Santa Maria Sun> News > Cover Story Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023     Volume 23, Issue 79   
Home
News
Opinion
Classifieds
Arts & Events
Film
Sports
Community
Food & Wine
Outside
Special issues
Archives
About Us
Advertising Info
 

 

New Times
New Times Media Group
Menus

 
A dream deferred
An entrepreneur and artist returned to his homeland without realizing his vision
BY CRAIG SHAFER

Date: 08/10/2006

Documentary filmmaker Kevin Bender recently made his second trip from Sweden to northern Santa Barbara County. He's working on a film about former resident, builder, and visionary artist Jose Luis Bonilla.


The hub of the village:
With copper, stainless steel, brass, and other found metals, Jose Luis Bonilla crafted a replica of a gazebo he remembered from his boyhood. Its ornate detailing far surpasses the original that is still standing in the town of Fresnillo, Mexico.
PHOTO BY CRAIG SHAFER
The young Bonilla came to this country from Mexico to earn a living washing dishes. He ultimately worked his way up to become a successful restaurateur.

One day in the late 1970s,Bonilla happened to follow a detoured flow of traffic that turned east on Highway 166 from Highway 101. Just past Cuyama, he spotted a piece of land for sale that reminded him of his home in Fresnillo, Mexico. He purchased the 500 acres in 1979 and proceeded to paint a village scene on a mural-sized canvas.

Bonilla sketched the location of an arena, a marketplace, a huge fountain, an elaborately ornate gazebo, a bandstand, and a church.

The dream he developed was to build a replica of a Mexican village, a town that would inspire tourists and locals, leading to an appreciation of Mexican culture, crafts, and handiwork.

Bonilla trained a few unskilled laborers to be craftsmen. They cut and shaped stone, forged decorative metalwork out of stainless steel and copper, bent and shaped wrought iron, and excelled at masonry. One worker took 10 years to meticulously cut and lay the cobblestones throughout the village.



Bonilla started working on Asi Es Mi Tierra which means "my homeland is like this" in 1983 with materials found on the property. He amassed a mountain of stone that had been strewn across the landscape and collected scrap metal that had been left behind from the old oil days.


Showplace:
Designed to host concerts and Mexican rodeos, the arena has a capacity of 3,000 in the stands.
PHOTO BY CRAIG SHAFER
But in 2003, after 20 years of working tirelessly, Bonilla returned to Mexico, leaving his vision unfinished. Bender said that there was a cultural clash between Bonilla and the county over permits. After working so hard and for so long, Bender said, Bonilla expected support instead of resistance. His struggle, inspiration, passion, success, and frustration are the filmmaker's focus.

"For me, it's a story about loss, coming so close, working so hard, and then just deciding to leave and not realizing this vision and going back defeated," Bender said in July, while standing in the shade of one of Bonilla's larger-than-life structures.

"I went down to Fresnillo in Mexico, his hometown. He took me to the plaza where the gazebo was," Bender said. "He said that as a kid he saw this gazebo and thought, 'One day I want to build my own.' But everything he's built here is much better and is so nice compared to the places in Mexico and they're nice too."

Bonilla's vision came to limited fruition in the form of a fountain, gazebo, bandstand, and arena. He never got around to constructing the village church. He also had planned for an eventual hotel, restaurants, and even a lake for boating.

"I think he'd like to [finish it] if he could find some help and support, and not so many roadblocks that he felt he got from the county. He feels he was thwarted by red tape and bureaucracy with Santa Barbara County planners," Bender said.


A plan interrupted:
Rancho Bonilla was intended to be a replica of a Mexican village, complete with an arena, marketplace, gazebo, bandstand, and church. The county says it needs to approve a conditional use permit before any more concerts or public activity can proceed on the property. Frustrated with the red tape, Bonilla left his unfinished village and returned to Mexico.
PHOTO BY CRAIG SHAFER
Harrell Fletcher, a former county supervisor who helps developers to navigate the county planning process, hopes that the county will issue a conditional use permit that will allow the facility to open to the public. But it may already be too late to lure Bonilla back to finish his dream, because the property is up for sale and isn't being maintained.

 Why we’re education the next era of attorneys in large statistics Charlotte Alexander receives funding from the US Department of Labor. She works for Georgia State University. She is affiliated with Spread the Vote.
Anne Tucker does not work for, seek advice from, personal stocks in or get hold of investment from any enterprise or enterprise that would benefit from this text, and has disclosed no applicable affiliations past their academic appointment.
View all partners
Artificial intelligence is reworking the traditional transport of criminal services.
In general phrases, the set of tools widely known as “prison analytics” promises to do two things: boom the performance of obligations that once required giant time and human effort, and mine loads of records to discover new insights that had been formerly inaccessible.
As felony pupils, we’re excited about the promise of applying those gear to criminal research questions. At Georgia State, we’re building interdisciplinary studies groups with lawyers and facts scientists running aspect through aspect. Students are concerned too, so that we can teach the subsequent generation of attorneys to leverage these gear of their very own practices.
Suppose that a corporation wants to forecast which employee proceedings result in court cases. Historically, the organization might assign a group of analysts and lawyers to comb through criticism statistics, employees files and court docket files, trying to find a few sample that might sign litigation danger. This painstaking technique ought to take months and require an army of people to manner heaps of pages of text.
Treating this task as an alternative as a information technological know-how problem dramatically improves speed and efficiency. An set of rules should extract key textual content in bulk and gather it for analysis. Human time and attention would then be trained most effective on the replicas de relojes applicable facts. The hard work-intensive search procedure might be removed.
The new era of analytics gear can do extra than genuinely reduce hard work hours. Techniques like system gaining knowledge of – a form of artificial intelligence wherein computer systems can recursively analyze from a hard and fast of examples without being explicitly programmed to do so – can permit the invention of latest styles which might be past the reach of manual evaluation. For example, inside the scenario above, an set of rules is probably capable of predict whether or not any given worker complaint will result in a lawsuit.
At our lab, we're checking out the application of analytics tools to a large range of criminal questions. We analyzed all employment proceedings within the U.S. District Court for northern Georgia to recognize which cases win and lose and to identify case features like judges, attorneys and motions that might affect a case’s closing outcome.
For example, we discovered that, while a motion became referred with the aid of the presiding district court docket judge to a Justice of the Peace choose for a preliminary file and advice, the Justice of the Peace judge’s advice changed into the strongest predictor of the judge’s final decision. This raises interesting questions, which we're discovering similarly, approximately choice-makers’ roles in resolving prison disputes breitling replica.
Legal analytics has captured the creativeness of lawyers and researchers alike. In a recent contest inside the United Kingdom, a hundred lawyers from top London companies had been pitted in opposition to an artificial intelligence tool to predict the final results of loads of simple financial disputes. The robotic won via a extensive margin, predicting 86.6 percentage of instances correctly, whilst the humans successfully predicted best 66.three percentage. The tool turned into “learning” some thing approximately the disputes that the human beings had been missing, beating legal professionals at their personal prediction sport.
Of route, now not all criminal problems well lessen to a set of variables, and human conduct does not always comply with detectable patterns. Predictive gear paintings much less nicely while the relevant dataset is small, or while the textual content that is challenge to analysis is so varied and idiosyncratic that styles are difficult to hit upon.
Progress can also deliver peril. Historical records approximately beyond activities often comprise bias and inaccuracies, meaning that even the most state-of-the-art computer code, when fed garbage, can produce handiest rubbish in go back. Bail-placing algorithms, as an example, were criticized for perpetuating racial bias in criminal justice.
If lawyers delegate an excessive amount of of our selections to algorithms, then we are destined to repeat our ancient patterns and errors. For instance, litigation prediction algorithms trained on instances from retired judges or old case regulation might also pass over new traits and propose an unnecessarily conservative course of action.
In the cease, a robot attorney is a bad substitute for a human legal professional. Human judgment will continue to be a important element in regulation exercise. What will alternate is whilst it’s used to reinforce intelligence gleaned from other systems.
If the exercise of law changes, then that means components of felony schooling have to change, too.
Some destiny legal professionals will graduate as computer programmers, capable of write the code that underlies legal analytics tools. Others turns into informed customers of the effects produced through those gear, capable of seriously check the output. Our group is growing a dual diploma in analytics and regulation, in addition to concentrations in the J.D. and LL.M. applications.
We believe that every one regulation colleges need to wrestle with the way to train today’s students for a future exercise. However transformative, in the long run, legal analytics is a tool. Tomorrow’s lawyers should be organized to take advantage of its advantages, whilst additionally understanding where those blessings quit and human judgment begins.
Write an editorial and join a growing community of more than 139,400 academics and researchers from 4,242 establishments.

Fletcher believes that Rancho Bonilla along with the courthouse in Santa Barbara is the most attractive architecture in the county. And he noted that Bonilla built the structures at the rancho to higher standards than any building codes, and he situated buildings and planted trees in such a way as to keep the often brutal temperatures of the Cuyama Valley at bay, sometimes cooling the area by as much as 20 degrees.

Fletcher, who also helped Bonilla apply for county daily-use permits so the reloj omega imitacion visionary could hold concerts for popular Mexican performers, said the three events held in the arena attracted standing-room-only crowds. Some 4,000 fans made the drive to attend.

"The first 1,000 sold at $100 a seat, and the second 1,000 sold at $75 a seat, and the others were $50 even standing room," Fletcher said.


Sweden's Bender spent three days shooting film and interviewing Bonilla in Mexico last spring. He explained that while his initial fascination was with the size and scope of the construction project, the focus naturally turned toward the man who made it happen.

"I just find it amazing that somebody could just do this first of all want to, and then be able to do it," Bender said, "and at this scale.

"It's always the person. Who's this guy and why would he do this and spend 20 years? How could he abandon it? It's like the Watts Towers' Simon Rodia. He just walked away, too. There's a similarity that way, to work so hard, coming so close to a vision, then just deciding to leave and not realizing his vision," Bender said.

Fully realized, Rancho Bonilla could have been a sort of Mexican version of Solvang, serving as a destination for visitors seeking to enjoy authentic food, music, and rodeos. Bender noted that it would also be a home away from home for Mexicans, and more importantly it would be a cultural bridge so that Californians could learn about Mexico.

All this is not to say that the entire vision is dead. There's some talk among interested parties that the grounds could eventually serve as a cultural exchange, where craftsmen could demonstrate metal, leather, and stone work, much like Bonilla himself taught his laborers. Bender said that it's a shame not to open up the rancho, since most of the hard work is already done. It could be a central point for improving intercultural relations by having people share and work on art together, he said.

"I'd like people to see this place," Bender explained. "I'd like them

Filming a visionary:
Kevin Bender, a documentary filmmaker living in Sweden, has taken several trips to the Americas to capture the story of Jose Luis Bonilla. His film, due out next year, is titled "Thinking Grande: Creating Californias Mexican Wonderland."
PHOTO BY CRAIG SHAFER
to know about Luis and what he's done. I'd like them to appreciate this.

"I'm really upset with the climate these days and the perception and attitudes toward Mexicans," Bender continued. "I think the majority of people who are upset with that don't know anything about Mexico, or don't know anything about Mexicans."

He said that perceptions might change if people were to see something as impressive as Bonilla's construction and realize that a Mexican had made it.

"That's why I want them to know about him, and to appreciate him," Bender continued.

He said that Bonilla may never return to Santa Barbara County, but the rancho stands as a reminder of the man's dream. In that light, the realization of that dream now rests with the county. Because the area is in an agricultural preserve, special considerations would have to be addressed before Rancho Bonilla could open to the public.

John Zorovich, the county case planner who first handled Bonilla's permit issues, agrees that Bonilla's creation is worth preserving, and he feels that there's a desire at the government level to find a way to make the project compliant.

"The department's perspective has been: What he has out there is really unique and a pretty wonderful structure. And I think the county would like to work with him," Zorovich said. "What he has built doesn't fit within any of the zoning requirements we have, because they are not clearly allowed under the existing zoning."

Bonilla's first hurdle, if he were to return, is to respond to an Aug. 15, 2005, letter the county sent him, which lists issues that still need to be addressed and specified before the project can ever move forward. Those issues include times of year when events will be held, the number of participants at each event, a clear definition of each event, lighting requirements, and coordinating with Caltrans on traffic issues.

Zorovich said that the county hasn't held up Bonilla's permit process, but added that it's more involved than the average request. He conceded that maybe Bonilla's case hasn't gone forward as quickly as Bonilla might have wanted it to. However, the planner recognizes the significance of the site and expressed a desire to see the structures legally permitted.

"We do want to work with him," Zorovich said. "It's such a neat facility, but it's going to take both sides to come together, I think, and say, 'How can we make this work?' Because no one wants to see it go away."

Replica Watches Arts Editor Craig Shafer can be reached at cshafer@santamariasun.com.


Comment on this Article | Submit your Story Idea | View Archives


 




   Copyright © 2008 New Times Media Group.   Policy Website Hosting & Maintenance by iTech Solutions, LLC