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2017 - 2018

Annual Fall Picnic


Documentary Film Club - Past films 2017-2018

September 21 Film: Invisible Universe Revealed

October 19 Film: Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words

November 16 Film: The Ghost Army

December 21 Film: Mystery of a Masterpiece

January 18 Film: The Great Invisible

February 15 Film: City of Gold



Poetry as the language of the heart

Presented by Perie Longo


Writing Historical Fiction: Art, Craft, or Obsession?

Presented by N. Frankel and S. Edwards


Healthcare Beyond Bacteria: Other Factors in Illness and Health

Presented by Dennis Murphy


Why Women do the housework: The Industrial Revolution

Presented by Dick Norwood


Civil Unrest in the 1960's

Presented by Robert Benham


Winter Social


Climate Change Denial: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Presented by Karl Hutterer & Ted Anagnoson


The Role of Wine in Cultures Past and Present

Presented by Rani Mclean


Socialism in the US After Trump?

Presented by Al Lindemann



American Freedom Train

Presented by Barry Howard


The Story of Manon

Presented by Bob Weinman



Mental Illness: Why Should I Care?

Presented by George Kaufmann



Public Policy Problems Arising from the Changing Arctic

Presented by Ted Anagnoson



Three Artistic Eras: From Ancient Greece to Europe's Artistic Revolution

Presented by: Mary Winder, Shirley Waxman & Kathryn Padgett


The British Nabobs and Memsahibs: The british in india

Presented by: John Ledlie & Sharon Alvarado


2016 - 2017 Season

Documentary Film Club:

June 15th Film - Alexander Calder

May 18th Film - Iceman Reborn

April 20th Film - The Square

March 16th Film - Seymour: An Introduction

February 16th Film: Winged Migration

January 19th Film: Man on Wire

December 15th Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

November 17th Film: Rise of The Drones

October 20th Film: Born Into Brothels

September 15th Film - Bill Cunningham New York

The Art of Bel Canto and Donizetti's

Elixir of Love

Presented by Bob Weinman

Nuclear Weaponry and the Human Future

Presented by David Krieger

Nation building in post-colonial africa: three case studies

Coordinated by Gerry Corrigan

Presenters Workshop


Mental Illness Touches Everyone

Presented by Darcy Keep

Every Day Life in a small village in rural New England in the 1830's - Sturbridge Village Depicted

Presented by Peter Searl

David Wiesner and the ARt of Wordless Storytelling

Presented by Wendi Hunter

Orchestras and Orchestral Music from the Courts to the Concert Stage

Presented by Derek Katz

The Johann Strauss Family - Their History and Music

Presented by Dr. David Bisno

Lewis Carroll

Presented by Peter Beuret

Short Stories

Coordinated by Gene Waller

Title:  The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 7th Edition (the complete version not the "Shorter Version")
ISBN 10:       0393926117  
ISBN 13: 9780393926118 The front cover has a green cast.

Nikola Tesla

Presented by Mort Weisman

What are Your Grandchildren Learning and does it Differ From What You Learned?

Presented by Ann Lewin-Benham


The Hollywood Musicals

Presented by Bob Weinman

the best Bible Translation for me

Presented by Tremper Longman



History of Western Medicine - Monthly Study Group

Led by Dr. Bryan Johnson


Survival in South Africa under Apartheid Neville D. Frankel

Presented by Neville Frankel



Winter Social

Presented by Dr. Milton Love

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Music Academy of the West



The Science of Climate Change

Presented by Dr. Karl Hutterer



How to Hide Your Affair: A Short History of Cryptography

Presented by Dick Norwood



A History of Laughing and Crying

Presented by Thomas Scheff


Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Contemporaries

Presented by Sarah Case


Post Election Analysis: The Meaning and Implications fo the November 2016 Elections

Presented by Ted Anagnoson




Presented by Marian Shapiro



Opera Santa Barbara


Brazil's Economic and Political Crisis

Presented by Sam Flowers


Poetry and Metaphor

Presented by Peter Karoff


Trials of The Century

Presented by Al Lindemann


The Initiative/Referendum Process and the Propositions on the Ballot November 2016

Presented by Ted Anagnoson


Witchcraft and Evil in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Presented by Jinny Webber


A Cinematographic View of American Elections

Presented by: Mort & Judy Weisman


Nonfiction Book Club

September through June (Full)


Annual Fall Picnic

September 11, 2016
Tuckers Grove Park



2015 - 2016 Season

Documentary Film Club

2015 - 2016 Documentary Film Summary


Write About Your Life

Presented by Allison Grosfield



Coordinated by Gerry Corrigan



Presented by Derek Katz




Presented by Mike Wolff


Europe in Crisis: Refugees, the Euro and the Floundering European Union

Presented by Paul Warwick


Catherine The Great

Organized by Barbara Margerum


Strategic Architectures of Victory & Defeat - Part 2

Presented by John Caldwell


Short Stories

Coordinated by Gene Waller


Race to the poles

Presented by David Bisno

Dr. Bisno has arranged for two fascinating visiting guest speakers from the UK who will participate and present at two of the eight sessions. 


Grand Jury


Visual ARt & Poetry

Presented by Perie Longo & Barbara Cadario


An Afternoon at the opera

Organized by Doris Frey


Systems (Insurers & Governments) and Individuals (patients and physicians)

Presented by Dennis Murphy


Campaign Finance and Political Polarization - Sources, Evidence, and Implications

Presented by Ted Anagnoson


Women's Politics in the early twentieth centry u.s.

Presented by Sarah Case


Silent Suffering in the Old Testament

Presented by Tremper Longman


Strategic ArchitectureS of Victory & Defeat - WWII, Korea, Vietnam & Iraq Part 1

Presented by John Caldwell


How to Present at VISTAS and How to Develop a VISTAS Course

Presented by Ted Anagnoson and panel of experts


The First Transcontinental Railroad - Connecting the East to the West in the 1860's

List of YouTube Videos

Organized by Barbara Krahn


Damming the Colorado

Presented by Dick Norwood


Electing Presidents:Great Elections in American History

Presented by Jay Carlander


The Wright Brothers

Presented by Peter Kruse & Mort Weiseman



Presented by Don O'Dowd


Stalin and Hitler and Power and Evil in Modern History

Presented by Al Lindemann


Tour Santa Barbara Hermitage



Presented by Barbara Katz


The Aztecs

Presented by Russell Werner


Legal Issues for Seniors

Presented by Peter Kruse


VISTAS Annual Picnic


Our Moon

Presented by Peter Beuret


2014 - 2015 Season

2014 - 2015 Documentary Film List


British Africa

Organized by Gerry Corrigan


Write About Your life

Presented by Allison Grosfield



Coordinated by DianeWolf


Hidden in Plain Sight: Banned Composers in Nazi Germany

Presented by Derek Katz


Vichy France 1940 - 1945

Presented by Nick DiNapoli


The Western Mirror: California and the American Civil War

Presented by Jay Carlander


Theodore Rosevelt

Presented by Peter Kruse


The Second Gutenberg Revolution: The Internet and the Digital Future

Presented by Micheal Gilbert


The Economics of Climate Change

Presented by David King



Presented by Barbara Cadario and Rania Shenoda


Short Story - Small Seminar

Organized by Gene Waller


Roadmap for Successful choices at the end of life

Coordinated by Diane Wolf and Jan O'Dowd


The World of Yesterday

Presented by Dr. David Bisno


The Power of Cornography: How Corn Built America

Presented by Betty Fussell


Small Group Seminars

Reflections on Womens Liberation


Trails That Opened the West

Coordinated by Barbara Krahn


Uncertain Justice

Presented by Dr. David Bisno


Winter Social

History Under Your Nose by Neal Graffy


Preparing The Presenter 2015: An Introduction to Course Design and Session Presentation Issues

Presented by Ted Anagnoson and a panel of past presenters and organizers



Presented by Tremper Longman


Pacific Coastal Fish

Presented by Dr. Milton Love


Argentina & Peron

Presented by Fred Sidon


History of Hawaii

Presented by Peter Searl


The Life of Amelia Earhart,
and the Search After
Her Disappearance

Presented by Nick DiNapoli


Women In Art

Presented by Wayne Hoffman


Military Sexual Assault

Presented by Sara Zak

Initiatives on the
November 2014 Ballot

Presented by Ted Anagnoson


Maya Classic Period

Presented by Russell Werner


The Paradigm Shift in Understanding Shakespeare

Presented by: Helen Heightsman Gordon


Fall Picnic


2013 - 2014 Season

2013-2014 Film List


Lawn Bowling

Coordinated by Charlie Schneider


The Wit & Wisdom of
Woody Allen

presented by Bob Weinman


Arroyo Hondo Nature Preserve

Organized by Sue Mellor & Don Gillies


Write About Your Life

Presented by Allison Grosfield


The Biblical Book of Psalms

Presented by Tremper Longman


A Look Back at the Vietnam War

Organized by: George Ittner


Shostakovich: Music & Politics in the Soviet Union

Presented by: Derek Katz


Ottoman Empire

Presented by: Steve Humphreys


Our MOON! - What would we do without it?

Presented by: Peter Beuret


Great Explorers

Organized by Gerry Corrigan


Short Stories

Organized by Gene Waller


God, Guns, Gays, Sex, Privacy & Edward Snowden

Presented by David Bisno, M.D.



Presented by Dr. Floyd Sandford


Longevity - Small Discussion Group

Organized by Jan O'Dowd


Medical Ethics

Presented by Dennis Murphy, M.D.


Winter Social

After a fun-filled presentation, the participants enjoyed appetizers and wine in the beautiful setting of the Music Academy.  For anyone that wants to view the videos that were presented, please click below to a page that lists each one; on that page you can just click on each link to view it again and share with your friends. Video List From Social


The American South
Through Classic Movies

Presented by Bob Fulmer


Preparing The Presenter

Presented by Ted Anagnoson and Panel


China's Wings - Part Three

Presented by Nick DiNapoli


Disaster Relief

Presented by Ted Anagnoson


Polish Your Apple

Shirley Diamond - Coordinator


Santa Barbara Movers and Shakers

Sue Mellor - Coordinator

The genesis of the class was the book California’s Knight on a Golden Horse; Dwight Murphy, Santa Barbara’s Renaissance Man by Ed Hartfeld.  Ed generously passed out free copies of this book to all interested members at our picnic and the class.   Even though his presentation on the modest and philanthropic Dwight Murphy was at the last session, it was of prime significance.
Kathi Brewster suggested  several other speakers and shared the results of her historical research on a parade of women who broke paths in medicine, education, architecture, etc. 
Patricia Kruse impersonated her ancestor for us, Maria Leyva de Bonilla,  a midwife who lived adjacent to the Presidio in the 19th century. 
Dr. Barbara Lindemann had produced a DVD about Pearl Chase and shared it in one of our classes.
Virginia Hayes, curator at Lotus Land, came to tell us about the embellishment of our community by the leading early horticulturalists. 
Jeremy Hass talked about the early times in Santa Barbara and the colorful character of Joseph Chapman; he also painted a broad picture of Spanish culture in the early 1800's. Phil Wilcox went out of his usual mold to research and tell us of his personal connection with Thomas M. Stork
Dr. Allison Wollitzer told us how William D. Sansum attracted so many people of wealth and vision with his treatment for diabetes.
Charlie Schneider was a natural to tell us about the founder of Union Carbide, George Owen Knapp, and his local contributions. 
JJ Hollister topped off a great class with a first person account of his family's history as ranchers and city builders.

China's Wings

Presented by Nick DiNapoli


2013 Fall Picnic

VISTAS annual picnic at Tucker’s Grove in September was a huge success on a beautiful day; attended by over 100 current and prospective members. They enjoyed good food, good conversation, presentations of the 2013-2014 seminar schedule, and in some cases good “luck” as the winners of the drawings for door prizes. The picnic was catered by Catering Connections, offering a delicious and bountiful buffet.


2012 - 2013 Season

Memories of the Italian Resistance

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Lawn Bowling

Lectures In Geology

Current Controversies at the supreme Court

Ancient Bible

Folk Music

Citizens of London

Lady in Gold

Health Care Ethics

Shakespeare Debate

Commanding Heights: The Battle for the world economy

Winter Social

The World's Great Religions

Imperial Presidency


The Mystique of Sailing round The Horn

Contemporary American poetry

Election 2012


North American indian Tribes


Fall Picnic



2011-2012 Season


Harvard Justice


Political Parties

Violin Making

Why Democracy

Health Ethics

Beautiful Music



Pirates! From Treasure island to Somalia


2010-2011 Season

Rivers of the World

Those Sizzicks

Meitner & Oppenheimer

Speak Up California

Mao to Now

Mao Summary by Peter Kruse

Models of Democracy

VISTAS Winter Social

Human Migration

World Economy in Crisis

Bob Macy hit a home run with his seminar in January. In the first session he gave us the “big picture” of what happened to our financial system in 2008 In Session 2 he brought together an outstanding panel of speakers with well over 100 years of experience in investment banking, securities trading, mortgage lending, international economics and financial planning. It was a fascinating look at what goes on in the financial sector and they had a rapt audience. The speakers were John Cafiell, financial planner, Jamie Greenwald, securities trader and Paul Horne, international economist.

Court of the Red Tsar: Stalin

Theater in the Making

UCSB Professor Risa Brainin brought a new play to life before the eyes of a small group of VISTAS theatre lovers.  Pre-play activities included 1) a first reading by the student cast of  Biederman’s Match , a musical adaptation of Max Frisch’s Fire Bugs at the UCSB Performing Arts Theatre;  2) a meeting with Professor Brainin on how the play was developed, her directorial style, and other background information; and 3) a chance to watch the intricacies of a technical rehearsal.  Then everyone attended the play and finally there was a post-play session where Professor Brainin exchanged comments and critiques with the class.  A great experience and the student cast was terrific!

Wine Appreciation

Charlie Schneider developed this this course which consisted of two sessions—classroom and a visit to a small winery. The emphasis at the classroom session involved exploring flavor—in different foods and varieties of white and red wine. The visit to a private winery in Montecito was special. We saw up close the equipment used and followed the process of wine making in detail. We relaxed and sampled the Los Cinco Locos' award winning red wines while discussing the "art" of making wine.

Lewis Carroll and Frank Baum,
From Wonderland to Oz

New VISTAS member Peter Beuret presented a program on the two famed authors to 30 enthusiastic VISTAS members in mid-December. He outlined Carroll’s life as a privileged upper class Englishman who then became a professor at Cambridge. In what would seem to be an unusual talent for a mathematician, Carroll authored two of literature’s most imaginative and popular classics—Alice in Wonderland and Through a Looking Glass. Not only did we see several interesting and hilarious film clips showing a number of Alices—but also one including Gary Cooper as the clumsy White Knight constantly falling off of his patient mount—but we also discussed the possible layers of meaning of Carroll’s work. Was he a deviant overly intrigued by a friend’s child—the model for Alice? Were there deep and dark psychic meanings to Carroll’s work, or was he simply writing a charming story that he hoped would appeal to children?
Baum’s work, The Wizard of Oz, was presented in a similar style by first outlining the author’s life and then showing nostalgic clips of the famed film featuring Judy Garland. Footage from the all-black production The Wiz was also great fun to view and discuss.

Christian Beginnings

Americans in Paris: Jazz’s Influence
on Modern Classical Music

Derek Katz, a VISTAS favorite, gave us three sessions on the relationship of jazz and classical music, especially during the thirties in Paris, melding ragtime, classical, dance and folk music and alluding to the Impressionist movement in art of the era.

Water: Our Thirsty World

Barbara Krahn led VISTASin an exploration of worldwide water issues using the National Geographic Special Issue on Water: Our Thirsty World as a springboard. Helping to make the study a huge success were several renowned VISTAS members who served as researchers and presenters.
Barbara and Don Margerum led off with spectacular power point presentations on basic water issues, Don O'Dowd followed, offering expertise on water captured in ice, while Ted Anagnoson focused on Pakistan's tragic water woes. Other presenters included Barbara Levi who analyzed agricultural water issues, Barbara Krahn, whose story of Cochabamba, Bolivia, stressed water as a human right, and Phil and Sally Wilcox, who explored water's depiction in the arts.
Professionals lending their expertise were Dr. Catherine Gautier, Professor of Geography at UCSB, who offered a world view, and Rebecca Bjork, Water Resources Manager for Santa Barbara city, who analyzed the city's water situation and led a tour of El Estero, the local wastewater treatment plant, to conclude the series.

The Last Great extinction

Congressional Elections

In October Judy Mack, VISTAS member and political scientist, gave a preview of the November elections that included the role of representation, different voting systems and “off-year” elections and discussed the influence of money, media, issues, interest groups and incumbency on the campaign.

VISTAS Annual picnic

Over 100 VISTAS enthusiasts met at Manning Park for the Annual Picnic in September to kick off the 2010-2011 season. The food was delicious, upcoming programs were described and Pete Kruse gave a moving tribute to those members we lost this past year.



2009-2010 Season

Spanish Civil War

Maritime History of Baja California

Meeting of Minds II


Wagner's Ring Cycle

Wittgenstein Concert

20th century music

It's About Time

EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES in the 21st century



Winter Social

A Magical Night in Vienna

Tragic Lives of Three Artists:
Michelangelo, Caravaggio & Van Gogh

The Bible: A New Approach

Santa Barbara History, architecture and people

Jayme de Barros takes us on a tour of the Courthouse, the Covarrubias Adobe, and the Mission.


U.S. Navy in Asia, 1842 - 1942

Nick di Napoli presents the history of the U.S. Navy in the Far East.

Understanding Climate Change

Barbara Levi, Ph.D., in a three-session presentation, explains the events that are happening as our climate changes.

Meeting of Minds

Ray Stone, in a reprisal of the Steve Allen series, featured conversation between guests who played important roles in the course of history. This meeting included Ray Wilcox as Charles Dawin, Jan O'Dowd as Emily Dickinson, Dwight Coffin as Attila the Hun and Sue Mellor as Barbara Walters.


2008 - 2009 Season


Jim Scorso organized a trip to Lotusland, the 37-acre Montecito estate of the late Madame Ganna Walska, a living museum of gardens run by the Ganna Walska Foundation (a non-profit organization). The estate was purchased by Madame Walska in 1941 when she fell in love with California. During her ownership, Mme Walska improved upon existing gardens and created new landscapes that comprise the present unusual and exotic collections at Lotusland.
The artistic Mme Walska experimented with bold forms and unique concepts and color combinations. She contrasted serene, traditional vistas with daring, theatrical displays. A one-hour presentation of the history of the gardens and of Madame, herself, we learned about Madame’s background, her passion for music, and her love of her Montecito property.


Dr. Bruce Philips began the seminar with a discussion of the nature and ubiquity of viruses and how
they grow and spread. He discuss the “H” protein and its genetics, mutation, and “drift” and “shift” and the spread of viruses. Next came a discussion of how the human immune system works, the effect of vaccination and treatment, and the difference between epidemics and pandemics. He ended the seminar with a treatment of past pandemics in 1918, 1957, 1968, and 1977 and how the swine H1N1 virus is different.


Don Margerum, Gordon Bjork, and Arlie Skov addressed the following questions: Should nuclear power have a place in the mix of new U.S. energy sources to replace oil imports? It comes with a long history of problems and corrections that need to be reexamined. Has nuclear power had a bad rap? How does the US Navy operate 254 reactors for decades without a single nuclear-related accident? In addition, what about the French getting the preponderance of their electrical power from nuclear reactors?

The Persian Gulf:
A Short History and Economic Development

Jayme de Barros presented the history of the Persian Gulf from 1800 to present traced the development of the tribes living on the shores of the Persian Gulf, tracking their history from barely surviving the elements of the weather to today’s status as the wealthiest per capita area on Earth.
England played a vital part in the early days to stabilize the various Sheikhdoms in order to protect sea routes. The dynamic development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was traced with a special emphasis on Dubai and the visionary leadership of the Al-Maktoum family. A discussion of the economy from the days of the pearl trade to the recent incredibly rapid commercial and financial growth.

Harry S Truman

In Celebration of Charles Darwin

Women in Art

Representation, Voting Systems
and the Electoral College

Epic Naval Battles
of the West

The Post American World
by Fareed Zakaria

Viewing Documentary Film

March 2009

Jorgia Bordofsky, Candice Schermerhorn, and Diane Wolf presented this very illuminating seminar. Candace Schermerhorn, documentary filmmaker and Program Director at Santa Barbara International Film Festival and instructor at Santa Barbara City College gave us an overview of the subject. We watched a film each class and critiqued it.

The Initiative in California: Blessing or Curse

March 2009

Bruce A. McPhearsons presented a seminar on the background of the initiative and the other Progressive-era reforms that have shaped contemporary California government and we looked at the process for approving initiatives at the state and local levels.

Claire Chennault
and the Flying Tigers

February 2009

Presented by Nick DiNapoli, this is the story of the Chinese resisting the Japanese invasion while trying to build their own air force with the help and often hindrances from the U.S.and Russia. It is also the story the men who influenced FDR’s decisions which led to the formation of the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers, well before Pearl Harbor.
Finally, it is the story of the Flying Tigers themselves and their incredible performances in the skies of Burma andChina.


February 2009


Myth, History and Poetry in Homer’s Iliad

January 2009



December 2008



December 2008


The Caves of Altamira

November 2008


The Peace Corps Then and Now

October - November 2008

Juliane Heyman was the first woman training officer when the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, and later served as Deputy Director of Training for NANESA (North Africa, Near East, South Asia). When in Mauritania for an A.I.D. project in the 1980s, she did some consulting for the Peace Corps. She brought a wealth of experience to this seminar, discussing the key people at the beginning and the development over the years.

The Middle Ages

September 2008



2007 - 2008 Season

Political Issues Seminar

May - June 2008

Pete Kruse lead a six week program on issues of current political interest for the Presidential campaign, including: Poverty & Globalization; Reapportionment, Term Limits and Campaign Financing; Criminal Justice; Elementary Education; Healthcare and National Security. Speakers included Warren Elliott, Ted Anagnoson, David Hughes, Harry Loberg, George Frakes, Barbara Krahn, Dar Holian, Bill Davidson, and Hank Macchio. A poll of participants was taken at the outset to identify the demographics of the class, and the final exam included a poll of the participants on the issues discussed. A spirited and lively discussion was enjoyed by all.

Lawn Bowling

May 2008

Past president Charlie Schneider arranged for another afternoon of lawn bowling at MacKenzie Park. Meeting began at 2 PM on a hot Sunday afternoon (coached by members of the Bowling Club) and was followed by a cheese and wine social to discuss the questionable achievements of the day.

Music of Gershwin

April 2008

Led by well-known Derek Katz, George Gershwin, arguably American's most successful and protean composer, who managed to straddle the worlds of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and concert music, was exposed. This seminar used selections from Gershwin's works, including songs, the Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess to demonstrate the ways in which these musical worlds intersected and collided for Gershwin. Everyone had a great time at the Valle Verde Theater.

The Economics of the housing market

March 2008

Former UCSB professor Gordon Bjork, during a single session seminar, did his best to explain the ins and outs of the present, disturbing housing market. His challenging task of helping us understand the market's behavior was well received with ample time for responses by attenders. Realizing we can't buck the present trend, we still pondered how to prevent similar future occurrences.

Fin de Siècle Vienna

March - April 2008

Produced by David Bisno, VISTAS offered an extraordinary series of seminars centered on the history of Vienna. Over eight sessions each seminar consisted of a morning lecture/discussion followed by an afternoon movie, greatly enriching the Viennese experience. David introduced us to the music of Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg, the literature of Musil, Schnitzler and Zweig, the art of Klimt, the architecture of Loos, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, the medicine of Freud, the physics of Meitner and the politics of sex, betrayal, espionage, anarchy and war that were all part of the period.  Historical personalities such as Karl Kraus and Karl Lueger were uncovered to the delight of the many who attended.

brazil on the rise

February 2008

Utilizing three former Brazilian citizens as our leaders, studying Brazil's geography, people and history was found to be unique and fascinating. We learned that the Portuguese and the Africans had been the most instrumental in the creation of Brazil's present lively culture. Their struggle for economic stability was accompanied by political volitility in trying different forms of government before moving today towards a federal republic with a popularly elected President. Currently Brazil is emerging from its economic stagnation brought on by colonial land and trade policies that kept land in the hands of a few and focused trade on a single export. In recent years it has become industrialized and is finally attracting international investment. Brazil, we learned, is a country on the rise!


January - February 2008

Led by Don O'Dowd, former president of the Univ. of Alaska, the course analyzed the dramatic changes that have characterized Higher Education since the World War II generation entered college. What is the world of higher education like for the grandchildren of this generation? The competition for talented students, star faculty, athletic dominance, public and private funding and public recognition and their consequences were examined. An award winning senior professor demonstrated and discussed advances in teaching methodology and technology in the classroom. The ways in which colleges and universities are better and worse now than they were in the mid 20th Century were discussed. It was not clear that the passage of time has strengthened the university as a teaching institution.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

January 2008

Led by SBCC Emeritus Professor George Frakes, the three-session Franklin D. Roosevelt discussion class was considered a success by its participants. After a few preliminary activities, the first meeting dealt with FDR's background, marriage, polio, and political life prior to 1932. The second class was devoted to the domestic politics of the Roosevelt New Deal programs and his four election campaigns. The last meeting was concerned with his foreign policy matters, World War II, and FDR's legacy. The course leader prepared study topics and questions to facilitate discussion during the class meetings. The thirteen seminar members were extremely well prepared, deeply involved in the class, and were said to be a joy to teach.

Pour in Common ValUes and Stir

January 2008

Bob Macy led the group in finding ways to integrate soft power with our military and economic power, a dynamic which is becoming increasingly important in a world where borders are of diminishing importance. Based on globally shared human values, this course constructed a new non-profit, non-governmental organization with a balance between benefits and obligations, connecting people from both the developed and developing world in a common social cause. This concept is a grand strategy for the twenty-first century!


January 2008

The program was held on the afternoon of January sixth at the All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church's Parish Hall. Four VISTAS women participated in the program. In chronological order: Mrs. Dorothy Macchio portrayed Rachel Jackson (Mrs. Andrew Jackson). She was followed by Mrs. Judith Mack acting as Mary Todd Lincoln (Mrs. Abraham Lincoln). Next in the program was Mrs. Marilyn Carman playing the roll of Nancy Reagan (Mrs. Ronald Reagan). The last VISTAS actress was Mrs. Patricia Kruse portraying Barbara Bush (Mrs. George H. W. Bush). All the participants dressed in period costumes and beautifully captured the lives of these four "First Ladies." To celebrate the occasion a tasty bit of hors d'oeuvres and wine were enjoyed by the attendees.

Worlds of Greece and Rome

November - December 2007

Howard Clarke, who has been lecturing for many years on cruise ships in and around the Mediterranean. gave us an introduction to the classical world by way of representative works of art, architecture and literature, ranging from Minoan Crete to Imperial Rome. All talks were informal and illustrated by PowerPoint presentations. Attenders were prepared for the six weekly discussion topics by having read two reliable and readable books by Chester G. Starr.


November 2007

Judge Pattillo led this 4-session seminar which explored the selected diplomatic moves of each side which eventually led to war, why each side concluded that war was necessary, and once begun, what each combatant hoped to gain, and what it did to stop the fighting. Oral presentations and two hours of video by interested VISTAS Members and other World War II veterans were both enlightening and germane.

Religious Freedom and the Law

November 2007

Presenters David Hughes and Hal Conklin led a two-session discussion of this present conflict. Subjects included: What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean?; How free are Americans to practice their religious beliefs?; What is the proper role of schools with regard to religion?; The Supreme Court often defers to the “political branches”: Congress and the President. Lively discussions ensued.

Story-telling in Music

November 2007

Another delightful and educational afternoon was spent with music scholar and bassoon player Derek Katz. In this return visit he again put the old as well as some new music into our bank of favorites. His love of the art was catching.

Town History Walks

October 2007

For three Saturday mornings in October, local resident Tad MacMillan took us on informational walks through some of Santa Barbara's unique and historic neighborhoods. What an illustrious past our city has!

Mexican-American War

October 2007

Three sessions, led by our own Ed Vernon, reviewed the late 19th century conflict with its political and associated wars that led to present day borders. Were these episodes contributory to our present day immigration dilemma? Lively opinions were expressed.

Local Canyon Excursions

September 2007

VISTAS members Don Gillies and Bob Gerity helped us explore three local canyons and identify the flora and fauna as well as discussed the local geology. Each walk was 2-3 miles in length with some uphill stretches. All three canyons are in beautiful condition, reminding us how this part of California must have looked before the Spanish arrival. Some imagination was required!

Fall Social and Barbecue

September 2007

Almost a hundred members and guests gathered at Stow Canyon Park for a refreshing afternoon of conversation, imbibing, eating and upcoming event education. Camaraderie was re-established with everyone looking forward to the upcoming year of seminars and activities.



2006 - 2007 Season

The Spanish and Their Savages

April - May 2007

This seminar was held in the Santa Barbara Presidio Chapel and the Pico House, and led by Pres. Jarrel Jackson. He focused on the complex relationship between the Spanish colonists and the American Indian. Areas explored were the relationship between the Franciscans and the Chumash; and the relationship between the Chumash and the Presdio. The format was team led, with groups reporting on their book chapter assignments. Archaeologists Bob Hoover and Mike Imwalle discussed life in a mission (La Purisima) and at the Presidio.

Sleep and Dreams

May 2007

Our own Dr. Charles Markham, Emeritus Professor of Neurology at UCLA and Research Professor at UCSB, told us what transpires during the third of our lives when we sleep and dream. Does it contribute to our waking, conscious state? And...do dreams reflect our true nature and behavior? During this one session seminar at Dr. Markham enlightened us but didn't answer all our challenging questions. But...we stayed awake and alert during the entire session!


March - April 2007

Introduced by our own Marcus Crahan and Warren Elliott, guest speakers with expertise in various areas of the immigration issue presented this stimulating six week seminar. Some areas of discussion were: Background for Today’s Immigration Issues and Problems from Colonial Times to present Legislation; Environmental Effects of Overpopulation; Economic Effects of Illegal Immigration. The final session was a lively, panel-type Discussion of Possible Solutions, none of which satisfied all attendees. It was a great, well-attended seminar!

Whither Russia

April 2007

Joe Condon, who has worked in Russia and the former Soviet Union for the last 30 years on various industrial projects, presented an afternoon seminar at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and helped help us separate fact from fiction and conjecture. Whereas the economic statistics on Russia in recent years have been quite positive, the conduct of foreign and economic policy has become increasingly erratic and some observers believe portends a possible collapse. Joe has recently had discussions with various members of the Russian Duma as well as senior ministry officials. His reflections were enlightening.

Beethoven: Classical Classical Composer & Romantic Hero

February - March 2007

Derek Katz, PhD, UCSB, offered a six weeks musical journey into the life and works of Beethoven introducing the Classical Period and Beethoven’s life as well as those of Beethoven’s contemporaries. The music of Mozart and Hayden, and the classical symphony were also on the program. This was a must for those who wanted to understand the music they like, or those who wished to be introduced to some of the classics.

Anza's Trail to Southern California

February - March 2007

In an original Presidio building, Santa Barbara history came alive with Kathy Chalfant's seminar on the Anza Trail. At the first three sessions at The Pico Adobe, Kathy presented the background and goal of Juan Baptista de Anza's historic trek from New Spain to Alta California in 1775–- 1776. We learned about the famous, and not so famous, people who were on the trek and their role in the founding of Santa Barbara. The 4th session was aboard AMTRAK's Surfliner for a docent conducted tour of the Anza Trail, with an afternoon in San Luis Obispo.

Selections from Ulysses of James Joyce

February 2007

Professor Heffernan of Dartmouth U. devoted three sessions to the detailed examination of a single chapter of “Ulysses,” with special attention to the way it reconstructs the Homeric episode that stands behind it. Last year’s participants in Professor Heffernan’s course on Ulysses found this seminar an excellent addition to their ongoing understanding of Joyce’s “Ulysses.” For new fans of James Joyce, and who missed last year’s presentation, this was a must. Utilizing our first visit to Vista Del Monte we found it was most enjoyable!

Intelligence and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy

January 2007

For three short weeks a full house explored the inner workings of the U.S. Intelligence Community, and how information goes into establishing United States foreign policy. Our able leader, Bob Macy, discussed the intelligence policies of recent administrations, how intelligence is gathered, competition among intelligence gathering communities, and how these communities are being transformed to keep America safe.

Pre-Columbian Americas – New Revelations!

January & February 2007

This team-led six week seminar explored the peoples (Indians) of the Americas before European contact. Recent archaeological finds combined with new interpretations by anthropologists put a different light on the peoples of North and South America. We viewed the effects of mega fauna, climate, migratory patterns of the Northwest, Southwest, and Atlantic coast Indians. The elements that combined to permit the cultural evolution of the various peoples were discussed. Recent information about Andean civilizations, and North America’s only pre-Columbian civilization was explained.


How to read Homer’s “Odyssey”

January 2007

In this 3 session seminar, Prof. Scott discussed how Homer put the “Odyssey” together. We thus began to understand how to read Homer by learning about the man, who could not read; his audience – who could not read; and about Homer’s narrators – who tell the legend. “Homer, the master poet, seldom spoke in his own voice, but wanted to convey the fullness of the legend to others of limited knowledge of it.”

Salem Witch Trials and Winter Social

January 2007

VISTAS' annual January social event at the elegant Music Academy of the West was on the money! The VISTAS Players presented a thought-provoking, but brief, rendition of the Salem Witch Trials drawn from Arthur Miller’s “Crucible.” After a brief historical orientation, the VISTAS Players enacted some of the events of 1663. The audience was encouraged to consider parallels in contemporary events in the Middle East and Darfur. At the conclusion of the trial, the audience was the jury and decided that the previous “death” sentence of the accused was unjustified. Wine, soft drinks, and delicious hors d'oeuvres –– and, much social mixing –– followed the presentation! Guests were welcome –– many brought a friend.

End of Life Issues

December 2006

Judy Macy discussed all important end of life issues, provided steps and worksheets for individuals and their families to organize their response to these end of life issues. She also obtained a Hospice representative to speak at one of the sessions. Areas of discussion included: “Healthy Aging, Tidy Death”; “Affairs in Order”; “Dying, How Does it Work”. This topic was shown to be important for “boomers,” seniors, and their families.


October 23 - December 4, 2006

Prof. Gordon Bjork presented an overviw of methods applied historically to explain economic issues. Some areas discussed were: changes in the labor force, productivity, social change, tax rates, technology - all of which change in this rapidly changing world. Divided into small groups midway in the morning, all had their chances to interpret and weigh what they thought had been delivered. This overall challenging seminar brought us all back to our schoolroom mentalities.

Energy Independence

September 20 – October 26, 2006

Continuing weekly for six weeks at the Valle Verde Retirement Community, Andy Hammit and other experts reviewed the past and predicted future energy problems with suggested fixes. What we have been doing, and where we are going was described by several local experts. With its local as well as its world consequences this proved to be a worthwhile and provocative seminar.


September 19, 2006

Almost a hundred members and friends gathered in Stow Grove County Park in Goleta for an afternoon of chatting, eating and exposure to what was in store for VISTAS this upcoming year. The catered food was excellent, the day beautiful and the outlook for the year enticing.


2005 - 2006 Season

Anacapa Island Adventure

May 22 and 25, 2006

After having been informed about the many historical, geological and environmental sides of the island during a slideshow on May 22 by Bob Gerity and Don Gillies, the two docents were to take us to the island via the Island Packers of Ventura on May 25. However, due to high waves and landing problems the trek was cancelled. We had been looking forward to carrying our own lunches, binoculars, cameras and maybe-needed jackets as we were to climb the 153 stairs and walk the mile and a half trail. The homes of innumerable varieties of birds as well as the seasonal flowers would have shown us the island's nature in the season of its greatest beauty. The experience was to have been both a physical and mental challenge. It will surely be rescheduled!

Lawn Bowling Social

May 7

Chairman Charlie arranged for us to learn how to lawn bowl at Upper McKenzie Park. After the instructions and a few games, we enjoyed our Spring Social by imbibing in wine and enjoying cheese with all the crackers that go with it.

Innovations and Challenges on the Health Horizon

April 7 – May 15, 2006

This diverse 6 week health seminar covered cataracts, the immune system, obesity surgery, Parkinson’s and dementias, as well as the pandemic diseases of HIV/AIDS and influenza including H5N1 (bird flu). Ending this series was a 3 hour open forum for Q&A on palliative care presented by VISTA members and medical professionals. Participants were strongly encouraged to bring their questions and concerns on pain management. Hospice staff members and patients added a great deal to the discussions.

California Water

March - April 2006

For 5 enlightening Wednesdays, VISTA members and guests learned about the history; law and policy; geology and engineering; urban and agri-business uses, and the politics of California water. The speakers were professionals in these fields who traveled from Sacramento, Santa Clara County, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles. Marcus Crahan produced this important and informative event. Participants were provided with handouts and publications containing the most recent water data. The last session was an open forum with the membership asking pointed and challenging questions about the future of California water.

Great Issues of our Times

February - March 2006

A variety of six subjects was outstandingly presented and much appreciated by the many attendees. Five of the issues were pleasantly presented at the Maravilla Retirement Community Club Room with the instructive visit to the Direct Relief Foundation home-base making for a satisfying explanation of the organization's mission. During discussions at Maravilla by such presenters as Jonathan Church, Jim Hemphill, Wade Clark Root, David Bisno and Gordon Bjork, subjects of Iraq, foreign relations, Supreme Court decisions, and the retirement plight of the next generation produced lively exchanges. VISTAS members were not hesitant to respond by interjecting both opposition and support for the leaders' offerings. It is obvious that we are not all of the same ilk! A similar seminar is being considered for next year.

Understanding James Joyce's Ulysses

James Hefferman, PhD - February 2006

If you have read (or intend to read) Dr. Joyce's Ulysses and couldn't relate the similarities to Homer's epic, you would have profited from the sage advice of Dr. Hefferman of Dartmouth who explained them during three morning sessions in a private home setting. An appreciative group, larger than had been anticipated, look forward to his return next year for some more wise counsel.

Human Migrations: 2006 Edition

Donald O'Dowd, Donald O'Dowd & Paul Elliott- February 2006

We Explored and discovered how early man developed from a tiny band of huntergathers in East Africa to domestication of plants and animals. With stability came the development of complex human endeavors. Observing how societies evolved from empires to the present global society and its corresponding technology, we learned how the ensuing pandemics, climate changes, and elements of banking and trade either allowed a civilization to grow or die if it failed to adapt. Former president of Alaska U., our own Don O'Dowd, led the charge at Valle Verde Retirement Community's suitable social room.

International Relations in the 21st Century

Robert Macy - February 2006

Should we stay the course or is it vital that we change our strategies in order to maintain our political status in the world? That was our topic during this three-week seminar skillfully led by Bob Macy. It brought lively discussion from both genders as we agreed and disagreed on many issues. Though our thoughts will not necessarily receive congressional approval, we felt we had been directed through the myriad of both the leader's and our own ideas.

Americas first ladies and vistas annual social

January 2006

After a time of refreshments at the Music Academy of the West, we enjoyed an afternoon there with 4 former First Ladies; Dolly Madison, Jacqueline Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lady Bird Johnson who were interviewed for our benefit by Reporter Frakes, enlightening us with their role in America's history. We also enjoyed their sharing of the triumphs and tragedies of life in the White House. After their interviews, the Ladies were available for questions.

Russia Under Putin

Joseph F. Condon - November 2005

Mr. Condon, the founder and first Executive Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, discussed president Putin’s relationship with Russia’s economic community. Some of the areas discussed were: Putin’s perception by the Russian business community; doing business in Russia; terrorism and Russian business; and the effect of organized crime (much of it perpetrated by former KGB agents) on the business community.

Why Do Real Men Cry and Women Faint?
Opera in Santa Barbara

October 2005


Islamic Civilization: History and Art

Dorothy S. Macchio, MA - October 2005

We discovered the origins of Islamic Civilization from Mohammad through the internecine warfare that ensured after his death, to Mehmet II, and the beginning of Islam’s modern era. As the warriors of Islam conquered and were conquered by various peoples, the art of Islam evolved causing great controversy among the religious leaders. This 3 day seminar explored the rising and influence of the various Islamic sects; the expansion of Islam; and a trip to the Islamic Art collection at LACMA.

Playing Shakespeare - King Lear

Homer "Murph" Swander and Natalie-Karp Allowitz - October 2005

Participants in this 5 week seminar were guided by the presenters to a rehearsal of King Lear. As special observers, they were encouraged to offer suggestions about crucial acting choices with the goal of presenting a performance that would please Shakespeare. The participants discovered more about themselves, and an understanding of the characters in King Lear.

People Who Never Grow Old

Peter Brill, MD and David Debin - September 2005

People between the ages of 45 -65 are entering the Third Age. The workshop combined didactic material with individual and small group exercises designed to familiarize participants with the 7-step model and give them a place to start improving their lives.

Chinese Medicine

Bernard Unterman, O.M.D., Lac. - September 2005

We explored the theory and mechanisms of acupuncture, and how it stimulates the body to heal itself. This 6000 year old Chinese medicine was discussed and debated in a 5 week seminar. All were encouraged to bring our doubts, questions and opinions while learning about health and how to keep it. He was also available to answer our questions about travel to China.


An Afternoon with Four of America's First Ladies

May 2005

Through the magic of VISTAS time machine, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams (and her husband), and Eleanor Roosevelt visited with our members. We learned about events of their times through the eyes who saw them and discussed the sigificance which has trickled down to us.

The Inaccurate Conception

Robert Failing, M.D. - April 2005

Many rumors, myths and legends have come and gone regarding the paternity of Abraham Lincoln. There is no doubt that his mother was Nancy Hanks (1782-1818). However, since many have questioned his father as being Thomas Lincoln (1778-1851), his place of birth as Kentucky or accepted his official birth date as February 12, 1809, Everest climber, Dr. Failing, challenged this history instead of challenging another mountain.


A Founders View of the History and Goals of the Eight Karpeles Manuscript Libraries

Marsha and David Karpeles - April 2005

Marsha and David Karpeles shared with us their mission and motives in making their historical manuscripts and memorabilia available to the public. They have extended this civic education not only in Santa Barbara, but in 5 states (as well as 3 in New York). Marsha and David are special to VISTAS, having provided a meeting place, projection equipment and staff services for many of our events, free of charge.

Playing Shakespeare

Homer Swander, PhD. – April 2005

This seminar provided a rare opportunity to watch and listen as the leading actress and the director of a play by Shakespeare explored that play in depth. They proceeded as if they were heading toward a new production of it. The play was Measure for Measure, one of Shakespeare’s most mysterious and interesting scripts: what kind of play did he want it to be?


China - The Sleeping Giant Wakes

Professor Edwin Williams - March 2005

This timely lecture examined China's spectacular economic growth since the inception of a "free-market economy." Professor Edwin Williams, a frequent visitor to China in the past 20 years, brought us his first-hand observations of recent events which will shape the major role China has to play. He was also available to answer our questions including travel to China.


Human Migrations and the Birth and Death of Civilizations

Donald O'Dowd, Ph.D. - February 2005

This seminar explored the origin, migrations, adaptations and evolution of human civilizations. In identifying key factors contributing to the succession of civilizations, we examined pandemics, climate change, money and banking. Led by Donald O'Dowd, Ph.D. and former President of the University of Alaska, Drs. Bill Davidson, Jim Mills, Bob Parker and Jim Shaw formed the distinguished panel leading our study.


An Ancient Medicine in Modern Times –

How Acupuncture Works

Dr. Bernard Unterman - February 2005

This free Sunday afternoon benefit for VISTAS members and their guests was presented by Bernard Unterman, a local Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Among other topics he discussed was why Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and UCLA Medical Schools teach a therapy that has remained unchanged for 4,000 years.


1421: The Year China Discovered the World

Dorothy Macchio and Peter Kruse - January-February 2005

This 6 week seminar based on the book by Gavin Menzies brought forth evidence for Menzies' theory and commentary on the lack of evidence. No matter what your belief, the presenters challenged everyone to not only consider this subject, but to learn much about the Ming Dynasty.


Michelangelo's Madonnas:

John David Burke - January 2005

A Renaissance scholar and priest, John David Burke, C.S.C., Ph.D. personalized Michelangelo's recurrent theme: "The Mother and Child Reunion."   Although this motif was neither singular nor unique to him, his lifelong works began with "Madonna of the Stairs" and ended with "Rondanini Pieta." This study in relationships, influences and defining moments in Michelangelo's career fascinated all who were able to see it.



Vincent R. Lee - January 2005

Architect, author and editor, Vincent R. Lee, MFA, who has spent the past 22 seasons exploring, mapping and recording information about South American historical sites, gave us two afternoon sessions discussing the origin, transportation and construction techniques of the giant moai on Easter Island, as well as a tour of sites of the ancient Inca Empire. His first-hand accounts, supplemented by site-specific slides and an historical overview left those of us who have not visited this fascinating part of the world with a strong desire to do so.

Paving Stones and Stumbling Blocks along the Road
to World Peace and Prosperity

Robert Macy - November 2004

Drawing on his vast experience in international institutions, banking and foreign aid, Mr. Macy led the seminar in both discussion and discussion group formats.  We investigated major problems concerning the environment, democracy versus dictatorship, education, facilitating more and freer world trade versus protectionism, the role of non-governmental institutions and the most efficient use of foreign assistance in developing nations in the former communist areas of Eastern and Central Europe as well as the "third-world" parts of Africa, South and Central America.

Oak Group Artists and History of the Gaviota Coast

Oak Group; J.J. Hollister, J.D. - October 2004

Outlined against a crystal blue October sky studded with puffed cotton clouds, Chris Chapman and John Iwerks shared their idyllic Ortega Adobe home at Arroyo Hondo Preserve - a crown jewel on the Gaviota Coast.   Docents led nature walks, Michael Drury and the Oak Group sketched, painted and displayed their incredible artistic talent and J.J. Hollister spun his tales as only he can do, returning us to the yesteryear of Arroyo Hondo lore.   All agreed, it was a day to long remember.


California Moments: An Historical Journey Through Biography

Daniel Alef, B.S., J.D., LL.M - September 2004

Having first visited us in March 2004 (see below), Daniel returned by overwhelming demand to lead us through critical and defining moments of our past by an in-depth viewing of the men and women who choreographed the California Paradigm.   Daniel's detailed research, accented so vividly in his award-winning novel Pale Truth and weekly column "Titans of Fortune" in the News Press, translated into an easy-flowing, interactive learning experience we shall never forget.


Lawn Bowling Social

Charles Schneider - September 2004

A man of many interests, our own Charlie Schneider, also President of the MacKenzie Lawn Bowls Club, brought together his many friends from both organizations in an afternoon of camaraderie and lawn bowling.   In the beautiful setting of MacKenzie Park, we all came to know one another better and became as close as possible to "jack".

Critical Factors in Planning the Normandy Invasion

John C. Crowell, PhD. - June 2004

Wind, weather, surf and tide subjected the largest Armada (5,000 ships) in history to considerable adversity.   Captain John Crowell forecasted surf conditions as part of a team of meteorological experts, causing General Eisenhower to postpone the invasion one day, a wise and fortunate decision.   It was a wonderful celebration of D-Day plus 60 years!


The Transit of Venus

David Bisno, M.D. and Chuck McPartlin, M.S. – March 2004

In cooperation with and sponsorship by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, our members packed the Gladwin Planitarium of the museum to be indoctrinated in and preview the upcoming “once in a lifetime” event. Observing the movement of Venus across the face of the Sun (as observable on June 8) by watching the simulation on the ceiling of the theater was as educational as it was well presented.

The Bill of Rights in the Twenty-first Century

George Frakes, PhD. and Peter Kruse, B.B.A., J.D. – March 2004

Packed with our own as well as knowledgeable invited speakers, the original Bill of Rights was exposed to its present counterpart, “Rights,” as now being rewritten by the courts. This six week study, with new evaluations of the privileges allowed us, resulted in good discussions of very opposing viewpoints. Affirmative action, cruel and unusual punishment, and life under “The Patriot Act” were studied in detail.

California Through Biohistory

Daniel Alef, B.S., J.D., LL.M – March 2004

“Titans of Fortune” appears every Saturday in the Santa Barbara News Press. Daniel Alef, author of the award winning novel Pale Truth brought the lives of several lesser known Californians like James King of William and James Ben Ali Haggin to us in his own vibrant and historically accurate style. Our accolades were enough to attract him to present an interactive six-week seminar this fall.

The Ellipse, The Golden Section and Ptolemy’s Universe

David Bisno, M.D. – February 2004

Three stories of artistry from the mathematics, geometry and astronomy of Greek antiquity…each of which raised provocative questions for today’s world. We traveled through ancient Greek mathematics, through Renaissance art; we visited the Parthenon, the Egyptian Pyramids, the music of Mozart and Scott Joplin; we learned about the quest of Ptolemy for an explanation of our solar system and the profound effect that all of these have on our lives.

The Role of Plate Tectonics in the Shaping of Western North America’s Beautiful Landscapes

Tanya Atwater, PhD. – February 2004

This instructive Sunday afternoon presentation explained the Theory of Plate Tectonics and how this phenomenon made our world as it is. Beautifully illustrated in PowerPoint presentation, the older concept of “Continental Drift” was given the mechanism by which it works.

Shakespeare from Script to Stage

Homer Swander, PhD. – February 2004

Joining forces with the Theatre in England Year Round organization, this extended study of several of Shakespeare’s plays included not only dissecting the scripts but also attending numerous previously studied plays. Venues from UCSB, PCPA in Santa Maria and the Lobero were among the places visited to evaluate our own interpretations of these remarkable writings.

The Mission Era in Baja California

Edward Vernon, B.S. – January 2004

Another six-week seminar examined the history of Missions in Baja, California. In conjuction with The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, the treks of the Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans were relived. This era preceded the establishment of Alta California Missions. A trip to Loreto to view some of the remaining missions was a welcomed optional addendum for class participants.

Measure for Measure

November 2003

Joined by “Theatre in England” members, we were presented with the Bard’s audacious sex-and-politics fairy tale by “Actors from the London Stage.” Afterward, we were able to speak with the five actors who played the twenty-two roles about the difficulties involved.

The Human Genome

Brian Hansen, PhD. (plus seven associates)
September 2003

This six-week seminar looked at what the HG is and why it is important. The course covered landmarks and important scientists in the search for genetic knowledge, the science and paleo-genetic history of the HG, the HG and medicine, the HG and behavior, and took up ethical and practical issues arising from this new knowledge.

Health Care: the American Way

Peter Conn and William Marks, PhD. – April 2003

How did our health care system get to the ICU where it is now? Can it be saved? How? We studied how our system developed, the ethics and values, economics, politics, health systems in other countries and looked at health care bills which the California Legislature debated in 2003.

Retreat: Ethical Dilemmas of Everyday Life

David Bisno, M.D. – March 2003

An intense two day retreat at the beautiful La Casa de Maria in which participants discussed and debated ethical problems encountered in one’s neighborhood, community, business, in universities and colleges, in charitable and volunteer work, and in politics. Questions such as: How do we make moral decisions?, What is “moral” in complicated situations?, were explored in discussion and films.

Lecture: the Second Amendment

Henry Shames, Esq. – March 2003

A single lecture on what the Second Amendment’s language about “bearing arms” really meant as originally drafted and about issues arising from present day interpretations of that language.

Church, State and the First Amendment

Peter Kruse, BBA, J.D. – March 2003

This first seminar in a VISTAS' series on the Bill of Rights examined the history of Church-State relationships in America, the theoretical and practical meaning of “separation of Church and State,” current issues arising from divergent views about what that separation is or may become – school vouchers, tax provisions and legislation concerned with these things, including recent Supreme Court decisions.

Technology Torrent: History and Impact of Computers

Roberta Nielsen – January 2003

How computers have changed and influenced our culture and our language. This seminar looked at computer history, including present day, at who participates in the computer culture and who does not, at problems arising from computer use and at what the future may hold.

Crises in 20th Century Music

Keith Paulson-Thorp, PhD. – October 2002

Each class session focused on a different aspect of the crises and tensions that characterize music of this century–aesthetic, sociological, performance, compositional and educational. Readings on and discussion of issues were augmented by a wide range of music selections, recorded and live.

Sierra to the Sea: the California Story

Earl Morley, M.A. & George Frakes, PhD. – April 2002

This seminar explored a range of factors in California history–geology, geography, history, economics, politics and culture. Issues facing California today and in the near future were discussed. Public seminars in addition to the class sessions featured speakers like Reagan biographer Lou Canon, the Hon. William Bagley, former State legislator and the Hon. Leon Panetta, former US Congressman and Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration.

The Group Theatre: America’s Theatrical Experiment of the 1930’s

Brian Hansen, PhD. – February 2002

The Group Theatre was founded in 1931 to establish a company of professionals dedicated to presenting American plays of social significance. Though short-lived (10 years), it had a profound influence on American theatre. It introduced the ideas of Method Acting; it stimulated the work of playwrights like Odets, Shaw and Saroyan; it trained major actors and directors like Lee J. Cobb, Harold Clurman, Elia Kazan and Stella Adler.

Sex & Suicide in the Modern German Novel: the Life & Works of Thomas Mann

Jarrell Jackman, PhD. – October 2001

Mann (1875-1955) was one of the most prominent and influential writers of the 20th Century. Prolific, a novelist, essayist and short story writer, he won the Nobel Prize for his novels Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain. Mann’s public opposition to the Nazi regime was important in keeping German culture alive during the Holocaust years. The seminar focused on Mann, his work and his life.

The Race to the Poles

David Bisno, M.D. – March 2001

The beginning of the 20th Century saw fierce competition among nations and explorers to reach the North and South Poles. The seminar was about the driving ambitions and courage of major explorers in these races, including Scott, Cook, Amundsen, Peary, Franklin, Nansen, Shackleton, Stefansson and Byrd. Afternnon movies were presented most every day following luncheons containing foods relevant to the course. An attendee provided skit was frosting on the cake.

Back from the Brink: Local Successes with Endangered Species

James Mills, Pharm. D. – February 2001

The efforts that went into saving the California gray whale, the California condor, the sea otter, the brown pelican and the northern elephant seal from extinction were discussed. Experts in preserving these subject species shared their knowledge and experiences. The seminar included a whale watching expedition aboard the Condor.

The Spanish Roots of Santa Barbara

Jarrell Jackman, PhD. – October 2000

The rivalry between the English and Spanish in their separate attempts to colonize the Americas, including California, and the impact of the Spanish conquerors on native populations was the focus of this seminar. Life in a Spanish fort in the 18th century, Spanish justice and Spanish culture in Santa Barbara were also studied

The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson

Allen Enelow, M.D. and George Frakes, PhD. – May 2000

Thomas Jefferson’s ideas and writings were crucial to America’s constitutional beginnings. However, his ideas about every man’s entitlement to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were at odds with some of his actions as a private citizen, as were his views on limited government with his actions as President. The seminar focused on Jefferson’s ideas, sources, influence and history.

Darwin and 19th Century Victorian England

David Bisno, M.D. – March 2000

Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species created great social and scientific controversy, and found few supporters in Victorian England. The seminar discussed Darwin’s work and ideas and the response of his colleagues and countrymen to them. The course included a presentation by a true believer in creationism.

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a 501 (c)(3) Not for Profit Corporation
VISTAS Lifelong Learning, Inc.
P.O. Box 23228
Santa Barbara, CA 93121
E-mail: vistas@silcom.com