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Rescue Files

Laguna Beach Police and Fire rescue pup from cliffside

On Thursday, June 6 at 9:35 p.m., Laguna Beach Police and Fire personnel responded to Three Arch Bay in reference to a dog that was stuck on the side of a bluff.

Laguna Beach Police initiated a drone operation with night vision capabilities, locating the Goldendoodle.

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Courtesy of LBFD

Laguna Beach Fire and Police worked together to bring this Goldendoodle up the bluff and back to its family

Then, Laguna Beach Fire deployed a remote rope rescue operation and successfully brought the pup up the bluff.

The dog was uninjured and reunited with its family.

Helicopter lands at Table Rock Beach for medical rescue

On Saturday, June 8 at 7:51 p.m., Laguna Beach Fire responded to Table Rock Beach for a medical emergency. Due to the patient’s condition, it was determined that the most appropriate transport would be by helicopter to a local hospital.

Mercy Air Medical Transport responded and transported the patient to a local area hospital.

No additional patient information is available at this time.

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LBHS’ Ava Knepper named Sunset Conference Female Athlete of the Year

Ava Knepper, a senior at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS), was honored on June 3 at the Orange County Athletic Directors’ Association (OCADA) Athlete of the Year dinner held at Servite High School. Knepper was named the Sunset Conference Female Athlete of the Year, recognizing her outstanding athletic achievements and dedication to her sport.

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Courtesy of LBUSD

Ava Knepper receiving the award from CIF Commissioner Mike West

A standout athlete, she has achieved success in both water polo and swimming throughout her high school career. Knepper has been recognized with numerous accolades, including second-team All-Sunset League, second-team All-County, and second-team All-CIF Open Division during her sophomore and junior years. In her senior year, she earned first-team All-Sunset League, co-MVP of the Sunset League, first-team All-County and first-team All-CIF Open Division honors.

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Courtesy of Dawn Knepper

Knepper excelled at swimming and water polo and holds many records at LBHS

“Ava Knepper is a truly unique and special talent,” said LBUSD Athletic Administrator Denise Selbe, Ed.D. “Being named the Sunset Conference Female Athlete of the Year is a testament to her dedication and hard work. We are incredibly proud of her accomplishments and excited to see her continue her athletic journey at USC.”

Knepper’s athletic stats include 101 goals, 37 assists and 39 exclusions drawn in her senior year alone, culminating in a total of 337 career goals and 243 career assists in water polo. Additionally, Knepper excelled in swimming, holding LBHS records in the 200- medley relay, 50 free and 100 free, and qualified for CIF competitions for three consecutive years. Knepper’s achievements have earned her a scholarship to USC, where she will continue her water polo career.

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Courtesy of Dawn Knepper

Knepper will continue her water polo career at USC

OCADA honors athletes of the year from across Orange County at its annual Athlete of the Year dinner in the spring. To view the 2024 Athlete of the Year slideshow and learn more, click here.

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Back-to-back earthquakes jolt Orange County on Thursday

Yesterday (Thursday, June 6), two back-to-back earthquakes jolted Orange County.

Both quakes occurred on the Costa Mesa-Newport Beach border.

The first earthquake, a magnitude 3.6 temblor, occurred at 4:52 p.m. just over a mile away from Newport Beach at a depth of 7.64 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The second, an aftershock of magnitude 3.4, occurred at 5:04 p.m., a little over two miles from Newport Beach and also at a depth of 7.64 miles.

The City of Laguna Beach offers the following suggestions on preparing for earthquakes on its Emergency Management webpage:

Secure items, such as televisions and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy, breakable objects on low shelves.

Practice drop, cover, then hold on with family and coworkers. Drop to your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Crawl only as far as needed to reach cover from falling materials. Hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops.

Create a family emergency plan that includes an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.

Make an emergency kit or purchase the Laguna Beach specific emergency kit backpack – make sure to include three days worth of water and food per person.

Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.

Download the state’s MyShake mobile application to receive early notifications of a 4.5 or greater earthquake in your area. For more information, go here.

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Surf & Sand Resort partners with Friends of Hortense Miller Garden to restore historic home in Laguna Beach

Surf & Sand Resort announces its collaboration with the Friends of Hortense Miller Garden to breathe new life into the iconic Mid-Century Modern home of Hortense Miller. Demonstrating a steadfast commitment to preserving the region’s rich heritage, Surf & Sand Resort has generously allocated resources to repair and repaint this historic landmark.

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Photos courtesy of Friends of Hortense Miller Garden

Iconic Mid-Century Modern home of Hortense Miller

Originally gifted to the city in 1976, the Hortense Miller Garden has long served as a cherished oasis for residents and visitors alike. However, during a recent public Open House, Laguna Beach City Councilmember Mark Orgill noted areas of the building in need of attention. Recognizing the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, Joanna Bear, general manager at Surf & Sand Resort, reached out to Orgill to explore avenues for community involvement while simultaneously providing employment opportunities for resort staff during their current renovation period.

“I approached Councilmember Orgill to discuss ways in which Surf & Sand Resort could contribute to the local community and keep our dedicated employees engaged,” said Joanna Bear. “We are deeply committed to serving as responsible stewards of our heritage and are honored to support the restoration of the Hortense Miller home.”

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Experienced painters worked on the historic home

In response to Orgill’s suggestion, Surf & Sand Resort mobilized a team of skilled painters and maintenance staff to undertake the restoration work. Over the past week, three experienced painters have diligently scraped, sanded and painted the historic home, which sits majestically overlooking Boat Canyon. The ongoing collaboration between Surf & Sand Resort and the Friends of Hortense Miller Garden epitomizes the spirit of unity and cooperation within the Laguna Beach community.

Bob Borthwick, a board member of the Friends of Hortense Miller Garden, expressed his gratitude for the support received, stating, “I honestly thought that the offer was too good to be true. This is truly a miracle.” The restoration efforts serve as a testament to the power of community partnership in preserving the legacy of our shared history.

Surf & Sand Resort remains steadfast in their commitment to supporting initiatives that enhance the cultural vibrancy and beauty of Laguna Beach. Through collaborative endeavors like the restoration of the Hortense Miller home, Surf & Sand Resort reaffirms their dedication to hospitality and goodwill in the community.

For more information on Surf & Sand Resort and its community initiatives, visit For more information on Hortense Miller Garden, visit

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Public Works receives Bluebird Canyon Drive widening project award

On Thursday, May 30, Public Works received the American Society of Civil Engineers 2023 Outstanding Small Project Award for the Bluebird Canyon Drive Evacuation Route Widening project, completed in fall 2023.

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Photos courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Senior Project Manager Pierre Sawaya (with plaque) and Assistant Director of Public Works Tom Perez (second from right) receiving the award

Bluebird Canyon Drive, located east of Oriole Drive to Rancho Laguna Road, was widened to provide sufficient emergency ingress/egress for the neighborhood which is located within a high fire hazard severity zone.

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Bluebird Canyon Drive after the widening project

Other improvements included drainage, landscaping, pedestrian safety enhancements and removals of six utility poles in the canyon. The project award was received by Senior Project Manager Pierre Sawaya and Assistant Director of Public Works Tom Perez, who oversaw design and construction.

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Susi Q announces new marketing/communications director

Susi Q has announced that Lynette Brasfield, who has worked with the nonprofit as their publicist for the last three years, will take on an expanded role going forward. As the marketing/communications director, she will be responsible for strategic communications planning and implementation of the broad range of Susi Q’s outreach efforts.

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Lynette Brasfield joins Susi Q staff

In addition, she will work with the team at the Susi Q to bring in new programming designed to provide older adults with the support they need to age in place, as well as fresh entertainment, educational and informational offerings.

“Lynette has done a great job increasing awareness of the Susi Q in the community these past few years,” said Nadia Babayi, executive director of Laguna Beach Seniors, aka the Susi Q. “We are confident that with the support of our seasoned Programming/Event Manager Christine Brewer and our wonderful staff, the Susi Q will continue to provide programming at the highest level to benefit the community.”

Brasfield said she was delighted to take on new responsibilities, though very aware of the big shoes she will need to fill following Jo Ann Ekblad’s departure.

“I love the staff at the Susi Q and will miss Jo. She did a fantastic job putting together vital community-building programs as well as many exciting offerings, from opera to jazz concerts and more,” Brasfield said. “I hope to build on her legacy going forward.”

What excites Brasfield most about the Susi Q, she said, is that it’s not “your grandmother’s senior center.”

“Instead of creating a silo where seniors only interact with each other, our programs, while focused primarily on serving the needs of older adults and retirees in the community, are increasingly attractive to all ages,” Brasfield said.

“At the same time, our Lifelong Laguna program and Care Management department provide vital services to vulnerable seniors. I am thrilled to join the team in my expanded role,” said Brasfield.

Brasfield is a published novelist, writing instructor, former managing editor of Stu News Laguna and former public relations executive at Nelson Communications Group, and Hill and Knowlton.

She lives in Laguna Beach with her husband Bill and black cat, Boris.

Brasfield can be reached at

Visit to review the many ongoing programs that Susi Q offers, from ukulele lessons, to standing yoga, to bridge and mahjong classes, not to mention support groups and clubs for special interest groups ranging from genealogy to current affairs to books and so much more. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department (now the Dorene Cares Office) provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors, enabling them to stay safe, informed and as independent as possible.

The Susi Q is located at 380 Third St., Laguna Beach.

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Rivian South Coast Theater hosts special World Oceans Day event on June 8

The Rivian South Coast Theater is hosting a special program produced by The MY HERO Project, for this year’s World Oceans Day celebration. The event takes place on Saturday, June 8 at 6:30 p.m., at the historic theater, which is Rivian’s new flagship space.

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Photos courtesy of My Hero Project

From “My Blue Heart” by The MY HERO Project

MY HERO has an inspiring line-up of ocean-minded short films, speakers and musical entertainment planned for the evening. Wendy Milette, director of The MY HERO International Film Festival, will present the 2024 Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award. The annual award comes with cash prizes of $2,000 and is sponsored by the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation’s One World One Ocean Campaign.

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From The Art of Discovery by Mónika Naranjo-Shepherd

The award is named after Dr. Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned oceanographer and explorer. Earle is an author, lecturer, explorer and research scientist, who has led more than 70 expeditions. She works as a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and serves as principal advisor to the One World One Ocean campaign.

Laguna local Whitney Winefordner will perform at the June 8 event, singing “My Blue Heart,” her original song that pays tribute to Dr. Earle.

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From “The Art of Discovery” by Mónika Naranjo-Shepherd

Nancy Caruso, founder of the nonprofit Get Inspired, will be a guest speaker. A MY HERO short film that showcases her work as “the Kelp Lady,” will be screened at the event. Caruso and Laguna environmental filmmaker Rich German, founder of Project O, will be presented with Ocean Hero awards.

There is no charge for this family-friendly event, but capacity is limited. To reserve your tickets, register at the Rivian South Coast Theater (162 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach) by clicking here.

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The Sacramento Chronicles


June 7, 2024

Hello Laguna Beach!

It’s June and the countdown begins to the end of session on August 31. There are many deadlines on the “to do list” – one of the big ones was the House of Origin deadline on May 24. This deadline required all bills introduced by an Assemblymember to be approved and passed to the Senate in order to continue moving forward. Similarly, all bills in the State Senate must be approved to begin the Assembly process. This deadline marked the halfway point in the legislative process. Since January, Assemblymembers introduced 1,520 new bills and 931 were passed over to the Senate.

Now that we are in June, policy committee hearings have begun again for all of the 479 Senate bills (out of a total of 639 bills introduced) that have been referred to the Assembly. These bills have until July 3 to make it to the Appropriations Committee. Any bill that costs the state of California more than $150,000 annually will be heard in August at the final Appropriations Committee Hearing. At the end of all the hearings in mid-August, we will vote on about 800+/- bills on the Assembly floor.

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Courtesy of Diane Dixon

Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach)

We’re not done with June yet! California must pass the State Budget by a constitutional deadline of June 15. As I write this message, legislative leaders are negotiating with the governor on what the final details of the budget will look like. There is a small detail of the budget deficit ranging from projections of $25 billion to $73 billion which must be closed before final action. Spending cuts to current programs and services are expected. While the chief budget bill must be passed by that deadline, we will still be voting on “trailer bills” through the end of the legislation session on August 31. A trailer bill is a budget bill that typically funds a specific policy area, and sometimes they enact significant policy changes without any public hearing. Unfortunately, the process of determining what language is negotiated into these bills is not very transparent, and not every legislator has a seat at the table. I will have more to report on this issue next month.

My own bill package is making progress: I have seven bills still moving through the Senate’s policy committee process. I have already had two bills pass out of committees without any “no” votes. Assembly Bill 1774 focuses on the safety of youth in our communities by prohibiting the dangerous sale and use of E-Bike speed modifying kits, or tuning kits, and AB 2504 would name the state’s first seashell the Black Abalone. This is my fun bill!

At the end of session on August 31, bills that pass both houses will head to the governor’s desk for a signature. The governor can sign a bill into law, veto a bill preventing it from becoming law, or choose to take no action – in which case it will become law without his signature. The month of September will be interesting to see which bills become law or die.

Join me at KelpFest! June 8 is World Oceans Day, and I am partnering with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to honor the Black Abalone as our state’s seashell. The event is hosted by the Laguna Ocean Foundation and is happening at Main Beach in Laguna Beach on June 8 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Interested in joining me to do more to keep our oceans and beaches clean? I am building my Great Garbage Patch Working Group to come up with tangible action items to make our oceans clean and safe.

Not receiving invitations to my events? Send an email to to be added to our distribution list or visit my website: Diane Dixon website. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and X.

Thank you Stu News for keeping our local residents informed! I am honored to reach Stu News readers with highlights about my life and times serving you in Sacramento. Until next month – have a great summer!

Diane Dixon is a two-term Newport Beach City Councilmember and two-time Mayor. She is currently serving her first term in Sacramento.

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Fifth “Evening with an Author” at the Susi Q delights a rapt crowd

Photos by Jeff Rovner

Susi Q’s fifth “Evening with an Author,” featuring prolific novelist Michelle Huneven, proved a rousing success. In conversation with Huneven, moderator and Stu News Arts Columnist Marrie Stone teased out some of the darker themes of the author’s latest novel, Search. While the book has its light-hearted side, it’s also a subtle commentary on a wide range of issues, from the body politic to the state of religion in our country today.

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Author Michelle Huneven with moderator and arts columnist Marrie Stone in conversation

Described as a sharp and witty novel of a congregational search committee, told as a memoir with recipes, Search is popular with the book-club set.

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The Susi Q audience is rapt

“Michelle is funny, she’s a little irreverent, and her writings about food make people salivate. Even readers who come from an utterly secular background (as I do) will relate to these characters and enjoy Michelle’s humor,” Stone said.

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Fan Pamela Knudsen gets her book signed by Huneven

That was certainly true of the rapt audience, who enjoyed wine, light appetizers and mingling before the doors opened. They were happy to get their books signed by Huneven.

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(L-R) Susi Q former President Chris Quilter, moderator Marrie Stone, author Michelle Huneven and President of Third Street Writers Amy Dechary

“I’m thrilled with the success of our ‘Evenings with an Author’ these past two years,” said Nadia Babayi, executive director of the Susi Q/Laguna Beach Seniors. “Michelle had many great insights to share. We are so grateful to Marrie for her facilitation of the event. Her questions were perfect. I’m looking forward to our next event with Jonathan Lethem on Monday, Oct. 7.”

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Michelle Huneven answers questions from an engaged audience

For more information about the programs at the Susi Q, visit

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The Plant Man: The benefits of “June Gloom”

By Steve Kawaratani

“A touch of gloom, a sprinkle of tranquility.” –Cherryprincessfairy

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Courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

Steve Kawaratani

June weather in Laguna is commonly overcast due to a weather pattern known as “June Gloom” or the marine layer. By either name, it is a mass of cool, damp air that lingers over the coastal areas of Southern California.

During the late spring and early summer months, the ocean waters off our coast remain cold (in the low 60s), while inland temperatures are hot (Palm Desert reaching 110 F this week). Cool oceanic air is pulled onshore by the temperature difference, creating a layer of low clouds or fog that can persist throughout the morning or even the entire day.

While the overcast weather can hide the sunshine, it also has its benefits. The marine layer helps to moderate temperatures along the coast, keeping us cooler and providing relief from the heat that can be experienced further inland. It also contributes to the unique microclimate found in coastal regions, creating a nourishing clime for a variety of flora and fauna.

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Courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

Black mustard is a bright but invasive visitor to our open spaces

From a gardening perspective, “June Gloom” can have both advantages and challenges. The cooler temperatures are beneficial for many plants, providing relief from excessive heat, mitigating water evaporation and extending the flowering season. However, reduced sunlight during overcast periods may impact the growth and flowering of sun-loving plants and provide an environment for opportunistic diseases.

Norm and I frequently walk the outer edges of Moulton Meadows Park and have observed that Black mustard, Brassica nigra, has acted like a perennial during the past two rainy seasons, which were followed by mild summer temperatures. This invasive, non-native plant can grow up to six feet tall or more in a single season. It produces chemicals that hinder germination of natives and can increase fire frequency in our coastal sage scrub. I guess it’s okay to blame the Spanish missionaries for this one.

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Photo by Catharine Cooper

Sticky monkey flower is blooming well into June due to late spring rains and overcast weather

The Sticky monkey flower, Diplacus aurantiacus, is in full bloom in our open spaces, wilderness parks and along the toll road. Its orange and yellow blooms are said to resemble a monkey’s face; I don’t see it myself. This low-water plant would like a sunny and well-draining location in your garden and will attract hummingbirds and bees.

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Courtesy of Steve Kawaratani

The Cleveland Sage is an important source of nourishment for coastal sage scrub pollinators

The fragrant, gray-green leaves of the Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii, are covered with purple flowers. This native to the coastal sage scrub can fill an entire garden with fragrance on a warm, summer afternoon, and attracts butterflies, bees and moths, as well as hummingbirds, which prefer its tubular flowers. Once established this sage rarely requires supplemental watering.

If you find yourself not enamored with overcast weather, consider the cool and refreshing air compared to the desert. June is a perfect time to take leisurely strolls along the shoreline or enjoy the tranquility of a walk in our wilderness parks. Enjoy the breaks in the clouds and allow the accompanying bursts of sunshine to brighten your day! See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani, a regular columnist with Stu News Laguna, has been a local guy for seven decades and likes to garden and drive the Baja Peninsula with Catharine and Loki. He can be reached at or 949.494.5141.

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TOWNA’s “Meet the Mayor” kicks off annual events on June 9

The Top of the World Neighborhood Association (TOWNA) is hosting a “Meet the Mayor” this Sunday, June 9 at 3:30 p.m. (on Mountain View). All residents are invited to attend this informative social and meet Mayor Sue Kempf. For details, guests may email

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Meet the Mayor Sue Kempf at TOWNA on Sunday, June 9

The association is having a membership drive inviting all families to stay informed, connect, increase safety and collaborate. Annual dues, of $10 per family/household, have not been raised in more than 40 years. According to Vice President Michelle Highberg, “I feel grateful to return to the board I served in the 1990s after purchasing my first real home. Thirty years later, I much better understand the necessity to steward our environment and quality of life in this peaceful place we get to call home.”

The association is hosting its General Meeting on Sunday, July 14 from 4-6 p.m. at Top of the World Elementary School. At this time, citizens will get to meet Laguna Beach City Manager Dave Kiff. On First Fridays starting in July, in Alta Laguna Park, there will be teacher book reading from 3-5 p.m. (weather permitting). And, the Top of the World Neighborhood picnic is set for Saturday, Sept. 29, followed by a Winter Social planned for December 3 at a private residence.

TOWNA operates as an IRS sec 501(c)(4). For questions/volunteer opportunities/be added to the mailing list, email, or subscribe via MailChimp to

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Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award to be presented at Rivian South Coast Theater and curated by MY HERO celebrates World Oceans Day on June 8

The 2024 Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award, sponsored by the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation’s One World One Ocean Campaign, will be presented on June 8 at 6:30 p.m. (World Oceans Day), at the Rivian South Coast Theater. The award comes with cash prizes of up to $2,000. The event, which has been curated by MY HERO, will feature screenings of selected short films, as well as musical guests and speakers.

Admission is free. Reserve your seats by clicking here.

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Photos courtesy of My Hero Project

“If You Give a Beach a Bottle,” directed by Max Romey

The winners of the 2024 Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award have been announced. One of the first-place winners is a short documentary called If You Give a Beach a Bottle, directed by Max Romey. Inspired by a picture book, Romey’s film highlights the issue of ocean debris in Alaska.

During a beach-cleaning trip, he discovered that, even the smallest corner of beach had enough trash to fill a sketchbook. The documentary also addresses the alarming amount of new debris added to the oceans each week and the impact of plastic debris toxins on the food chain.

The winner in the Student Category is Spear. Spatula. Submarine, directed by USC student Shannon Morrall. This short documentary focuses on the efforts of passionate Florida residents who are battling the predatory lionfish, an invasive species that is destroying sea life in their local waters. The film showcases the residents’ struggle and introduces the individuals dedicating their time and resources to combat this issue.

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From “Spear. Spatula. Submarine,” by Shannon Morrall

Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned oceanographer and explorer, is the inspiration behind the Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award. As the president of Mission Blue, she supports the work of conservation NGOs that aim to build public support for ocean protection.

MacGillivray Freeman Films, known for producing IMAX films and earning two Academy Award nominations, sponsors the award through the MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation. The organization is passionate about visual storytelling, innovative cinematography, and the latest advancements in digital technology. One World One Ocean, founded to raise awareness of ocean degradation and inspire action, is involved in choosing the winners of the Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award. Barbara MacGillivray, the director of Partner Outreach for the organization, plays a key role in the selection process.

The MY HERO International Film Festival, which presents the Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award, is part of The MY HERO Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing stories, art, music and short films about everyday heroes worldwide. The organization’s resources are used in classrooms and after-school programs in 197 countries.

Submissions of short films for the 20th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival are currently being accepted until September 1st. Filmmakers of all ages and experience levels are encouraged to apply.

For more information about MY HERO, go to:

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LBOR spreading sunshine crafting summer care packages for senior citizens

As the summer sun casts its warm glow, the Laguna Board of REALTORS® (LBOR) Community Outreach Committee came together to spread joy and care to those who need it most. With an initiative as heartwarming as it is vital, 27 care packages were filled with essentials and treats for senior citizens. These summer care packages are not just a collection of items, as they represent a collective effort to brighten the lives of our beloved elders.

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Photos courtesy of LBOR

Finished summer care packages

Kendall Clark, Berkshire Hathaway, LBOR Community Outreach Committee chair in coordination with Rickie Redman, director, Aging in Place Service at the Susi Q, captured the essence of community which lies in its ability to support and uplift its seniors especially those who might feel isolated or vulnerable. Contributions poured in from members of LBOR to stock the packages, recognizing the need and wanting to give back with what is referred as a “Day of Love.”

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“Day of Love” (L-R) Brendy Michael – Compass, Kendall Clark – Berkshire Hathaway and Cherese Denny – Coldwell Banker Realty

Summer care packages for senior citizens are more than just a collection of practical items, they brought a ray of sunshine as they were delivered to the doorsteps of the residents low-income senior housing. The packages are crafted for those who may need some items to keep them cool through the warm summer months. Each package is carefully curated to cater to both the physical and emotional needs of the recipients. Practical essentials such as non-perishable food items, hydration drinks, reusable straws, lip balm, lotion, cooling towels, a deck of cards and uplifting notes from volunteers were included in the care packages.

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Meritage Vocal Arts Ensemble presents The Vast Eternal Sky on June 8

Prepare to be swept away by an extraordinary concert experience unlike any other as Meritage Vocal Arts Ensemble presents The Vast Eternal Sky featuring music for voices and strings on Saturday, June 8 at 4 p.m. at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. For tickets, click here.

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Courtesy of Meritage Vocal Arts

Meritage Vocal Arts performs on June 8 at Laguna Presbyterian Church

In this groundbreaking concert, Meritage will showcase the extraordinary synergy between chorus and string quartet, a combination that promises to evoke profound emotional resonance. Led by the visionary director, Brian Dehn, the ensemble will traverse a diverse repertoire featuring compositions by esteemed artists such as Eric Whitacre, Elaine Hagenberg, Dan Forrest and more. However, this concert will also highlight the talent of local composers, with the debut of two world premieres, offering a unique and immersive musical experience.

From soaring melodies to intricate and fast-paced compositions, and even pieces featuring up to 12 vocal parts, The Vast Eternal Sky promises to be an exploration of the human spirit. Delving into themes of friendship, nature, love and community, the music selected for this concert is as uplifting as it is inspiring, promising to leave audiences deeply moved and uplifted. The audience will also be delighted by engaging solo performances from a few chorus members to round off the diverse program.

“This concert is a testament to the power of music to touch the soul,” said Artistic Director Brian Dehn. “We are thrilled to present this fusion of voices and strings, inviting our audience on a journey of discovery and emotion.”

Don’t miss your chance to experience the breathtaking harmonies of the 65 voices of the Meritage Vocal Arts Ensemble as they unite with the sublime sounds of a string quartet. Mark your calendars now for an unforgettable evening of musical brilliance.

About Meritage Vocal Arts Ensemble is a renowned choral ensemble noted for excellence in performance of an eclectic repertoire from masterworks to contemporary choral and often features solo performers from among their 65 voices. The ensemble is ably led by Artistic Director Brian Dehn, who has more than 25 years of experience in choral music, conducting ensembles from venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall to the Beijing Central Conservatory to local churches. Dehn displays expertise in a broad spectrum of music from sacred to secular, working with student singers to professionals of renown.

Dehn is pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at Claremont Graduate University. He is an accomplished tenor soloist as well, performing for a variety of professional music ensembles, colleges and churches throughout Southern California.

For more information, visit, or contact Michael Buss, call 714.512.2027 or email

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June setting sun

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Skies cleared for a perfect sunset

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Celebrate KelpFest on World Oceans Day this Saturday

Join the Laguna Ocean Foundation (LOF) this Saturday, June 8 at the Cobblestones of Main Beach for KelpFest from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

This free and family friendly event offers ocean awareness education, arts and crafts, live music from Mana and the Garden Band, and more. Make sure to check out some of their amazing sponsors like Marc & Rose Hospitality, Laguna Beach County Water District, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Crystal Cove Conservancy, Laguna Art Museum and Raw Elements, among others, while you’re there.

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Courtesy of Laguna Ocean Foundation

During a guided tidepool tour, a Laguna Ocean Foundation biologist points out different species found in the tidepools

An onsite tidepooling education at Heisler Park provided by LOF biologists takes place from 9-10 a.m.

The KelpFest will kick off with a special announcement from Assemblymember Diane Dixon, so join in for the welcoming ceremony at 10 a.m.

Continue celebrating with the Rivian South Coast Theater for a special screening for World Oceans Day from 6-9 p.m.

To show your support for KelpFest and LOF, purchase a shirt here.

For more information, go to

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LagunaTunes presents Showtunes! at Artists Theater on June 9

LagunaTunes Community Chorus is preparing for the spring concert, a performance called Showtunes! The program includes songs from favorite Broadway musicals as well as several hits from Hollywood movies. Showtunes! will be performed on Sunday, June 9 at 4 p.m. in the Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School, and admission is free.

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Courtesy of LagunaTunes

LagunaTunes rehearsal led by director Bob Gunn

LagunaTunes singers are backed by a four-piece band in this concert, in addition to director Bob Gunn’s usual energetic keyboard accompaniment. The upbeat program features songs from the 1930s (“Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Over the Rainbow”) to recent productions such as Waitress, Wicked and Mean Girls. In addition to vocal music, Showtunes! includes group dance numbers with characters from Trolls as well as a Grease salute to the fictional Rydell High School Class of 1958.

The chorus is led by Bob Gunn, former long-time director of Orange County’s Men Alive chorus and Laguna’s St. Mary’s choir. LagunaTunes is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides choral singing to everyone (no auditions). Funding is by the FOA Foundation and the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information, go to, or mail  to

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Pageant offering matching campaign for Masters at Giving 

Share the Pageant of the Masters magic and double your impact!

For every $45 Director’s Tier Side Section ticket you purchase for the Pageant of the Masters through their Masters at Giving program, they’ll match your donation. This means your contribution is doubled, spreading twice the joy!

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Courtesy of Festival of Arts Laguna Beach

Share the Pageant of the Masters magic and double your impact

–Enchanting Evening for Local Non-Profit Organizations: Your 100% tax-deductible donation gives military families, veterans, at-risk youth, senior centers, art students, community service organizations and more a chance to experience the magic of the Pageant of the Masters.

–Summer-Long Art Access: Recipients also gain entry to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, enriching their summer with art appreciation.

–Double the Generosity: Your donation goes twice as far, reaching more people in our community.

Join the Pageant to make a bigger impact today. Share the magic of living pictures and art with those who may not otherwise have the opportunity.

To donate now, go here.

The Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. IRS tax ID 95-1964772. Donations are used to support the arts and are tax-deductible.

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Susi Q launches free support group for seniors who have suffered the loss of an adult child

When we hear about the death of a child, we tend to picture miscarriages, sudden infant death syndrome, or car accidents that take the lives of young children. The sheer horror of a child’s premature death is hard to imagine for those of us who are fortunate enough not to have suffered such a terrible loss.

Yet the death of an adult child brings with it a particularly complicated kind of grief for seniors whose lives have been deeply intertwined with those of their sons or daughters, often for decades.

Beginning in June, Susi Q will offer a weekly “Between the Tears” Child Loss Support Group for Seniors, led by facilitator Basia Mosinski, MA. The group is intended to be a safe place to help older adults process the many feelings which accompany the heartbreak of parental bereavement. The group will meet on Thursdays from 1-2:30 p.m. at no cost to participants.

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Courtesy of Susi Q

Basia Mosinski, MA

“While there’s obviously never a good time to lose a child, seniors who have experienced close relationships over the years with their grown-up children are confronted with the loss of long-time shared experiences and a friendship that has evolved over time,” Mosinski noted. “Regardless of the age of the child, it feels unnatural for their death to precede the parent’s death. With seniors, this bereavement can bring up other losses and sometimes leads to isolation as the parent retreats into depression.”

Based on her own experience, Mosinski strongly believes that support groups are important in helping the bereaved find ways to cope – impossible though it might seem at first – often simply by providing a safe space to share stories or shed tears without any pressure to talk.

“I understood this first-hand when I lost my stepson. I saw the upheaval in my family and felt the range of emotions that come with such losses,” Mosinski added. “I decided to walk away from a career in the arts and turn to psychology as a way to understand grieving on a deeper level and to help others going through similar experiences.”

Basia later lost her own son when he was in his 40s.

“Understanding grief processes in some depth didn’t necessarily prepare me. I had to put myself together again piece by piece, like Humpty Dumpty,” she said. “I found that there was so much wisdom to be shared in a group, for example ways to get through anniversaries and holidays.

“Sometimes people feel like they’re literally losing their minds. Every individual deals with grief differently, of course, but being with others who have experienced similar losses can bring some comfort. Learning from parents who have survived the greatest tragedy of their lives, and helping the newest grievers, gives purpose to many of the participants.”

“Between the Tears” will be offered weekly as an open-ended group, with no requirement to commit to a set number of sessions.

“The idea is to offer a place to breathe, not to add stress,” Mosinski noted.

“We’re so pleased that Basia Mosinski agreed to facilitate ‘Between the Tears,’” said Martha Hernandez, director of Care Management at the Susi Q. “She is compassionate, wise and empathetic. Her personal experience with loss provides her with a unique understanding of the challenges parents and grandparents, face in learning to live each day without their child or grandchild.”

For more details, or to join the group, reach out to Susi Q Director of Care Management Martha Hernandez, LCSW at, or call 949.715.8104. The Susi Q Senior Center is located at 380 Third St., Laguna Beach. Parking is free.

Visit to review the many ongoing programs that Susi Q offers, from ukulele lessons, to standing yoga, to bridge and mahjong classes, not to mention support groups and clubs for special interest groups ranging from genealogy to current affairs to books and so much more. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department (now the Dorene Cares Office) provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors, enabling them to stay safe, informed and independent.

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Heisler haircut

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Photo by David Powers

A tree trimming…high above

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