Wednesday, May 31, 2006

EIR on IV Master Plan 

The following is an excerpt from email sent out to the new Isla_Vista_Community Yahoo Group today from Carmen Lodise about his initial impressions of the currently proposed Isla Vista Master Plan.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"... I would suggest that it might be more helpful if every effort in the
next 30 days was spent reviewing and commenting on the EIR on the
Redevelopment Agency's Master Plan for Isla Vista -- the comment
period ends June 30.

http://www.countyofsb.org/rda/

"The proposal does, among other things, permit two-story buildings to
become three-story and adds roughly 1,500 new Dwelling Units.
Commenting on the EIR isn't "revolutionary" but it's the kind of
nuts-and-bolts action that once made many of us feel that Isla Vista
might become the model community its residents envisioned in
the '70s & '80s.

"I was only alerted to this EIR deadline by an emailed Nexus article
from Malcolm Gault-Williams. I hope that he will send that again to
everyone on this site and that everyone still interested in Isla
Vista's fate will take a look at it and comment.

"I will send around some notes on my impressions after I read the
document – by June 9.

"I will say, however, that I am not opposed to enhancements in the
business district and increased density – if it's done right and the
old Robber Barons who built the town aren't the main financial
benefactors.

"Of course, at bottom we all know is the University's desire to
increase enrollment and make the community more palatable to the
parents of potential students. These bureaucrats continue to wear
us down.

"Such designs are not exactly in line with what's best for a
community we all know has such incredible potential..."



   Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I.V. Master Plan 

Gee, I've lived and worked in and around Isla Vista since 1969... I never knew that what Isla Vista most needs is additional housing structures and parking lots! Where have I been?

Environment Study Shows Pros, Cons of I.V. Master Plan - Daily Nexus Online




   Tuesday, May 23, 2006

IV @ Answers.com 

Lots of information about Isla Vista and its history is contained at:

Isla Vista, California: Information From Answers.com

Thanks to Susan Swift for the heads-up on this Internet resource.



   Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dick Flacks Looks Back 


[ Excerpt from the SB Independent article on 5/11/2006 by Nick Welsh ]

UCSB’s Most Dangerous Professor


Dick Flacks is situated comfortably in his living room, the legendary ground zero of Santa Barbara’s progressive politics. Dressed in a loose, beach-bum T-shirt with broad horizontal stripes, blue jeans, and fleece-lined slippers, Flacks leans back into his couch. It’s a ridiculously beautiful Sunday afternoon, and Flacks is preparing for his retirement party, an exaltation of his career as activist and academic — a two-day event billed as Flacks Fest. But at the moment, Flacks seems a little miffed. Somehow, he was not included in the recently published book listing the 101 “most dangerous” college professors in the United States, written by David Horowitz, the one-time left-wing radical turned right-wing firebrand. “I was upset,” Flacks says, an ironic twinkle escaping the prism of his Coke-bottle glasses. “I wasn’t in there. I don’t know why not.”

Flacks is teasing. But he has a point.

When Flacks was appointed to a tenure-track professorship in UCSB’s sociology department in 1969, he’d already achieved notoriety at the University of Chicago as a radical anti-war activist. Ronald Reagan, then the governor of California, quipped that hiring Flacks was like hiring a pyromaniac to work in a firecracker factory. It was a nice line, and for Flacks, perhaps the ultimate backhanded compliment. But other reactions were less charming. Robert Lagomarsino, then Santa Barbara’s Republican state senator, went so far as to call for a House Un-American Activities Committee investigation. To keep any more of Flacks’s ilk from getting tenure, the University of California’s Board of Regents voted to take control of the appointment process. The Santa Barbara News-Press’s editorial pages quivered about the potential violence Flacks might unleash. And all that was before he even moved to town.

Flacks didn’t turn out to be the bomb-thrower his detractors predicted. As his UCSB friend and colleague, Harvey Molotch, once dryly noted, “Dick was never at all athletic.” Instead, Flacks spent the next 37 years on campus advocating a pragmatic brand of radical politics coupled with nonviolent civil disobedience. As a result, Flacks was allowed to operate with a relatively free hand, helping to radicalize generations of students. Both through his classes on social movements and his work with student groups, Flacks inspired young people to go into the world and “make history.”

As a “think global, act local” kind of guy, Flacks directed many of his students’ idealism toward the Santa Barbara community, where he secured them positions in many of the political and counter-cultural organizations he had helped to found. In most of Santa Barbara’s defining political debates — including growth, water, housing, homelessness, the living wage, immigrants’ rights, environment protection, and alternative transportation — activists nurtured by Flacks have played crucial roles. Harley Augustino of PUEBLO, the grassroots organization that helped bring 20,000 marchers to the streets of Santa Barbara in support of immigrants’ rights last week, started his career with the Isla Vista Tenants Union and then with the Living Wage Coalition thanks to a helping hand from Flacks. Geoff Green, the current director of the Fund for Santa Barbara, which finances progressive groups countywide; political organizer Ed Maschke, who kept Goleta developers tied up in knots for more than 20 years; and Rob Rosenthal, whose work with Santa Barbara’s homeless helped them emerge as a political force in the 1980s, all were mentored by Dick Flacks. Though most of his protégés have been men — known as the Flacks Boys — he has mentored a number of influential women including Roseanne DeMoro, the head of California Nurses Association, who last year chased Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger up one side of California and down the other in aggressive, successful opposition to four ballot initiatives he was backing.

The work of these men and women prove something that Dick Flacks believes with all his might: Small groups of individuals can make history.


From Red Diapers to String Quartets

The older of two children, Flacks was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938. His parents David and Mildred Flacks — both school teachers — were born to Russian Jewish immigrants. Both were active union members and organizers; both belonged to the Communist Party. But when the Cold War began in the 1950s, the Soviet Union ceased being America’s ally and became instead its mortal enemy. Flacks’s parents were targeted by anti-communist investigators and fired from their jobs.

Under Khrushchev’s leadership, information about the horrors of Stalin’s blood-thirsty regime became more generally known. Then, in 1956, the Soviets invaded Hungary. Flacks — a scholarly young teenager — began to find the blindly pro-U.S.S.R. position of the U.S. Communist Party, and his own father, repellent. At the same time, the rest of the American left had become virulently anti-communist. Radical red-diaper babies like Dick Flacks were having a hard time finding a place to call home. Then, in 1957, Flacks met Mickey Hartman, the daughter of Yiddish-speaking, Russian-born immigrants. One year later, the two married, beginning a 48-year partnership that produced both a family and a political juggernaut.

Together, the two students stumbled onto an aging American revolutionary named A.J. Muste, whose political vision fused Christian social justice, American populism, and nonviolent civil disobedience. For them, it was as if the sky opened up. “Revolutionary nonviolence? No one was putting those two words in the same sentence back then, let alone giving it serious thought,” said Flacks. “Muste became a complete role model for me.” So much so, Flacks gave his second son the middle name “Ajay.” Stifled by the political claustrophobia of Brooklyn, the young couple set out for the University of Michigan, where Flacks attended graduate school. “We didn’t want to be part of New York,” Flacks said. “We wanted to be part of America in the much broader sense.”

In Michigan, Flacks sought out other young activists whose politics emerged more from Midwestern prairie populism than from Marx. One such activist was Tom Hayden, who would become Flacks’s lifelong friend and political partner. Inspired by the death-defying courage of Southern civil rights workers, who also followed a nonviolent approach to social change, the Flackses joined Hayden in reorganizing Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), then an obscure group loosely affiliated with the United Auto Workers Union. In 1962, Flacks, Hayden, and about 60 SDS activists gathered in Port Huron, Michigan, to pen what would become the rhetorical anthem for the New Left. An almost hormonal celebration of the democratic impulse, the statement began, “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably at the world we inherit.” It blasted both major superpowers — the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. — and supported democratic principles that they believed could coexist within socialistic and communistic structures. Acknowledging the raw audacity of their vision, the authors wrote, “If we appear to seek the unattainable … let it be known we do so to avoid the unimaginable.”

While in Michigan, Dick and Mickey Flacks began developing a lifestyle that not only kept them sane, it kept them human. They discovered college football, attending all of Michigan’s home games. Mickey remembered once having to yank Dick from an interminable SDS meeting to get to the stadium on time. No one could believe where they were going. Football before global liberation? “They thought we’d lost our freaking minds,” Mickey said. “But we’ve always made it a priority to take time for ourselves. We like going to the movies, eating out in restaurants. We have balance in our lives. That’s our secret.”

As a fledgling academic, Flacks was very much the hot young thing. In 1964, he secured a tenure-track position with the University of Chicago, then among the world’s most prestigious institutes of higher learning, not its current incarnation as a hotbed of neo-con political thought. Flacks resigned from SDS when he took the appointment, but he didn’t stop his political activities. That did not sit well with the school’s administration. Nor did his support of the 121 students who were expelled for sitting-in against the Vietnam War.

At that time Flacks was researching what would become his first published work, Liberated Generation. In tracking the family history of young college activists, he determined their protests were not examples of adolescent rebellion — as noted scholars such as Bruno Bettelheim were insisting — but extensions of the values they learned at home. The book — and its notion that young people could operate as an independent force in American society — put Flacks on the map. Soon publications like Newsweek and the Chicago Tribune sought his opinions on the political activism of the exploding youth culture. At the University of Chicago, however, most faculty couples led social lives that were decidedly old world. Their dinner parties with string quartets and black servants were too bizarre for the Flackses. As Mickey described it, “It was the last bastion of 19th-century male-dominated, super-intellectual elitist nonsense. It wasn’t our scene.”

But by then, UCSB’s sociology department — which was beginning to enjoy a distinctive, quirky reputation — had been courting Flacks. When the University of Chicago did not grant him early tenure, he started looking westward. The last straw came when Flacks was brutally attacked in his campus office by a man posing as a newspaper reporter. The attack — which police believe was administered with something like a crow bar — left his skull cratered in two spots and his right hand nearly severed at the wrist. Flacks’s assailant was never found.

Flacks hoped a sunny campus by the Pacific would offer the quiet he needed. How wrong could one man be? He arrived with his family just months after the historic Santa Barbara oil spill and just months before the burning of the Bank of America in Isla Vista.


Campus Guru Meets the Thursday Club

Flacks’s 1969 appointment stirred significant concern that his assailant might strike again. Even relatively conservative faculty members like Otis Graham volunteered to guard the Flackses’ new home. On the other hand, a new neighbor volunteered to spy on the family for the sheriff and the FBI. “But mostly, people were really, really nice,” said Mickey. For Flacks himself, the times were exciting, bizarre, and nerve-wracking. “Between 1969 and 1979, there was not a single normal moment on campus where you could go about your routine,” he said. “Most of the classes were held in I.V., not in the classrooms; there were bomb threats constantly; fire alarms going off; huge dogs named Trotsky walking down the hallways; and every shade of hippie-dom you could imagine.”

Flacks was too old — and too straight-laced — for the hedonistic celebration of flesh and pharmaceuticals then accompanying the anti-war movement on college campuses. He managed to establish himself as a bona fide campus guru nonetheless. “The deal was if you took politics seriously and you took social change seriously and you did not ask Dick to smoke dope with you, then he would take you seriously,” explained sociologist Harvey Molotch. “That was a deal many people were willing to make.” Those who did found that Flacks could be both seriously intimidating and a friendly adviser. They also found he was passionately curious about what students think and ferociously dedicated to their right to express themselves.

Contrary to urban folklore, Flacks was not involved in the burning of the I.V. Bank of America. In fact, his friends made a point of shooing him away from any protest that looked potentially unruly because handcuffs could seriously damage his still injured wrist. For his part, Flacks does not consider the bank burning a positive political act; it happened, he said, in the spasm of the moment and in response to escalating police violence. “I don’t think anybody planned to burn the bank down,” he said.

It was after the bank burning, however, that Flacks really made his mark on Santa Barbara. He and Mickey started something called the Thursday Club, an evolving collection of high-octane activists who met every Thursday at their home. “We knew we couldn’t continue with this violence,” Flacks said. “We had to build positive organizations and we had to have a voice.” The Flackses’ living room served as a Petri dish where ideas mixed with the seed-money of wealthy left-leaning patrons such as Stanley Sheinbaum, Kit Tremaine, Herman Warsh, Maryanne Mott, and Katy Peake. The Thursday Club produced an alternative community school, medical clinics, food co-ops, and a host of other community groups that gave expression to a new value system struggling to define itself. Though many of the original organizations have disappeared, they have been replaced by newer versions, with similar progressive values. The Santa Barbara Independent, for example, is a direct descendant of the News&Review, the worker cooperative weekly newspaper for which Flacks served as trustee and adviser. (One of The Independent’s four owners — Richard Parker — was an original founder of the News&Review.)

On the idea that all politics is local, Flacks turned his attention to elected offices. At the time, Flacks said, the Santa Barbara City Council was dominated by “Republican board-of-realtor types and development interests.” Despite the hard work of earlier, more traditional reformers such as Pearl Chase, the city was in danger of becoming another overgrown Orange County. Dick and Mickey Flacks helped start the slow-growth Citizens Coalition, which succeeded in electing a more environmentally minded council majority. Flacks jokes how conservative those candidates would be judged by today’s standards. Of the four, one is now a Republican city councilmember in New Mexico, one was a nuclear engineer, one was a Westmont administrator, and one the wife of a prominent conservative Republican.

When development interests wrested back control in the late ’70s, Flacks and his wife joined with others to start Network and the Gray Panthers — in which Flacks’s parents, who had moved to town, were extremely active — to give the progressive community a consistent political voice at City Hall. After about 15 years these groups also faded out. But Dick and Mickey did not. In 2000 they got together with other concerned citizens — some of them ex-students — to form SBCAN. Its charge is to fuse the goals of the environmental and the social-justice movements — not an easy task when two visions of a perfect Santa Barbara are colliding: affordable housing versus small-town neighborhoods. How is it possible to have either in a market of million-dollar cottages? Simple problems don’t seem to interest the Flackses.


His Work, Their Lives, Our Town

Dick Flacks’s academic work reflects the same electrified lightning that has illuminated his own life. His research and writings all try to capture that flash, to document it, to analyze the source of its glow. Even as a student activist, Flacks was studying student activism. What made the activists tick? Did they stay active later in life, and if so in what ways? Why? How did activist students differ from students who weren’t active? Could you identify which students were most likely to become active? All of this research — conducted over long intervals, through elaborate surveys, and in detailed personal histories — focused on measuring the extent to which ordinary individuals can jumpstart historical change.

Flacks is now looking forward to a “retirement” that he acknowledges few people have been able to enjoy. He’ll still teach a couple of classes a year, keep his campus office, and program his weekly folk-music radio show, The Culture of Protest, which is the longest running program in KCSB history. And he and Mickey will travel. But of course there always will be politics.

Flacks’s political beliefs have shifted a bit since first moving to Santa Barbara. He once believed that a ruling elite had usurped democratic control from a complacent population. Now he is not so sure. As Molotch explained it, in the present reality of Bush incompetence, “A ruling elite would be good news.” Where Flacks once regarded the university as a hatchery for intellectual worker-bees to maintain the corporate power structure, today, he’s a passionate defender of the university. In times of budget crisis, Flacks fights to keep funding whole. He is also working to rewire the UC’s admissions system so that the children of immigrants, working parents, and minorities will be able to get a foot in the door and a seat in the classroom. At his core, Dick Flacks remains very much the same man he was when he first arrived in Santa Barbara. Then as now, he believed great social movements were created by historical forces. Then as now, he believes that even the smallest group of individuals can make history.

Flacks does acknowledge that times have changed. For the better, he noted that democratic participation in daily life has expanded hugely in the past 35 years. But for the worse, he said, the powers-that-be have become increasingly resistant to change. With the rise of global economics, national governments are less able to make economic concessions in the face of democratic demands. Still, people have to try. “If you took this town in 1969 and looked at what it was like then, you’d see that it’s changed enormously. There are Farmers Markets, environmental organizations, community health clinics — these are all mainstream. The assumed values in our political debate have changed, too. I’m enough of an anarchist to think we can’t change the government at large. But can people do things to make small-scale changes that have meaning? We did. It’s a point of great pride to Mickey and me, that we have been involved with this,” he said. “In whatever time you are living, there will always be spaces for initiative.”

Flacks ought to know. He made the most of his. And that’s what makes him such a dangerous man.

By Nick Welsh | May 11, 2006


The Santa Barbara Independent :: cover story :: UCSB’s Most Dangerous Professor



   Tuesday, May 09, 2006

IV CC - Phase 1 

ISLA VISTA COMMUNITY CENTER
Background on Phase I – Development of Outdoor Recreational Facilities


In 2005, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) submitted a proposal to the California Department of Parks and Recreation that resulted in a $1 million award to construct a regulation size soccer field in Isla Vista’s Estero Park. This million dollars—the largest award granted in the state—gives project partners (which include IVRPD, UCSB, and the Channel Islands YMCA) significant leverage to pursue construction not only of the soccer field, but also of the skate board park, basketball courts, parking lot, and public restroom that will provide Isla Vista with a brand new, state-of-the-art outdoor recreational complex. We are extremely excited about this project, as it has the power to transform Isla Vista in a number of respects.

· The regulation-size soccer field will enable youth from Isla Vista’s large low-income and Spanish-speaking community to play league soccer (which they currently cannot do, because they lack transportation to fields outside of IV). The field also would bring league teams from Goleta and Santa Barbara into IV where they not only would play in soccer matches, but also would add to the IV economy by patronizing local restaurants and other businesses after the games.

· The skate park, which would reflect IV’s long association with and conduciveness to board sports, would serve teens from IV and surrounding areas while attracting large numbers of UCSB students. Having the skate park and soccer field in the same Estero Park complex would bring two diverse segments of the IV community (Latino youth and UCSB students) together to recreate.

· The lighted, outdoor basketball courts would be available for after school, evening, weekend, and even late night use, thereby providing safe and healthy activities for teens and young adults. The availability of recreational facilities could help combat some of the ills from which IV suffers, including gang activity among disenfranchised youth and alcohol abuse among college students.

By bundling the soccer field, skate park, and basketball courts together, we can pursue only one planning and permitting process (rather than three) along with one fundraising campaign. The significant seed money from the state, combined with additional funding from IVRPD, the county, local foundations, and other local sources, gives us a great start toward realizing this important project. For further information about project funding, please contact Laurie Hoyle at Laurie.Hoyle@sa.ucsb.edu.



   Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dick Flacks Retires 


[ Excerpt from SBN-P article by SHELLY LEACHMAN, 5/5/2006 ]


His walk is slow but sort of bouncy, his speech both thoughtful and quick. He takes his coffee black, which seems perfectly appropriate for a legend of social activism and radical politics. It wouldn't seem right for him to order a half-caf, nonfat soy cappuccino, and he doesn't.

In between sips of his dark roast, Dick Flacks slowly spins the paper cup with his left hand while reflecting on his career. Some 37 years after landing at UCSB, the iconic sociology professor is now retiring.

"There's only so much time we've got left on the planet -- how much of it do you want to spend in meetings?" he joked through a sly, conspiratorial grin. "Part of the reason to retire is so you don't have to go to meetings."

He's been to many a meeting. From his early days as a founder of the radical grass-roots group Students for a Democratic Society in 1962, to his years teaching at the University of Chicago, through his long tenure at UCSB, Mr. Flacks has always been beyond involved. And whether as an ultra-engaged teacher, a voracious researcher or a front-line democratic activist, he's forever a proud radical.

"When I came to this town, most people knew of SDS how the press depicted it, as a violent revolutionary movement, and if I was one of the founders, I must be one of those," he said. "Then they'd meet me and say, 'You're not radical at all. You're so calm and thoughtful.' I say, 'Yeah, but I am radical.' I believe that the roots of society can be changed. That's radical."

His humor is wry and distinct, but even the subtlest details about Mr. Flacks stand out -- physical manifestations of a unique personality. The sweater tucked into his jeans. The silver wedding band etched with a vinelike pattern. The watch turned under his left wrist. The thick specs that magnify his eyes. The way the top of his right ear turns down slightly. Those whispers of wiry gray hair. And then there's that deep depression near the crown of his head.

On May 5, 1969, Mr. Flacks was attacked in his office at the University of Chicago. Beaten by someone posing as a newspaper reporter, he nearly died after suffering two skull fractures, an almost-severed right hand and other injuries. His assailant was never caught.

"At some point you decide your life is more important and move on," he said this week. "It helped that I have no memory of (the attack). It was harder for my wife, who'd had to deal with not knowing whether I would survive. I was unconscious."

Barely one month after the assault, Mr. Flacks accepted a lifetime tenured position at UCSB. His appointment was met with loud objections by the California Republican Assembly and, for a time, the News-Press editorial pages, fearing his affiliation with sometimes-violent SDS would cast an unwanted radical pall over serene Santa Barbara.

In a June 1969 Los Angeles Times story, Gov. Ronald Reagan likened Mr. Flacks' hiring by UCSB to "a manager of a firecracker factory hiring a known pyromaniac because he makes good fuses."

But Mr. Flacks, then and now, said he chose UCSB because it seemed so calm -- and calm was what he wanted for himself, wife Mickey and young sons Chuck and Mark.

"It was a very sleepy campus," he said. "I came here partly because I had just been through a tumultuous time (in Chicago) and I was looking forward to a sleepy opportunity."

That opportunity was denied.



Mr. Flacks started at the seaside campus in the fall of 1969. Six months later, in February 1970, the Bank of America in Isla Vista was burned down, and ensuing riots turned deadly as the anti-Vietnam War movement heated up. Many people at the time accused him of being involved in the protests, said Mr. Flacks, who has written extensively about the era.

He wasn't involved in the local riots, but he remains sympathetic to and passionate about social protests and student activism.

"People are very worried about the state of affairs, but it makes sense in a strange way not to pay attention," said Mr. Flacks, citing his recent research that revealed only 7 percent of college students read a daily newspaper and 25 percent ignore the news altogether.

"If you think you're powerless, what good does it do to know more about it? Where are our empowerment possibilities?" he asked. "My whole research and teaching career can be summed up as trying to answer that question."

In the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s, Bill Shay tried to find that answer as a teaching and research assistant to Mr. Flacks, under whose tutelage he eventually earned a doctorate in sociology. Now an administrative director at UCLA, Mr. Shay picked UCSB for graduate school specifically to work with Mr. Flacks, whom he'd known of and admired since high school.

Describing his former teacher and now friend -- "I can't not keep in touch with Dick" -- as an intellectual troubadour, Mr. Shay likened Mr. Flacks to a folk singer who uses storytelling techniques to relate his experiences.

"He was masterful at that," said Mr. Shay. "He was singing the song of sociology in the classroom. And that was the heart of his impact -- he was a model of the way in which to take the experiences of common person and translate them into broader sociological terms."

Mr. Shay is among the many former and current students of Mr. Flacks who will lead discussions during a weekend conference honoring his career on the eve of his retirement. Being held today and Saturday at locations in Isla Vista and on campus, "45 Years of Democratic Activism: Legacies and Learning" will include lectures, workshops and an all-out bash of a banquet. The latter features a speech by Mr. Flacks' longtime friend and SDS co-founder, former state Sen. Tom Hayden.

After retirement, Mr. Flacks has one cruise planned -- an EcoCruise, naturally -- but otherwise, he will apparently be busy as ever.

Mr. Flacks said he intends to continue his research, write books, teach the occasional class and do his weekly KCSB radio show, "Culture of Protest."

He will remain active in local politics and social causes, doing all he can to encourage others to rise up and get radical.

"A frustration that a lot of people feel, that I feel, is that there is no alternative set of voices at the national level," he said. "Radicals are people who are really willing to make a fundamental, critical examination of institutions, of society, to entertain alternative visions. They're people who don't think that the way things are are the way things have to be, that another world is possible. That's a radical statement."

e-mail: sleachman@newspress.com



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