So, hitting recording. So welcome, everyone. I'm Edwin Rutsch, I'm director of the Center for building a culture of empathy. And this is our visioning circle on envisioning a retreat center at the 1964 connotes los Canos Road in Santa Barbara. And this is an ongoing series with Santa Barbara Community that we're doing just to connect and hear everyone's ideas and vision for the, for the property. And we invite others who are maybe watching this to consider joining us and future empathy circles. So you want to have these be ongoing, we're doing them every Monday at the present. And we might sort of scale that up too, and do it more often. So I just want to start with just maybe everybody introduce themselves, just your your name, your location, and maybe why you're interested in taking part in these dialogues and empathy circles. And I'll just model it. I'm Edwin Rutsch. I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area near Berkeley and elsewhere, Edo. I've lived here for about 30 years. And I'm the director of the Center for building a culture of empathy, which is the largest internet resource for promoting empathy on the internet. And Charles, my brother bought the property and asked me to be involved in the development of it. And so that's why I'm interested in I see it as a real potential for promoting empathy, culture of empathy in the world. So we'll just go around in here for everyone else. Carolyn, would you like to introduce yourself?
Sure. I'm Caroline MacDougall. I'm a neighbor of the property that Charles just bought. I've lived in Los Pinos road. But I lived here once for a year in the early very early 80s 1980 and 81. And then I bought my home here at 1986. So fairly longtime resident I'm interested in retreat centers. I was a member of a spiritual community in Scotland in the 70s name called Findhorn, I don't know if you any of you all have heard of it. So I'm quite Yeah, oriented towards spiritual work, spiritual growth, inner growth work, all those kinds of things. been involved in, you know, various ways with that community as well as with other circles like another communities like the Ojai foundation over all these years. And I have a company that I run, I have to apologize today. I only have until 11 o'clock, but I am really enthusiastic about participating in some more in the future.
Alright, thank you. Charles. Do you want to introduce yourself?
Hey, I'm Charles rich, Edwin's brother I bought the property. I live in Carmichael, which is next to Sacramento. I have four children and a wife. And can I stock investor real estate? It's a battle.
Okay. Thanks, Peter and story.
Yeah, I'm Peter Kornbluth. We are the neighbors directly to the west at 1976 last Canalis road and we bought this property in 1988. And we had the Catholic churches, our neighbors there until 1915. And that was always a extremely positive relationship. And I'm a contractor by trade we have two grown children with their own families. One of them one, one of those families that lives on our property now. And, you know, we are, of course, looking forward to your project. Sorry.
I'm story Kornbluth. I'm the mother of the children. And I'm thrilled to have you as neighbors. We've always had great neighbors, their father, Patrick was an especially fine neighbor. I think he's not doing well, but I would encourage you to try and look him up and find him because he has such a joyful kind of hands on lovely approach to being sort of a manager of that property and using it in a very, very grateful and generous way. So I'm thrilled that that there's a possibility that we could continue that it feels good to think that the A property's going to be useful. It should be. It's a fabulous property I congratulate you for making this step. I mean, we all love it. It's the sort of the center of our community. And we all feel very involved. And we're really grateful to have good stewards of that property again.
Thank you. Dava.
Hello, my name is Darla toxin Phillips, I am a local to Santa Barbara since 2008. I came after living in a Buddhist monastery for 12 years as a monk and seven years in retreat. And came here to lead a local meditation community called the Bodhi path community which has a center downtown. I've also collaborate with the university on mindfulness research for the US Office of Education. And I've met my wife here in Santa Barbara, we got married in 2016. And we now have a 14 month old son named Mateo. And Santa Barbara has been a great blessing. I've enjoyed living here and getting to know the community and giving back to the community. And I've visited the property actually twice before and always had a sense of connection of impossibility as to what could happen there. And so when I learned that it had gone into escrow, and then I found out about Edwin and Charles and their intention, I was very elated. Because I think that the work that Edwin has done already in the world is incredible. And, and this approach also collectively to think about how to want to give rise at this property in a collective way also resonates with me as well. So I'm really glad to be here. Okay, thank
you, everyone. So we're gonna be using the empathy circle process for this dialogue. So as I mentioned, I've been working about 15 years on how do we build a more empathic society. And I found that the empathy circle practice, you know, based on active listening, or empathic, empathic listening, is the best sort of foundational practice for everyone being heard, and creating a more empathic society. And it's based on everyone being heard to their satisfaction. So I don't know, if you had a chance to see the instructions, I had sent out instructions, but the core of it is, is we'll have the topic and I'll post that into the chat here, which is what is your vision for 1964 Los Pinos, road, Santa Barbara, for making a retreat center, here, and, or whatever is on your mind. So you can always speak about anything that you feel have energy for, and you'll have a foreign minutes turns. And we may increase that the towards the end. So we'll, you'll have you can share an idea to you'll speak a list, select a listener, you'll share an idea to pause, let the listener reflect back their understanding of what you've said, you check, did they really get what I'm saying? If they did, you can continue with what you're saying, if they didn't understand it, then you can just say it again, and maybe other words, and then we after the four minutes is up, I'll just hold up. Maybe, you know, sign here time, I'll keep time too. And that's sort of to end you can kind of just finish what you're saying in a sentence or two, get your final reflection, then it becomes the listeners turn to speak. And they select someone to speak to. And if you've seen the previous circles, you know, you'll have sort of a sense of how to do it. And then we'll go for about an hour and a half and then just kind of open it to open discussion. And so with that I'm the first listener who would like to start. I'm here to listen. And I'll keep time to bring that up.
Can I ask a question? Yeah. So I'd actually like to listen to you and Charles, you get to participate in this because I'd really like to hear what your vision is. Yeah,
I we all listened. So it sounds like you're gonna be the first speaker and I'll reflect back. So you're really, you're really wanting to hear from Charles and I what, what our thoughts are. And so you're kind of maybe have some questions. And so you're wondering if we're going to speak Yes, and we will.
Yeah, that's exactly it. I know you've been out through, I think it's two listening empathy circles. I unfortunately didn't have a chance to watch them. And I'd love to know where you have come now that you've, you know, you've bought this property, what was it a month or two ago, something like this, and where you've come to how you are holding it and what your vision is for it.
So you've seen it, we've Charles bought it for the last month or two. And you're just wondering, Where is the vision? And what sort of Yeah, if this point, where are we with it? Is there more do you feel heard? I totally feel heard. Okay, great, then, then it's my turn. So now as the listener, it's my turn to be the speaker and I'll select Charles to speak to Okay, and I'm just starting the timer. Yeah. You it's a big Wait, what is what are you gonna say? I just was on a call with Kent Ferguson, who has done many schools and, you know, been in Santa Barbara. And so we just had a really good conversation we're sort of talking about about the the center, and he's kind of giving advice, sort of some bit of an advisory council, I guess, in formal.
Yeah, so you've been talking to Kim Ferguson, and he's given you lots of good advice.
And the thing that's kind of on my mind, so that I feel energized about is that, you know, he invited some friends to take part and he thought that some people might be sort of skeptical of the project, because Charles is coming from a very politically right, evangelical, you know, point of view. And I'm coming from an empathic I would say, sort of not really centrist but not left, not right. But let's bring the sides together, point of view.
So he said, Some people were skeptical because I come from kind of a right religious point of view. And you come from a kind of middle left's, empathic, bringing people together point of view. Yeah, we
grew up in an evangelical Christian, you know, sort of household conservative, I did many years of travel, like 10 years of, you know, world travel in my, you know, after high school. And I sort of moved to the political left, I would say to progressive, and I have now moved to I would say to the empathic, so it's really how do we bridge the divides between all the different groups in the country via religious or political or, you know, social groups.
So we grew up in kind of a religious environment, and you went off and traveled the world for 10 years. And you kind of identified political progressive left, and now you're kind of more in the center, bringing people together? And yeah, thanks.
Yeah. And I actually did run for Congress, this last for as a Democrat, with that message of empathy, you know, got about 3% of the vote. So it's a message we're trying to get out there. So in terms of the vision, the vision I'm coming from, is, can we make the center, you know, grounded in empathy, where people listen to each other? My faith is that if people can really listen to each other and hear each other, you can kind of work out any kind of any kind of issues, but it's really based on mutual listening and empathy as the core.
So you actually ran for Congress last year, it got 3% of the votes. You're just kind of trying to put out your message of empathy. And you have faith in this empathy idea that if people just listen to each other and try to understand each other, then they can produce a better world and
come Yeah, exactly. And especially in the country, with all the polarization that's happening. I believe that it's empathy that can can really bridge the political and social divides in the country. So that's what I'm advocating for. So sort of a core vision.
So it's such a divided country, you're advocating for empathy that you believe can bring us all together. Yeah.
So that's my time and so I feel fully heard Charles here.
Okay, I'll speak to Peter. So, you're probably wondering why I bought the property. So a friend of mine mentioned that was being put up to auction and the price was kind of low initially. So I bet a few times you can reflect back.
Yeah, you want us to understand why you bought the property. And that it. friend of yours had suggested it. And the price seemed I guess seemed reasonable to you. And you bid a few times, and you won the bid.
Yeah, I kind of stopped as it was going up. But then it said next bid meets the reserve price. So I said, Well, I'll bid one more time. And I just happen to make the reserve price and when that appropriately,
right, so you just, you hit that number, it was the reserve price that they were willing to sell it for, and nobody bid higher than you and you got it.
So my vision for the property was kind of like a retreat center for church camps, men's and women's retreats, youth camps. And I knew my brother had an interest in his empathy work. And he might be interested in building empathy workshops there.
So original idea was to to have it be retreat center for our church camps. And I guess similar kinds of things, which I have to make the comment that's exactly the use that it had from 1988. Tonight, to 2015. Exactly. That's what happened. And but then you expanded the idea to include your brother's work with empathy.
And I've heard there's lots of people in the community who want to have like, different kinds of educational and workshops, like yoga, Buddhist retreats, or things like that. So all of that is welcome. Whoever wants to hold retreats there, I'm open to any ideas.
Right. So you're open to things. More than just church camps, and your brothers plans. And again, to comment, that was also true. When Father Patrick was up there. It wasn't just Catholic, you
wanted to just reflect back what you heard at this point, when it's your turn to speak. You can talk about anything to keep in the process.
I think I did that.
Okay, that's all I have to say, I feel hurt. It's your turn, Peter. Yeah, yeah, choose who you're going to talk to?
Oh, I'll talk to Dawa. So, again, you know, we lived up here with neighbors for decades. And there were all sorts of activities there. It was not empty and silent and quiet. There were weekend retreats. They were week long, high school groups that came up from Los Angeles from the Catholic schools in Los Angeles. And it was always positive and neighborly.
you live next to the property for a long time and witnessed the activity for decades that was going on there. And it was never just quiet. But in fact, very lively activities went on, including groups of high school students that would come up from the Catholic schools in Los Angeles. And so it was always lively and full of activity.
Right there was there were couples in crisis weekends, there were couples about to be married weekends. There were yoga retreats. And it was pretty broad in its capacity to reach out.
The center was broad in its capacity to reach out and included retreats for couples who had who were experiencing crisis and also retreat for couples who were about to get married. And also yoga retreats.
And, you know, our concern which we share with all of our neighbors is compatibility In the neighborhood, in terms of traffic, and which never had been, which has never been a problem, and also obviously fire safety, which is related to traffic. Because in a fire here traffic becomes an enormous issue. And it has never been a problem in the past.
So a concern that you have and that you share with other neighbors around the property is with regards to traffic, the amount of people traveling up to the property and fire safety. And you are pointing out that neither one of those has been a problem in the past.
Yes, exactly. I think that's pretty much expresses my thoughts for the moment.
Okay, now I select your listener.
I will speak to Charles
I have seen you and Edwin walk through the property and filming. And it seems like there's still quite a bit of work to do. Also to bring the property into a shape for for people to come and spend time there and get these groups going.
Okay, so you've seen the videos that Edwin and I did that are on YouTube, and you've seen that there's quite a bit of work to be done on the property to make it usable.
I also, I really enjoyed when I read the name of the of the company that had made the purchase I think if I remember correctly, it was Christ Victor. Or something Victor Christ or something. Crystals Victor. Yes, that made me very happy.
Yes, so it made you very happy to see the name of the LLC that I created to hold the company or the property.
So when when, when we I have myself led retreats for many years in Santa Barbara, Casa de Maria, at a youth Christian youth camp up at the top of rifugio road. Currently leading retreats at Canberra Ma, which is a Jewish retreat center in Ojai. And so I'm very aware of the limitations, let's say for good retreat centers, especially since the mudflow decimated, Casa de Maria, that there really are not a lot of centers to lead group retreats in the area.
So you've been involved in quite a few different retreats at different places in the area. And it sounds like one retreat center was destroyed by a mud flow. So you feel there's a lack of retreat centers so you're I think you feel happy that this one will be available
I don't know if he's still there.
Looks like he froze. His video froze. Maybe he'll unfreeze shortly. Give it a second
do you want to continue Charles select another listener and then we'll come back to our yachties.
Okay. Carolyn hasn't spoken yet so
it's Peters story hasn't Peters wife. Okay, your name is not on there, but it's story. Yeah.
Okay. You want me to talk the story So everyone gets a chance
to cop through it, but I will do my best. Okay. In
no Charles will speak to you and you will reflect what he's saying. Good. Thank you.
Sir. I was saying that, from the videos, there's a lot of work to be done. And that's true. So have kind of half of it has been renovated already, but there's no furniture. You want to reflect back?
Lots of work after that is done, but it has no furniture. Yeah.
And then the other half the dormitory part with the library. That's in kind of disarray. It was partly demolished. And so that will need to be renovated.
The library dormitory is in disarray and needs to be renovated.
Yes. So I gather that will be at least 567 month process. So that's kind of where we're at with them.
It'll take time five or seven months probably to get that organized that area organized.
Okay, that's all I can't say. Your turn.
I just liked your listener, and I'll reflect Oh, sorry.
Let's see. Caroline, you can be my listener. Thank you. Um, I, I actually think the campus as they would call it, is so wonderfully situated and so varied. That actually it lends itself to all sorts of activities, that that may be peripherally only, you know, spiritual. For example, for many years, there were basketball players, who would we, you know, meet there on a weekly basis to play basketball. And then I'm thinking of that incredible kitchen. That could be a really fun you know, resources. Well, since there aren't too many kitchens in this town, that could perhaps be educational, and in food preparation, or gatherings or whatever.
You want to pause for a second. If the person is speaking a lot, you can ask them to pause and Okay, have a chance to reflect.
I'll figure it out.
But story is recalling that in the past the campus, which I think is the word you used, is has been used for many different purposes. And there's a fantastic basketball court there. And she remembers that we there used to be basketball happening there numbers of nights a week. And then there's also an incredible kitchen there that she is hoping perhaps might be used again for even teaching cooking classes or food education or something like that.
Thank you. Do I continue? Yeah. Okay. My only concerns are really, I think the fire and the traffic has been addressed. I think another possible problem could be light pollution. I don't we actually really enjoyed the joyful teenagers kind of yelling across the canyon. In in jubilation, that was fun. But light pollution could be a problem at night. That's enough.
Okay, so story does have a concern as to whether excuse me, light pollution could be a problem at night, a lot of light up on the campus that could you know, maybe spoil the atmosphere of the neighborhood. Although she has enjoyed in the past teenagers who have been up there on retreat and hearing their joyful communications with each other.
Thank you. I feel very well heard.
Okay, so it's me, but I feel like Tao didn't really get to
if you want to speak to him, and then you can be looped back in.
Alright, so dalawa I mix kind of excited to learn about Your background and that you've been relating retreats here for a long time. And I imagine that you have thought, similar thoughts that I've thought in terms of how the management of this center is going to take place. So one of my my questions today, which really isn't for you download that is bar, Charles and Edwin is, what their plans are for really staffing a center like this so that it can run smoothly.
So you're excited to hear about the work that I have done in the past in area. And then with regards to the center you are concerned about, or you have questions about the vision for the the running of a center such as this, the ongoing administration and a question for Edwin and Charles, how they envision the staffing the operation?
Yeah, and you know, I'm a nurse, I said earlier, I'm a business owner. So I'm really used to hiring, a staffing and all the challenges that brings and just know that running a business like this takes a lot of time and energy. So I'm just my my biggest concern is are you in it for the long haul? Because it'll be a long haul.
And so because you are a business owner yourself, you think about these things about staffing and hiring and, and training and firing. And so your question is, are Edwin and Charles in it for the long haul? Because it will take a lot of work, you are aware it will take a lot of work?
That's, that's it for me.
Would it make sense to give a chance to answer or shall I just,
you can just it's your turn to speak. So just select whoever you wish to speak to who just keep the process going?
Okay, I had when I speak to you, okay. So for me, this property always had a bit of quality of a beacon. That end the positioning also of it the locational data, I somehow anticipated a radiance coming from this property into the into the area.
So you've seen the property as a beak, and that sense has a radiance that goes into the community.
And so, I have also envisioned prior prior before hearing, your your plans for the property and what the state of the property currently is that maybe a stupid symbol of, of peace and of unification could be built on such a property and kind of expressed that positive influence over the area or two throughout the area.
The year Imagine if it's sort of the speaker and you see it as a beacon there, perhaps a stupa could be built there that would hold that. That quality that radiates to the community.
Yeah, yeah, I think that's, that's accurate. And then also, of course, the practitioners Yeah, the people who pray there or meditate or who do the healing work or, or, also, maybe our time, one could have wonderful art classes up there as well. But that all of this activity generated there that it somehow has this quality of radiating up and down the coast, you raise
the right, you see it as a center that can really have all these different activities, but that it really radiates up and down the coast, sort of a certain maybe a certain radiates and a certain energy.
That has been my sense. Thank you. I feel heard.
Okay, then else. Thank you. I'll speak to Peter. Okay. Let's see what. So in terms of the long haul, you know, Charles just bought it recently. So we're sort of negotiating the direction he's asked me to, you know, sort of manage it. So I think we're still sort of working that out. And I'm still trying to understand exactly what he has in mind and how we can work together. So it's sort of a process we're doing and these empathy circles are sort of helping with that.
Right, so you You're in the process of trying to work with Charles to figure out what the next steps are in completing the vision, and the circles help.
And fire the vision that I'm I'm bringing is that that radiating? Can't forget that in a previous circle, he mentioned that to visit we've been talking a bunch is it for me that empathy, mutual listening, mutual empathy is sort of that core energy that I see sort of radiating out kind of like a son, if metaphorically, right, because it's just if we can get people to listen to each other from every different walk of life, I really think that that's what, you know, it heals that it creates a foundation for collaboration, and just general well being.
So you you see your, your work in empathy as being the central core around which this whole process will be built. And, you know, hopefully, that will expand beyond the property and affect the community or the country or the world. Because you see that as the key to clearly to solving bigger problems.
Yeah, if people can then work out their issues if they can listen to each other. So we're sort of walking the talk by doing the circles in terms of creating the vision for the center, that it's not like, Hey, we're going to dictate it. I mean, we do have, you know, our vision, but we do want it to be a dialogue. And we actually do what we're talking about. So we have, you know, people in the staff when person Christian, he's going to be joining the empathy circle, the future one, Charles's wife, so Lisa, is going to be joining. So we're this is part of that process, but doing what we're talking about.
Right? So it's, it seems like you're bringing people in, that will reflect this idea that you're bringing people from maybe from different directions, to try to facilitate your vision,
exactly, that these this value of mutual empathy. And that means in terms of, I guess, the stupas, a Buddhist sort of background, you know, Charles is very, you know, Christian evangelical Christian, I'm a theist, but it's really about bringing the different communities together so they can dialogue. We've held empathy circles, with interfaith empathy circles. So that's just kind of bringing the religious aspect.
Right. So what you have done, and you would like to do is to bring different people with different spiritual goals or practices, and have them get together.
And it's that getting together and dialoguing is the vision that the promoting that that dialogue. And I might mention, too, that I since it was a Catholic, seminary previously, Pope Francis has talked a lot about the importance of of empathy. And I have a whole bunch of quotes or he says its core empathy is core to, you know, just seeing our common humanity.
So the fact that it was a Catholic retreat center, or I think it was a novitiate for so long. Remind, I guess, reminds you that Pope Francis is deeply involved in this concept
As a as a way to, I guess, move forward.
Yeah. I feel hurt. It's my time. I can I step in? Yeah. You speak to whoever select whoever you wish to speak to. And,
and Charles, you could be my listener. This is just a quick story, which it in the Democratic primary in 2020. I decided as a just sort of a little personal poll to ask pretty much everybody that I knew who they would prefer to be president and not who they thought there was going to win, or who would be the benefit if they were the only voter in the world? Who would if they could just anoint a president? Who would that be?
Okay, so I'm a 2020 election, you can upload your friends in the community. If they were the only voter who would they choose to be president?
That's right. Anyway, I'm not gonna say who it was because that's not important. What's important is that all 50 people chose the exact same person and which reflects the degree to which I live in a incredible bubble.
Okay, so you're not going to say who those people chose, they all chose that same person, but you're saying you live in a political problem.
Exactly. And it's more than a political bubble. It's a social and cultural bubble. And, to me, that's a big part of this problem, that we're all siloed off with people exactly like us in our lives.
And so you see it as kind of a problem because people are siloed off in their lives. I mean, similar people kind of moved to where their ideas or their opinions are echoed by people around them. And you see that as a problem.
Exactly. Well, I see it as an issue with your task. Santa Barbara is a very homogenous place. And you I don't, I don't encounter other viewpoints very often.
So Santa Barbara is a very homogenous place. You don't encounter other viewpoints very often.
Right, thank you. That's perfect. I just wanted to express that.
Okay, so my turn, I'll talk to Carolyn. Um, so when I was first, buying the property, I saw on YouTube video of the neighbors kind of protesting the idea of the property being used as a treatment center or homeless center, we can reflect back on
when you first were buying the property, you went to YouTube and saw a video of some of our neighbors protesting a plan to bring the homeless, up to the center to be to be living in the center.
And so I knew that no part of your concerns, where's the traffic? And I knew that will any use of the property would bring some traffic? So it was kind of kind of concerned about that. Now, I know you have a concern as neighbors.
So you understood that we neighbors had a concern about traffic. And that, that, you know that that was a strong concern. And you that made you a little worried about the property you were the process of buying or just bought.
But so far, all the neighbors have embraced the idea of a retreat center, they seem to love that idea. I just kind of had one question if there's an occasional like wedding in the chapel, if how your neighbors would feel about because that might bring in kind of like temporary traffic.
So, so far, you've found that we neighbors are really embracing the idea of the property or the campus continuing as a retreat center. And but your art, do you do have a question of what happens if you have, let's say, a larger event like a wedding? Where maybe I don't know, let's just say a couple of 100 people you didn't say that but it come up. Would we be concerned about that traffic? I'm sorry, my gardener is blowing. I don't know if you all are hearing it. There's he'll be like he'll be fiddling the blower soon. I can mute myself if it's bothering you.
Can't hear. You can't hear.
Oh, good. Okay, that's all I had to say. Okay, it's your turn. Carolyn, is who you're gonna speak to.
Okay. Well, I think I'll speak to story. Sorry, you apart. So, it's an interesting aspect that you've brought up, Charles because, in fact, what we're really concerned about is fire. We we've all evacuated numbers of times, we've had fire come into the canyon story and Peter lost their home and one of the fires and so the The homeless problem for us was a problem of people not understanding how to live with this environment up here in a manner that would be safe.
Our main concern was that having a population who resided here might they might not be savvy or, or well informed about how cautious and careful this popular population is about fire.
And so I think one of the opportunities that would that the campus presents for, for anybody who would come and participate there is to learn about our natural world, which is so beautifully present, surrounding the campus. We don't know if the two of you have had a chance to hike rattlesnake Canyon trails. But there's so much great opportunity. And as you know, I think three of us here anyway, with Ken Ferguson, are involved in outdoor wilderness education of youth.
Yes. That your your property is unique, in that it is absolutely surrounded by many, many areas of green zone. And those of us who were were allied with Kent Ferguson through his middle school, at one point, there was a strong emphasis on outdoor education, another possibility for this campus.
And so whether it's for youth or adults, outdoor education is something that's really an outdoor, even exposure, let's just say the being in nature is something that's very, very strong. In my being, and my, my orientation in life, it's probably why I've been living here since 1986. And so, I hope for this center, that it is that that everyone who comes there really experiences that what what Dawa was saying about the, the what to record. It's a power that that I mean, that's just a simple way to say it that comes from nature. And that is really channeled through this canyon and through that property. And so I hope everybody gets to experience that.
I think what she's saying is that the common denominator of the people who live in this canyon is a profound respect and honoring of nature and that she thinks that this campus would offer a unique opportunity to expose people and invite people to to live that respect and honor and joy of being in nature
I think that's it for me
storage you get together Yeah.
But again, it's like your listener okay Dawa.
I, I'm, I'm grateful for the fact that I think that the the goal of this whole enterprise is to bring spirit and environment and and discord saw being solved through this process and this environment and this incredible campus and hopefully a very, very inventive staff. I think it's a fabulous goal.
You are grateful that the goal of this project is to bring together spirit and care for the environment and the intention to resolve discord at a at a place like this and to bring staff and people to to come and and work here at work at this at this place on for this project that you believe to be a very special worthwhile goal.
Yes, thank you. That's enough.
I greatly value what the what Kent and everybody at the middle school have accomplished I have a niece and nephew that go there. And I have many times work with teachers there on different mindfulness initiatives and the outdoor experiences that these young people go through our, in my view, as much about their own rite of passage, as they are about the environment. And I think that this, this particular experience, a rite of passage experience is a experience that is very much difficult to find nowadays for for many young people, and has been such a invaluable contribution that Ken and everybody at the middle school has made possible.
So Dawa is telling me and all of us that he also has been involved in the middle school, both from a niece and nephew that attend there, as well as his work with Kent. Ferguson, the former founder and principal of what would we call them principal, I can't remember what we call them under school. Headmaster, thank you, Headmaster. And that you really value the effect the school has had on young people's lives, in the ways that it's helped them to grow both from an environmental point of view as well as from an interpersonal point of view.
And I'm saying this, because I think maybe this this function of providing a place where a rite of passage can occur, could be also something that this place could facilitate.
And part of middle school was rites of passage for a youth. And you're hopeful that in the future, that there might be retreats for youth at the school that would involve rites of passage,
or even adults who are in need of a rite of passage,
including adults that are in need of rights. Thank you. Okay, I think I'll choose any meenie miney moe, I think I'll to Charles. So the something I have in common with Davao about just meeting here today is that I too, was involved with rites of passage with a organization called the School of loss borders. And they did rites of passage over the eastern side of the Sierras, which were fasting and alone time in the wilderness for depending on whether it was youth or adults, three days for you than four days for adults.
So you were involved in a program with rites of passage that involved some fasting or alone time or meditation in the wilderness.
To and when and those those rites of passage both my sons went through as well as I went through with my husband had profound effects on all of our lives. And I personally have had the thought when we were all envisioning what could happen to I call it St. Mary's because we had for years what could happen to the property? I thought wow, what a perfect place to do rites of passage for people because you can be relatively safe having a center like that and going off into the off of trails taking alone time, however long it's for and then returning for integration. So it's exciting to me to think about that taking place from there
Charles so is having internet connections, but I'll reflect that so you're so you're really interested in this whole rites of passage approach that I was talking about seeing the parties you've had really good experience with that and just seeing the potential for for doing that at that center trying to find a name St. Mary's the center Campus. So looking for Dave, unnamed at the moment?
I understand. And he said, and so I mean, there's so many great possibilities of what can occur there, there's no question about it. And I want to express appreciation for both you and Charles, for being open to, to all of our ideas to our aspirations and our hope for the property. And also to our concerns, because as we've stated earlier, fire safety appropriate use of this sensitive area in which the campus is, is of utmost concern to all of us.
So I'm hearing a real appreciation for the openness that we're going to open to hearing, hearing the concerns and you know, some of the concerns are about the fire being an issue.
Yeah, and unfortunately, My hour has seems to have come to an end, I have to jump on to my next Zoom meeting. But I just want to leave you with that. With that gratefulness from me.
You just wanted to leave us you have to go. But you're leaving us with your sense of gratitude, and appreciate. So thanks for taking part. And you can take part in more too, because we're recording these on an ongoing basis. And so take join us often as you wish
I will. Thank you. Okay. Thank you story and, and Peter and Dawa. And please thank Charles for me.
Okay, how are losing people here, but maybe Dawa? I'll speak to you? Yeah, the vision is I'm seeing if he's, you know, coming from the culture of empathy, you know, this, this one value that I think is sort of missing in the culture. And I'm not the only person to talk about, you know, Barack Obama, when he ran his campaign, he talked exceedingly often about the importance of empathy, saying the country had an empathy deficit. So, you know, he very much ran on this vision as well.
The central piece that you really see as part of what is needed, is this theme of empathy. And you are not the only one speaking about it. But also other people, including Barack Obama, President, former president, have stress that the country really has an empathy problem.
And so I'm seeing it very much a sort of this core value and trying to connect, you know, being very open to all the different methods, all different practices, and connecting those with empathy as much as possible. So in terms of nature, you know, there's the sense of having empathy with nature, and also how nature creates a sense of self empathy. You sense you kind of connect more deeply with with yourself, so that that can so I do look for whatever it was saying, for example, I look for Wow, what's the what's the connection with with this vision of, of empathy.
So in all the different approaches and, and possibilities, there's always a connection to empathy. And, for example, nature can be connected with empathy, our empathy for nature, and also how Empathy helps us develop our own nature helps us develop empathy with ourselves. And so in all the different approaches that have been mentioned, you're always looking for this connection to this central theme of empathy and division. You hold for the center being in support of empathy.
Exactly. And that when we talked about different faiths, it's how do we have the face, you know, an interfaith dialogue or, you know, the different faiths listen to each other. So I see that is another aspect. So. Yeah, so that's sort of just for the where I'm kind of where I'm coming from, you know, but I've been working on trying to spread that that message.
And also in the dialogue between different faiths in the interfaith dialogue, what role does empathy play there to facilitate that dialogue? And so, that aspect of maybe a clear process and a clear focus on empathy as part of that process? That is what has been the focus of your work?
And right now, Charles and I are still sort of working out the details of You know, the structure the vision, what do we agree on? You know, he'd asked me to manage it, we're sort of working on it together. So it's, it's still, you know, it's still sort of formed, you know, the everything is sort of still in the gelling forming stage. And, but we are, you know, we're planning on coming down, you know, shortly to start, you know, working, you know, doing some physical cleaning up. Charles has talked with the architect about doing the renovation. So, you know, the ball is sort of rolling in terms of the improvement of the property.
And Charles and you, you are still talking and comparing your visions and bouncing each other's visions of off of each other, to refine the way forward. And you're also coming down soon. And you have already been speaking to an architect about the beginning the work of, of renovation, of certain aspects of the property in you're planning to visit soon in order to begin that work.
Yeah. And Rosa was in the first empathy circle, she's the architect. So she took part in it. And she was also involved in the renovations, the initial renovations of one wing, so she's already been involved in it.
And Rosa, who was in the First Vision circle, she, she is the architect. And she also is already involved in the renovation of one of the wings of the property.
Yeah, and I feel fully heard, and maybe at this point, since some people have dropped out, we can just open it up to just general discussion without the reflection, would that be okay for everyone? Just any questions, any comments, we'd like to get started with the empathy circle, and then you can we can just open it up. So maybe this is a good time to open it up now. So do we have any other questions or comments? I looking forward, Peter, and sorry to meeting you just the sound? Yeah, it's, I see your property right over there. You know, your house. You know, I've seen it from the, from the view.
One thing we wanted to discuss was I don't know if you and Charles have talked to city planning. And there's history in terms of conditional use permits that we know reasonably well. And if you don't mind, I could kind of go into that a little
there be great.
Yeah. So the facility was built, I think, in 1962. And at the time, it was permitted for an educational facility. And, and I think that they, the numbers were something like a live in cohort of 80 students and a staff of 20 or 25. And then the property was sold in ninth in 2015, to a group out of Los Angeles that did a drug and alcohol rehabilitation. And I think it was called axis I didn't call the axis, I'm not really sure. But they got a conditional use permit, to run a rehabilitation facility up there with the city, which was 440 beds, and a staff of 23. And one of the issues that came up with the, the homeless shelter and later with the idea of, of, of using St. Mary's for rehabilitation, was that those numbers didn't, I guess, didn't work out financially. In other words, the, the they I think they had trouble putting together a package with that few people that made sense. And, and, you know, all along the community was perfectly fine with those numbers, you know, of the of the 40 and 23, based on the 2015 conditional use permit that went that sailed through in 2015. With without any with very little opposition. Nobody seems to care. And, but that's where it stands now. And I don't know. I'm not knowledgeable about city planning. But But whatever happens out there, we'll have to we'll have to get through, you know, the the conditional use permit, I can express an opinion that your your use is going to be positively viewed by the community, I don't think I don't think you're gonna get much opposition to do what you're trying to do. You know, no matter no matter what your The details are, but I thought that hits, the numbers are important. And I thought getting that history out there was kind of important. And, and
mainly because it manages traffic. Yeah, that
right, that's all about traffic and fire those numbers, but I don't know any more than what I've just told you about that. So
yeah, I had seen the conditioner, you use permit, there was one from when it was built, I guess. 2016. And then it seemed like they that the paper I saw was that they had, I guess sent to the planning commission outlining their vision for the retreats, not retreat center, but the treatment center. And that they had gotten sort of the Okay, that it fit with the conditional use permit was sort of, I don't know if there was a second conditional use permit was more like, oh, what you're what you're saying, you know, for that treatment center fits with the original condition. That's sort of my understanding. But in terms of the process, that's something we need to do is, you know, we had talked with the person who had created the orig, sort of done the original evaluation of the property, and that actually, you know, had emailed with the planning commission, I think those proposals and and yeah, so I guess that's something we need to kind of understand better the process there for connecting with the community, I had sent an email to the development department or some kind of a department that's supposed to help businesses create, you know, create business or projects. And they kind of help sort of negotiate that, and I didn't hear back from I don't know, if that's sort of the the route to take, is that planning commission or something is I don't know. So that's something we need to look into those sort of bureaucratic details? Yeah.
I think the point really, is that the community was comfortable with that, because it was a, it was a viable number to insert into the community, you know, in terms of people moving through the community traffic wise. So, you know, I in response to the other comment about a wedding or something, I mean, I'm assuming that a lot of people who attended a wedding there probably wouldn't be staying completely on the campus, you know. So I think it was just the numbers are important because of, of it, its ability to limit. density in terms in I think that was the point.
Yes, I'm hearing some concerns about the density use density of use, like how many people are there the amount of traffic and having a certain there's going to be a sort of a comfort level with a certain density of use.
We've had two weddings in our properties.
Yeah, the neighbors make the cat groundskeeper mentioned that. So that was a little noisy over there.
Exchanging noise with St. Mary's for many years. My husband has a rock and roll band. Okay. So, and Father Patrick was so funny about that. He evidently grew up with Jim Messina, not Jim Messina. Anyway, Kenny Loggins, they went to high school together. So he was totally empathetic about our GarageBand and we were totally empathetic about his teenagers screaming their lungs out or whoever else was. There was all really very joyful and fun. And so that's not our concern. Our concern more is, and we're we don't plan to have any more weddings. By the way, while they're all married. We didn't have anybody staying on the mountain, you know, everybody was taken with what do you call those buses, buses, or vans? Round away from that was our, our way of making our community comfortable with it. You know, but I think everybody's comfortable with 40 beds. I mean, that's that's a and the occasional large group. You know, I think, you know, I think that's good. But we do want to underline that the numbers were the main snag. That was the main snack. And as I think, permanent residents, that was the other thing, because that brings with it so much additional services. And, and so that's all the reason why we brought it up.
So hi, Charles, you're having some internet problems? Are you there? Or you're sort of sideways? But yeah, there you are. I'm here. Yeah, could be the weather kind of the internet problems.
By the way, a couple of things.
Oh, go ahead.
Well, I thought maybe a couple of things, I reflect here that I'm hearing that outside, helpful for me to process because I feel like I'm learning something. And that is that the the the numbers matter, both for the surrounding community, and also for the business model that you might be thinking about, operating, and then also that the history matters, as well as the relationship of the the people who live in the canyon that they have to nature there, and that there might be something for everybody to learn about that relationship and that history with nature. And then, of course, having lived through a few fires in Santa Barbara, it does change you. And it is it is something that if people are visiting, and they they have not lived through that, they may not have that appreciation. So I could see how making some some effort maybe to educate people who come to visit. And to give them a sense of these, these aspects, let's say of caretaking of the community could be could be meaningful.
I think just for cats, Charles up so we've been just we're just offering it for general discussion, Peter and story have been talking about the sort of their concerns about the density. And that there was, you know, previously, there had been some density issues of not issues, but the previous proposal had been 40 beds, plus staff, you know, for for the treatment center. And so there they have they and they feel the community has an issue of the density of the use, and I think Tao was is you're saying that, you know, sort of an appreciation of the nature there, but also, there's density, and then the business model too, there's something has to has to work it from a business point of view to as community issues, but then for it to be viable. There's there has to be sort of, you know, some that has to be taken into consideration, too. So just wanted to catch you up on what's been said so far. And you're gonna say Peter, he had some other
details in planning matter. Just to give a kind of example. I think if if there was going to be a wedding up there the the the solution to the concerns is buses. In other words, you know, 200 cars coming up in one day would probably would be would be a problem. But five buses coming up. There is no problem at all. You know, we had weddings on our property right? Both our daughters got married here at Big weddings. And that's how we dealt with it. We had bus we had people meet downtown. So for a one day event or something, I mean, the the point I'm making is that the the issues of density and usage can be finessed. They can be worked out and they just have to be thought through. And and I think that your general idea is going to be so popular in the immediate community that I think the details are workable.
And we're also the circles are also about everybody having a voice and being able to discuss these issues and to raise these issues. So and they're going to be ongoing too. So you know if you want to attend other circles, you know you have more concerns. Bring your friends to you know any other neighbors We're glad to, for them to raise the issues and discuss them. And I think story you're about to say something?
Well, I think history is important in that, you know, for those of us who went through a harrowing couple of months, not knowing who the new buyers were going to be, actually. And we felt protected by the the conditional conditional use permit going forward. And I think that is what is, you know, since nobody knows what ultimately happens to a piece of property, we're hoping that you guys stay there forever, of course. But, you know, I mean, we can't wait to have good neighbors there. We love to having good neighbors there. But I think if we feel vulnerable in terms of some switching of gears in terms of, you know, redescription of the conditional conditional use permit would, would make us feel very vulnerable again.
Okay, so I'm hearing some concerns there about feeling vulnerable if that conditional use permit, changes in some some way.
There was a, there was a, there was a particular moment, during there was a series of meetings about that property and about the plans that went on last year. That was mediated by the county sheriff. And there was a, there was a guy there representing the group that wanted to do rehab there. And he made a he threw out a comment at one of the meetings that just set off an alarm. And what he said was, well, we understand we're starting with 40 beds, and that's the conditional use permit. But once we're in there, we're gonna go back to the city, and double and triple that. I don't think he understood when he said that, how that would land. But it didn't land well, with the community with the neighbors, who felt like it was a little bit of a bait and switch. So so, you know, it's just I think that I think that a well crafted plan that has the backing of the neighborhood will succeed. I'm confident about that. I mean, I haven't talked to a single person who is not thrilled that you guys bought this place.
Absolutely. That's been our experience, too. It's been really positive immunities. I think sort of, like you're saying Dow was sort of a, you know, a space, you know, sort of a community space. It's been, it's been very positive about that. And a lot of people have different ideas on things that they would like to do there. You know, we've heard yoga, mindfulness, I mean, love to have any of your retreats are I just and Carolyn was talking about nature. So it's very open and eclectic to the different types of workshops and possible uses in something. And there seems to be a lot of people in the community that do workshops, different types of trainings to so I think we're open to all of those, right? Charles Are you
also think that everybody's thrilled to have that building because become useful, and, and provide good, you know, that that feels very good to have that building? Do what it was built for to build? Goodness. You know, on some level, there's so many avenues. But that feels wonderful to all of us in the community.
And nobody expects it to sit empty. That's nobody's goal. Everybody understands it has to be used, and it should be used. So I think I think there's a lot of support for you here.
I appreciate that.
It might be interesting to to do an empathy circle on business models, so you get some ideas from the community where the numbers can pencil out. Because it sounds from what Peter said that, that the numbers for some of the previous efforts did not work and or didn't end up working. Right. And of course, it would be nice to get ahead of that. So that so that that is something that maybe you don't find out two, three years going into this, that in the end, you can make the numbers work. And that might be something where the community could help from the very beginning have been part of a transparent process to really understand the numbers for a place like this, because it must be, yeah.
Well, the after the previous efforts were not private. They were the previous efforts all had to do with sort of county health, mental health, trying to deal with the Sheriff's Department. I mean, these were not these were not private sector efforts, which tend to be more rational, you can follow what I'm saying here. In other words, they were trying to get, well, the the state will provide so many dollars per bed per night. And, you know, there were all of these very complicated formulas that they were working with, but none of them were private business models, you know, so I, and I'm not wasn't really privy to the inside of that. But I, when I, when I went to those meetings, I can see that all of these county bureaucrats, wrangling between them to see who could get what money from where so I don't know, I don't know how accurate or applicable all that was to your situation. I don't
know. Oh, Charles is, is funding this. So he's willing to put the money into it, to do the renovations. And so there's there's not, you know, a different kind of groups, you know, the bureaucracy of atlases. That's not sort of an issue. But the other part was the Dow is actually, Kent Ferguson, it put together a draft budget, actually, you know, Double Entry Draft budget very kindly. So we've been talking about that we had about an hour discussion, you know, before this circle, he was in the in the last circle. And so what I'm kind of hearing you're saying is like, have that have the numbers out there, so the community can see the numbers and then have a discussion about those numbers. So people can say, well, this is what it takes to run something that's, you know, financially viable. I mean, yeah, it's habit. So be transparent, like that would be helpful.
And I think I think they are retreat centers, maybe they could, you know, maybe even Casa de Maria would be willing to share their numbers, they've been running a retreat center up until the MaxLite. So they have some experience as to what numbers can work and what numbers cannot work in the community. Not that this means it's a limitation for you, but it just gives some some, some comps, some comparables, right.
I also think, you know, in other organizations, like, there's gonna balls, because what's it called Lotus Land, and there's the Botanic Garden, there's a certain kind of elasticity that they employ in high fire times. You know, of course, we know that that's, we have a pretty much all the time fire time now. But, but there are times that are more vulnerable. And so populations go up and down. And they fought, they follow certain, you know, Red Alert, alert things in because they also were in in areas that. So there are times when higher numbers would be totally appropriate and times when they wouldn't, I mean, it's sort of an interesting model, but they've they've done this very effectively, you know, the Botanic Garden is our neighbor to the west. And, you know, Lotus Land is our neighbor to the east. And so that's another interesting, maybe something to explore, you know, where you could swell your numbers at certain times. And I don't know, I mean, I don't really know how they manage it, but we know, we're subjected to it because we read the signs coming up the road, if it's a red alert, you know, certain things don't happen. And, but other times, you know, Christmas time or I mean, you know, obviously we're in an atmospheric river now. So, I mean, I would just I think there's lots of very kind of compatible ways of looking at this.
I want to make another comment, which is that you saw the I guess you saw the protests. Probably the biggest part of the protest was because the people behind the last effort, did it in secret, and did not invite did not engage the community till they were forced to. And you're doing exactly the opposite of exactly the opposite, which is really, really good. I mean, the television station was up there with a camera, before anyone knew, in this neighborhood knew what the plan was. And it really, really made people angry, that it was it was done. As long as possible, they kept it a secret what their plans were. And that did not help them in the end, so you're doing the right thing you really are. So,
it's also the empathic things. You it's a process that we're talking about. So it, what it is, is empathy, you know, a culture of empathy is what we're working for is about openness and transparency. So we're trying to, you know, walk the talk to
if I go ahead,
though, I just wanted to acknowledge Edwin, your passion for empathy is, is very nice. And it's also rare. You know, even though you say people are speaking about empathy, the people who do speak about it regularly and consistently are not that many. So I just wanted to say it's nice. It's nice. It's a very important topic.
Thanks for that, yeah, 3% of the votes, that tells you the percentage of people behind you know, empathy. So my sense is, it's kind of low. And you know, Barack Obama, when he ran for office, he said, you know, the budget deficits, important, but I worry more about the empathy deficit and, you know, in the country, so, and one of his, one of his regrets, he said to very when he finally, you know, when he after he lost them at life after he finished, you know, being president, he said, my one regret is that I wasn't able to bridge the divide. So I think he had some regret that he wasn't able to sort of manifest that bridging of the divides. And I think that's something we have with these tools. And he didn't like empathy circles. It would have been nice if it had the Democrats and Republicans in Congress having empathy circles, you know, for example, right? Or Trump and Biden, you know, having an empathy circle together. So I'll just yeah, just so I just had
Thank you very much for inviting us to this. It's really been very, very lovely to to visit with you guys to know you a little bit better. We can't wait. We'll meet you up there. The next time you're here. We'd love to come. Come say hello. Do you know where we're
gonna? We'll come up soon. Right. Charles? Very, we're gonna talk about when we come up. So it'll be pretty soon. Yeah.
No, I don't know if Charles want to talk. I don't know if Charles wants to talk about it. But there's an intriguing picture in his background that I cannot make out. But I do wonder what it is.
Oh, you know, Carol and asked about it.
Yeah, can have a history of the world.
It's from a religious point of view, right? Sort of a biblical, is that right? Farrells
isn't a biblical, it kind of shows where different things were in relation to each other, because each little line is 100 years. So you see how different events relate to each other.
Interesting. And that is something we can find online.
too, to where you can find it online. Thank you. One of my interests is we're
you're breaking up there, Charles, if you can, if you turn your video off, you might have more bandwidth
that I just say, what are my interests was World History.
It's a pleasure to meet everybody.
Yeah. Thanks for taking joining us. Yeah, we will. We will spread the word. Yeah. It says every Monday we're having these circles. If you go to the website, to the Google Doc, you can see the open empathy Cafe so you're welcome to join again, or bring your friends and we hope to scale them up, you know, maybe add more to if there's more interest we can add another day is well, so. So thank you very much for joining us and
this was positive. I liked it. Thank you. Please let us know when you're coming to Santa Barbara, we will
try to get up there and meet you and
we'll get together.
I will say I'll send an email with the different information once this is up online should be a day or so will I'll post it and you can, you know, share it with your friends and we definitely will email you soon as we were coming up.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks
story. Thanks, Peter. Thanks Dawa.
Thank you for stopping by. And nice to meet you, Charles.