On the opening night of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) held its own fabulous Opening Night Soiree at Petros Restaurant. At the event, the ADL presented its second annual Stand-Up Award to Strawberry Days, a poignant film written and directed by Wiktor Ericsson about a Polish family working in the strawberry fields in Sweden where they encounter bias, bullying, and labor exploitation.
Guests strolled ADL’s own red carpet and had their photos taken outside Petros, just across from the Arlington Theater where the Opening Film was shown later that evening. More than 100 guests mingled in the elegant covered courtyard and the inside dining room at Petros and dined on passed hors-d’oeuvres and a succulent buffet of Greek dishes. The casual, unstructured format allowed for plenty of socializing among guests who seemed like a big family, drawn together by ADL’s mission of combating hatred and bigotry.
Advisory Board Chair Daniel Meisel welcomed guests and shared how ADL has been around for more than 100 years and given its mission of fighting hate and bigotry, is very busy today. He explained that much of ADL’s work is with schools approaching “differentness” and “otherness” through story, with the idea that “to understand a different point of view, you need to do some listening.” So ADL wanted to host an award focused on how the art of storytelling can be applied to address the essence of “other.” The winner was selected by a panel of board members and staff.
The ADL has 27 offices nationally and its Santa Barbara office provides a multitude of anti-bias educational programs for educators, administrators, parents, students, and law enforcement. Especially in the present divisive environment, their programs are serving a crucial need.
Its Early Childhood Education Initiative at Santa Barbara City College each semester provides anti-bias training and resources for early childhood educators. Since children at age 3 to 5 are at a critical point where seeds of prejudice can take root, the initiative strives to encourage an appreciation of diversity at this young age.
Its No Place for Hate Initiative provides K-12 schools with an organizing framework for combating bias, bullying, and hatred. It provides formal training to a committee of students, teachers, administrators, and parents formed at each participating school. The curriculum and approach is highly customizable. To date, 66 schools in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties have participated.
On May 21, ADL is coordinating a Community Summit to discuss identity and bias. To receive updates on the work of ADL and how to get involved, text LOVE to 51555. For general information about ADL, go to santabarbara.adl.org.
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