"Imagine your aunts, sisters, best friends once a week getting together and doing what ladies do," states Cece Postman. The Santa Barbara Women's Club is a unique group, in that they are not a community group, but rather a social group. They have weekly teas, daily club meetings and monthly day trips that all, coincidently, include food. The activities calendar is enough to keep a women busy nearly 24/7. The sense of sisterhood is strong at the woman's club and the tradition is nearly 117 years old.


The SBWC has a long history in Santa Barbara. Originally called "Fort Nightly," the club was established in 1892 for "advancing civil enlightenment of members." The club met at members' homes and many local landmarks before finding it's current location in the hills of Santa Barbara. Rockwood, where SBWC currently calls home, was originally a resort for the stars. When the place burned nearly to the ground in 1927, the then president, Mrs. Max Shotz put a $100 down payment on the land and remaining cottages. Edward, Spunkit and Howell, the architect of The Granada, designed what we now enjoy as the club, and it was open to members by 1928.


The club is available to rent out for weddings and special events, and has many events open to the public. Recently, the club held a mayorial debate in it's main hall and hosted the 12th annual Empty Bowls fundraising event for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara.


So ladies, it is this lady's opinion that the Santa Barbara Women's Club rocks. For more information, call 682-4546.

September 12, 2009

Twitter Nation


In a town full of festivals, fundraisers, and galas, the organizers of SBTwestival managed to cover all the categories and managed to do it in style. The Sept. 11 Santa Barbara Twestival, held atop of the Canary on the Perch, was a fundraising event where participants not only helped raise money for Direct Relief International, but also had a chance to network and be part of a larger movement.


Twitter, an online social networking system, is a flourishing sound board where people have the opportunity to develop "a voice" and connect with people around the world. On Twitter, users have the opportunity to "follow" other users and other users can follow you. So, in tweet terms, there are people you are "following" and people who are your "followers." To really get the lingo down, each message sent is called a "tweet." Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be sent via phone or computer, can mention users (@) and topics (#), and can be re-tweeted (RT).


Being new to twitter, I had no idea what to expect from a Twestival. Luckily I had the assistance of Jennifer Bragg, who is considered a "Twitter Elite." Who knew there was such a thing? Well there is and it is taken very seriously. Ms. Bragg informed me that the SBTwestival was more than a networking opportunity, it was a chance for hard core twitteres to finally meet their followers and the people they are following in person. Ok, so that I could understand. But apparently there is also a hierarchal ranking system in the twitter community. Ms. Bragg further explained that users are ranked based on how often they tweet, how many followers they have, and how many people they are following. Based on these statistics, users are given a rank in their twitter community. My compadre was ranked number 19 and proudly introduced me to other high ranking twitterers. Twitter rankings are proudly displayed, and at the SBTwestival everyone knew each other just from using Twitter.


The organizer of SBTwestival, David Baeza has only been using Twitter for a year but already has 1,414 followers and is following 1,862. It wasn't alway easy for Mr. Baeza. He claimed that at first, he did not understand the system but was able to have computer program developers explain to him the intricacies of Twitter. Mr Beaza told me he also had trouble "finding his voice" on twitter at first, but as he used it more it became a powerful communication tool. In fact, in organizing the local SBTwestival with the global Twestival coordinator Amanda Rose, all communication was done via twitter. No emails, no phone calls, not even any texting - just tweets.


Very excited that SBTwestival had so many participants, Mr. Baeza explained how this was a local fundraising event that is happening globally. There are roughly 175 cities participating throughout forty-four countries over a three day period. Each local participant decide their own charity to benefit from the Twestival, therefore making it a "local" Twestival. Global Twestivals all have the same one charity. Direct Relief International (DRI) was chosen by a panel of volunteers that make up SBTwestival. Proudly displayed on flat screen televisions, was the SBTwestival home page with participants' tweets. The mass tweets sent from the SBTwestival with the topic "#sbtwestival" allows the topic to generate online attention to its' cause. All this may be very foreign and new, but it does start to makes sense the more one is exposed to it, although I must admit it still makes my head spin.


The night was a success with SBTwestival raising more than $10,000 for DRI and generating a good buzz for the local twittering community. The event itself was well organized and very informative, the volunteers were gracious, the food and drink were plentiful, and the rooftop at the Canary was picturesque. Not only did I enjoy a beautiful evening and learn more about social media networking, I left the Twestival with a few more followers that I have actually met face to face.

June 24, 2009

I DID WHAT I WANTED TO DO


There is a weird sense of guilt that comes from doing exactly what you want to do. Maybe it's innate, maybe it comes from being scolded as a child, either way - it's there. But from a selfish act, can also come a great sense of accomplishment, even if you accomplished nothing. And that is exactly what I wanted to do this last year, and that is exactly what I did do.

I broke off a relationship, moved out on good roommates, and quit my job of 3 years. I had nowhere new to go, I just went. I was able to live on an estate in Montecito, while jobless, and just have a time. It wasn't always good, it wasn't always bad. I wasn't always happy, I wasn't always sad, but I was left to just be. To be what ever emotion swept over me.

I had no one to report to, and that is a weird phenomenon. What happens if you have no job to be at daily, no roommates to check in on you every now and then, or no boyfriend expecting you to be around at least some of the time? Do you disappear? Do you disappoint? Do you even care?

I have to clarify some points though... I was at a particular point in my life where things were just falling into place and I had to accept where they fell. I paid my final car payment the month I was offered a free place to live, which was the month I quit my job, consequently a month after I had quit my relationship, which is why my friend offered me the use of her empty (yes empty!) estate in the first place. Very incidental. So, short of car insurance and a cell phone bill - I had no bills and thus no financial obligations. At least no present financial obligations.... Here is where the guilt crept in.

After years of working to make my future financially stable, I decided to stop working for the future and live in the present. It is really hard to do after years of programming. I was not being a productive part of the community. I was probably being slightly self-destructive. I definitely wasn't getting anywhere. Especially since I had just finished grad school only to pursue a career as a (poor) radio DJ. Wasn't that selfish enough?

I really don't know. What I have decided to do is allow myself this year of nothingness and accept it as is. It was what it was. A time to let myself explore what I wanted, when I wanted, where.... Well, you get the idea. I did what I wanted to do. And that counts as an accomplishment.


April 22, 2009

SBMA NIGHTS "Uncover Cultural Myths"

A night of delectable unadulterated pleasures for the eyes, ears, and mouths....

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art out did themselves with this year's first "Nights" event. Themed "Uncover Cultural Myths," SBMA had rooms filled with Afro-Pop/Nu-Jazz remixes, an 18h century themed film, a scantily clad Baroque ballet troupe, and a parlour "play" portrait studio. As a Museum Nights veteran, I made sure to take in the sights instead of just socialize. I passed on the craft tables where patrons could make a message in a bottle (upstairs, for those in the know) and other tables where they could make masquerade styled masks. Far too often I have missed out on the music, performances and art by giving in to other distractions. This time, I found the Company XIV dancers and followed them until I planted myself as close to center as possible in the crowded museum to their performance area. Backed by a contemporary string quartet infused with african drums, this Neo-Baroque dance troupe stepped out on the floor in gender-bending costumes and danced an erotic tale of lust, jealousy, and deadly competition. I was enthralled by the tale, enough to forget that I had ditched my friends and only had five minutes before they cut off the alcohol.

After replenishing my champagne, (therefore utilizing my last drink ticket - they are not refundable), I meandered into another room in search of my friends. To my delight, I wandered into The Parlour Play Portrait Studio, a "Victorian Gothic/Steampunk" themed portrait parlour. Here my friends were dressing in costume peices supplied by the museum and posing for professional portraits with the beautiful Kendall and cross dressing Matt. I was instantly pulled into a portrait, handed a fake pistol and cane, and posed provocatively for the camera.

As always, there is way too much to see and do, and I ended up missing some of the installations. Music (check), performance (check), photos (check). Still there were rooms I did not even get to in my 2 plus hours at the museum. I did see an interesting exhibit with life sized hounds and a fox, but couldn't tell you why it was there. I missed the film with what looked like 18th century aristocrats. I missed the crafts, but that was fine with me, although the message in a bottle looked as if it could be worth doing. I missed the live poetry reading recited by a costumed Tunisian/French Hip Hop Artist in five languages. But most of all, I missed the food, which is almost always the case at these events.

The SBMA Nights are usually some of the best events of the summer. It is always good to plan ahead so you can thoroughly enjoy the experience and don't get too distracted by all the fun. I find it's best to try for three different experiences, which I luckily was able to do this night at the expense of ditching my dear friends. But that's just how I roll.

For more information on upcoming events visit www.sbma.net/nights.

To see photos from THE PARLOUR PLAY PORTRAIT STUDIO visit www.sbma.net/nights/parlour.