SLO LIFE Oct/Nov 2011















Oct/NOV 2011

Meet Kevin Harris

directing, new orleans and the little theatre

slo life magazine | 1

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slo life magazine | 5

| publisher’s message

I continue to be amazed at how much talent we have

here locally.

Recently, I had an opportunity to meet a couple of

enormously talented local hip hop artists who perform

under the stage name D&A. I was so impressed with

Dylan Harris and Ashley (“Ash”) Hendershott and their

positive energy and passion for their music that I asked

them if they might be interested in working with me to

develop something for the magazine.

As we continued the conversation, Ash whipped out his

cell phone to play some music he had just written and

performed with a local guitarist in his recording studio. I

was completely blown away. It was incredible. He asked,

“Would something like this work for the background

music?” To that I said, “Yes, absolutely!”

We talked further and the guys quizzed me on what

exactly I was trying to capture in the song. They took

notes in a makeshift brainstorming session. We bounced

ideas off one another, and then, what happened next

was truly remarkable…

(left to right) Ashley Hendershott, Tom Franciskovich, and Dylan Harris

Ash again hit “play” and as the tunes began pouring out of his phone, the guys started singing (technically they were “rapping”) the new song… “We’re

livin’ the SLO Life, the weather is so nice, the people are so kind, they say ‘hello’ and smile at you…”

I love being around people who are truly “in the zone” or “in a flow,” whether it be a couple of musicians writing a song, a ball player on a hot

streak, or someone so fully absorbed in a project that they are not aware of anything else… it can be just about anyone doing anything they are truly

passionate about, really. It’s powerful and inspiring.

My new friends hit it out of the park. I liked what they came up with so much that we adapted it into a television commercial - if you haven’t seen it

yet, you can watch it on our website (go to and click on “See Our Commercials” at the top of the page). They captured so much of

the essence of the “SLO Life” and did it in such a fun, positive, and creative way that I know you will love it and relate to it as much as I do.

Like all good things, everything starts with a simple idea. But, it seems to me, that simple ideas turn into something great with the help of others who

share the vision and the passion. I’d like to think the same is true with this magazine, which is the result of so many people putting in so much effort to

create something really special. To everyone who plays a role in that process, including our advertisers who allow us to mail each issue directly to your

home, I’d like to say “thank you”… I cannot imagine anywhere I’d rather be than right here “in the flow” with you.

Live the SLO Life!

Tom Franciskovich



4251 S. Higuera Street • Suite 800 • San luiS obiSpo, Ca 93401

SloliFeMagaZine.CoM • (805) 553-8820 • (805) 456-1677


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Meet Your Neighbor:

Kevin Harris


Caring , Qualified

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slo life magazine | 7

| Q & A

Gil Stork

His name is synonymous with Cuesta College, where he has been a teacher, administrator, and coach over the last 44 years. An

infectiously optimistic leader, he currently serves as its president at a time when the college, like so many other public institutions,

faces significant challenges. As a member of the 1960 Cal Poly football team, he was aboard that fateful charter flight out of a small,

fog-shrouded airport in Toledo, Ohio. The plane crash and its aftermath sent him on a difficult path to recovery where he ultimately

decided that the purpose of his life was to serve others. And, as the thousands of local students and athletes whose lives he has

touched would attest, one person certainly can make a difference…

If you would, Gil, take us back

to that cold October night.

The fog was very heavy and

we sat on the plane for quite a

while because there was some

concern about whether we were

going to take off or not. Finally

our coach came on the plane

and announced to the team,

“Yep, we’re ready to go… the

pilot is going to give it the old

college try!” And many of the

guys shouted out, “Yeah, let’s get

out of here!” We were ready to

go home, but there were some

guys on the team that were really

concerned, really afraid. One of

the guys was a student pilot and

he was more aware of the poor

weather conditions.

What do you remember about

the crash?

I remember the sensation of the

plane starting to drop and sort of

scooting down in my seat. That

was it. I must have blacked out

after that. I woke up and realized

that I was lying on the runway.

My back hurt, my legs hurt. I

could see the flickering lights of

fire through the fog. I rubbed

my tongue across my teeth and

found that some of them were

broken, and it’s funny what you

think of, but the first conscious

thought I had was, “My mom’s

going to kill me!” She had always

been concerned about my playing

football, thinking I was going to

get my teeth knocked out. Then I

remember someone running up

to me and yelling out, “There’s

another one over here!”

How did you deal with the


It was really confusing. It didn’t

make sense and I had a lot of

anger. I couldn’t figure out why

some people died and some

people lived. It tested my faith.

There were instances where guys

switched places on the plane,

somebody would want to play

cards and the other guy didn’t

and they’d trade spots. In some

cases someone’s life had been

spared while the other’s was lost,

which led to a lot of emotional

conflict and wondering, “Why am

I here, but he’s not?” And a lot of

guilt for us that survived, thinking

“Gosh, if I had not switched spots

with him, he would have lived

instead of me.” Really heavy

things to grapple with.

You had some major injuries

that you still deal with today, but

what was it that finally allowed

you to heal emotionally?

Six years after the crash my first

child was born. Going through

that whole experience and

witnessing the miracle of life, the

birth of a child - it really made me

realize that life is truly a gift. And

that there are a lot of things that

we don’t have any control over in

life. The best thing we can do is to

respond to it, take advantage of

this opportunity and try to make a

difference. It shifted me from

thinking about why it happened

to what was the significance of it.

And it created a question, which

was, “Ok, what’s the purpose of

my life now?”

How did you answer that


It created a sense of focus on

now, the importance of what

happens today. The importance of

relationships because I learned you

can’t guarantee that tomorrow

will come the way that you want

it to come. It shaped my public

service career and why I’ve chosen

to be involved in community and

service activities, where it’s about

people serving people, because

that’s really important to me.

And the miracle of a new life

clearly had a great effect on you

and your wife, as you went on to

have five children…

We actually had three young

children already when we

became foster parents to two

little girls who were sisters; one

of them was four months old and

the other was 15 months old at

the time. We took them in when

we learned that their previous

foster parents were leaving

the area. The girls had already

bounced around a few times and

we were told that they would be

split up and sent to two different

foster homes if they were moved

again, which we felt would have

been criminal. So, we had a lot

of discussions as a family and we

decided to adopt.

And how did the adoption go?

We went to court to finalize the

adoption and the judge brought

our other three kids in to be a

part of the proceedings. It was

really cool - truly an amazing

thing for all of us to go through

together, and we learned so much

about ourselves.

Before we leave, how about

sharing one little pearl of

wisdom you’ve gained during

your 44 years at Cuesta?

Academic progress and academic

success are influenced by so

many factors, and it’s usually

not intellect, it’s usually

life condition. It was really

important to me, all through

my administrative career, to

continue to teach – I always

taught one class each year in

the math department because

I wanted to stay in touch with

students and really understand

what sort of things they were

going through, what they

were thinking, what issues

they had because it made my

administrative work more

meaningful. SLO LIFE

8 | slo life magazine

slo life magazine | 9


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Just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity

to reach out to our community through

SLO LIFE Magazine. I have had such a great

response from folks on the idea of urban

farming - from almost complete strangers to

people I’ve known for years. I’ve had several

folks approach me about their own stories

and farming adventures, as well as folks asking

about how they can get their own going.

It’s been extremely rewarding and a great

experience. Thanks for putting together such

a great article that is something so dear to our

family’s heart.

Jennifer Moonjian

San Luis Obispo

And thank you, Jennifer, to you and your family

for graciously inviting our readers into your

beautiful backyard.




It was very helpful when you sat down with

me to collaborate on our new ad design.

There were some things there that I hadn’t

considered and your insight and suggestions

made a big difference. Also, I thought you

would be interested to know that we have

had great results so far. On the day that

the magazine was mailed out our website

registered more than three times the normal

traffic! Thanks again for all your help. Keep up

the good work!

Mark Shaffer

CEO, FunRide


We ran an ad for the first time in the last issue

of your magazine and so far we have picked up

6 new clients and the phone has been ringing

with inquiries from prospective members! We

track our marketing very closely by surveying

new members, and we’ve run ads elsewhere

but have never experienced this level of

response. I believe that your direct-mail form

of distribution along with the high level of

quality have a lot to do with it, overall I’m

ecstatic with the results.

Travis Bobbitt

Owner, The Yoga Centre


After reading our Voter Guide, which dissected

the pros and cons of Measures A & B, we

received a call from Allan Mayer, who, as a

former arbitrator, wanted to make what he felt

was an important point. Mr. Mayer correctly

stated that arbitrators do not necessarily have

to side with one party or another, but can

often help resolve disputes by finding a middle

ground or compromise. Mr. Mayer explained

that the San Luis Obispo City Charter had been

written in such a way that the arbitrator was

forced to name one side or the other as the

winner with no ability to help the two parties

meet in the middle. Although Measures A and

B are now the law of the land, it would have

been interesting to see what the long-term

effect would have been had the arbitrator

been given the authority to work out a

compromise. Thank you, Mr. Mayer, and to

those of you who added valuable feedback

after reading the Voter Guide.




It’s easy to get lost in our fast-paced world

and to forget the pure pleasure of reading

a topnotch magazine. I would like to thank

SLO LIFE Magazine and contributing writer,

Demitria Castanon, for putting the brakes on

my “busyness” and parking me in a chair with

a good read. Castanon is my neighbor—young,

enthusiastic, and on her first assignment with

SLO LIFE Magazine. Questions to determine,

meetings to schedule, photos to take, drafts to

write, and edits to be finalized - two intense

weeks to produce three pages that captured

“A Day in the Life of SLO Veg.” Knowing

Demitria prompted me to sit down, but the

content and quality of the magazine led me to

read it cover-to-cover. Motivated, I searched

the house for previous publications. In each

issue I found wonderful introductions to this

community where I have resided for ten years.

Thank you SLO LIFE Magazine for the quality

that makes me eagerly await the next issue.

Thank you Demitria for a great article on SLO

Veg and the opportunity to try their business,

and thank you SLO LIFE Magazine for getting it

just right, as always.

Anna Unkovich

Arroyo Grande

We, too, are quite impressed with your

neighbor, Anna. For those of you who don’t

know Demetria, she’s a student at Mission

Prep High School who called and emailed us

probably 30 times repeating how much she

loved SLO LIFE Magazine and that she “would

do anything… sweep floors, make coffee, or

whatever to be a part of it over the summer.”

Although our floors are pretty clean, we finally

told her to come on by one day, and after

getting to know her a bit, we said, “Forget the

sweeping, kid – let’s see what you can do with

an article.” Judging by the level of feedback

we received so far, the feature she developed

almost entirely on her own, “A Day in the Life

of SLO Veg,” has been one of our most popular

pieces to-date. We were so pleased with

her professionalism and enthusiasm that we

invited her back to write another feature (see

“To Your Health” on page 34), although she is

headlong into the new school year. And, just

a note to college admissions officers who may

be reading this… if you have the good fortune

to find Demitria’s application on your desk, do

yourself a favor and put it on the top of the pile!




I get your magazine and love the insight into

what makes our local SLO life so wonderful! I

am a small business owner and was wondering

if you would be interested in writing about

my unique small eco-friendly business called

“Fairyscape.” It’s the very first Eco-friendly

florist & gift shop that uses all locally grown

and handmade raw materials as well as

recycled and reused materials. I create

succulent wreaths, fairy gardens, succulent

arrangements & organically grown native

bouquets. My shop also carries a variety of

locally handmade artisan creations. I am one

of many small businesses that is working hard

to keep our local economy together and knows

how important it is to keep the money flowing


Pamela Newman

Los Osos

Thanks for reaching out to us, Pamela.

One of the really difficult things for us is

determining what stories to pursue and

finding how they all fit together in a given

issue. We receive so many story leads,

more than we have the ability to print. But,

as small business people ourselves, we

respect and admire all that you do to make

our community a great place to live. Your

products sound quite enticing, and we look

forward to stopping by your shop soon to

check it out. In the meantime, keep plugging

away knowing that we salute your efforts.



Tom, I’ve met you a few times at random

places, and I just want to reiterate how much

I appreciate your publication. It’s by far

the best in town, phenomenal quality, and

refreshing take on whoever is interviewed.

Well done! Great articles, all of them! And

beautiful layout! Keep it up. Thanks to you

and your staff.

Becca Sciocchetti

San Luis Obispo

Thank you, Becca! Your little note was like a

puff of wind in our sails this afternoon. It’s

readers like you who make all the hard work

and impossible deadlines worthwhile.





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slo life magazine | 11

| Updates

Get Back to the Business

of Running Your Business

A few weeks after the last issue arrived in

local mailboxes, eRMINa KaRIM (Meet Your

Neighbor, Aug/Sep 2011) was surprised by the

number of readers who commented on her story.

She confided, “Honestly, I cannot believe how

many people have come up to me after this came

out… I’m truly blown away, I had no idea.” Karim

continues to thrive at The Chamber and has

transitioned smoothly into her new role there.

Business Liability

Workers’ Compensation

Commercial Auto Insurance

Employee Benefits

Life Insurance

paUl BolgeR (Places, Aug/Sep 2011) inspired

imagination with his incredible “Starry Night”

photograph. We recieved an abundance of inquires

from readers wondering if the photo had been

altered. The answer is “No.” In order to capture the

ambient light just over the hillside, he set his camera

shutter to a 45-second exposure.

Call today and let us

begin assisting you with

all of your commercial

insurance needs.

(805) 783-7130

Visit us online at

We received many comments about

the busy day at SLO Veg featuring

daN MeltoN and RaCHael HIll

(A Day in the Life, Aug/Sep 2011).

It’s amazing what happens daily

behind the scenes of our local small

businesses. Our favorite comment:

“Who would guess there was so

much going on with a box of veggies!”

JoHN lINdsey (Q&A, Aug/Sep 2011) continues to

make “just talking about the weather” a fascinating

conversation. We asked him what we can expect the

local weather to be like over the coming months.

According to Lindsey, we’re heading into a La Niña

pattern and will see below normal rain fall this year.

1363 Marsh Street, Suite A

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

12 | slo life magazine


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863 Monterey Street • 805.540.7222

Store Hours

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Closed Mondays

slo life magazine | 13

| Places

The stacks

Morro Bay

At the California Photo Festival last year, Bob Canepa, along with the rest of the participating photographers, had

been focusing intently on the sunset over the water when he turned around to find that “nature and the modern

world had collided” behind him. After a lone surfer wandered into the landscape, Canepa figured he had the perfect

shot. But, he needed him to stop for a moment. Says Canepa, “I was a teacher for 31 years in Atascadero, and I

learned how to whistle… it’s the only way you can get the kids’ attention on the playground.” So, he whistled as loud

as he could, raised both arms and pointed to his camera. The surfer politely stopped and offered a smile. Canepa, like

many local residents, admits to not being particularly fond of the Morro Bay smokestacks. “The Stacks” offer a lesson

he has learned in photography, which may also be true in life: “… those subjects that we find obnoxious or distasteful,

sometimes just require some different light, and a different perspective.”

14 | slo life magazine


Do you have an amazing photo to share? Email it to

slo life magazine | 15

| Meet your neighbor

Meet Kevin harris

In this installment of our “Meet Your Neighbor” series, SLO LIFE Magazine sits down with Kevin Harris. He

is Ivy League educated with extensive theatrical experience, remains “life-long friends” with his ex-wife,

Khara, and has two young kids, Ella and Dominick, in local schools. He has a penchant for sweater vests

and Converse “Chuck Taylors.” He commutes by skateboard to The SLO Little Theatre where he is the

Managing Artistic Director. Here is his story…

okay, Kevin, we’d like to hear your story. take it from the top and spare

no details…

I grew up here. I lived in Arroyo Grande from when I was two until about

high school. I went to A.G. High School. Studied drama under Billy Houck

and also really got into Speech there, and knew I wanted to be an actor.

how did that go?

My mom drove me around to all the auditions. It was really difficult for

her because I was her youngest by about 9 years. Both of my brothers

stayed local, one went to Poly. The idea of sending her youngest off

somewhere outside of the area - I didn’t even apply to any schools in

California - you know, because I really wanted to leave this terrible,

terrible place [laughter].

Where did you go?

I got a full scholarship to NYU. My dad flew me out there one week

before classes began. And I had never really been anywhere besides

Missouri up until that point. I remember just being in my dorm room, I

was 17 at the time. My dad was there and he woke up at like 4:30am to

go off to JFK and fly out. I remember him walking out of the door and

thinking, “Holy [cow], I can do anything.” But, honestly, I was totally

terrified and alone.

What came next?

So, after I finished, I immediately moved back here, as people do when

they graduate from undergrad, especially actors. I started doing work at

the Centerpoint Theatre. They started in 1991 over at the old Greyhound

Bus station in the space where Mario’s Cafeteria used to be.

how were things going at Centerpoint?

It had been there for 10 years. I started right after we had spent the last

several months on this major fund raising campaign where we raised

nearly $70,000 to completely renovate the theatre, which we did. It

was beautiful but we were still leasing from Greyhound and it was a

very tumultuous relationship from the beginning. Right before our 10-

year anniversary season opened, we received a letter from Greyhound

Corporate saying we had to move out in 30 days.

Did Centerpoint go out of business?

No, we looked for somewhere to relocate. We needed a place to set

up shop. And we had always had our eye on New Orleans. We had a

couple of friends who were living there. They didn’t seem to have a lot of

theatres considering its size. We got in touch with the city and they were

very supportive of us moving out there because in New Orleans there

is no shortage of empty city-owned buildings. So they were willing to

subsidize us by allowing us to go rent-free in one of their buildings.

What a great opportunity…

So it seemed. We moved out there and about a month-and-a-half after

we got there, this was back in 2003, not sure if you remember this,

but there was a huge shakeup in the Mayor’s Office, where just about

everybody it seemed, was found to be involved in some major corruption

over the past 20 years and it had all just come to the surface. Of course,

our contact at the city office was one of the people that was fired and the

new person who took his place said, “Are you kidding me? No - we aren’t

going to subsidize a theatre.”

And, how far into the development of the new theatre company had

you been at that point?

We had moved about three quarters of the Centerpoint stuff out there,

just ready to go. All the seats, all the lighting equipment ready to go. And

now we had no place to put it. But I said to myself, “Alright we are going

to make the best of it,” and I got a job at the Contemporary Arts Center

as their theatre manager there. It was a new arts complex and I started

producing theatre through them which was a great experience.

16 | slo life magazine

What was life like in the big easy?

We were living in the Garden District, my wife, Khara, was pregnant with

our daughter, Ella. We lived right off Saint Charles Avenue, about twoand-a-half

miles from the French Quarter. It’s a great neighborhood. It’s

continued on page 18

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slo life magazine | 17

| Meet your neighbor

...sometimes life takes you back

where you want to go whether

“you think you can do it or not...

where you find so many of those beautiful mansions. But, like anything

in New Orleans, which is why it’s one of the most culturally diverse and

interesting cities on Earth, there are no good areas of town. It goes street

by street. You can have mansions on one street and then the very next

street you can have shacks, and then mansions again. It’s just completely

interspersed like that. We lived in an old plantation-style house that had

been converted into a duplex. We had families living around us and a big

front yard and a big backyard. It was great.

Sounds perfect, why did you leave?

Well, it all started one night after this huge gala at the Contemporary

Arts Center. I had been dressed up in a tux and I got home around 1am.

Khara came home shortly before I did. I remember getting into bed with

her and almost falling asleep but then hearing commotion from the next

room that sounded like people yelling. And we figured that it was just

our roommate watching a movie way too loud and we thought, “What

is that? That’s pretty rude.” Khara got up and she opened the door

and there was this guy standing there with a gun. He walked into our

bedroom and said, “Give me all your money. Give me everything you got.”

Wow – that’s intense.

I remember Khara called me Kevin at one point and then the guy started

calling me Kevin. And I will always remember that. He was like, “Kevin get

your stuff. I’m gonna really hurt Kevin, better make sure he gets his stuff.”

how long did this go on?

You know the whole thing probably lasted like 45 seconds, but it just

seemed like forever. And I was buck-naked because I was wearing the tux

before and I was so tired that I just stripped it off and got into bed, so I

remember feeling doubly vulnerable. And it was pitch black and I was

looking for stuff and I couldn’t find it. I remember feeling around on the

floor and finding this plastic level - we were putting in a shelf earlier in

the day – and then I picked it up and looked over at this guy’s silhouette,

this big guy, and thinking for just a split second that I could maybe knock

him out with it. And then I thought to myself, “Man, you are stupid. It’s

a plastic level from the Dollar Store.” So I put it down and ended up not

being able to find my wallet. I finally said to him, “I’m so sorry but I can’t

find my stuff… if I can turn on the lights I could find it. I’m not trying to

b.s. you, I just can’t find it.” And then he said, “Alright get in the corner,”

and he had Khara and I get in the corner and put our hands behind our

backs and we thought for sure he was just going to kill us.

Maybe the plastic level counterattack wasn’t such a bad idea after all...

What happened next?

There was silence, and we heard him go down the stairs. And then we got

up and looked out the window and he was just walking down the street,

not even running, just kind of walking. So the next hour or so everyone

was in shock, but we didn’t know it. Everyone was just all business. No

one was really talking about what just happened. Everyone was just very

efficient. We need to do this, cancel these credit cards, call the cops, do

this, do that. Khara got on the computer trying to log onto the credit

card company website to file a report, and I remember looking at the

computer screen - it was just completely fuzzy - that is when I realized I

was totally in shock. I felt alright and I felt like everything was fine, but

I couldn’t see the screen because my adrenaline was just so crazy that I

was unable to focus on the computer.

how do you feel about the experience now?

Oh, it just feels like a Bruce Willis movie now. But, honestly, it just ruined

it. It ruined the whole town for us. We were out of there about two

months later, as soon as we could get out. Actually, it took about a week

for us to be able to bring up that option because we really wanted to

make roots down there and make it happen. And we really loved the city,

but all of the most magical, romantic parts of New Orleans, like all the

dark streets and the fog, and burnt out street lamps and everything, all

the stuff that two weeks ago we loved, that made it seem like Disneyland,

were now just ominous and terrifying. The whole experience, even

though outwardly I felt fine, it had really shaken me up.

how did you regroup?

We decided to do what you do when you don’t know what you are going

to do, which is that we decided to move back home. All our family is here

and I decided that would be the perfect time to go to grad school since I

really didn’t want to start another theatre company from the ground up.

Even at Centerpoint, which was a great experience in learning how to run

a theatre company, I was always worrying about the bottom line.

So, did you stay in San Luis?

I just really wanted to spend three years of not having to worry about the

financial realities and instead just worry about the arts, so I enrolled at

the University of Iowa.

What were your impressions of iowa?

There are a lot of similarities between Iowa City and San Luis actually -

it’s got the same feel, similar architecture, and it’s a college town. It has a

similar vibe and I felt very much at home there. Plus it’s dirt cheap to live

there and it’s one of the best directing schools ever. My focus has really

been on working with new playwrights and original work. The University

of Iowa has a writers’ workshop which is the top playwrights’ school in

the country, so I knew if I got in there as a director I would be working

with the next generation of the greatest playwrights. And I still have

relationships with almost all of them. I was there for three years. I got

my masters degree. And, my son, Dominick, was born there. And he still

describes himself as “Dom the Iowa boy.” He is very proud of the fact that

he was born in Iowa, even though he doesn’t have many memories of it…

he’s definitely corn-fed, which is the best way to describe him.

how long were you there?

We stayed in Iowa for just about five months after I graduated because I

was directing for the Riverside Shakespeare. Then I had another directing

gig right after for an original musical in Illinois. So Khara went back to the

Central Coast and I stayed out there. And that was when we split, when

we officially separated.

How did you cope during that transition?

I was just going from theatre to theatre to theatre, you know, and being

18 | slo life magazine

there for six weeks at a time, and then a couple of weeks off. Then the

cycle would repeat. And it was really good at the time because I was

going through a divorce and it was a very good profession to be able

to avoid any kind of introspection at all because you are in a new place

every six weeks with a new group of people. And, as a director you are

sort of at the top of the ladder, so it really feeds into that God complex,

too, while your real life is falling apart. It was great while it lasted but

then everyone has to come back to reality after a while. And, I felt that

the lifestyle was no longer healthy.

how do you look back on your experience there now?

Well, we had kind of planned on setting up shop in Iowa, but as you

know plans change. Iowa just seemed great because I was working as a

freelance director and I was traveling all around the country working on

plays so it was a great central location. It was three hours from O’Hare in

Chicago, so I was able to easily fly anywhere in the country very quickly.

And, it’s just a great place to live. Iowa rocks, it’s just really cold. Other

than that, no complaints.

What brought you back home?

Khara had gotten a job out here and we knew we wanted to relocate for

no other reason than we didn’t know what else to do. And I wanted to be

near my kids and Khara and I still have a great relationship. We knew that

we always loved it here and we always wanted to come back here but we

never thought that we would have the means to do it. But, sometimes

life takes you back where you want to go whether you think you can do it

or not, you know? And now, three years later our family is doing great.

So how did you end up at The Little Theatre?

We came back and I continued to travel. And then I thought, I need to

get a job around here, I need to find a theatre job. But the PCPA (Pacific

Conservatory of the Performing Arts) was undergoing cuts at that time

and they weren’t hiring anyone. Poly wasn’t hiring anyone. Cuesta wasn’t

hiring anyone. But, around this same time I happened to go to breakfast

with one of my old Speech teachers from A.G. High School because I

wanted to get her advice. She had always been a really dear friend to

me and I wanted to talk to her about my divorce. I knew she had been

divorced before and I told her, “This is what is going on with me. Is it

normal?” We were talking and out of the blue she says, “Listen, I’m

on the board of The San Luis Little Theatre. We just lost our executive

director and we’re looking for a new one. Do you think that is something

you would be qualified for?” And it just completely fell into my lap

because that was what I was totally qualified for. That is the only job

on Earth that I would totally qualify for, and it was just right there. So I

interviewed for it and got it and the rest is history.

this December marks the third year of your tenure. how is it going?

This has been our best year ever. We are going on fifteen shows in a

row where we have exceeded our net goals. It has been nuts. And the

Reader’s Theatre has just been off the charts, too. We just had one of our

most successful Childrens’ Theatres this summer. So we are looking good.

We hear that The Little Theatre has big ambitions.

We plan on making this one of the premiere community theatres in the

nation. You know, really get our name up there in the top five qualitywise.

And my vision, and the board of directors shares this, is to make

The Little Theatre a cornerstone in the artistic community. We are

lucky enough to be subsidized by the city and have this amazing history

behind us, and now it is our responsibility to bring as much art into this

place as possible. I want the name San Luis Obispo Little Theatre to be

synonymous with good art that truly represents the community.

It’s been great getting to know you, Kevin, but it’s time for us to exit

stage left.

I’ve enjoyed it, too – and don’t forget to come back and see a show soon.




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slo life magazine | 19


The Siverson Home

20 | slo life magazine

Nels Siverson never expected to become a dairyman. In fact, he began his

career as a pilot for the now-defunct Eastern Airlines. But, Nels and his wife,

Marilyn, wanted their three kids to “see where food came from,” so they

signed them up for 4-H. The Siverson’s fate was sealed one day when the

kids brought a baby calf home with them from the program. That cow led

to another, then another, and another. This kept up over the years until the

family found themselves in the dairy business, running a full-fledged, full-time

operation on 450 acres near Ocala, Florida.

When it was time to go away to college, Cal Poly’s Dairy Science program

was the natural choice for Tryg Siverson and his parents decided to invest in

a home near the college, which is where they figured they would retire. After

the home served its purpose through the college years, Nels and Marilyn

hired local designer, Bill Isaman, to develop a plan for remodeling the home.

Recalls Isaman, “Nels said ‘follow me’ and we climbed up an old ladder to

one corner of the roof where he said, ‘this is where I want the kitchen to be.’”

After collaborating with general contractor, Greg Moore, it became obvious

that tearing down the existing structure and starting fresh was a better option

than remodeling. “Fortunately,” adds Isaman, “we were able to design it

in such a way that we recycled some of the materials that came out of the


Still, the kitchen remained the focal point and served as the hub which the

rest of the house was built around. Situated on the second story, the spacious,

airy kitchen takes in sweeping views through the abundant window openings.

The rounded pitch of the roofline – inspired by the Siverson’s travels in Asia

– is supported by custom made trusses, which were manufactured locally in

San Luis Obispo. And the “spine wall,” comprised of natural stone acts as the

primary support structure and runs the span of the home creating an easy

flow and a striking architectural focal point. The second story deck on the back

of the home is cantilevered so it would not impede the hillside views form the

first level with supporting columns.

The Siversons remained “hands-on” during the entire process and put

their personal stamp on the completion of the project. Much of the finish

work, including the deck railings and the kitchen table were a result of

Nels’ handywork in the woodshop. And Marilyn took on the design of

the landscape, again drawing inspiration from Asian-style gardens while

incorporating many native plants. Today, the couple who have “always loved

cooking together” find themselves spending most of their time in the kitchen,

just as Nels had envisioned.

slo life magazine | 21


SupporTEd dETAIL

The “spine wall,” a

signature design feature

for Isaman, functions

as the main structural

support, as well as a

unifying element in

the home. The custom

made trusses also serve

the dual purpose of

providing support and

complementing the

overall design.


Clean lines and modern

styling combine with

warm colors and

an indulgent area

rug for an inviting

space. Top it off with

spectacular views

of the surrounding

hillside through the

oversized windows,

and a relaxing oasis


22 | slo life magazine


The kitchen served as the

inspiration for the entire

project and remains the

focal point. The Siversons,

who love to cook together,

spend most of their time

in this elegant space.


Where life

meets style.

3021 South Higuera

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Tuesday-Saturday 10-5

805 542-0500

slo life magazine | 23

| real estate

Housing Affordability

Determing if the price is right

It is not uncommon to hear that the Central Coast, and San Luis Obispo in particular, is “an expensive place to live.” But, is it? And how is that

determined? We decided to ask around and here is what we found…

Most measures of housing affordability are based on a percentage of the income of the home owner. Depending on who you ask, the optimal

percentage of household income that should be allocated for housing costs ranges somewhere between 28% and 40%. But, that requires some

clarification… for example: Do housing costs include utilities? Are we basing the percentage on gross or net income? What about property taxes?

And, does it matter if the mortgage payments are fixed or variable?

Although there is not a consensus here, it does appear that 30% of gross income, which includes all regular monthly housing related costs (mortgage,

taxes, and utilities) is a good benchmark for affordability. [For tips on how to buy your home, turn to “Ask the Experts” on page 26].

30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage at current market rates

(assuming a 20% down payment and good credit)

total $1,614 / month

Property Taxes = $410,000 x 1.1% = $4,510 / 12 months

total $376 / month

Home Owners Insurance (estimated)

total $150 / month

Utilities = $200 water + $100 electricity + $50 gas + $25 garbage

total $375 / month

Add them all up and you get a grand total of $2,515 / month

Then divide by 30% to figure out the gross income needed, $2,515/30%

total $8,383 /month Gross Income

Multiply by x 12 months to find out the annual number, $8,383 x 12

total $100,600 annual Gross Income

That means, to own an average three bedroom family home in San Luis

Obispo, which currently sells for about $410,000 - assuming a market

rate 30-year fixed mortgage, a 20% down payment, standard taxes and

utility costs - the owners would need an annual gross household income

of about $100,000. So, how do we arrive at that number?

(See chart at left).

And, there you have it. To truly afford an average, three bedroom home

right now in San Luis Obispo, you should have a gross annual household

income of at least $100,000. Now, that can mean that a single income

earner is providing that amount, or it may be the case that it is a dual

income family, with a husband and wife, for example, each earning

$50,000 per year. Whatever the case, the number has to add up to at

least $100,000 to be considered “affordable.”

Of course, the affordability index changes when you adjust the variables.

For example, say you only need a two bedroom home. Or, the yard will

be planted with Central Coast native grasses and plants which require

less water, and, therefore, lower the monthly utility costs making it more

affordable. Perhaps, you have a big family and need five bedrooms. The

mortgage costs will increase with the higher cost of the home, as will the

property taxes and other variables, as well. You get the idea.


the numbers at a glance

Comparing the last four months to the same period last year (05/01/10 - 08/31/10 vs. 05/01/11 - 08/31/11)

Home Price

$100,000 - $500,000

2010 2011 +/- •

Home Price

$500,001 - $1,000,000

2010 2011 +/-

Home Price


2010 2011 +/-

1. Total Homes Sold

38 51 34.21%

64 57 - 10.94%

5 8 60.00%

2. Average Asking Price

3. Average Selling Price

$444,280 $430,946 - 3.01%

$427,183 $412,211 - 2.61%

4. Sales Price as a % of Asking Price 96.15% 95.65% - 0.50%

$681,405 $663,294 - 2.73% $2,096,240 $1,486,113 - 29.11%

$654,019 $637,422 - 8.41%

95.98% 96.10% 0.12%

$1,836,800 $1,231,586 - 32.95%

87.62% 82.87% - 4.75%

5. Average # of Days on the Market

69 69 0.00%

87 85 - 2.29%

144 342 137.50%

24 | slo life magazine

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of RealtoRs



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slo life magazine | 25

| real estate

Ask The Experts

What are some tips for first time home buyers?

Jed hazeltine

LL.M. Taxation

Attorney at Law

Central Coast Estate Planning

There are things you can do with your qualified

investment plan when buying your first home. The

government allows a first-time home buyer to borrow

up to $10,000 from an IRA for a down payment on

a home without incurring a 10% penalty for early

withdrawal. If you have an employer sponsored plan,

such as a 401K, you can take an additional loan of up

to $50,000, and with the stock market swooning, the

rate of return on your loan could be better than that of

your investment portfolio. Of course, any premature

withdrawal, will be taxable income, unless you borrow

from a tax exempt plan such as a Roth IRA or Roth

401K. Also, if you’re ready to purchase a home, then

you should consider establishing an estate plan to

ensure the orderly administration and disposition of

your assets. For instance, it’s important to consider

how you would like to hold the title of the home at

the time of purchase. There are some real benefits

to holding the title in a trust, for example, and it’s

easier and more cost-effective than you may realize,

especially considering the time and money that could

be potentially lost down the road if adequate planning

is not done. There are other ways to hold title, such as

joint tenancy, in the case where two people are buying

the home together. Holding the title in this way may

prevent the home from going into probate in the event

that one of the parties passes away during the period

of ownership. And, if you have a trust already, don’t

forget to transfer ownership to your existing trust. If

you have questions about the foregoing, or any other

estate and tax planning issues, consult a qualified tax

and estate planning professional before proceeding.

Inspired Habitats

San Luis Obispo

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Home, Office, & Gargage


Decorating with what

you already own

Karen Strombotne


26 | slo life magazine

It’s actually a great time to buy a house, but

there are some things that are going to make

it challenging for most people. Coming up with

the down payment will be the first obstacle

because the banks are going to want at least

20% down. In many ways we are going back a

couple of generations where we have to spend

5 or 10 years really committing to a savings

plan to come up with those funds. I do not

recommend borrowing the down payment

from family and friends unless you have a high

income and can comfortably afford to pay it

down each month along with your mortgage.

The other thing that you will need to work on

is your credit because banks are looking for

borrowers with really strong credit. That means

paying off those credit cards, cutting back

on meals out, entertainment, and shopping.

Another thing to consider is setting up an

automatic savings plan with your bank so the

money comes out of your account on its own.

You can also look into alternatives to savings

accounts, some fixed income investments are

currently yielding anywhere from 3% to 5%.

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slo life magazine | 27



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slo life magazine | 29


Respect & Care At Home

| No Place like home

cayucos abalone Farm

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30 | slo life magazine






in Avila Valley


in Avila Valley

Wine Tasting, Fine Art Gallery,

Vineyard Trolley Tours, Special Events,

and now.... Organic Pumpkins

Farming in California since 1850

6985 Ontario Road

(just north of Bob Jones’ parking lot)

San Luis Obispo, CA 93405


we are lucky on the Central Coast to have

access to some of the freshest seafood options

around. One shellfish people love, can no

longer be harvested locally. there is, however,

still a lot of it growing on the north coast. It’s

just not growing in the ocean. or, not exactly.

In the waters off the picturesque Cayucos

coastline, abalone were once abundant. Divers

brought back large hauls of the tasty regional

delicacy. That’s no longer the case today. “In

1997 they closed down all the commercial

diving for wild abalone,” explains Brad Buckley

of the Cayucos Abalone Farm. “The only place

you can still dive for wild abalone is Northern

California from the Bay area to the oregon


But along a tiny stretch of the coast of

Cayucos, Red Abalone are still plentiful. They

are not growing in the waters off the coast,

but in ocean water just above the shoreline.

In fact, approximately one million abalone

are harvested from these waters each year.

Welcome to the Cayucos Abalone Farm. “We

are the largest producer of red abalone in the

U.S,” says Buckley.

the farm has been around since 1968. Back

then most of the shell fish was being exported,

primarily to Asia. “Think about it,” says

Buckley, “that was the time of convenience

foods, and Swanson Dinners and instant this

and instant that.”

while many people on the west Coast

appreciated the delicacy of abalone, it never

really caught on nationwide. But like the chefs

who tour the farm today, more and more

people are getting turned on to the taste and

tuned into the history of this creature. “Yeah,

and people are really interested in regional

food items from other parts of the country. So

now most of our abalone is staying here in the

United States,” observes Buckley.

the abalone live and grow

in a series of pools at the

farm. they mature in open

air pools not far from waters

where they once used to

thrive. Kelp from the Pacific

is harvested for the pools.

“Then they get the benefit of

the natural algae and seaweeds that grow in

the tank with them. Fresh seawater is pumped

in 24/7,” Buckley shares.

Abalone is not a quick cash crop. They are

spawned like fish. Fertilization happens in the

water. For the first week they are in swimming

larval stage. then they go to a metamorphosis

stage and they settle. That’s when they go

to the hatchery building at the farm, and in

about three months, go from a microscopic

speck to something not much bigger than the

head of pen. It takes about a year before you

can see how they’re coming along and can

start separating them according to size. They

are a little bigger than the size of a quarter

after about two-and-a-half years.

They won’t get harvested until they are big

enough to make a small steak to eat. they will

only grow to about five-and-a-half inches at

the farm, and it takes them about six years

to get there. at that point, their growth spurt

slows, and keeping them to grow into their

“Golden Years” doesn’t make economic sense.

most of the abalone is sold wholesale, in

the shells, but you can buy the small steaks

cleaned and ready for cooking. “Abalone

prepared simply is the best. If you add too

many other ingredients, you’re going to hide

the true flavor of abalone,” says Buckley as he

cooks up a batch. “My favorite is the classic,

egg wash and breading, pan fried in a cast iron

skillet with a lemon caper butter sauce to go

along on the side.”

It should be fork tender when prepared

properly. And when it is, it’s a tasty reminder,

that There’s No Place Like Home. SLO LIFE

Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and reporter,

hosts the “No Place Like Home” series every

Thursday evening at 6pm.

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slo life magazine | 31

| OutdOOrs

Choose Your Adventure

Written by Paden Followwill | Photos by Amy Joseph

Of all my travels, so far to five continents, this wine-country-by-the-sea satisfies all of my desires for outdoor adventure and variety. I embrace

most weekends as a “staycation” which few can boast. I surf, kayak, rock climb, bike, cliff jump and thrive on exploration. I do this not because I’m a

talented athlete, but because I am a sensation seeker to the core. I’m a local on a mission to create work-life balance and make my days off count. The

Central Coast has afforded me and countless others many great adventures. You do not have to be an expert surfer or be in top physical condition to

experience the area’s outdoor activities. Here are two of my favorites...

Los Osos Mountains of Gold

You know you live in a highly coveted corner of the world when state

parks are less than a 20 minute drive from your home. One of my

favorite escapes from my daily haunts lies in what indigenous peoples

coined “Mountains of Gold.” Named for its crown of poppies and fields

of mustard, Montana de Oro is home to a number of hikes and mountain

biking trails that scallop the wind swept cliffs of Los Osos.

Originally part of the Spooner Ranch at the turn of the century,

Montana de Oro is a diamond in the rough, seemingly tucked away from

civilization. Rumor has it that this quality made it an ideal landing spot

during the Spanish era for contraband trades and even moonshiners

during the Prohibition.

The beauty of Montana de Oro is that each trail has unique highlights.

You can veer off any trail and find new secret alcoves, bluffs, or caves

deep in jagged rock. These Mountains of Gold are filled with rock arches,

tunnels, pebbled beaches, offshore reefs, teeming tide pools, explosive

surf, and occasionally seals and otters.

Of all the trails in Montana de Oro the quintessential 4 mile trek known

as Bluff Trail is the perfect gateway to experience this state park. This

trail slithers down the coastline, along the contours of the sandstone

bluffs providing the hiker with vast panoramic views of the Pacific and

clear views of Morro Rock.

Once you spot the dunes from the trail, you can make your way into this

labyrinth of sand and escape entirely. The best kept secret of the dunes

are the naturally occurring hard-packed diving boards of sandstone, five

to seven feet above the cascading slopes of sand. It is every child’s dream

to launch from this place and practice flips, and host competitions to see

who can jump the farthest or highest into the inviting sand slip and slide

below. Los Osos provides a density of dunes comparable to a Redwood

forest and are not to be overlooked or underexplored.

To get there take Los Osos Valley Road west from US 101. Follow this road 12 miles as it leaves town through

farmlands and the seaside town of Los Osos. Eventually Los Osos Valley Road turns south and becomes Pecho

Valley Road with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. As you weave around bends, keep your eyes peeled for

signs announcing trail heads and locations of interest.

32 | slo life magazine

Pismo Beach Sunset Surfing

Surfing in autumn sunsets is magic. The winds dies down, the water is smooth, the swells

grow peaceful and the sky lights up like the heavens are bursting forth colors they saved all

day to share with you. Orange, pink and purple. Warm, passionate and mesmerizing. It pulls

your soul up with it. In moments like these, time does stand still. You feel like you blend into

the scene.

From 101 North you exit

Wadsworth, turn west on

Wadsworth then south on

Highway 1 and head west

on any street toward the

ocean. From 101 South

simply exit Highway 1,

follow Highway 1 and turn

west on any street towards

the ocean. It’s that easy.

Park by the pier, watch

for the break you want to

surf and join the low key

group of surfers already

maximizing their day.

Growing up I always stereotyped surfers as living each day for the moment, barely making

it and counter-cultural in their pursuits. Surfers were spaced out spiritual people to me, as

far-fetched as their lingo. But out on the surging, glassy waters of Pismo Beach at sunset, once

you’ve paddled past the break and have the time to take in the backdrop - you realize that

surfing is spiritual. You’re so small, so insignificant in the natural majesty of powerful sets.

The rhythmic beat of the ocean pulls you away from your stresses, and makes you realize how

truly small your worries are. You are engulfed in splendor all around. And it is enough.

On the Central Coast we are blessed with a variety of breaks and currents that provide

different experiences. If you have always wanted to surf, but do not know where to begin, I

recommend Pismo Beach. The waves are milder than other spots in the area. The sand bar is

as gentle in slope as the beach which stretches for miles, affording you the choice to join the

pier crowd or find a solo peak. It is a great place to learn and easy to find.


slo life magazine | 33

| To Your HealTH

Diet or exercise?

By Demitria Castanon


















755 Alphonso Street

[off Broad Street]

San Luis Obispo, Ca 93401


34 | slo life magazine

It’s an age-old debate, and most routine doctor

visits end with those familiar parting words:

“Get more exercise, and eat better.” Geez…

thanks, Doc! But, really, if you do hope to shed

a few pounds, where should we focus our

efforts, diet or exercise?

The immediate answer appears to be “both,”

although the explanation may be more

complicated (and interesting!) than it appears

on the surface. While we understand the

many benefits of a regular exercise program,

as well as the importance of a healthy

diet, researchers continue to gain a better

understanding of how the two work together.

Local nutritionist, Stephanie Nunes of Rock

Solid Nutrition, suggests that while “reducing

caloric intake is the fastest way to get weight

loss started, improving lean muscle mass is a

great way to increase metabolism and help

keep the weight off in the long term.” And,

we did find ample research supporting Nunes’

claims. Very simply, weight loss takes place

when we consume fewer calories than we

burn. Our diet dictates the calories we take in;

and exercise, of course, would be the calories

we take out, or “burn.” Compare what you

take in to what you take out and you quickly

realize if you are gaining or losing weight. Easy

as pie… uh… or, carrots or celery, or something

like that.

Nunes further encourages small changes to the

diet that include portion control and healthier

food choices for lasting weight loss while also

pairing it with a healthy, active lifestyle, which

may include simple activities around the house

such as yard work or vacuuming. And, since

stopping mid-day for a healthy lunch is often

impossible, Nunes emphasizes the importance

of meal planning, which means prepping the

night before. And, she stresses the importance

of carrying water – and don’t just tote around

one of those hip looking Klean Kanteen bottles

that we all have rolling around in our cars - you

need to actually drink your water throughout

the day.

But, getting back to exercise… What is it about

lean muscle that helps maintain weight? Isn’t

aerobic exercise like jogging or swimming

better for burning calories? We have found

research that estimates that for every pound

of muscle between 40 to 50 additional calories

per day are consumed. The calorie burning

aspect of muscle appears to be greatly

expanded during and after the muscle building

process. In other words, lifting weights (or

doing some sort of resistance exercise) burns

calories during and after workouts.

It turns out the doctor telling us to eat better

and exercise more is spot-on. Although, it

may be helpful if he were to say “Pump more

iron, and prep healthy meals” next time!

We asked Nunes for a cheat sheet to keep us

on track:


• Never skip breakfast

• Frontload your day (eat more of your

calories earlier in the day vs. at night)

• Find a purpose for improving health:

kids, family history, travel, etc.

• Layout exercise clothes the night

before you head to the gym

• Set-up a session with a certified

personal trainer

• Visit to get a

basic, healthy eating plan started

• Keep food and exercise logs

• Manage your stress

• Drink plenty of water daily


slo life magazine | 35

| Music


Launching local talent

Dylan Harris and Ashley Hendershott

founders of Flowbispo and talent behind D&A

36 | slo life magazine


go to to listen to the

full length version of “Livin’ the SLO Life”

When he was a student at the Cal Poly School of Architecture,

Ashley Hendershott could not get the music out of his head.

Before long, it was all he could think about. Day and night,

he became a slave to the beat. Around the same time, Dylan

Harris, who could be found roaming local coffee shops with

a notebook in-hand, was dealing with a different, yet equally

gripping obsession - for him it was writing poetry.

After a chance meeting last year, the two have been

inseparable. Hendershott, who performs under the stage

name Ashis Clay, and Harris, together make up the local hip

hop group called D&A. Known for their high-energy tempo

and upbeat, positive lyrics, their music reflects the clean

living culture and style of the Central Coast. But, while the

duo loves to perform locally, they do not hesitate to admit to

having global ambitions.

Since they began collaborating, Hendershott and Harris have

formalized a plan to open a multimedia production facility

where their mission is “to promote and showcase local talent

to the world.” The name of their new enterprise is Flowbispo,

as in creativity flowing from San Luis Obispo. They anticipate

casting a wide net at first and expect to take on many varied

projects, such as music videos and viral videos optimized for

the internet and social media marketing.

Although their background is primarily in hip hop, the pair

is looking to record, produce, and collaborate with a wide

variety of local artists. Observes Harris, “I’ve got brothers

who do Heavy Metal, and I want to do Country Music in the

worst way.” Hendershott grew up in both the Bay Area and

Southern California rap scenes. He performed with Beat n’

Biscuit Productions where he opened for well-known rappers,

including Too Short. He emphasizes that, although their music

for the most part is lighthearted and upbeat, it’s important

for the art to be pure and true-to-heart, accurately reflecting

the reality and perspective of the artist. Says Hendershott, “I

love to do positive songs, but I did not come from a positive

place. Sometimes my music takes me somewhere else.”

While relatively new to the hip hop genre, Harris, who

actually used to poke fun at “the whole hip hop, rap thing”

observes that his work with poetry has enabled him to come

up with interesting and innovative lyrics to match the music

produced by Hendershott. And, Harris, who would remind

many of a modern-day beatnik, cites his large personal library

as inspiration for much of his wordsmithing. His rhythmic

speaking style reflects his writing and is ripe with flowing

prose. “SLO is a hopeful metaphor for Earth. There is still

suffering and homelessness. And you flip on the news to

see horrible things all over the planet. But, what our local

musicians often fail to recognize when they are competing

with each other is that they are feeding that mentality of

separation and conflict and adversity. It always starts on a

local level, making those changes that affect the world for the

better. We’re taking that perspective of global change starting

at home and using it as a foundation for Flowbispo to unite

our diverse, local talent.” SLO LIFE

slo life magazine | 37

| Travel


Paradigm shifting on a remote Guatemalan hillside

SaN PaBlO the downtown

below eNTHUSIaSM a Cal Poly

student shares his optimism

Mike Emrich, founder and president of Solarponics in Atascadero, figures that he

has “reached a point in his life where it’s time to give back.” And, while Emrich

and his wife, Anna-Louise, a teacher in the Atascadero School District, have found

themselves daydreaming about retiring someday and joining the Peace Corps,

the couple has found so many other ways to give back today. For example, earlier

this year, Emrich had been mentoring a group of Cal Poly students who were

preparing to spend the summer in Guatemala to help with the development of

San Pablo, which is a small, remote mountain village of approximately 800 people.

So, when the faculty leader of the program, Professor Pete Schwartz of the Physics

Department, joked with Emrich that “if you want to continue working with us,

you’ll have to come to Guatemala.” Emrich leaned back in his chair, thought about

it for a few seconds, and said, “Okay, sure.”

The Cal Poly students who are involved in the program are a diverse group, coming

from different backgrounds and disciplines. But, the one thing that unites them

is that they want to not only help with the development of an impoverished

community, they also want to understand what works best. According to Schwartz,

who has concentrated most of his research on solar power, “We know that

38 | slo life magazine

continued on page 41

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40 | slo life magazine

Travel |

Auto | Home | Business

Agriculture at 10,000 feet in elevation

presents its challanges. In addition to the

crops pictured here, rose farming comprises

a major part of the local economy.




Safety & Security Films

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technology really doesn’t fix anything, we first have to establish relationships.”

And, establish relationships they did. The Cal Poly students became immersed in

the community as they looked for opportunities to make the village sustainable

and energy efficient. And, the summer school itself, which they call “Guateca” is a

veritable mixing bowl of relationship building, learning, and brainstorming as the

Cal Poly students sit alongside the Guatemalan students in a one-room classroom

setting. The idea that Schwartz stresses is that “we are developing new paradigms

where everyone learns something and it’s not just us going down there to ‘help

them,’ although that is ultimately the goal, but we also have a lot to learn ourselves.

And, most importantly, we see our futures as being intimately linked with theirs.”

One of those learn-from-each-other concepts was put to test by the Cal Poly

students, who, by getting to know the villagers, came up with a simple idea for

conserving and re-using energy. And, both Emrich and Schwartz agree that the best

place to start becoming sustainable is by addressing the simple things first. In San

Pablo, most of the cooking is done with traditional wood-fired stoves. Seeing this

and also recognizing that heating water is a constant challenge, the students began

collaborating with some of the locals to develop a rudimentary “chimney heated

water system.” Essentially, a set of galvanized water pipes was woven through the

chimney to be heated with the same wood-fire energy that was used to cook dinner.

The result is that the hot water is created without using any additional energy.

Recalls Emrich, “Seeing the students in that moment of discovery is a treat, all that

enthusiasm and excitement that comes with the ‘gee whiz’ or ‘aha moment’ makes

the whole thing worthwhile.” SLO LIFE

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slo life magazine | 41

| Business

Bootstrapping Your Business

We’ve all heard the term “pull yourself up by

your bootstraps,” but what does it mean in the

context of starting a small business? Simply

put: to “bootstrap a business” means to start

and grow the enterprise with only the profits

created by the company. In other words, you

do not borrow money from the bank, or family

and friends, or find an investor - instead the

money to grow the business comes from the

business itself.

Bootstrapping is more common these days

as the credit markets have tightened up, and

banks have become reluctant to lend money to

small companies. There are some who would

argue that bootstrapping is actually a better

way to get started anyway, as having a large

sum of cash in a start-up can often lead to a

false sense of security. The reality of not having

a safety net and the neccesity of generating

your income immediately really helps you focus

on what is important since you have very little

margin for error.

Of course, not all types of businesses are suited

for bootstrapping. For example, a retail store

would require that you purchase inventory

in advance. A restaurant generally requires

an expensive investment in appliances and

equipment. But, there are many types of

businesses that can be started with very little

or no cash. Service businesses are often good

ones, particularly those that rely on hand labor

and very little equipment with no licenses or

certifications needed.

A little brainstorming can lead to some

interesting business ideas: tutoring, painting,

mobile dent/glass repair, gardening, window

washing, piano lessons, dog grooming,

bookkeeping, auto detailing, and the list goes

on and on. The key requirements seem to be:

1. Little or no cash required to get


2. Little or no cash required to

operate (for example, you aren’t

constantly resupplying inventory)

3. Minimal fixed costs (items like rent

and insurance are fixed costs)

4. Demand for your services (starting

a snow removal business on the

Central Coast clearly will not fly!)

5. An ability and willingness to “wear

all the hats” at first (forget about

hiring help – it’s all on you)

If at all possible, keep your day job while

bootstrapping your start-up business, at least

until you develop enough customers to have it

replace the income from your job. If that is not

an option, it’s not the end of the road. The nice

thing about this approach is that it is entirely

possible – if you choose the right niche – to

start from Day 1 with a profitable, cash-positive

business. The key with this type of business, as

well as any type of business, for that matter, is

to really understand how the cash flows in and

out of the operation. Look at when the cash

comes in and when it goes out, and if you find

that the business will create positive cash flow,

then you are probably on to a winner. With

that said, it’s still up to the entrepreneur to

make it happen.


42 | slo life magazine

slo life magazine | 43

Mineral SpringS

r e S o rt & S pa


| LocaL food by LocaL peopLe

Family Tradition

By Tiffani Ayers

Farm to Table Cuisine

with Chef Pandee Pearson

Fresh Flavors meets

Simple Sophistication

New Wine List, Pairings, & Events

with Sommelier Patricia Borgardt

Open Daily for

Breakfast Lunch and Dinner.

• Romantic Dining Room •

• Historic Bar and Lounge •

• Private Garden View Room •

• Twilight Garden Patio •

595-7302 |

1215 Avila Beach Drive

San Luis Obispo

My grandmother, Fong Gong, came to the

United States from Hong Kong as a young

married woman in her twenties. My mother,

the oldest of five, was born shortly after

my grandparents’ arrival in San Francisco.

Connecting with my grandma was difficult

because she speaks Cantonese with broken

English, and I cannot speak Cantonese. So,

Grandma connected with my brother and me

through food.

Throughout the years, Grandma would ply us

with treats each time we visited. There was

the special treat drawer and the pantry was

always brimming with various snacks. Now

in her nineties, Grandma does not cook and

bake as she once did. We may no longer get

homemade almond cookies, wonton, or bao,

but she will still make sure we don’t leave her

home empty-handed. Food continues to be

the avenue through which we bond. I am lucky

to have this history, and now with her almond

cookie recipe, it is my turn to share.

44 | slo life magazine

Gardens of Avila Sign photo by Mike Larson Photography

I am lucky to have this history, and

now with her almond cookie recipe,

it is my turn to share.

Central Coast

Farmers’ Harvest

• Fresh Picked & Locally Grown

Pesticide Free Produce

• Direct Delivery to Your Home

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Eat Healthy, Eat Local

aLmond cookies

Family Recipe by Fong Gong

Makes 4 dozen

Cooking time: 10 - 12 minutes

5 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup canola oil

2 sticks butter

2 tablespoons almond extract

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

appoximately 48 almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine oil, butter and sugar until well mixed.

3. Beat in eggs and almond extract.

4. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

5. Slowly add flour mixture into the wet ingredients.

6. Roll about a teaspoon of dough into a ball and flatten onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Brush the tops of cookies with beaten egg yolks and press an almond into center of cookie.

8. Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

Have a recipe to share? Go to to tell us about it.



• San Luis Obispo • Avila •

• Los Osos • Five Cities •

• Nipomo •


slo life magazine | 45

| community calendar

Presenting the best

in professional

entertainment at the

Performing Arts Center!


city to the Sea

october 9th

San luis obispo - Pismo Beach

Get out your running shoes and start preparing for the 16th annual City to the Sea point-topoint

half marathon, which starts in San Luis Obispo and ends in Pismo Beach. If 13.1 miles is

not your preferred distance, try the 5k race (3.1 miles), which takes place in Pismo Beach. And

don’t forget to get your kids ready for the Kids’ Fun run (1/4 mile), which takes place at Dinosaur

Caves Park in Pismo Beach!

central coast Bioneers conference

october 14th - 16th

San luis obispo Vets Hall

Bioneers is inspiring a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other, and

future generations. Bioneers has two keystone goals to help make this shift successfully: Connect

people with solutions by popularizing breakthrough ideas and practices, and grow social capital by

catalyzing, connecting and strengthening strategic networks, including bioregional and community

based alliances.

the yeomen of the Guard

october 22th - 23rd

clark center, arroyo Grande

The Yeomen of the Guard is Gilbert and Sullivan’s exciting Shakespearean operetta brimming

with intrigue, love triangles, disguises, a struggling jester, and topsy-turvy schemes centered

around the escape of a falsely accused prisoner in the foreboding Tower of London during the

late 16th Century. In what is considered to be one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s finest, this thrilling

tale is a tapestry of poignant moments, satire, bawdy humor, and delicate romance.

46 | slo life magazine



rockin’ Harvest

november 4th - 6th

Slo Wine country

Kickoff Friday night with a variety of winemaker socials and dinners. Spend Saturday at

The Grand Tasting and Auction where over 60 wineries and restaurants from the San

Luis Obispo region are featured in the scenic seaside setting of the Avila Beach Golf

Resort. Hit the SLO Wine trail on Sunday and let the party carry on at participating

wineries, where they will host with wine, food and entertainment.

Dog Training • Premium Daycare • Boarding • Grooming


173 Buckley Road • San Luis Obispo

(805) 596-0112

modern masterpieces

november 12th @ 8:00pm

cohan center

Enjoy a remarkable evening presented by the San Luis Obispo Symphony featuring

Roger Wilkie playing Violin. Music to include Beetohven’s Overture to Fidelio,

Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, and Sibelius’ Symphony No.5 in E-flat

Major. Celebrate a night of amazing talent and unforgettable music.



Lunch Buffet

Mon - Sat 11:30am - 3:00pm $8.99

Monday Dinner Buffet

5:00pm - 10:00pm $9.99

Sunday Brunch


2115 Broad Street, SlO

805.781.0766 |


language of the Soul

november 9th – 20th

San luis obispo

The 28th Annual San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival begins with four nights at the San Luis Obispo

Museum of Art with Glenna Luschei and Clayton Eshleman. The other nights are at various

venues with Closing Night at Linnaea’s Café. Most evenings feature three poets, a selected

reader, and two features.


Season, Group, and Single Game Tickets

on sale at the box office by calling

1–866–GO STANGS or online at

Like us on

Follow us at

slo life magazine | 47

The Payne Team

Our approach to real estate is about

much more than property... it’s about people.

Jed Damschroder


The Payne Team

Denise Silva Topham


Gavin Payne


962 Mill Street, San Luis Obispo, California 93401

48 | slo life magazine

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