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Santa Barbara Beautiful Needs Nominations
updated: Apr 14, 2012, 9:30 AM

By Billy Goodnick

Edhat 101

If you were forming an organization to celebrate and support the beauty of Santa Barbara, you might name it Santa Barbara Beautiful. Well, that's precisely what a group of civic leaders decided back in 1965, and they've been doing fabulous work ever since.

In their early years, most of Santa Barbara Beautiful's efforts (SBB from now on, cuz I'm already feeling lazy) went into raising money to support the City's street tree program. There's a good chance that the cooling shade you enjoy today strolling along neighborhood and downtown sidewalks is courtesy of the more than 12,000 trees funded by SBB.

SBB wasn't around when the Italian stone pines were planted along Anapamu St., but if they had, they'd have a piece of the action.

But it doesn't stop with simply planting street trees and giving grants to assure they get off to a good start. Knowing how much this community appreciates its urban forest, SBB offers a Commemorative Tree Plaque program allowing folks to celebrate a special event or honor the passing of a loved one. These plaques adorn curbside tree wells throughout town and make good reading.

Flapping in the Breeze

Starting April 26, you'll see SBB's bright yellow flags adding their cheery charm to State Street, just in time for Arbor Day. The new logo was developed by graphic artist Diane Gomersall, who also did a great makeover at the eye-catching web site.

Start ‘Em Young

This merry band of affable folks (of which I am one, having served on the board for the past few years), believes that, quite literally, "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." To that end, SBB heads up the charge every year, bringing Arbor Day tree planting events to area school children. Quoting from the website, "Trees planted today on school campuses promise a learning environment of beauty, shade, and inspiration for generations to come."

This year, participating schools include Adams, Cleveland, Franklin, Marymount, Cold Spring, Roosevelt, Santa Barbara Community Academy, and we're still checking whether Monroe is on board. If you have kids at these campuses, find out the time and day of the event and please attend in support. For some kids, Arbor Day celebrations are the gateway to a life of environmental awareness and stewardship.

Funding the Finer Things

By now, I've lost track of how many times SBB generously supported park projects I played a part in, but I knew that some day I'd return the favor. So I joined the board after ending my job with the Parks and Recreation Department in 2009. In recent years, they've been a driving force, supporting the re-landscaping of Plaza Vera Cruz, the Butterfly Garden at Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, and a native plant restoration at Stevens Park.

Artfully Done

Sometimes I have to remind myself that beauty resides in places other than parks and gardens. SBB has been an enthusiastic booster of public art projects, including the State of the Art 2008 Gallery Exhibition, stimulating some spirited debates about what is "art" and what is not. They've helped fund the Mentor's Fountain at City College, Marge Dunlap's delightful It's Raining fountain at Las Aves office park, and the Solstice Celebration murals that used to live on the Earthling Bookstore at State and West Anapamu, and were returned to public view on the Granada parking garage. And if you're flying out of the new airport terminal anytime soon, you'll be treated to Lori Ann David's fantastic, 20-foot diameter floor medallion mosaic, also funded by a grant from SBB.

Photo by Lynn Houston

Nominate Your Neighbor; Nominate Yourself!

Santa Barbara Beautiful can't be expected to lend a hand in everything that makes Santa Barbara beautiful, but they can shine a light on the good works others are doing. That's what the Annual Awards Program is for. Members of the public have until May 7 to visit the nomination web page, fill out the on-line form (it takes about 53 seconds), and nominate an exemplary project from nine categories, including single-family residence (small and large are separate categories, to make it fair), commercial buildings, historic revitalization, open public space, and others. The projects are judged in June and a gala award ceremony takes place the last Sunday in September at the Music Academy of the West. A big spread in CASA magazine follows, in case you can't make the shindig.

Help Make Santa Barbara Even Beautifuller

Spring is a great time to enjoy the beauty of our little slice of paradise and say "thank you" to Santa Barbara Beautiful by becoming a supporting member or making a donation. Individual memberships start at $35, families are $50 (great way to walk the talk for your kids), and a business membership will set you back a measly $75. Not a bad way to rack up a worthwhile tax deduction for 2012 and do some good for the community.

Photo credits for SBB award winners: Tyson Ellis and Wayne McCall


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