The DHARMA of DIVERSITY

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?

dialogue001

SETTING THE SCENE

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.

DHARMA

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.

ABANDON ALL VARIETIES 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.”

IMAGINE if it MATTERED…

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.

50-inspirational-anne-frank-quotes

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.

Does DIVERSITY MATTERS?  IMAGINE.

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. 

206802-anne-frank-quote-i-live-in-a-crazy-time

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. 

EDUCATION

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.

IMG_3476

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.’

IMAGINE if DIVERSITY MATTERED like that.

ISLAM IN AMERICA

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.

11403480_465978043565101_5301799034608643617_n

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.

bipolar-american

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.

Ali
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.

A FATHER’S DAUGHTER

By: Zoë Muntaner

It’s rare, all right. A full Moon last landed smack on the Solstice in the 1940s. It’s the kind of thing that would have inspired the Mayans to shove a few extra in-laws from their pyramids – the sort of coincidence that would have made the Stonehenge folks haul additional stones into position. But that’s what’s actually happening this Monday, June 20. ~Bob Berman, Almanac Weekly

moontaner

The MOON is part of my business. This platform is the first digital property of  New MOON Media & Communications .  Click on name to learn more.  I started using the moon to illustrate the pronounciation of my last name. Phonetically, the first three letters of my father’s last name –Muntaner- sound like MOON. Instead of suntan, use moontan,  add er and the end.  Critical rolling of the “r”.  Practice makes perfection.  I’m fond of my Father’s name.

Yesterday was my first Father’s Day without my dad on earth.  I tried to write but something else was calling me to serve, my father would have done the same.  He would go to where he was needed before serving his personal or professional needs.  In his honor I went to the 2016 California Democrats National Convention.  I was there for the statewide delegation meeting that will be traveling to Philadelphia, PA from July 23 to July 28 for the 2016 National Convention.  My sister lives in Philly, at least I have room and board covered.  The hotels will be too chaotic for me.  I want to spend some time with my sister.  She is proud and supportive of my work,  I want to tell her more about it in person.  She actually sponsored one of my continuing education courses at General Assembly last month.   Since my dad passed away last July, we’ve become closer.  Death can be a catalyst to so many possibilities.  We’ll be together during the convention for the 1st anniversary of his passing, it sounds like the right thing to do.  It seems like is all part of a bigger plan, the stars are aligned, the mystery unfolding.  I just trust and let my faith guide me through the journey.

eDT26P458CN26FTAMFE787SW
As a young man Dad  enlisted in the US Military to serve.  I’m the proud daughter of a Veteran. It was quite the privilege to witness the burial flag on his casket during his military honors burial.  He was stationed in Germany and travelled throughout Europe during his youth as part of his service to this County.

My father and I had a special relationship.  Mom said we were the same, which means we butted  heads a lot.  Jewel sings: “In the end only kindness matter….We are never broken”.   For a while I felt seriously broken,  it propelled me to seek help to heal a wounded perspective.  The only thing from him I brought back with me to Santa Monica after his funeral, was an owl ring he wore on his pinky finger.  He collected owls, they represent wisdom, that symbol was important to his values.

“Many children have grown up with nursery stories of wise old owls. From the ancient Greek legends to the wise owls in Wini the Pooh and The Owl and The Pussycat, we have all seen images in folk tales of owls as the quintessential bearers of knowledge and sagacity.  From ancient Athens, the silver four-drachma coin bore the image of the owl on the obverse side as a symbol of the city’s patron, Athene Pronoia, the Greek goddess of wisdom who, in an earlier incarnation, was goddess of darkness. The owl — whose modern scientific name Athene carries this heritage — came to represent wisdom from its association with the dark (Saunders 1995). The owl was also the guardian of the Acropolis (Holmgren 1988), and the Roman statesman Pliny the Elder wrote that owls foretell only evil and are to be dreaded more than all other birds (Rackham 1997, as recounted in Martin 1996).  In many other cultures, owls represent wisdom and knowledge because their nocturnal vigilance is associated with that of the studious scholar or wise elder (Saunders 1995). According to one Christian tradition, owls represent the wisdom of Christ, which appeared amid the darkness of the unconverted (Saunders 1995). To early Christian Gnostics, the owl is associated with Lilith, the first wife of Adam who refused his advances and control. The owl had a place as a symbol in the King Arthurian legends since the sorcerer Merlin was always depicted with an owl on his shoulder. In Japan, owl pictures and figurines have been placed in homes to ward off famine or epidemics (Martin 1996)”.  ~Griffith Chen, Full-stack developer QUORA

The ring in my finger holds a daily reminder of hope.  It guides my choices and decisions the way dad wished I would be in the world.  My father did the best he could, I made peace with that.  He was the father of an imperfect daughter, I hope he made peace with that.  When he got ill, I went to visit him for a month.  He was bedridden by now, mom was his nurse 24/7.  It was hard for both of us.  He was so happy to see me when I arrived home at 4 AM.     The following day he sat in his rocking chair, I sat close to him, he looked to the horizon… his eyes filled with tears.  He started to cry.  Nothing was said, we both knew this was the last visit we were to spend as father and daughter.  I had to be strong for him.  With my silence, I did my best to let him know I would be fine.  Perhaps he was scared.  He didn’t know if I would be able to take care of myself as a single woman.  There were so many things unsaid.  I didn’t give him the joy of grandchildren. His name will end with me and my sister, unless I decide to adopt a child later in life.

Memories flood with fierce intensity.  I’ve learned that only I can unlock the door of my past and walk away.  My father didn’t have healthy parenting skills modeled by my grandfather, who immigrated from the island of Mallorca in Spain to Puerto Rico looking for prosperity.  He passed on from lung cancer, when my father was 17 years old leaving my dad as the head of a household of five.  I can only imagine what that did to his psyche.

Therefore, I’ve done as well as any woman could be expected to do under those circumstances.  Slowly but surely, my heart melts little by little.  I forgive the mistakes that were part of my upbringing.  The pictures above are of my grandfathers.  Left, Antonio Muntaner Flaquer and right, Maximilian Cohen (Abuelo Max).

“Everyone who plays a part in our lives offers something we might learn.”~Courage to Change  p. 335

At his funeral there were mended relationships from old family friends, everyone and then some showed up to pay their respects even though it was in a holiday weekend where most locals were out of town traveling.  I was surprised to see business leaders and politicians show up.  He was dad to me, for others he was a pillar in the community.

I learned to have a political, business and service mind from him.   He was always involved in some type of community service or volunteerism venture.  That’s who he was at his core, a man for others.   An old friend of mom and dad shared with us that when their father died they had nothing to eat, my father told my grandfather and showed up at their home to bring candy to the children.  He offered his unconditional support to them, with his already limited means.  That’s my DNA!  There is so much more I can write, but my intention is to honor him with actions not words.  He left me a ring, I give him Jewel.

FATHERS AMONGST US

There are other fathers around us worth mentioning here, serving families, cities, state, and communities.  First, I must talk about our City Manager Rick Cole. Having once been an elected official, he learned that much of what often passes for politics involves superficial soundbites, announcements of good intentions, oversimplification of complex issues and feel good symbolism. Both he and I understand the importance of these dimensions of public life, but his focus is on making measurable progress on key priorities that make a difference in the lives of real people here in Santa Monica.

My focus is on making policy that has intelligence, integration and impact.  Policy that creates more transparency and equity amongst ALL residents of Santa Monica.  I’m not a member of City Council, but I bring attention to the ideas that matter to me.  That’s how Santa Monica became the first city in LA County to sign and affirm the Charter for Compassion.  He is actively working on increasing capacity to deliver measurable results in two broad ways — one, better organization on how they do their work, which is music to my ears…. and two, work in greater partnership with other public agencies, NGOs, businesses, informal community groups and citizens, which sounds like a great prospective for Compassionate Santa Monica.

He visited Louisville KY, Mayor Greg Fisher last week.  Fisher is the man I spoke during my 2014 campaign for Santa Monica City Council, he ran on a compassionate platform and won.  The compassion games started from Seattle, WA calling game on Louisville, KY.  I met him at the Empathy and Compassion Conference in San Francisco, CA right after 2014 election.

IMG_4790
Banner at New Roads School in Santa Monica, for the 2014 Compassion Games.
IMG_7690
Mayor Greg Fisher at the Empathy & Compassion Conference in San Francisco, 2014.

I’m hopeful and patient.  I’m also disappointed that the City Council unanimously embraced the Compassionate City designation but has done little to actualize it. I assume that he has the same complaint, but from a different angle.  When he took the City Manager job, he told the Council, privately and publicly, “Your problem is that you have 15 top three priorities.”  I know which is priority 1,2,3: DEVELOPMENT AND DENSIFICATION.  I’m all in for affordable housing development and slow growth, but we have an issue of ideas brewing on a pot of misinformation and people are drinking the KOOL AID in Santa Monica.  Mr. Cole and his predecessor said publicly we don’t need development for revenue. Cole publicly said the future of Santa Monica lays in BETTER not BIGGER.  I’m getting some cues here. YOU?   The way I see it, City Council hired Cole to make magic happen here in Santa Monica, at the same time they are telling him how to do his job.  A receipe for disaster.  Lots of compassion for the man.

He and I both could spend the entire day listing the laudable projects, promises, policies and priorities embraced by our City, the last one being Diversity and Inclusion, which I brought to their attention, thank you very much!  There is almost no idealistic, progressive concept our City government won’t enthusiastically adopt, except the Anti- Corruption Act from Represent US and Safe Cities from UN Women.  I’ve been working with both initiatives for two years and have requested them be added to the agenda of City Council.  Other leaders are working strategically to take credit for it.  Cue: Elena Cristopoulos: you are being watched!

Mr. Cole explained to me the problem is governmental capacity to actually pursue simultaneously all these worthwhile endeavors — and produce measurable progress instead of simply raising unrealistic expectations.  The issue I see is that, despite having the communications resources, the city has failed in a cohesive strategy to inform its residents and build trust.  It is an understatement to think we are living distrustful times, as he expressed at the Civic Auditorium Planning Department- “I Love Downtown Santa Monica” event last week.  The trust is so fractured, broken and damaged, it will take a miracle to restore it.  Start praying people!

IMG_7677

When all is said and done, the challenge Mr. Cole has is how he would like to be remembered.  As someone who stood by its residents preserving what they have so dearly built by improving its infrastructure ? Or, someone who sat quietly and did the will of private interests funneled by the Chamber of Commerce,  and other non for profit institutions.  Someone come to our emotional rescue!  I’m confident he will make Santa Monica the best of the cities he has managed.  He has to. I have a good feeling about it and hope he does not let us down.  The earmark for the field was a flawless start, don’t you think?

His daughters are going to college, he has more time to focus on his new children (Santa Monica residents and City Council), once he moves to Santa Monica he will get a feel for what truly matters.  The LA Times didn’t call him the Guru of City Hall, just because he is chill.  The guy has some serious policy game. As a glutton of curiosity, I would like to know the neighborhood he will choose to call home. Don’t you?

A shout out to father and son Mayor Eric and Gil Garcetti (Where do I start? It will take me a whole new blog…coming in cowple of months, stay tuned), Muhammad Ali ( As my father, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was a man of faith and service to others), David Dorfman (IDEAS LA Swami), Governor Jerry Brown ( allowed SB 254 The “New” Overturn Citizens United Act to go to the ballot without his signature), Senator Bernie Sanders (My Jewish Hero who has transformed the political landscape this election cycle).  They are not perfect, who is amongst us?  Do I agree with every single of their stances? No.  Do I think they are doing good work?  Absolutely!  There is always room for improvement, that is the fabulous thing about life, every day we wake up with that challenge.

Ultimately the force that underlies all things in the Universe, which I choose to refer to as God, is the Father/Mother figure that deserves the loudest shout out.  I’d be lost without its guidance and support.  The mystery of that relationship is one of my sources of inspiration and service.  Without it nothing works.  Thank you God. Hebrew National hotdogs tagline reads: “We answer to a higher authority”

LATINO CAUCUS OF CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS

According to Marcy Winograd early morning Facebook post from the the Latino Caucus of the CA Democratic Party in Long Beach, a packed room shouted, “Primary them!” in reference to Assembly members  Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), and Marc Levine (D-Novato), three of the Dems who voted recently not to support farm worker overtime for those toiling over 8 hours a day, stooping in the fields, breaking their backs to deliver grapes, lettuce and strawberries to our table. The Democratic  Party base is mad as hell at these corporate Democrats cozy with agribusiness. State senate leadership plans to bring back the farmworker overtime bill via the senate, then back to the assembly again. Urge  Bloom — one of ours — to rethink this and vote for farmworker overtime. (310) 450-0041.  Never the wrong time to do the right thing, Richard.   Thank you Marcy for letting us know.  All I have to say is:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

“Richard Bloom remains silent in the face of his disgraceful and inexcusable vote. We await the change.” ~Buddy Gottlieb, Labor Attorney 

cesar chavez

Marcy Winograd recently organized another delegation to urge Richard Bloom withdraw his AB2844 bill calling for a state enemies list to thwart the BDS campaign for equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis. After his bill was heavily amended by the farm worker overtime bill author, he and two other co-authors of the anti-BDS bill refused to support farm worker overtime — defeating the bill with their three decisive votes. She spoke with Bloom’s Chief of Staff in Sacramento about this and he said there was no retaliation, that Bloom simply felt for the growers facing challenges with the drought and increased water fees. Her thinking is if you can’t afford to pay overtime, you shouldn’t be running a business.

The Democratic party is facing a problem amongst the more progressive leaning membership.  Bernie Sanders campaign is the result of that crisis. The referenced politicians present themselves as progressives.  Yesterday, I spotted few of the new wave of candidates and leadership making their way, showing symptoms of the same syndrome.  Young men with miniscule amounts of power using it for their own personal gain and agenda.  Oh, the egos of these kids!!!!  I’ll be keeping an eye on them,  we deserve better than that.  Honest candidates are getting ready to serve.  To honor my father’s legacy of service, I serve by watching, warning  and writing.  Not under my watch, is all I have for tonight.

jon stewart

Have an awesome Summer Solstice today and tomorrow.  May you have sunsets as gorgeous as this:

IMG_0032
Santa Monica Sunset with no filter shot with iPhone 2014.

DIVERSITY OF IDEAS

By: Zoë Muntaner

Santa Monica City Council meetings can be a hoot or a total bummer, depending of your idea of fun.  City Hall steps where the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council hosted a local Community Vigil for the Orlando victims was a setting for a hopeful outcome, after all we ended the vigil singing PEACE, SALAM, SHALOM.  You would think that transferred to City Chambers, correct?  It depends on your idea of peace.

Nightclub Shooting Las Vegas Vigil
A person places a rose by a flag during a vigil at The Center, a community center for the LGBT community, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Las Vegas. The vigil was for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (AP Photo/John Locher)

I’m so glad I have this outlet, the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. If I don’t get my two minutes extended to finish an important presentation, I sit in a comfy chair or bed and write.  My voice is read globally from a phone, laptop or mobile device.  Thank you Jesus, Mary, Moses and all the prophets before me.  Speaking about prophets who were often persecuted — not an easy existence — when our City Manager Rick Cole told me he thought I was one of the prophetic voices in Santa Monica, I didn’t know how to react.  Is that a compliment or a premonition?  Last week I was TAKEN,  spent 5 days in captivity.  I was abused and my civil rights were violated left and right.  I was not charged with any crime.  My crime is advocating for the homeless, I’ve been voicing my opposition to the harassment and criminalization of this vulnerable population.  Remember a statement from a previous post?  My commitment to use my voice for the voiceless?  I walk my talk.  Is it a crime to be poor?  Is it a crime to be mentally ill?   The lack of compassion from members of the Santa Monica Police Department is a scandal in the making, actually is a scandal period, is made already.   The lack of ACTION from our city staff is an embarrassment.  Mr. Cole, is time to use that moral imperative you spoke two city council meetings ago.  Where is the moral compass of Santa Monica?  Wait for the story, it has so many layers, twists, and turns that I’m going back to my New York storytelling roots, tell it on stage to broadcast via livestream.  Believe the hype, it is gripping stuff.

”We are here today because we have a power we have yet to exercise” ~Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Mayor on TACO Challenge Speech

I’m here to exercise the power of my voice.  I won’t be silenced!  Read previous posts, I LOVE MY FIRST AMENDMENT.  You mess with it, you are messing with a whole powerful global industry.  Do you think I’m fighting this battle alone? Seriously?  Bring it!  I’m fearless.  When it comes to standing for my rights and injustice of the powerless & voiceless, who are harassed day in and day out in our city and around the globe, something kicks in.  Think global, act local, I’m a localist!  For now, I’ll be focusing on local issues, because someone has to do the job,  it feels like a calling to me.

Back to City Council tonight, after reading Bill Bauer Monday Commentary on the Santa Monica Daily Press, I had hopes.  You would think council members read his column, apparently not.  Since he is way better writer than I am, here is a bit:

“The frustration level mounts, people become more unhappy  and dissatisfied with the way they are being served -or ignored.  Special interests are taking charge and we know what they want – benefit for their causes and conditions over the needs and the desires of the public.” ~Bill Bauer, Columnist Santa Monica Daily Press

Tony Vasquez provided enough fuel for me to write all night.  But I have a previous engagement to attend.  The order of business is IDEAS LA.  I’m writing this post, directly and live from the Broad Stage, in the glamorous city of Santa Monica.

IDEASLosAngeles_TelAvivUniversityAmericanFriends

IDEAS Los Angeles is a project by Tel Aviv University-American Friends in partnership with dozens of corporations, private businesses, community organizations, institutes of higher learning and media outlets to create a space where global business leaders, futurists, studio heads, movie and television producers, healthcare providers, doctors, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, Tel Aviv University administrators, professors, and alumni can come together and share ideas.  IDEAS LA (Israel, Digital, Entrepreneurs, Arts, and Science) is hosted by American Friends of Tel Aviv University, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Israel’s largest institution of higher learning.

IDEAS wants to inspire people to think deeper and more broadly by engaging with inventors and innovators tackling some of the most exciting challenges in the world today.  American Friends of Tel Aviv University supports Israel’s most influential, comprehensive, and sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). TAU ranked #75 globally and #1 in Israel in a 2015 Reuters survey of the 100 most innovative universities. It is one of a handful of elite universities rated as the best producers of successful startups, and TAU alumni rank #9 in the world for the amount of venture capital they attract.

It’s not an official IDEAS event without the brightest, most creative minds speaking!  That’s why I’m here, to pick their brains.  So far is a hoot!  This is the place to be today and tomorrow. The code LATINX will get each registrant 50% off all ticket prices.  Courtesy of yours truly, DIVERSITY MATTERS.

IDEAS on the future of digital technology in, Health, Lifestyle, Entertainment, and Media.  I GOT INVESTORS SUPER INTERESTED IN FUNDING DIVERSITY MATTERS! Woohoo!!!!  If you are an entrepreneur at any stage, from seed to funded, you must be here, is all I have to say.  Run don’t walk.  It is the event of the season!  Just before Summer Solstice, great timing, two days before Shabbat, perfection!SelfieMirror_20160616_111658

Inspiring leaders and visionaries like, Jonathan Littman President of Bruckheimer Television; Ayelet Zurer – Actress and Producer; Jonathan Gluck – Senior Executive and Corporate Counsel at Heritage Provider Network; Robert Watson – President of Nanthealth; Alon Shtruzman – President of Keshet International; Marc Graboff – President of Global Business & Legal Affairs for Production Management & Studios at Discovery Communications are just a few of the 70+ industry leaders that will be sharing their vision for the future of digital technology, at IDEAS Los Angeles.

Here is the LINE UP:

Adam Becker, Founder & CEO, Egg Stage
Adam Mendler, CEO, The Veloz Group
Alexis Madrigal, Editor in Chief, Fusion TV
Alicia Menendez, Anchor & Special Correspondent, Fusion TV
Alon Shtruzman, CEO, Keshet International
Andrew Wallenstein, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Variety
Audrey Melnik, Founder, Funnel Ventures
Billy Shaw Susanto, Co-Founder & CEO, Pundit
Brendan Farrell, Founder, How Loud Inc.
Dr. Bonnie Feldman, Principal, Dr Bonnie 360
Dr. Brennan Spiegel,  Director of Health Services Research, Cedars-Sinai Health System
Brian MacMahon, Head Honcho, Expert Dojo
Caitlin Thompson, Director of Content, Acast
Caspar Van Winterfeldt, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Baron VR
Chris Aston, Co-Founder & COO, Pundit
Dave Whelan, Managing Director, Bespoke Business Strategy Inc.
Rabbi David Wolpe, Chief Rabbi, Sinai Temple
Edmond Banayan, Founder & Editor, iHealthcare Perspectives
Fern Langham, Co-Founder, Amplify Effect
Gene Gurkoff, Founder & CEO, Charity Miles
George Eleftheriou, Co-Founder & CEO, Feel
Gilad Neumann, CEO, DogTV
Haris Tsirmpas, Co-Founder & CTO, Feel
Harry Nelson, Founder & Managing Partner, Nelson Hardiman
Heather Rees, Founder, Amplify Effect
Hillary Frey, Executive Editor, Fusion TV
Indu Subaiya, Co-Founder, Health 2.0
James Poole, Co-Founder & CTO, PopChest
Jessica Naziri, Tech Contributor, USA Today
John Bates, Principal, Executive Speaking Success
Jordan Mendler, CTO, The Veloz Group
Dr. Julian Henley, Co-Founder, HealOra
Prof. Joseph Klafter, President, Tel Aviv University
Karen Allen, Karen Allen Consulting
Katherine Lehr, VP of Operations, POLITICO
Klaus Badelt, Co-Founder, Kinonation
Lia Kislev, CEO, Wishi
Liz Plank, Senior Producer & Correspondent, Vox.com
Marc Graboff, President of Global Business & Legal Affairs for Production, Discovery Communications, Inc.
Mayaan Cohen, CEO, Hello Heart
Mette Dyrberg, Founder, MyMee
Mike Stone, CEO & Founder, MakersKit
Miriam Illions, Co-Founder & CMO, Hometalk
Moe Mernick, Head of Business Development, Hometalk
Neal Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer, Canary Health
Nick Desai, Founder & CEO, Heal
Oren Gavriely, CEO, BeatMed
Oron Afek, CEO, BookMD
Rob Rader, General Counsel, Ovation TV
Robert Watson, President, NantHealth
Roey Tsemah, Founder, Whitestone music
Ron Levi, Chief Content Officer, DogTV
Ryan Foland, Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at UCI
Seth Shapiro, CEO, New Amsterdam Media
Steve Baltin, Host, Riffing With on Hulu
Steve Bradbury, Principal, Vlocity Digital
Valerian Bennet, Founder & CEO, PopChest
Dr. Uri Nevo, Dept. of BioMedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Yair Bar Haim, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Yael Hanien, Head of Nano Lab, Tel Aviv University

The initial lineup of featured start-ups includes:

Amplify Effect
Beatmed
CharityMiles
DinTV
EggStage
Heal
Healora
Hometalk
How Loud
Kinonation
MakersKit
PopChest
Pundit
Sentio Solutions
Whitestone Music

For more information or to purchase tickets to the IDEAS LA conference, please visit: http://www.ideaslosangeles.com, use code LATINX for a 50% off all ticket prices.

Pundit

See you at the Broad, I partnered with PUNDIT a great new app that allows you to have your own talk show, sorta! I will be talking more about through our livestreams interviews.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to listen to the talks from their booth!

To get Pundit go here: GET PUNDIT !!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

SPIRITUAL DIVERSITY

By: Zoë Muntaner 

WOW,  Pentecost was a diversity fest.  This day became especially significant for Christians because, seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus, during the Jewish celebration of Shavuot/Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon his first followers, thus empowering them for their mission and gathering them together as a church.

Jean_II_Restout_-_Pentecôte
“Pentecost”by Jean Restaut II, 1732 Public Domain

 

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” ~Acts 2:5-13

That’s how I feel at times when I go to City Council meetings. As if everyone is speaking a different language, but hearing the discussion in their native tongue. Their interests are at stake.  If land use is in the agenda, for sure I’m perplexed and amazed.  Maybe they had some drinks beforehand (I’m not talking about the councilmembers).  It has not crossed my mind until now.  Some people are drunk with power, that’s why I support term limits for City Council.  Is time we bring reform to that area or our government.

Last Sunday was the church birthday.  The night before, I walked to St. Anne’s for a quiet moment of silent reflection and noticed red programs stacked in a stand.  They read:

Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. ~John 20:22-23  

Sin is  particularly interesting to me because, like most humans,  I’ve sinned.  Through confession, I own it in order to move on and change direction.  I show up at life imperfectly.  In the spirit of keeping it real:

“Perfection is shallow, unreal and fatally uninteresting” ~Anne Lamott

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7  

The concept of sin is heavy for most people that lack a broader concept of the word or its meaning.  It was tough for me until I studied other traditions with meanings that allowed me to accept myself the way I am: imperfectly perfect.  Lack of love or missing the mark are two of my favorites.  Catholic guilt is a terrible thing.

“Our virtues are made by love, and our sins caused by the lack of it.”~Hazrat Inayat Khan

On Sunday, I went to yoga class early.  I placed my mat at the back of the room and stretched on my own. My teacher had a substitute.  Fifteen minutes into it, I started to cry.  “What’s going on?  I don’t have time for this, it’s Sunday, I want to have some Zen, not a breakdown.”  Then I remembered going to an Evangelical church in Malibu years ago.  The moment I walked into the classroom where they met and listened to music, I started to cry.  The friend who brought me to the service told me, “Don’t worry, that’s the Holy Spirit, is a normal reaction, just let it go”  Was this the Holy Spirit at work in the yoga studio?  Hmm. Here we go.

By the time I arrived to St. Anne’s my body was feeling ready to receive whatever message was there for me to get. After the service, I approached  the deacon and priest to ask if it would be possible to bless my laptop.  I’ve been  working on some stories for a while now, way before I launched the blog, without knowing their destination.  I want to make sure I’m writing them for the right reasons.  I would like to feel there is purpose behind their publication.  It would be nice to feel I’m transcribing them instead of writing them, to have any sense of ego out of the picture.  I’d like to feel I’m doing some service to the community.  I’d like them to come from a pure heart because, well….the issues are not particularly pure.

Both Deacon Raul Molino and Father Anthony Mbaegbu prayed, it was quite beautiful, poetry, a holy moment.  I cried again, a lot!  The deacon looked into my eyes and said:

“That is the work of the prophet, this is your calling”.

– Oh, no,no,no,no.no!  Father, you don’t understand, I’m just writing a blog, there is no prophetic business in that, I’m a sinner, that’s why I come to church, to heal, not to be scared like that sir!

Saint

He shared some spiritual wisdom. I was scared and stayed for another service.  I sobbed for hours.  If the Holy Spirit manifests itself through tears like my friend told me in Malibu years before, I definitely received it.  No doubt about it.

Father Jorge Guillen is a theology scholar, he gave a memorable sermon with historical background, current church politics, weaved with spiritual insight and guidance.  It was a first for me, it felt like professors you still remember from college because they were real, really good.  I was lucky, he prayed for me after the service and with that, there was some confidence and peace to go about the rest of my day. I stopped by their cafeteria to eat some of the Mexican food the Guadalupanas cook every Sunday and learned more about their community.

I normally attend St. Monica’s at 5:30 PM service with Monsignor Torgeson.   Both of them are Catholic communities but their demographic composition is distinctively different.  St. Anne’s has an element of social justice that is not as evident in St. Monica’s.  St. Anne’s is a little piece of East LA in Santa Monica, most of their services are in Spanish and the one in English is given by a Nigerian priest who is here for his PhD at LMU.  You see where I’m going?  We live in a segregated city.  Is alarming to me that the land use we discussed last week at City Council promotes further segregation by having affordable housing off site.  It could be easily controlled by the City Council.   Wellbeing? Compassion? Diversity?  Seriously?   We can’t call our city any of that if we plant the seeds of further segregation.

Some years ago Jodi Low, Coordinator of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market told me that perhaps the Virginia Park Farmer’s Market was more attractive to me than the downtown Saturday market because it was in the Pico neighborhood, where the poor community of Latinos and blacks traditionally shop. And …I’m the politically incorrect?  Thank God I know who I am, and recognize the ill-managed social training of some city employees.  However, at this day and age is still shocking someone makes a comment like that in a city like Los Angeles is beyong my comprehension.   Santa Monica is a special pocket in LA.  Since I have to pace myself,  I will leave Laura Avery for next post. I would like to draw from the words of Jesus in his crucifixion:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” ~Luke 23;34

IMG_5431

I have a good radar to evaluate intentionality.  Some people know exactly what they are doing, they just don’t care.  Two years ago while in campaign for City Council, I got in the elevator at City Hall to find an employee from the City Clerk’s office who told me: “keep doing what you are doing, they are scared” . My intention is not to scare anyone, my intention is to have an honest conversation about  some issues that don’t align with the so-called City Wellbeing and do not affirm the Charter for Compassion.  After the conversation we can go about the business of making change.  Shall we?  If we keep ignoring the white elephant in the room, you know what happens: “If you don’t pay attention, God will turn up the volume”.  On another instance Rebecca Adams, Administrative Staff Assistant who used to to be in the City Clerk’s office told me -as if she was incharge of the office- “come another time because everyone was busy and they can’t help you”.  Esterlina Lugo was ready to help me, but Adams was set on using her entitlement to make herself feel superior.  It does not stop there.  Last week, I sat on the same table she was sitting with other staff, waiting for the COSW meeting to start, she stood and left with someone I was striking a conversation to wait in front of the door.  This juvenile behavior belongs to a scene in Mean Girls not a city that claims Wellbeing, Compassion, Empathy, Diversity & Inclusion.  This stuff is relegated to films and fiction circa 1950 in the South. Do you agree?

via GIPHY

Am I the problem?  That is debatable.  If you want to keep Santa Monica a city of of racial tension and discrimination, perhaps I am.  On the other hand, if you want Santa Monica to be a real city of Wellbeing, Compassion, Diversity & Inclusion, I believe I’m part of the solution.  I tweeted yesterday a new mantra: “Zoë, just keep writing” , I t came to me in a moment of quiet reflection.  That is my job, to report from the frontlines, shine a light to issues that seem to get no attention but influence a fundamental part of our identity as citizens and our community.

BETRAYAL

I was betrayed on Friday.  Perhaps I had a delayed reaction and was vulnerable and fragile by Sunday, therefore all the crying.  Church was a place to find solace.  One thing is when someone let you down, betrayal is a whole different business.  Is a horrible feeling.

In Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, the ninth Circle of Hell is ringed by Biblical and Classical Giants. Nimrod , Ephialtes, and Antaeus are found here. THIS IS ONE TOUGH CROWD!

“The lowest, blackest, and farthest from Heaven. Well do I know the way.” — Virgil

 

Treachery is the ninth Circle of Hell. This last circle is dedicated to those people who betrayed their loved ones, friends, best friends, countries, cities, guests, and even to their masters.  YES PEOPLE, CITIES!  Are you betraying yours?  According to Dante, the end game is not pretty.  For me the best strategy in Public Relations crisis management is: own it, apologize, change directions.

That is my prayer for you.

DIVERSITY SLAPP

By: Zoë Muntaner

Santa Monica Pony Protester Marcy Winograd Wins – Court of Appeal Dismisses Pony Ride Operators’ Lawsuit as a SLAPP.

In a victory for legislative advocates, the California Court of Appeal (Division 5), a panel of three Justices, unanimously reversed a lower court ruling, and dismissed former Santa Monica pony ride operators’ Tawni Angel and Jason Nestor’s lawsuit against Marcy Winograd as a SLAPP – Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation – designed to chill public debate.

In issuing the ruling, the Court said Winograd’s accusations of animal abuse were protected by California’s legislative privilege.

“I’m grateful that the Court of Appeal sided with those exercising the right of petition to change the law and did not allow this chilling lawsuit to go forward. This is a significant ruling for animal lovers and for anyone petitioning their local or state government for legislative change. The Superior Court’s failure to dismiss the lawsuit against me was dangerous, chilling, and disheartening, but fortunately this appellate decision rights that wrong and affirms the importance of robust public debate and citizen activism.” ~Marcy Winograd

The court ruled that the statements in her articles and television interview relate to the supposed poor treatment the pony ride and petting zoo animals received, and either directly or inferentially solicited public support for her petition to cause the City of Santa Monica to take action to end the pony ride and petting zoo.

BACKGROUND

In March 2014, Winograd launched a petition to close the pony ride and petting zoo featured at the city-sponsored farmers market blocks from her home in Ocean Park. She first learned the pony operators were suing her when a reporter contacted her to get reaction to the operators’ lawyers’ press release announcing the lawsuit.

On September 9, 2014, after hearing arguments from proponents and opponents of the pony ride and petting zoo, the Santa Monica City Council voted to seek alternatives to the pony ride and zoo when the operators’ contract expired, and in May of 2015 the City of Santa Monica closed the animal exhibit after twelve years of ponies circling round and round on hard ground – all the while tied to a metal bar.

At the time, the lawsuit was filed some 1400 people had signed her petition – including school board members (now State Senator Ben Allen), former planning commissioners, two former mayors of Santa Monica, a minister at the Church of Ocean Park, and several merchants on Main Street.

While the Superior Court dismissed the entire SLAPP suit against her co-defendant Danielle Charney, the judge left much of the lawsuit against her intact. On appeal, however, she prevailed on the ground of legislative privilege – in other words, the Court agreed that all of her advocacy efforts were connected to the City Council’s legislative decision and were therefore absolutely privileged from civil suit.

Just breathe

“This is a huge victory for those who value robust public debate, the First Amendment, and legislative advocacy,” said Winograd. “This is good news, indeed.” ~Marcy Winograd

“This is an important decision for animal advocates, and for anyone campaigning to make change through our legislative bodies. The superior court’s ruling failing to toss the lawsuit out in the first instance was dangerous, chilling and disheartening. This appellate decision rights the legal ship and properly restores a very heavy burden to be borne by any plaintiff attacking public advocates.” ~Ira L. Gottlieb, Labor Attorney

I LOVE MY FIRST AMENDMENT

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting … you get the drill.

Like Marcy, I am an activist, writer and political citizen who loves robust debate.  I love my freedom of speech so much that I self-funded this platform to express my ideas, because two minutes at a City Council meetings was not cutting it for me, and emails were not working for me to accomplish the goals I set to work at.

“Free speech not only lives, it rocks,” Oprah Winfrey, 1998

Remember the  multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit by Texas cattlemen against the famous talk show host? The Amarillo, Texas, jury, decided the television talk show host did not maliciously harm the U.S. beef industry in a 1996 program on mad cow disease.

 

Oprah
Oprah Winfrey Harvard University commencement address, 2013

 

“I will continue to use my voice. I believed from the beginning that (the lawsuit) was an attempt to muzzle my voice, and I come from a people who have struggled and died in order to have a voice in this country. And I refused to be muzzled.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I’m a media and communications professional, not as wealthy as Oprah, but in the same field.  Lawsuits are part of the game, people get offended and then use the compassion rhetoric to manipulate my speech.  I refuse to censor myself, therefore, I pass each post through a legal advisor to protect the platform.   I’m in the perspective business.  This is my point of view and you are welcome to make comments below.

Purpose

TOUGH LOVE, TOUGH LUCK & MY OWN VOICE

My friend Holly Mosher, whom I’ve written about in this blog, is concerned about my last post because she felt it was a leap to call what Ms. Christopolos said Nazi rhetoric. She wanted me to come from the place of compassion and manners that I laid out in the post.  I value her opinion and that of a small group of men and women who are mentors, advisors and friends.  They supported the post.  They didn’t find anything wrong with it.  Remember,  a month ago I wrote about the time it has taken for me to get the discipline to write again.  After all that trouble, I do a disservice to my readers if I’m not honest with my POV.  I must show up as authentically on the page, as I show in life.  Yes, I’m the Founder of Compassionate Santa Monica, that does not mean that I will compromise my journalistic identity, integrity and style.  I must be transparent in my perspective.  Sometimes, it’s time for tough love, is still love, just a different kind.  Was I compassionate?  You bet I was.  I was compassionate to the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust, the survivors, and descendants that live in and out of Santa Monica.  Ms.Cristopolos comment was inappropriate and offensive to me and others.  Upon research, I found a quote under the inspiration tab of her social media Pinterest that proves my point:

Exist Elena

What you want me to say?   It makes perfect sense. It’s self-explanatory. Those are her terms, she values the statement enough to post it in social media.  Is this a slap to our faces?  You be the judge of that. She owns it, and she shows it.  That is all.

I will always choose love

On the other hand, I exist on a different term,  I’m not perfect, I own my flaws and humbly apologize when needed.  I stand by what I write because it always comes, and will continue to come, from love.  Follow me here: LOVE

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.“
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dare

DIVERSITY MANNERS

By: Zoë Muntaner

I have been told to never let my mood dictate my manners. Is a practice that takes decades to cultivate, and even more to sustain.  In the world of politics, where jabs are constantly thrown at you, the challenge is to keep calm under pressure.  Politics are not for the thin skinned, fragile or coward.

If you are a political citizen, at some point you will become passionate about ideals and campaigns, it is wise to be vigilant about emotions that potentially trigger crisis or disaster, which will later require the skill of a professional to manage.

Am I willing to suffer for this? “ is the question I always ask myself before commiting to action.

“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from” ~Joan Didion

Experience has taught me to be mindful on the passions I choose. Passion: (n.) from Late Latin passionem “suffering, enduring” stem of Latin pati “to suffer, endure, to hurt.”

I’m Latinx therefore my DNA is already infused with passion. Warning: Proceed with caution.

Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society” ~Alexander McCall Smith

DNA, NOW & CULTURAL APPROPIATION

Cultural Appropiation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture.  This week’s Santa Monica Downtown Neighbors Association and North of Wilshire Neighbors Association event was themed “Block Party”.  DNA is chaired by Elena Christopoulos a white young female and NOW is chaired by Troy Harris a black  young man.

I grew up going to block parties in Puerto Rico and New York.  So last night I dressed in washed out jeans, plaid shirt, sweater on my waist, LA Dodger cap and sandals. Most guests were overdressed. Travis Pagel and Peter James, the planners who are on the DCP road show were on point with their dress code.  They are busy, and have the toughest  job in town: sell a project that will alter the feel and character of downtown Santa Monica.  I admire their tenacity and have compassion for the trouble they go through doing their job.

I was greeted by a new Santa Monica resident whom I met at the Santa Monica Democratic Club meeting where David Martin presented the DCP. I was surprised when he told me he became a board member of DNA within months after moving to Santa Monica. His name is Wellington Moreno, we connected because he is Dominican from the Bronx, you know me, I love my color people. Mr. Moreno greeted me with a warning: “I hope you are not coming here to cause any trouble”.  It can only go uphill from there, yes?  Wrong. Next stop was the sign in table to get my ticket for a free drink (the invitation said drinks, as in plural).  I shook hands with Ms. Christopoulos whom I contacted months before to discuss Compassionate Santa Monica.  She also serves in the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women. I thought it would be easy to sit and meet, after all, it is part of her job. Correct? Wrong again.  I was snubbed and unfriended from her Facebook page.  I’ll take my speech somewhere else, not everyone has a taste for compassion in this town.  Take note, Santa Monica is the first city in LA County to sign the Charter for Compassion, and the 4th city in the whole state of California.  Did I mentioned it was a unanimous vote by our City Council?  It was, back in September 2013.  I have been in the compassion movement for three years now.  Not an easy task.  I am a developer of sorts, I build compassionate cities, and it is the slowest growth of all developments.

Around 7:30 PM speeches started.  Ms. Christopoulos time came up and she scolded the audience because they were not listening to her, and ask people to be quiet. I do event planning through my company New MOON Media & Communications.  My piece of free advice: never give alcohol and food to your guests and wait more than 30 minutes before starting the speech portion of an event. When her please didn’t work, she deployed her bomb:

“I am half German, so you know, I have all the time in the world” ~ Elena Christopoulos, Political Consultant, Speaker, Communications Consultant, President of DNA & Commissioner of the Status of Women in Santa Monica

Should I be scared?  What does that mean? Oy vey!

My grandfather Maximillian Cohen was Jewish, I was raised Catholic. I’m surprised to find out that Elena has a website offering political advisor, communications, and speaker services.  Interesting choice of words and attitude, especially since she was stressing civility and diversity throughout the night.  Entitled?  You be the judge of that.

My issue here is that I’m commited to moving the needle of diversity in Santa Monica as much as I can.  I’m also commited to policing its authenticity and control any cultural appropiation to advance a political agenda.

“Cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups — often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions.” ~Nadra Kareem Little, Race Relations Expert

According to Wikipedia, block parties are reported as a World War I innovation originating from the East Side of New York City, where an entire block was roped off and patriotic songs sung and a parade held to honor the members of that block who had gone off to war. Traditionally, many inner city block parties were actually held illegally, because they did not file for an event permit from the local authorities. However, police turned a blind eye to them.  Block parties gained popularity in the United States during the 1970s, particularly within the hip hop community. Block parties were often held outdoors and power for the DJ’s sound system was taken illegally from street lights, as referenced in the song “South Bronx” by KRS-One.

This was not one of those block parties, evidenced by the end portion of the evening.  After Peter and Travis DCP presentation, only board members were allowed to ask questions because, after all, they are paying for the party, those were her literal words.  WOW!  I was raised to have my guests be the center of attention and cater to their wants and needs.  That’s how I roll!

“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy” ~Isaac Newton

ENTRE BROMA Y BROMA…LA VERDAD SE ASOMA (Google it!)

It gets better! Tim Harter, Senior Field Representative of Assemblyman Richard Bloom (Jewish) California State Legislator Office was a speaker at the event as well.  He later posted in Facebook about the event:

Community engagement is a vital function of a healthy community!! Learning about the Downtown Community Plan with the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) and North of Wilshire (NOW). ” ~Tim Harter, Board Mamber of NOW 

“Soon, perhaps in the next few weeks, the California legislature will vote on Bloom’s controversial bill (AB2844) “California Combatting the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel Act of 2016.” This bill – also co-sponsored by State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) – would bar state and local contracts with any private company boycotting Israel and its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Private companies refusing to demolish homes or run segregated bus systems in illegally occupied territory could find themselves on a government blacklist, as Bloom’s bill – reminiscent of the McCarthy era – requires the state Attorney General to keep a list of Israel boycotters.” ~Marcy Winograd, Santa Monica Daily Press

I wonder how Bloom and Harter feel about the Nazi rhetoric of Ms. Elana Christopolos. Does Ms. Christopoulos is aware of the Jewish Community in Santa Monica?  A worthy political advisor has to be cognizant of those details.  Where she lacked in diversity understanding she has in financial resources, evidenced by her website.  I am going to hold on the blonde jokes, I don’t want the backlash this weekend. Seriously, can someone give this lady a better script?  If this is how she sells diversity, is time to call the crisis management team. Oy Vey!

 

It strucked me as odd that Ms. Christopoulos presented Santa Monica as the ideal space to live for her because she can:” jog in the morning, hike at noon and surf in the afternoon.”  She is one fit woman for sure!  Skinny Blonde, would be an appropiate title for a fitness blog (I charge for my ideas just in case). I can’t relate to her speech. I’m working to establish the board of Compassionate Santa Monica, plan and execute fundraisers, raise capital, manage a startup: diversitymatters.co and run New MOON Media & Communications.  In other words….I have to work.  I don’t have the luxury of spending my days working out for a skinny bod.  I schedule an hour of yoga or fitness class and 30 minutes of steam room in the evening at the Water Garden Bay Club to keep my mojo going.  There are countless of Santa Monica residents that do not have the luxury of wellness, despite the fact that Santa Monica was a finalist of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their culture of wellness, and won the Bloomberg Philantrophy Award for the Wellness Project.  Food for thought.

Rudeness

 

AUTHENTIC DIVERSITY: TACO CHALLENGE & BE VISIBLE

Raising LATINO voter registration is something I’m involved in through an initiative from Beatriz Acevedo mitu Network, a Santa Monica Media Company.

Mitu as the voice of Latino millennials is committed to inspiring Latino youth in civic engagement. While Latinos may be driving population growth, only one of three Latino millennials are using their voice to vote. We are represented in numbers, but we are not represented in votes.

Taco ch

As the largest digital media brand, they are able to harness video content and social activations to inspire young U.S. Latinos to take action and make their voices heard.

They have created a unique crossbreed of content that has engaged their audience a million times over. By intersecting the world of hard news and popular culture in a social-friendly format, their audience has not only watched their video content, but has become engaged in the national discourse. For example, Mixing a pop icon, like Selena, and creating a song that encourages people to vote, in the Selenagram Voting video, has garnered over 1 million views, over 14,000 shares and comments like this “Wow we have power in numbers!!!!! Latinos stand up, get involved, and vote for the only candidate that has our best interest.” Not only are people commenting on the video, but they are commenting on the comments. We’re watching Latino millennials become an active part shaping the future of our country.  The power of social video with their community is very powerful and mitú will always use it to engage and inspire our youth.

Beatriz is an inspiring role model and speaker,  we reconnected three weeks ago at the BE VISIBLE Event at Cal State LA, where I found my tribe.  When I was tasked with asking her a question after her presentation, I brought the issue of Santa Monica’s  at-large vs. district elections debate.  That’s how I became aware of the Take Action Commit Others Challenge. #TACOChallenge

Be Visible LatinaTo learn more about Be Visible go here: BE VISIBLE

“We will use mitú’s massive social reach through its video content to engage and inspire Latino millennials to have a say in how our country will be run and encourage them to get out and vote.
We are excited that so many celebrities and social influencers have joined our T.A.C.O. Challenge by agreeing to take action and commit others to vote,” ~Beatriz Acevedo, President and Co-founder of mitú.

Join us tomorrow at the #TACOChallenge.

The special events will feature live performances, food and voter registration booths. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a supporter of this movement and will be onsite helping to get voters registered.  Other expected event guests include Rosario Dawson, Richard Cabral, Diego Boneta, Nick Gonzalez, Jackie Cruz, Efren Ramirez, Chef Marcela Valladolid, La Santa Cecilia, Maya Jupiter, Kat Dahlia, Eric Ochoa “SUPEReeeGO”, Luan Palomera, Yulema Ramirez.

Rosario Dawson is excited to join the movement and attend the event. “Latino millennials are the face of the new American majority. Together, we have a responsibility to transform our democracy and ensure that every person has a voice in the political process,” said Dawson. “That’s why I’m proud to be a part of a historic effort to register and activate 1 million Latino millennials. This election will be decided by us, all of us, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that we create the kind of future that we know is indeed possible,” she continued.

Organizations dedicated to helping mitú reach the voter registration goal include, City of Los Angeles, Revolve Impact, Toberman Neighborhood Center, Divine Forces Media, NCLR, FWD.us, Rock the Vote, CHIRLA, Voto Latino, Define American, Mi Familia Vota, LULAC, United We Dream, NHMC, NALIP, Homeboy Industries, Center for Community Change, LifeBoxset, Communities in Schools, Youth Justice Coalition, Homies Unidos , Gathering for Justice , Project Kinship , Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Sankofa, The Courage Campaign, Inner-City Struggle, New Earth, Street Poets, Alliance for Community Empowerment, Arts for LA and All of Us or None Los Angeles.

WRITING AS MEDICINE

The daily task, practice and dicipline of writing allows me to process ideas that would otherwise go unexamined.  I proudly belong to the Joan Didion school of thought:

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”~Joan Didion

To have a forum to express my ideas freely is part of my wellness project, is healing.  Oh, yes I also have a company that provide wellness programs.  I am a certified Kundalini Yoga and Pilates Instructor.  You can find more information about us here: The Wellness Project.  We were in business way before the city of Santa Monica came up with their original idea.

I welcome vigorous debate and treat our City Manager Rick Cole with the same transparent honesty and respect I do with Portia, the Metro Rail Ambassador at the Bergamot Metro Station, or Domingo the server at the Ralph’s market Bistro who travels three hours by bus to get to work each day in the morning and evening.  Is who I am, because I was raised in diversity, where manners were meant for everyone, not only those who agreed with my politics.

I leave you with sincere Shabbat Shalom wishes from the bottom of my heart!

 

DIVERSITY DISFRANCHISEMENT

By: Zoë Muntaner

According to Wikipedia disfranchisement (also called disenfranchisement) is the revocation of the right of suffrage (the right to vote) of a person or group of people, or through practices, prevention of a person exercising the right to vote. Disfranchisement is also termed to the revocation of power or control of a particular individual, community or being to the natural amenity they abound in; that is to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, of some privilege or inherent immunity. Disfranchisement may be accomplished explicitly by law or implicitly through requirements applied in a discriminatory fashion, intimidation, or by placing unreasonable requirements on voters for registration or voting.

36ee9ae9-e0c7-4053-86de-0fa95699699f

Fellow Santa Monica resident, activist, wife, daughter, friend & filmmaker Holly Mosher produced provocative documentaries that explore the subject with John Wellington Ennis directing.

“We decided to offer our film Free For All online for free after the voting fiascos sweeping the nation from Brooklyn to Arizona, hundreds of thousands, if not millions are being disenfranchised. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court and since then laws that make voting harder have popped up in over 22 states across the country. The people and neighborhoods most affected by both voting ID laws and reductions of polling places are usually in the high concentration of minority neighborhoods. It is important to let everyone know what is going on and help empower them to protect their voting rights. It’s up to us to demand free and fair elections for all.” ~Holly Mosher & John Wellington Ennis

For more information and to watch films for free until May 9, 2016, go to the link:

SAVE OUR ELECTIONS

To read John Wellington Ennis Huffington Post piece click on the following link:

CONFRONTING VOTER SUPPRESSION IN 2016

I met Holly at the premiere of her last film Pay 2 Play in 2014, which deals with POLITICAL campaign finance issues.  We became fast friends.  Out of that film the platform of developers money in Santa Monica political campaigns was born.  Sorry guys, this one is on me!   That’s why I was so baffled with Phil Brock flip flop when he solicited and received the maximum donation from a local developer.  Whoever gives you money owns you, therefore, influences your vote on City Council.   Because he was exposed, he returned the money, but the damage was done.  Will you keep trusting candidates that go behind the curtain to practice the opposite of what they preach in their speeches?  Food for thought for the upcoming election.  Again, ACTIONS speak louder than words.

VOTE FOR LOVE

I vote with love in mind, it was the theme of my 2014 Campaign for Santa Monica City Council.  I didn’t get elected, but I won an incredible amount of experience and the integrity of walking my talk.  VISIT MY FACEBOOK PAGE IN THE LINK HERE:

I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE

At the time, I didnt know anything about the Kousser Report, the At-Large Elections vs. District Elections debate, and why is so difficult to get elected in Santa Monica if you belong to the category I belong.  Now, I understand, Kimbery Ellis, Executive Director of Emerge California, an organization that is changing the face of California politics by identifying, training and encouraging women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office answered my question during the Santa Monica Democratic Club Meeting last week:

“Generally speaking, research indicates that women and ethnic minorities fare better in district elections.” ~Kimberly Ellis, Executive Director Emerge CA

Their intensive, cohort-based four-month training program is unique. As the number of elected Democratic women remains flat or even declines, the need for their work is growing.

California became a state in 1850 but has yet to elect a female Governor. Despite being more than 50% of the population, currently, less than 30% of California state legislators are women.

A pool of highly qualified Democratic candidates is being left untapped. Too often, women do not see themselves running for office—they assume they aren’t experienced enough or they don’t know where to begin. Emerge California is changing that!

Emerge California is part of a national network currently working in 16 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

For more information about Emerge CA, go to the link: EMERGE CA

To read some research on the debate of distric vs.at-large elections go here: Electoral Institutions, Gender Stereotypes, and Women’s Local Representation

I am passionate about the subject, hence the tag line of this blog: Who was in the room?

SPEAKING ABOUT LOVE…

Ms. Mosher introduced me to a new coffee shop on Ocean Park Boulevard aptly named LOVE Coffee Bar.  Is where I am sitting as I type in my keyboard the words on this blog. I can’t drink coffee, I’m too hyper as it is, and don’t need the caffeine effect. Holly dared me to taste their coffee, and she was right.  It is beyond anything I’ve ever tasted before, is like drinking an exquisite Tiramisu.

The decor is clean, they have a back outdoor patio, a front bench to read a book or paper, meet a friend and watch people pass by, soft music, elegant yet comfy, small business owned by a Latino, classy…like me.  Like everything else in Sunset Park, it has that unmistakable neighborhood feel that Santa Monicans are losing fast if they don’t act with LOVE in the upcoming election.  Zina Josephs would not allow that in the hood. To learn more about Zina’s & Holly’s neighborhood go here:

SUNSET PARK NEIGHBORHOOD IN SANTA MONICA

LOVE Coffee Bar has a well curated Instagram page, I’m a sucker for good social media.  I own a boutique Public Relations, Marketing, Production and Digital Media company and their social media game has my seal of approval.  For more information about my work you can find us on Facebook:

New MOON Media & Communications

To see LOVE Cofee Bar images go to the link:

LOVE COFFEE BAR EXHIBITS (Instagram)

Speaking about elections, I read on Facebook that the Land Use Voter Empowerment (LUVE) Initiative got 10,000 signatures to be submitted tomorrow with a celebration in front of City Hall.

LUVE calls for a halt to the over-development of Santa Monica by giving voters the right to decide how much development is right for Santa Monica. LUVE would require voter approval for Major Development Review Permits and require voter approval for major changes in the City’s Land Use PolicyDocuments.  The LUVE Initiative was written by Armen Melkonians and Tricia Crane, board members of Residocracy.org, an online direct democracy advocacy tool for residents.

6,430 signatures – ten percent of registered Santa Monica Voters – are required to qualify LUVE for the Nov. 8 ballot. The Committee for the LUVE Initiative did its own validity verification and is confident that the 10,000 signatures they are submitting are more than the number needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

That was a labor of LOVE, I must congratulate everyone involved that worked hard for democracy.   The ironic thing is that the celebration coincides with the Mexican 5 de MAYO Celebration, despite Kate Bransfield, board member of Residiocracy claims on Facebook:

“Zoe, This has nothing to do with race, diversity, affordable housing or any other trumped up Trojan horse. This is about quality of life for all current Santa Monica residents. Those of all races and all socio-economic groups. If development were to go forward as planned, the quality of life for ALL residents would be greatly diminished.  Period.” ~Kate Bransfield

Who said race? I didn’t.

Kate is a supporter of Phil Brock and got a bad case of flip-flop syndrome which manifested symptoms in the above-referenced quote.  Unless the celebration is moved for another day it will be celebrated during Cinco de Mayo, which is not Mexican Independence Day–that is in September–but the celebration of one very important battle.  LUVE signature gathering was a battle, not the war. That will be fought in the following months.  It seems to me like it was about diversity after all…Ironic, no?

As they say: KARMA is a Blessing!