The volunteers who’ve been striking to protest the direction of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are using the imminent departure of longtime director Edward Schneider as an opportunity to “turn over a new leaf,” says strike leader Christine Riesenfeld.

So on Tuesday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the Faulkner Gallery, the group is inviting concerned citizens, staff members, and trustees to come together in hopes of “rebuilding friendly relations” and to “restore an open and democratic board of trustees.” Among other items to be addressed, Riesenfeld said that the group will request that the trustees divulge the particulars of their search process for the next director; that the trustees will bring the existing staff members’ work-weeks back to 40 hours (many are now at 32 hours, said Riesenfeld); and that the trustees will consider rehiring some of the employees who were laid off last year. Riesenfeld also explained that the meeting, which can hold up to 180 people, will also discuss a possible future meeting between the trustees and the community to discuss the “overall direction” for the Garden. “Not just the building plan,” said Riesenfeld, “but where the Garden is headed, the type of meeting that many nonprofits do one a year.”


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