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Malibu Surfside News 041218

4 | April 12, 2018 |

4 | April 12, 2018 | Malibu surfside news news Local yoga teacher’s Imagine Fest returns Event to support nonprofit that rescues child sex trafficking victims Lauren Coughlin, Editor You may say Natalie Backman is a dreamer, but she’s not the only one. For the third time, Imagine Fest, a yoga and music festival founded by Backman, will return to the Santa Monica Mountains. This year’s event will be held at Peter Strauss Ranch from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. The action-packed day benefits Unlikely Heroes, a nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates children who are victims of sex trafficking. “It’s a very positive, uplifting community event for the entire community,” Backman said. “There’s something for everyone. And, particularly with the state of the world and our country, there’s a lot of strife, there’s a lot of us against them ... and I really believe the best way to combat [that] is gathering together in a fashion like this that’s really proactive and uplifting.” The last event drew 800 people and led to a $30,000 donation to Unlikely Heroes, Backman said. And that event was in September, with grueling heat and Santa Ana winds in play. In its premiere year, Backman said Imagine Fest had over 1,000 attendees. This year, organizers opted for a springtime event and are hoping to see 1,000 people join them. They also hope to contribute $50,000 to Unlikely Heroes. Highlights of the day include headliner Satsang, a Colorado band whose style Backman compares to Michael Franti or Nahko and Medicine for the People. Other musicians are: Govind Das and Radha, soundhealer Gabriel Logan Braun, Shawni, and Daniel Stewart. Various yoga and meditation sessions will also be offered. Conscious conversations will be led by various individuals, including Unlikely Heroes CEO and Founder Erica Greve, who will speak about the victims her nonprofit serves. “One of our intentions for this year’s festival is to make sure people really understand what we’re doing here,” Backman said. Further, children will be able to explore programming appropriate for ages 5-12 with Peace Guardians, which will lead activities such as superhero games, yoga, art, ultimate Frisbee and more. Those activities run from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The event planning process is aided by a 15-member Young Leaders Council, which involves teenagers from Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Oak Park and Topanga. Imagine Fest sponsors include The Ave, Jonathan Goldhill of Goldhill Group, Agoura Power of Yoga and Pranamaya Yoga Media. General admission to the event is $50. Tickets for students (IDs must be presented) or children 6-12 cost $25. Children 5 and under get in free. Imagine Fest Founder Natalie Backman (center) dances alongside Andrea Gootnick (left) and Natasha Mellman to the bhakti music of Govind Das and Radha, who are again part of the lineup for Imagine Fest 2018. Cecily Breeding The festival also offers Very Inspired Person tickets for $150, with added perks of on-site parking, advance session registration, a gift bag, and a meetand-greet with Backman and Greve. While some tickets are expected to be available day of, cash is preferred for any walk-ups. One-hundred percent of ticket proceeds benefit Unlikely Heroes. The nonprofit According to Greve, the average child working in a brothel has 2,300 customers per year. “That’s a person, that’s a child being raped 2,300 times per year,” Greve said. That realization is more than enough to light a fire under Greve and her team, but she hopes to continue to spread awareness of the gargantuan issue at hand. Unlikely Heroes was founded in 2011 and has grown to offer six safe homes — three in Mexico, one in Dallas, one in the Philippines and one in Thailand — where victims of sex trafficking can get the help and services they need. The newest home, in Mexico, opened last week and serves as the first licensed home in Mexico for boys rescued from slavery and child sex trafficking, Greves said. All of the children who come to Unlikely Heroes are minors, Greve said, but the average age range is 12 and under. In one instance, the nonprofit took in a 6-month-old who was being sold for sex. “Because these children have had so much trauma, they need specific services that really help them overcome what they’ve been through,” Greve said. At Unlikely Heroes, they receive safe housing, medical care, therapy, job training and education. Greves said education is top of mind, as many victims have gaps in their education. The children’s circumstances vary, but Greves mentioned one 8-year-old boy who was trafficked by his mom and still doesn’t Imagine Fest What: This festival features yoga, music, vendors and more. The event will support Unlikely Heroes, a nonprofit working to rescue and rehabilitate children who are victims of sex trafficking. When: 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21 Where: Peter Strauss Ranch, 30000 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills To attend: Tickets are $150 for Very Inspired Persons, $50 for general admission, $25 for students and children 6-12, and free for ages 5 and under. For tickets, visit know how to write his name. Some of Unlikely Heroes’ homes offer homeschooling, while others send children to nearby public schools. Most stay with the nonprofit for roughly five years or more, Greve said. To date, the organization has saved more than 350 children, and roughly 100 victims are currently split between the six homes. How each child gets to them is different. Unlikely Heroes has outreach teams in each country they work in. In Thailand and the Philippines, they regularly visit bars and brothels to develop trust with the victims and keep an eye out for any new children who are being trafficked. Volunteers also train teachers in at-risk schools on what to look for. The nonprofit handles the reporting process and, when possible, works with police to rescue the child or children. “[Unlikely Heroes is] small and mighty, and they’re doing what they’re doing with an immense amount of integrity,” Backman said. The cost to rescue and treat a child is about $5,000 per child per year, Greve said, and funds from Imagine Fest will help fulfill that need. Beyond attending the fest, the nonprofit is always looking for volunteers who have experience as attorneys, graphic designers and programmers. “We often say at Unlikely Heroes it takes a network to beat a network, so we’re building that network together,” Greve said. For more details, visit The festival founder Imagine Fest is a blending of many passions for Backman. Backman comes from a musical theater background and was previously part of the Broadway scene in New York. But when she moved to LA, her focus changed and yoga became her life. Currently, she lives in Calabasas and teaches yoga for the City of Malibu as well as at Agoura Power of Yoga. Please see Imagine, 6 News Malibu surfside news | April 12, 2018 | 5 Rindge Dam plans inch forward with vote Project still calls for state, federal review Suzanne Guldimann Freelance Reporter A California Coastal Commission vote on the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to remove Rindge Dam appears to be generating some confusion in the Malibu community. On March 9, the Coastal Commission unanimously agreed that the Corps plan is consistent with the Coastal Act, but the vote was not a final approval for the multiyear project. Instead, it was just one of several essential steps necessary for the Corps to move on to the next phase of the planning process for this complex project that involves many layers of review at state and federal level. The next step for the project involves completing the federal environmental impact review to meet the requirements of NEPA — the National Environmental Policy Act. The Corps must then seek funding from Congress to proceed with additional studies and technical review, including geotechnical review and flood assessments. When those technical studies are complete, the Coastal Commission will weigh in on the findings, and the public will also have an opportunity to comment. Final approval must come from Congress, which has the final authority to approve or deny the project. The Corps project isn’t set to officially begin until 2025, almost exactly 100 years after the dam was built. The plan involves removing the old Rindge Congress must approve funding before impact studies can be performed at Rindge Dam. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam and spillway in Malibu Creek in stages, demolishing the 100-foot-high structure and excavating the estimated 780,000 cubic yards of sediment impounded behind it over the course of eight years. The Corps anticipates that 278,000 cubic yards of clean sandy sediments can be mined from the site, transported to the Ventura Harbor by truck and then sent back to Malibu by barge and placed in nearshore waters east of the Malibu Pier for beach replenishment. However, to get to those sediments, the Corps will have to excavate a deep layer of debris that core samples indicate consists of larger rocks, from cobbles to boulders. That material is destined to go directly to the Calabasas Landfill. Several key stakeholders, including Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation, would like to see more of the sediment and rocks used for beach restoration instead. Serra Canyon residents and the Malibu City Council have raised concerns that the project could increase flooding risk in the Civic Center area, putting Serra Canyon residents and Cross Creek businesses at risk. The City has also questioned whether the current plan has adequately addressed the impact the estimated 52,000 truck trips will have on traffic and the canyon road, and whether the sediment removal will negatively impact water quality. Jim Hutchinson, the lead planner for the project, explained at the meeting that the studies necessary to determine those impacts can’t be conducted until Congress approves funding. The Coastal Commission’s consistency finding moves the Corps a major step forward, but the project still has a long way to go before the 2025 start date. The Corps and Coastal staff acknowledge that additional information and analysis must be produced by the Corps during the pre-construction, engineering and design phases prior to the Corps making a final decision on approval and construction of the project, Coastal Program Analyst Larry Simon told the commission at the meeting. “Studies cannot be authorized and undertaken until the final environmental impact document is approved by the chief of the engineers of the Corps and the project has received congressional funding for the predesign and engineering phase of the work,” Simon said at the meeting. “The Corps is required to LIVE THE LIFE YOU WERE ALWAYS MEANT TO LIVE complete its federal consistency process as an element of this final environmental Please see Rindge, 14 THE INDUSTRY’S FINEST HIGH-END LUXURY ADDICTION TREATMENT FACILITY 800.501.1988 CLIFFSIDEMALIBU.COM