Montecitans Welcome Bill Clinton

Knowing it takes a village to change the world, many Montecito
villagers showed up last week in downtown Santa Barbara to support
the global-connection vision of neighbors Paul and Natalie
. It didn’t hurt that former President Bill
was on hand to endorse the Orfalea cause, or that
the event served to kick off UCSB’s Orfalea Center for Global and
International Studies Master’s Program.

From File

The unbeatable combination made the
Arlington Theater the place to be last Friday afternoon. Tickets
for the event sold out in two hours, filling all of the theater’s
2,018 seats. Among the Montecitans taking seats were Tom
and Eileen Mielko
, Wayne and Sharol
, and Roger and Miny Willmon.
Coral Casino members Harry and Judi Weisbart
enjoyed premier loge seats not far from First District Supervisor
Salud Carbajal and his wife Gina.

More than 600 seats were allotted to
UCSB students and they led the cheer for President Clinton,
resplendent in an apricot tie, and his host Paul Orfalea, the
founder of Kinko’s. The statesman/businessman duo came on stage and
settled into leather covered recliners for a chat. And while they
joked about being semi-retired with “nowhere else to go,” it
quickly became clear that they had a mission, which was to motivate
the UCSB future leaders as well as the assemblage of Santa
Barbara’s master-movers.

Direct Relief Executive Director
Tom Tighe effortlessly facilitated the two-hour
drawing-room style chat. The conversation was wide-ranging,
covering AIDS, religion, politics, philanthropy, goal setting,
business management, and non-government organizations. NGO’s, as
they are tagged, are endorsed by both Orfalea and Clinton. The
system allows non-profits to assist governments by filling in gaps
and by creating strategically planned global policies aimed at
conquering world poverty, health problems, and environmental

“Private citizens have more power to do more public good than
ever before and those with the means and the time to do it have the
advantage,” Clinton said. His remarks hit home to many in the
audience, including super-philanthropists Sara Miller
, Baroness Leni Fe Bland,
Anne Towbes, Deanna Dehlsen, and
Nancy Koppelman, who commented later she liked the
non-political and positive tone of Clinton’s comments.

“I’m a wide-eyed optimist and human history is on our side,“
Clinton told the crowd, when asked about changing the sometimes sad
state of human affairs. “Just think how boring the world would be
without challenges.”

Clinton added he believes environmental issues may hold the key
to world unity: “The environment will be the common thread that
pulls (mankind) together—it will remind us our common humanity is
more important than our differences.”

The event ended with the Orfalea family convening on stage to
commit $400,000 to the Clinton’s Global Initiative. The afternoon
also served as the official inauguration for the new Orfalea Center
at UCSB, which will be offering a master’s degree in global and
international studies. Lending enthusiastic approval for the
Orfaleas’ contributions and vision were Montecito residents
Nina Terzian, Ann McWilliam,
Jo and Andy Gifford, Tarik Kadri,
and natural history filmmaker Michael deGruy.

Clinton departed quickly after the lecture, but 300-plus well
wishers gathered at an invitation-only reception honoring the
Orfaleas and UCSB students in the global studies program. Montecito
guests were overheard describing the Clinton-Orfalea colloquy as
“fascinating,” “enlightening,” “motivating,” and

As she departed, one guest said she planned to swap her small
town village vision for the more universal concerns of the global
village. And, Supervisor Carbajal spoke for many when he offered
this observation of the event: “It was exhilarating to be here
today and be able to hear about the real challenges in a real world
and then be able to leave with some real solutions!”


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