A Little Bit of Chinese Art and Culture in The Westerbeck Hall

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Lilith Garcia in Features

The Red Wall Art Troupe from Beijing Xicheng performed at Pasadena City College in the Westerbeck Recital Hall in Pasadena on September 18, 2015. PCC, the City of Pasadena, the China Sub-Commettee and Pasadena Sister Cities Committee brought a taste of traditional Chinese performance arts to the campus.

“We are extremely enlightened to welcome the Red Wall Troupe from Beijing Xicheng, a Chinese sister city of Pasadena. Tonight we welcome you to Pasadena City College,” said PCC Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien while introducing the performers on Friday Sept. 18.

The Red Wall Art Troupe is a group of Xicheng retirees who love Chinese art and culture. They have been invited for various performances and competitions in the Xicheng district in Beijing. They have also been invited to perform overseas across Europe and Asia and in countries such as Japan and Spain.

“This is a testimony to the on going cultural exchange, cultural tradition, and the value that we place on diversity, not only in the college but in the city,” said Vurdien.

The show was filled with traditional Chinese music, dancing, singing, theater, costumes and makeup. While each performance introduced Chinese culture in different forms, each performance told a story.

One performance centered around a man and woman’s love story. The man is so deeply in love with this woman, as she is with him, but because of their different family backgrounds they cannot be together. They overcame many obstacles and end up getting married.

“It’s like the story of Romeo and Juliet only that at the end it’s a happy ending,” said Huiping Chen.

Although the story is a about a man and woman, the performance was portrayed by two women.

“In the history of China, men did not perform the role of a male character. It has always been a female” said Li Zhang, the woman who played the male role.

Another performance that stood out was a male performer in face masks who dazzled the audience with his speed of changing masks and the trickery to doing it.

While performing, he would dance and come across the stage in fast movements while still being able to see his mask clearly change in an instant. The performer was very interactive with the audience and as he performed he got off the stage and went to President Vurdien and shook his hand while changing masks within seconds.

After, he walked throughout the hall and went up to other members in the audience to do the same. It was a performance that kept the audience mesmerized.

With all the performances by Red Wall Art Troupe bringing diversity to Pasadena City College, the Global Club at PCC took part in this event as well. Gladys Lo, a student at PCC and member of the Global Club, explained what the Global Club was about.

“We try to bring different cultures from different countries, not only from China but from any country,” said Lo.

Beijing Red Wall Art Troupe to Perform in Westerbeck

PCC in the News

News: Beijing Red Wall Art Troupe to Perform in Westerbeck, Sept. 18

Changing faces

Pasadena City College will be hosting the Red Wall Art Troupe, an acclaimed performing arts group from Beijing, on Friday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Westerbeck Recital Hall.

“A Taste of Traditional Chinese Performance Arts” will feature dance, opera, acrobatics, and musical performances from the troupe, which has been touring worldwide since it was founded a decade ago.

6040_Image“This event will showcase traditional Chinese performance arts that have existed for hundreds of years,” said Dr. Cathy Wei, PCC Languages professor. “It’s a wonderful way to bridge the gap between cultures through music, dance and theater.”

Founded in 2005, the Red Wall Art Troupe consists of 14 teams that cover major art categories, including chorus, opera, dance, instrumental music, and painting and calligraphy. Based in the Xicheng District of Beijing, the troupe has participated in cultural exchange activities worldwide, with recent stops in Spain and Japan.

The performance is free and open to the public. A reception will be held after the event, and attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the performers and take photos with them. For more information, please contact Wei at (626) 585-7464 or email cscpscc@gmail.com.

The group’s visit to PCC was made possible through primary sponsorship from the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee. Active co-sponsorships include PCC’s Chinese Language program, International Education Office, PCC Global Club, and the USC-PCC Partnership Grant.

Barbara Hendrick Hayden – Remembered

HAYDEN, Barbara Hendrick

Pasadena civic and community leader Barbara H. Hayden passed away May 23 shortly after celebrating her 101st birthday on Mothers’ Day with family and friends at Villa Gardens Retirement Community.

Mrs. Hayden was the daughter of a pioneering Azusa orange rancher and attended both Occidental College and Stanford University before becoming a high school teacher. Following her marriage to the late Willard Hayden and the birth of three children, she entered a lifetime of volunteer work in Pasadena and beyond. It began with neighborhood activities with the Linda Vistans and a life-long affiliation with the Neighborhood Unitarian-Universalist Church in Pasadena.

After serving two years as president of the Pasadena League of Women Voters, Mrs. Hayden served as the League’s state vice president and as a member of its board of directors. She was a member of the Founders’ Circle for the Pasadena Museum of History, where she also participated as a docent for many years. She and her good friend Jae Carmichael were founding members of the Pacific Asia Museum. With her husband, Mrs. Hayden was an active member of the Pasadena Sister City Program, traveling to cities in Japan, Armenia and Finland on its behalf. She was a lifetime member of P.E.O.

Mrs. Hayden also served on the Los Angeles County Grand Jury and as a member of Pasadena’s Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. Until weeks before her 100th birthday, she volunteered as a tutor at Pasadena’s Jefferson Elementary School.

She is survived by daughters Patricia Weismann of Pasadena, Carol Chell of Gualala and son John Willard (Bill) Hayden of Salem, Oregon; granddaughters Kristin Hayden and Carrie Byun of San Francisco, Robin Bright of Napa, and grandson Alex Hayden of San Juan Capistrano; and great-grandchildren Emily and Tessa Bright, Caroline Hayden, Charles Jimenez; and Dylan Byun.

A celebration of life is scheduled for the Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 20. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that
donations be made to Occidental College or the Neighborhood Church.
Published in Pasadena Star-News from June 6 to June 7, 2015

Exhibit Reception Hails Sister City Delegates

Celebrating their 15-year relationship with sister city in Xicheng District, Beijing in China, Pasadena and the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee will hold a welcome reception from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St.

A small delegation from Xicheng will be welcomed as part of a photo exhibit featuring images of the Beijing city.

Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit is on display in the library’s main lobby through Dec. 7.

The Pasadena Star-News

Pioneering Members to be Honored by Pasadena Sister Cities

The Pasadena Sister Cities Committee will be dedicating an addition to its monument in honor of the pioneering members of the five sister cities with the City of Pasadena on Saturday, March 8, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center.

These members were instrumental in developing the initial relationships and continuing programs with their respective sister cities. Each spent many hours working with local members and, in some cases, traveling to the sister city to strengthen ties with that city’s committee.

The following PSCC members will be honored:

• Willard and Virginia Olwin, Ludwigshafen, Germany, 1948

• Jiro Morita, Mishima, Japan, 1957

• Alvar Lauri Kauti, Järvenpää, Finland, 1983

• Marguerite Hougasian, Vanadzor, Armenia, 1991

• Elmer and Ginger Christensen, Xicheng, Beijing, China, 1999

Mayor Bill Bogaard will address the gathering, and the honorees or family representatives will give a few comments regarding their roles in the building of programs with their respective sister cities and the City of Pasadena.

The Rafu Shimpo

‘Many’ hats

Pasadena Board of Education member and author Elizabeth Pomeroy on politics, publishing and Many Moons Press

By Justin Chapman 12/26/2013

Elizabeth Pomeroy, pose for a picture at her home in Pasadena, Wedensday, January 21, 2009. (photo by James Carbone/PW)

Elizabeth Pomeroy, pose for a picture at her home in Pasadena, Wedensday, January 21, 2009. (photo by James Carbone/PW)

Elizabeth Pomeroy has always been interested in historical literature. As a graduate student at UC Berkeley she wrote a book about Queen Elizabeth I. As a columnist for the Pasadena Star-News she penned weekly treatises on local historical treasures in and around San Gabriel Valley and beyond. So it came as no surprise when she founded Many Moons Press in 2000, which has been a vehicle to publish her own work as well as local authors with books of California history, nature and literature.

She is a woman who wears many hats —indie publisher, city historian, college professor and local politician. She has served as board member of the Pasadena Historical Society, the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, the Sierra Club and the city’s Recreation and Parks and Library commissions. She was reelected earlier this year to her seat on the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education. She also attended events this summer to help celebrate the city of San Marino’s centennial year.

Having read her “Lost and Found” columns for the Star-News, which made up her first book, the San Marino Historical Society enlisted her to write the city’s history. It was released as her latest book, “San Marino: A Centennial History.” After taking two years to finish that project, she is now ready to get back to Many Moons Press.

A new look
“We do have a new project,” Pomeroy said. “Some of what we’ve published has been reprints of wonderful old books that have gone out of print. They all focused on Southern California. What we’re working on now is a new edition of ‘The Southern Sierras of California’ by Charles Francis Saunders. This is a view from the 1920s about our local mountains and what they were like long before the Angeles Crest Highway, when the only way to get up there, to what we now know as Red Box and Chilao and Switzer’s Camp. Right now, those are all along the highway, but they used to be just wild places where people went on foot, horseback, mule, trains and all that.”

The newest addition to the Many Moons family will be released in spring. The original version of “Southern Sierras,” published in 1923, is a hardcover with that centuries-old book feel. Many Moons will be releasing it as a soft cover book with a new cover design by Hortensia Chu, who is giving a uniform look to Many Moons’ books. Chu also designed the micropress’ logo. The cover will be a new painting done by local artist Joseph Stoddard.

So far, Many Moons has published eight books. Pomeroy herself has written six: her doctoral dissertation, which is a literary study; her renaissance literature book about Queen Elizabeth I; a book about the Huntington Library, where she was a reader and worked on the development staff from 1975-85; her newspaper columns as “Lost and Found”; a book about John Muir; and the San Marino centennial book.

She worked at the Huntington at a time when admission was free of charge, which she said was in Mr. Huntington’s will. That was later overturned and now they charge. Even there she employed her love of writing and history.
“Since I was a writer, and writers apply their writing in lots of different ways,” she said, “I wrote a lot of grant proposals and I wrote about the Huntington to persuade people to give grants and support.”

Making connections
Pomeroy was a teacher’s aide at Berkeley and UCLA, and she has taught at middle schools, high schools and universities, but her favorite teaching experience has been at Pasadena City College, where she taught English classes for 10 years.
“I loved doing that,” she said. “There was so much diversity of the students. Many Spanish speaking, many Asian students. I learned from them. Students were engaged and I really enjoyed finding out about their cultures, getting them to write about growing up in China or Mexico or Honduras or wherever it was.”

Her last year at PCC was 2009, before some of the turmoil that has roiled the campus as of late, such as the several votes of no confidence in President Mark Rocha, the hasty cancellation of the popular Winter Intersession and sexual controversies surrounding two professors.

“I wonder if what’s happening at PCC is partly a result of this time of scarcity that we’ve been having,” said Pomeroy. “When there are scarce resources then people get more adversarial and possibly it damages the sense of sharing or collegiality. I am aware that the PCC administration is being pretty receptive now to initiatives from PUSD about building some of these bridges, like our high school and college English and math teachers conferring. What do students need to know before they come to PCC? The president of the college also comes to a lot of our school district activities.”

When she was finishing up at PCC she was recruited by the National Women’s Political Caucus to run for the school board.

“That was the connection right there,” she said. “When I finished with teaching and I had more time, as a teacher at PCC, I could tell that some students came without having done much writing. Even though they had finished high school, their writing was pretty primitive. By being on the school board and getting very familiar with at least our local high schools, I could see some things that could be improved.”

A learning curve
Pomeroy said that the National Women’s Political Caucus, based in Pasadena, was interested in her running for the school board because up to that point there had either been one or no women on the board. Some good friends of hers who are out to get more women into elected office urged her to run.

“I’m not especially a political animal, but I’m very devoted to education, as I’ve either been a teacher or student or both for my whole life,” she said. “It was a learning curve, all the policy matters, the budget, so many state mandates and issues that I had to learn about.”

She joined the board at a time when the political hostility of its members was particularly pronounced. She said that perhaps school boards are especially prone to that type of rancor, even more so than city councils or other bodies. Nonetheless, she remained on good terms with people who otherwise didn’t like each other. She found common ground with each board member on which to maintain working relationships.

“I tried to stay out of the fray,” she said. “And I wouldn’t say ‘above’ the fray because that wasn’t it, but I just tried to stay out of the arguments and work with each person on the things that we cared about.” n

To learn more about Pomeroy’s publishing company, visit manymoonspress.com.

Pasadena Sister Cities Summer Exchange Experience

Pasadena High School

This past summer three of our students Kinsey Burgess and Jillian Stout-Blackman, members of the Class of 2013, and Grace Baghdasarian, Class of 2012 participated in the Pasadena Sister Cities Summer Exchange Program. Kinsey and Jillian went to Ludwigshafen, Germany and Grace went to Vanadzor, Armenia.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the Sister Cities program in 1956 to achieve international peace through a people-to-people concept of twinning U.S. cities with foreign communities all over the globe. His Hope was that through goodwill, understanding, and helping other cultures we would ensure a world of Peace. Presently, 1,060 U.S. cities have Sister City ties with over 1,900 cities in 120 nations. Sister Cities is the largest citizen exchange organization in the world and is head-quartered in Washington DC. SCI is a non-profit, national organization.

This Pasadena Sister Cities Committee is an official committee of the City of Pasadena. Most of the organization’s programs are financed through fund raising efforts of the membership. Such funds are used to help entertain foreign visitors, to arrange cultural exchanges, and most importantly, to benefit the student exchange programs. The volunteer members have helped set a pace for the future by globally linking Pasadena with lasting friendships with our sister cities.

Ludwigshafen became Pasadena’s original sister city through the efforts of the American Friends Service Committee in Pasadena, who wished to provide war relief to Europe after World War II, as had been done after the First World War.Strategically located on the Rhine River, Ludwigshafen was bombed 107 times during World War II. In December 1945 representatives from the American Friends Service Committee from Pasadena arrived in Ludwigshafen to determine what help was most needed. The citizens of Pasadena were quick to respond and for several years packages of blankets, clothing, food, and medicines were sent to Ludwigshafen with the names and addresses of the Pasadenans sending them. Many friendships were formed. When normal times returned, visits of the citizens of both cities began and continue to this day. Today, Ludwigshafen, with a population of 160,000 is one of Germany’s most prosperous industrial cities. Student exhanges occur every summer and both cities sponsor an “intern” program where the students have the opportunity to obtain work experience in a field in which they hope to have careers.

Vanadzor was established as Pasadena’s fourth sister city in 1991. It is located in the northwestern region of the Republic of Armenia, about 80 miles north of the capital city, Yerevan. With a population of about 175,000 it is the third largest city in Armenia. The city was rapidly growing in size before the tragic earthquake in December 1988. Seventy percent of the city’s buildings were either completely destroyed or became uninhabitable. Vanadzor is widely know for its wonderful “Lory” mineral water, clean running springs, green hills, and snow-capped mountains, visible in all directions. The city is now in the process of rebirth and change.

All the students stayed with host families and said that the trip was a very rewarding and memorable experience. Kinsey and Jillian were kept busy during the week working with children through the internship program. They worked in a kindergarten class, a day care and in a summer camp.
At night and on the weekends Kinsey and Jillian spent time with their host families learning about some of the great things that Germany has to offer. Some of the highlights of the trip were going to a EuroCup game, taking a cruise on the Rhein River, visiting the castles, traveling to Munich, trying German foods like Schnitzel and Spaetzle. This summer a daughter of one of the host families will be staying with Jillian’s family.

All three girls had a memorable experience and have made many new friends/family.

Alvar Kauti – Remembered

Alvar Kauti

Alvar Kauti, former Dean of Students at Pasadena City College, passed away at his home in Idyllwild, CA. after a brief illness on August 18, 2013. He was a devoted father, friend, co-worker and coach to many people throughout his journey in life. He is survived by his son, Timothy Kautiainen and his wife, Mary Kautiainen, his daughter, Heidi Shepherd and her husband Roger, and his four grandchildren, Rella and Sierra Kautianen and Court and Kirsten Bishop.
Born to Finnish immigrant parents in Los Angeles, CA., he grew up in the greater LA area and graduated from Rosemead High School. During his high school career, he became interested in football, and continued his education and his football career as a center at both John Muir Junior College and UCSB. Upon graduation, he completed his master’s degree at CSULB and became a health teacher and football coach at Pasadena City College. He remained at Pasadena City College for 38 years in which he served as an associate professor, a football and golf coach as well as Dean of Students at Pasadena City College for eighteen years. In addition, through his vision, the Pasadena City College Flea Market was created to generate scholarships for deserving students.
Although the game of football was always his first love, he also became involved in many philanthropic organizations through the years. He was very involved in the Finlandia Foundation, specifically the Los Angeles Chapter, where he served as Scholarship chairman for many years. He also served in the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, served as former President of the Pasadena Services Federal Credit Union, and many others.
During his career as an educator, he encouraged and
mentored many people who crossed his path. He was respected for his integrity, honesty, patience, and ethical nature. He believed in education and felt it was an avenue for future success regardless of the background of the individual.
He will truly be missed by many. He was loved and cherished by all. His generosity and his passion for life will continue to live in our hearts forever.
After spending most of his life in the Pasadena area, Alvar resided in both Palm Desert and Idyllwild. A celebration of his life will take place on Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 1pm at the Pasadena Museum of History, Giddings Conference Room located at 470 West Walnut Street in Pasadena, CA. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Finlandia Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Published in Pasadena Star-News on Aug. 23, 2013

Record Number of Sister Cities Exchange Students in Pasadena


7:08 pm | July 29, 2013

students called to each other as they left the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee BBQ on Sunday.

This German phrase exchanged between an American and a German meaning “see you tomorrow,” shows these students are taking a step of courage to make friends with people of other cultures and overcome differences at the people to people level.

The Pasadena Sister Cities Committee hosted a BBQ to celebrate the seven students here from the sister cities in Germany, Armenia, Finland, and Japan as well as the three students who recently returned from Germany and Finland through the program.

This was first time to have so many students in Pasadena at the same time as the American students are usually away when the foreign students come here. The BBQ provided a perfect place to share their experiences and stories.

“People to people is different than government to government. That is the idea about Sister Cities, it is that people to people connection that they have because they have been here and that our students have because they have been there,” volunteer Michael Warner said.

The Sister Cities Committee provides a new home in Pasadena each week for the students visiting from Japan, Armenia, Finland, and Germany over the summer so that each family can show what they love about Pasadena. The students stay from two-six weeks.

One couple has been involved for over 25 years. Gary, a 79-year-old who surfs competitively, gives all the students surfing lessons including Alina and Felix who stayed with them in the past two weeks.

‘Felix got up on his first try. We have so much fun with them, we take them places and help them with their homework at night. I love getting to know teenagers and students from another country and their viewpoints on life. They become kind of like our kids,’ Gary’s wife Linda Stellern said.

The Stellern’s were able to go to Germany last summer for a celebration in Ludwigshafen, Pasadena’s sister city. They stayed with the grandparents of one of the students who had stayed with them several years ago.

Jordan Lopez, a second year PCC student who just returned from Germany on July 4, thinks everybody should seek out a program to live with a family from another country. He worked and lived in Germany for six weeks while taking classes and living with a host family.

“I am glad I had the experience to learn what it is like to live as a German. To wake up with the family and be a part of their routine. You wake up in some else’s life for six weeks; it is something that is unbelievable,” Lopez said.

When he was in Germany his family took him to see the Hockenheimring, a racetrack for normal cars. He had never seen anything like it and loved that he could see something he was passionate about. Lopez felt he learned so much about the culture and that his German really excelled.

“The experience was great, the work was great, but it was the people you meet that really make the experience,” Lopez said.

Veronica Glavez, second year PCC student, also loved her experience in Germany, especially the history, castles, and the food.

“The food was great. I learned how to make frigadellas and how to make saurkraut. One of my favorite meals was the potato and noodle soup. One of my families gave me a German cookbook,” said

Michelle Tanner who is a senior at UC Berkeley had just returned from Finland the day before, on Saturday July 27. Her first experience abroad opened her eyes to the wonders of the world and now she hopes to study abroad during her last year of college.

“They made sure I was able to visit all the great places, eat all of the great food and have a very traditional Finish experience with a Finish family. It is something that you do not get when you are a tourist because when you are visiting you are only getting the surface level experience,” Tanner said.

Volunteering with the Sister Cities Committee since 1981, Michael Warner currently serves as the Chair of the German subcommittee. He takes care of placing the students in homes and registering them for classes at PCC. He also helps with the Pasadena students who go abroad.

“I feel that they get something out of it, it is an experience for them that I did not have when I was a kid, my German experience was compliments of the military, but I was still grateful for it,” Warner said.

Warner referenced the visit of the Vice Premier of China last year to Washington D.C. One thing the Vice Premier wanted to do was to visit his host family in Ohio that he had stayed with when he an exchange student.

“My point on that is that because he had that experience and because he is eventually most likely going to be a high political figure in China, that gives him a much different perspective than if he did not have that experience,” Warner said. “He would not know that face to face we are the same type of people. The fact that we wanted to see his host family shows that it meant something to him.”

The idea for the Sister Cities came from Dwight Eisenhower who wanted to improve relations with Germany and Japan after WWII. He thought that if people could make friends with people across the seas it would be harder to want to go to war because of that personal tie.

Even today those ties are important because the people who come to Pasadena may become strong leaders and have a better view of the U.S. as they make decisions.

“Regardless of who these kids are, they will now have a different perspective on their future,” Warner said.

The opportunity to visit one of the sister cities is available to all high school and college students age 17-24 who are residents of Pasadena or attend school in Pasadena.

Xicheng District Sister Cities Conference – Committed to Sustainability Beijing

On June 21, 2010, Mayor Bogaard kicked off a planning and economic development seminar in Xicheng District, Beijing, a Sister City since October, 1999, with the following report on the City’s “Green City Action Plan”. Others from the City made panel presentations on volunteerism, planning and development programs, public information practices, and the Sister Cities program. The visit was organized by the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee for interested persons who themselves paid the travel expenses.


To our hosts here in Xicheng District and to all who are here: I bring greetings from the City of Pasadena.

I would like to ask all of the members of the Pasadena delegation to stand and to join with me in extending cordial greetings to our friends in Xicheng District.

It is an honor to provide information about the City of Pasadena and its “Green City Action Plan”. This plan, adopted in 2006, is built upon the framework of the 2005 United Nations Urban Environmental Accords—and is intended to guide the City’s procedures, practices and operations in the direction of sustainability.

The City of Pasadena

Pasadena is located in southern California, on the west coast of the United States of America, and it was incorporated as a city in 1886, not long after the founding of the City of Los Angeles. By comparison, the City of San Francisco was founded in 1856, soon after the famous discovery of gold in northern California. It is fair to say that throughout its history, California has been viewed as a land of golden opportunity, and Pasadena has benefited from that reputation and from strong leaders at the beginning of its history.

For example, soon after the City’s incorporation, a school was established for teaching engineering and that school grew and developed into what is now the world famous California Institute of Technology. In the 1920s, the City Hall was completed as well as the Public Library and the Civic Auditorium. These buildings are all in excellent condition today and are used for the same important purposes for which they were first constructed nearly 100 years ago.

Pasadena’s population is about 145,000 people. Based on the population count in 2000, Pasadena has approximately 35% persons of Hispanic and Latino origin; 12% persons of African origin; 10% persons of Asian background; and the balance are Caucasians. The latter group has its history and heritage primarily in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. For example, Pasadena has a population of Armenian Americans of about 10,000 persons, and has a small but closely knit community of Muslims, who contribute significantly to the community.

The growth of Pasadena’s population has been moderate, moving from about 130,000 in 1980 to about 145,000 persons at present.

Pasadena enjoys a strong local economy, elegant neighborhoods of single-family homes and many trees, many historic landmarks, such as the Rose Bowl, the Colorado Street Bridge and the famous Civic Center, and schools, colleges, museums and art galleries, as well as theaters and symphonies and orchestras. The City is known as a center for business, employment, professional services of all kinds, arts and culture, and education. It serves a region surrounding the City with total population of approximately 800,000 people. Employment is available in Pasadena to approximately 110,000 persons.

Pasadena’s budget is in excess of $700 million per year, including the operations of an electric utility, a water utility and a convention center that draws a large number of meetings, conventions and visitors to the City. The principal sources of revenue, in addition to charges for electricity and water and fees for City services, are sales taxes, real property taxes, and taxes imposed on the use of utilities such as gas, telephones, water, and electricity.

I took office as Mayor in 1999 following a spirited election in which there were 10 candidates. My duties include conducting public weekly meetings of the City Council. During these meetings, I deliberate with seven elected Councilmembers as we address the many challenging issues facing Pasadena. We also hear testimony from concerned citizens. Our job is to consider legislative options to promote the public good and to pass laws and regulations that help our community to grow and thrive.

A Commitment for Sustainability

All of us are aware of the environmental challenges posed by cities: speaking globally, cities and the urban regions surrounding them occupy only about 3% of the earth’s surface, but their residents consume more than 75% of the world’s natural resources. In the United States, over-reliance on the automobile has contributed to urban sprawl, pollution and traffic congestion.

The issues to be addressed in the movement to sustainability include sufficient energy to meet the needs of a growing and active world; obtaining energy from domestic sources within the United States to reduce reliance on foreign countries; reducing the so-called “carbon footprint” which contributes to climate change; and, of course, environmental stewardship so that the natural resources of the world continue to be available to serve succeeding generations.

In the overall, we are talking about quality of life for the current population and for future generations as well. The challenge is to expand transportation options, to improve air quality and to make the use of land more efficient.

The problem of sustainability is at the same time local and global. In 2006, Pasadena decided to make a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, recognizing that it is necessary to start this effort on a local level even though the problem can be solved only if communities and countries around the world make similar commitments.

When Pasadena took this action, it became the 200th city in the United States to adopt a “Green City Action Plan”; at this point in time, the total number of American cities involved is over 1000.

California Global Warming Law

The Pasadena plan was adopted in the same year that California became the first state in our country to adopt legislation designed to reduce global warming and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

This state legislation represents the most far-reaching regulatory initiative ever attempted in California history. Under the law, the state’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, must drop 15% by the year 2020 and much more than that over the years. The greenhouse emissions in 2020 would be equal, and not exceed, greenhouse gas emissions that existed in the year 1990.

New California regulations require using solar, wind and other renewable power; cutting carbon intensity of gasoline; promoting electric cars; encouraging urban development within existing centers instead of expanding urban living into open space and mountains; and imposing energy saving measures in home building, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

The Green City Action Plan

Turning to our Green City Action Plan, the purpose of the plan is to create Pasadena as a “sustainable city”. Sustainable cities are designed to preserve natural resources and enhance the quality of life by, among other things, encouraging transit, cycling and walking. In broad terms, this is accomplished through a mix of land uses, compact building design, walkable neighborhoods, preserving and expanding open space and parks, and providing a range of transportation and housing choices.

Our Plan covers seven areas of City activities and imposes requirements for reduced use of natural resources, increased energy efficiency, and the development of renewable energy sources. The areas covered by the Plan are: waste reduction and recycling; protecting and increasing trees; conserving water; establishing public transportation such as buses and trains as an alternative to using automobiles; using “green” materials in building construction and new designs for greater efficiency; eliminating toxics; and improving air quality.

The plan is intended to be implemented over 10 years, with progress being verified each year. Copies of the report about Pasadena’s work under this plan for 2010 are available to those who are interested, and the information is also available on the internet at http://cityofpasadena.net/GreenCity/.

The Current Situation

A few weeks ago, I attended a celebration of Earth Day in Pasadena, which marked the 40th year of rallies, meetings and presentations to promote sustainability. On the first Earth Day, millions of environmental activists gathered on college campuses and in major cities holding rallies, that helped galvanize actions of an historic scale—including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

At that time, 1970, the challenge of environmental pollution was obvious, because one could see it, smell it and taste it. The air and many rivers were polluted and waste from a style of active living was all too evident. Today, the issues are more subtle and more difficult to address, because they pertain to trends that are global in scale. They are things like climate change and ocean acidification.

The political climate has changed as well, with a battered economy making it harder to build support for policies that could raise prices, cost jobs or slow economic growth. These issues—global warming, ocean pollution, carbon-based energy systems—are more obtuse and remote.

It is interesting that the political discussion today about global warming, recognizing the difficult economic climate, is not based on environmental protection and public health, but on job creation and national security. But regardless of how the issues are publicly debated, I believe the world now understands that global warming is a serious threat to our quality of life and the well being of future generations, and am confident that efforts will continue to address the challenge of sustainability from this point on in history.


In closing, I thank you for this opportunity. Pasadena is committed to being a sustainable city, and I know that there is much to learn about how to accomplish this goal. I hope there will be future opportunities for us in Pasadena to confer with our friends in Xicheng District on the question of sustainability and many other issues facing our community.