Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Ventura’

The Big Nevermind

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
Pay Up

Pay Up

The City of Ventura is my home. I have owned a house and various other properties and leases here for 30 years.

Communities are pretty simple really. Generally they are composed of diverse components, all assembled in a willingness to live and work in a place that they find desirable. The willingness to contribute, is directly proportional to establishing a  sense of forward motion. Effect must equal cause. Benefit is weighed against cost.

So onward the ship sails with all of us aboard, planning, building, laughing, crying, fighting, healing, birthing, living, dying: together.

For any of this to occur, the members of the community must feel that they each, by their contribution, have a positive affect.  They must believe in the product. Otherwise it all just stops.

That is why everybody matters.

Seth Godin, a marketing genius, and the brain behind the Global network called Triiibes of which I am a member, has this to say regarding products we put ourselves behind.

Being someone who must establish benefit in my product and taking my relationship with the people who I serve very personally, I spent a few days looking around at the latest thing the City of Ventura has implemented in it’s little Downtown:¬† Big Blue Parking Pay Stations. Police are swarming the streets. That is new as well.¬† A somewhat beleaguered group of downtown merchants, and what appears to be an oppressive choice by the City of Ventura, done in a manner that is confusing, insulting, and restrictionist, no matter how one looks at it, was a high profile tone where ever I walked, listened and shot.

With the exception of a few abject apologies and explanations to six distraught visitors, I said NOTHING. I just watched, and listened.

I have never seen a population so ticked off by what, in a couple months, as the affect settles in as a fact of daily life, is really a small thing: pay parking downtown. But if I am silent, or put money in the meter, or place myself in an environment swirling with Law enforcement, I am endorsing what City leaders have done. I do not agree,  nor will I accept the aggravation and thereby let it change who or what I am.

I know how retail works. (I was in it for almost twenty years. Think about what one can learn by opening a door to the public for twenty years) This could possibly kill Downtown Ventura again (This is the third endeavor to meter downtown and by far the most onerous and expensive).

I suspect that City Hall has engaged in an attack on the citizenry of Ventura that will eventually see Federal investigation.(Parking meters are only one of multiple things which the City is doing to-for the people of Ventura)  I do not need the headache, nightmare or further association with the City of Ventura. No one does. Not really. Not at this cost.

So rather than bitch, rant and moan about the meters, engage continually on Facebook, or in Community meetings, I am simply going to share what I witnessed this week and list several avenues available as a means of remediation, then move on to more productive endeavors.

This is bigger than what one would suspect. The proverbial tip of the iceberg, it just lets you know how city leadership is, and what they are.¬† Entitlement does this. Disconnectedness and disrespect are it’s fruits. Most of our City management are not from here, so they are applying rules and methods learned somewhere else, to a community that in the past five years seemed to be reaching an appropriate stride.

But our capitally leveraged economy has collapsed in the past five years. Big change. Everyone has been left in the lurch. Including the City. It is tough out there.

The Ventura Star. Our local newspaper, explains the meters here.

A Pasadena blogger explains our City Manager, Rick Cole, here. They are from one of his prior projects-towns. I was stunned by what I read, but seeing what has been going on here, it made sense. Read it and decide for yourself.

The Ventura Star looks at Mr. Cole and other City leaders here.

A look at a recent recall effort (and it’s failure) of our appointed Mayor, Bill Fulton, here.

What the Federal Government seems to be discovering, as it continues in it’s investigations of corruption in California City Governance, is that frequently, common threads link issues and people across county and city limits. It is true about birds of a feather.

YOU can report corruption and your personal experiences right here at the FBI website. If you feel your Civil Rights have been or are being violated, you can try there. More information here.

If you have an issue with City Governance, you can also try to file a complaint at the county level, which is an overseer of the City. The DA’s office website link is here.

The Brown Act, a State Statute which among other things, gives you a right to be in on every City meeting and input the process, is defined here. Cities need to know about this act, especially if a citizen suspects  that backroom deals are being cut, to facilitate the existence of onerous local code. The law is pretty clear. But you need to know that it exists.

The County Sheriff’s office which maintains legal authority and control¬† has an excellent list of resources where you can speak with a higher elected official. Do not mistake the local Police Department with the Sheriff’s office. PD is under City authority. The Sheriff is County. Just like in the Wild West, the Sheriff will ultimately uphold your Constitutional rights. They are tutored in them. In fact my film partner, Rob Dafoe’s dad, was a career Deputy Sheriff in Santa Barbara. Those guys know a lot.

I will not be a part of this. There is an entire world and life outside of where my house is, that I continue to explore and share. Being downtown and seeing the affect of all of this, just saddens and angers me. I do not need that.  Being responsible for my own life, tone and family, the act of being awash in dirty negatives, will shortly devalue my soul,  Art and Craft. We become who and what we are in bed with. I want no part of an entity that hurts people or environment to survive. It is the ultimate in destructive unsustainability.

I must believe and have trust in the place I market, and expose to the world. Because by endorsing it, I am putting my own self behind the invitation to experience this place.

This is an image of a trash and recycle station. The former head of the Downtown Ventura Organization Rob Edwards’ brainchild, which serves as a billboard and refuse collection device. When these went in, Rob asked me if he could get usage of some of my Ventura imagery to be placed on the bins so that they would encourage, inspire, and market the strong points of this town. The City had no money to license the images. So I loaned them free of charge, a large collection, roughly equating in usage value to about 10,000 dollars. Rob was on point. The message was flawless.”Look at our town and ocean: preserve and protect it.

The City fired Rob Edwards shortly after that. Rob now heads the San Mateo DVO. Rob is one talented and smart man. A former cop, he understands cities, and community. This is what is on the bins today.

Recycling a Town's Dreams

Recycling a Town's Dreams

In the course of a year, hundreds of magazines and commercial entities use my work. I even lend usage to financially beleaguered City Departments for nominal or no charge promotion of this place. I engage a Global community of media professionals in Film, Editorial and Commercial work with Ventura as my home base. I believe in the people of this place enough to have somewhat recently, branded myself as a Ventura Photographer and Film Maker rather than a Santa Barbara one, in spite of my roots in and library of, SB related work and community.

What that does basically, via metadata embedding, captioning and basic marketing tools, is create a small fortune in high credibility marketing for the City of Ventura. At no expense to the City, beyond offering an inviting, ethically run, safe place for the world to visit. I put myself on the line in doing this. My colleagues trust me to be ethical and true in what I portray.

Below is an image which I shot yesterday. It is of Kathleen Fitzgerald, the former Director of Sales for the City of Ventura Tourism Department. She is moving back to the City of Longbeach after being let go of here. Like Rob Edwards, she believed in this place and marketed it Nationally and beyond for almost 5 years. She was a huge service benefit to Ventura. No one will probably ever know the number of hats she wore and the massive victories she accomplished while an employee of the City of Ventura. A few of us helped her sell off and pack her belongings. Venturans do  stuff like that. We tend to stick up for those who stick their necks out for us.

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

So after seeing (actions are everything) what the City really thinks of this beautiful place and its wonderful people, by my own sense of  ethics I must make a choice, as I am eminently responsible for what I market and will not be a party to what I perceive as being harmful, degrading or  illegal and in violation of Civil Rights.

I have one ethical choice, as our actions, define our self and community.

So: nevermind.

“If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful.” Theodore Roosevelt

Below is a gallery of images and how Ventura looks to me right now. If you come here. the people of this place will appreciate you, endeavor to help you, show you beautiful things, and our City may screw with, and threaten and charge you for things which you may be able to acquire for free in other communities.  Being warned, I hope that you still come. (Forewarned is forearmed.) Our town is truly the Real California. Though that can be a scary thing these days.

Ventura’s Zuri Allen Star, wrote a song called Walk With Me. It says a lot.

Speaking of nevermind, Saturday Night Live often develops cultural commentary that transcends generations. They did it again here. A conversation between City and Citizen. I doubt that Nevermind is now an option for them, but it is for us.

Ventura is what it is: a pretty, and remarkable patch of historic land and ocean with a culturally engaging populace. We just seem to have a lot of vultures here at the moment. Must be the dead bodies.

Deep

Friday, April 30th, 2010
Voyage

Voyage

Some of us may have thought that it was an oxymoron to call our locally produced little magazine, Deep. I mean as paper publishing began to spiral, here were a bunch of us doing a locally based magazine called Deep. It had seemed a little bit ironic.  The publication was based on one begun in Goleta originally and called Wetsand Magazine. It was soon absorbed by the News Press and was called Blue Edge. As the News Press version tailspun in response to business issues, Deep sprung up, and many if not all of the contributors began to throw in behind Publisher Mike Van Stry,  editor Chuck Graham, director Andres Nunez as Deep was born out of RMG Ventures, a Carpinteria based publishing concern.

Here is the letter Shannon Menzel and I received today. The ad in reference, is one that Ventura based Wetsand, originally an online  only concern, which began in a meeting at Dos Pueblos Ranch many years prior, with me handing off 40 images to Henry Schulte. Wetsand now also has both retail and wholesale offices on Main St in Ventura and is run by Chuck Menzel and family.

Letter:

I wanted to congratulate you guys. We were at an awards conference last week and DEEP won 7 national awards at our annual AFCP conference. Over 2,000 entries were submitted from over 130 companies nationwide.

Your ad with Mary lying on her back that ran in our January/February 2009 issue won second place for original photography used in an ad!

Thats bad ass!

Thanks for all of your help with the mag and for the support!

Andres Nu√Īo
Director
DEEP Surf Magazine
www.deepzine.com
(805)684-4428
Facebook: DEEP Surf Magazine
Twitter@DEEPocho

As larger publications lose touch with their contributors, go advertising based for their content sources, and destroy the editorial integrity (and market value) of their publications, thinking that no one will notice, Deep magazine stayed entrenched in the sport and community. My continual rant to set our bar higher has been tolerated with good humor, and patience by my editors. I am really lucky that they tolerate me, and give me article space and a cover every once in awhile.

Seth Godin writes a very timely blog on this subject.

Though I have gotten a lot of advertising and photography awards, this one was especially sweet, due to the integrity of the publication and looking for the deep, rather than shallow end. Nice work!

Dos Pueblos Ranch, Gaviota Coast

Dos Pueblos Ranch, Gaviota Coast

Small Town, Big World

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Bobby Hart gets it.

Bobby Hart gets it.

I get a global look at things through my photography business, which has web strands anchored to many countries. I see something first hand, that many do not have the personal luxury of acquiring: a broad economic  and cultural perspective.

This country is in the single greatest period of change and challenge since the Great Depression. So what to do, as assets dwindle and fiscal potential narrows? For the answer,  look to the past.

About a year ago, a group of people met in my little town. There were a series of meetings actually. No official city committee was involved. No State or Federally appointed grant commissions were tapped. The consensus was, that our town was hurting, and consequently, change was being wrought that could forever alter the things that make Ventura a unique and authentic place to live.

Christmas Wishes and Our Friends

Christmas Wishes and Our Friends

My friend and colleague Shawn Alladio, (also a member of “Team Betty” as Donna calls her girls)¬† runs another global scope company called K38 Rescue. Shawn always tells me that doing something, action of some sort, is the best answer one can give. Too many people forget that action part.

So that group did something. Each one. Individually and collectively. Even as some saw the US fiscal collapse bring the fight to survive right to their front door, they resolved to contribute. They became agents of change.

I am not talking about peanut sized problems. Some of these people lost homes, businesses, commercial holdings, marriages teetered. It is the stuff we read about occurring in that Great Depression: suffering.

It is no secret that in many ways, American Small Business is the fiscal backbone of this country. But what happens when a Government gone over large and linked to big business, looses focus and leaves Small Business in the lurch? What then?

The answer lies in your own community. Each member has assets of a sort, but more to the point each PERSON is the single most important asset that there is. People are what matters in this world of ours.

When a community comes together, it is entirely possible to fabricate a cultural and economic micro climate that can be vital, and buck National trends. My home town of Santa Barbara has always done this. It is one of the reasons I know this works. SB has always maintained a fiscal integrity separate from the rest of the US. Even now.

Many people think that it is due to the uber rich living there. That has not been my experience. As someone who ran businesses there starting at the age of 15, I learned that SB was a microclimate unto itself because of its sense of community. Santa Barbara works together.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

So I had a look back at the past. There are many stories that have stood the test of time, that have brought hope. People need hope. So we tell stories. It is what journalists and photographers do.   But the world requires action to be taken as well.  Being stuck at home, due in part to the collapse of paper publishing, I began to organize my own resources as a writer, photographer and film maker, and turn my global focus back on to my own community. It is not unlike what one would do as a child: playing with a magnifying glass.

For the first time, my own town would become my primary focus, along with the imagery that has contributed so much to my commercial library. Hopefully things would warm up as a result of the action of my own magnifying glass in our chilly local economy.

So “This Is Ventura”, a video montage, was created to communicate what makes my town unique. It showed first as an expression of gratitude during Artwalk. It may, in title at least, become the calling card for a collective of local residents to unify a town by focusing on small business and the tenets of inter community support.

Community involvement makes for a more robust source of income for the City and allows for the advance of Art, Culture and Creativity, which in turn provide a foundation of hope. It is a strong hedge against the forces which seem to be dragging our country into the gutter.

Last week, my friend Kat Merrick, (one from that original group) via Facebook, let us know that she was planning a get together at a local Restaurant and bar. Jonathan’s is located across from Mission San BuenaVentura.  Well known local musicians, Bobby Hart, Eric Lemaire, and others, were going to perform. It would be a good time.

My girlfriend, Donna Von Hoesslin, who heads up yet another globally connected small business that is based here (Betty B) told me that she was in desperate need of images for a new line of jewelry which is designed by members of Team Betty.

Donna Von Hoesslin

Donna Von Hoesslin

So we dropped in on the party at J‚Äôs, sat in the window booth and shot the girl‚Äôs designs there as Bobby and crew rocked. Typically we would do this away in some distant land, or somewhere on the coast. Definitely not associated with any particular business. (I actually have developed a penchant for Ventura night, street shoots) But deciding to both take care of Betty B‚Äôs business needs, and provide bodies, texture and a few extra dollars to the day’s till at J’s, allowed for an exponential increase of benefit for everyone involved.

Here is a video that explains in 4 minutes, the gist of Donna’s remarkable company. We did the piece for the Intuit Small Business United program. It helped Donna win a 5000 dollar grant from Intuit, which she used to help fund her Bali expedition.

On Bali last season, Hailey and Sierra Partridge, Jeanette Ortiz, Mary Osborne, and Donna, did a Betty B design trip. Each one of the girls worked with the local artisans who comprise a portion of Donna’s creative team, to produce collection pieces that exemplified themselves as ocean connected women. Each young woman then selected a cause or charity, whereby Betty B would donate a portion of the income from sales of each piece.

Donna‚Äôs company is a very active member of yet another organization, which was the brainchild of Ventura’s Chouinard family (Patagonia), which is called One Percent for the Planet. Through One Percent, Donna and other companies support David Booth‚Äôs fantastic Organization, the East Bali Poverty Project, which literally is changing the face of Bali, by educating the youth on their connection to the environment via the Arts and cultural action.

So with our country on the ropes, it all starts here. With me. With you. In our own back yard.

The answer is right there in your community: your dollars are a part of your voice. Now do something. Do it for yourself. Do it for your town. But more importantly: do it. By acting locally you affect Globally, as well as Nationally. Do it.

A Global Doorway

A Global Doorway

This song from John Mellencamp is very appropriate. Our past is our future. It begins today.

So after several days of post production that Betty B shoot has 120 images in the final edit. Those images will go various places. General commercial use for Betty B, the girl’s individual projects, to my agency rep at Corbis images, and to various editorial concerns that continue to use my work. I never know where an image will find an eventual home. I am often pleasantly surprised to see a billboard, or international ad campaign base itself on my work.¬† But it is especially nice to know that those moments were created here,¬† in Ventura, California.

The following montage is from that Betty B shoot at Jonathan’s,  and is an example of what the group, which has taken the name of Totally Local VC, wants to do: bring us all together. Together, we win. Click on any of the images for a larger view, and to toggle through as a slide show.  Then go patronize a local merchant, and change your world.

Vulnerability

Monday, October 12th, 2009
Hailey as Grace Kelly

Hailey as Grace Kelly

Everyone must learn to deal with issues involving trust. In our craft, or art, because a certain aspect of photography is subjective and it’s validity may be cheered or denigrated by a viewer, depending on where that viewer hails from morally, spiritually, or sociologically, it is des rigeur to put ourselves out on an emotional limb so to speak, when we share our work.

So there is risk involved. On many levels. Is my subject valid, am I good enough technically, am I going to be accepted by enough of the commercial market to get a return on all my freelance art based imagery? Will people think I suck? Does anyone care? Do people think less of me as a result of me showing my work?

These are all issues that arise with the advent of those very first efforts in Kindergarten with crayons. We all seek acceptance. But does acceptance indicate validity? Possibly not.

I remember the year I decided to wade into the pool of my new career in photography. S0rt of unwittingly, I simply placed my work in front of some of the best editors and art directors I knew. They seemed to respond and began offering advice and publishing me. Jeff Divine and Larry Moore, aka Flame were two surf industry editors who helped, along with a slew of entertainment industry people. It fueled my direction and in a few years my freelance based photography career expanded globally. I was pretty happy about this, especially since I had two young sons to support, having been newly divorced. (There was a lot on the line).

Knowing then what I know now about the business of photography and art interpretation, would I do it over again? Quite a telling question.  All of us must embrace and mitigate risk via personal artistic and fiscal vulnerability. It is part of the game we play when we endeavor to establish ourselves as being authentic.

Does a construction worker whose hobby is photography, have any more or less validity in his work than someone who risks all? (The answer is in Art History.)  We are all in a race of sorts. The moments of our lives tick by, and for an artist, those will be measured in the level of commitment they make in learning to communicate, and the willingness to embrace the discomforts of vulnerability and potential fiscal disaster.

Success is based on commitment. That first step into the void is a doozy. How comfortable are you with yourself and your decision making process? If you are not, you may be better off, (and happier) keeping that day job.

Seth Godin writes on this theme here, in a very appropriate blog.

Thinking I am telling you not to follow your dreams? Watch this.

I am finally at home. A huge pile of post production work is in front of me after the last two months worth of creative content acquisition. In working through two jobs yesterday, I ran across some images that disappeared in a blog crash last year. Curiousity had me dragging the RAW files into Lightroom 2, a program I had not been using at the time the original work was captured.

Here are some of the images. Hailey and Sierra Partridge in Downtown Ventura. Period 1940′s wardrobe. Styling by Donna Von Hoesslin. Jewelry by BettyB.¬† Whew, a total of 7 extra hours on the computer. What had I been thinking when I committed to acquire the wardrobe and shoot this in the middle of the night with no real client in mind?:

” This will be great”.

Is it? Only time will really tell. Tick Tock.

Hailey and Sierra

Hailey and Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Sierra

Hailey

Hailey

Hailey

Hailey

Sierra and Hailey

Sierra and Hailey

Hailey

Hailey

Hailey

Hailey

Vtown Introspectus

Friday, June 12th, 2009
Vtown Perspective

Vtown Perspective

The town I live in, like many in the US is faced with stark fiscal realities as money supplies shift and real estate markets go someplace no one thought that they would. It is a time for my little town as well as myself to consider how the future should look.

In a historic review of many great cities, you will generally find that  decisions made in times of calamity later proved to be what defined the town. Our neighbor, Santa Barbara is a great case in point.

When an earthquake leveled much of downtown Santa Barbara not long after the turn of the century (Yes a fault runs right up State Street) the city  decided to rebuild and embrace its Spanish heritage. The architecture and unique coastal Mediterranean tableau SB enjoys today can be traced back to that fateful time following a calamity.

Now in a fiscal disaster of relatively large proportions, Ventura is faced with similar opportunities. What direction should we go? How do we not only survive as a city but develop as a community? There will be no specific answers coming from me. I gave that sort of thing up many years ago when I ceased being an employer.

However I do have a perspective that could help. I learned it in watching some very great men and women succeed. We need to include everyone. Great leaders know to do this.

There is an odd thing about Democracy. In and of itself, it is undoubtedly one of the single most inefficient forms of Government. One of the wisest men and leaders who ever walked the earth put it simply when he said; “Where there is strife, there is confusion and every evil work”. Democracy and our judiciary upon which government rests, is based on the adversarial system. Two or more parties argue to a successful conclusion. Um yea.

However on a biological level, Democracy works quite well. Ever read up on hybrid vigor? It is one of the facets related to Natural Selection. (Charles Darwin was a very smart and devout human being) Roughly stated it says that the strong and smart survive to breed and in turn the offspring parent a more vigorous, better version of the tribe. THAT is where we can win.  As a town and as individuals we should play that card.

What often is not so apparent are the fruit of our collective choices as a community. So I hope that my little town embraces it’s diversity. We have a female mayor.¬† Her name is Christy Weir.¬† Christy, being from Santa Barbara originally, is potentially a very good thing for where Ventura is right now.

Over the years I have met a few of the families which birthed Ventura. Ranchers, farmers etc. The Haileys, (Katherine Hailey had told me about how her Father had mapped the county) the McGraths , the Nyes (David Nye who is an amazingly talented litigator has been my friend and attorney for years). All of them own a unique perspective on this land which I, as a relative newcomer of twenty five years, enjoy learning about. Gracious people. To a fault actually.

The images in this blog arose as I was pondering hate after being sucked into being angry by a rather foolish person. Yes fools exist. Typically they flourish for awhile based on the root of pride. I am always looking for that damned root in myself. Something about mankind makes it intrinsic within our nature. But anger aside, I always try to choose the way of love, though sometimes the public perception one acquires when doing so, may make you appear as an enemy to some people. You see this illustrated repeatedly in History. I won’t go into it in detail. The examples are pretty glaring and obvious.

I shot these illustratives the other day down at Solimar. Indeed all of these were shot in one 24 hour period in a place that a colleague of mine calls my muse, Ventura California. Hawaiians have a term for the feeling of connection to the land. It is Aloha Aina. I understand it better than ever these days. All I did was have a look around to get a dose this time.

Seth Godin has some A list advice for Ventura here. He has an ability to say much in a few words. I aspire to that, and am obviously failing, considering the length of my own posts.

Ed Brenegar who is a leadership mentor and proponent had this to say.

Writer Azel Grizwold passes along this excellent New York Times piece.

A local cultural artist, surfer and part of the movement which is defining Ventura as an oasis of modern cultural art is here. Just one of the many faces comprising a movement. I picked Sean Tully as an example because of his youth and idealism. Two things he owns in great abundance. For now. Sort of like our town.

Click on any of the images within the gallery to read the back story.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Love and Peace

Love and Peace

Correct Choice

Correct Choice

Yea

Yea

Twilight Sigh

Twilight Sigh

Amber Aloha

Amber Aloha

Solimar Sunset Sunbeam

Solimar Sunset Sunbeam

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

home