Wednesday, March 19, 2008


(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Larry Adleman and Llew Smith are what some would call “A scientist’s nightmare”, which is someone proving them they’re wrong. These two men are film-makers of the PBS Series Unnatural Causes which discusses issues like “Is inequality making us sick?”. On Thursday, March 20th, from noon to 1:00pm, community leaders, business leaders, and media will gather at the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library for the video launch of their highly anticipated four part series presented by the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County.

The series itself is scheduled to air on Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET four consecutive Sundays beginning April 6. Times are 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 6, 13 and 2, and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 20.

San Bernardino PBS affiliate KVCR has tentatively scheduled the series to begin July 8, and air at 9 p.m. July 8, July 15, July 22 and July 29.

What inspired UNNATURAL CAUSES? Where did the process begin and where did it take you?

Larry Adelman: The seed was planted several years ago when we were making RACE - The Power of an Illusion, a series that explored popular myths and misconceptions about race. We found out that African Americans have one of the highest hypertension rates in the world. The knee-jerk hypothesis among some scientists was that this had something to do with genes, but that idea was exploded by research showing that West Africans (whose ancestors are shared by many African Americans) enjoy one of the lowest hypertension rates in the world. Instead of some mythical genetic variant, the real culprit behind these high blood pressure rates is more likely rooted in the stresses of everyday life particular to the African American experience, i.e., racism. That’s when we first realized how the “outside” – our social and economic environment – could get under our skin and disrupt our biology as surely as germs and viruses.

As the RACE series screened around the country, folks brought to our attention literally hundreds of studies and journal articles describing the many pathways by which class and racism influence health outcomes as surely as diet, smoking and exercise do. And we learned that it isn’t just African Americans or the poor leading sicker, shorter lives because of inequality, but white, middle class Americans, too.

Llew Smith: This series led us to go further than exploding myths. The journey of UNNATURAL CAUSES took us to deconstructing our very ideas about health in society. Many believe that being healthy is as simple as making smart choices: exercising, eating well, taking a vacation every so often to reduce stress, having networks to support us and so on. But behaviors explain only part of the story. When we look at populations and entire communities, you begin to see that there are larger forces at work beyond what an individual can control. That led us to the growing research focused on “social determinants of health” and “health equity.”

One of the most exciting things about making this series has been bringing the data to life through the health experiences of real people and real communities. The stories and individuals our producers have captured on camera are just stunning, remarkable, moving. It’s a much more emotional series than I thought we’d create. While the science is the critical underpinning, UNNATURAL CAUSES is at its core a collection of powerful stories about people and communities struggling to better their health.

Share the meaning of UNNATURAL CAUSES as a title.

LA: We must have argued over a dozen titles before Jean Cheng, our series Website producer, suggested UNNATURAL CAUSES. It fit perfectly. As Nancy Krieger, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, cautions in our film, “It’s not as if we won’t die. We all die. The question is: at what age? With what degree of suffering? With what degree of preventable illness?”

We understand that all our organs eventually wear out. That’s natural. But what’s unnatural? If your heart wears out faster because you work two jobs that don’t pay enough to survive and you always have to worry about being let go; if your kid has asthma because we’ve allowed oil refineries to pollute the air and not forced landlords to keep their premises free of cockroaches and mold; if you get fat because you spend two hours commuting, there are no grocery stores nearby and the easiest meal is fast food; if your blood pressure is high because you don’t feel safe in your neighborhood and are worried about what might happen to your kids but can’t afford to move...none of those are natural causes.

LS: For me, the title underscores an essential theme that runs throughout the entire four hours of the series: that the profound inequalities in health all around us – if we just stop and look – are not accidental or inevitable. As one of our series’ experts David Williams says, “These are not acts of God, and they don’t happen by chance.” They result largely from policy decisions we’ve made, and we can certainly unmake them if we had the political will.

The title also suggests a crime scene-type investigation. That’s what our series does, in an interesting way. It’s an inquiry into the reasons why some neighborhoods have better overall health than others; why some populations live longer than others. For most people, the first solution that comes to mind is better access to health care. This is addressed in the first few minutes of the opening episode, entitled “In Sickness and In Wealth.” The program makes clear that while access to health care is absolutely critical – and it’s shocking that we’re the only industrialized nation without universal health care – the lack of health care in and of itself is not the cause of illness and disease. The answers lie in other factors in society.

Who are your partners and supporters of this project?

LA: What makes this work exciting to us – and more expansive than content confined
to a television screen - is its value to those already working to improve Americans’ health. The series taps into a vibrant movement of public health advocates, community activists and policy experts who are not only spotlighting the root causes of our health inequities but also advancing solutions. This project is truly collaborative. It did not begin with the production nor will it end with the broadcast. Relationships with key partners were built before the first treatment was even written. The series, a public engagement campaign and accompanying tools have been developed in tandem with health equity initiatives led by the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Praxis Project, PolicyLink, the Prevention Institute and others. Joined by other partners across the country, they will utilize the series and companion tools to reframe the public debate over what we as a nation can and should do to tackle health inequities.

LS: The ultimate value of the series will be determined by how effectively it helps the several hundred partners using it. Our media partnerships are also important because they not only embraced the highest standards of filmmaking and programming excellence, but they brought to the table the racial and ethnic diversity that is a cornerstone of our message. Thanks to the National Minority Consortia of public television, the series was shot with a unique team of Native American, African American, white, Asian American, Pacific Islander and Latino producers.

How have viewers reacted to work-in-progress cuts of the documentary?
How have people reacted to the overall message of the film series?

LA: We screened work-in-progress clips at dozens of meetings and conferences and got invaluable feedback. Reactions fell into three categories: gratification, surprise and sometimes anger. When presenting to the public health community, we usually get a sigh of relief and “Thank goodness. It’s about time!” Public health advocates have applauded our team for helping take this critical issue into a broader “public” space. They know the data, supported by mountains of evidence, so they are heartened that the film helps to advance the social determinants message as it tells human stories. Like them, we question the individual, bio-medical model. Why, for example, are poor smokers more likely to get cancer than wealthy smokers? Why is our health status often determined by where we live, work and play or the color of our skin?

LS: Another set of audiences – perhaps more emblematic of the general public - finds the revelations in the series eye-opening and stunning. They come away with a new grasp of how society matters for health. We’ve been conditioned to believe that if we’re sick it’s because we’ve made unhealthy choices or have “bad” genes, that an ailing soul can pop a magic pill, or that if we just eat right, exercise and quit smoking, all our health problems will evaporate. The reality – that class and race-based inequality affects your health - is hard to wrap your mind around. But it all comes together for viewers in the four hours and seven segments that make up UNNATURAL CAUSES.

Isn’t this mostly a problem of the poor and some people of color? Why should
the rest of us care?

LA: Apart from common decency, there are very practical reasons why we should all care about health inequities. Believe it or not, almost all of us are affected. First, there is a continuous wealth gradient, or pyramid, with health tracking wealth from top to bottom. Those at the top hold the most power and resources and, on average, live longer, healthier lives. The rest of us do worse – some even much worse. But it’s not just the poor who are sick and dying. Those in the middle are still almost twice as likely to die an early death as those at the top. But the real question is, should how much money we have determine how long we live or who gets sick and who doesn’t?

LS: Also, business is losing more than $1 trillion a year in productivity due to chronic illness, and our medical care system is stretched to the breaking point by a sick population and becoming increasingly unaffordable. We’re all paying the price, whether we realize it or not. Health inequities are not about them. It is very much an “us” issue.

How does the research you present in the film series differ from that of previous films?

LA: UNNATURAL CAUSES breaks new ground by sifting through a wide body of existing research on the sources of our socioeconomic and racial inequities in health and putting it on television for the first time. Michael Moore’s Sicko was about our health care system.

UNNATURAL CAUSES looks at what’s making us sick in the first place. Health care is what Robert Evans called “our repair shop,” where we take our bodies when they break down. But what’s wearing down our engines in the first place? And why is that wear and tear so differentially distributed by race and by class? That’s what this film explores. We’ve just scratched the surface. There are many opportunities for investigative, feature and local news reporting, not just coverage by health writers or television critics.

Expound on the phrase repeatedly heard in the series: “Social policy is health policy.”

LA: Americans’ life expectancy increased 30 years over the 20th century. That wasn’t just because of new drugs and medical technology. Arguably, much of that improvement can be attributed to social reforms that raised the standard of living for most everyone. The eight-hour work day, universal schooling, Social Security, collective bargaining rights, building codes, pollution laws, corporate regulation, and civil rights legislation – these all improved living conditions and thus the health status of millions of Americans. Travel overseas to Europe where health and life expectancy are considerably higher than ours, and you also see the links between national social policies and government expenditures. Free universal child care, quality schools, paid parental leave, paid vacation and, of course, guaranteed health care – these things powerfully enhance health for individuals, families and communities. Sweden has a child poverty of 4.2 percent. Ours is 22 percent – more than 5 times higher. But the social spending is reversed: Sweden allocates 18 percent of its GDP to social programs; the U.S. less than 4 percent. Should we be surprised that Swedes live on average four years longer than Americans?

LS: I can answer that question by revisiting our series title. Class and racial inequities and the health disparities they spawn are not “natural.” They are the products of public policies that transfer wealth and power to corporations and the rich. We don’t have to opt for the status quo. Our health outcomes are patterned so unequally because of decisions we as a society have made. We can make a difference if we choose. Besides income, there are all sorts of health benefits — and health threats — that are distributed unequally, ranging from good schools to access to nutritious and affordable food to racial opportunity. Building a more just and equitable society that works for everyone is not simply a PC (politically correct) ideal. It has life and death consequences.

You’ve laid out the problem and challenges. What about solutions?

LA: By demonstrating how inequality and racism are not abstract concepts but hospitalize and kill even more people than cigarettes, UNNATURAL CAUSES hopes to build support for the best medicine of all: economic equality, racial justice and caring communities. There’s a lot we can do. As sociologist David Williams points out in the show , improving equality of opportunity, increasing wages, investing in our schools, reversing regressive tax policies, improving housing, integrating neighborhoods, opening up labor markets and giving people more control over their jobs – these are all public health strategies.

How do you want this film series to be used?

LS: Well, first we want to inject these ideas about health equity into a larger public dialogue, something even the researchers and epidemiologists admit they haven’t been able to do effectively. Michael Moore’s film Sicko vividly depicts one critical dimension of our national health crisis — yes, we should all have good health care, but the question remains: Why are whole populations and communities in such dire need of health care much more often than others? What is creating illness in some communities and healthy living in others? So, at a time when the country is discussing health care solutions, we also need to be discussing these other social and economic factors that have powerful consequences for health.

Second, we hope the series will help change the way we think about health, by making these ideas and research accessible to ordinary viewers, community activists, legislators, policy makers as well as public health teachers and administrators. Very little of this data on the social determinants of health has been presented in ways that are accessible to the general public. Month after month it’s published in peer-reviewed journals that most of us have never heard of and will never see. So our series is breaking new ground, not because we’ve done original research, but because we’ve taken the research and shown how these concepts play out in stories from the lives of real people around the country. For me, that’s the real excitement and power of UNNATURAL CAUSES.


(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) What are the connections between healthy bodies and healthy bank accounts? Is lack of insurance the cause of minority’s poor health“ Our results dramatically dispel the rumor that Blacks die 13 years younger than Whites in San Bernardino County because they don’t have insurance, don’t see the doctor and don’t care about their health,” said V. Diane Woods, Dr.P.H. health planning project coordinator for the African-American Health Initiative (AAHI).

The PBS series Unnatural Causes travels to Louisville, Kentucky, not to explore whether health care cures us but to see why we get sick in the first place. The lives of a CEO, a lab supervisor, a janitor and an unemployed mother illustrate how social class shapes access to power, resources and opportunity. The net effect is a health-wealth gradient.

Louisville Metro Public Health Department data maps reveal 5- and 10-year gaps in life expectancy between the city’s rich, middle- and working-class neighborhoods. Experiments with monkeys and humans shed light on chronic stress as one culprit. We also see how racial inequality imposes an additional burden on people of color. Solutions being pursued in Louisville and elsewhere focus not on more pills but on better social policies and more equality. Referring to reasons that Blacks die younger than Whites, Dr. V. Diane Woods says, “People are looking for a silver bullet to kill the monster, but there is no one single answer to solve the problem. There are many different solutions we have to use,”

Thursday, March 20th from noon to 1:00pm, the Norman F. Feldhrym Central Library will be filled with everyone from community leaders to media for the video launch of the controversial series Unnatural Causes. The series preview presented by the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County will tackle this issue and the like in a four-part PBS series


• Adewale Troutman, MD, director, Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness.

• Jim Taylor, father, grandfather and CEO of a large Louisville hospital.

• Tondra Young, African American medical technician and supervisor of a hospital blood lab; a homeowner burdened with college debt.

• Corey Anderson, hospital janitor with hyper-tension and little control in his work life; a renter in a neighborhood plagued by violent crime.

• Class and racism affect U.S. health outcomes in overlapping ways. See Reaching
for a Healthier Life: Facts on Socioeconomic Status and Health in the U.S., a
2007 report of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research
Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health (available at

• For the physiology of chronic stress, see the MacArthur Research Network on SES and Health Web site summary “Allostatic Load and Allostasis,” at

• On growing economic inequality in the U.S.: Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein,
Sylvia Allegretto (2007). The State of Working America 2006/2007.
Cornell University Press and Economic Policy Institute.

The first episode “In Sickness and in Wealth” airs Thursday, March 27, 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).


(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) A ground-breaking new documentary series criss-crosses the country exploring how the social conditions in which Americans are born, live and work profoundly affect health and longevity, even more than medical care, behaviors and genes. This four-hour television and DVD series challenges fundamental beliefs about what makes Americans healthy - or sick - and offers new remedies for an ailing society.

The African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County presents a preview of the highly anticipated PBS series, Unnatural Causes, to community leaders, business leaders and media at the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library on Thursday, March 20th, from noon to 1:00pm.

UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? coincides with the intensifying
presidential election year debates focusing on the estimated 47 million Americans
lacking health coverage. While embracing the essential need for universal health care, UNNATURAL CAUSES goes further, questioning what makes people ill in the first place, and probing why economic status, race and zip code are more powerful predictors of health status and life expectancy than even smoking.

Experts and public health professionals have long emphasized that because these conditions are distributed unequally, so are patterns of chronic disease: e.g., heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, even cancer. Each episode sheds light on the mounting evidence that work, wealth, neighborhood conditions and lack of access to power and resources can get under the skin and disrupt human biology as surely as germs and viruses.

UNNATURAL CAUSES raises unsettling questions with far-reaching political and social

• Why does the most powerful nation on the planet have worse health outcomes than dozens of other countries, despite spending, on average, more than twice what they spend per person on medical care? Even Jordanians now live longer than Americans, while Portugal, Korea and Slovenia all have better infant mortality outcomes.

• Why do recent Latino immigrants, though typically poorer, enjoy better health than the average American when they arrive in the United States, yet suffer a rapid decline the longer they are here?

• Why are some African American and Native American populations less likely to reach age 65 than people from Bangladesh or Ghana?

The series reveals a continuous health gradient tied to wealth. At each step down the socioeconomic ladder — from the rich to the middle class to the poor — people tend to be sicker and die sooner. The least affluent die, on average, six and a half years earlier than the rich. But even middle-income people die more than two years sooner than those at the top. Poorer smokers face higher mortality risks than rich smokers.

Research also suggests that racial discrimination imposes an additional health burden. For many diseases, African Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders – at all income levels - fare worse on average than their white counterparts.

Seven production teams weave together the human dimension with the scientific data by capturing stories on the ground:

• In Louisville, Kentucky, the forces driving the wealth-health gradient are evident in the different constraints and stresses faced daily by a CEO, a mid-level manager, a service worker and an unemployed mother of three.

• For a Laotian heart attack survivor in Richmond, California, residing in a neighborhood deprived of supermarkets, safe streets, well-resourced schools, reliable transportation and decent housing exacts a terrible toll on the wellbeing of his entire family.

• The O’odham Indians of southern Arizona suffer one of the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes in the world. Their best prognosis lies not in genetic discoveries or better drugs, but in regaining hope and control over their future.

• In western Michigan a factory moves to Mexico for cheaper labor, undercutting the lives — and health — of a white, working class community. In Sweden, where the parent company is based, a similar plant closure has a very different impact on workers because of protective government policies.

In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the “mushroom capital of the world,” Mexican immigrants arrive healthier than native-born Americans but discover that the longer they are here, the harder it is to maintain their health.

• In Atlanta, Georgia, an African American lawyer delivers a premature baby despite making healthy choices and having the advantages of social status - like so many other middle- and upper-income Black women. Researchers wonder if the cumulative wear and tear of a lifetime of racial discrimination imposes an added health risk during pregnancy and beyond.

• In the Marshall Islands, local populations – displaced from their traditional way of life by the American military presence in the Pacific – must contend with the worst of both the “developing” and industrialized worlds: infectious diseases such as tuberculosis running rampant due to poor sanitation, crowded living conditions and extreme poverty and high rates of chronic disease stemming in part from the stress of dislocation and loss.

UNNATURAL CAUSES challenges the conventional approach to prevention, which has mostly been limited to encouraging healthy behaviors. But much of what can improve health lies outside an individual’s control: better land use, transportation and business investment; ensuring that every neighborhood has access to supermarkets and healthy foods – not just fast food, liquor joints and
convenience stores; creating safe streets and green space so people can walk, jog, bike and play; investing in our schools; guaranteeing paid vacations, paid family leave, and living wage jobs with career ladders.

In the past, societal changes have loosened the “wealth-health” linkage and improved health status overall. Researchers attribute the 30-year increase in U.S. life expectancy over the 20th century not merely to new drugs and medical technologies, but to social reforms such as the eight-hour workday, child labor laws, universal high school, civil rights laws, a progressive income tax, Social Security and the right to form unions that ensured that benefits from economic growth were shared more widely.

UNNATURAL CAUSES makes the case that – despite past gains - America has been moving in the wrong direction in more recent years. Today, the top one percent of the population holds as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Approximately 22 percent of America's children live in poverty. As inequality grows, the U.S. life expectancy ranking continues to drop – down from the top five in the 1950s, and now lower than even a few years ago as more countries surpass the U.S. with better health.

Renowned health experts contend that Americans not only need universal health care to treat illness, but also better and more equitable social and economic policies that can protect and promote health in the first place. Social policy, they say, is health policy.

UNNATURAL CAUSES, in the final stages of editing, is already generating significant interest and engagement. Public health departments and more than 100 other outreach partners are organizing screenings, town meetings and policy forums around the country over the next year. Interactivities, video clips, lesson plans and other resources including an events calendar, can be found on the series companion Web site at

UNNATURAL CAUSES was produced by the San Francisco-based film production and distribution center California Newsreel, in partnership with Vital Pictures of Boston. It is being presented on PBS by the National Minority Consortia of public television. California Newsreel is the nation’s oldest nonprofit documentary production and distribution center, dedicated to disseminating social interest films and videos. Vital Pictures is a documentary company dedicated to social justice issues. The series has received major funding from the Ford Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the California Endowment, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute, Kaiser Permanente and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Larry Adelman is creator and executive producer; Llewellyn M. Smith is co-executive producer and Christine Herbes-Sommers is series senior producer. Strategic public engagement partners include the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Opportunity Agenda and the Praxis Project.

Produced by California Newsreel in association with Vital Pictures, Inc.
Presented by the National Minority Consortia of public television and
Public Engagement Campaign in association with the Joint Center Health Policy Institute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008



Who: The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire Interior Design program.

What: Presentation of student designed ready-to-build shelters for the homeless or Emergency Service workers such as fire, flood or emergency rescue.

When: Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. in front of the main entrance.

Where: 630 East Brier Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92408 – The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire campus.

Why: To offer environmentally friendly low cost alternative solutions for emergency and temporary housing.

Visuals: Full version of four (4) different shelters will be displayed at the event. One is available above.

Contact: Carl Dameron @ (909) 534-9500 or John Barry at (909) 915-2185.

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of the Art Institutes ( with 40 educational institutions throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals.



(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) When you can save decade-long addicted pregnant women to the point where 100% of their newborns are drug free and at normal weight, you’ve done something amazing. But when you’re doing it all with almost no funds, your backs are against the wall.

Miracles In Recovery, a non profit group providing a wide range of substance abuse and recovery services in San Bernardino County, “treats all individuals with dignity and respect,” say leaders. And their mission statement spells out the organization’s philosophy perfectly: “Every life is a miracle; our objective is to restore and rebuild lives.”

But, how do you really know if you’ve been successful or not? That’s where Dr. Michael J. Van Ness enters the picture. The MIR program evaluator, with grant support from the California Endowment, surveyed the detailed results of MIR’s unique one-year-old Save The Babies program.

“The research backing,” he says, “was called a Capacity Expansion Grant. You know, you may think you’re doing right, but you really need an objective view to be sure.”

With that goal in mid, Van Ness conducted an extensive six-month research effort of all the women in a four-month Save The Babies program.

“The results were astounding,” Van Ness states. “Our program graduates were drug-free at the time of childbirth, and had been drug-free for weeks or months previously. And a follow up interview with each one showed that after six months, nearly all mothers continued to maintain drug-free lifestyles.” And when one considers, as Van Ness’ report shows, the local drug of choice is the highly addictive methamphetamine, that’s an overwhelming statistic, he says.

In his “Process Evaluation Report” Van Ness writes that the graduating women were asked if they would recommend the Save The Babies program to others, and none said No. “The program was a lifesaver,” says one graduating mother who had spent nearly a decade enmeshed in the sewer of drugs. “My baby and I can now live normal lives.”

“The Good News,” he says, “is in the results. The Bad News, though, is this is still a financial struggle. Remember, this is an intense four-month program, open 24/7, with a dozen women even in residence at MIR. Simply put, it’s expensive. Recently, the Save The Babies effort has been losing more than $5,000 a month.”

The major funding is from Drug Medi-Cal, though it only reimburses treatment costs for approved clients at $96.00 per day.

Despite the stiff financial loss, the report states, “For the community it serves, it is likely the program is cost-effective. Many studies have demonstrated that the costs to society of an alcohol- or drug-exposed baby are enormous, perhaps in the order of $100,000 for each case.”

Van Ness’ report indicates that the Save The Babies program is reaching the right clients and providing the right services to accomplish its major goals: “helping high-risk women to achieve and maintain recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, and deliver babies born healthy and drug free.” Notes Beverly Smith, Miracles In Recovery’s co-founder and Director of the Save The Babies effort, “Yes, ours is a financial struggle, but the results for the mothers and their babies are there. The proof is in Dr. Van Ness’ reports.”

The reports, while praising the program’s objectives and its satisfying results, ends on a depressing note: “The financial picture for Save The Babies, however, is not encouraging … The San Bernardino community is at risk of losing a valuable resource unless additional funding is obtained for this program.”

Miracles In Recovery is at 1010 North D Street in San Bernardino, and may be reached at (909) 381-3974. Save The Babies, 2316 Valencia Avenue in San Bernardino, is (909)881-3555; the Program Coordinator is Patricia Fulgham.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Art Institute of California Student David Dresner, left, of Redlands, won Best of Show for Web Design at the 2008 Inland Empire ADDY awards' student competition. Fellow students Rachel Makowski from Hesperia and Niklas Meijer from Riverside captured gold awards for graphic design. Photo by Robert Swapp.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Six students from the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire were among the gold and silver winners of the 2008 ADDY awards.

These students and other winners received their awards at an Inland Empire Ad Club banquet held Friday, March 14 at the Riverside Mission Inn. The awards recognize creative excellence in advertising.

They are now eligible to move on to a district-level competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, of which IE AD Club is a member. Winners of the district event move on to a national competition.

Local winners from the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire are from both the Graphic Design and Web Design & Interactive Media departments. Although there were winners from other schools, the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire students dominated the competition, taking Best of Show, three of the four gold awards, and nine of the ten silver awards.

Gold winners received trophies, and their creative work will be included in the Inland Empire Ad Club’s entries in a district-level competition. These are the entries judged most superior in their category.

Winners attending the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire are David Dresner from Redlands in the Web Design and Interactive Media department and Rachel Makowski from Hesperia and Niklas Meijer from Riverside, both in the Graphic Design department.

Silver winners, who received certificates, are those entries judges determined were also outstanding and worthy of recognition. These advertisements are eligible to compete in the district-level ADDY competition, but silver winners must again pay an entry fee.

Winners from the Art Insutite of California, Inland Empire were Dresner, Meijer, Tanya Prokopin-Gill from Riverside, Robert Vidaure from Redlands, and Darius Giurar from Riverside all in the Graphic Design department, and Barton Welt from Fontana in the Web Design and Interactive Media department. Prokopin-Gill and Welt each won two silver awards.

“These talented students have clearly demonstrated they are ready to create impressive, high-quality advertisements for their future clients,” said Michael Swank, who serves as both Inland Empire Ad Club Education Chairman, and Academic Director of Graphic Design and Web Design & Interactive Media at the Art Institute of California–Inland Empire.

The Art Institute of California - Inland Empire hosted the first level of competition for the annual ADDY advertising awards on Saturday, February 16 at the Inland Empire campus in San Bernardino. It also sponsored this first-ever student competition, paying the $20 entry fee for all of its student participants’ first entries.

Besides the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, students from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, La Sierra University, California State University San Bernardino and Westwood College participated. The two other winners were from Pomona and Westwood.

A panel of judges from the advertising industry outside the Inland Empire evaluated each entry.

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Culinary Management, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design and Media Arts & Animation and Fashion and Retail Marketing. There are also Associate of Science degrees in Graphic Design and Culinary Arts. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

It’s not too late to start classes. Courses begin March 31, with offerings in the days, evenings and on weekends for new and reentry students. For details or a tour of the campus call (909) 915-2100, or go on line to

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes ( with 38 educational institutions throughout North America providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.


Grand Terrace resident Alyssa Mees, the first graduate of Art Institute of California-Inland Empire, with a painting in progress. Photo by Robert Swapp.

Byron Chung, president of the Art Institute of California-Inland Empire, congratulates Grand Terrace resident Alyssa Mees on completion of her degree in Graphic Design. She is the first graduate of the Art Institute of California-Inland Empire. Photo by Robert Swapp.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Grand Terrace resident Alyssa Mees has wanted to be an artist since before she graduated from high school in 2006. Now, as the first graduate of the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire, she is ready to begin her dream

Mees, 19, finished her classes for an associate degree in Graphic Design at the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire on Friday March, 14. She will be honored as its first graduate at 5 p.m. Friday, March 28 at the Art Institute of California – Inland Empire.

“She is an exceptional student,” said Byron Chung, President of the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire. “We are excited to have her as our first graduate, but she is just a sample of the creative talent we have on our campus.”

When Alyssa attended Rialto High School, she thought about attending the Art Institute of California. But for most of that time, going to the top college for creative artists didn’t look feasible to her.

“Before the Inland Empire Art Institute was here, I would have had to choose between Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego,” she said. “That’s just too far to drive.”

But, midway through her senior year, a new Art Institute of California campus opened, conveniently located in San Bernardino. What’s more, it had an art portfolio contest to give away $20,000 scholarships. Mees won.

“That’s what did it for me,” she said. “The scholarship made it possible.”

Mees quickly selected graphic design as her major, and enrolled in July 2006. She also decided to take advantage of the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire’s year-round schedule, which has allowed her to finish her degree in less than two years.

“I knew I wanted to do something with art,” she said. “Graphic design seemed the most feasible way to make a living with my art.”

Mees is already an accomplished painter, specializing in surreal portraits that she will be glad to sell to interested buyers. She is also learning first-hand about working in the graphic design industry, through an internship with the Inland Empire Ad Club.

Now that she has a college degree, she’s ready to do even greater things. With help from Scott Saunders, the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire’s Director of Career Services, Mees is looking for a full-time job, perhaps with an advertising agency. In the meantime, she is available for hire as a freelance graphic artist.

“We have watched her develop over the past few years,” Chung said. “We think she will have a great and exciting career in the industry.”

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Culinary Management, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design and Media Arts & Animation and Fashion and Retail Marketing. There are also Associate of Science degrees in Graphic Design and Culinary Arts. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

It’s not too late to start classes. Courses begin March 31, with offerings in the days, evenings and on weekends for new and reentry students. For details or a tour of the campus call (909) 915-2100, or go on line to

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes ( with 38 educational institutions throughout North America providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.


Photos attached: Please credit Robert Swapp of the Art Institute of California-Inland Empire.


Art Institute of California - Inland Empire President Byron Chung congratulates Grand Terrace resident Alyssa Mees, who recently completed her courses for an Associate degree in Graphic Design, and will be honored March 28 as the Institute’s first graduate. Photo by Robert Swapp.


(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – The Salvation Army has beds to shelter 96 people a night, thanks to some help from the City and County of San Bernardino. The Salvation Army’s mission does not stop there. They also provide meals, case management, tutoring and referral services for shelter families.

In November of 2007, the City of San Bernardino approved a Temporary Use Permit allowing The Salvation Army of San Bernardino to use its Center for Worship and Service at 746 W. Fifth Street as a shelter facility for women and children, as well as cold weather relief for homeless men. This allowed the Salvation Army to strengthen one of its most vital services to the community, that of sheltering citizens with nowhere else to go.

From March through November of 2007, the Salvation Army did not have a shelter. The California Department of Transportation had purchased, through eminent domain, the Salvation Army’s Kingman Street shelter, and tore that building down. This forced the Salvation Army to transition to a temporary motel voucher shelter program.

“It was a difficult time, but the sheltering of homeless families never missed a night,” said Salvation Army Captain Stephen Ball. “The motel voucher shelter is less effective than a facility-based shelter and could accommodate fewer clients, which meant Army leaders needed to come up with an alternative solution.

“We are grateful to the city for allowing us to use our headquarters building as a shelter,” he added. “The motel voucher system was just too expensive.”

This new arrangement is also a temporary solution, as Salvation Army personnel are already planning to permanently relocate shelter operations to a new site in 2009.

At the Fifth Street site, an average of 50 women and children are seeking shelter each night. These families are welcomed by caring staff and volunteers.

“The Salvation Army works with them to help them better their lives,” Captain Ball said. “We help them apply for public assistance, find a job and budget their money so they can live independently.”

For the children in these families, the San Bernardino City Unified School District offers after-school tutoring at the shelter four days a week. On Fridays, the children take part in character development programs.

These programs sometimes include field trips to interesting places such as Knott’s Berry Farm or Big Bear Lake. For the boys and their dads (mentors), a deep-sea fishing trip is in the works.

“Many of these children have never had the experiences we take for granted. There are 17-year-old children who have never seen the beach or been to the mountains. Helping these children to see something better than what they’re used to is most rewarding,” Captain Ball said. “We want to show them the kind of future they can have. We also want them to know people care about them right now, right where they are.”

From the total shelter capacity of 96 beds, 28 beds are designated for homeless men during the cold weather months. This program continues from October 1st through April 30, 2008. The granting of the Temporary Use Permit was right on time for the first cold, rainy weather of the season.

However, the Salvation Army hopes the city will allow the shelter to continue in its present location until a new plan can be worked out. Pending approval by the City of San Bernardino, it plans in early 2009 to move to another shelter at 925 W. 10th Street.

This shelter is presently used by another branch of the Salvation Army, the Adult Rehabilitation Center, which serves the community’s homeless men. This branch is constructing a brand new 126-bed men’s residence on Doolittle Street.

When the men’s shelter moves to its new location on Doolittle Street, the Salvation Army of San Bernardino hopes to purchase the existing 77-bed men’s residence and operate its family shelter there. If approved by the city, this will become the center of the Salvation Army’s homeless ministry in San Bernardino.

The remodeling project could take about three or four months, Captain Ball said. With the city’s approval, he anticipates moving to the new shelter sometime between January and March of 2009.

The Salvation Army San Bernardino Citadel Corps has helped residents of: San Bernardino, Rialto, Grand Terrace, Highland, Bloomington and Colton since 1887.

The homeless shelter and meals program is at 746 W. Fifth St. in San Bernardino. For more information call (909) 888-1336.


(HESPERIA, Calif.) “A mammogram just takes a few minutes,” says LaSalle Medical Associates Inc. Medical Director, Dr. Cheryl Emoto, at LaSalle’s Hesperia clinic (16455 Main St.). “But it is so important for women, especially, to have annual exams for those over 40. And for younger women, too, if they notice a breast lump or have concerns.”

Many women, Emoto points out, are apprehensive about having mammograms, so her goal is to make the exams as unintimidating as possible. She says, “We want our patients to come to LaSalle where they’re familiar with the relaxed facility and the personal staff.”

So, to do that, LaSalle has contracted with Inner Images, bringing mobile mammogram equipment directly to LaSalle’s Hesperia clinic one day a month. The program began in late January and was overwhelmingly received, the 20-year veteran with LaSalle explains. “Women have really responded to the program. We look forward to helping our patients find beginning signs of breast cancer so that we can treat it early,” said Dr. Emoto.

After the mammogram is taken, in about two weeks, patients are notified of the results. Should the tests indicate anything at all out of the ordinary, patients are brought in for consultation and possible further tests or even recommendations of specialists.

Mammograms have been shown to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer by 35 percent in women over the age of 50; and studies suggest for women, even between 40 and 50, mammograms may lower the risk of dying from breast cancer by up to 35 percent.

And they take just 10 minutes out of the day.

Prior appointments are recommended. Most insurances cover mammograms with prior authorization, and for women without insurance there are programs that patients may qualify for – providing low cost or no cost mammograms. Don’t let the lack of medical insurance stop you from getting your mammogram.

For an appointment, call the office at (760) 947-2161.