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The Santa Barbara Beautiful Awards

by Virginia Hayes

It’s always nice to get a pat on the back for a job well done. Santa Barbara Beautiful has been doing that for more than 40 years at its annual awards ceremonies. This year the list of recipients was long and august. There are a number of categories to recognize significant improvements at properties ranging from single-family residences, both large and small, to commercial buildings and signs, historic restoration projects, and significant architectural features and public art. In addition to these awards, there are some special awards honoring excellence in other aspects that serve to enhance the community.

The Business in Art Award was given this year to Barry Berkus for his support of the arts. The Barry Berkus and Family Art Collection has been donated to the County of Santa Barbara in memory of Gail Berkus and contains more than 70 contemporary pieces produced by local artists during the last 25 years.

Looking Good Santa Barbara is a program run by the City of Santa Barbara Environmental Services that provides graffiti removal and targets litter through neighborhood recycling efforts. This year it was awarded the Jacaranda Award for Community Service to honor the work of more than 500 volunteers who help to keep Santa Barbara beautiful.

The Heritage Oak Award for Lifetime Achievement singled out Michael Towbes for his years of work to improve Santa Barbara. Towbes has received many awards for his philanthropy and fundraising efforts, but this one is no less deserved. His latest accomplishments include being the major donor to the new cactus garden at Lotusland (where he served on the board of trustees for a number of years) and he is now involved in the restoration of the Granada Theatre.

Lotusland was also honored this year with the President’s Award for maintaining the stunning gardens of the late Madame Ganna Walska and opening them to the public. Lotusland is proud to preserve the gardens through sustainable horticultural techniques that enhance the diversity of natural ecosystems without the use of toxic chemicals.

Speaking of Lotusland, there are still a few weeks left in the tour season for this remarkable garden. Call 969-9990 (from 9 a.m. to noon) for a reservation to take a regular tour or attend the very special Twilight Tour on Saturday, October 28.



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