Las POSADAS: Do You See What I See?

“Said the night wind to the little lamb: Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky little lamb: Do you see what I see?” ~Christmas Carol by Noël Regeny & Gloria Shayne Baker

By: Zoë Muntaner

Las Posadas is Spanish for lodging, or accommodation, which in this case refers to the “inn” in the story of the nativity of Jesus (born from a Jewish mother). The “novenario“(nine days of religious observance) is celebrated chiefly in Latin America and by Hispanics (Latinos and Spaniards) in the United States beginning on the 16 of December and ending the 24 of December. Novena represents the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Jesus celebrated by Christians. While its roots are in Catholicism, even Protestant Latinos follow the tradition. The Jewish Hanukkah menorah holds nine candles.  The ninth holder, called the shamash (“helper” or “servant”), is for a candle used to light all other candles and/or to be used as an extra light.

My grandfather immigrated from Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands in Spain to another island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico. Part of our holiday tradition involved going to Dawn Mass (Misas de Aguinaldo) for nine days before Midnight Mass (Misa de Gallo) on Christmas Eve. After each mass, a breakfast consisting of hot chocolate and “ensaimadas” (a spiral sweet bread pastry product of Mallorca) was served. Is a symbol of the Balearic Islands, a common cuisine eaten in most former Castilian territories in Latin America and the Philippines. Originated as a merienda snack, it was later introduced to the Philippines and Puerto Rico through colonialism. They’re traditionally made with dough that’s rolled thin, “laminated” with lard and rolled like strudel. Starbucks used to carry them during the holiday season, but I’ve missed them for years now.

Ensaimadas sometimes are made into ham & cheese sandwiches as a mid day snack.

According to research, historical accounts show that since Masses were forbidden to be said during night time, these Masses were offered in the darkness of dawn amid the blaze of many lighted candles, especially for farmers and workmen who had to labor afterward. The candlelight, not only provided the necessary lighting but also added meaning to the Rorate Masses by reminding the faithful of “the Light that is to come.” Hence, they are also called Missa Aurea or Golden Mass. This was most probably the origin of the Misas de Aguinaldo in Spain and later, in the New World. In the New World, which included the Americas, and the Philippines, the original permission for the Misas de Aguinaldo was granted to churches under the Augustinian Order where they could be accessed by the faithful through the indulgences granted by Pope Sixtus V. I n 1586, Friar Diego de Soria obtained a papal bull from Pope Sixtus V, stating that a Dawn Mass, be observed as novenas on the nine days preceding Christmas Day throughout Mexico.

During Las Posadas, two people dress up as Mary & Joseph. Houses are designated to be an “inn” (thus the name “Posada”). The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the “innkeepers” let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary). Latin American countries have continued to celebrate this holiday to this day, with very few changes to the tradition. In some places, the final location may be a church instead of a home. The people asking for posada travel to 1 house each night for 8 nights. Similar celebrations exist in the Philippines, where strong cultural influences persist from Spanish Colonial times, the Posadas tradition is illustrated by the Panunuluyan pageant. It might be performed immediately before the Midnight Mass or on each of the nine nights. Cuba also has something similar, called Parrandas (though they have more of party in the atmosphere and liquor is involved).

The three parishes of Santa Monica – St. Anne Church and Shrine, St. Clement Catholic Church, and St. Monica came together to celebrate a Posada on Monday evening followed by the best tamales, champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate and corn drink) and ice cream. At the end of the “villancicos” (Spanish Christmas carols), children broke open a star-shaped piñata filled with candy inside.

Familias Latinas Unidas [United Latino/a Families] hosted Las Posadas in Santa Monica  on Friday, December 15, 2017. The group meets every Friday evening at the Virginia Avenue Park, to organize events that allow Latino/a culture to thrive. Their goals include fostering education for their children, preserve and share their culture and build leadership skills. As of late it has become more of an activist group divided by political forces seeking City Hall  influence.  Ironically “unidas” translates to  united in english.

Posadas SM
SMYO Chorus entertain before the Mariachi, tamales, champurrado, churros and Piñata portion of the event at Virginia Park in Santa Monica.

Back in October, interested in the upcoming Dia de Los Muertos and Las Posadas for this blog, I joined one of their meetings.  In the name of diversity and inclusion, I wanted to bring Spanish and Latin traditions to the Posadas funded by the City of Santa Monica Government. It was a good old fashion “family” reunion executed by board member Irma Carranza and Sofia Ramirez shooting insults during the leadership building exercise of the meeting. Out of the private nature of the event, Carranza unilaterally decided I could not assert my first amendment right to write a column in support of Las Posadas ahead of their event to include the rest of the community.  They feared there would not be enough food if everyone was invited. Accusations I was a spying on behalf of another community organizer followed. Sounds like a holiday family reunion to me. Right?

During Cesar Chavez celebration in Virginia Park, Julie Rusk, Santa Monica Chief of Civic Wellbeing tweeted the hashtag #BetterTogether #SaMoWellbeing. As of late, Ms. Rusk has been influential in the group. Who is included in “together” matters to inclusion advocates. Debasing the values of civility, compassion and authentic wellbeing is not what reasonable people categorize leadership building blocks to foster the education of children in our city.  In a “free” country, everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, facts do matter more than ever.

Mariachi Trio Palenque de Aurelio Reyes “El Gallo de Chiapas” entertained the audience at the Santa Monica Virginia Park event.

The modern colonization of hearts and minds of 90404 (Pico Neighborhood zipcode) seems to be causing heated debate in the community. The upcoming consideration of a Conditional Use Permit needed for a 20 student school in the Gandara Park of Pico Neighborhood presents a conflict of wellbeing to some residents.  The issue will be heard at Council Chambers next month.

Let’s consider the exceptional insight in Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

Compassion, authentic wellbeing, diversity & inclusion are harder to accomplish in an equity starved community, where branding and communications lead the way.

Earlier this week Susan Fowler wrote about her belief that Silicon Valley’s focus on “diversity “ and “inclusion” is its own way of “whitewashing” what in reality is another form of workplace discrimination. It was not a criticism of the hardworking people who put their lives and energies into promoting authentic diversity and inclusion, It was an indictment of the companies that use their D&I programs and efforts to “whitewash” their discriminatory practices. They are not alone, seems like Silicon Beach has similar problems. Withing the paramenters of the City Council strategic goal of diversity and inclusion, affordable housing being built, is financially segregated despite academic research showing better alternatives and outcomes with inclusive affordable housing. That alone, is worth praying for during The Posadas and Midnight Mass.

Do you see what I see?



By:  Zoë Muntaner

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

In his 2002 classic The Rise of the Creative Class, Carnegie Mellon professor Richard Florida argued that “creative class” professionals like tech engineers, held the key to revitalizing America’s cities. He encouraged government planners and citizens to cater to the tastes of these creative professionals by developing walkable urban neighborhoods well-served by transit and with ample amenities. 

The result came with rents skyrocketing, pricing out many ordinary citizens. Sound familiar? Cities have become more segregated by income and economic class. Mixed-income neighborhoods have been on the decline, replaced by concentrated pockets of wealth and poverty.  We are more segregated now than the end of the civil war. Can you hack that? 

A hack is the use of a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system but don’t let the metaphor escape you.  Hack the Beach is a series of micro-festivals celebrating and bringing together Santa Monica’s tech innovators with local civic leaders co-sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. The organizations aim to explore the big issues facing our community and discuss ways that technology can transform Santa Monica.  Technology has transformed Santa Monica indeed.  In the lead-up to the second annual Hack The Beach event, they are searching for innovation, ideas and solutions to improve Santa Monica’s Wellbeing through technology. 

Hacker is any skilled computer expert that uses their technical knowledge to overcome a problem, and/or uses bugs or exploits to break into computer systems.

Wellbeing is defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy. new paper by Yale University researchers published last Monday, reaffirmed there are vast overestimations in the progress toward racial economic equality, particularly amongst those who are thriving.  The study’s results are especially stunning in the wake of census data released last week that showed that African Americans were the only racial group still making less than they did in 2000.  Hispanics, are a whole other story. Take a look at the growing discontent of the Pico Neighborhood residents published in the local Lookout piece by Niki Cervantes. 

This week’s The New York Times Technology section published a short documentary exploring digital colonialism: How Facebook is Changing Your Internet”.  Electronic colonialism theory explains how mass media is leading us to a new concept of empire.  “It will not be one based on military power or land acquisition but one based on controlling the mind. It is a psychological or mental empire.  It is an evolving global “Empire of the Mind.”   But it’s not just Facebook, several large tech companies are shaping access to information and expression, influencing political and business environments in previously unseen ways. Who is building the algorithms?  

City Manager Rick Cole spoke about “the opportunity for all of Santa Monica to be globally competitive, to have the highest quality of life and to achieve the goals of social justice and equity that we all share” at the 2016 State of the City Address.  The following video illustrates a particularly troubling metaphor that stands in the way to the lofty remark.  Got diversity?  Easier said than done.  Are YOU ready for your future? 

Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakes” ~Carl Jung

Last year I sat with Brian Mac Mahon, sensei of Expert DOJO one of the partners of the event, to discuss Compassionate Santa Monica’s interest in the intersection of tech and corporate responsibility.  The tech industry can and should generate widespread opportunity instead of inequality and displacement, but without the acknowledgment that such disparities exist, as echoed by the Yale study, how to correct such imbalances?   That is one of the goals of Compassionate Santa Monica business sector.  We aim to build a compassionate and inclusive business community.   

Local leaders now have the opportunity to own up to intrinsic bias in policy making and development. The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Americans revealed that all income levels remain profoundly unaware of the economic inequality between their groups. The clueless misperceptions could negatively affect public policy as (if) we grow more diverse, researchers said, with politicians championing misguided legislation rooted in false impressions.  Santa Monica is not immune to this problem. 

 “Perhaps, after all, America has never been discovered” ~Oscar Wilde

We have a fair share of equity issues, evidenced by last years’ school board Equity in Education presentation by Dr. Pedro Noguera, Fay Wells and Justin Palmer’s incidents with SMPD, at-large vs. district elections lawsuit, the renewed call for relocation of the Stanton Macdonald-Wright City Hall mural, criminalization of food street vendors, and compensation inequality.  Councilwoman Sue Himmerlich revealed at our meeting to discuss street vendors, she took the intrinsic bias test and found she hold biases: “I am sure you have taken it as well, everybody has biases”  Do you?  Got Compassion? 

I met with Mayor Ted Winterer on November 17, 2016, to present a Racial Relations Task Force aimed to deal with diversity issues created in part by the impact of tech on housing prices, the current presidential administration set of policies, parity representation at boards and commissions, and other issues.   The Wellbeing office jumped to facilitate a forum on immigration on February synchronized with a government resolution embracing diversity.  However, we still lack tangible solutions/policy to deal with the white elephant in the room, and the issues keep mounting. Resistant to own up their flaws leadership gets trapped in a bubble.

“But when Galileo invited Christian scholars to look through his telescope in order to see the new evidence, they flatly refused. They didn’t want to see any data that might count against the earth-centric view of the universe. It is difficult to think of a more revelatory episode of cognitive dissonance. They simply shut their eyes.”– Matthew Syed from Black Box Thinking


Is no secret the tech industry has a toxic diversity problem.  In her TEDx talk, Dr. Ruha Benjamin challenges biases inherent to modern scientific research. Prominent civic leaders misperceive the impact of tech on the quality of life of a big demographic of the city.  Stress is not a state of mind…it’s measurable and dangerous, and humans can’t seem to find their off switch.

When mammals escape from danger, their stress response settles and they return to a calm state. For human beings, our repeated exposure to everyday stressors such as traffic jams, long waits for the bus home and pushing crowds means that we live in a constant state of low-grade stress. I’d like to call them micro agression.  It’s as if our off-switch for stress is out of order because our stress levels rise so easily.  One of the reasons why lab bench science equity is key.  

The Chair of the Santa Monica Social Services commission Shawn Landres, PhD stood in front of City Council last year to cite a study supporting financial segregation of residents in the new affordable housing project: The Arroyo. On inquiry, I found out the “study” was an isolated survey of one housing project in Berkley, CA with no scientific protocol. Ironically Landres criticized our polling system in a previous blog post as unscientific. His Wikipedia page calls him as a social entrepreneur, independent scholar, and local civic leader, known primarily for applied research related to faith-based social innovation and community development.  Faith-based?   The banner of the 4th of July parade Social Services Commission he chairs read: “Advancing inclusion, diversity, and wellbeing. Lord have Mercy on us.  

A truly wonderful aspect of secular or faith compassion is that it helps to lift us out of our own pressing concerns and connects us with a bigger picture.  Compassion can help us as much as it enables us to benefit others.  All this is explored in the new online course, How to Become a Compassionate Citizen which is open for registration now and begins on 27 September 2017.  You can read more about the course here. If you wish to sign up you can register here. 

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~Mahatma Gandhi


The origin of this phrase comes from a time where the Moors, inhabitants of North Africa, used to invade from the sea and sack coastal villages in Spain. The phrase means that there are no Moors at the coast, which generally meant that there are no problems coming our way.  Turning the tables of diversity advocacy, when invited to speak to City Council in support of inclusion of Oaxacan food vendors for the upcoming COAST Open Street Festival, Landres, activist Irma Carranza, Project Manager Lisa Parson and Santa Monica Chief of Wellbeing Julie Rusk turned away and left the corner hall outside City Chambers.  Got inclusion?  Is rumored Landres is running for City Council in the 2018 election.  

There will be no ethnic food street vendors inclusion at COAST, but All-string female Mariachi band Las Collbrí, Hip-hop dance group Antics, Samba Reggae, Afro-Brazilian Dance, DJ Anthony Valadez and music from progressive salsa orchestra Rambankete will provide entertainment. A good show.  Beware, there will be pirates at COAST.



Is a Latin phrase literally translated as “Who will guard the guards themselves?” It is commonly used to refer to the problem of controlling the actions of people in positions of power.   Building on the foundation of a simple level of transparency who won City Grows the inaugural Hack the Beach event, I asked Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs, Carl Hansen,  to disclose the list of the judges for the event.  Well, patience is a virtue.

Catherine Geanuracos, one of the co-founders of City Grows, went to college with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.  City Grows do business process and open data for local governments, an industry ripe for transformation. “Transparency is a missing component of a lot of government technology, it is a duty and a responsibility, it is also practical,” she said in an interview.  Adding “These processes are opaque in nature, transparency helps to build trust, establishing a culture of change”.   Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, after multiple emails I’m still waiting for Hansen or anyone from the Communications Office with answers to simple questions.   City Grows was awarded an initial $5,000.00 contract to develop a transportation plan as part of the mobility strategy of the city. Currently, they are working with the Block Party permits of the Office of Civic Wellbeing.  “Making things digital allows for more efficiency and gives access to better information. Our open data portal allows for internal and external transparency. Information can be very valuable, any government activity is”  she concluded.   Who will guard the pirates?

“The fullest measure of respect that we can show our country is activism – our courage to take a stand or a knee to fight injustice.” ~ Brené Brown 

As Santa Monica celebrates the creative class, it must be mindful of a couple of things.  One–appropriation is not collaboration, they can’t co-create by excluding the very community they aim to serve, two–not be so fascinated with the creative class that it neglects the working class that keeps the city going, and finally pay attention to digital colonialism.  Data and algorithm transparency is key. 

“He said his name was Columbus, I just said, “Good luck” ~Bob Dylan, 115 Dream

Florida praises “the clustering of knowledge assets, technology, firms, startups, universities, human capital, the talent that so many of us have seen as the motor for innovation, entrepreneurship,  productivity and economic growth.” But that same congregation is also at the root of “deep divides in our society.” 

“Problems can not be solved with the same mindset that created them” ~Albert Einstein

“The problem is not the problem,.  The problem is your attitude about the problem.”  ~Captain Jack Sparrow

“Tech solves some problems and creates others,”  Geanuracos said

Take a deep look in the mirror. Ask hard questions. Explore how you can become a catalyst for a true compassionate city.  Here is a hack for you: treat everyone with dignity, kindness, and respect. Inclusion is the real challenge of wellbeing.  

Compassion is not a mindless detail.

WELLBEING: What Art Got To Do With It?

By: Zoë Muntaner

An update from the Office of Civic Wellbeing was presented to Santa Monica City Council under the Special Agenda Items at the September 12 meeting. The buzzwords are diversity, race, equity.  On the heels of the renewed call for the removal of the historic Stanton Macdonald-Wright City Hall mural, one of its most relevant highlights involve intensive staff training on racial equity led by the Center for Social Inclusion and Government Alliance on Race and Equity.

“Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action.”~ Jim Rohn

Activists have viewed the mural an expression of racism that parallels the Confederate Flag.  Julie Rusk, Chief of Civic Wellbeing watched protesters cries of the blatant symbol of colonialism from the balcony of City Hall, a day before her presentation. Yesterday, she accompanied Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades to the Pico Neighborhood Association Meeting for his presentation of a policy proposal affecting immigrants.  Coincidentally like the Wellbeing Index, the law is about data. The City is considering a law that would limit the gathering and use of information about a person’s immigration or religious status. It seems they can’t escape the historical legacy of local disenfranchised populations. The law is designed to empower the City Attorney’s Office to file lawsuits on behalf of marginalized immigrants. Oscar de la Torre, Chair of PNA stated: “the policy offers a false sense of security, this is another instance of a white organization teaching people of color about social justice” Mr. Rhoades said: “We use discretion and don’t want to file false claims” Oh, the irony of ironies… a story for another post.  Stay tuned.

“What we need today are universal values based not on faith but on scientific findings, common experience and common sense.” ~Dalai Lama

Back to the mural. The Santa Monica Landmarks Properties website offers a brief history of the mural–President Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped cure the country of “The Great Depression” by allocating several billion dollars to Public Works Administration projects, as a means of providing employment, stabilizing purchasing power, improving public welfare and contributing to a revival of the American industry. The City Hall walls feature murals documenting the city’s and the state’s history. Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) created one of the most extensive mural cycles in Southern California at the Santa Monica Public Library in the mid-1930’s, unveiled on August 25, 1935.

The Mural’s history is chronicled at the Santa Monica library’s website. Macdonald-Wright, had plywood panels specially prepared.  This technique, termed “portable murals,” was also utilized by famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Such a procedure enable easy removal from the wall if necessary. This is exactly what happened in 1965 when the library moved to a newly-constructed building located at 1343 Sixth Street. Deemed too old-fashioned, the Depression-era mural cycle was not transferred to the new facility, and the federal government took possession of all the mural panels. Alas, removal has precedent.

According Dr. Noah Bardach, an art-historian and co-founder of Universal Human Rights Initiative (UHRI), a non-profit focused on human rights education, “The WPA murals at the entrance to City Hall, depicting two American Indian men at the feet of a conquistador and a Franciscan friar,  communicate prominent themes of white supremacy over Native Americans and other people of color.” Local activists demand the murals be moved to a local museum. Dr. Bardach further explained: “These images glorify two historical tragedies for indigenous peoples, the Conquest and forced conversion by the Catholic Church, both of which resulted in the decimation of local populations from violence and sickness. The loss of life suffered during this period can rightly be thought of as a Native American Holocaust. Paired with this message of Native American subjugation and suffering is a mural of Caucasians at leisure.   Together, these two murals convey a vision of Santa Monica as an enclave for the pleasures of the White leisure class, one where people of color are kept in an inferior status and hidden out of sight.   The City of Santa Monica must recognize the central message of these works for what it is: white supremacy. This is not representative of the diverse, inclusive Santa Monica of today and it must not be the sentiment that greets visitors to our City Hall.   To live up to our highest ideals as a City, and in recognition of the wrongs that have been visited on minorities in our City’s past, the City of Santa Monica must take immediate steps to relocate the mural to a museum, or other suitable location, where it can be appreciated as a historical document.”

Carol Lemlein, President of the Santa Monica Conservancy filmed the demonstration on Monday. “I personally think there is little equivalency with the use of the Confederate flag and erecting statues of Confederate icons, most of which took place long after the Civil War and which were, for the most part, erected in defiance during the Jim Crow era.” said by email statement. She offered some food for thought courtesy of African American historian, Alison Rose Jefferson. “The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has issued a statement which in my mind offers a much more constructive and unifying approach than what I heard at City Hall on Monday.” she wrote.


The intention of Santa Monica Wellbeing Office is to hone in on partnerships as an effective path to address concerning aspects of community wellbeing, one would think this is an ideal opportunity to address those intentions in a tangible way.  Local equity issues debated through education, affordable housing, street food vendors and authentic inclusion are on the line.


The Wellbeing Index was deemed a “game changer” when it won the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge in 2013. Will they talk a good game or play a good game? We can only guess what Mike Bloomberg would say about sportsmanship. In his 2016 Annual Letter on Philanthropy, he wrote: “Teamwork wins championships, as any sports fan can tell you…But having a full roster is a far cry from having a great team, to say nothing of winning a championship. Success will require leadership that unites everyone behind a common mission and gets everyone to work together by promoting communication, collaboration, and coordination. It’s a role that Bloomberg Philanthropies has fully embraced.”  

“Truth is an inseparable companion of justice and mercy.” ~Pope Francis

Santa Monica does not have a good track record when it comes to inclusive teamwork.  A lack of viable and sincere city government leadership have residents at wits ends.   After multiple emails expressing a desire to co-create with Compassionate Santa Monica, Wellbeing Project Manager Lisa Parson, in patronizing superiority, said is not my place to define inclusion.  I thought we were getting along fine.   At Council Chambers, multiple boards & commission community leader Albin Gielicz divulged they are still trying to define what wellbeing means in Santa Monica. I’m confused.  What have they defined all this time?   Chief of Wellbeing Julie Rusk and Senior Strategist Libby Carlson have made it clear there is a gatekeeping policy.  When confronted by the question of how City Attorney staff will assure fair enforcement/compliance with policy/ordinances given the fact that intensive staff training on racial equity raises flags of historical bias, she admitted: “We have a lot of work to do, yes”.  With new findings showing a community in need of social connection, economic security, and stress management, one would think their approach would be more inclusive.  The launch party of the new findings of the Wellbeing Index at The Water Garden excluded key groups and advocates that have been tirelessly working towards equity, parity and good racial relations in Santa Monica.   Missing the mark as the best opportunity to start making those connections and affirming the sincerity of the message, does not sound promising.  “Perhaps this is not the best example of an inclusive event,” said City Manager Rick Cole.  He is right. “There are clear areas of disparity, and the overall strength of a community is measured by its ability to help all members thrive, including its most vulnerable members. The latest Wellbeing Index tells us that we have work to do and we want to enlist the entire community in bridging these gaps,” said Mayor Ted Winterer.  Off the gates, the entire community was not included. The flaws seem to be in the design.  Authentic Wellbeing Mantra: “Meet people where they are, but tell the truth”.  Let’s frame it with that intent.

“In the absence of love and belonging there will always be suffering” ~Brené Brown 


We’ll have to wait to see Rick Cole’s game plan. He adopted this project two years ago when he became City Manager.  Does he have what it takes to win?  Can he do the work of becoming a real team outside of the cheerleader’s squad? Is this another ploy of City Hall’s expensive PR Machine?  Is he an authentic agent of change? Are we being played? What kind of inheritance we want, one of money or one of values? Innovation thinks outside the box.  Unless we fundamentally practice democracy, wellbeing is a hashtag code for privilege.   The ball is in their court.

Speaking about games, the Compassion Games are currently being played around the world. Santa Monica has a team on the map.  To learn more visit The Global Unity Games: Building Bridges a 16-day challenge to unify communities around the world in an expression of globally synchronized intentions with locally organized compassionate action.  Today”s Mission: Nourishing the Diversity of Life.

 Are you optimistic about your future?

#CompassionUnites #SantaMonica #BuildingBridges Game On.


“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ~George Orwell 



By: Carol Lemlein

Fifteen historic places of worship throughout Santa Monica will be featured in the Santa Monica Conservancy’s annual architectural tour on October 7, 2017. Sacred Places will explore the architectural beauty, history and culture of churches, chapels and a synagogue. Selected for their cultural diversity as well as their historical significance, these sites play an essential role in our City’s history and character.

“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred – ever brushed against the holy – you retain it more in your bones than in your head; and if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.” ~Daniel Taylor, In Search of Sacred Places

The tour includes two churches established 1n 1875, the same year as the land auction which established Santa Monica: First Presbyterian and First United Methodist.  By 1886 they were joined by St. Augustine-By-The-Sea Episcopal and a Catholic parish, forming a cluster of church structures in the new downtown on 3rd and 4th Streets, near Arizona Avenue.

Phillips Chapel, our oldest African American Church, was founded in 1906 and soon occupied a former schoolhouse relocated to its present site in Ocean Park, near the homes of many of our earliest African American residents.  A later and much larger African American church, Calvary Baptist, is also featured on the tour.

The Hispanic parish of Iglesia el Sermon del Monte, affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, conducts Sunday bilingual services.  Originally established in a small storefront mission on Lincoln Blvd. in Venice, the church relocated in 1973 to Ocean Park, where it occupies a former Baptist Church with magnificent stained glass windows.  Another predominantly Latino congregation, the St. Anne Church, and Shrine feature a beautiful outdoor shrine first created in the 1950s.

St Anne
St Anne Church and Shrine, photo by Judy Raffel 

The Unitarian Universalist Community Church was founded in 1927 by a group seeking socially and politically liberal ideas in their place of worship. They selected Santa Monica’s famed architect John Byers to design a warm and intimate space for their gatherings. Santa Monica’s oldest synagogue, Beth Shir Shalom, was formed in 1939 during the Holocaust years.  

A less familiar faith is found in downtown Santa Monica, where St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox is a church deeply rooted in the teachings of St. Mark the Apostle, who brought Christianity to the Egyptians in 37 A.D.

The tour is self-driving and great for biking. It is suggested that guests download this map to elect a check-in location and plan their tour, as time may not permit visiting all 15 locations.  At check-in, you will receive a wristband and a detailed brochure. All ages welcome.

Tickets may be purchased on the Conservancy website  or at the check-in locations on the day of the tour.  Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for the public. Members of the site congregations and of the Santa Monica History Museum will also receive a special discounted rate.  Tickets purchased at check-in will be $30 for members and $35 for the public.

Angel Gabriel

List of Tour Sites:

  1. First Presbyterian, 1220 2nd St. * 
  2. Iglesia el Sermon del Monte, 2nd and Hill Sts. 
  3. Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St.
  4. St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox, 1245 4th St. 
  5. St. Augustine by-the-Sea, 1227 4th St. 
  6. St. Monica Catholic Community, 725 California Ave. 
  7. St. Paul’s Lutheran, 958 Lincoln Blvd. 
  8. First United Methodist, 1008 11th St. 
  9. Unitarian Universalist Community, 1260 18th St. 
  10. Pilgrim Lutheran, 1730 Wilshire Blvd. 
  11. Beth Shir Shalom, 1827 California Ave. 
  12. Phillips Chapel, 2001 4th St. (open only from 3-5 pm) 
  13. Mt. Olive Lutheran, 1343 Ocean Park Blvd. * 
  14. St. Anne Church & Shrine, 2011 Colorado Ave. * 
  15. Calvary Baptist, 1502 20th St. 

Check-in locations are designated with *.   

Jane Jacobs: Some Myths about Diversity

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Alice Feldt Thoughts on Photography

This section of the Jane Jacobs book The Death and Life of Great American Cities was about the opposition’s misconceptions about diversity in the city and how they are wrong.  For Jacobs, diversity is concerning a diversity of uses of a space, not necessarily culturally or racially.  She advocates that many types of business and residences are the hallmarks of a thriving city neighborhood.  There are three main myths she identifies in this chapter.  The myths are the opposition often cited by city planners against diversity.

The first myth Jacobs addresses that diversity is ugly.  She counters this by saying the opposite is true.  That homogeneity is actually the eyesore.  There are two ways that city planners try to deal with homogeneity:  Either they make the area obviously homogeneous in uses and in style of building, which Jacobs argues is boring and disorienting.  I think of Robert Adams and the…

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By: Radha-Krishna Das (Roozbeh Foroozan)

Hidden at the dead-end of an alley in Culver City, between a vegetarian restaurant and a temple, lays the  The Bhagavad-gita Museum: A Treasure House of Spiritual Knowledge, an artistic masterpiece that brings an ageless spiritual wisdom to the aural and visual reception. Henry Thoreau sees our modern world and its literature as puny and trivial in comparison to the Bhagavad-gita and George Harrison, who visited the museum in the late 70s, compares it to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and finds it more attractive than the Disneyland.

What do the Bhagavad-gita and its museum have to offer? Is another theology and philosophy the answer to our brutally conflicting world of –isms?



A blind king is anxiously listening to his minister who clairvoyantly is reporting live from miles away of the greatest trial-of-arms in the history of man. Ninety nine sons of the king, with allies from all over the universe are going to fight till death with their five cousins, headed by Arjuna – the mystical archer. But Arjuna, son of the Wind-god, is despondent seeing his friends and family on both sides ready to lay down their lives. His body is trembling and he can not bear the weight of his mystical bow, which he had seized from Indra, the king of gods.

In his anguish, he turns to his intimate friend, Krishna– the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has assumed the role of Arjuna’s chariot driver.

And thus Krishna begins to explain the first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita; that the perishable body and the eternal soul are not the same: that we are not this body; we are a spiritual spark that illuminates and drives the dead body and it is this spirit soul that differentiates a dead body from a living.


There are quite a few Sanskrit words that are part of English vocabulary nowadays. No one would need a dictionary to understand phrases like “bad karma” or “political pundit”. Dharma is another one of these words interwoven into the English fabric maybe as early as Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel “Dharma Burns”. But what does dharma exactly mean? Many casually translate dharma as “religion” or sometimes “duty”. But there is no exact translation for this word in English. According to Oxford dictionary, dharma is “the eternal law of the cosmos, inherent in the very nature of things.” In other words, dharma of something is its inherent quality. For example, the dharma of fire is heat; the dharma of water is wetness. The dharma of something is the setting in which that something exists naturally and effortlessly.

One may ask why a word may not have an equivalent among more that one million English words?  The answer lies in vastly-different philosophical, social, and cultural setting of Sanskrit and English (or other western languages). For a member of classical Vedic society, a society following the Vedas–books of knowledge, “religion” is observing the socio-economical regulations which are based on one’s nature and qualities. Such regulations are delineated in dharma-shastras (religious “weapons” -books) and are implemented by the government which in turn is supervised by the priests. In this setting, the difference between one’s “religion/duty” and someone else’s “religion/duty” is due to differences in their nature and qualities. It is meaningless to say somebody’s “religion” is better that someone else’s and there is no meaning in “conversion” from one dharma to another.

The dharma-shastras recognize four social roles and four economical classes based on the qualities of an individual. The four social roles include: celibate studentship, married life, retired life, and renunciate life. The four economical classes are priests, managers or warriors, merchants or farmers, and workers. Depending on one’s socio-economical nature, a “religious” person follows his/her dharma or duty and as such he materially benefits in this life and in future. For example, a family man has to provide for his family, be truthful and righteous, maintain internal and external cleanliness, be merciful and charitable towards others, and be in control of his senses and mind. Following dharma, qualifies one gradually to receive spiritual knowledge which ultimately leads to liberation from the cycle of life and death (moksha).

Even in such a liberal setting, the Bhagavad-gita culminates in its final word of its final chapter (BG 18.66), as if stepping into anarchism:

sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà raja

ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù

Abandon all varieties of dharma! Just surrender unto Me! I shall deliver you from all sins. Do not fear!

To make sense of this revolutionary instruction which dismisses all the Vedic principles, we yet need to have a deeper understanding of dharma.


As already discussed, dharma is the intrinsic quality of something and the conditions by which that something exists naturally and effortlessly. We are born into certain bodies and have been trained and conditioned into certain qualities and as such we have certain socio-economical duties. But ultimately we are not these bodies and spiritually speaking, none of the bodily designations, qualities, and duties applies to us. But what is our spiritual dharma?  What is the condition in which the soul is naturally, effortlessly and happily situated? What is the duty of a spirit soul? That would be our real religion —not the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim religion and so on.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada writes in Journey of Self-Discovery:

“Your essential characteristic is that you want to love somebody, and therefore you want to serve him. That is your essential characteristic. You love your family, you love your society, you love your community, you love your country. And because you love them, you want to serve them. That tendency to engage in loving service is your essential characteristic, your dharma. Whether you are a Christian, a Mohammedan, or a Hindu, this characteristic will remain. Suppose today you are a Christian. Tomorrow you may become a Hindu, but your serving mood, that loving spirit, will stay with you. Therefore, the tendency to love and serve others is your dharma, or your religion. This is the universal form of religion.  Now, you have to apply your loving service in such a way that you will be completely satisfied. Because your loving spirit is now misplaced, you are not happy. You are frustrated and confused.

sa vai puàsäà paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokñaje

ahaituky apratihatä yayätmä suprasédati [SB 1.2.6]

That religion is first class which trains you to love God. And by this religion you will become completely satisfied.  If you develop your love of God to the fullest extent, you will become a perfect person. You will feel perfection within yourself. You are hankering after satisfaction, full satisfaction, but that full satisfaction can be obtained only when you love God. Loving God is the natural function of every living entity. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian or a Hindu or a Muhammadan. Just try to develop your love of God. Then your religion is very nice. Otherwise it is simply a waste of time (çrama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]). If after executing rituals in a particular type of religion throughout your whole life you have no love for God and your fellow human beings, then you have simply wasted your time.”


By: Zoë Muntaner 

In February of 2008,  Karen Armstrong asked the TED community to help build a Charter for Compassion — to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine. The golden rule is a basic principle that should be followed to ensure success in general or in a particular activity.  To treat others the way we wish to be treated. 

In September of 2013, I brought to Santa Monica City Council the idea of the Charter for Compassion to be adopted as a means of affirming the values of our city.  To my amazement they voted unanimously to sign the Charter, making me the Founder of Compassionate Santa Monica and its Chief Compassion Officer.  It was a moment in time where diversity mattered.  That was the easy part.  Since 2013, I’ve gone to numerous Council meetings to speak on behalf of animal and worker rights, affordable housing, development, police reform, anti-corruption act (campaign reform)  and human trafficking.  I use my voice to bring compassion to policy at Santa Monica City Hall and once to Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.  I’m part of a growing category of Citizen Lobbyists. Perhaps they didn’t see that coming (I’m sure they didn’t), perhaps it was divine intervention that worked its magic.  It will remain a mystery, but here we are: the first city in LA County to affirm the Charter for Compassion and 4th in the state of California, brought by an animated speaker with a mission, who wants to engage change-agents in authentic social entrepreneurship.


The work ahead was cut for me: How do we move from signing a document to practicing its doctrine in public life, day in and day out across every department, commission, and policy?   My personal belief is that government should be the servant of the people, NOT the ruler of the people.  There should be no room for entitlement or privilege if you are indeed a public servant.  Everyone should have access to government and its diversity makes it matter most.  Who is in the room matters. 

If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”  ~Shirley Chisholm

Like many of you, I’ve witnessed the traffic of misinformation, false narratives and spinning stories that support not so innocent agendas.  Compassion and diversity decoys have been deployed to distract us from what we are craving: truth, peace, purpose, understanding and personal power. Yes,  I’m also part of the growing category of media that matters.


I want to challenge you to stretch and grow because diversity & inclusion as of today are increasingly becoming buzz words for campaign strategies.  I  don’t ever want to move from the idea that the world can be a better place.  How we make it better together?  No matter how similar we seem, we’re all very different.  No matter how different we feel, we’re all very similar.  

Is baffling to me to hear an activist advocating equity in education for black kids only. When asked if Latino/Hispanics were included, the answer was a resounding no: “this is for black kids only”.  The wife of Mayor Antonio Vasquez (first Latino Mayor of Santa Monica) was in the room as a speaker that night.  Ms. Vasquez is one of the key advocates to bring Dr. Pedro Noguera Equity in Education to Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District along another Latino school Board member, activist, and City Council candidate Oscar de la Torre. 

It’s chilling to read Committee for Racial Justice activist Trudy Goodwin social media answer to a comment of solidarity and inclusion with “That statement is like attending a 5-k run for breast cancer and shouting “but lung cancer kills too”.  Seriously?  It’s cancer, it spreads.  Is not uncommon for cancer to show up in several parts of the body at the same time.  We’re all outraged and traumatized by police images killing innocent suspects.  Since when Racial Justice is exclusive Black justice?  

Apparently, it has become popular to exclude people that suffer the trauma of police violence because they don’t have the “right” skin color.   If you are Hispanic and black you are good… but if not, is limbo time…don’t dare to speak, is an exclusive matter.  All I have to say is:  

 I might not have the color but I have the struggle. 


Perhaps because I was born and raised with a black uncle, gay cousin/friends/neighbors, alcoholic relatives/friends, Jewish grandfather, Cuban & British neighbors, “white” parents and educated in a school that looked like a Benetton ad,  I was unconsciously groomed to tackle this issue.  

I surround myself with people of diverse perspectives, ethnicities, gender, political affiliations, disabilities and social status, it was the way I was raised.  Our perspectives might be different but at the end of the day, we share the same planet.  I’ve curated an exquisite group of friends that influence robust debate.  When we build with people that think the same and are the same, there is no perspective or change.  The excitement for me is to work with people that THINK DIFFERENTLY, the coming together of diverse people, while still affirming their differences.  To build a sense of community in the context of the obstacles we face, is to make Los Angeles a sustainable society for future generations. 

Right now we are endangering many voices and perspectives, that do not subscribe to the status quo.  Voices that sell their souls in the hopes of access, leverage, advancement, and survival.  This is not a time to distance ourselves from what is truly going on.  We don’t have to wait for an event to bring us together, we can build a community without a tragedy.  That’s why diversity matters to me.  It matters to me because we are better people by our ability to feel with the other, which is the meaning of compassion.  

TED creates action through ideas as evidenced by the Charter for Compassion.  We can develop the kind of identity that calibrates the gentle courage needed to speak our voice. Reason to join the City of Speakers  pre TedxLA experiment, a unique mosaic of the voices of Los Angeles.  We are working to capture the voice of LA in its rich diversity, spirit and authenticity.  The experiment is scheduled to be showcased at TedxLA in December. 


Despite the efforts of education activists, we are facing compassion illiteracy.  My goal is to have our school district make the revolutionary decision to teach the science of compassion and meditation at our schools.  That is a step to make a difference for future generations, innovation in education.

Disruption is either going to happen to you or BECAUSE of you. 

The algorithm for compassion lies in the hearts and minds of each of us, we are built with it, is encoded in our DNA.  I learned from a Bhagavad Gita scholar, that the classic does not contain a single line on morality, it’s all focused on CONSCIOUSNESS.  As we build cities of the future WE MUST LEARN TO DO SO WITH COMPASSION, balance the needs of those who have done very well in our society with those who have nothing to sustain themselves except the kindness of strangers. 

The general atmosphere in politics where discourse is managed as spiteful currency by purveyors of hate increases the danger of compassionate cities.   Compassion is the arbiter of fairness. The kind of law that we want, is in our conscience.  DIVERSITY MATTERS is hosting a CONSCIOUS DEBATE for local City Council and College Board candidates in Santa Monica.  Why?  Vedic thought brings undoubted integrity to political discourse and conversation.  It occupies a significant place in the intellectual and ethical life of modern times.  It invites voters and candidates to evaluate with fresh meaning the role of politicians and their responsibilities to our community and humanity at large.


This is an experiment I hope to expand to the rest of LA County in elections to come.  We must engage in the future of our cities, participate through the civic engagement available to us or make our own way to it.  Last September Michelle Alexander sobering Social Media announcement served an invitation to activists around the world.

Solving the crises we face isn’t simply a matter of having the right facts, graphs, policy analyses, or funding.  And I no longer believe we can “win” justice simply by filing lawsuits, flexing our political muscles or boosting voter turnout. Yes, we absolutely must do that work, but none of it — not even working for some form of political revolution — will ever be enough on its own.  Without a moral or spiritual awakening, we will forever remain trapped in political games fueled by fear, greed, and the hunger for power

Sobering indeed… aligned with the thoughts of fellow activist Cesar Chavez:

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.’



By: Amir Hussain

One often hears talk of “Islam and the West” or “Islam and America”. This brings up an image of two mutually exclusive realities. If we change one simple word, we get instead “Islam in the West” or “Islam in America”. That simple change makes all the difference. Instead of posing two warring factions, “Islam” and “America”, we see the reality of their interconnectedness. Islam is, of course, a “Western” religion, sharing deep roots with Judaism and Christianity. Muslims are much closer religiously to Jews and to Christians than we are to “Eastern” religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Muslims are also a strong presence in “the West”. Islam is the second-largest religion in Canada, Britain, and France, and may well be the second-largest religion in the United States. “Islam in the West” recognizes the entwined heritage of Islam and the West. The West as we know it would not be what it is without the contribution of Muslims. Think quickly of our number system, for example, and ask yourself if it is easier to do multiplication and division with Arabic numbers or with Roman numerals. To be sure, the number system came from India, but it was the Arabs who named it. Yet we often don’t see our connections, and people here in America often have a fear or hatred of Muslims.


My new book, Muslims and the Making of America, describes the realities of Muslim life in America, and highlights the contributions made to America by its Muslim population. To take only one example, American Muslims have served in the United States military since the Revolutionary War. There were some 300 Muslim soldiers who served during the American Civil War. That’s not a large number, certainly, but it also gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that Muslims are newcomers to the United States. At the end of 2015, ABC News reported figures from the US Department of Defence that some 5,896 Muslims were serving in the military. That number may be higher, since some 400,000 service members did not self-identify their faith. So almost 6,000 American Muslims serve in the armed forces, helping to defend the country.

Cover image

In America, we still think of violence as something unique to Muslims, and don’t seem to realize the violence around us. Charles Kurzman is a sociologist at the University of North Carolina who studies home grown Muslim terrorism. The numbers are, unfortunately, greater than zero, where they should be. But they are much lower than many people think. So for example in 2015, 19 Americans were killed in mass shootings by Muslims in America, 14 by the San Bernardino shooters (I will not glorify murderers by naming them), 5 by the shooter in Chattanooga. That’s less than the number of American Veterans who commit suicide each day (approximately 22), and about the equivalent of the number of Americans shot in any 8 hour period each day. Unfortunately, that changed this year.


On June 12, 2106, less than 2 days after the funeral of Muhammad Ali, an American Muslim killed 49 people and injured over 50 more in the worst mass shooting in the United States. The shooter was known to law enforcement, and had been questioned multiple times about ties to terrorism. His ex-wife told the Washington Post that he “wasn’t a stable person” and that he had beaten her. A former co-worker described him to the Los Angeles Times as “angry at the world”, as well as being “unhinged and unstable”. However, he was still able to legally purchase guns in the week before the shooting.

In a horrific way, the shooter also represented America, taking on our worst characteristics as a society. He was homophobic, and chose to attack an LGBTQ nightclub during Pride Month. Sadly, LGBTQ Americans are the most likely to be violently attacked in a hate crime. There were reports that the shooter had frequented the nightclub, as well as having a presence on gay dating sites. His ex-wife as well as a classmate thought he might have been gay. So his homophobia may have emerged out of his own sexual identity, which he may have had to suppress.

He also attacked the nightclub on Latin night, and the majority of those killed or injured were LGBTQ Latinx. So there was a deeper tragedy, of those marginalized for both their ethnicity and their sexuality being the targets that the shooter chose.

He also, as noted above, used guns that he had purchased legally to commit his murders. America’s gun deaths are a national disgrace and a national shame. In the ensuing debate over the murders, very few people mentioned that he used the guns that he had purchased for their intended purposes. Assault weapons, by definition, are designed to kill large numbers of people. You can use a rifle to hunt with, or a shotgun or handgun to protect yourself. But the only reason to have an assault weapon is to kill large numbers of people. And yet assault weapons are easily obtainable in the United States, even by a person who had been under the scrutiny of the FBI since 2013.

On a 9-1-1 call during the shooting, he pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. He also posted extremist Islamic statements on Facebook. Clearly, his interpretation of Islam is important here, and this part of his background needs to be investigated. But people belonging to other religious traditions have also committed mass shootings, and homophobia is sadly not unique to Islam. Matthew Shepard, to take only one tragic example, was not tortured and killed by Al-Qaeda.

American Muslim groups were quick to condemn the shootings (as they always do), and remind people that their sympathies were with the murdered, not with the shooter. The shootings also caused many Muslims to think about homophobia in their communities, and perhaps to rethink their views on homosexuality. There is so much work ahead that we need to do, both in Muslim and non-Muslim communities, to make the connections between misogyny, homophobia, and other hate crimes.

Reasons to Tell Brand Story on Snapchat

By: Saba Sedighi, Snapchat for Business Coach & Instructor, iStream Social

It’s easy to want to dismiss Snapchat. There are already an overwhelming number of social platforms your business has to manage just to have a well rounded social presence. So naturally, the thought of introducing a 3rd, 4th, 5th or even 6th sounds like something you’ll just continue to procrastinate on until 2017?

 I’m here to tell you that you’re making a mistake and underestimating the potential, you’re missing out by not creating content, building your community and engaging an audience on Snapchat. We consistently hear narratives around the importance of not talking about your product but developing a story around your brand. This allows your audience to connect with what you are selling and ultimately become a loyal fan and customer.
It’s not everyday that a platform comes along and changes the way we think about creating content, and sharing moments. I’ve outlined just 5 reasons you should stop procrastinating on storytelling through Snapchat and begin embracing this platform unique features.

1. Reach
 Let’s talk numbers. This keeps things unbiased and objective. Snapchat has been one of the fastest growing social networks of the decade. Since it’s launch in 2011, it has grown to over 150+ million daily active users and it’s estimated that over 400 million snaps are exchanged each day. Their video product has skyrocketed with over 10 billion daily video views (Facebook has 8 billion daily video views).


2. Immediacy
 Have you even scrolled past a post on your feed or seen an article that caught your attention and immediately though, “oh I’ll just look at it later.” Well for most people, later becomes never primarily because later we are inundated with just the same amount of content to consume. A key differentiator with Snapchat is that content that is submitted to your “Story” expires after 24 hours. Although some may argue this is a disadvantage for the platform, I completely disagree. This counteracts the “later” mentality and encourages users to consume the content when they see knowing it will not be there later that week.

3. Creativity 
Such a vague term usually used when describing an artist, designer or writer who has to think outside the box to convey their message or emotions. Creativity goes far beyond those stereotypical definitions and expands into the way we live our lives and express ourselves regardless of our professions or artistic abilities. When you are creating a Snap (Photo or Video max of 10 seconds) you’re able to layer a variety of different creative elements in order to enhance your content. Your toolbox includes : Text, Drawing Pen, Emojis, 3D Stickers, Video Filter, Color Filters, Geofilters, Facial Lenses, Face Swap. Storytelling takes on a new level of creativity and gives you permission to try new things every single time.

Snaps by @SabaSedighi

4. Engagement  When content feels native, authentic and human people are more likely to respond and feel a personal connection with the message being communicated. Snapchat’s medium of creating content in 10 second bursts of photos and videos allows users to keep their creations fun and informative without the pressures of making it perfect. A recent Business Insider Intelligence study found that “Snapchat is five times more effective than Twitter and 10 times more effective than LinkedIn at getting users to spend time on the platform on a per-user basis.”  In addition to its highly engaged user base, Snapchatters are spending an average of 25-30 minutes on the platform. This includes messaging their friends, consuming stories and brand Discover channels.


5. Keepin’ it Real
 With all the Instagram filters, post-production tools and editing features it’s not often you come across content that hasn’t been produced, well except Snapchat. Since you are taking your photo or video directly on Snapchat and adding all of your creative within those 30 seconds, even if you’ve added a pretty flower lens or dog filter, you’re content feels authentic. We often hear, “Be authentic, humanize your brand.” Well there’s more than a few people not practicing what they preach with their over produced and edited content on the web. Luckily Snapchat has not only made Storytelling easy but also fun to do so without spending hours editing.

Of course, building an audience is never an easy task but passing up the opportunity to take advantage of storytelling on Snapchat would be a mistake in 2016. Snapchat has positioned itself in a unique place in the market by approaching the idea of content creation and storytelling from a new angle. The platform empowers you to authentically share your story in real time without the constant worry of having to produce perfection.

Welcome to Santa Monica SNAPCHAT!