It was a seemingly pleasant Tuesday morning when Altadena Mountain Rescue Team member Chuck Rozner spoke calmly via satellite as he helped man a command post near Mount Waterman in Angeles National Forest to oversee the search for a missing Pasadena hiker.
The search was proceeding at full speed after cloudy conditions lifted, and the Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue Team said it was zeroing in on a location and expected a helicopter to arrive soon.
Rozner, a 43-year veteran of the all-volunteer nonprofit Altadena organization, spoke with measured optimism. He’s assisted in or conducted dozens of rescues over the years and is one of about 120 trained mountaineers across eight teams that provide a backbone of support to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and are dedicated to saving lives through mountain rescue and safety education.
“I’ve been doing this pretty much since I was a Boy Scout,” said Rozner. “It’s a great way to volunteer and become part of a team, especially if you love the outdoors.”
Founded in 1951, the Altadena team is the oldest organization of its kind in L.A. County and has been deemed a member unit of the Sheriff’s Department Reserve Forces Bureau since 1956. Headquartered at the sheriff’s Altadena Station, the team is staffed by reserve deputies and civilian volunteer specialists and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Though members come from all walks of life and professions, it isn’t unusual for them to get a call in the middle of the night or wee morning hours to help assist in a missing or injured person’s case, noted Rozner.
“You never know when you might get called, but everybody has jobs and personal lives, so not everyone goes every time they’re called,” he said.
Altadena team member Alexia Joens can attest to some late nights — she assisted in a search last Saturday morning and afternoon, then went home before returning for a new shift after 9 p.m., finally arriving home at 5 a.m.
Joens doesn’t think much about the hours, she said, knowing only that when she can go, she will. That’s part of the team’s mantra and commitment, members acknowledge.
“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be able to do this kind of volunteering,” she said. “When you first come to the team, it’s a huge commitment and it really changes your life and the way you focus your activities. It’s really neat to be able to give back in this way and be a part of this effort, to be able to help someone who is out there injured or lost and return them to their families.”
On average, the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team conducts about 100 search and rescue operations every year. In addition to rescues within Los Angeles County, the team has participated in operations throughout California, and in New York, Hawaii and Mexico.
Locally, the number of hikers injured or lost has seemingly increased over the years due to a number of factors. One is social media, Rozner said, with thrill seekers in search of post-worthy selfies and photos risking a hike to areas they are unfamiliar with or requiring more skills than they possess.
Eaton Canyon — which is in the Altadena team’s jurisdiction — in particular had some tragic endings in recent years, as some trekkers jumped or fell from the trail’s popular waterfalls. Another factor is technology: Though hiking and map applications have opened Angeles Forest to a more geographically diverse crowd, if those phones fail (batteries die or users hit a dead zone), the hiker can quickly get in trouble.
“In some ways technology has made our jobs a little easier as it can help trace someone, but it also emboldens people to go out into areas they’re just not familiar with or prepared for,” Rozner said.
Then there are more typical hazards, such as running out of water, getting caught in rain or snow, or getting turned around at dusk — a well-known occurrence in which the trail can suddenly appear completely unfamiliar to someone who previously has been on the path.
Altadena resident and rescue team member Fred Pearce has come to know part of the phenomenon as the “REI effect,” a nod to the outdoorsy inspirational marketing of REI sporting goods store.
Pearce, who by day is a full-time environmental consultant, recalled helping some hikers who still bore tags on their newly purchased equipment. In one instance, he recalled, the trekker didn’t know enough to remove the rubber guards on the hiking poles.
“We try and advise people as much as we can,” he said.
The team trains throughout the year using life-saving techniques, often in conjunction with other teams across the county and the Los Angeles County Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service. They practice hoisting victims into helicopters and over cliff sides with a “basket,” or stretcher.
Members conduct weekend patrols of the mountain areas within their team’s jurisdiction, namely the 20 canyons behind Altadena and Pasadena, and are assigned weekend duty on a rotating basis, which averages once every other month. Those patrols ensure a quick response to emergencies during a time when they are most likely to occur, and also serve as a means of fire prevention and mountain safety.
Over time, members have assisted in some high-profile rescues, garnering media attention and reaping praise from local organizations. Recently, the Ayrshire Foundation took note of the group, granting it $55,000 for a new 2020 Ford F-250 Super Crew and A.R.E. Truck Topper — a much needed and welcomed piece of equipment that will help the team get to hard to reach places and save lives, Rozner said.
Members have also accumulated impactful rescue stories and assisted in life-altering experiences. For Pearce, one of those was the time he and team colleagues found a hiker in Angeles Forest who had been missing for an entire week.
“I’ll never forget that day — it was an incredible feeling,” Pearce recounted. The team had hiked for hours down a new search point into a canyon, where they followed a rushing river downstream. Suddenly there appeared the missing 73-year-old who’d been separated from his hiking group. Apart from some malnourishment and dehydration, the man was OK.
“We’ve been on many, many searches, but finding someone alive after a week makes it all worth it,” said Pearce, who has also aided in multiple body recovery missions.
Though not every search has a happy ending, there is also “value in helping families reunite with their loved ones and help bring them closure,” Rozner added.
Apart from saving lives and educating residents how to safely navigate their backyard forest, the Altadena team has kindled a strong kinship among its members.
“We really look out for each other; there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for me, and that goes both ways — this group feels like a second family,” Pearce said.
The Altadena Mountain Rescue Team is always seeking new volunteers. Those interested should come ready to spend time in the outdoors and have a “desire and determination to help people,” Rozner said, adding that the nonprofit organization provides all the training and equipment. To learn more, visit amrt.org.
At the outset of the pandemic, Jacque Collier found herself feeling like a lot of people — directionless and bereft of motivation. But when she began having trouble getting out of bed, she decided, something had to give.
Collier, who in normal times dedicates her retirement to volunteering countless hours, was clinically depressed. And that just couldn’t stand.
“Normally we do full-time ministry, anywhere we can, but when the pandemic hit we were all under lock down with nothing to do… I realized I was really depressed,” she recalled. “I had always wanted to do a little library or book pantry in front of my home, and I thought this would be the time. And what if we expanded it to include fresh food?”
For her 101st birthday, Dorothy Rusch took a shot.
No, it wasn’t a shot of her favorite beverage, and it certainly wasn’t a Jell-O shot. Instead, the longtime Pasadena resident proudly received a shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine on her birthday, the perfect gift after more than a year of upheaval and anxiety from the coronavirus pandemic and the isolation it entailed.
“That was a really special present,” Rusch said in a recent interview, just days after her birthday via Zoom. “I’m here, and I’m glad I’m here.”
The vaccine was not the only gift Rusch received that weekend. Outside of her home on Euclid Avenue — where she has lived since 1964 — her children had something of a party set up for the family matriarch, while friends drove by to wish her the happy birthday they had been unable to for her centennial the prior year.
“Nobody just drove by,” Rusch’s daughter, Miriam, said. “People stopped and got out — with their masks — and talked and stayed. They all love my mom.”
That afternoon, Miriam Rusch said, was the best medicine after a year of loneliness, and it put pep in her mother’s step, her wheelchair notwithstanding.
“I think it was being able to connect again,” Miriam explained. “I asked her about it a few days after and she said, ‘It really lifted my spirits.’ Her nurse came to check on her the next day, and he said he really saw the difference in her.”
And what a difference a year makes.
Last year, for Dorothy’s 100th birthday, her daughters had planned to take her to Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood as a surprise to ring in the occasion. However, after the global pandemic was declared and California issued a stay-at-home order, they instead settled for In-N-Out. Worse, a large poster crafted by Dorothy’s top fans at the Allendale Branch Library — where a celebration had been planned — that paid tribute to her had to be delivered late, informally and without brandishing the assuredly hundreds of signatures it would have garnered in any other year.
“It’s been awful for her,” Miriam said. “My mother is a very special person. She didn’t even stop driving — locally in Pasadena, going to Vroman’s or going to visit her friends — until she was 96. Her independence was the most important, and that was the biggest fear she had, that she wouldn’t get to go places.”
In the pre-pandemic times, when it wasn’t Vroman’s Bookstore, Dorothy found herself alternately at All Saints Episcopal Church or Chabad of Pasadena, where she stood out against the Hasidic backdrop with her Reform upbringing and life. Absent those outlets, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native would journey to her beloved Allendale library, which Miriam described as the “Cheers” of the library world and where she said her mother functioned as the queen bee.
Since last year, Dorothy’s one major outing was in the fall, when the onetime Pasadena schoolteacher and civil rights movement demonstrator insisted on personally dropping off her mail-in ballot picking Joe Biden to be president.
“This is my mom, involved with All Saints and the Chabad and everything, and all of a sudden she couldn’t go to things,” she added. “All these things got taken away from her.”
Searching her memories for a moment, Miriam then recalled: “She said she felt confined.”
That confinement is likely to end soon for Dorothy, thanks to the vaccination provided through Keck Medicine of USC, which in March ran a program to inoculate homebound residents with Johnson & Johnson vaccines — a task appropriate for their gimmick of simple storage requirements and being a one-and-done dose.
“It represents a sense of security and an ability to reconnect with loved ones,” explained Dr. Laura Mosqueda, the geriatrician with Keck Medicine who led the door-to-door program. “It’s very important for folks, for their emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual reasons.”
Mosqueda, a professor of family medicine at Keck School of Medicine and also a co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, said this past year has been devastating for seniors, who are often reliant on a social life and outside assistance to remain engaged, even if they never contracted COVID-19. Additionally, with fewer gatekeepers around, those seniors can become more vulnerable to scammers.
“I think the ones most affected by it are people who really thrive in being out — the elderly, the disabled,” Miriam Rusch observed.
For those who might have suffered a death in the family, seniors and their younger kin found themselves in a reality where the best goodbye they could bid a deceased spouse or relative was virtually, through a computer screen — if at all.
“I really wonder about the long-term ill effects of this on so many people and so many families,” Mosqueda said. “I think it’ll be important as we move forward to recognize that this was a traumatic event for so many people in so many different ways.”
The doctor remained hopeful, however, that the fallout from the pandemic would move the conversation forward, especially in California where nursing home and hospice fraud are widely suspected. A Los Angeles Times investigation last year highlighted that Los Angeles County, with 618 hospice care facilities at the time, was host to a particularly large number of related Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases.
“There really is hope. I think it really renewed a lot of peoples’ desires to push for nursing home reform,” Mosqueda said. “I think it has opened the doors for those conversations and has exposed the ageism even more greatly than before and has made it more obvious.”
Back in Pasadena, the Rusches are considering their first travel plans once Dorothy’s immunity takes hold. The Huntington Library in nearby San Marino will be on the list, as will Vroman’s (“Yes!” Dorothy exclaimed) and the Allendale library (“Oh, of course”). Above all, she thought she might like to see the ocean, perhaps in Santa Barbara.
“As long I can go to the beach,” Dorothy said, settling the matter.
The vaccine has proved to be a gift for Miriam and her sisters as well, and that night, everyone enjoyed a meal at Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza and Pasta in South Pasadena, where Dorothy ordered shrimp scampi with linguine.
“I feel so blessed because we were so upset last year for mom,” Miriam said. “I’m so grateful that we’re here for her 101st.”
Mosqueda, too, enjoyed Dorothy’s birthday, because it meant she got to personally administer the vaccine for a friend.
“It was such a joy to see her. She was dressed and ready for her birthday party. I had met her before, so it was fun to see her again. She was very happy to get this and called it her birthday gift,” Mosqueda said. “And now, family can visit with much less anxiety. The importance of human touch and being able to hug and be with people, that’s an important part of being human.”
After more than 75 years of service to its members and the Pasadena community, the Women’s City Club of Pasadena has decided to dissolve and transfer ownership of the Edmund Blinn House to Pasadena Heritage. The decision by the Women’s City Club means that the Blinn House — one of Pasadena’s best recognized and historically important structures — will continue to be owned and occupied by a nonprofit organization committed to its preservation and protection.
Founded in 1945 as a social club for women and a center for women’s organizations and other civic groups, the Women’s City Club has been headquartered in the Blinn House since its inception. The structure was acquired by the club, with support from philanthropist Gloria Crane Gartz, to provide a comfortable, elegant place for women to meet, socialize and work together on various community projects. Over its many years, the Women’s City Club has welcomed thousands of members, guests, and visitors.
ArtCenter College of Design President Lorne M. Buchman announced his plans to retire on June 30, 2022, in a letter he has sent to the college community.
“My time at the college has represented, without question, the peak of my professional life, and I will be forever grateful to this remarkable community for the opportunity to serve as its president,” Buchman said. “It has been most energizing to witness how this college has evolved over the years… I am inspired by our transformation and quite dazzled by how far we have come in our commitment to create excellence in art and design education.”
While retiring from higher education, Buchman hinted at other projects he’d like to pursue, including writing another book — he recently completed “Make to Know: From Spaces of Uncertainty to Creative Discovery” (Thames & Hudson, August 2021) — and producing a documentary about the creative process, in addition to other innovative pursuits.
Among Buchman’s goals for the next 15 months are to ensure a safe return to campus for students, faculty and staff; to engage the community in forward-looking plans for a post-pandemic ArtCenter; and to establish a two-year strategic agenda for the college — all to ensure that his successor will have a strong foundation to steward the college into the future.
ArtCenter has evolved significantly during Buchman’s tenure, with sustained and noteworthy enhancements across all aspects of college life, including community building, resource development, program growth and campus expansion.
When Buchman took office in 2009, he engaged all members of the ArtCenter community in a conversation about art and design education in the 21st century. With input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, donors and external partners, Buchman issued Create Change, a five-year strategic plan (2011-16) based on the college’s conservatory-like approach to teaching and learning; a desire for rich, intercultural and transdisciplinary dialogue; and a mandate to provide students innovative learning and making spaces. Updates to the strategic plan, Create Change 2.0 (2017-21), were driven by the question of educational value with a more specific focus on student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; curricular innovation and strategic infrastructure.
A cornerstone of Buchman’s community-building efforts and strategic plan development was his continued emphasis on shared governance.
“It’s still a work-in-progress,” he readily admits, “but shared governance at ArtCenter has been critical to the progress we have made. It has helped us enormously to draw on the wisdom of this community.”
As it evolved, shared governance formalized ways in which constituents across the college could inform and participate in decisions about key initiatives of the institution, including new program growth, educational and student services, acquisition of and improvements to campus facilities; and the development of technological resources.
Buchman has also been a strong advocate for the value of art and design in the larger cultural context. He currently hosts “Change Lab: Conversations on Transformation and Creativity,” a podcast produced by ArtCenter in which Buchman conducts intimate interviews with leading artists and innovators. This past fall, the podcast focused on elevating Black voices and, currently in its eighth season, “Change Lab” is now exploring how educational leaders take on rapidly shifting instructional models, investigate radical curricular change and propose bold new ways to learn.
His advocacy for art and design is also evident in his current role as chair of the board of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of nearly 40 similarly focused colleges across North America that collectively support and strengthen art and design education in a global context.
Buchman’s passion and deep commitment to excellence in education and his care for individuals in the community have generated an enthusiastic response from alumni, foundations, and a growing donor community with unprecedented financial support. Under Buchman’s leadership, ArtCenter surpassed its ambitious $100 million fundraising campaign goal with a total of $124 million raised — the largest fundraising total in the college’s history.
Coinciding with an increase in philanthropic support, Buchman has also recruited a diverse group of distinguished leaders to the board of trustees. Since Buchman’s arrival, board giving has totaled nearly $69.5 million, with significant gifts made in support of scholarships, student services, endowment and capital projects.
Thanks to the careful budgeting practices Buchman brought to ArtCenter, the trustees were able to build, beyond its main endowment, a board-designated “quasi-endowment” which has allowed the college to address specific areas of need, including scholarships to increase the diversity of the student body and to help upper-term students persist to graduation. In the last year, Buchman worked with the trustees to extend the use of the quasi-endowment to provide $9 million in tuition reduction grants to students facing the difficult financial challenges of the pandemic.
Through Buchman’s commitment to access and affordability and the robust support that followed, the college’s financial aid capacity has also grown considerably, with a 35% increase in annual donor scholarships, 115% increase in economic diversity grants, and a 12% increase in general scholarship awards. Overall, the college has seen an increase of $12.5 million in institutional scholarships from $6.5 million in 2009 when he arrived to approximately $19 million in 2021.
Notably, Buchman also raised $2 million in endowment for a presidential discretionary fund, which he has used annually to assist students who are experiencing severe economic hardship, especially with respect to food and housing insecurity.
In sum, and as a recent Moody’s investment-grade rating confirms, the college is in a strong financial position.
As a result of this intentional program growth, ArtCenter has realized record enrollments. The college now boasts an enrollment of nearly 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students — a significant increase of 32% from 1,500 students when Buchman arrived in the fall of 2009.
To support ArtCenter’s growth, Buchman has expanded the number of services offered to students and the larger ArtCenter community, with a new or increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; counseling and wellness; academic advising; career and professional development; exhibitions, funds for emergency economic response; institutional research; and environmental health and safety.
Growth at South Campus was made possible by the acquisition and adaptive reuse of buildings adjacent to the original wind tunnel property, including a former U.S. postal distribution facility and an office building previously occupied by Jacobs Engineering; effectively adding nearly 167,000 square feet of space across five urban acres to the college’s real estate portfolio. Buchman led the effort of a substantial remodel of both buildings and, today, South Campus encompasses a variety of classroom studios, workshops, exhibition spaces and administrative services. Expansion of South Campus has also provided room to expand and enhance resources at the college’s landmark Hillside Campus with re-imagined classroom spaces, state-of-the-art auditoriums and improvements to the overall infrastructure.
In 2018, the city of Pasadena approved a comprehensive master plan for ArtCenter that charts a 15-year vision for the college’s physical campuses. The plan incorporates long-term plans for enhanced facilities and establishes a framework to guide development across both ArtCenter campuses and ensure that future changes remain in service to an engaged community.
Following Buchman’s retirement announcement, Su Mathews Hale, chair of ArtCenter’s board of trustees, said, “The board is indebted to Lorne for his superb and compassionate leadership. His diligent work has always been in service to our students, ensuring they receive the best possible art and design education and learn skills that will benefit them and influence the world around them long into the future.
“The college has changed immeasurably over the years, and the board commends Lorne for his countless successes as president,” Mathews Hale continued. “While we’re sad to learn about his departure, we’re grateful for all he has done for the school and know that he’ll continue to produce meaningful and creative work. We wish him the best in his future adventures.”
Chair emeritus Robert C. Davidson Jr., who presided as chair during much of Buchman’s tenure, added, “Lorne has been the best president that ArtCenter or any other college could have. We have benefitted immensely from Lorne’s leadership, his admiration for the ArtCenter community and his deep affinity for the creative process. It has been my pleasure to work alongside him and he will be greatly missed.”
Mathews Hale and the board of trustees have already begun planning the search for a successor. Input from all constituencies within the community — including students, faculty, staff and alumni — will be a critical part of the process.
By Austin Green
Opening Day at Pasadena Southwest Little League could not have taken place on a more beautiful spring Saturday. Birds chirped along to the sound of a light breeze through the trees at Allendale Park, the sun was out, the air was clear and the temperature read 75 degrees on the dot.
Amid the unprecedented hardships and tragedies due to the peripheral pandemic fallout this past year, Pasadena’s nonprofit organizations have been seen rallying in creative and unusual ways to help fill the gap and heightened need.
While some organizations have worked around the clock to provide food, shelter or healthcare, others have pivoted to offer different services to meet their clients’ changing needs.
Others, meanwhile — such as Give-Mentor-Love Foundation and Learning Works Charter School — have dug deep to forge a new partnership to improve their core mission: serving Los Angeles County at-risk youths and young adults who are in crises, help them achieve high school diplomas and set them on a path to success.
To celebrate the 19th year of Pasadena’s “One City, One Story” community reading project, the public is invited to a conversation with Father Gregory Boyle, author of this year’s selected novel, “Tattoos on the Heart.” The virtual event will be held this Sunday, March 14, at 2 p.m. on Zoom.
Father Boyle will discuss his experiences writing “Tattoos on the Heart,” and a question-and-answer session led by Pasadena Public Library Director Michelle Perera will immediately follow. The event is free and open to the public. To attend, sign up at http://pasadena.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=3992.
“Tattoos on the Heart” is a series of parables about kinship and redemption from Boyle, a pastor, activist and renowned speaker. In the book, he distills his experience working with gang members into a breathtaking series of stories inspired by faith.
Trisha Muse’s vision for Pasadena Food Hug, which she founded and launched in August with the Latino Restaurant Association, was to deliver comfort and hope to those on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 and help local Black- and Latino-owned eateries survive the pandemic.
Thanks to caring donors and foundations, the effort surpassed its original fundraising goal of $30,000 and raised more than $62,000.
Since the summer, Muse and volunteers have delivered nearly 3,800 meals to first responders and essential workers in more than 30 industries including health care, utilities, grocery and retail, senior living/nursing homes and nonprofit organizations. She hopes to raise at least an additional $10,000 to enable the program to continue to support the restaurants and workers through the winter surge.
The Pasadena Conservatory of Music has released “Musical Interludes — Alice’s Piano,” a concert film produced in partnership with the Holocaust Museum LA and Steinway & Sons.
The film is inspired by pianist and Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer. PCM faculty members perform selections from Chopin’s etudes, as well as pieces that give voice to the Jewish experience. “Alice’s Piano” was filmed at HMLA and is narrated by PCM board member Jane Kaczmarek, with commentary by museum staff members and a recitation of the Kaddish by Joseph Alexander, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor.
“The constraints of the pandemic inspired us to find new ways to present concerts to our community,” said Stephen McCurry, executive director of PCM. “We are thrilled to have partnered with the Holocaust Museum. The film was greatly enriched by their contributions, and the museum provided a compelling setting for telling Alice’s story.”
The project is part of PCM’s “Musical Interludes” series — virtual adaptations of PCM’s 27-year-old “Mansions & Music” concert series, in which PCM faculty members have performed in intimate and architecturally significant venues. “Musical Interludes” serves as a bridge between pre- and post-COVID-19 concerts.
“Alice’s Piano” can be viewed on PCM’s YouTube channel.
The conservatory provides opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds to study, perform and enjoy music. Founded in 1984, PCM is a nationally accredited community music school that offers a wide range of programs, including individual and group instruction, music appreciation courses, master classes, summer camps, workshops and concerts.
Each year, the conservatory presents more than 150 events, including the PCM Chamber Music Competition — one of the largest pre-collegiate chamber music competitions in the country. More than 1,200 students attend PCM annually and more than 3,000 benefit from its outreach programs. To learn more, visit pasadenaconservatory.org.