Scholars Notebook

(Free and Open to the Public) 
(Free Parking in the Gilman Parking Structure)

Corporate-Backed Sprawl and the Rise of Environmental and Taxpayer Politics, 1968-1973"

Andrew Wiese, professor of history at San Diego State University, will discuss the local impact of changes in US real estate development during the 1960s and early 1970s which were a catalyst for popular environmentalism.

New flows of capital between builders and investors, including direct investment by Fortune 500 companies and the growth of the first nationwide home-building firms, produced a historic peak in US construction between 1969 and 1973.  The speaker will describe a case study of San Diego which indicates that these changes played a key role in the era's burst of environmental reform.  It also reveals an entangled history of environmental and taxpayer politics rooted in the spatial and financial changes of accelerated real estate development.  Locally, the corporate real estate boom brought together environmental concerns and taxpayer anxieties to produce a right-leaning environmental backlash that would have long influence in the city.

Wiese, a specialist in American urban history, is the author of "Places of Their Own: African-American Suburbanization in the 20th Century" (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and co-editor of "The Suburb Reader",  (Routledge, 2006), which is a history of suburbia.  He has served on  the Board of Directors of the Urban History Association and the Society for the American City.


What sets conversation among SDIS members apart from conversation with a random group of others? One difference: SDIS members are a self-selected group of people each of whom has, simply by the fact of being an SDIS member, declared an interest in some aspect of intellectual thought. In my own exchanges with SDIS members I've come to appreciate that what is said frequently veers toward interesting byways, different from and deeper that ordinary chit chat about the weather, family, and the like.

I am told that in its early days SDIS members often gathered for roundtable conversation of an informal sort, that is, conversation and exchange of views among peers. I've long felt that such roundtable conversations among founding members of SDIS must have been interesting indeed. I've never inquired about why they came to an end but I admit to being surprised that this is what happened. By the time I joined SDIS less than ten years ago the earlier roundtable meetings had long since ceased. How unfortunate, I recall thinking.

This last year, the Board decided to explore the possibility of re-introducing roundtable discussions to the SDIS menu of activities. Led by Barbara Heckler, SDIS Breakfast Roundtable meetings now occur regularly, are well attended, and — I can say from personal experience — are very interesting. The conversation is stimulating and I only wonder that it took so long for us to get this started.

But breakfast is breakfast, a morning event. The SDIS Breakfast Roundtable meetings start at 9:30 AM which, for those of us who are most "with it" later in the day, is a semi-civilized hour, infinitely better than 7 or 8 but saying that is at best faint praise. And, too, many have commitments early in the day which make attendance at a morning SDIS event impractical. Hence, for the benefit of those who view dinner and evening conversation with pleasure, an obvious conclusion: let’s accompany the morning roundtable with an evening event of similar character.

This is what is now planned. Soon, I will send an email to SDIS members announcing the details of a first meeting for an SDIS Supper Club, a dinner-time roundtable. Stay tuned.

Sam Gusman



Coloquy Cafe

Our 1/15/14 meeting covered "Myth" which can be used to mean a variety of things from fairy tales, religious stories, or legends.  Even today, some people still believe the ancient myths that depict the beginning of the world or their particular country's origin or religion.  The USA, like other countries, has a variety of myths including the stalwart American cowboy or the indigenous "noble savages."  A country's history is often studded with myths, e.g., Rosa Parks whose training for civil disobedience is rarely included in the history of the bus boycott's beginnings or the myths Hitler used to justify the Holocaust.  Also, myths are a major ingredient in any nation's politics. Although we often use "myth" to mean fiction or a lie, people who believe in myths take them as truth.  Our next meeting will be on February 19 where we will again discuss "habit.”  For further information, contact M.E. Stratthaus at

Culture One 

At its January 22nd meeting, CULTURE ONE discussed how to proceed in studying the "Basics of Cultural Differences". Suggested topics covered a wide range including: origins of culture (hunters and gatherers); spatial, temporal shifts in culture; economic disparities; components of culture (including language, neuroscience, the self).

Interest in the broad topic remains high while simultaneously delving into issues of cultural diversity, universality, and generalizing from particular or representative societies to all or most societies on earth. Members are enthusiastic about examining such issues by continuing to read and analyze the journal article, "The weirdest people in the world?" [Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, (2010), 30, 61 - 135].  

Accordingly, our next meeting, February 26, 2014, will focus on the article, "Weirdest People" including the authors' section, peer commentary, and the authors' response. We will also devote some time to honing in on ways to study the "BASICS OF CULTURE". Chapters in the book, "Handbook of Cultural Psychology" [Kitayama, S. & Cohen, D. (Eds.), 2007, Guilford Press] may serve that purpose. In addition, there is a surfeit of references available for all of the range of topics mentioned above and more. For further information, please contact SueRosner,

Culture Two 

The Culture Two Study Group is now focusing on globe strategic issues as seen by Zbigniew Brzezinski and described in his book Strategic Vision. The next meeting on Friday, February 21 at 1:30 PM will continue the group’s focus on Part 3 of this book (The World After America: By 2025, not Chinese but Chaotic). For further information about attending this meeting please contact Sam Gusman at

Film Group 

The Film Group will meet Wednesday, February 5, at 10:00 a.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view a documentary,  Deceptive Practices: the Mysteries and Legends of Ricky Jay.  Jay is a renowned illusionist.  Contact Barbara at for information about attending.

January’s film was Indochine. A 1992 French film set in French Indochina during the 1930s to 50s, it was a 1992 winner for Best Foreign Language Film.  The story is about a female French plantation owner and her adopted Vietnamese daughter.  The Vietnamese nationalist movement is a prominent part of the daughter’s life.

Literary Group 

The next meeting of the literary group will be on Monday, March 3, 2014, at the home of Harry and Donna Boyle.  Marcus Klein will be leading  us in discussing Shakespeare's As You Like It.  For directions, please call or email Donna Boyle at

Science Group 

The next meeting of the (Neuro) Science Group is scheduled for Monday, February 17, 2014 at  3 pm in Bea Rose's home when we will be discussing Chapter 4: "The Kinds of Thoughts That Are Thinkable” in David Eagleman's book, "Incognito - The Secret Lives of the Brain".  Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call Bea Rose at (858) 458-9263 or write


We’ll meet at Coco’s on Monday, February 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. for breakfast and roundtable discussion.
Coco’s is located in University City at the intersection of Genesee and Nobel Drive in the Costa Verde shopping center. 
It’s across the street from University Town Center.  To make a reservation, contact Barbara Heckler at by Saturday, February 15.  Don’t hesitate to call at the last minute – we’ll make space!

Sally is currently Secretary for SDIS and a member of several study groups.  Her positive outlook,
willingness to help, 
and enthusiasm for all things SDIS make her a very valuable member.
Submitted by Barbara Heckler

Q.  Your career has included teaching at the college level.  What did you specialize in?  What changes have you seen in your field since you first started teaching?

A.  I've taught second grade, been a reading teacher, taught graduate courses for teachers and administrators and supervised student teachers.  My specialty has been language arts and curriculum development.  I continue to be impressed by teachers and their dedication to their students despite increased class size, multiple languages and inclusion in classrooms and the emphasis on test scores vs quality instruction.

Q.  At one time in your career, you started a video production company.  Tell me about that.  

A.While working at the San Diego County Office of Education as a curriculum coordinator, I wrote a grant to develop training videos for parents to help their children in reading.  Amazingly enough, it received an Emmy for Educational Excellence.

Q.  At one time in your career, you started a video production company.  Tell me about that.  

A.   I started my own video production company, Select Productions, and we developed training videos for teachers for a variety of textbook publishers including Scholastic, Macmillan, McGraw Hill, Curriculum Associates, etc.

Q.  If you had chosen a different career, what would it be?  

A.   My plan when I was getting my BA in psychology at UCLA was to be a child psychologist.  That goal changed as I began to have my children, 4 in total.  If I had chosen a different career than teaching, I might have gone into film school and made documentaries or maybe become an archeologist or a social scientist.  Now I just enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Q.  Where are some of the more unusual places your love of travel has taken you?  

A.  Since archeology is an interest of mine, I've enjoyed exploring Maya ruins and I've hiked the Inca Trail.  This past September I went to Easter Island to view and explore the amazing, timeless statues, numbering 800 at last count.  My most memorable trip was a safari to Kenya and Tanzania and finally watching a storm arrive over the Serengeti.

Q.  What are your favorite pastimes today?

My favorite pastime continues to be my family, enlarged now with husbands and wives and 6 grandchildren.  I will always enjoy travel and my writing class and being a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children.  I attempt to play golf once a week.

I also belong to the Neuroscience and Culture study groups and continue to enjoy the intellectual challenge as we continue to solve the problems of the world.

Q.  Tell me more about CASA.

A.  I’ve been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for 7 years. We represent foster children in court and make sure their needs are met in the courtroom, classroom, community and in their present placement as dependents of the court.   We receive 32 hours of training and a great deal of subsequent training.  Our major role is to really get to know our children and be trusted by them.  We are often the most consistent presence in their lives as social workers and foster homes come and go.    Being a CASA has been one of my most rewarding experiences as I have seen my CASA children be adopted and become part of a forever home.


Do consider whether your scholarly work would benefit from a Helen Hawkins Memorial Research Fund Grant award. If you believe it would, do let me know and I will send you additional information about applying. See below for a brief outline of the rather formal SDIS process and time line for receipt and consideration of applications. 

All good wishes,
Sam Gusman

In 1991, the Board of San Diego Independent Scholars created the Helen Hawkins Memorial Research Fund, in memory of a founding member, Helen Hawkins. Current SDIS members who have been members for at least one year are invited to apply for research grants. Applications are now available from President Sam Gusman and must be submitted by February 29. Awards are announced in April. Grant approval is based on the quality of the applicant’s idea, its originality, merit, credibility, feasibility, and potential for solving or giving a new perspective on a significant problem or illuminating a social, literary or scientific phenomenon. At the May SDIS general meeting, winning applicants will briefly describe their work and how the Hawkins Award is to be used. Upon completion of their work, awardees will give a talk about it to a future SDIS general meeting.