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.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

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.

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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 

GAME PLAN

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.

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

 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Banner at New Roads School in Santa Monica, for the 2014 Compassion Games.
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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!

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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 

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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:

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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.

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“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!

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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

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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 SPRING

By: Zoë Muntaner

“Diversity”and its sister “Inclusion” have hit critical mass of awareness.

I have always wondered about the true meaning of diversity and its role in a community and a nation at large. It always seems like it’s the right thing to say when you wish to garner votes (except Donald Trump) but in the moment of truth communities vote for projects that disenfranchise the poor (where diversity is more apparent) to open way for less integrated neighborhoods. Is Santa Monica one of those communities?

Is that time of the year, the word diversity is coming to the forefront. We have a presidential election and candidates want to bask in their diversity credentials. The President visited Cuba this week and with it the hope that the embargo will be lifted soon.

Do you remember the Arab Spring? So much hope and possibility that things could change. That Spring came with a short-lived revolution, and for a moment, the Arab people felt their voice and power rise to the occasion. No flower blooms in the dessert. I was there, I witnessed the regional change while living in Dubai during those turbulent times. It provided me with an understanding of diversity within the Arab, Persian, Pakistani and Indian people. It was an adventure and I am glad to be safe at home. I love my flawed democracy.

Edelman Trust Barometer

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer presentation at Santa Monica’s Cross Campus. The Trust Barometer is an annual global study that measures the amount of public trust in institutions, including business, media, NGO’s and government.

For more information, visit www.edelman.com/trust2016.

As I walked into the room and scanned the prestigious panel and audience, I could not find the diversity that a global study on TRUST should reflect. When we reached the Q & A portion of the event I was allowed to ask a question and BOOM! The SILENCE that comes after an awkward moment. Oops, did I make anyone, uncomfortable? Sorry, not my intention but I was really curious why there was an all white male and female panel that talked about the gospel of trust in terms that do not reflect my experience. I was given the glossed over PR answer that included the “importance of having the conversation”, not before hearing from one of the panelists referring to diversity as minorities. WOW! Really? Seriously? YEP, we have not come a long way, babe! Not in this crowd. Two years before I came across important data and metrics that I assumed was common knowledge.  Beatriz Acevedo (Founder of Mitu) presentation at SMWLA showed Latinos over index in all categories hence the success of her company. Click on the link below to examine the data:

SMWLA_MITU

A week after the Edelman Trust event, Social Media Club LA had a panel event on the topic of Diversity in Social Media, examining diversity and the need to be inclusive of gender, culture, sexuality and race. I hope that by now we all agree that diversity is beyond people of color and encompasses what the world looks like outside your door, at least if you live in a city like Santa Monica, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago…. you get the point.

Bergamot Station & The Human Race Machine

Art always supply a good point of departure. The Bergamot Station Spring Fling last Saturday had two exhibits at the ROSEGALLERY and one at Earth WE that blew my mind in regards to diversity, challenging the audience to examine the issue and provoking us to engage in the active participation of life in the 21st century.

If your world is not diverse, you are not alone. Do not panic, there is a help, I will provide resources with each piece in this blog to explore and integrate you into normalcy & the real world if you are not watching Shonda Rhimes’ roster of shows on ABC on Thursdays.

Betsy Clark’s “The Exiles” are portraits created by her imagination that look as if they are from another country and era. Says Clark: “ I imagine these women have had really hard times, yet they are all so proud and dignified and have put their best outfit on for some special occasion or party, where they might not really fit in…” I had a lovely time chatting with Clark on Saturday, she is real, authentic, enjoys deep conversation and is a lot of fun. My kind of gal. Although Clark’s comes from a privileged background, she brought to life what I consider one of the seeds of diversity: Exile.  The exhibition runs until the end of April.

Nancy Burson’s timely new work “What if He were: Black-Asian-Hispanic-Eastern Indian” is a large-scale five-part image of presidential candidate Donald Trump that challenges photographic truth at the birth of digital manipulation. About the work on view Burson says: “This project was a commission for a prominent liberal magazine, which ultimately decided not to publish it. My interest in creating this work was the desire to know what Donald Trump’s reaction might be if he saw the images. Current research shows that experience of oneself as another produces an empathetic response within the mirror neurons of the brain. The question in my mind was whether Donald Trump’s brain would be affected by an emphatic response to viewing the work.”

Hillary Clinton’s neoliberal brain might also benefit from a journey through the Human Race Machine. Imagine the woman who bows to AIPAC and votes to go to war on Iraq becoming an Iraqi or a Palestinian or a Libyan or a Honduran, since she supported destabilization in those countries, as well as Iraq. (Can you tell I’m a Bernie Sanders’ supporter?) Yesterday, Ms. Clinton honored Santa Monica with her presence for a $2,700.00 ticket fundraiser. I am confused about her campaign-finance reform ideas, is there a machine for that?

How it all began . . .
Nancy Burson’s pioneering work in morphing technologies began with age-enhancing the human face, enabling law enforcement to locate missing children and adults. The Human Race Machine is Burson’s best known public art project, originally developed as a commission for the London Millennium Dome in 2000. What would you look like as another race? Human Race Machines have been changing perspectives on racial diversity since 2000 and have been used on college and university campuses as a diversity tool to discuss issues of race and ethnicity since 2003. Human Race Machines have been featured in all forms of media including segments on Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN, National Public Radio, PBS, and Fuji TV News, as well as countless local TV channels in the USA. Prominent articles featuring the Human Race Machine have appeared in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Houston Chronicle, and Scientific American Magazine to name a few.

It occurs to me that bringing one to Santa Monica as part of the 2016 Compassionate Santa Monica calendar could be an interesting proposition. Bring students of the Santa Monica-Malibu School District and Santa Monica College to experience it, have an essay contest whose winner will be published at one of our media partners. Even better have the Santa Monica Police Department experience the Human Race Machine as part of mandatory training to improve social relations and minimize the exposure to litigation the city has experienced in the past couple of years. What about our city employees? City Attorney’s office? Residents? Our City Council? Maybe a permanent installation of the machine is in order. We need to raise funding. Volunteers?

The concept of race is not genetic, but social. There is no gene for race. In 2005, there was a gene that was identified for skin color, but that was only skin deep. Skin color is simply a reflection of the amount and distribution of the pigment melanin and humans are all alike underneath their skin. This newly found gene involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome — the complete instructions that comprise a human being. We are, in fact, all 99.9% alike.

About this project Rose Shoshana of the Bergamot ROSEGALLERY observes: “Art serves many functions, such as addressing issues of current politics. One role of an art gallery for the community it serves is to make known possible controversial creations that may have no other venue. It is an honor to fill the breach and make Burson’s new work available for public consideration”.

Burson’s installation compliments the ongoing Japan’s Tomoko Sawada exhibition: Facial Signature, not to be missed. Trust me, just go before it ends on April 9, 2016. Both artists focus on the ever-changing form of the human face in diverse ways.

The Arts get it, they always do. One of the reasons to support and advocate for your local arts community and have your local government subsidize it.

Coming this Fall, I will be hosting a fundraiser event exploring themes of Diversity, Trust and Authenticity. Top Tier executives from diverse fields will present engaging explorations of the themes, potentially developing an annual Symposium on the subject. We will be streaming the event globally to all cities involved in the Charter for Compassion. Compassionate Santa Monica, much-needed funding will benefit the Urban Counseling Project to serve the homeless population in Santa Monica. Subscribe to our mailing list to be informed of more details.

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Before you disqualify the premise of the blog, consider that two days ago the HBR published an enlightening piece about the subject. Women and Minorities are penalized for promoting diversity.  Read the credentials of the authors. I rest my case.

READ HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW HERE

You might claim that Santa Monica is exempt from this diversity issue because we have a black female Chief of Police, a Latino Deputy Chief of Police and a Latino Mayor (who was not elected but appointed in a political move by the rest of the City Council). The optics are designed to deceive and disguise a little ( actually, is not that little, is pretty BIG to me) dirty secret that carries shame. The Nile is a long river. I can’t believe that at this day and age we still have to witness the racial obscenity of the mural in our local city hall, for the mural honors the colonizers and depicts a white entitled community. A city whose latest park — Tonga Park — named after the indigenous Indians nearly wiped out when the colonizers arrived — carries an obviously rich heritage. Yes, the City of Santa Monica, the first city to sign the Charter for Compassion in LA County, should know better and reflect the values and the statement of The Charter for Compassion who garner a unanimous vote from our City Council on 2013.

Spring Equinox at the Community Gardens

Sunday’s Spring Equinox brought me back to the Santa Monica Community Gardens on Main Street, where I used to have a spot. I met with Ramey, the first friend I made in LA, who is responsible for me living in Santa Monica. We met after many years apart, now she is married to a Puerto Rican (enhancing her bloodline) who could not join us as he left for Cuba with The Rolling Stones. They have a gorgeous daughter and witnessing three generations celebrating Spring in the garden was lovely but bittersweet. Ramey’s mother arrived in Santa Monica from Savannah, Georgia in 1967 and brought her mother and brothers with her. Sadly Ramey had to move to the Valley, as the rising costs of rents are pushing a long time residents out who could no longer afford to live in the city they love, reason enough for me to explore the topic of Diversity and Affordable Housing in one of my next posts. Until then, have a blessed week and enjoy the city while you can, for you never know when you’ll have move out; that is not laughing matter.

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