Fun book promotes digital detox

Photo by Alex Vejar

Photo by Alex Vejar

If you start marking things you “like” with Post-It notes, you might be a Facebook addict.

If your mom lets you know that dinner is ready by posting on your wall, instead of coming to your room, you might be a Facebook addict.

If on your first date, you suggest changing your relationship status to “in a relationship,” you might be a Facebook addict.

Those situations and more are at the heart of a humorous new book that promotes a break from the digital world that the general population seems to be engulfed in.

Live Consciously Publishing hosted the launch party of Gemini Adams’ new book “The Facebook Diet: 50 Funny Signs of Facebook Addiction and Ways to Unplug with a Digital Detox” in the Writers’ Bootcamp space at Bergamot Station last Thursday.

The theme of the night was “Get Unplugged,” which is also the name of the book series that Adams is producing — the Facebook book being the first. Excerpts from the book hung on the wall, and after Adams gave a presentation, the audience enjoyed a musical performance and a yoga session.

Attendees were also able to have their pictures taken in a booth with a pink, fuzzy backdrop.

The book is meant to be “tongue in cheek,” but also to have a serious message, Adams said.

“I wanted to kind of tickle people into awareness,” she said.

Adams came up with the idea for the series after realizing that she was spending more and more time on Facebook and writing in front of a computer screen. After getting a break from her digital world by doing illustrations outside, she wanted to find out other ways that society as a whole can live their lives.

“It just sucks us in and it’s hard to control that sometimes,” Adams said about the ease of getting lost in social networking.

There are currently over one billion users on Facebook. As of December 2012, 67 percent of adults online use social networking sites, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Alexandra Hernandez, 25, said she deleted her Facebook in order to help her get over a recent breakup. At first, she struggled.

“The first week or two, I felt really isolated,” she said.

But after awhile, she got used to not being so connected to the digital world, and now enjoys the feeling of having face-to-face connections with people in her life.

“I feel like the older you get, the less continuity you have in your life,” she said. “So I feel like I spend the majority of my time communicating with my friends, but just not on a social network.”

Tom Hummel, publisher of the book, said that while he does have a Facebook account, he does not use it very often because it becomes “some sort of compulsion” when he checks it, and considers the popular social networking site as “a way to kill time.”

However, he also sees a positive aspect of social networking as a whole.

“I think that it actually serves a purpose for a lot of poeple that dont have a lot of time and still want to keep up on what their friends are doing,” Hummel said. “It’s a good way to keep in touch.”

Hummel likes to detach from the digital world by reading.

“If i get sucked into a good book, I cant wait to pick it up again,” he said. “I don’t feel that way same way about facebook.”

Steven Releford, 24, said he does not think it is that easy to completely let go of social networking.

“It’s almost like it’s hard to detach because we have so many aliases and so many like parts of us that are on social media,” he said, “so we feel like we have to control these different worlds that were also simultaneously a part of and that kinda takes you out of the present sometimes.”

Hernandez said she feels that letting go of the digital crutch can benefit others.

“I think it could be a good reminder just to kind of enjoy the moment,” she said.

Adams will release “diet” books on Twitter, Youtube and Instagram in the future.

Local mother finds way to build trust

Ocean and Summer Germann write in a ‘Trust Journal.’ (Photo by Alex Vejar)

MAIN STREET — When she was younger, Summer Germann wouldn’t tell her mother things because she was afraid of her reaction.

So when she had her own child, she vowed that she would be different. Germann got her chance when her 9-year-old daughter Ocean had a secret to tell, but wasn’t comfortable disclosing it.

Summer Germann suggested that she should write her secret down.

“I was kind of scared at first because I thought that it was basically the same as telling her, but then I realized that it wasn’t and it was kind of scary,” Ocean Germann said while sitting next to her mom at a coffee shop on Main Street.

The result of that innocent exchange was the beginning of a deep trust with her mother for Ocean Germann, and the beginning of a new career venture for Summer Germann which came to be known as “The Trust Journal.”

“Right when I had this, I knew it was gold,” Summer Germann said.

The journals come in four variations, each being designated for a different kind of relationship: “For Mothers & Daughters,” “For Grandmother & Granddaughters,” “For Best Friends, and “Just Between Us.” Inside each book, there is a signable “certificate of trust” stating that the information shared in the journal is only between the two people who write in it.

The pages are split into two horizontal sections — the top half saying “me,” which is meant for the child, and the bottom saying “you” for the parent.

“I think that kids and people would benefit from [the journals] because you’re starting out with little problems and as they work their way through tween and teen years, they’re working their way up to bigger problems and they know that they’ve already built that trust with someone,” Summer Germann said.

She thinks the right time for a parent to start a journal with their child is between the ages of 8 and 10.

“They’re still young enough, their problems are still small enough that they’re willing to be more open and share them with you, so you kind of get that shot,” she said.

Ocean Germann, now 10, has seen a significant change since starting the journal with her mother and both of her grandmothers, one of which lives in Chicago.

“I would use these trust journals when I have to tell my mom a really, really deep secret,” she said. “It’s helped me to come out and really not be as shy and help tell her more stuff and be more comfortable around her.”

Summer Germann has also noticed a change in herself.

“I think everything about [these journals] has made me a better parent,” she said. “I think it’s made me more compassionate to the kids.”

While it was a dual effort to develop and design the journals, Summer seems to give most of the credit to her daughter.

“If it wasn’t for her and she wasn’t willing to write it down that day, this wouldn’t have came to,” she said.

Sue Flynn, Summer Germann’s mother, believes her relationship with her daughter would have changed “dramatically” if she had a trust journal when she was raising her, and feels that one could still be started today.

“I would be so mindful of the non-reactive part,” Flynn said.

Flynn has sponsored the journals on behalf of her foundation that raises money to help pay for funerals or celebrations of life for families that are victims of pediatric cancer, a disease that tragically ended her son Mac’s life in 2002.

Gerry Owen, licensed marriage and family therapist for over 20 years, thinks the journals can be one of the many tools used by parents in order to better communicate with their kids.

“Anything that helps smooth and facilitate conversation between parents and children is a good thing,” said Owen, who has an office in Downtown Santa Monica with his wife, Linda. “The more that that conversation is experienced by both people as safe, and that both feel seen — the parent feels seen, the kid feels seen — the better off the whole family unit is.”

Owen said writing in the journals satisfies at least two, possibly all four, of an attachment theory called the “Four S’s,” which are that a child has to feel seen, safe, soothed and secure.

Summer Germann has lived in Santa Monica for most of her life, and said that it’s “a really great place to live and a really hard place to live,” citing the cost of living and that children in the city by the sea seem to not have much down time.

However, she appreciates that the community is filled with individuals who want to help others.

“There’s such a community of activism [in Santa Monica],” she said. “Everyone has a cause or a purpose. I don’t think there’s many people in Santa Monica that aren’t doing something to try and help or make a difference.”

The journals have been sponsored by such organizations as OPCC, The Boys & Girls Club and the National Children’s Cancer Society.

All four journals are available online through Amazon or Summer Germann’s website, happyditto.com.

Civic to have one more show

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will perform a farewell concert for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Saturday, May 25, before the historic venue closes at the end of June.

The concert will feature works from renowned compos- er Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, such as movements from “The Sleeping Beauty Ballet” and his “Fifth Symphony.” The finale of the “1812 Overture” will end the concert.

Santa Monica resident, professor of cello at UCLA and Grammy Award-winner Antonio Lysy will be a featured soloist.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. The auditorium is located at 1855 Main St. For more infor- mation, visit http://www.smsyphony.org.

The City Council in October of last year voted to shut- ter the landmarked structure after it felt that it could no longer afford the $2 million a year that would be required to keep the auditorium running while officials tried to find the $50 million needed to renovate it. The council planned to use redevelopment money to renovate the Civic before redevelopment agencies across California were killed to close the state’s budget gap.

“This is a huge loss for our community,” said Guido Lamell, the symphony’s music director. “The Civic Auditorium has a rich history of service to our city and to Los Angeles.”

College to start summer youth program

Santa Monica College is starting a summer camp meant for kids and teens called “Build Your Own Camp” starting June 17, college officials said.

The program is structured so that kids can create their own curriculum with things that interest them. Approximately 150 classes will be offered in various sub- jects including public speaking, auto care for new drivers and photography.

SMC has also added four new tours for those who want to visit locations all around Los Angeles, such as trips to the Watts Tower, Downtown and Little Ethiopia.

Most classes will be offered on the Bundy Campus of the college, located at 3171 S. Bundy Dr.

Some classes will also be available online.

Art for a cause

The seventh annual ART for CLARE event will be held at Bergamot Station on Sunday, June 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The charity event will include an art action with works by Ed Ruscha, Kim McCarty and actor Anthony Hopkins; a silent auction with items ranging from luxury vacations to sports memorabilia; live music and food from some of the area’s best eateries, including Lemonade and El Cholo.

Bergamot Station is located at 2525 Michigan Ave. Advance tickets are $25, and general admission is $30 at the door.

CLARE is a Westside-based recovery center that focus- es on addiction. For more information, visit http://www.clare- foundation.org/

Art department showcases students

From afar, it looked like a garden-variety dress on a mannequin.

But upon closer inspection, the real message of the art piece comes through. Words like “trafficking,” “victimization” and “violence” were written on cards showing seemingly-malnoursished children, depicting the horrors of the fashion-making industry

The Santa Monica College art department had the opening reception for its annual student exhibit at the Pete and Susan Barrett Gallery at the SMC Performing Arts Center last Friday.

Various art techniques, such as paintings, sculptures and prints, were displayed at the exhibition.

“It’s not just one medium, it’s all the classes in the department,” said Mirian Winsryg, the gallery director who has been teaching at SMC since 1987.

Winsryg said that it is important for students to have their work shown for others to see.

“In the art world, you want to have that experience,” she said. “It’s part of the experience of being an artist that you actually show your work. Otherwise, why do you make it?”

The faculty from the department choose at least two works from students in their classes to show at the exhibit.

For the last three years, the art in the showcase follows a specific theme. This year, it was Poverty & Wealth, Want & Waste: The Unevenness of Globalization.

Students who had work showcased in the gallery were present at the opening reception, and had lots to say of what it felt like to be a part of the exhibition.

“It’s kind of surreal just cuz I’ve never had my work showcased in a legit gallery before,” said SMC student Michelle Rhee. “It’s nice to be a part of the SMC art community.”

Brandon Otani, SMC student since 2006, has shown at the student art show before as a part of the Art Mentor program.

“It’s cool to be on display again,” Otani said.

Tara Gruchalski, 20, has been an art student at SMC for three years. She feels the art program on campus has helped her in a lot of ways.

“It really helped me kind of try to hone in on what I was good at, what my strengths were, what I needed to work on and what school I wanted to go to,” said Gruchalski, whose work was on display last Friday. “It’s been a really holistic experience.”

Art department chair Ronn Davis said the program’s objective is to prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges, as well as developing the skills of young artists.

“Our goal is to put you in a place where creativity is now an integral part of your everyday life,” Davis said.

The next showing of student art will be the exhibition for the Art Mentor Program this June.

Chad Ochocinco and T.O. practice at SMC

Former National Football League players Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Terrell Owens practiced with prospective athletes on the football field of Santa Monica College on Tuesday.

Johnson was a student at SMC from 1997 to 1999, and spoke to what it felt like to be back.

“I’m back here, back to my roots how it all started, trying to remember what it took me to get to where I fell from,” Chad Johnson said. “This is where it all started, so I’m back to it.”

The practice session was organized by Jeff Johnson and Jay Tatum, owners of a company called Elite Athletes. Jeff Johnson, who trained with Chad Johnson, said his company works with young athletes to “keep kids off the streets.”

“We like to use sports to wheel them in to get their attention and then of course send them out to the right sources,” Jeff Johnson said.

Students were lined up on the football field, smartphones and tablets in tow, trying to catch a glimpse of the players before being dispersed by athletic director Joe Cascio.

Neither Chad Johnson nor Jeff Johnson ruled out a repeat visit to SMC for future workouts.