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[whitespace] Business Will Boom and Traffic Will Thicken, But No Scandals Will Rock the Glen

Willow Glen--It's traditional, at this time of year, for magazines and tabloids to recruit supermodels and movie stars to venture predictions for the upcoming year. But Willow Glen, which is fast becoming a vortex of professional psychic activity, offers homegrown insights that put the Hollywood crystal-ball-gazers to shame.

While some attending a Healing Clinic in the cozy Academy for Psychic Studies on Lincoln Avenue office are seated in folding chairs, eyes closed, others are standing near them--sweeping their arms as if passionately brushing away a year's worth of cobwebs. Movement is everywhere. Meanwhile, Reverend Debi Livingston maintains impressive focus, considering the explosion of psychic energy surrounding her.

Unfazed by the frenzy of aura-cleansing, Livingston, a diminutive sprite of a woman, weaves through the packed room with fairy-like agility. Nestling into her seat, she quickly glances up with wide-eyed intensity when asked about her predictions for the next 365 days of life in Willow Glen.

She is well prepared to answer. The nearly 20-year-old Berkeley-based institution opened its Willow Glen location eight months ago and is celebrating its first New Years on Lincoln Avenue. Livingston explains that before speaking with me, she brought together a four-person team of academy psychics to read what's in the cards for the upcoming year in the Glen.

Livingston, along with Rev. Robin DuMolin, Rev. Debbie Saliby and academy founder Rev. Steve Sanchez, all sense overwhelming business growth in the near future. Beyond just increasing numbers of shops, the group predicts closer linkages between businesses and the community. Livingston sees locals being served better due to a flux of new, locally owned businesses, as well as a wave of changes washing over the Avenue's landmark Garden Theater.

The crowd at the academy and its nonprofit corporation, the Spiritual Rights Foundation Inc., also has visions of creative sparks flying at Willow Glen High School.

"With the high school, we sensed a step up in vibrations here ... possibly national recognition for achievements or excellence," Livingston says excitedly.

Perhaps those good vibes also stem from arrivals of new students. Academy clairvoyants predict more families moving into the area, bringing new bonds between young and old. The costs of bridging those gaps looks like property value increases and higher prices for house-hunters.

Seemingly riding the same psychic energy waves, Dr. Ibarra Gonzalez, Director of the Institute of Communications, Technology and Spirituality, also predicts a year of rapid growth in the Glen. Gonzalez brought the institute, focused on exploring the connections between technology and human consciousness, to Willow Glen this past October.

"We're trying to discover the effects of the new communications technology on the human psyche, for better and for worse," Gonzalez says. "So, we wanted to be close to Silicon Valley."

Like the academy's team, Gonzalez believes that the Lincoln Avenue business district will expand, bringing with it more cafes and sidewalk patios. He also has visions of more cars cruising the avenue.

Despite the traffic jams, Gonzalez predicts an increase in spiritual movement.

"The growth of the communication revolution brought about by new technologies is creating a new spirituality for the 21st Century," Gonzalez says softly. "The new millennium will mean greater understanding of other points of view."

It may sound a lot like verses from the Age of Aquarius, but Gonzalez predicts the new millennium's spirituality will encompass greater understanding of difference and a growing tolerance of diversity.

On the darker side of a technology-infused universe, Gonzalez cites new creations bombarding the human psyche with sensory overload that can potentially send the human mind spinning into hyperdrive.

"If you look at displays this Christmas, we're moving to having animatrons or robots in shop windows," Gonzalez says with awe. "It will be like a bunch of little Disneyland cafes."

Although Willow Glen serves as the center for local psychics' visions, those at the academy perceive a mid-year shift that will temporarily draw attention away from Silicon Valley. According to Livingston, it may have to do with new technologies in the movie industry or discoveries in AIDS research.

Probably the darkest news comes for those tired of hearing about the White House tales of cigars and blue dresses echoing throughout the nation. Although academy psychics sensed a focus on Vice President Al Gore in February, and an increase in alternative media sources rebelling against Jerry Springer-esque sensationalism, Livingston predicts more impeachment debate for the coming year.

"In politics, we see the Clinton thing dragging on," Livingston says matter-of-factly. "But no ... no scandals in Willow Glen."
Mary Spicuzza

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Web extra to the January 7-13, 1999 issue of Metro.

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