Open Pathways

Lotusland is a treasure that Madame Walska intended to share with all Santa Barbara citizens, but the restriction of visitors and students to a total of 20,000 annually, by our Santa Barbara County Conditional Use Permit, makes it difficult for us to fulfill Madame’s dream. As Roger Ascham penned in 1545, “necessity is the inventor of goodness”, and our commitment to sharing Lotusland with the entire Santa Barbara community inspired our creativity.

The invention of goodness is our Open Pathways program, in which we partner with select Santa Barbara organizations serving those citizens who are unable to visit Lotusland due to physical, social, or economic disabilities. We are effectively targeting segments of our community’s population who are in the greatest need, and Open Pathways provides customized tours and programs for them, for free.

Fortunately, we get important help from the Santa Barbara Independent Living Resource Center, who annually train our staff and docents in the perspective of people with disabilities and how to comfortably and sensitively assist them so they have the most fulfilling tour of the gardens.

Our staff and docents now work with numerous organizations and our deliberate approach to outreach and collaborations for Santa Barbara’s most under-served populations fulfills the original intent of opening Lotusland free to our county citizens who cannot afford the admission cost, and has earned Lotusland the Mayor of Santa Barbara’s Award for Accessibility in 2013.

Access to Lotusland is only part of the gift. Through Open Pathways, Lotusland provides respite and tranquility, and inspires awe and hope, for some of the most under-served people in Santa Barbara. If you want to support or get involved with Open Pathways, please contact Dorothy Shaner, Lotusland’s Director of Public Programs at dshaner@lotusland.org.