Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Volunteers Face a Tough Decision

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden needs a lot of work right now to help it recover from the devastating Jesusita Fire, and the volunteer staff is unsure what their next move should be. No one wants to see the Garden hurt by political posturizing, yet at the same time people don't want to donate their time and money only to see a few overpaid administrators take the lion's share home with them at the end of the month.

The latest "Garden Notes" email informs us that: "Gina Benesh, Vice President of Development reports that the Garden's Jesusita Fire Recovery Campaign has received over $80,000 in contributions. The Garden is very grateful to all who have contributed and sends its most heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of our supporters. Funds will go to the purchase of tools for our horticultural and nursery staff. The Garden lost all horticultural tools and vehicles in the Jesusita Fire when the Gane House burned to the ground. The Gane House, where all tools were stored, has served as the Horticultural Center for many years."

A pithy comment to an Independent story reads: "The Botanic Garden has lost more to inept and careless leadership than it has to the Jesusite fire."

Meanwhile some of the volunteers were able to meet with a few of the Trustees before their regularly scheduled meeting. It was revealed that of the 15 slots on the Board, only nine are filled. Of those nine, only four managed to show up for the first meeting after the Fire. It seems to this observer that bringing new members to the Board of Trustees should be a major priority.

You can find an exchange of letters between Fife Symington, the Chairman of the Board, and the volunteer leadership here. You can also find an account of the volunteers meeting with the Board here.

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