We are concerned. Very concerned.
Our new Congress and our 45th president, who will be sworn in Friday, January 20, have promised to make changes to the laws of the land that could endanger the values — human dignity, constitutional rights, political equality — this country and this paper have long supported.
We hope this won’t be true. But we must remain vigilant to ensure these hard-earned freedoms are not lost. To assist us all in this time of transition, the staff of The Santa Barbara Independent has compiled a list of local organizations that fight to protect the things we hold dear — our oceans and mountains, our children, our health, women’s equality, and our immigrant, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities.
Each of the organizations listed in this pullout guide have proven track records. Their past victories are many and varied. But the road ahead is steep, and they need our help.
What we do here in Santa Barbara matters. It will trickle, however imperceptibly at times, all the way to Washington. Because that’s how lasting, positive change is made: not just with rallies and Facebook posts, but through the hard work of doing research, tracking issues, knocking on doors, writing politicians, and voting.
So pick a cause, and jump in. Let’s give a little extra to preserve our principles.
Let’s Keep Santa Barbara Great Again.
Tyler Hayden, Senior Editor
Environmental Defense Center
Who and What: This public-interest law firm epitomizes the adage “The best defense is a good offense,” proactively challenging the wealthy and powerful interests that threaten our natural world. Its lawyers have helped defeat the Paredon oil and gas project, reduce polluted runoff from farm fields, secure funding to restore lower Mission Creek, and save the Arroyo Burro Trail, Haskell’s, and Hammonds Beach access from closure, among other victories.
How to Help: Anticipating reduced enforcement, the Environmental Defense Center will sharpen its focus on offshore oil leases; Venoco’s proposal to extend drilling operations sits squarely in its crosshairs. The nonprofit firm will also keep a watchful eye on endangered-species issues. Donations are needed to support its staff of attorneys, who represent more than 100 community groups and organizations. Volunteers play a big role in outreach and advocacy.
‘We have a lot of reason to be concerned about fracking and acidizing off our shore.’ —Owen Bailey, executive director
Los Padres ForestWatch
Who and What: As the only Santa Barbara nonprofit dedicated to protecting the wilderness and wildlife of the Los Padres National Forest, this small but feisty organization responds to any and all threats to our public land. It bird-dogs oil projects, conducts habitat restoration, arranges trash cleanups, preserves trail access, collaborates on biological surveys, and, when necessary, legally challenges government land-management agencies to comply with environmental laws.
How to Help: Volunteers in the Forest Steward Program battle invasive plants, tear down old barbed-wire fencing, and scoop up the small bits of trash that kill California condors. They also assist with office work and event prep. Donations pay for daily operations as well as ongoing legal battles, such as halting the expansion of oil drilling and ensuring current drillers aren’t polluting; the Los Padres is the only California forest with oil drilling in its boundaries.
‘This is going to be a very pro-oil administration, which will have an impact on public lands right here on the Central Coast.’ —Jeff Kuyper, executive director
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
Who and What: These steady stewards of the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds advocate for stronger environmental protections and oversee the health of our beaches and creeks. Their water-quality-monitoring program is the go-to source for official regulatory data. Current issues on their radar include the city’s desalination plant, our new plastic-bag ban, cruise-ship compliance, ocean acidification, and the beefing up of the state’s Clean Water Act.
How to Help: Channelkeeper’s volunteer Stream Team tests water samples, and MPA Watch program observers track human activities around the coast’s marine protected areas. Heavily involved in Refugio Oil Spill postmortem studies, the nonprofit is now putting together a community resource guide in the event of another spill. A new tarball monitoring initiative is in the works, as well. Donations will fund both of these efforts.
‘We’ve heard the Endangered Species Act is going to be one of the first things that’s attacked.’ —Kira Redmond, executive director
Sierra Club, Santa Barbara Group
Who and What: Our chapter of the Sierra Club sees Santa Barbara at a crossroads, clinging to its mantle of environmentalism while feeling steady political pressure from oil interests. It pushes back by opposing new drilling and enhanced extraction. The chapter had a hand in stopping the Phillips 66 oil train and Exxon’s request to transport crude by truck. It also promotes new bike lanes and partners with a solar company for home installations.
How to Help: Money and manpower will bolster the Sierra Club’s many state-level quests. To name a few: supporting a bill to close a loophole that currently allows drilling into the ocean from adjacent federal land, working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to improve the outdated State Wildlife Action Plan, and coordinating the creation of a Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary that would protect the Gaviota Coast’s rich ecosystems and wild ocean.
‘We’re going to plug into the Paris climate agreement, regardless of what [the president] might do.’ —Katie Davis, executive committee group chair
Community Environmental Council
Who and What: The Community Environmental Council sets practical goals for sustainable living — drive less, drive clean, go solar, ditch plastic, eat local — and then works like hell to meet them. Its Solarize program has helped more than 500 households install rooftop solar. Its clean-driving initiative built 360 electric-vehicle charging stations. And its Rethink the Drink program placed 72 water refill stations in tri-county schools.
How to Help: To steer Santa Barbara toward energy independence, the council is lobbying hard for a regional Community Choice Energy program so residents can choose what percentage of our power comes from locally generated clean sources. The group also recently published its Food Action Plan, a blueprint to cut down on the 40 percent of food that is wasted between the field and the fork. Funds and volunteers are needed to realize both objectives.
‘Santa Barbara has the potential to be a climate leader. We have the sunshine and the intellectual capability.’ — Sigrid Wright, executive director
350 Santa Barbara
Who and What: Building momentum and energy toward an all-inclusive, on-the-ground climate justice movement here on the Central Coast is the mission of 350 Santa Barbara. Rather than abstractly shoehorning social justice into climate activism, its members strive to connect straight lines from their rallies and research to real world accomplishments. Their work played a major role in the county denying a large oil and gas cyclic steaming project on Orcutt Hill last year.
How to Help: As a volunteer-led chapter of the national 350 nonprofit, the local group doesn’t have any paid staff, so donations are critical. Volunteers attend government meetings and conduct community outreach. Recently, their time has been occupied by sustained resistance to the North Dakota Access Pipeline. In the coming months, they’ll push the supervisors to designate Santa Barbara as a sanctuary county insulated from federal immigration raids.
‘It’s not about carbon in the atmosphere. It’s about justice.’ —Becca Claassen, founder and organizer
Pacific Pride Foundation
Who and What: The foremost resource for Santa Barbara’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) community provides a kaleidoscope of services and programs, from youth therapy to PROUD Proms to family support to sensitivity trainings to senior potlucks. The 40-year-old nonprofit also conducts free, anonymous HIV and hepatitis C tests — then linking newly diagnosed individuals with follow-up health care — as well as a syringe exchange.
How to Help: Giving to Pacific Pride means supporting its new Lompoc facility, expanded anti-bullying trainings, and longstanding elder buddy program. It also means more HIV education and testing among the Latino community and gay and bisexual men and women with children, where counselors are seeing a rise in infections. This year, the organization will roll out a safe-space initiative for businesses and collaborate with the Anti-Defamation League on a formal coalition against hate and bias.
‘Find your favorite cause, or anything that excites you, and support it. Give back. Roll up your sleeves and volunteer.’—Colette Schabram, executive director
PFLAG Santa Barbara
Who and What: PFLAG is the sometimes overlooked but critically important extended family of the LGBTQ community. The national organization, founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, is made up of the family members, friends, and allies of LGBTQ people. The Santa Barbara group meets the second Monday of every month. It has organized an Interfaith Pride Alliance and is doubling down on its safe school program.
How to Help: The all-volunteer organization has dreams of one day creating a scholarship fund for LGBTQ youth. Steady donations are needed to start that ball rolling. Outreach workers spread the word with brochures that PFLAG stands with families to affirm and advocate for their loved ones; our local chapter’s social media accounts could be enhanced. Extra hands are always needed for its annual Love. Period celebration.
‘There is a lot of tenderness in the meetings, people feeling the same way — we’re not alone in this.’—Georgia Noble, president
Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network
Who and What: With appropriate aggressiveness, the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network protects and promotes compassion for the people it serves. Fostering confidence and leadership among youth is essential, its leaders say. Parents can access recommended readings and a list of trans-supportive medical providers through the network, which also illuminates important but potentially confusing laws around restrooms and classrooms.
How to Help: The young organization has outgrown its pop-up meeting space at the First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara and will soon move into its own designated headquarters. It is also looking to build an advisory board to connect with other nonprofits; integrating more with Los Angeles is a desire. Volunteers help with the network’s lending library and its many events, including support groups, museum tours, and dinner parties.
‘We’re digging our feet in to create inclusiveness for all diversities.’ —Phillippa Bisou Della Vina, board president
Who and What: The young men and women of Spectrum Ministries may not always agree with one another — or the Christian community at large — about God’s word on LGBTQ individuals and their relationships, but they all share the same goal: building respectful dialogue where precious little exists. Westmont students dissatisfied with campus discourse formed Spectrum three years ago. They’re now merging the nonprofit with the First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara.
How to Help: Spectrum’s members believe that people don’t choose their gender identity or sexual orientation and that God embraces all his creation. To kick-start cool-headed discussions around that concept, they’ve launched a book club. Last summer, participants read Rescuing Jesus. This year’s title is Queer Virtue. Weekly get-togethers begin January 26, and new members are welcome. Donations should be made directly to First Congregational.
‘Conversations in Christian groups often come down to what the Bible does and doesn’t say. We’re more interested in what we believe is God’s work in the LGBTQ community.’ —Ryan Kent, gradient director
Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County
Who and What: Many thousands of Santa Barbarans are better off because of our county's Community Action Commission. The organization provides an array of children's services, such as prenatal screenings, toddler care, and parenting workshops, along with its heavily utilized Healthy Senior Lunch Program. The Home Energy Program offers weatherization, gas appliance safety testing, and assistance with utility bills. The Commission also runs the county’s 2-1-1 helpline, which offers information and referrals to health, human, and social service organizations.
How to Help: The work of the Community Action Commission is hard, and it's about to get harder. The organization is bracing for cuts to federal safety net programs for people in poverty in Santa Barbara; approximately 70 percent of the Commission's budget originates with the federal government. Losing the Affordable Care Act will only add to the strain. Donations will pay for healthy meals for low-income seniors and support at-risk youth yearning for the skills for a better life. Volunteers can help in Head Start classrooms, serve lunch to seniors, and become community ambassadors.
"If we are unable to fully fill the funding gaps, we will be forced to reduce services to people living in poverty." – Fran Forman, executive director
Islamic Society of Santa Barbara
Who and What: The Islamic Society of Santa Barbara is an open book eager to enlighten. The nonprofit’s leaders invite any and all to attend its Friday afternoon prayer service, and it regularly reaches outward with neighborhood talks and formal lectures. Spiritual, marriage, and end-of-life counseling is offered. Every third Wednesday, worshippers feed the homeless. The Muslim student associations at UCSB and SBCC benefit from the group’s guidance.
How to Help: The Islamic Society currently holds prayer services and gatherings at the Goleta Valley Community Center. It has long yearned for a permanent home and will soon build a mosque. Donations can be made toward construction or for more general services. While no regular volunteer opportunities are available, churches and venue managers can open their spaces to the society, which is a member of local ECOFaith and Interfaith groups, in the name of friendly engagement.
‘Islam is not about terrorism. It’s about love, better morals, and unity.’ —Yama Niazi, imam and religious director
Who and What: For more than a century, the Anti-Defamation League has been at the tip of the spear combating all manner of hatred and bigotry by rooting out extremism and shielding civil liberties. Educational programs are its most effective tool, especially here in the tri-counties. Our local chapter is also forming an official Coalition Against Hate, recently mustering high-level support among sheriffs, prosecutors, social-justice groups, and the Mexican consulate.
How to Help: Perpetually busy and sometimes spread too thin, the Santa Barbara office would like to hire a third staff member. That takes money. It is also compiling new hate-incident reporting forms for instances of bigotry that may not amount to a crime. That takes time. Volunteers promote and run the book-of-the-month club and can be trained to become anti-bias ambassadors.
‘When a hate crime takes place, we want a huge community response.’ —Brianna Moffitt, director of development
CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy)
Who and What: CAUSE is a potent fertilizer for grassroots movements — sprinkle on some of its organizing and advocacy talent, and watch the momentum grow. The group campaigns for working-class rights, public transportation, budget and tax reform, health equity, and progressive voter power. CAUSE helped pass living-wage and tenant-protection ordinances. It also defended against car impounds for unlicensed drivers and service cuts for bus riders.
How to Help: CAUSE is ramping up the frequency of its Know Your Rights workshops, and it is developing a text notification network in the event of immigration raids. A comprehensive policy to address labor conditions for field workers is being spearheaded. So is a roadmap for more regional clean-energy production. Donated dollars support staff time and research. Volunteers attend government meetings and drum up participation with door-to-door outreach.
‘The fear has escalated. When Trump was running, people were terrified. Now it’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from.’—Lucas Zucker, policy and communications director
Who and What: Think of Just Communities as the Central Coast’s human resources department (without the office-space sterility). It puts on cultural-competency trainings for schools, businesses, government agencies, police departments, and health-care providers so that students and workers better understand and respect the differences in all of us. Testimonials and statistics prove broadened horizons have measurable impact.
How to Help: The Courageous Conversations program brings together people with differing political or social beliefs, and Just Communities knows what to do once they’re under the same roof. But it needs help getting them there. Donations can go toward implicit-bias training for law enforcement and efforts to improve access to multilingual spaces. Cash isn’t always king: The group accepts all types of gifts from airline miles to office supplies.
‘If you and your uncle disagree and get into arguments at the dinner table, sign up for one of our dialogues.’ —Jarrod Schwartz, founding executive director
La Casa de la Raza
Who and What: A mainstay of Santa Barbara’s Latino-culture landscape for 45 years, La Casa de la Raza functions as both a community center — hosting all manner of town-hall meetings, art shows, performances, and celebrations — and a launchpad for civic action. The Family Resource Center gives direct support to walk-in clients at no cost, and the Youth Center offers a safe space for afternoon activities ranging from mural painting to bicycle repair.
How to Help: La Casa has struggled mightily with finances in recent years. Cash donations would help pick it up off the mat. Staff are generating attention around the idea of Santa Barbara becoming a sanctuary city. With rare direct access to the Mexican consulate, they continue to assist families of the deported by locating loved ones and finding attorneys. Extra sets of hands make fundraising, mentoring, and building maintenance a little easier.
‘La Casa is home for so many different people. It’s a place for them to come together.’ —Raquel Lopez, executive director
Who and What: The Santa Maria/Lompoc branch of the NAACP may be out of the sight of many fortunate enough to avoid discrimination, but it soon comes to mind for those who need the four-decade-old group. NAACP fights, and fights hard. Representatives jump into housing- and employment-discrimination cases, mediating when they can and calling in attorneys when they can’t. Eighteen different committees run loads of programs and organize forums, panel discussions, and movie screenings.
How to Help: The Santa Barbara branch closed some years ago, but it is actively trying to reactivate. Donations will expedite that process. The organization recently took a group of teens to Cal Poly for the day but lacked the funds for an overnight. The organization’s $30-per-month membership fees cover those kinds of costs. The NAACP has also put out a call for volunteers for a busy schedule of events planned during Black History Month in February.
‘One thing we’re seeing more of is progressive, like-minded organizations coming together.’—Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, Santa Maria/Lompoc branch president
Youth and Education
Who and What: Strong, smart, and bold. That’s what Girls Inc. galvanizes young women to be. After-school and summer programs prepare members to navigate the social and economic barriers that can stop them in their tracks. Girls ages 4½-18 come from more than 30 schools to be mentored in math, sports, art, cooking, communication, health, self-esteem, and everything in between. The gymnastics center is a place for easy fun and healthy competition.
How to Help: Girls Inc. offers financial aid scholarships to low-income families; 75 percent of Santa Barbara Center members come from families who earn $30,000 or less a year. Scholarship donations are the organization’s greatest ongoing need. Volunteers assist with homework, read-aloud skills, science fairs, stage performances, and gymnastic events. Buy Girls Inc. paint, chairs, or a Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor poster via its Amazon.com Wish List.
‘Like Hillary [Clinton] said, girls should not be discouraged. We want all of our girls to take the mic.’ —Barbara Ben-Horin, CEO Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria
Future Leaders of America
Who and What: Since 1982, Future Leaders of America has steered more than 8,000 young Latino men and women out of poverty and crime and into college and careers. Some of them have gone on to hold political office. Its flagship course is an intense six-day summer camp, where high schoolers learn public speaking, government procedure, assertiveness, and networking. Spanish-speaking parents can attend a separate three-day retreat. Family college campus visits and drug/alcohol prevention conferences are also offered.
How to Help: The six-day camp costs $450 per student; the parents retreat is $120 a head. Cash gifts help cover those costs. The organization also suggests donors use their purchasing power to make an impact through the eScrip Shopping program, where business partners contribute a percentage of what participants buy to Future Leaders. Volunteers are being sought to create an alumni database.
‘There is hope. We can make a difference if we express our opinions.’ —Eder Gaona-Macedo, executive director
United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County
Who and What: It’s great to play basketball, but homework has to get done first. Santa Barbara’s Boys & Girls Clubs help kids recognize both these truths with myriad athletic and education programs at nine locations across the county; 66 percent of their members play a sport most days of the week, and 96 percent are on track to graduate. The clubs benefit whole families, too, through public sponsorships that fulfill basic needs in difficult times.
How to Help: By the end of 2020, the clubs hope to double the number of youth they serve from roughly 3,000 to 6,000. They may also extend their hours if families need extra time to address immigration issues or access social services. Ad hoc giveaways of winter coats and grocery cards need better organization through partnerships with the Unity Shoppe and Food Bank. This will require more money and resources. Volunteers act as tutors, coaches, and referees.
‘We want the club to be seen for what it is — a community resource.’ —Diana Oplinger, executive director
Adsum Education Foundation
Who and What: The Adsum Education Foundation always wanted to put itself out of business when it formed in 2010 to lobby for undocumented students ineligible for financial aid. Two years ago, it succeeded by finally convincing the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara to make $2 million available to college-bound kids without legal status. Now, Adsum (Latin for “I am here”) is deciding how to remain a voice for the county’s 5,000-6,000 undocumented K-12 students.
How to Help: Adsum is still accepting direct donations as its leaders refocus their mission. In the meantime, they will closely monitor Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, which our new president has vowed to overturn. Potential supporters are encouraged to contact Adsum to meet scholarship applicants. High school applicants have an average GPA of 3.7; recipients have an average family income of $20,587.
‘I hope to one day give back to this community in the same way that it is giving toward my education.’ —Luis, Adsum student enrolled in UCSB
Health and Wellness
Rape Crisis Center
Who and What: As much as we’d like to believe Santa Barbara is somehow safer or different than other communities, our sexual assault statistics are consistent with national averages. Each year, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center responds to approximately 700 new cases. The nonprofit agency provides counseling, crisis intervention, and support services to survivors and their families.
How to Help: Longstanding rape prevention and education programs, as well as self-defense classes, will continue. The agency raises nearly 50 percent of its annual budget through individual and in-kind donations. Help is needed around the office, with the center’s Outcry! newsletter, and in preparation for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Training for crisis intervention, an ongoing need, requires 60 hours of lessons plus a one-year commitment to the hotline.
‘The rhetoric and behavior of the president toward women is not normal, and it is not acceptable.’ —Karen Villegas, community education coordinator
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics
Who and What: It’s the belief of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics that quality medical care is a fundamental right for all people, regardless of their ability to pay. Thus, the 46-year-old network, with its four medical clinics and two dental offices, is a vital safety net for the poor and the uninsured; 83 percent of its patients live at or below the federal poverty line. Pediatrics, psychotherapy, chronic-illness care, dental implants, and root canals are just some of the services offered.
How to Help: The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance coverage to 2,600 of the clinics’ 20,000 patients. Its potential dismantling, along with expected new rules blocking federal funding from subsidizing care of undocumented citizens, would pose significant financial challenges. Additional grants and private donations will be needed to fill the funding gap. The clinics are currently seeking medical-assistant and patient-enrollment volunteers.
‘We’ve gotten through crises before, and with careful planning, we’ll get through them again.’ —Dr. Charles Fenzi, CEO and chief medical officer
Planned Parenthood California Central Coast
Who and What: From five tri-county clinics, our Planned Parenthood network dispenses critical reproductive health care to more than 36,000 Central Coast residents. Patients receive breast and pelvic exams, pap and HPV screenings, pregnancy testing and counseling, and abortion and birth-control services. Planned Parenthood guest speakers regularly present at schools. Positively Speaking educators talk about living with HIV.
How to Help: Planned Parenthood has existed for 100 years. Its directors say they could now be in the fight of their lives. The majority of the Central Coast’s $14.3 million in funding last year came from government programs now under threat; much of the remaining costs were covered by individual contributions. Supporters can give to the general fund or earmark their donations for specific local services. Volunteers are needed for the Pro-Choice Coalition, Young Advocates program, and Central Coast Action Fund.
‘When women come to us, they’re not making a political statement. They’re accessing health care.’ —Jenna Tosh, president and CEO
Independent Living Resource Center
Who and What: Nearly 2,000 tri-county residents with disabilities are living freer, more self-supporting lives thanks to the staff of four Independent Living Resource Centers on the Central Coast, 80 percent of whom have disabilities of their own. The national nonprofit helps clients secure work and housing, get paired with personal assistants, navigate the labyrinthine Social Security system, and connect with peers for shared support.
How to Help: The centers were recently tasked through a federal mandate with helping disabled high school and college students, as well as people in nursing facilities, transition to living on their own. But no additional funding was provided, so Central Coast executives are grateful for private donations. The assistance of volunteers goes a long way in hosting events such as the Ed Roberts Day Celebration (he was a pioneer of the disability rights movement) on January 23.
‘We’re a small nonprofit only funded for certain things, and we want to provide more. But the funding has to back up that want.’ —Dani Anderson, executive director
California Rural Legal Assistance
Who and What: California Rural Legal Assistance has 18 offices between the Mexican border and Northern California. One is in Santa Barbara; another is in Santa Maria. Out of these offices comes free legal service for farmworkers and immigrants. Their lawyers also conduct education workshops on housing, employment, and health. Ensuring that the state’s new farmworker overtime law is being upheld is a current priority.
How to Help: California Rural Legal Assistance receives significant federal funding; its development team is looking at alternative income streams. New initiatives in need of cash focus on alleviating heat stress in the fields and recovering from pesticide exposure. Supporters are invited to host luncheons and fundraisers, provide pro bono counsel, offer translation services, and assist around the office.
‘We’re not cutting back, but we are tightening our belts and making the most strategic decisions for clients.’ —Kim Jones, director of giving
Legal Aid Foundation
Who and What: It is a peculiar and problematic thing that so many of the people navigating our civil legal system — low-income residents, seniors, domestic violence victims, and immigrants — are also the most vulnerable. The Legal Aid Foundation supplies attorney representation and advice to these individuals, securing them housing, relief from physical abuse and financial scams, protection from employment fraud, and defenses against deportation.
How to Help: Much of Legal Aid’s funding comes from federal sources. Its staff are concerned about future financing and so are maneuvering to build private support. They accept volunteer attorneys and paralegals and employ college interns. Family law is the biggest unmet need, directors say — too many couples divorce and arrange child support outside court, which often leads to greater conflict and sometimes violence.
‘Trump does not seem to understand the legal limitations on what he will be able to do as president.’ —Molora Vadnais
Who and What: There are only two Santa Barbara County nonprofits authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice to represent low-income immigrant clients before the Department of Homeland Security. The first was Importa, which now works closely with Immigrant Hope. Importa facilitates DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections as well as naturalization for green card holders. It also consults on adjustment of status and asylum cases. All services are free.
How to Help: Importa gets a startling amount done on a shoestring budget covered by a single state grant. Donations will allow the organization to reach more clients and develop job training programs for immigrant youth. Additional outreach in North County and down in Oxnard is needed. Trust-building projects between Santa Barbara’s immigrants and established nonprofits remain a chief goal.
‘It’s unfortunate there’s not more social mingling among Santa Barbara’s white and Latino communities. These are hardworking people who need help. —Russell Trenholme, director
Santa Barbara Progressive Coalition
Who and What: When George W. Bush won his second term in 2004, the Santa Barbara Progressive Coalition formed to re-energize and congeal county liberals. Its mission accomplished with the election of Barack Obama, the group disbanded in 2008. It’s now coming back online. The meetings are communal spaces for people to share ideas and learn about ways to volunteer.
How to Help: The coalition’s second iteration is still in its infancy. Organizers ask for follows on Facebook and attendance at upcoming meetings. So far, they’ve been held at La Casa de la Raza. The Santa Barbara Chapter of the ACLU, recently dissolved but now slowly reforming, presented last month. Future goals include planning an Inauguration Day rally, lobbying for three proposed state bills to protect undocumented immigrants (SB 54, AB 3, SB 6), and pressing the supervisors to declare Santa Barbara a Sanctuary County.
‘It’s a way and a place for people to work together to fight back.’—Darcel Elliott, organizer
Santa Barbara County Action Network
Who and What: It’s all in the name. The Santa Barbara County Action Network rallies the troops around open space, housing, and transportation issues. As longtime protectors of agricultural land from urbanization, the small but mighty organization watches over the edges of Lompoc, Goleta, and Santa Barbara. It’s been heavily involved in protecting the Santa Maria aquifer from oil drilling and helping draft a Farmworker Bill of Rights.
How to Help: Signing up for Action Alerts notifies followers of the latest news on upcoming projects and important meetings. Supporters write letters to elected officials and government bodies. They testify during public hearings. Donations can be designated for specific missions, such as finding solutions to the county’s legendary housing/job imbalance, or they go toward more general overhead.
‘What a little organization can do is find things that are going on that no one is paying attention to.’ —Ken Hough, executive director
The Fund for Santa Barbara
Who and What: In 37 years, the Fund for Santa Barbara — a hub of progressive enterprise and a champion of young activists — has distributed millions of dollars in grants to more than 1,000 grassroots projects, big and small. Staff are the nonprofit community’s go-to gurus for advice and technical support. With a second office in Santa Maria, the Fund for S.B. makes it a point to facilitate face time between the county’s liberal and conservative factions.
How to Help: Money donated to the fund is distributed to Santa Barbara’s most deserving organizations according to an activist-led philanthropy model. Its volunteers, of which there are hundreds, do administrative work and serve as mentors to the popular Youth Making Change program, where young people create and conduct an entire grant cycle of their own. Supporters also promote and attend brown-bag lunches in Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara that convene different people with different points of view.
‘It’s inspiring to see a whole new generation of activists assuming the role to lead during a very challenging time.’—Marcos Vargas, executive director
962-9164 (S.B.) or 922-1707 (Santa Maria)
If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it. Persevere. — President Barack Hussein Obama's farewell address, January 10, 2017