San Marcos Foothills Impact

By Save the Foothills

Cody Westheimer is no stranger to local environmental causes. In the 90s he helped start the recycling program at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara.

He and his late father were instrumental in saving Ellwood Mesa from development. Since moving back home from Los Angeles last year, Westheimer has become enthralled with the San Marcos Foothills, visiting via run or hike several times a week.

“It’s such a unique place. You’re in a suburban setting one moment and then you cross the gate and you’re suddenly in a very wild place,” he said.

It wasn’t until early this year that he realized the Foothills are in danger of being lost forever due to a planned housing development. Eager to help, he lent his skills as a short form content creator to make two promotional videos for the cause, both of which have had a significant impact.

Westheimer is a noted composer for film and television with deep Santa Barbara roots. Growing up in Goleta, his first orchestral work was performed by the Santa Barbara Symphony at age 17. A decade later he wrote a long-form piece for the Concerts of Young People series.

Cody has always been seeking a deeper connection with nature. His adventures have taken him on two expeditions to Alaska as part of the “Composing in the Wilderness” workshop. Last year he created his “Studio Backpack” – a portable recording studio where he could hike in and create amongst nature. He launched a short film series called “Free Range Composing” just before the pandemic.

In his latest video, Westheimer deploys his rig at the San Marcos Foothills. He wrote a short concert piece for string orchestra, “Foothills Forever.” He was able to have an orchestra he works with in Europe record the work. Later Cody stitched the footage together of the orchestra, the composing process, and other footage he shot of the Foothills into one impactful short film.

“I’ve been making impact films for this cause and I find it so fulfilling to be able to help in this way. This video is quite different from the two PSA style shorts I’ve made for the Foothills. I was looking to show how this cherished land can inspire people to produce art and enrich the community. For me, it’s not even really my music – it belongs to the Foothills – I was just the vehicle for it coming to life. We must save this place,” he said. 


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