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Bill Macfadyen: Let’s Talk Westside, Where THRIVE Is Alive

Best of Noozhawk 01.20.12 also features bells tolling for SOPA and PIPA, alarms sounding for scams, and a boarding call for Portland

1. Let’s Talk Westside

Late last year, the nonprofit Just Communities invited Noozhawk to partner up on an online public-engagement project for THRIVE Westside, a foundation-led initiative aimed at identifying community-building improvements for Santa Barbara’s Westside. We leaped at the opportunity.

Thanks to Noozhawk’s own partner, MindMixer, we were able to quickly put together Let’s Talk Westside, a virtual town hall that enabled Noozhawk readers and Internet users to join the conversations that were occurring in small, face-to-face meetings over about a two-month period. If you couldn’t be there in person, Let’s Talk Westside offered a pathway to participation that expanded the universe by more than 1,500 people.

Your time is almost up if you haven’t yet gotten involved. Just Communities and the THRIVE organizers are holding the final wrap-up session Saturday and the public is invited to join the summit from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Westside Boys & Girls Club, 602 W. Anapamu St. All of the groups — along with Let’s Talk Westside participants — will be discussing the suggestions, choosing strategies to pursue and creating action plans to turn the ideas into reality.

Among the more popular ideas:

» Improving police-community relations through dialogue and collaboration

» Creating a Westside zócalo or town plaza where the neighborhood’s diverse residents can come together

» Establishing a women’s resource center at which women can talk about the joys and challenges of motherhood and receive advice about professional services, career training and other topics

» Improving lighting

» Strengthening businesses and economic development

» Improving Bohnett Neighborhood Park

» Improving youth services

» Building a community swimming pool

» Addressing gangs and bullying

» Developing a per-to-peer mentoring program through which college students mentor high school students and high school students mentor junior high students

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne will have a follow-up story Saturday night, but please try to attend the meeting if you can.

Lead sponsors of Let’s Talk Westside are MarBorg Industries, Wells Fargo, Southern California Gas Co. and Paul Cashman of State Farm Insurance.

Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors include the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing,, Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.

THRIVE Westside is a partnership of Harding University Partnership School, McKinley School, La Cumbre Junior High School, San Marcos High School, the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the James S. Bower Foundation, Just Communities, One Nation Foundation, the Orfalea Foundations and the Santa Barbara Foundation.

2. Momentum Seems to Shift in High-Tech Battle Over Internet Piracy Legislation

Last weekend, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its evil twin, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), ran into a snag when the Obama administration and a top House leader, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., blasted the more extreme aspects of the highly dubious copyright protection legislation.

By the end of the week, the whole effort had unraveled when Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, SOPA’s lead sponsor in the House of Representatives, announced he would pull the bill until the quite legitimate concerns of the World Wide Web could be properly considered and heeded. Even PIPA champion and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had backed away from forcing a vote in the Senate.

Censorship opponents can breathe a sigh of relief but vigilance is required. This battle has demonstrated that most of our politicians are clueless about the genius of the Internet and its freedoms and they’re stuck in a time warp, trying to prop up the fossilized entertainment and legacy media industries. Sorry, dudes, you’re betting on the wrong horses.

3. Santa Barbara Police Warn Scam Artists Are Setting a Variety of Hooks

Speaking of con jobs, authorities say scams are on the rise locally with an array of fraudulent tricks that involves money orders, online sales and even “law enforcement.” In an interview with Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli,  Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dan McGrew’s advice was about as simple as it gets: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So beware, and don’t give out your personal information, no matter how politely and convincingly that beleaguered scion of Nigerian royalty asks.

4. Alaska Airlines to Offer Nonstop Seasonal Service from Santa Barbara to Portland

Alaska Airlines will begin daily $99 flights between Santa Barbara and Portland, Santa Barbara Airport officials announced Jan. 19. The flights don’t start until June but the news was flying around the Internet as Noozhawk readers made it the week’s most forwarded story.

Planes leaving from Santa Barbara may not know the way to San Jose and the Silicon Valley any longer but we can get to Portland in two hours and Oregon’s coolest city, Eugene, in about four.

Speaking of Eugene, I know “It never rains in Autzen Stadium,” but, man, is it raining in the rest of the Willamette Valley! Best of luck to all of my Duck friends threatened by flooding. Stay high and dry!

5. Santa Barbara County Teaming Up with Santa Barbara Foundation to Study Rising Poverty Rates

Santa Barbara County officials say the local poverty rate has increased 52 percent since 2007 and the Board of Supervisors voted Jan. 17 to accept a public/private partnership proposal from the Santa Barbara Foundation to try to figure out what to do about it.

Foundations have been pouring more and more money into social services functions over the last few years as government agencies claim destitution. I trust the Santa Barbara Foundation’s involvement will ensure that this research and the expected report will find meaningful implementation.

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