Chancellor Henry Yang, Dilling Yang, University Librarian Kristin Antelman, Charles Montgomery, and Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall | Credit: Courtesy photo

On May 10, UCSB Library hosted a dinner with Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, as part of the UCSB Reads program, a campus-wide and community-wide one-book program. About 55 guests, including faculty, staff, students, and donors, enjoyed a reception, dinner, talk, and Q&A in the library’s Special Research Collections before Montgomery’s free public talk in Campbell Hall, co-presented with UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Guests were welcomed by University Librarian Kristin Antelman, who thanked many in attendance for their support, including Chancellor Henry Yang and Dilling Yang, who helped distribute 2,000 free copies of the book to students when this year’s program launched in January. Across several departments, 15 faculty members incorporated the book into their curriculum. For community members, hard copies, e-books, and audiobooks were made available through the S.B. Public Library.

In his remarks, Montgomery was most animated about the need for affordable housing in Santa Barbara and the rest of the nation. He discussed the tension between the incredible care we put into creating beautiful spaces and our love of the natural environment on the one hand, and the emerging social crisis of unaffordable housing on the other.

Here on the Central Coast, Montgomery posited, we have distilled the crisis, but people are facing it everywhere. People have to decide what they most care about, and Montgomery hopes that the desire for aesthetics and beauty “does not come at the expense of the lived experience of the now majority of people in this region who do not own their own homes.” 

He shared how building housing in the right places is the answer to almost every problem we face today, including the vitality of downtown areas, inequities in society, and the environmental crisis. He implored guests to leave with a “sense of urgency to deal with this crisis and feel the pain of the people who live in their cars or drive one and a half hours to get to their job in Santa Barbara.”

Launched in 2007, UCSB Reads is co-presented by the University Library, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, and other partners on and off campus. It seeks to bring the campus and the community together to read an intellectually stimulating, interdisciplinary book by a living author that appeals to a wide range of readers.

In addition to hosting lots of campus-based events that are open to the public, UCSB Reads also hosts events out in the community. This year’s community-focused events included panel discussions, walking tours, and a slow bike ride. 

Charles Montgomery and Laurel Fisher Perez | Courtesy photo
Jackie Laskoff, Charles Montgomery, Bob Laskoff, and Deputy University Librarian Alan Grosenheider | Courtesy photo
Barbara Delaune Warren and Natalie Orfalea | Courtesy photo
Fima Lifshitz, Jere Lifshitz, and Roman Baratiak | Courtesy photo


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