The Rocknockers are coming

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GREAT NEWS for my group the Serra Cross Conservancy, which owns the Father Serra Cross and one acre of land surrounding it in Ventura's Grant Park. We've scored a bit of a coup.

In a time when fundraising for all non-profits is rather slow, we've found an incredible opportunity to improve the area from an international society of stonemasons who will hold their annual workshop and symposium in Ventura.

Blessed with the best view in Ventura, our little piece of the park is home to a replica of the cross Father Junipero Serra himself erected in 1782 as a guidepost for travelers looking for the San Buenaventura Mission. Generations of Venturans have maintained this site, which was first privately owned and then donated to the City of Ventura for use as a park. We bought the property in 2003 to save the city from a costly lawsuit over separation-of-church-and-state issues.

Now we're destined to create our own little piece of history with a wonderful project the Stone Foundation, aka the Rocknockers, is leaving behind. From Jan. 8-18, 2010 a Dry Stone Walling Workshop will be held at the site. Led by Jyunji and Suminori Awata, 14th- and 15th-generation stonemasons who specialize in the restoration of medieval Japanese castle walls throughout Japan, the group will build a pair of stone ramparts flanking the stairway descending to the Cross. Joining them will be other stonemasons and students from all over the globe -- Canada, Scotland, France and Spain.

While this portion of Grant Park will be closed to cars during the 10 days the stonemasons are working, the public will be invited to park a bit further away and walk in to observe the proceedings.

Dry stone walling is a technique practiced over thousands of years but which has become somewhat of a dying art, said Tomas Lipps, of Santa Fe, N.M., who is organizing the event. "It is costly because it requires skilled craftsmen," Lipps said. He estimated that the project he and his group propose for the site would cost our group more than $250,000 were we to pay for the stone and labor ourselves.

The 200 tons of sandstone for the project is being donated by Larry Mosler, who owns a quarry in Ojai. "It's a very generous gift," Lipps said.

WHY VENTURA and why Grant Park? Every year the group picks a different locale for their annual gathering. Lipps explained that while working on a public art project in Pasadena in 2003, he lived in Ventura for several months while fabricating the stone elements for the project at Art City Studios with local sculptor Paul Lindhard, who is also involved in organizing the workshop. Lipps was looking for a temperate place to hold a winter workshop and Ventura immediately came to mind.

Lindhard helped pick the Serra Cross site. "You have one of the most magnificent properties in Ventura and any and all work that is put there should be for generations to come," he told our group at a recent meeting.

The walling workshop will precede the main event, International Stonework Symposium 2010, which will be held Jan. 19-23. Another event, this one an Architectural Stone Carving Workshop will take place Jan. 12-18 at Art City Studios. It will be conducted by Colleen Wilson, a master stone carver/sculptor from Canada.

The Stone Foundation will also stage what they call the "Lithic Olympic Games," contests of skill, strength and judgment involving stone-related activities. These will be held at various places around town and the community will be able to watch the stone artisans compete.

Most of the walling workshop students will be young stonemasons, both male and female. Traveling to Ventura and staying here for the duration of the workshop will be financially challenging for them. Several plan to camp near the workshop site, others would benefit from guest housing. Offers of housing from the community will be appreciated as well as donations for food and drink for the workers and incidental materials.

For more information on the group's activities go to http://www.stonefoundation.org/.

For more on the Serra Cross Conservancy, go to http://www.serracrosspark.org/.


A FINAL NOTE: I am putting the blog on hiatus after this entry. Recent outside work commitments have made it too difficult for me to monitor and update it on a regular basis. Thanks for reading. It's been fun.

A gift for local veterans

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arnold.jpgFACING A SHORTAGE of veterans' facilities, our state just took another step at helping to meet the needs of our servicemen and women with the opening of the Veteran's Home of California - Ventura today.

The facility is just a mile from my East Ventura home and I attended the event today along with many other folks eager to get a look at the new facility as well as Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggger, who announced just yesterday he would attend. I am not sure when I've seen that many camera crews in one place before in Ventura.

But I was glad to see the attention drawn here because our state really does need more of these facilities, especially those with skilled nursing services. While the Ventura facility doesn't offer these particular services, there is room to expand the $26-million home and add them if money becomes available. The Telephone Road home has room for 60 residents who are 62 years or older.

flag2.jpgOther facilities are expected to open in W. Los Angeles, Fresno and Redding.

"It's an especially great day to be a veteran living in Ventura County," said Roger Brautigan, the secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. "It's all about promises made and promises kept."

For video of the event including a ribbon cutting with our Mayor Christy Weir, go here.

P.S. Just for fun, see if you can name the Who's Who of local Republican politicians up on stage in the photo at top.

At right is the largest flag I have ever seen.

A miracle in Ventura: The Kingdom Center

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WHILE IT IS THE JOB of a minister to be both inspiring and compassionate, Pastor Sam Gallucci of the Harbor Community Church in Ventura was undoubtedly standing in line for an extra big helping of these qualities when God was passing them out.

The effusive Gallucci is now helping to pass out food, clean clothing and friendship to the area's homeless population. And it is impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of this tireless spokesman for the efforts of his 65-member congregation.

As Gallucci explains it, "We started this by going out in the parks and the river bottom and asking folks, 'What do you need?' " As it turns out, it was "101 different things."

The church provides two meals a day, showers, laundry and help with social services to around 50 to 80 people daily. They serve 100-140 meals a day and have helped more than 500 people over the past year. "We've stopped 12 from taking their lives and 40 we've helped get work," Gallucci said. "Over 90 have gone through detox."

Others have received assistance getting their GEDs and acquiring identification.

"It's a miracle of God that a church so small can do so much," Gallucci said.

But while the church is doing great work, the parishioners realize that once their daytime efforts are finished, the recipients of their generosity are back out on the streets at night. "We'll just love on them for awhile and then we won't see them for a long time," Gallucci lamented.

AND THAT'S where miracle number two comes in. "God provided us just a perfect situation," the pastor said. The owners of the City Center Motel in Downtown Ventura, near to much of the city's homeless population, entered into a lease agreement with the church to turn the aging facility into a center for 30 homeless families.

Gallucci made an appeal to other churches in the area to help and so far 15 have made a firm commitment to sponsor one of the motel's 30 rooms. A one-time donation of $5,700 helps to renovate a room; a $500 monthly donation sponsors the family living in it. The church is seeking another $500,000 to add a kitchen, laundry area and meeting facility to the project.

There is also an immediate need of $64,000 for architectural and permit fees for the project, Gallucci said. 

And while there is currently a shortage of funds to complete the project there is certainly no shortage of enthusiasm around town for the Kingdom Center and the congregation's current efforts at their Preble Avenue church. Homeless advocate Sherry Cash certainly sings their praises. Something as simple as a shower and a change of clothes can make all the difference, she said. "As soon as people start getting clean, things change."

The homeless population has just exploded in the last year, Gallucci said. An estimated 623 are homeless in Ventura, according to the area's latest counts. The county count stands at 2,193.

The Harbor's congregation also works toward transitioning these folks back into society. The need is so great, the pastor said. "The homeless have lost their ability to believe in anything. They're treated like they're different. I call it a new level of segregation. It's an economic segregation. It could be any of us.

"So many people say it's the city's problem," Galucci said. "It's all of our problem and we all need to step up to help."

For a list of the Kingdom Center's current needs, download a wishlist:

kingdom wish list.doc


For more on the project, go here.

A toxic wonderland

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IT IS AN unimaginably incongruous juxtaposition.

Face north and the sorry spectacle of the former Halaco metal recycling facility at Ormond Beach in South Oxnard makes you wince. Crumbling, toxic, graffiti covered and forlorn, it has to be the biggest eyesore in Southern California.

Face south and you find the restful solace of one of the few remaining coastal wetlands in the state. "We have just 4 1/2 percent of our coastal wetlands left, " said Jean Rountree of the Beacon Foundation. "This is out of thousands and thousands of acres lost to industry and development." She'd like to see the area become a haven for birders and environmental tourists one day.

Yet next to this environmentally sensitive site is a man-made blunder. Highly toxic and abandoned in 2004, the Halaco site will cost between $20-50 million to clean up, Allen Sanders of the Ormond Beach Observers told me. As I talked to Sanders and Paul Felix of Oxnard at the site, a charming little bird flew overhead.

"He probably has three eyes," Felix joked.

But Ormond Beach is no laughing matter. I've read plenty about the Halaco site. But until you've seen it for yourself, it doesn't really hit home. Now listed as a Superfund hazardous cleanup area, it could be eligible for federal stimulus funds.

NEXT TO THE DECAYING building sits a mountainous slag heap filled with toxic material. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a poisonous alphabet soup of elevated levels of aluminum, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, thorium, and zinc is leeching into both underlying groundwater and sediments in the Oxnard Industrial Drain.

Removing it will be an arduous task, Sanders acknowledged. And just where do you move a mountain of toxic sludge to? Sanders shook his head.

In 2007 a warning was issued to residents that elevated levels of radiation were coming from the fenced-off property.

Halaco, which declared bankruptcy in 2002, also lost a civil complaint alleging that it had illegally disposed of used oil by burning it in its smelting furnace or pouring it over scrap metal which made its way into on-site settling ponds.

You have to wonder what the City of Oxnard was thinking about in 1965 when they allowed this to be built.

A little further down the road is the former Edison, now Reliant, facility, which has its own toxic issues. Nearby, a developer has plans to build even more houses.

Despite all this, the National Audubon Society lists Ormond Beach as one of the most important bird areas in California. For a bird lover, it's a treat to look out at the lagoon. The area is home to Least Terns and Snowy Plover. The sand is covered in native vegetation, some in spring flower.

A delight and a disgust, Ormond Beach is testament to the stupidity of mankind and the resiliency of the natural world.

Could campaign finance reform help solve state's budget woes?

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AS I WRITE THIS, all the ballot propositions used to precariously piece together our state budget back in February are going down in flames. And none of us are surprised.

Too complicated for the average voter to understand, two undid the good work of previous propositions and one tinkered with the formula of another. Another enraged partisans on both sides of the aisle, which also doomed its companion measure.

It looks like only Prop.1F has passed, a token measure which keeps electeds from getting pay raises in budget deficit years. This would result in "minor savings," according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

So it's back to the drawing board with a meeting of the "Big Five" legislative leaders again, which last time produced this ill-fated group of propositions and $10 billion in cuts to public schools. Since that time, though, the Republicans have nearly purged their leadership ranks of anyone reasonable. 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2009-10 May Revision General Fund Proposals contain many ideas to plug the now $21.3 billion gap, including another $2.3 billion cut to schools, which will be partially offset by one-time federal stimulus money in certain categories.

While few will likely miss the Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine if it shuts down, many other proposals have already drawn fire, including one to override the normal regulatory processes and allow the first new offshore oil lease in 40 years off state waters near Santa Barbara and another to sell the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

IS CALIFORNIA REALLY ungovernable? The Economist magazine spells out a perfect storm of a two-thirds budget vote requirement and extreme partisanship nurtured by gerrymanded districts, all complicated by term limits and contrary voter-approved ballot initiatives which lock in funding. But it's nothing those of us who are paying attention didn't already know.

What is mentioned less often is that people whose jobs, livelihoods and power depend on special-interest cash are making the decisions for us. And while innate ideology would account for some of the decisions made in Sacramento, the real fear of being unable to raise enough money and support to be elected often drives politicians nationwide to make decisions they would not normally make if campaigns were publicly financed.

One only has to look at the very reasoned budget alternatives coming from the Legislative Analyst's Office to see that good sense and intellect can prevail in a non-partisan, non-threatening, non-special interest atmosphere.

Redistricting and open primaries, already in the pipeline, could help elect reasonable moderate candidates. There is talk of a constitutional convention. But until we have solid campaign finance reform, California's governing dysfunction will continue to be exacerbated by special-interest pressures.

There are two measures out there right now to address this issue and both deserve our support. The California Fair Elections Act will appear on the June 2010 ballot and another measure making its way through Congress, the Fair Elections Now Act, is already enjoying bipartisan support.

They can't come soon enough for California.


Theater company's budget drama

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IT HAD ALL THE MAKINGS of one of the Rubicon's best productions: drama, laughter, poignancy and a great song-and-dance number. But the non-profit Ventura theater company's rally and town hall meeting Wednesday night was a real-life drama highlighting the need to raise $1 million in 90 days.

"Major gifts are down from $900,000 last year to $150,000 this year," explained Ken Wesler, Rubicon managing director.

The 200-seat theater, which provides an intimate setting for original productions as well as the tried and true, such as the recent well-received "Fiddler on the Roof," relies on earned income for only about 40 percent of its budget.

So, while the theater brought in $1.4 million in revenue in 2008, $2.2 million came in from contributed income. Of that, $900,000 came in from a few major donors. "These usually come from just a handful of very generous philanthropists," explained Wesler.

Increasing the number of productions or seats would only boost income by about 10 percent, Wesler said. "The intimacy of the theater is part of our strongest selling points."

TO PILE ON EVEN MORE troubles, the City of Ventura usually contributes an average of $25,000 a year to the Rubicon through its competitive cultural grants program, but that money is dwindling with the city's budget cuts. And the theater's youth programs have also taken a hit because of the economy. Families are cutting back, too.

The Rubicon has already trimmed expenses by $114,000. "An overworked staff is working harder and longer," Wesler said.

Rubicon's board ideally wants to keep ticket prices low and offer reduced prices to students, and scholarships to children in the summer programs, board member Doug Halter said. The award-winning theater also brings 40,000-50,000 people a year Downtown, he added. And these folks go out to dinner here and often spend the night in local hotels.

The company has applied for National Endowment for the Arts grants and has raised more than $63,000 so far in its "It Takes a Village" campaign. The goal is to come up with 2,400 gifts of $365. "Almost everybody on the staff gave the $365 right away," said Rubicon Marketing Director Cindy Frankey.

This dynamic theater company and its supporters have been known to pull off fund-raising miracles in the past. Let's hope they can do it again.

Another rally is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. and the theater is opening a new show, "Spit Like a Big Girl." For more information go to http://rubicontheatre.org/




Dog gone bad

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WITH TALES OF NAUGHTY DOGS sure to be told around the country with the opening of the film "Marley and Me," I thought I'd recount a canine story of my own. Ventura County's own version of Marley, a yellow Labrador retriever named Trigger, really takes the cake - and he ingests everything else, too.

Trigger is the semi-beloved pet of the towheaded Tappin clan, a family blessed with a great capacity for forgiveness and a sense of humor. Beth Tappin has even written a short manuscript on her dog's many escapades.

The Oxnard family of four lives in a house set up with a system of baby gates and locks to deter their food-stealing animal. But this canine, who has been dubbed "Garbage Gut" by his veterinarian, knows no rules. He has yet to determine what is actually food.

Now I thought I had it bad the day my own dog ate the notebook containing all my Internet site passwords, but I really do feel sorry for the Tappins.

THE FAMILY FIRST NOTICED something was amiss with one particularly bad habit. Basic biology teaches us that what goes in must come out, but in Trigger's case what goes out goes back in too... "The first time we witnessed this habit," Beth Tappin said, "my only thought was, 'And this dog kissed my kids!' We read about this online and rushed to PetSmart to buy the products they suggested. The gentleman at the pet store said, 'Oh, don't worry, these tablets will make his business taste like ****, no wait, it must make it taste worse than that.' "

Later, the Tappins heard a comedian talking about a neighbor of his who had a dog with this same habit. "He would call his neighbor and ask to borrow his dog for a few hours to clean up his yard," Beth said. "I know it's gross, but I had to wonder if there was money to be made with Trigger."

But Trigger has a very varied palate. He has eaten two couches, acrylic paint on a paper plate (paint, plate and all), the entire contents of many Easter baskets and Halloween bags, cat food cans (whole can, pop top and all, chewed and swallowed), one four-pack of food dye on the area rug (very colorful dog and rug), entire batches of freshly made cookies, whole loaves of bread in their wrappers, cooking utensils, half a can of coffee, seven bottles of Terro ant killer (it apparently only kills ants), one bag of Bertie Botts Every-Flavored Jelly Beans (bag, drawstring and all), four or five soft-sided lunch boxes, two new bags of marshmallows (they came back up in much the same form), and the list goes on and on. He's made numerous runs in the pantry, eating everything from the third shelf down.

THE TAPPINS NEVER KNOW what they will find when they come home or awaken in the morning. "I find myself yelling, "No! No! No! Not the (fill in the blank)," Beth said. "Usually as soon as we get into the hallway you begin to see the problem. It begins with a few scraps of something.

"I am not always the calmest person in the face of disaster," Beth confessed. "I really don't like to admit this, but once I even said, 'I am going to kill you dog!' But that was after five quarts of home-made Albondigas soup was spilled all over the kitchen floor and I had carrots, peas, green beans, corn and meatballs from cabinet to cabinet and in between every mini-blind.

"It took 45 minutes and a shovel to clean that one up."

The rather portly yellow lab is amazingly nimble when leaping from nearby chairs to kitchen counters. "I have even seen him eyeing vegetables in a basket that we hung from the ceiling!" Beth said. One day in desperation the family tried to deter him from the counter by putting masking tape all along the edge with the sticky side out. "That just left us with a dog with eight yards of tape all over his front half," Beth said.

If you put him outside, he digs, roots through the compost bin and snacks on dead gophers and the aforementioned "business." He has gone through four metal trashcans.

SO THE TAPPINS HAVE DECIDED to view life with their soft and gentle-natured eating machine as a character-building experience. What have they learned?

1. A body can process way more than trace elements of aluminum.
2. When life gets you down, raiding junk food is very good.
3. Sometimes there is a very fine line between wanting to hug a pet and kill the pet.
4. Stay away from dead and/or rotting things. They rub off and make you smell bad, too.
5. Your family will still love you when you make a terrible mess of something.

My thanks to Beth for letting me borrow from her very funny manuscript. Happy holidays, everyone!

Breaking bread and barriers

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one city.jpg One of my favorite rules to live by: Unless you go out of your way to spend time with those whose experiences and opinions are very different than your own you will never truly broaden your perspective on the world.

This concept is also the theme of the upcoming One City Family Thanksgiving Celebration this Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Ventura. It's a commingling of people from all walks of life merged in one spot to pass the gravy and share camaraderie and turkey legs.

Designed to put a spotlight on the city's homelessness issues, it is more than the traditional Thanksgiving "soup kitchen" approach where community leaders typically don aprons for the day to serve an underprivileged population.

"We're reaching beyond the local homeless population and into the community as a whole. We sit together. We share a meal. We share a table," said Jesse Giglio, the event's coordinator.

The day is being planned by the Faith Communities Subcommittee of the Ventura Social Services Task Force (VSSTF). Ten different churches have stepped up to help and another 20 are in the network, Giglio said. The VSSTF is a community-based organization with a goal of ending homelessness in the city of Ventura. It's a big task, no doubt, as the economy worsens, jobs are lost and social services are cut and stretched.

The faith-based and greater volunteer community will be called upon to do even more. But finding the dollars and manpower to help is not easy unless the great need is communicated. And this is an effort to do just that, Giglio said. "It's an awareness and education event as well as a celebration event."

IF THE OUTPOURING OF HELP for "One City" is any indication, Venturans are up for the task. "It's spread to the far reaches of the community," Giglio said. In addition to the churches and local temple, many individual businesses and families have contributed money and food. The new Watermark restaurant Downtown is cooking and serving all the side dishes.

Giglio said he and his volunteers are preparing enough food to feed 600 people. The day will also include live music, a communal art project, plus inflatable jumpers and craft activities for children.

It's clear this group intends to make its efforts last beyond just one day of thanks. The group's next event is "One City, One Weekend, One Fund" set for Feb. 14-17. Details will be forthcoming.

Everyone in the city of Ventura is invited to the free first annual One City Family Thanksgiving Celebration as long as the food lasts. It will be held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 36 Figueroa St. (behind Pierano's/Jonathan's at 100 Main Street). Interested volunteers and other helpers should call Jesse Giglio, Community Life Pastor, Ventura Missionary Church, at 642-0550 ext. 376, or email jessegiglio@gmail.com.

New life for an old cemetery?

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IN THE ANNALS OF Ventura history, there is likely nothing odder than the back-story of Cemetery Park on Main Street Downtown. Established in 1862, the cemetery once sat on the very edge of town before the city sprawled eastward. The site is the final resting place of more than 2,000 people.

You'd never know that by looking at it today. It now functions as a public park with only occasional small, flat markers indicating it was ever a proper cemetery. It's become a gathering space for families and lots of Frisbee-tossing dog owners. I often drive visitors by the spot and point out that while the headstones are gone, the bodies still remain in the ground, a tidbit which nearly always elicits a look of disbelief.

How the resting place of some of Ventura's founding fathers and mothers got to this stage probably ranks as one of the city's more controversial decisions. The church-owned cemetery, filled to capacity in the 1940s, began falling into disrepair over the years, much to the dismay of nearby property owners. A large hedge, planted to cover up the spectacle, did little to appease neighbors.

Years of vandalism took its toll until 1963 when the city, by now the owner of the property, decided -- with only a bit of public outcry -- to convert it to a public park. Bodies resting in mausoleums were moved underground, relatives who could be located were give the option of moving their deceased ancestors and/or collecting the headstones. Flat markers were placed at the request of some family members.

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The monuments were unceremoniously moved to a city storage yard and arranged in alphabetical order for relatives to collect. But over the years it became a popular high school prank to steal the headstones and cart them off as grim trophies. Now, many years later, they still pop up from time to time in odd places.

Finally, the unclaimed stones were ground up and used to fill a levee near the Olivas Park Golf Course.

GIVEN THIS CHECKERED history, it is no wonder local residents have clamored for a respectable ending to this resting place for people who have Ventura streets named after them. Finally a plan has emerged that may appeal to everyone, but paying for it in these tight financial times is the difficult part. The city is hoping for help in the form of grants and private donations, Mayor Christy Weir said.

"Since most grant funding will only pay construction costs -- and not design fees -- the city has taken the initial steps necessary to become eligible for available funding by designing a plan for improvements to the park," she said.

But neighbors, who now enjoy the open, restful spot, have complained about the addition of perhaps 2,000 flat brass markers to the site and wonder how recreation and memorials can co-exist. Others in the community say it never should have been made into a public park in the first place and should be fenced off and restored as a cemetery. A map to the gravesites with names still exists.

The new plan also includes refurbished landscaping and repairs to the historic WPA cobblestone retaining wall, a veterans' memorial path and flagpole, original headstones inset into a memorial wall and a memorial garden, which will make it a more pleasant public space.

"The plan is to gather whatever headstones still exist to use them in the memorial wall," Weir said. "We're trying to restore the history and dignity that was lost when the park conversion took place."

The city is hoping to get more public input on the plan on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Community Presbyterian Church, 1555 Poli St. The proposed plans are posted at the park, and are also online at the city's Web site.

Budding effort for a botanical garden

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GRANT PARK, HIGH ABOVE Downtown Ventura, has to be one of the most underutilized and picturesque parks in the city. Many people visit the Father Serra Cross area for its scenic views and religious significance, yet there remain vast areas of the park which are undeveloped. The city's plans for Grant Park have languished for years and now in these fiscally conservative times have been put off indefinitely.

But if the volunteers of the Ventura Botanical Garden, Inc. get their wish, Grant Park could be a showplace. The group, which has 200 charter members, has spent the last few years getting their 501 (c) 3 non-profit status together and shopping for a site. They settled on 10 acres of Grant Park just recently, said the group's spokesperson Midge Stork.

"It's going to be a showplace for Ventura if we really get it right," she said.

The project is just in its conceptual infancy, Stork said, but the plan is to lease the land from the city and build it in phases. The garden could eventually include redwoods, native and exotic species, a tram, gift shop, amphitheater and a site for weddings.

"These things aren't going to happen overnight but they are on our dream list," Stork said.

The new botanical garden will tie into the beautification effort already planned by the non-profit Serra Cross Conservancy, which maintains the acre of land surrounding the Cross. An ambitious project is already planned for that spot with a scenic walking and strolling area and a tree-shaded seating area with a fountain.

BOTH PROJECTS WILL NEED eager private benefactors. And both will feature numerous naming opportunities with plaques and other memorials. The next step will be to come up with conceptual drawings and present the plans to the various city commissions and eventually the City Council. Nearby neighbors will also be consulted, Stork said. "It's better to be proactive."

In the mean time, the group has a smaller project in mind: the seeding of an area above City Hall late this month to encourage a carpet of wildflowers in the spring. Donors to that project are being sought.

These public-private partnerships with volunteer elbow grease may be the best way to tackle underfunded civic projects in a down economy. Luckily Ventura has no shortage of enthusiastic volunteers.

Note: If anybody would like to donate to or volunteer for the Botanical Garden effort, send an email to my address at top and I will forward your contact information to the group.
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This space is devoted to thoughtful and lively discussion about the events, people and politics which shape Ventura and our state. If you would like to suggest blog topics, email me.

About the author

Marie Lakin, a long-time resident of Ventura, is a community activist and writer/editor.
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