SLO LIFE Feb/Mar 2014

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2 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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| CONTENTS

SLO LIFE

magazine

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014

38

6 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

28

22

8 PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE

10 ON THE COVER

12 INFO

14 IN BOX

16 TIMELINE

18 VIEW

20 Q&A

22 MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR

28 ARTIST

30 DISCOVER

34 AFTER HOURS

36 ON THE RISE

38 DWELLING

46 CITY REAL ESTATE

48 COUNTY REAL ESTATE

50 MUSIC

52 OUT & ABOUT

58 WHAT’S HOT NOW

60 INSPIRATION

62 SPECIAL FEATURE

66 EXPLORE

68 HEALTH

75 TASTE

76 KITCHEN

78 HAPPENINGS


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2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 7


| PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE

The Cussing Jar

Sometimes you just have to lay down the law.

At least that is what I thought we were doing when we implemented a new parenting technique at our

house recently. When we called the kids together for a family meeting to explain what was going on, there

was a lot of concern and a lot of questions. Our kids had picked up a few bad words on the playground,

and we needed to take immediate action. We told them that we had set up a mason jar in the kitchen

where coins would be deposited when someone used “colorful language.”

The concept was pretty simple, really. Say a bad word, deposit a quarter in the jar. Our kids—ten, eight, and four years

old—caught on quickly and all agreed that it would be a major bummer to have to spend their hard-earned dough this way,

particularly since allowance is just a buck a week.

Things started off well and the empty mason jar looming in the corner proved to be a major deterrent. Finally, one day

someone slipped up. I can’t remember who it was, but a deposit was made. The quarter’s distinctive ping rattling around the

glass was like the shot heard around the world at our house. It didn’t happen very often, so I thought the whole thing was

going pretty well… until the kids began to apply the rules to me.

Although we live in the Happiest Place on Earth, some days are happier than others. I can almost hear the old John Denver

8-track tape my parents used to play: Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. My kids shifted the balance of power on one

of those days that the bespectacled country boy would have put under the column marked “stone.” Frustrated by something,

I just couldn’t help myself. No sooner than the four-letter word had left my lips, I heard my daughter say, “Uh, dad, that was

a bad word. You should have to put money in the jar.” I looked up to see her brothers nodding their heads in agreement.

“What?!” I exclaimed in mocking disbelief, “that’s bull$*&#!” We all busted up in laughter. Seizing the moment, and hoping

to turn the day into diamonds, I let a few more colorful words of protest fly, this time with a heavy dose of dramatic flair. My

little stand-up comedy routine had set me back $1.75.

Recognizing that I was potentially a cash cow, the kids began watching my every move. The slip-ups were starting to take

their toll, and I noticed that my behavior began to improve. I was tired of spending my money this way so I cleaned up my

language and started toeing the line. But, it wasn’t until my kids had a fundraiser at their school that my karma came back to

bite my dogma. Upon entering the “Penny Wars” competition, my daughter asked if she could donate the mason jar, which

was now overflowing with coins.

On the last day of “Penny Wars” my daughter and her friends were in the library, each of them with their coins spread on

the floor to get final counts. As the school’s PTA president made her way around the room to interview the students about

how they raised the money, she stopped to talk with my daughter. “Oh, it’s from my dad. He had to put lots of money in the

cussing jar.” Later that day, through a fit of laughter, the PTA president pulled my wife aside to relay the story. “But, don’t

worry,” she assured, “I won’t publish it in the school newsletter.”

I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who had a hand in creating this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine

and, most of all to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you.

Live the SLO Life!

Tom Franciskovich

tom@slolifemagazine.com

8 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 9


| ON THE COVER

BEHIND the scenes

with Chris Bersbach

DAN IS A PAINTER as well as a baker, and during

the cover shoot we had been talking about light and

lighting. He offered a romantic description of the

way the early morning sunlight passes through the

steam from the oven at his bakery on the outskirts

of San Luis Obispo. He suggested coming by early

in the morning when they bake the baguettes to see

it for myself. As you can see in the image below, he

wasn’t kidding.

I HAD A FEW different ideas for incorporating flour into the cover image

of Dan, to give him some context with the story of his bakery. But it wasn’t

until the day we were scheduled to shoot that it occurred to me to actually

throw flour into his face for the portrait. When I arrived, I was talking Dan

through my process and explained that I wanted to do something with flour,

but I wasn’t too specific—I usually prefer not to jump directly into odd,

conceptual stuff, preferring to start simple and let my subject get used to me

and my camera before I ask them to do anything really out there. But Dan’s

a creative guy, and he beat me to the punch. As soon as I brought up using

flour in a non-specific manner, he volunteered that it should be all over his

face. Exactly what I had been planning to lead up to.

We made these portraits at Dan’s house,

in his driveway. We shot against a couple

different backgrounds, and I used my

usual mix of digital and film capture.

Dan was an absolute blast to work with,

and a really good sport about trying anything

that I asked of him. By the time we were

done shooting, the driveway was a huge mess

with all of the flour we’d spilled, and Dan

refused to allow me help him clean up any of it.

I’m still cleaning flour out of my equipment.

SLO LIFE

10 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 11


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12 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

We Want to

Hear from You!

Have some comments or feedback

about something you’ve read here? Or,

do you have something on your mind

that you think everyone should know

about? Let us know! To have your letter

to the editor considered for publication

in the “In Box” section, please email it

to info@slolifemagazine.com. Be sure

to include your full name and city. And,

it’s best to keep it to 250 words or less.

Promote Your

Business!

Our advertisers get great results and

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first we want to know about you and

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sized budget. Or, you can log on to

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of testimonials from happy advertisers.

Tell Us

Your Story!

So many of the stories we publish come

from our readers’ great leads. We are

always looking for interesting homes to

profile (see “Dwelling” on page 38), have

a recipe that your friends and family love?

Share it with us! To get an idea, check out

“Kitchen” on page 76. Is there a band we

should know about? Something we should

investigate? Go to slolifemagazine.com

and click “Share Your Story.”

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PUBLISHER

Tom Franciskovich

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Sheryl Disher

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Jeanette Trompeter

Paden Hughes

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Chris Bersbach

Rénee Besta

Mark Gvazdinskas

Maren Brajkovich

Joseph Dominguez

CONTRIBUTIONS

Submit your story ideas, events, recipes

and announcements by visiting us

online at slolifemagazine.com

Contributions chosen for publication

may be edited for clarity and space

limitations.

ADVERTISING

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contact Tom Franciskovich by phone

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NOTE

The opinions expressed within these

pages do not necessarily reflect those

of SLO LIFE Magazine. No part of this

publication may be reproduced in whole

or in part without the expressed written

permission of the publisher.

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Letters chosen for publication may be

edited for clarity and space limitations.


feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 13


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>> Cloud Seeding

56

%

of you are against cloud seeding

in San Luis Obispo County

44

But...

%

said, “We need

rain so desperately

that we’re willing

to support cloud

seeding this year.”

EDNA VALLEY

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>> Green Home

Dear SLO LIFE,

While I appreciate all the work that went

into building the 5,000 square foot house

in the Edna Valley, can you guys maybe

feature something that is a little more

environmentally-friendly in the next issue?

Thanks,

Nancy

San Luis Obispo

>> Thanks for contacting us, Nancy. Your

comments inspired us to look around for

such a story, and we found Tierra Nueva

Cohousing, which should be right up your

alley. Turn to page 38 and read all about it.


Our story about Cal Poly student housing [“Bursting at the Seams,”

Oct/Nov 2013] continues to resonate with readers as the issue remains very

much in the news. Here is another letter we received recently…

>> Tipping Point

Dear SLO LIFE,

Great story and information. SLO is at the ‘tipping

point’ when it comes to the owner/student renter ratio.

If Jeffery Armstrong is serious about “California -

really, the country - needs more Cal Poly graduates”

then graduate them sooner! That would be the fastest way to fix the situation. Let him prove that

he can do that first and then increase enrollment. I thank you again for bringing this issue, and the

ensuing statistics, to the community’s attention.

Sincerely,

Jim Schwartz

>> The day after Cal Poly’s announcement

that it will be pressing ahead with its

controversial proposal to develop freshman

housing on Grand Avenue, we received several

calls suggesting that we follow up the “Bursting

at the Seams” story by expanding on the idea we

found, which is to allow for a rapid expansion

of on-campus housing at virtually no cost to the

university. Since that idea is so simple, we will go

ahead and summarize it again right here:

There are companies that specialize in building

on-campus student housing called REIT’s (Real

Estate Investment Trusts) using private money

from investors. With this arrangement, land-rich

Cal Poly would not have to go out for a bond

to finance their on-campus housing; instead

they would strike a deal with a company such

as American Campus Communities (ACC).

Cal Poly would then lease the on-campus land

to ACC for $1 per year, for example, and ACC

would finance, build and manage the on-campus

student residences. ACC would collect the

rents from those properties for a period of 20

years, after which time they would hand it over

free-and-clear to Cal Poly. We found that this

formula worked well with several REIT’s who

partnered with other public institutions around

the country, including the University of Texas

and Portland State University, among others.

>> We continue to receive our

best story leads and suggestions

from you. For example, the Diablo

Canyon article (see page 62)

was at the urging of one of our

subscribers. If you have a story

idea, or would like us to dig into

an issue a little bit, please go to

our website at slolifemagazine.com

and click on the button that says

“Share My Story.”

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Letters may be edited for content and clarity. To be considered for publication your letter must

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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 15


| TIMELINE

After removing its long-time

city attorney in September—by

providing a lump sump severance

payment of $163,235—the Morro

Bay City Council terminated the

employment of its city manager,

Andrea Lueker, a city employee

since 1987 when she started

as a lifeguard. Her last paycheck was made out for $153,322. The

terminations, led by Mayor Jamie Irons, prompted a citizen recall effort

to remove him, which eventually fell short as not enough signatures

were collected. Citing employee confidentiality, no reasons were

provided by the council for the firings.

It’s official, 2013 will go down as the driest year on record in

San Luis Obispo County. In the City of SLO, only 4.5 inches

of rain fell all year, which shatters the previous record low of 7

inches recorded in 1898. Paso Robles received just 1.9 inches or

approximately 15% of normal. Santa Maria had 3 inches, their

driest year on record. The effects of the drought are magnified

as they come on the heels of subpar rain years and leave

municipal water supplies around the Central Coast in precarious

positions. As local officials begin doing rain dances, the 2014

season is off to a slow start. At the time of this writing, no rain

has fallen on the Central Coast since January 1st.

The Grover Beach City Council elected to remove Mayor Debbie Peterson as

its representative on the Air Pollution Control District Board (APCD) after

she wrote a petition that had not been authorized urging the repeal of the dust

rule. In response, Peterson called a special meeting where representatives from

Friends of Oceano Dunes, a non-profit pro-off road vehicle advocacy group

whose members reside primarily out of San Luis Obispo County, tell the council

essentially, “Reinstate Peterson or we will appeal the lodge and conference

center project.” The 150-room hotel and 11,000 square-foot conference center

has been slated for construction on about 13-acres near the intersection of West

Grand Avenue and Highway 1.

The Milken Institute Index of Best

Performing Cities reports that San Luis

Obispo County is on the upswing when

it ranks it 25th nationally. The report

noted that it was “the largest gain of any

large metro in the Top 25.” The Milken

Institute ranks the entire county together,

as opposed to individual cities, which

puts its population at 274,000 thereby

classifying it as a “large city.” The wine

industry and growth in the technology

sector are said to have driven the ranking.

Incidentally, the rankings have varied

dramatically over the past ten years: in

2003 SLO County ranked #6 and in

2009 it ranked #130 suggesting that the

researchers at the Milken Institute may

have been mixing wine with technology

when putting together the report.

december 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

16 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


A report conducted by the US Department

of Housing and Urban Development ranks

SLO County as the 3rd worst in the nation

for sheltering its homeless residents. The

study estimates the homeless population

to be 2,300 and suggests that 90% of those

individuals are without shelter. Although

local leaders continue to debate the causes

and solutions, the fact remains that that the

Central Coast, for whatever reason, continues

to face major challenges with homelessness.

In a mind-boggling coup d’état,

Gary Eberle was removed from

his leadership role at the winery

he founded over thirty years

ago. With his half-brother

ailing in an Alzheimer’s care

facility, Eberle’s sister-in-law

assumed voting rights

of her incapacitated

husband’s shares.

With control of the

Eberle Winery board

of directors, Jeanne

Giacobine was able

to push Eberle—who

is often to referred to

as “The Godfather” of

the Paso Robles wine

region—out of the

general partner role.

Although Giacobine

offered no reason for the

move, Eberle cited the

board’s desire for more

profits as the motivation

and suggested that

product quality would

suffer with an expansion.

Fighting back tears on the steps of Santa

Maria City Hall, Abel Maldonado

announced that he was dropping out

of the race to become California’s next

governor. The republican, who had

previously served in the state senate

and as lieutenant governor, oversaw

a campaign that never gained any

significant momentum. Although

he stated that “Now is my time to

step away and stay home,” it is widely

expected that Maldonado, a rising star

within his party, will soon find another

office to run for despite his recent 0-2

losing streak.

The race to represent District 4—Nipomo,

Oceano, and parts of Arroyo Grande—on the

SLO County Board of Supervisors is shaping

up to be a hotly contested affair as another

hat is tossed into the ring. AG-based real

estate broker, Mike Byrd, announced that he

will compete against Nipomo businesswoman

Lynn Comptom and recently appointed Caren

Ray [learn more about Ray on page 20] in

the upcoming contest in June. If no candidate

receives a majority of the vote at that time,

there will be a run-off in Novemeber.

In what has become a familiar scene on the shores of the Central

Coast, yet another drug trafficking panga boat washed up on Estero

Bluffs beach near Cayucos. This vessel—the largest one to date,

complete with powerful dual V-8 outboard engines and sophisticated

communications equipment—was called a “super panga” by the

sheriff ’s department. It was the 11th panga found along the county

shoreline since May 2012 and it contained 4,440 pounds of marijuana

with an estimated street value of $6 million to $8 million. Authorities

believe that the traffickers were interrupted while unloading their

cargo onto the beach, which caused them to scatter and abandon the

boat and its remaining bags labeled “Salvado,” or “bran.” No arrests

were made at the time of the finding.

january 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

SLO LIFE

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 17


| VIEW

Go to the

LIGHT

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RÉNEE BESTA

TTHERE IS AN old adage in photography that

goes something like this: If you are not finding

something in front of you, turn around and look

behind you instead. That is exactly what Rénee

Besta did last spring while photographing the altar

in Mission San Miguel. As she pivoted the camera

on its tripod, she was delighted to discover the view

you see here. “I found all of the architectural lines,

everything, the frescos, the beams, the pews, all lined

up, all converging, and leading to the light which

was coming in through a half-opened door,” shares

Besta, who lives in Paso Robles.

The photographic technique Besta employed for

this particular shot is called High Dynamic Range

(HDR), which means that multiple shots are

taken then layered atop one another to maximize

the detail. To make this photo, Besta took a total

of thirteen shots, which was made difficult by the

tourists who would occasionally roam in and out.

She then spent many hours of post-production work

on her computer. The result is an exquisite rendition

worthy of the 217-year-old North County jewel.

Besta, who identifies herself as “spiritual rather

than religious,” often finds solace in Mission San

Miguel where she can sit and reflect quietly with

her thoughts. “Some people go to the beach or for

a hike, but I find that this place has wonderful,

wonderful energy. There have been so many people

over the years coming here to pray or meditate,

and all of that positive energy—and I hope this

doesn’t sound too ‘out there’—gets absorbed by

the building.” Besta pauses for a moment to collect

her thoughts, “And in this particular photo, where

everything is going toward the light; isn’t that the

point? Aren’t we all, isn’t everything that is positive,

looking to go to the light?” SLO LIFE

18 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 19


| Q&A

Meet the Press

In October, Caren Ray was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to complete

the term of Supervisor Paul Teixeira, who had passed away unexpectedly. The

appointment required that she resign her seat on the Arroyo Grande City Council,

as well as leave her job at Santa Maria High School where she was popular with the

students as both a history teacher and a water polo coach. Today, she is a full-time

politician overseeing the County’s 4th District, which includes Arroyo Grande,

Oceano, and Nipomo, as she prepares to run for election this June.

You have some deep roots in the county, correct?

I’m a graduate of Arroyo Grande High School. I

went to Cuesta College for athletics. I am the one

and only female that has ever played men’s water

polo at Cuesta. There were very few opportunities for

women in collegiate athletics back then. The coach,

Terry Bowen, who had an incredible influence in my

life, had seen me play because I was local and asked

if I wanted join the team. He said, “If you can do

it like the boys, you can play with the boys.” I was

already playing boy’s water polo at Arroyo Grande

High School because there was no such thing as

girl’s water polo. It was good preparation for politics,

being able to hang with the boys. [laughter]

Do you really feel that politics is a men’s game?

It still is in a lot of ways. And it’s a world I’m

familiar with. I feel that I’m able to handle men

and powerful people—both metaphorically and

physically—because I am accustomed to finding my

way in that world. So I enjoy that part of politics. I

enjoy the social part of politics. I enjoy the challenge

of politics, it’s a puzzle, it’s a game, it’s strategy, it’s

preparation, it’s practice—it’s not physical practice as

in sports, but it’s reading and being prepared; it’s the

same approach.

And you still make time to be a mom. Tell us about

your kids. I have two beautiful children. They are

13 and 11, Calob and Eron, eighth grade and sixth

grade. Calob is in mock trial and has taken it upon

himself to start a coding club at his school. My

son Eron plays baseball and is dabbling in acting.

They still think mom is cool, for now, so I need to

bring them in as much as I can, and not let them

go as much as they want to, and keep these bonds

so strong while they still think I’m cool. [laughter]

They’re good boys. I’m lucky.

You had taught history at Santa Maria High for 15

years. Why history? I went to UCLA and got my

degree in history. I love to learn. I love academics

and study. I was very fortunate; when I graduated

my family gave me a trip to the Soviet Union. I had

saved up some money and extended that trip by four

weeks in Europe, doing the backpacking thing. Being

there and seeing the world, and seeing the reactions

to me, people could look at me and not only tell that

I was American but also from California. Part of that

was probably my blonde hair and my pink Nikes. I

was surprised by the reactions of other people. Some

were very embracing and kind and some were very

put off. I had never really experienced that before.

I realized then that I wanted to teach. I wanted to

teach world history.

What part of history most fascinates you?

Mid-1800’s industrialization, and how

industrialization really set up the circumstances that

led to the issues of the 20th Century: two World

Wars, communism in the Soviet Union, etc. etc.

I’m not saying industrialization was bad, but the

effects are so much more than the growth of cities

and pollution. Not only did it affect our lives on a

daily basis, but it also affected the way we relate to

the rest of the world and to each other. That area of

history is fascinating to me because it is so seminal.

And, then jumping forward and looking into what’s

happening in the Middle East and getting students

to understand the complexities of that region. It’s

difficult for them to understand why people can’t just

choose to get along. Why, if you’ve got two groups

of people who believe that they are right—and I can

make an argument that they’re both right—how

do you find peace in that circumstance? How do

those conflicts affect our daily lives? How are we

connected? Those are the questions I find intriguing.

It’s been said that “the past is prologue.” What

will things be like in 500 years? I think they’re

going to look back at industrialization and the

20th Century as something akin to the Dark

Ages, I really do. And, I mean “dark” literally

with the issues of pollution, but also with the

mechanization of war. I think that we are coming

into a period now where we are leaving a lot of

that behind. And, because of our interconnectivity

we’re coming into this era where you can’t just

sit in your little fiefdom anymore, and you can’t

behave in a way that is isolated from others. All

of us matter to each other, and I think that is a

very human way to exist. We are going through

an extraordinary period of growth. The world

is going through a massive amount of change

like a renaissance. Some of it is extraordinarily

good; the bad we will figure out. And we’re going

to figure it out because I’m an optimist. We’ll

figure it out. When you look at things on that

continuum, that historical continuum, and project

forward, I think it’s a very happy story. I think it’s

a very positive direction. SLO LIFE

20 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 21


| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR

Bread & Butter

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS BERSBACH

A few years ago DAN BERKELAND began baking bread and selling it from his San Luis Obispo home

under the name Back Porch Bakery. Since that time, Berkeland’s baked goods have spawned a cult-like

following prompting him to partner with a friend and launch Pan d’ Oro, a commercial bakery.

He met his wife Caroline, who is from Sweden, at a hostel in Italy where the pair worked as cooks.

They now have three daughters ages five, three, and one. Here is his story…

22 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


Smiling is the

way the soul

says hello.

We like to take it from the top, Dan. Where

are you from?

I’m from L.A., Inglewood actually. I graduated

Cal Poly in architecture in ‘96 and I knew I

wasn’t going to be an architect. I moved to

Italy a week later. I went over there to travel

around with my dad and ended up staying

for about five years. To make money, I first

worked on a farm taking care of olive trees,

and I started painting about the same time.

Then I started working in a kitchen at a guest

house where they had 60 beds; it was like a

hostel. All we did was take care of people. We

made their beds, cleaned up the toilets, cooked

their food. It was the most meaningless job in

the world, but the most meaningful job in the

world because everything had to get done. You

couldn’t say, “My hours are up, I’m gone.” You

had to do it. My wife always says—I met her

there, we worked together, she’s from Sweden

and we lived in Sweden for a little while, now

we speak “Swenglish” with our daughters at

home—but, she always says that since that

time—I was in my twenties, I’m 41 now—

everything I do in life is to try to duplicate

that experience in Italy. Wherever I go, that’s

where I try to get back to. We were cooks, my

wife and I, not bakers, and we cooked Italian

food for all of our guests.

What is it about Italy that you find so

compelling?

I think people go to Italy—the little town I

lived in, tiny little town—it’s not on the map,

it’s not on the tourist map. It’s a charming

little town with no great architecture, but it’s

got its piazza and it’s really nice and people

come there and they kind of fall in love with

the town. They say, “I love this town. Why

can’t we have something like this in the

States?” The answer is simple: Because there,

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his business. He wakes up in the morning

and he goes to his business. The lady that

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woke up in the morning and she went to her

business. And she does that all day. She goes

home, sleeps a couple of hours, comes back

and does that. Every little shop, every little

experience you had in that town was created

by someone who lives in that town and

involves themselves in the workings of the

town. That’s what a town is. I remember the

Northern Europeans who would come over

and buy a villa in the town—they would live

in the town, but they didn’t participate in the

town. They didn’t make the town, the town.

So, how do the various cities on the Central

Coast make their town, the town?

It’s the involvement in the town. If the

person who’s giving you your food doesn’t

care, it just reflects on the town experience.

A town shouldn’t be a place that you live

outside of and visit and then go back, and

you visit and do your thing. There’s got to

be a participatory thing in order for it to

become that experience. You get that in San

Luis Obispo. You definitely get it. But you’ve

got to watch out, and don’t let that slip away.

Again, back to the bread, that’s why I roll

up in my stupid little blue van and I pull my

bags of bread out and I walk around town

and people yell, “It’s the bread guy!” That’s

the Italian feeling right there! There’s the

bread guy, there’s the flower lady, there’s the

whoever. That’s a town! Bread guy isn’t some

big corporate truck coming in and dumping

it off at four in the morning. The bread guy

is walking around with bags in the middle

of the street. [long pause] Sorry, I don’t even

remember what your question was.

That’s okay, let’s move on to the Back Porch

Bakery. Tell us how it came to be.

I was teaching some cooking classes at

Sustenance, which closed its doors. I had

gotten to know some people who were really

24 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

into the science of figuring out food and

stuff, so I was always baking for my students.

They kept asking me, “When are you doing

this, when are you doing that?” And I said,

“I’ll make a Facebook page and I’ll just send

you a note when I’m making the next batch of

something.” So I put up a page and I thought

for like two seconds, called it Back Porch

Bakery—just get it off the back porch, people

come up to the back porch. My friends told

me, “You should sell this!” And I said, “Yeah,

you guys aren’t going to come and buy it.”

And they said, “No, no, we’re going to come

and buy it!” So I put the note on Facebook

and a couple days later I said, “Okay I made

the bread, come and buy it,” and nobody came

and bought it. [laughter] “See, I told you

guys,” I said. Everyone thinks they can cook

something and all their friends will help start

a restaurant and then nobody ever comes to

eat there. So I said, “Alright I’ll try it again.”

Well, what happened?

So I did it a couple of days later and some

stranger came to the door. Turns out that she

lived in the neighborhood and she said, “Is

this where I come for the bread?” And I told

her, “Come on in!” I didn’t have any kind of

payment system or anything. Eventually I got

a little donation can and people just donated

whatever they felt it was worth, and it always

just worked out. That’s what we’ve done for

years. So, slowly more and more strangers are

coming and they’d say, “Oh, I heard about

you from so and so.” And it got to the point

where a lot of people were coming at weird

hours of the day so I got a flag. I said, “When

the flag is up, you can come over. When it’s

down, I’m closed.” Eventually blocks around,

everyone was coming over. Then businesses

started coming over and asking things like,

“Can you make croissants for us to resell?”

I said, “This is my house, there’s got to be

rules against that.” And they’d say, “Whatever,

just do it. Let’s get it started!” Eventually the

Health Department got wind of it.

What did they do?

They sent me a note that said, “You’ve got to

quit doing this.” So I took the letter over to

their office and said, “What’s this all about?”

[laughter] They were almost embarrassed

because they didn’t expect me to show up

over there; they thought I would just kind

of stop doing it. They said, “Oh no, we had

to do it because somebody complained. We


“If there’s something in your town

or community that you think can

be done better, just do it. Think

about the consequences later.”

wander into my bakery at some point with

some little fee or fine something; but we’re

pretty legit now.

How were you able to operate out of your

house for so long when you weren’t legit?

I always tell people—I don’t know if it’s

a good analogy—but I always felt a little

bit like bin Laden must have felt in his

neighborhood. It’s like getting away with

this thing, but he knows everybody. He’s

protected. It’s a terrible analogy. But

you knew people—you knew the whole

neighborhood. And I would walk around the

neighborhood and say, “Hi,” to everybody.

didn’t want to, we look at your webpage every And I was just under the assumption that we

day and it looks really good! But we can’t all knew each other, but it wasn’t always true.

come over to buy your bread because we’re Neighbors didn’t know neighbors. I knew

the Health Department.” I said, “Just come this one and I knew that one, but they didn’t

over. I’m not going to tell anybody.” I had know each other. So, I was able to introduce

all kinds of city employees coming in and people. Get people to meet their neighbor.

I started getting nervous. So, I asked them, That was probably the most rewarding part

“Should I be nervous? You work down at the of the whole thing. Being this accidental

city.” And they’d say, “No, county, that’s who little place where a neighborhood was getting

you’ve got to be nervous about.” [laughter] I connected. Because people would come in

used to get swamped by all the city tree guys. at the same time—three different groups of

They would stop in for breakfast and then people sometimes and they’d all live relatively

do their work cleaning up the streets. Even close by. And I have this weird way of finding

Jan Marx came by one time and she was a a common thread. I say, “Oh, you went to that

little skeptical. She asked me, “Can you do school, or you went there. Talk about that!”

this? I mean there’s laws and stuff.” I told And I miss it every day. It’s been a year since

her, “I don’t know Jan, I’m just trying to feed we stopped the house part of it. It was a great

my family.” She leaned in and said, “Don’t thing. There’s no way of continuing it. It was

worry I won’t tell anybody.” I laughed and getting too big. So it was either get a little

said, “Who would you tell? You’re the mayor! bigger and find a commercial space, or stop.

You’re the top of the food chain!” I mean, I Those were the only two options. So we went

understand why there’s laws and everything, a little bigger.

but I don’t know, I like the term “disrupter.” I

think it was Richard Branson who said it the What’s it like now that you have moved into

first time. If there’s something in your town or a commercial space?

community that you think can be done better, It’s hard work; we’re lifting things and

just do it. Think about the consequences later. shaping things and sweating a lot. We don’t

I always had a feeling that someone would have to go to the gym afterwards. We’ve >>

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 25


What I constantly ask myself

about the bakery is: “Does

this matter? If it were gone

tomorrow, would it matter?”

done our workout during our workday. You

get people out in the fields doing that sort

of hard work, for example. There’s plenty

of physical labor out there. It’s funny that

somewhere along the way we decided that

you’re either going to use your body or

you’re going to use your brain to do work.

And if you’re using your body, you must

have had a misstep along the way. If you’re

doing physical labor you screwed up in life.

There’s kind of that attitude a little bit. I

have a friend who is a construction guy. He’s

building stuff and breaking his back, but

he’s got three degrees in three very different

fields. He could have done anything, but he

loves the physicality of his work. You think of

Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci—those

guys were brain and body—painting chapels

or pounding out marble, making those

sculptures. The brain and the body working

together to create great things.

What do you think da Vinci would say

about all of the processed foods in the

world today?

I think that there’s so much that people

just don’t understand about processed food.

First of all, what do you mean when you

say “processed food,” for example. Bread

26 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

is processed food, right? We took some

ingredients and we processed them into a

different thing. That’s processed food. We

applied heat, we applied hydration we applied

all these processes. That’s processed food.

But that gets a pass, you know, people don’t

consider bread a processed food. Unless

you’re picking it off the tree and eating it,

it’s probably a processed food in some way.

When I visit my grandparents, we eat stuff

out of cans. We eat Velveeta cheese. We

drink—not to sound snooty—bad coffee. My

grandparents grew up dirt poor. They raised

four kids. When these things were innovated

it was their savior, and my grandma didn’t

have to slave anymore in the kitchen. She

could take a little strip of cheese out of

some plastic. I get that. It saved her. People

are always afraid to cook for me because

I’m very critical—not in the sense that I’m

mad or anything—but people often ask me,

“What could I do to make this better?” And

I’ll tell them, “I will love anything you make

for me, because you made it.” Same with my

grandparents. I know it’s not going to be the

best stuff, but it’s my grandparents and they

made it, you know? So, the state of food?

I don’t know, I think I’m pragmatic about

it. I would like to see people understand

seasonality, and I think more and more

people do. I think that the hormones in meat

and milk are doing damage. There’s a lot of

things that I think, but I’m not a scientist.

At the end of the day, what does making

bread mean to you?

What I constantly ask myself about the

bakery is: “Does this matter? If it were gone

tomorrow, would it matter?” And I think it

absolutely would matter in a very small way,

just like this town without your magazine. I

think there would be a dip in the quality of

this town, a slight dip in the quality of the

town if it weren’t here. And I think if we

took our bread out of circulation there would

be a slight dip because we’re making really

good bread—that’s our goal. And it’s hard

work and there’s not a ton of money in it. I

mean, that’s why you ask yourself, “Does it

matter?” If we’re not going to make a lot of

money, are we at least doing something that

matters? And knowing that there are not a lot

of people coming up behind us making good

bread, because it’s very hard, so someone’s got

to do it. And that’s what we do. We wake up

each day to do it. And we feel good about it,

because we know that we’ve made the town

just a little bit better. SLO LIFE


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| ARTIST

393

words

with Colleen Gnos

“I decided that I was going to be an artist when I was

four-years-old. When I went off to college, I wanted

to learn as much as I could about everything because I

felt that it would enhance my art. I felt that the more I

knew about philosophy and astronomy and zoology, the

better it would enhance my vision and what I wanted to

communicate with my artwork.”

I learned to surf when I was twenty-one and it just took over

everything. I wanted to live near the coast, I wanted to be in the

ocean, I wanted to paint things that brought me a lot of joy. My

grandfather was a diver here in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s and that has

also inspired much of my work. They used to take me out on the

tugboats when I was a little girl. I’ve just always loved the ocean.

Last year I thought I had a torn meniscus in my

knee. They ran some tests and told me I actually

had cancer, and they thought it would be best

if they removed my leg right away. It was a rare

form and I was very lucky that it hadn’t spread to

the rest of my body. They were able to save my leg

through very aggressive chemotherapy treatment.


I don’t know how people survive cancer without art, family and community. I can only hope

that everyone with a cancer diagnosis will pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, some clay—no

matter if they have never created a piece of art in their life, or are a professional artist. That

experience, which I now consider a gift, explored the therapeutic aspects of creating and

viewing art, and has fueled a different way for me to work, and to view my own work.

28 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

Art carried me through my treatments and all the

emotional ups and downs that come with being

very ill. I was only well enough to make it to my

studio for a few hours between treatments, but I

can’t explain how it changed my mood, my outlook,

everything. I sketched constantly, living in my own

world of beauty that I created. I also began to sculpt

clay as a way to express myself and relieve the anger

and frustration. It replaced the anger with joy.

SLO LIFE


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| DISCOVER

8:17am

9:32am

12:03pm

1:39pm

12 HOURS IN

CAYUCOS

8:17am Pull up for breakfast at

the Sea Shanty (296 South Ocean

Street). Leave your car at the Paul

Andrew Park next to the restaurant

on North 3rd Street, you won’t

need it today. The food at this little

diner-by-the-sea is solid, and the

service is great, and customers are

happy. Go for something simple

like bacon and eggs or try their

homemade cinnamon rolls. Lounge

around sipping coffee, reading

the paper, and listen in on locals

discussing the swell.

9:32am Pop into Good Clean

Fun (136 Ocean Front Avenue)

to rent a board and wetsuit. Don’t

worry if you have never gone

surfing before, the people at this

classic surf shop will point you

in the right direction. Be sure to

check out their upstairs selection

of surfboards for sale. Even if you

aren’t a surfer, some of these boards

are just fun to look at. Whether you

end up renting a boogie board or a

surfboard, their advice will ensure

you’ll have a blast in the water.

12:03pm With wet hair and

sand in your ears, it’s time to

eat! Since your appetite is raging

after a session in the water,

fuel up with some ridiculously

delicious fish tacos at Ruddell’s

Smokehouse (101 D Street).

While you wait, because there

is always a line, step in around

the corner at Paul’s Liquors

(101 North Ocean Avenue) for a

killer craft soda. Our favorite is

the ginger ale, which pairs nicely

with the ahi tuna tacos.

1:39pm With a belly full of

fish tacos, you are feeling good,

my friend. Time to take it up a

notch. Round the corner past the

liquor store and stop in at the

to-go window at Skippers (113

North Ocean Avenue) and order

yourself a soft serve ice cream.

You’ve got two choices: chocolate

or vanilla, and if you catch the

right server and she’s having a

good day, possibly a swirl. They

don’t accept plastic, so bring a

few bucks. >>

30 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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| DISCOVER

2:11pm

3:07pm

5:14pm 6:51pm 8:46pm

2:11pm Now that you’ve got

your ice cream in-hand, it’s time

to cross the street and check

out the phenomenon known

as the Brown Butter Cookie

Company (98 North Ocean

Avenue). It wasn’t long ago

that these unusual looking little

sandy brown morsels were just

an afterthought served alongside

sandwiches at a local hole in the

wall deli. As customers started

asking for just the cookie sans

sandwich the owner began selling

them separately. Once Oprah got

her hands on one and deemed it

“Faaaaabulous!” the rest, as they

say, is history. Buy a dozen, and

bring them home to share with

the rest of the gang and they’ll

forgive you for being gone all day.

3:07pm It’s time to stroll on the

beach, so head toward the Cayucos

Pier. Half of it is currently closed

for repairs, but the 953-foot beauty

is still a sight to behold. And

while you’re here, spend a few

minutes checking out the skaters

on the wooden half-pipe behind

the Cayucos Veteran’s Hall at

the beginning of the pier. There’s

some serious local talent out there.

Alright, get moving. Be sure to

head south, toward Morro Bay,

and take it all in. You’ve got twelve

cookies on you, so nobody will miss

just two or three of them, right?

5:14pm Feeling a little sleepy

now, so it’s time to perk up. Grab

a comfy seat at Top Dog Coffee

(14 North Ocean Street) and

brace yourself for a kick. They

roast their own beans and it’s the

real deal. Locals rave about the

Mexican Mocha, so grab a mug

and pull out your paperback and

make yourself comfortable.

6:51pm Okay, it’s chow time.

Stroll back down Ocean Avenue to

Hoppe’s Garden Bistro (78 North

Ocean Avenue). This place will

blow your mind. Be forewarned

that it is a little spendy, but worth

every penny. Save up and splurge

here, you won’t regret it. Pretty

much anything from the abalone

farm up the street is amazing.

Enjoy this Central Coast gem.

8:46pm It’s time to call it a day,

but not before bellying up to the

bar for swill of your favorite local

brew at The Old Cayucos Tavern

(130 North Ocean Avenue). The

dark, wood paneling will take

you back to the days of the Old

West when the dusty streets of

this shanty town were shared by

cowboys, Salinan and Chumash

Indians, pirates, fur traders,

conmen, and prospectors. Toast to

all of them, finish your beer, tip the

lady and head out with a full belly

and a happy heart. SLO LIFE

32 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 33


| AFTER HOURS

Chasing Hollywood

Dave Congalton is hosting a radio talk show, writing

screen plays and pursuing his dreams all the way to the big screen.

>>

Dave Congalton

Congalton penned the screen

play he called Scribble, which

was later renamed Authors

Anonymous

34 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

EVERY WEEKDAY FOR the past 22

years, Dave Congalton has been found

at KVEC Radio where he broadcasts

The Dave Congalton Show from

three to seven o’clock. But, it was not

the lure of the airwaves that coaxed

the native Midwesterner to leave his

comfy college professorship in Tulsa,

Oklahoma back in 1987.

At 34 years old, Congalton had finally

come to terms with the fact that his

work was leaving him unfulfilled,

uninspired. When he was honest with

himself, what he really wanted most

was to write a Hollywood screenplay.

But, in order to make a go of it he

needed an income, a day job.

The closest gig he could find to

Tinseltown was a short-term

teaching position at some obscure

college he had never heard of: Cal

Poly. It was a particularly fertile

time for Congalton who cranked out

screenplay after screenplay, seven in

all. The studio rejection letters came

back just as quickly.

Although his passion for writing never

waned, after twelve years without

a bite, Congalton decided to hang

it up. He wrote for a living anyway,

as a columnist for the Telegram-

Tribune, and he also ran the Cuesta

College Writer’s Conference. Plus

he had written a couple of books

about animals. And, in 1992 when he

transitioned from professor to radio

show host, he always had “one foot in

radio, one in writing.”

In 2005, sensing a shift in the

industry, Congalton decided to give

it one last try. The creativity flowed

and by September of that year he

had a first draft of the screen play

Scribble written. He learned that the

best way to have the film produced

was to secure financing for the

project in advance. So together with

his wife, Charlotte Alexander, now

the director of the SLO International

Film Festival, the pair began “scouring

the globe in search of money.” The

couple talked to investors everywhere

and, although there was interest, no

one was ready to write a check.

Not ready to give up, Congalton

decided to line up a key actor. With

Kaley Cuoco of the hit show The Big

Bang Theory on board, one of the

investors finally game through. It was

2012, five years later. Once the money

was in place, things started to happen

very quickly. By August, Congalton

was on the set of Scribble, which had

been renamed Authors Anonymous.

The film, classified as a comedy, follows

a group of misfit writers who drive one

another crazy and “try to avoid killing

each other in the process.” Aside from

Cuoco, Dennis Farina and Chris Klein,

many other Hollywood well-knowns

are found gracing the credits of the

film, which is due for an Ultra Videoon-Demand

(Ultra VOD) release on

March 18th followed by a general

movie theatre release to twelve select

cities on April 16th.

For someone who is accustomed to

leading a talk show for four hours a day,

Congalton is uncharacteristically at a

loss for words to describe his experience

on the set as he watched the actors

perform the scenes he had imagined

and utter the words that he had written.

“It was an amazing experience, hard to

put into words,” was all he could muster

behind a veil of building emotion. “For

me, it validates my decision back in

’87 to give it a shot. Everyone thought

I was crazy. I tell people now ‘Don’t

ever give up on your dreams. It may

not happen right away, but it will if

you stay with it.’ And, I’m the perfect

example of that.” SLO LIFE


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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 35


| ON THE RISE

Benjamin Peterson

Benjamin Peterson is an eighteen-year-old San Luis

Obispo High School senior and the oldest of three kids.

While serious-minded—his friends joke that he’s “an old

man”—his sense of humor shines with his impersonation

of Louis Armstrong. We would not be surprised to see

him running the country sometime in the future.

What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in? I am a member of

the National FFA Organization and currently serve as our Regional Secretary.

I compete in Prepared Public Speaking and Parliamentary Procedure debate

through FFA, as well. I previously served as our Chapter and Sectional FFA

President. In addition, I intern at our State Assemblyman Achadjian’s office and

have previously worked with the SLO Chamber of Commerce Governmental

Affairs. Harvard Model Congress and Autism Youth Ambassadors are two

clubs at SLO High that I initiated.

What is noteworthy about you? This past summer Senator Feinstein appointed

me to the Senate Page program in Washington D.C. after I completed an

extensive application process. I moved in with thirty other pages from around

the nation and began working on the Senate floor. Being privy to many private

conversations, commuting to the Senate everyday (about a ten minute walk),

listening to Senate speeches, and getting to meet and know Senator Feinstein

was an experience that fed my passion for the political process.

What is going on with you now? School and homework! Taking five AP classes

is not easy. I am also preparing a speech for a competition through FFA right

now. I have to write an eight-minute speech about any problem in agriculture

then propose a solution. The speech has to be memorized, then I will answer

questions on my topic. This year I’m focusing on corn ethanol and arguing that

it should be done away with due to the negative impacts it has on consumers in

Third World nations and livestock producers here in the United States.

What do you dislike the most? Our education system of academic

achievement in the form of a letter grade combined with the pressure

placed on students to “get in” (solely for college). I would enjoy a classical

education system like that of our founding fathers, centered on the study of

classic literature, Socratic discussion, and logical reasoning within our world

in regard to every subject. That would truly be educational and inspire the

desire for knowledge, not the achievement of a report card.

Who or what has influenced you the most? My parents and grandparents.

I’ve been blessed to have my whole extended family live here in SLO. I owe

everything to them and am thankful for the values they instilled in me.

If you could go back in history and meet anyone, who would it be and why?

Winston Churchill. I firmly believe that our way of life in a democratic society

was saved by his courage and determination when, in 1940, he became Prime

Minister of Great Britain and led the fight against Nazi Germany alone.

If you won $1 million, what would you do with it? I’d first talk with a

financial consultant and figure out the tax situation, which would probably

leave me with about half. Then with the $500,000 remaining, I’d save some,

spend some, and share some. College expenses would take priority, and I

would also love to help my parents with it. SLO LIFE

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36 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 37


| DWELLING

COHOUSING

TIERRA NUEVA

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MAREN BRAJKOVICH

1

A fascinating social experiment is taking place on a five-acre plot of land at the end of Halcyon Road

in Oceano. With the ocean sparking in the distance, just beyond the dunes, 68 people are living

together in a 27-unit complex that was built in 1999. Those people, ranging in ages from one-year-old

to mid-eighties, have come together to live in a development known as “cohousing.”

38 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


People call it a village, and we know everyone.

My daughter knew everyone’s name by the time

she was two, including all the cats and dogs,

which is cool, you know?”

3 4

2

5

[ ]

1. resident work day 2. neighbors visiting 3. feeding the community

chickens 4. walkways everywhere, not a car in sight 5. village by design

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 39


| DWELLING

WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS

Sir Thomas More first brought the

concept to mainstream consciousness with

his 1516 book he called Utopia

[ ]

Tierra Nueva

annual soda

tasting event

Cohousing, which derives from the term cooperative housing,

originated in 1960’s Denmark. The roots of the concept are

credited to Bodil Graae who wrote a newspaper column with

the title “Children Should Have One Hundred Parents.”

The piece resonated during that time and soon cohousing

began spreading throughout Europe. The concept is simple,

a group of families and individuals come together to create

a type of intentional community, each one owning a private

home which is supplemented by shared facilities and shared

responsibilities. Although Graae is recognized as the catalyst

for the modern day cohousing movement, its philosophic

underpinnings can be found much deeper in history.

The word “utopia” traces its roots back to the Renaissance.

The English lawyer and philosopher Sir Thomas More first

brought the concept to mainstream consciousness with his

1516 book called Utopia. The novel describes a fictional island

society, which follows many of the same principles espoused

by the Cohousing Association of the United States. The

organization uses the tagline “Building a better society, one

neighborhood at a time” and is governed by its “Six Defining

Characteristics of Cohousing,” which are as follows:

1) Participatory process—everyone has a say; 2) Neighborhood

design—ample open space to encourage community;

3) Common facilities—equally shared and maintained by all;

4) Resident management—everyone is expected to contribute,

whether by making meals or maintaining the landscape;

5) Non-hierarchical structure and decision-making—there is

no leader and everything must be done with consensus; and

6) No shared community economy—it is not to become

a business or source of income. Within those six areas

each cohousing community—or “coho” as it is commonly

referred to by its members—has some flexibility in how

they are administered. >>

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION

Bodil Graae wrote a newspaper column with the

title “Children Should Have One Hundred Parents”

40 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 41


| DWELLING

]

[1. remnants of the commercial

avocado orchard can be found

throughout the property 2. resident

housing utilizes passive solar heating

3. the children’s play structure acts

as a centralized meeting place

1

The first person we encountered at Tierra Nueva was Maren

Brajkovich, a thirty-something mother of two, who moved in a

year before her first child was born in order to “have a community

around her” during this period of her life. She was first exposed

to the concept when she was living in Fresno. During that time

her husband, Michael, was teaching at a community college where

he took on a class that explored utopian societies. A quick search

online for modern-day utopias continued to produce hyperlinks

to various cohousing communities. He was then surprised to

learn that there was a nascent group in Fresno in the beginning

stages of building a cohousing community there with a local

presentation happening that week. Michael convinced his wife to

come along to keep him company while he did his research. As

she sat in the back row reading a book she had brought with her

to pass the time, Maren, a wedding photographer, found herself

tuning in to what they were saying. By the time the meeting was

over she was asking questions. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this

sounds like a great idea! Why aren’t people doing this? I want

to see one.’” So that weekend, the couple hopped in the car for

a trip to Oceano to take a look at Tierra Nueva—that same day

they made the decision to buy. It was an uncharacteristically

spontaneous move for the pair, who share that big-ticket

purchases for them are usually agonizingly slow and painstakingly

analyzed before any commitments are made.

But, it is that sort of gut-level desire to live in a cohousing

community that brings together certain types of people, and

everyone who commented for this story indicated that “a strong

community” was at the top of their list. And, by all appearances,

a strong community is thriving in the former avocado orchard

adjacent to Rutiz Farms where ten or so kids of varying ages

engage harmoniously on the playground equipment in the park

at the center of the complex. A smattering of neighbors ranging

in age from 35 to 75 stand nearby visiting with one another while

keeping a watchful eye on the children. If one did not know

better, it would appear to be some type of family reunion from the

easy way that everyone interacts.

>>

42 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

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| DWELLING

[1. community members 2. walking paths criss-cross the

five-acre property as no roads exist within the perimeter

]

1

One of the benefits and drawbacks of cohousing—depending

on whom you ask—is that there is no screening process.

Anyone who wants to live in the complex and has the money

to buy a unit is welcome to do so. In reality, cohousing

communities are really just supercharged homeowner

associations (HOA), which are bound by the same Fair

Housing Act that all HOA’s must follow. This has created a

couple of challenges at Tierra Nueva: first, there is a lack of

ethnic diversity that members practically trip over themselves

to apologize for; and, second, it has allowed a few people to

enter who “do not participate.” One of the more pragmatic

residents at Tierra Nueva reasons that the Fair Housing Act

helps “keep us from going off the deep end by forcing us to

deal with others who aren’t always of the same mindset.”

Despite the frequent socializing—Tierra Nueva residents sit

down to dinner twice a week in their community room—the

experience can lead to an island fever-like feeling. Caity

McCardell, who produces radio podcasts, provides a very

honest look at coho living. In the community room where

a long-dead Christmas tree lingers in the corner stripped

of its decorations, but waiting for someone to dispose of it,

McCardell intimates that she and her husband and their

young daughters had once considered moving to San Luis

Obispo. “Cohousing is an isolating experience, and not

having to drive anywhere is better for the planet and is

appealing to me.” Neighbors who do drive “off-campus,” as

McCardell describes it, usually ask her if there is anything

they can pick up on her grocery list while they are out. Aside

from missing many of the serendipitous encounters that

happen all day long as neighbors and friends catch up with

each other at grocery stores and restaurants and boutiques,

McCardell wishes that there were at least a coffee shop

nearby. “If only Peet’s or Starbucks would come to Oceano, it

would make such a big difference.”

It is interesting that McCardell uses the expression going

“off-campus” because Tierra Nueva, which translates from

Spanish to “new earth,” does very much have a university

44 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

housing vibe to it. All of the buildings, in that they look very

similar to one another, have a vaguely institutional feel to

them. The combination of duplexes and single-family homes

were all built in the late 90’s, and they all sport the same

terra cotta colored stucco siding along with white rimmed

vinyl dual-pane windows. Their interiors are small with very

limited closet and storage space and no garages. This design

is employed for a couple of important reasons, as one resident

pointed out, “We want to discourage personal stuff and

encourage everyone to get outside.” Despite the neat and tidy

homes, the focus for most of the residents falls to the common

areas. The avocado trees that dot the property—remnants

from its days as a commercial orchard—serve as a nice

compliment to the abundance of bushes and flowers that line

just about every square inch of available soil. The noticeable

lack of streets—the hallmark of suburban America as kids

stop whatever game they are playing to yell out “car!”—is

refreshingly absent. Parking is limited and automobile access

is available only on portions of the perimeter.

Despite the high-minded ideals of utopian societies, visitors

to Tierra Nueva will be struck by the ordinariness of it all.

Brajkovich shares that people unfamiliar with cohousing see

it “as some sort of cult,” but asserts that they “are not weird,

running around naked and smoking weed together.” Rather,

she explains, it is a lot of hard work and everyone is not always

in agreement—unanimous consent is required to create or

change any rules—and sometimes people do not pull their

own weight. Yet, despite the drawbacks, she claims that she

would not want to live any other way. “People call it a village,

and we know everyone. My daughter knew everyone’s name

by the time she was two, including all the cats and dogs,

which is cool, you know?” SLO LIFE

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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 45


| SLO CITY REAL ESTATE

by the numbers

laguna

lake

tank

farm

cal poly

area

country

club

down

town

foothill

blvd

johnson

ave

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

Total Homes Sold

Average Asking Price

Average Selling Price

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price

Average # of Days on the Market

*Comparing 1/1/12 - 12/31/12 to 1/1/13 - 12/31/13

2012

55

562,209

547,171

97.68

62

2012

34

586,335

575,850

98.16

58

2012

22

499,959

479,625

96.17

47

2012

19

797,732

766,921

96.29

19

2012

47

609,726

593,223

97.85

59

2012

48

534,854

526,923

98.77

32

2012

54

582,094

571,416

98.47

68

2013

57

547,794

537,208

98.1

57

2013

25

678,820

678,036

99.89

20

2013

32

558,181

548,062

98.43

33

2013

17

888,494

871,847

98.15

66

2013

47

644,016

628,385

97.64

38

2013

50

657,016

644,642

98.11

37

2013

44

600,643

596,434

99.26

31

+/-

9.09%

-2.56%

-1.82%

0.42%

-8.06%

+/-

-26.47%

15.77%

17.75%

1.73%

-65.52%

+/-

45.45%

11.65%

14.27%

2.26%

-29.79%

+/-

-10.53%

11.38%

13.68%

1.86%

247.37%

+/-

0.00%

5.62%

5.93%

-0.21%

-35.59%

+/-

4.17%

22.84%

22.34%

-0.66%

15.63%

+/-

-18.52%

3.19%

4.38%

0.79%

-54.41%

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS

®

SLO LIFE

46 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 47


| SLO COUNTY REAL ESTATE

by the numbers

Helping you with

your Real Estate

needs here on

the Central Coast

with knowledge,

experience

& integrity!

REGION

Arroyo Grande

Atascadero

NUMBER OF

HOMES SOLD

2012

342

321

2013

330

333

AVERAGE DAYS ON

MARKET

2012

102

95

2013

64

53

MEDIAN SELLING

PRICE

2012

465,000

320,000

2013

525,000

399,000

Michelle Braunschweig

Broker Associate

Lic #01736789

Avila Beach

Cambria/San Simeon

16

170

13

162

194

106

98

92

695,000

485,000

889,000

508,000

805.801.1734

michelle@realestategroup.com

Cayucos

Creston

57

14

52

7

180

191

116

138

690,000

487,500

655,000

610,000

Office Lic #01320707

Grover Beach

108

122

101

48

314,500

380,000

Los Osos

204

183

79

49

326,500

389,000

Morro Bay

136

156

117

56

426,000

439,000

WEALTH

MANAGEMENT

Nipomo

248

249

101

63

403,000

485,000

INVESTMENT RETIREMENT INSURANCE

Oceano

54

51

111

89

260,000

375,000

Risk Management | Estate Planning

Accumulation | Taxation | Business

Planning | Retirement Planning

Pismo Beach

Paso (Inside City Limits)

121

428

132

429

101

78

69

51

570,000

325,000

637,000

367,000

Can you retire?

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Paso (North 46 - East 101)

Paso (North 46 - West 101)

Paso (South 46 - East 101)

80

118

79

65

126

74

85

120

123

63

121

85

248,500

350,000

325,000

332,500

352,500

399,000

David S. Nilsen

President & Chief Financial Advisor

San Luis Obispo

354

345

64

55

539,500

620,000

1301 Chorro Street, Suite A

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

805.541.6500

ObispoWealthManagement.com

David Nilsen is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative with/and offers

securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC,

a Registered Investment Advisor, Insurance Lic. #0B50436. Fixed Insurance products and services

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48 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

Santa Margarita

Templeton

Countywide

26

133

3,009

24

101

2,955

*Comparing 1/1/12 - 12/31/12 to 1/1/13 -12/31/13

70 89 268,600 375,000

95 75 425,000 491,000

95 65 390,000 449,000

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®

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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 49


| MUSIC

Living the Dream

Moonshiner Collective

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK GVAZDINSKAS

It was a dream, literally a dream—the kind you have

while sound asleep—that led Dan Curcio to a life of

music. Then just a boy growing up in Sacramento, Curcio

had a series of incredibly vivid, vibrant dreams about

playing guitar. Not sure what it meant because up to

that point he had only a cursory interest in music and

mostly obliged his parents by doing the piano classes

they nudged him to take. But, the dreams had sparked

something in him, compelling the youngster to break

into his stash to plunk down the money for a cheap

guitar. From the moment he first strummed the strings

he was transfixed, and just about every free moment since

that time has been dedicated to making music.

Fast-forward to college where Curcio found himself

in a Cal Poly dorm room in close proximity to four

other like-minded musicians. A sixth person was added

when they spotted someone playing drums on his

textbook with a couple of pencils waiting for class to

start. They found themselves playing together at every

opportunity and at some point during a jam session in

the hills behind the dorms, a band name was proposed:

Still Time. Almost instantly they became a sensation

with their unique “groove rock” sound that combined

instruments such as harmonica, mandolin, slide guitar,

and upright bass. Before long, Still Time was winning

the various top bands of the Central Coast awards and

drawing progressively larger crowds until they found

themselves with invitations to open for the likes of Ziggy

Marley, UB40, and Steel Pulse among others.

It was during a national tour that covered 37 states in

four months when Curcio started to wonder if what

they were doing still made sense. The reality was that all

six were full-time, professional musicians and doing the

math on the back of an envelope meant that this life on

the road was likely to be a never-ending reality. During

that trip the Poly alumni began the sad conversation

about how to wind it down after eight years together.

Their final appearance took place during a handful of

California shows in early 2012.

Out of this experience Curcio retreated to his yurt—a

circular tent-like structure—located in a picturesque

Cayucos valley with a panoramic ocean view. It had

been Curcio’s home base during his Still Time years

and many memories of music making with friends

occured there—G-Love (of G-Love & The Special

Sauce) even stopped by one time for a barbeque—and it

provided solace once again. Going deep into his music

and spending time reflecting on what all of this meant,

Curcio came to terms with the idea of launching a solo

career. After some time strumming on his guitar while

gazing out at the Pacific he felt rejuvenated and ready to

hit the road again.

Things went well at first, but solo work had its limitations

and it was not long before Curcio, who performed under

the moniker “Moonshiner,” began looking to add more

depth. His first choice was long-time friend Nathan

Towne, whom Curcio regards as a “musical genius” in

that he has the ability to play just about any instrument.

The two immediately connected, and new music flowed

almost effortlessly. Moonshiner’s first album, which came

shortly thereafter, was appropriately titled “Let Go.”

Attracted to the music and recognizing the need for a

legitimate rhythm section, drummer Zac Cornejo and

bass guitar player Matt Reeder were brought in. Curcio

envisioned a sort of never-ending rotation of musicians

cycling through to accompany him, so Moonshiner

became Moonshiner Collective.

The four current members of the collective all bring

extensive musical experience to the table, and the result

is a pure, clean, honest sound. Its lyrics are hopeful and

positive and reflect the band’s Central Coast roots which

influences its soulful, energetic vibe. When pressed to

liken the music to other acts, the members suggests

that their sound may be somewhat familiar to fans of

Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, or Ben Harper

& The Innocent Criminals. The group offers that their

music “intends to cut through the overexposed world of

24-hour news and Facebook feeds and seeks to take the

listener to a simpler frame of mind.”

Although the first incarnation of Moonshiner

Collective has only been playing together for a few

short months, their inaugural show at SLO Brew

in January sold out to an enthusiastic crowd. As

the band now begins to line up gigs throughout

California, Curcio struggles with the idea of once

again leaving the Central Coast, which he calls his

“security blanket” to return to the old haunts of his

Still Time days. “I can see the light at the end of

the tunnel, and becoming a successful band touring

nationally,” he offers, “But at the end of the day, being

able to play music for a living and being here in this

place, I just cannot complain.” SLO LIFE

50 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


The band has made their first album available on their website.

You can sample their music at moonshinercollective.com

left to right

Zac Cornejo (drums)

Nathan Towne (guitar/keys/vocals)

Dan Curcio (guitar/vocals)

Matt Reeder (bass)

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 51


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1042 Pacific Street, Suite E, San Luis Obispo

805.546.8113

www.minton-insurance.com

52 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

ABOUT HALFWAY UP Hillcrest Drive in

Cambria there is a sprawling home with a

view—but not the kind of spread you would

expect in this affluent seaside community.

While very different from the “Enchanted Hill”

in San Simeon, Art Beal’s place, Nitt Witt

Ridge, is still charming in its own unique way.

“He came here in 1928 from San Francisco,”

says current owner Michael O’Malley about

Beal, “This was a bare piece of land that he paid

$500 for.” Beal died in 1989 at 92 years old,

and most of his life was spent on this hillside

building and living in this home.

Many of Beal’s neighbors and local zoning and

building inspectors were not thrilled with his

unplanned and seemingly unending building

process. “He’d collect the rocks from the beach

and the creek area,” says O’Malley, “But he’d

also collect pipe. He collected all the wood. But

what’s really kind of scary as you go through

here—he also said he collected all the electrical

parts and wiring.”

Beal may have been ahead of his time in

building every inch of his abode out of recycled

materials: golf balls, rocks and stones, bottles of

all sorts, and beer cans. Kitchen and bathroom

appliances also got a second life at Beal’s place.

“He had a special use for his toilet seats. He

would actually use them for picture frames,”

explains O’Malley as he lifts the lid on one

hanging on the wall to reveal the picture

inside. Beal also constructed an outhouse with

his and her matching thrones. According to

O’Malley, “Beal said he put his and her toilets

in here so he could sit and have conversations

with people.” And, O’Malley can show you the

crude plumbing system that worked until 1997.

O’Malley seems to know Beal may have been

a bit crazy, but the new owner of the Ridge has

a deep respect and affection for the guy who

used to live here and wants to preserve the

place just as it is. “If he didn’t like your looks

he’d go out there and start shaking his fist at

people and say ‘Move along, small change!’”

chuckles O’Malley as he stands on one of

Beal’s favorite balconies. It has a

spectacular view, and you can see

how a guy could feel more than

comfortable here.

Though the community was

divided on whether this place

was an attraction or an

eyesore, Beal hung tough getting

international attention from

celebrities, writers and TV shows.

It brought enough support from

enough people that he managed

to live here legally until he was

into his 90’s. This cantankerous

Cambria character was as much

of a tourist attraction as the home he lived in.

There were plenty who called Beal crazy, but he

was clever enough in his design of this place to

make it work rather efficiently.

And now with the property deemed a

California Historical Landmark, O’Malley

cannot tear the place down, even if he’d like to.

He paid $40,000 for the property and intends

to restore the gardens that Beal meticulously

maintained. He provides tours teaching people

about the guy some called Der Tinkerpaw, Old

Art, or the Nitt Witt on the ridge. O’Malley

says he still gets people from Russia, China,

Canada, the UK, Japan and all over the

United States wanting to see the place. And

its location, just up the road from another

famous castle, makes it an interesting pairing

for tourists and locals to marvel over. For tour

information and reservations call Michael

O’Malley at (805) 927-2690. SLO LIFE

Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and

reporter, hosts the “Out and About with JT” series

every Tuesday evening at 6pm.


SHOP THE SLO LIFE WITH THE SAN LUIS OBISPO COLLECTION: SALON LUX’S CHRISTINE THOMPSON

· OPEN AIR FLOWERS · SLO ROCKED THE HOLIDAYS · OUT OF POCKET

IN THIS ISSUE

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1 · WINTER, 2014

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 53


SLO WINTER

The San Luis Obispo Collection brings together world class shopping, the

city’s finest restaurants, upscale retail, museums and theater, and sits

adjacent to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. San Luis Obispo, named

the Happiest City in America, is the cultural hub of the Central Coast,

which embodies the California lifestyle and offers locals and visitors alike

historic architecture, sweeping vineyards, pristine beaches, charming

beach towns and mountain ranges, and is home to Cal Poly University.

Now we introduce the SLO Merchant, our new community newsletter.

MEET SALON LUX / AVEDA OWNER CHRISTINE THOMPSON

An ongoing commitment to training and education keeps Christine Thompson and the entire Salon Lux team on the cutting edge of style

Christine Thompson started her career as a

hairstylist in 1989. Coming from a family of

business owners, she not only wanted to create

beauty for people through hairstyling and

makeup artistry, but also wanted to

cultivate an environment that provided

outstanding quality and service to her

clients. Since opening the first location

of Salon Lux at 1907 Broad Street,

Christine has added a second location

at 1040 Court Street and welcomed

a new partner, Jon Reyman, former

Artistic Director of Aveda Advanced

Academy in New York. Christine and

Jon are now expanding their joint

brand, Spoke & Weal, to San Francisco

and Los Angeles.

Salon Lux has always been dedicated

to the art and science of hair offered by

Aveda Professional Hair Care Systems.

The salon’s goal is to utilize the most

up-to-date techniques in hair design. They

do this by consistently partaking in classes

and participating twice a year in New York’s

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Here Jon and

Christine often lead the way in encouraging

their team to learn new methods and push

their comfort zones. This ensures that Salon

Lux remains on the forefront of what’s fresh

and modern in hair. You’ll see the team’s work

grace numerous runways throughout the

shows, all because Christine and Jon valiantly

support the growth and expansion of their

team’s abilities. For locals and visitors to

San Luis Obispo, Salon Lux’s commitment to

cutting-edge style ensures even more

expert and visionary leadership for

the Lux Academy programs offered

at the salon. The Lux team prides

themselves on their ability to offer

clients affordable pricing, while

having the opportunity to educate

and inspire a new generation of Aveda

stylists! Stay tuned, the best is yet to

come.

Salon Lux Valentine’s Day Promo

Luv the Skin You’re In!

Let the bliss begin. For only $85,* you’ll

receive a 70-minute Pure Indulgence

Facial, which includes an aromatherapy

foot soak, customized skin care, Green

Science Peel, and a delicious hand and

foot massage followed by a prescription

of the best products to take home for your skin!

* ($110 value)

2

54 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


VALENTINE’S DAY WITH OPEN AIR FLOWERS

The tradition of giving flowers at Valentine’s

Day is both ancient and alluring. Evidence

of flower gifting—and even temples devoted

to Flora, the goddess of flowers—date back

to ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and beyond.

In the 1700’s, Charles II of Sweden is said to

have brought the Persian “language of flowers”

to Europe, enabling lovers and friends to

communicate their feelings by gifting carefully

chosen floral colors and classes: red for love,

white for purity, yellow for friendship (or

jealousy!), Ivy for fidelity, Buttercups for

ingratitude—and so on. By offering different

combinations of flowers, a suitor could hold

a passionate conversation in secret, without

arousing the suspicions of a beloved’s watchful

chaperone.

Today, though the language of flowers has been

largely forgotten, the tradition of giving flowers

to celebrate love remains. This Valentine’s Day,

head over to Open Air Flowers on Court Street

in downtown San Luis Obispo and ask owners

Vance and Leslie Weber for suggestions. The

Weber’s signature style and modern approach

to floral design showcases their passion for

premium fresh-cut blooms, interesting foliages,

and the endless textures of nature.

This Valentine’s season, to help you make sure

your floral gift communicates what you really

mean it to say, we offer just a few favorite

translations from the flower dictionary that

author Vanessa Diffenbaugh compiled when

she was researching her novel The Language

of Flowers:

Indiscretion: Almond blossoms; Joy: Cosmos;

Timid Hope: Cyclamen; Coquetry: Day lily;

Protection: Eucalyptus; Submission: Grass;

Mistrust: Lavender; Cruelty: Nettles. Learn

more at randomhouse.com/rhpg/features/

vanessa_diffenbaugh/flower-dictionary.

SLO ROCKED THE HOLIDAYS THIS PAST SEASON

This past holiday season, The San Luis Obispo Collection kicked off their Rock the Holidays campaign on the Court Street terrace with local favorite Damon

Castillo and the Civic Ballet. The 5-week entertainment series featured live music, theatre entertainment, and also collected toys and non-perishable food

for the local NBC affiliate, KSBY-TV’s, Season of Hope campaign.

3

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 55


FASHION & HOME GOODS

Abercrombie & Fitch

abercrombie.com

Banana Republic

bananarepublic.com

Chico’s

chicos.com

Express

express.com

GAP

gap.com

Ian Saude Gallery

iansaude.com

Moondoggies Surf Shop

moondoggies.com

Pottery Barn

potterybarn.com

Solstice Sunglass Boutique

solsticesunglasses.com

Sunglass Hut

sunglasshut.com

Urban Outfitters

urbanoutfitters.com

Victoria’s Secret

victoriassecret.com

White House Black Market

whitehouseblackmarket.com

FOOD

Bali’s Yogurt

805-594-1172

Bull’s Tavern

facebook.com/bullstavernslo

Chinos Rock & Tacos

chinorocks.com

California Pizza Kitchen

cpk.com

MARKETPLACES

Jamba Juice

jambajuice.com

Palazzo Giuseppe

palazzogiuseppe.com

Pizza Solo

pizzasolo.com

Sal’s Paradise

slosals.com

SloCo Pasty Co.

slocopastyco.com

Splash Cafe Seafood & Grill

splashcafe.com

Starbucks

starbucks.com

SERVICES

Sephora

sephora.com

Salon Lux-Aveda

salonlux.com

SPECIALTY

The Apple Store

apple.com

Barnes and Noble

barnesandnoble.com

Cal Poly Downtown

calpoly.edu

The Movie Experience

themovieexperience.com

Open Air Flowers

openairflowersslo.com

Papyrus

papyrusonline.com

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe

powellsss.com

ne of the benefits of traveling a lot is that,

O with each place I visit, I fall in love with new

brands and products that I encounter. In fact,

I’ve been so inspired by certain collected goods

that I brought some of the best to a new retail

venture, Mixson Market in Charleston. Like Star

Provisions in Atlanta and Chelsea Market in New

York, Mixson Market is a hip spot to get quality

meat, cheese, gourmet coffee, wine and made-toorder

sandwiches. More than that, the market is a

community gathering space, a place where people

can relax over a cup of coffee or shop for amazing

housewares like wool blankets, Herschel Supply

Co. backpacks, Falconware enameled plates from

the UK, cookbooks, and vintage French bread

boards.

In addition to uncovering high-quality product,

I also relish the distinctive marketplace

communities I find in both small and large

towns. Dynamic community experiences like

SLO’s Thursday farmers’ market have definitely

Man-about-town George Krauth dishes on the fashions, flavors, designs

and décor he discovers as he travels the globe tracking trends as Creative

Director and VP of Creative & Marketing at Jamestown, LP.

inspired Jamestown’s placemaking. The music,

the barbecue and other great street food, the

seasonal decor, amazing produce, and one-of-akind

artisanal goods create exactly the kind of

local experience that makes a place unique. Learn

more about Jamestown, owner of the The San Luis

Obispo Collection, by exploring our other fine

retail destinations, including Westside Provisions

District, Warehouse Row, The Newbury Collection,

and more.

4

56 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


SAN LUIS OBISPO SYMPHONY

MICHAEL NOWAK, MUSIC DIRECTOR

Symphony Ball & Auction

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22 · 5:30

EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL · SAN LUIS OBISPO

• 0% Financing Available •

• Complimentary Whitening

with Invisalign® Treatment •

Viorela Bauer DDS

121 W. Branch Street, Suite A,

Arroyo Grande

(located in the Village behind AG Framing)

805.481.6617

creeksidedentalcare.com

Open Mon - Thurs 8:30am - 4:30 pm

From Tokyo to Tahiti, Moscow

to Manhattan, and Sydney to São

Paulo, this year’s Symphony Ball

commemorates the wonderful

and exotic world of travel.

Bid on fine wine, fantastic

getaway trips and grab seats

at the table for our one-of-a kind

Parties with a Purpose.

Come join us for our world-class

celebration at the Embassy Suites!

.................................

SPONSORED BY

770 Capitolio Way . San Luis Obispo . 805 549 0100

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 57


| SLO LIFE WHAT’S HOT NOW

INSTANT STYLE

inspiration!

GET PLUSH

We don’t necessarily agree with everything we read in the Wall Street

Journal, but when they named Daisy House® three-piece set of bamboo

towels the best overall, they were right on the money! Whether you’re

shopping for a housewarming or a wedding gift, or just treating yourself,

this is one investment that will repay you with years of dividends.

$55.95 // Bambu Batu // 1023 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 788-0806 // bambubatu.com

HAVE A SEAT

This modern barstool offers fresh

styling and a touch of class with its

graceful curves, top grain leather

seat and nail-head trim. Crafted in

light oak, the stool’s excellent quality

transitional furniture design will serve

you well for many years. Varying

heights and colors available.

$349 // San Luis Traditions

748 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 541-8500 // sanluistraditions.com

SHOWCASE YOUR STYLE

The colorful and creative pottery of Hector

“Pachanga” Montoya reveals itself with a

variety of handmade designs from tabletop

to floor-standing in an array of beautifully

created rustic finishes. Imported directly from

Jalisco, Mexico.

$39 - $199 // Luna Rustica

2959 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 546-8505 // lunarustica.com

BOX IT UP

Little boxes, big boxes—for her jewelry collection and other

treasures. Each unique chest is made of recycled exotic woods,

designed and hewn by Los Osos artisan Jim Amberg.

$20 - $220 // Fiona Bleu Gallery // 900 Embarcadero, Morro Bay

(805) 772-0541 // fionableugallery.com

STAY GROUNDED

Yogitoes eco-conscious towels feature groundbreaking, patented silicon

dot skidless technology that will grip your mat and prevent slipping

no matter how much you move or sweat. It will provide a comfortable,

absorbent, stable and hygienic layer between you and your yoga mat.

$64 // Assets // 853 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 781-0119 // sloassets.com

58 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


SHARE THE LOVE

San Luis Obispo-based Lisa Leonard’s whimsical handcrafted

jewelry make chic, sentimental pieces that go with any ensemble

and the “Joining Hearts” elegant necklace is no exception.

$42 // Hands Gallery // 777 Higuera Street // San Luis Obispo

(805) 543-1921 // handsgallery.com

BLOOM IN STYLE

This Valentine’s Day give her a thousand flowers with the gift of

millefiori beautiful glass jewelry. Originating on the island of Murano

in Venice, Italy, millrfiori is a technique that produces distinctive

flower-like patterns on glass. This Murano glass millrfiori is combined

with sterling silver into stunning works of art.

$24 - $70 // Turn To Nature // 786 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 540-3395 // turntonature.com

BE BEAUTIFUL

Jan Michael’s jewelry is exquisitely hand-crafted in San

Francisco, made of brass and an array of semi-precious

stones. Original designs inspired by her travels combined

with a love of ancient worlds from the past.

$24 - $95 // Apropos // 1022 Morro Street, San Luis Obispo

840 11th Street, Paso Robles // (805) 784-0664

shopapropos.com

COLOR ME

WONDERFUL

Spring comes early this year!

Set in a plethora of luscious and

lively colors “Etoile III” sapphire

stacking rings are perennial

favorites. Select from what is

in-store or special order.

$1,095 - $1,495 // Ian Saude

1003 Osos Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 784-0967 // iansaude.com

MAKE A MOVE

A Sons of Trade bag is for life. Ruggedly versatile and built to go the distance.

Crafted with precision in Ventura, this Rubicon Rucksack in distressed brown

leather is both a nod to our proud past and a glimpse of our future.

$365 // Jules D. // 672 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo // (805) 781-0722 // jules-d.com

STACK IT UP

Archetype Collection bands are cast individually using one

of three different colors of recycled 18K gold and set with

conflict-free diamonds. Designed to stack flush and lock

together for a cohesive look, they can be worn alone or

with other styles of stacking rings for a fresh, modern look.

$880 - $2,080 // Baxter Moerman Jewelry

1118 Morro Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 801-9117 // baxtermoerman.com

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 59


| INSPIRATION

Lost in Transplantation

Be the Change

When you first meet Eldonna Edwards, one question comes to mind:

Is she for real?

AAFTER READING a copy of her book,

Lost in Transplantation: Memoir of an

Unconventional Organ Donor, many more

questions come to mind. But, still, the most

nagging one remains: Is she for real?

The story begins with the 48-year-old

Edwards returning to school. The opening

scenes describe her adjusting to life as a

student at Cuesta College. While there,

she befriends one of her classmates, Lucy,

who is thirty years her junior. As the two

of them settle in for lunch on campus one

day prior to their study session, Edwards

observes that Lucy is a vegan, she eats

no animal products of any kind. When

she asks Lucy why she has chosen this

diet, “Are you vegan for ethical or health

reasons?” The young woman answers,

“Both I guess. I have kidney disease and

animal proteins are harder for my body to

process. I look at my diet as medicine for

my illness.”

That exchange led Edwards on a multi-year

journey of twists and turns as she navigates

layers upon layers of red tape found in

the current American organ donation

system. The simple lunchtime conversation

ultimately leads to Edwards donating one of

her kidneys to a perfect stranger.

In a beautifully written—Edwards has

extensive experience teaching writing—

autobiographical, first-person stream

of consciousness offering, Lost in

Transplantation is a hugely compelling

page turner. From the moment the idea first

enters her mind to donate a kidney to Lucy

“… it was as if a transformer blew up in

the center of my being as Ghandi’s famous

words bubbled up to the surface: ‘Be the

change you want to see in the world.’ Like

a mantra, be the change, be the change, be the

change played over and over in my head…”

What follows is another dialogue with Lucy

where Edwards encounters the first of many

roadblocks to donation: even if she had been

a blood type match with Lucy, since she

is not part of her family, she would not be

allowed to donate to her directly.

Undeterred, Edwards took up the subject in

another class where she dove into a lengthy

paper exploring the “flawed system of organ

allocation.” As part of her research she

stumbled upon a donor matching website

where she reads through scores of patient

profiles, many of them incredibly gripping.

But, as she clicks on the page of a woman

named Kathy, Edwards begins to hear that

steady drumbeat in her head once again:

be the change, be the change. The kinship she

feels with this woman—a total stranger—is

almost immediate. As she scrolls down

her profile, she begins to see herself in

Kathy. The two share the same political

leanings, both of them on the left side of the

spectrum, and both are of the nurturing sort.

Edwards is a massage therapist and Kathy is

a hospice nurse.

The book leads the reader through many

twists and turns as Edwards, a single

mother, struggles to make ends meet and

provide a roof overhead while also following

through with her conviction to be the change.

Edwards skillfully weaves a tale proving

that fact is often stranger than fiction. After

becoming engrossed with Kathy’s profile,

Edwards describes the moment she hit

“submit” on her correspondence. “From that

moment forward I went from being a casual

community college student writing a paper

for class, to a woman on a mission to make

a difference in someone’s life. Someone I

60 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


didn’t (yet) know. Someone named Kathy.”

After sending the message, which indicated

that she was a match to her rare blood type

(B+), Edwards then received a message back.

As the two become acquainted, the bond

strengthens, but not just between the two

of them, but also between the two women

and the reader. Again and again Edward’s

skill as a writer demonstrates what a gifted

wordsmith can do with a nearly unbelievable

series of real life events.

Following setback after setback, mostly

involving insurance companies, Edwards

finally receives approval to have a full panel

of testing completed to ensure that the two

are, in fact, a good match. [Spoiler Alert!

Stop here if you intend to read the book.]

As Kathy’s condition continues to worsen

and she spends more time in dialysis, as

much as five hours a day at this point,

the pair learns that Kathy has certain

antigens that would prevent a successful

transplantation. While she quietly accepts

her fate, Edwards continues to push

forward, her mantra still rattling around

in her head: be the change. Against the

backdrop of a growing friendship, Edwards

learns of a “paired match” program, which

allows for a type of double swap. In other

words, Edwards would be allowed to donate

anonymously and her designee, Kathy,

would in turn receive anonymously.

As she settles into her hospital gown, the

transplant team completes their final survey

by asking Edwards pointedly if there was

some place she would prefer her kidney not

go. She jokingly retorts, “I’d rather it not go

to Dick Cheney.” With her humor intact

Edwards is rolled into the operating room and

her kidney soon catches a plane to New Jersey.

Although the donor and recipient are required

to be sequestered and must remain purely

One Gently Used Kidney, Free to a Good Home

When 48 year-old single mother, massage therapist and returning

student Ellie meets a young woman with kidney disease, she

decides to make it her mission to save the girl. Unfortunately,

outdated rules made it difficult for altruistic donors, and besides,

the woman doesn’t want a savior. Does this stop Ellie from her

quest to “be the change” one seeks in the world? Not a chance.

Told with humor and self-reflection, this inspirational memoir of

courage and compassion is interwoven with anecdotal stories that

help the reader identify what kind of person commits the selfless

act of organ donation. Ellie,a self-described devout agnostic, is

kind but often irreverent. She is generous, but she is no saint.

Ultimately, becoming a kidney donor has given her a renewed

sense of purpose and fulfillment. Lost in Transplantation asserts

that we are all capable of altering a human being’s life for the

better, including our own.

… it was as if a transformer blew

up in the center of my being as

Ghandi’s famous words bubbled

up to the surface: ‘Be the change

Eldonna Edwards is the author of two previous

books, Journaling from the Heart and Loose

Ends. Her memoir, Lost in Transplantation,

chronicles a life-changing decision to donate a

kidney to an ailing stranger. Eldonna currently

you want to see in the world.’


lives on the central California coast where

she practices massage therapy and advocates

for living organ donation. Her debut novel is

planned for publication in 2015.

anonymous, Whole Heart Edwards Publications convinces a healthcare

www.wholeheartpublications.com

worker to pass along an “adoption letter”

because she wanted the recipient “to know

that the kidney came from a good home.”

She signs the letter “Eldonna,” and four years

after first hearing Lucy’s story at the Cuesta

College cafeteria and resolving herself to be

the change, Edwards had saved the life of a

58-year-old man on the East Coast.

Months later, a message popped up on

her Facebook account from someone she

did not recognize. Her heart skipped a

beat when she realizes it is from New

Jersey. The man goes on to express his

overwhelming gratitude. He also shares

that when he received the news that he

was to receive Edwards’ kidney, he had

been writing down the arrangements

for his own funeral. The two continue

to correspond when they learn that they

are diametrically opposed politically.

In a cosmic twist of fate, he describes

himself as the “next best thing to Dick

Cheney.” Edwards learns that the man’s

wife, through the paired match program

had also donated anonymously and had

saved another life, while Kathy, a year later,

receives a kidney from a brain-dead donor.

In the end, everyone ends up with a happy

story. And, Edwards grows and learns so

much about humankind and about her

own deep well of strength along the way.

And the reader learns that Edwards is, in

fact, for real; but, not in the same way that

Ghandi was real, more like in a way that a

neighbor is real. Yet, despite her conviction

she is also imminently vulnerable and

refreshingly relatable, which makes her

story that much more readable—and the be

the change that Edwards was after, may very

well be what happens to the reader after

finishing her book. SLO LIFE

Lost in Transplantation Memoir of an Unconventional Organ Donor Eldonna Edwards

Lost in

Transplantation

Memoir of an Unconventional Organ Donor

Eldonna Edwards

THE FIRST LOCAL release of Lost

in Transplantation will be available

at the Steynberg Gallery in San Luis

Obispo on Sunday, February 23rd

where Edwards will be on hand at

3pm to sign books. The book is also

available for purchase at Amazon.com

where it has yet to receive less than a

5-star review.

THIS STORY ALSO captured the

imagination of Jan Krawitz, who is

a highly regarded documentary film

producer. Krawitz adapted Lost in

Transplantation to the big screen

in a movie called Perfect Strangers.

A trailer is available to view at

perfectstrangersmovie.com and the

full documentary will be screening at

the SLO International Film Festival.

Check slofilmfest.org for the schedule.

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 61


| SPECIAL FEATURE

DIABLO CANYON TOUR

Welcome to The Machine

BY TOM FRANCISKOVICH

There is so much to love about the Central Coast, and I truly cannot

imagine living anywhere else. But, I have to be honest. I have always had

some lingering doubts about the wisdom of living so close to a nuclear

power facility. And, now being really, really honest… I prefer not to think

about it, because when I do my mind goes to weird places and visions of

mushroom clouds dance in my head. I have heard all of the arguments for

and against nuclear energy, and I can understand both points of view. But,

at the end of the day, I am a hands-on, visual learner sort-of-guy. I need to

touch it before I “get it.” With that in mind, and wanting to for once and

for all really “get it,” really understand nuclear power, really understand the

realities of living next to such an awesomely powerful generator, I decided

to head out to Diablo Canyon to see it for myself. And I would like to

invite you to come along with me...

It’s another stunning, crystal clear morning on the Avila Bay. And as we

crest the summit in our unmarked, white SUV, I strain to look around

the bend for the distinctive nuclear domes. But, nothing can be seen

except miles of unblemished coastal bluff. With the exception of some

cows roaming the hills, the land is pristine, untouched. As we drive along

further and further, I begin to look at my watch, and like my four-yearold

son, I ask the question, “How much longer?” I was surprised by the

vast area of land Diablo inhabits, the majority of which is designated by

its owner, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), to be in its “natural state.”

The company is quick to use the term “steward of the land” as opposed to

“land owner” in describing its role with the 750-acres south of Montaña

de Oro known as Diablo Canyon. With the exception of an impeccably

maintained paved road and a series of corporate signs encouraging

“Safety First,” it would be impossible to know if it were 2014 or 1714. The

surrounding land is truly majestic in its rugged naturalness.

Rounding the last corner and dropping down a slight grade, the power

plant finally comes into view. My most notable observation is that the two

domes that clearly identify a nuclear facility seem like such a small part of

the overall picture. The landscape unfolding before me was one of a small

town with people doing all the activities necessary to keep a small town

running. Off to one side, a crew was working on what appeared to be sewer

pipes. To the left another group was pushing some dirt around with a small

Bobcat tractor. At this point, my note-taking is interrupted by a security

guard at a checkpoint who leans into my window and politely asks me

to step out of the vehicle and hand over the backpack and camera sitting

between my feet on the floorboard. After a quick inspection, my possessions

are returned. “Okay, you’re all set,” he says, “Welcome to The Machine.”

In 1938, a German chemist named Otto Hahn was messing around in his

Berlin-based “Holzwerstatt” (woodworking shop) with some radioactive

material when he began to see things that he did not expect. When

the nucleus of radioactive material was divided, a massive exothermic

reaction occurred. In other words, a whole lot of energy was released

from one very small bit of matter. More intriguing still, the matter did

not seem to breakdown as expected. Rather than taking on the properties

of something like a log in a fireplace—which soon turns to ash—the

radioactive material kept going, and going. Hahn, who came to be known

as “the father of nuclear chemistry” continued to experiment in his little

workshop. Over time he began to realize the implications for what he had

discovered. In an ironic twist, Hahn was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in

1944—just one year before his discovery led to the instant vaporization of

nearly a quarter of a million Japanese civilians.

While the atom bomb brought an end to hostilities in World War II,

it also marked the unofficial beginning of the Cold War. Although the

United States and the Soviet Union had been allies up to that point—

mostly in the sense that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”—the

awesome power unleashed over those two summer days in Hiroshima

and Nagasaki was perceived as a clear and present danger to the Kremlin.

And almost immediately after Stalin received his first account of what

happened in Japan, he likely whispered to himself: “We need one of

those bombs.” From that point forward, the Soviets scrambled to arm

themselves in the same way that their American foes had, and if one was

good, two would certainly be better. Eventually the Cold Warriors would

reach a point where they would be able to blow each other up, as well as

the entire planet, many times over.

While the saber rattling hawks involved in the silent conflict were pushing

to escalate the Arms Race, others began to see nuclear power in a different

light. Their question was not, “How can we obliterate more commies?”

But, what if we used this stuff to generate our electricity? Since nuclear

power has a 1+1=3 quality to it, in that a very small amount of matter

produces a massive amount of energy, why not use it in a way that would

benefit mankind. Interestingly enough, the US Navy, by 1954, had figured

out a way to keep its submarines under water for a very long time: small

onboard nuclear reactors. As the USS Nautilus was keeping a watchful eye

on Soviet frigates in the Bering Sea, scientists stateside continued to press

the question: Why not use nuclear to power our homes?

After clearing the second security checkpoint, we parked the car and

walked toward the main entrance, stopping for a few minutes to watch

a beautiful, continually looping video produced by PG&E in the visitors

lounge. We then moved on to the employee entrance. There I turned over

my driver’s license and was subjected to another search, this one more

thorough. After verifying that the background check I had submitted a

week prior had cleared, I was led through a full-length turnstile complete

with metal detection. When the green light on the top of the steel cage

flashed “Ok,” I heard a loud “click” and the lock automatically opened. On

the other side, a machine gun wielding guard sporting all black commando

gear did a full pat down, including waving a metal detecting wand over

every square inch of my person. At that point I was handed back my

notepad, digital voice recorder, and camera with explicit instructions on

what I could and could not photograph at the plant.

With “Visitor” highlighted clearly in yellow across the top of my I.D.

badge now hanging around my neck, we exited the security pavilion

and headed toward the six-story office building that sits next to the two

concrete domes. After an elevator ride to the top floor, we made a left and

then a right turn down two long corridors to find ourselves outside of a

non-descript conference room. A mustachioed, middle-aged man with

closely cropped chestnut-colored hair whose nose bridge is slightly askew

to the left, stood up from the long Birchwood table with his right hand

outstretched. “Hello, I’m Ed Halpin, Chief Nuclear Officer.” If there ever

was a Wizard Oz at Diablo Canyon, this is the guy.

In a slow, rhythmic cadence Halpin begins ticking off facts and figures with

an accent that reveals a Long Island upbringing. After each point he pauses

to allow me to keep pace with my note-taking. “There are one hundred

nuclear power plants operating in the United States right now with five

under construction, and they provide about 19% of the electrical demand.”

The bullet points continue. “Throughout the world there are 435 nuclear

62 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


power plants, and 72 are under construction. And those numbers continue

to grow every year because, quite frankly, the world is turning more toward

nuclear to reach its power demands. It’s reliable, it’s safe, it is a powerful

technology and, yet, it has to be correctly controlled. And, it is friendly to

the environment. So, for the big picture, we will not achieve what we want

to achieve with regard to greenhouse gas reductions without nuclear power.”

Halpin, a champion Naval Academy boxer in the 125-pound weight

class who once entered the ring with an already broken nose, has answers

for all my questions. And, he does not so much as flinch or even gesture

with his hands to answer them. “What about Fukushima? Couldn’t that

happen here?” “No,” he states flatly. “And, here’s why. I just came back from

Fukushima and the reason for their problems was due to the fact that they

did not have sufficient redundancy. They did not have the ability to cool

their reactors because their pumps were taken out by the tsunami,” Halpin

explains. “But, what about us? What about a tsunami happening here? And

what about the fact that Diablo sits near a few different fault lines?” I ask.

Point by point, Halpin breaks it down with a list of calm, cool responses:

“Tsunamis are not possible to the degree it happened there.” Seismic

modeling shows that the largest tsunami possible would produce a 45-foot

wave surge at Diablo. The cliffs there are 85-feet high. “The fault lines near

Diablo are the most studied in the world, and Hosgri’s strongest possible

earthquake would not be a problem for us. Besides that, assuming the worst

case, we have many layers of redundancy.” Following the discussion of

Fukushima, I ask the question: “What about the spent fuel rods?”

A single fuel pellet of U-235 (low-enriched uranium) is about the size

of two number-two pencil erasers stacked on top of one another. One of

those pellets provides the same level of fuel as one ton of coal. A fuel rod

consists of 375 of those pellets. And, 264 rods make up an assembly, with

193 assemblies per reactor. Each of those assemblies employs a mechanism

to automatically disengage the pellets should the internal temperature rise

beyond its normal zone or if it detects any seismic movement. Naturally

occurring uranium—one-third of the world’s supply is mined from the

mountains of Kazakhstan—is .72% U-235. It is then enriched to between

3% and 5%, which is what supplies nuclear power plants. In order for it to

be weapons grade uranium, it must be enriched to 90% U-235. In other

words, it is not possible for Diablo Canyon to produce a mushroom cloud.

Yet, there is still a lot of radioactive waste, which makes it difficult to take

the intellectual leap suggesting that nuclear is “friendly to the environment.”

Contrary to coal-fired plants, where carbon emissions escape into the

atmosphere, Halpin is fond of saying, “I know where my waste is.” And,

he does make a good point. The average coal-fired power plant generates

an estimated 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge each year,

which goes along with a long list of toxic substances including mercury and

arsenic. At Diablo Canyon, where there are no carbon emissions emanating

from its power generation process, the waste sits up on the hill in Easter

Island-like concrete reinforced containers awaiting further instructions.

And, as it turns out, there’s gold in them thar spent fuel rods.

After they are removed from the reactor and deemed “spent,” fully 90% of

the fuel remains in those U-235 pellets. Through reprocessing it is possible

to take the remaining energy and essentially recycle it to recharge the

fuel pellets. Despite the fact that ten other countries currently reprocess

their spent fuel, in the United States it has been somewhat of a political

football. In the 1970’s, fearing the weaponization of reprocessed fuel, the

Carter Administration decided to punt. And, since that time there has

not been the political will to restart the conversation in a meaningful

way. John McCain, during his failed presidential bid in 2008, was the last

big-name politician to make a full-throated case for reprocessing. As it

stands now, according to Halpin, if you were to take all of the spent fuel

from every United States-based nuclear reactor over the past 40 years, it

would fill a football field to the height of the top of the goalposts. That

waste now sits patiently awaiting a trip to the promised land—somewhere

like Yucca Mountain, a depository for spent fuel that the feds continue

to dangle just out of reach—or some other facility where it could be

reprocessed and brought back for a second shot at life inside a reactor.

In 1969, a local woman put a pen to paper imploring Central Coast

residents who shared her “sadness and frustration at the needless loss of

life in Vietnam” to join her in “searching out ways to act effectively as a

group.” Her letter to the editor resonated throughout the community and

shortly thereafter, in an undersized San Luis Obispo living room, Mothers

for Peace was formed. As the women coalesced around their collective

efforts to apply pressure on politicians, the Southeast Asian conflict began

to wane. Then, in 1973 the non-profit shifted its attention to the safety of

the newly built Diablo Canyon Power Plant and has been a thorn in the

side of the operation ever since. Raising hell at every turn, the mothers—

many of them now grandmothers—serve as a scrappy, perennially

underfunded local watchdog. One of its members, Linda Feely, is as

comfortable discussing highly technical nuclear concepts as she is talking

about shopping for bargains at Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura. “The

thing about the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] is that they are

85% funded by industry—the people they are supposed to be watching.

Now, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, right?”

Interestingly, Mothers for Peace currently puts the thrust of its focus on

the opinion of an NRC inspector. From 2007 to 2012, Michael Peck was

the senior resident inspector for the NRC at Diablo Canyon. During

his time there, he began to question the way PG&E was making its

assumptions for earthquake projections. In short, he argued that the

network of fault lines around the plant were capable of producing a much

more powerful seismic event than was being forecasted as a worst-case

scenario. Because he found Diablo was not suited to withstand the level of

earthquake he thought was possible, Peck formally recommended citing

the plant for being in violation of its licensing agreement, which could

have led to its closure. That report was written in September of 2011—by

October of that same year, the NRC sided with PG&E’s findings in its

Research Information Letter (RIL) deeming Diablo safe to operate. Nine

months after writing his Dissenting Professional Opinion refuting the

RIL, Peck was transferred to Chattanooga, Tennessee. He insists that it

was not a punitive move on the part of the NRC, and continues to this

day to assert that PG&E’s assumptions about the potential for seismic

activity around the plant are faulty.

Over the past four decades Mothers for Peace has amassed a small library

of documentation stressing the dangers of Diablo Canyon, and just about

every time PG&E releases a study, the group finds ways to poke holes in

it. Another area that has raised their collective eyebrows is concerning

the use of high burn-up fuel. Jane Swanson, who has been with Mothers

for Peace since the beginning, speaks passionately in twenty-minute

blocks about the dangers of high burn-up fuel—a type of uranium pellet

that allows for more time to pass before it must be replaced. For lack of

a better way to describe it, high burn-up fuel is like the high-octane gas

you buy at the fuel pump. Yes, it is more expensive, but it is more powerful

and gives you better gas mileage. The better Diablo’s gas mileage, the

less downtime there is, which means that PG&E sells more kilowatts.

Except, according to Swanson, the spent pellets come out much hotter

and take much longer to cool. The first stage of that cooling process, when

they are placed in a sealed container and submerged underwater inside

the plant, is when they are most vulnerable, she claims. “Diablo was not

built with high burn-up fuel in mind; it burns hotter, comes out hotter

and more radioactive than the plant was designed to handle. And, what if

something happens to those pools?”

As we enter the main power generation room, I first realize that nuclear

power is just another way to boil water. Before me, I find two massive

steam-powered turbines. It is here that I am able to get real hands-on

experience at Diablo Canyon. While I watch the shaft on one of the

turbines turn many thousands of revolutions per minute, I am told that

the facility generates 2,300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the

equivalent of 3 million homes, or 10% of California’s total energy demand.

Diablo’s twin steam turbines—both originally built in 1975—could just as

easily be sitting in a coal-fired plant somewhere, as the mechanics involved

in turning its gigantic flywheels are the same: boil water using some type >>

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 63


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of heat source, whether it be coal or uranium, and allow that steam to

build to a very high pressure which then turns the shaft. The shaft, which

is connected to a series of brushes and wires creates friction, that friction

then spawns electricity. That electricity is then sent out to the grid.

Officials at PG&E like to say, “If Diablo Canyon were a conventional

power plant, it would burn 220 train cars full of coal each day.”

As the tour continues through the belly of the beast—it gets hotter,

dryer and louder the deeper we go—I find myself wanting to get a

closer look at all those spent fuel rods. I am told that after five years the

U-235 pellets are considered spent, and there is an elaborate process for

partially shutting down the plant, extracting those pellets and placing

them in what looks like an Olympic-style swimming pool for cooling

over the course of many years. Once the U-235 cools, it becomes less

radioactive and the pellets are then taken from the pool and placed in

a dry cask outside the facility. Standing at 19-feet tall and 32-feet in

diameter with 8-foot thick steel and concrete walls, the dry casks are

bolted down on bedrock at the back of the facility, 310-feet above sea

level. They are watched by armed guards around the clock. The scene

looks something like a San Quentin for uranium, complete with barbed

wire fences and machine gun toting sentries. The juxtaposition of the

casks against the bucolic Central Coast hills, did strike me as strange

and unnatural, but the level of attention they were receiving provided

some degree of comfort.

As I handed over my ID badge and made my final exit through a

radiation detecting scanner, I stood there reflecting on my day. The light

turned green and I was deemed “clean,” so I gathered my things. During

my visit, I learned a lot about nuclear power and did not find anything

that raised my immediate concern. Actually, I felt much more confident

knowing that there is a group of highly intelligent people running the

place. But, there is a saying in military circles that “armies are built to

fight the last war,” and I could not help but wonder if that were the case

at Diablo Canyon. I mean, prior to 9/11 who could have ever imagined

that a rag-tag group of extremist would fly a pair of commercial jets into

the Twin Towers. And, who would have ever thought that Fukushima

would meltdown before our eyes in the wake of a 45-foot tidal wave.

And, what about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl? Weren’t the smartest

guys in the room providing scientific studies back then assuring us that

nothing could possibly happen to those places, too?

One thing I do know is that all of the discussion during my visit was

concerning electricity supply, which makes sense because PG&E is a

power producer. But, with all of the hand-wringing that takes place

locally over Diablo Canyon, and nuclear power in general, why is there

not a substantive conversation about reducing demand, in other words

conserving? In remembering my grandparents—products of the Great

Depression who were constantly turning off lights carelessly left on

by their grandchildren—I wonder why, instead of worrying so much

about Diablo, we don’t figure out a way to use less of the stuff they are

making out there. Or, is that even possible? Is the proverbial horse out

of the barn for good? Is the lure of the 70” flat screen TV too strong to

avoid flipping a U-turn in our Teslas and Chevy Volts now? Or, is there

another way? Is distributed power, setting up individual solar and wind

units at home, versus centralized power, through utility companies like

PG&E, the way of the future? Again, I don’t have the answer. But, the

one thing I do have an answer to after my day out at Diablo, is that all

of us have the right, and the responsibility, to keep a close eye on what

goes on out there. To borrow the words of Ronald Reagan—a steadfast

advocate of nuclear power—who in negotiating with the Soviets

adopted the Russian proverb “doveryai no proveryai;” in other words, it

is incumbent upon us to “trust, but verify.” SLO LIFE

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PG&E offers limited tours of Diablo Canyon which are considered on a

case-by-case basis. If you are interested in learning more, please call

(805) 546-5280 or email EnergyEducationCenter@pge.com

What are your thoughts on Diablo Canyon?

Be part of the conversation by emailing us at

info@slolifemagazine.com

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 65


| EXPLORE

A PERFECT DATE IN

LOS OSOS

An exploration of the Central Coast offers many paths worth

discovering, and this trip to Los Osos did not disappoint.

BY PADEN HUGHES

The sun illuminated the landscape

making colors vibrant and beaconing

as we began on the beautiful

walkway of the Elfin Forest.

Our date happened on just that

kind of day. The sun illuminated the

landscape making colors vibrant

and beaconing as we began on the

beautiful walkway of the Elfin Forest.

MUCH HAS BEEN written of the

legendary fog of San Francisco—

George Sterling described it as “the

cool grey city of love”—and much

like the city residents, those living in

the fog-riddled town of Los Osos,

understand that catching a warm,

sunny afternoon is a true delight.

The 90-acre El Moro Elfin Forest

affords some of the most stunning

views of Morro Rock, the peaceful

expanse of the bay and the bright

blue estuary weaving its way to the

rocky hills in the distance. The

boardwalk provides a nice romantic

stroll sloping down to a perfectly

situated lookout point, overlooking

Morro Bay and Morro Rock, just

right for panoramic views.

66 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


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From South County: Travel north

on Highway 101, exit at Los Osos

Valley Road, turn left and head north

to Los Osos. Turn Right on South

Bay Boulevard, and turn left at Santa

Ysabela. I recommend taking the first

right on 17th Street which will give you

access to the start of the walkway down

to the ocean view, but you can turn right

on any street from 17th-11th and get

into the Elfin Forest.

From North County: Take Highway 1

toward Morro Bay. Take the Los Osos

exit, turn left going under the highway and

head south toward Los Osos. Proceed two

miles to the first stoplight, Santa Ysabel.

Turn right on 17th-11th streets.

DIRECTIONS to Noi’s Restaurant

From the Elfin Forest: Head south and

turn right on Santa Ysabel. Turn left on

2nd Street and head toward the water. You

will see the restaurant on your left.

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2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 67


| HEALTH

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Keeping track of the things you are grateful for helps decrease stress. According to Barbara

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So to change emotional patterns, sometimes what we need to do is curtail our negative

thinking and stoke our positive thinking.” Don’t take the good for granted, buy a journal,

be mindful, and write it down.

2

SIT UP STRAIGHT

According to Power Posing, an article in

Psychological Science, people with good posture

have more confidence in their own thoughts.

(This is just more proof you should listen to your

mother’s advice!)

3

FOCUS ON YOUR PERSONAL

STRENGTHS

Don’t even think about comparing yourself to

other people, just flip the switch and think

about your unique strengths.

68 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

4

VOLUNTEER

There’s no shortage of research

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many others see as bad luck.” Resilience is not something that you are either born with or not.

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| HEALTH

8

9

SET GOALS

Working toward reasonable challenges

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competing in your first 5k you’ll reap

benefits all the way to the finish line.

SAY YES

In improve comedy, they teach you to always agree with

whoever starts the scene. Starting your sentence with

“yes, and” helps keep the scene moving, as opposed to

having someone change the scene with a “no.” Use this

strategy to remind yourself that everyone’s opinion is

worth considering. Even if you don’t fully agree, just add

it to the conversation instead of dismissing it.

10

TRY SOMETHING NEW

The Broaden-and-Build Theory of

positive emotions shows a direct link

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jumping out of an airplane, or

traveling abroad, take the time to

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72 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

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$34 // Windows on the Water Restaurant and Bar

699 Embarcadero, Suite 7, Morro Bay

(805) 772-0677 // windowsmb.com

2. Introducing the Creekside Sangria

featuring citrus, berries, agave, ginger ale,

and brandy mixed with red or white wine.

Enjoy the discounted Happy Hour price

offered Sunday - Wednesday, 3 - 6pm and all

day on Thursday—even during live music which

starts at 10pm—and includes sangria, featured

wine, well drinks, 2 for 1 beers and a food menu.

$5 // Luna Red

1023 Chorro Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 540-5243 // lunaredslo.com

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3. The flavor profile and texture are what

make Viognier sing at the table. This Wild

Horse selection has beautiful aromas of orange

blossom and stone fruit, a full-flavored mouth

feel accompanied by fresh, bright acidity and

balance.

$20 // Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards

1437 Wild Horse Winery Court, Templeton

(805) 788-6300 // wildhorsewinery.com

4. Savor these satisfying Pork Carnitas Sopes

crafted from housemade small, thick tortillas,

caramelized slow-roasted pork, cabbage, sweet

and sour escabeche, salsa, and queso fresco.

Enjoy three to a plate. Gluten free. This item is

so popular it stays on the menu all year-round.

$18 // Novo Restaurant and Lounge

726 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo

(805) 543-3986 // novorestaurant.com

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feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 75


| SLO LIFE KITCHEN

to kale with it

With kale having the reputation as a super food we’re always trying to incorporate more of it into

our diet. But the thought of another salad was, frankly, getting old—that is until we added bacon.

Inspired by its deliciousness, we went even further with our kale recipe exploration and came up

with a pesto sauce that paired beautifully with roasted spaghetti squash.

ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH KALE PESTO

ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH

1 large spaghetti squash

olive oil for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Cut spaghetti squash in half; remove seeds

and brush with olive oil. Place on baking

sheet in preheated oven and bake for 30 –

40 minutes until tender and lightly browned.

3. Remove from oven. Scrape the insides

with a fork into a serving bowl and separate

into spaghetti squash strands.

KALE PESTO SAUCE

¾ cup olive oil

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar

2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

juice of one lemon

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup kale, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves

¼ cup water

½ cup pine nuts

*

1. In a high speed blender, combine all

ingredients and blend until smooth.

2. Pour into a serving bowl and using a ladel,

remove any foam that rises to the top.

We only used about half of our kale pesto sauce for dressing

the roasted spaghetti squash. The remaining we used as a

delicious spread on sandwiches and as a flavorful veggie dip.

76 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014


CENTRAL COAST FARMERS’ HARVESTS

DELIVERED TO YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS

Fresh Picked & Locally Grown

Pesticide Free Produce

Weekly or Bi-weekly Delivery

No Contract Required

SEARED SHRIMP AND BACON SALAD

4 slices bacon

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

4 cups kale, roughly chopped and veins

removed

1 avocado, cubed

4 tablespoons toasted pepitas

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lime

1. In a large skillet, cook your bacon until

crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet

and place on paper towels to drain. Once

cooled, coarsely chop.

2. Using the same skillet, drain the grease until

you have about 2 tablespoons remaining.

3. Season shrimp with red pepper flakes.

Arrange seasoned shrimp in the skillet and

sear both sides until cooked through, 2 – 3

minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly

ground pepper. Remove from the skillet and

cover to keep warm.

4. Add the brussels sprouts and kale to the

skillet. Sauté over medium high heat for 2

minutes. You still want it to have a slight bite,

without tasting raw. Season with sea salt and

freshly ground pepper.

5. Evenly divide the sautéed sprouts and

kale among plates. Top with seared shrimp,

avocado, bacon crumbles and toasted pepitas.

Squeeze lime juice over each plate to taste.

SLO LIFE

SERVING

San Luis Obispo | Avila | Los Osos

Five Cities | Nipomo

sloveg.com

805.709.2780

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 77


| HAPPENINGS

FEBRUARY

Business Portraits :: Product :: Headshots

Commercial :: Editorial

805.448.2841

www.christopherbersbach.com

Shalimar

iNDiaN rESTaUraNT

Lunch Buffet

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

Monday Dinner Buffet

5:00pm - 10:00pm $9.99

Sunday Brunch

$9.99

2115 Broad Street, SlO

805.781.0766 | shalimarslo.com

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GISELLE

Moscow Festival Ballet

speaks to the soul through

the body, performing a

magnificent Giselle—Adolphe

Adam’s acknowledged 1841

masterpiece, still considered to

be one of classical ballet’s most

cherished works.

February 8 // pacslo.org

SOME ENCHANTED EVENING

The unforgettable songs of Rodgers &

Hammerstein have become an integral

part of our everyday lives. Enjoy an

intimate and memorable musical revue

and celebrate the songs that will live

forever in our hearts.

February 14 – March 16

slolittletheatre.org

THE BACHELORS

What do you get when you cross two

bachelors and a reincarnated jilted

lover in the form of a pizza delivery

girl? Bachelorhood shattered in a

mad cap, musical romp!

January 23 – March 9

americanmelodrama.com

THAT’S AMORE

Join us as we present Broadway’s best-loved

ensembles and a special sneak preview of the May

production of Show Boat featuring an acclaimed

quintet of artists each making their debut with

Opera San Luis Obispo.

February 9 // www.operaslo.org

Hot Shaves • Cold Beer • ESPN • Quality Service

Monday - Saturday 10am-6pm • Sunday 11am-4pm

1351 Monterey Street . San Luis Obispo

(805)783-2887 . clippersbarber.com

78 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

HEART AND SOLES RUN/WALK

Join this 5k, 10k, 15k Run/Walk featuring a costume contest, live entertainment,

prizes, and a kids’ craft area. 20% of proceeds go to SLO Food Bank.

February 16 // heartandsolesrun.com


MARCH

SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL

FILM FESTIVAL

The 20th Anniversary festival is bound to be the

best one yet with countywide screenings, behind

the scenes workshops and panels, VIP parties and

wine tasting.

March 5 – 9 // slofilmfest.org

Dog Training • Premium Daycare • Boarding • Grooming

FIRST DAY OF DAYCARE FREE!

173 Buckley Road • San Luis Obispo

(805) 596-0112

thousandhillspetresort.com

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WEST SIDE STORY

From the first note to the final breath,

West Side Story soars as the greatest

love story of all time with one of

Broadway’s finest scores. This revival

proves that even after 50 years, it

remains as powerful, poignant and

timely as ever.

March 10 // pacslo.org

SLO HEALTH AND FITNESS 5K

This 5k takes you along the Highway

101 bike path up to Cerro San Luis and

back to the Alex Madonna Expo Center.

Enjoy beautiful views of the hills and

pastures of San Luis Obispo.

March 22 // slohealthandfitness.com

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VINTAGE PASO: ZINFANDEL

AND OTHER WILD WINES

Create your own zinful itinerary to

smell, sip and savor the heritage of

Paso Robles, with events at more

than 120 wineries! Join fellow wine

enthusiasts for a selection of wine

and chocolate pairings, winemaker

dinners, vineyard tours, laid-back

barbecues, barrel tastings, live music,

and so much more!

March 14 – 16 // pasowine.com

WIVI CENTRAL COAST

SYMPOSIUM TRADESHOW

This event brings winemakers and

wine grape growers together for an

unprecedented collection of tradeshow

booths, product demonstrations and

networking opportunities.

March 19 – 20 // wivicentralcoast.com

PRESENTING THE BEST

VARIETY OF PROFESSIONAL

ENTERTAINMENT

AT THE PAC !

CALPOLYARTS.ORG

NO DOWN PAYMENT HOMES

FREE PRE-APPROVALS

Call Rich at Mid Coast Realty

805-710-2704

LIC #0352378. NMLS# 323749

Does your dad like to read?

Send him a subscription!

slolifemagazine.com

feb/mar 2014 | SLO LIFE Magazine | 79


HAVEN PROPERTIES

A PAYNE INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

Our EXCLUSIVE affiliation with LUXURY REAL ESTATE enables HAVEN PROPERTIES

to market and reach all corners of North America and the Globe. From local

vineyard estates to coastal masterpieces, HAVEN PROPERTIES offers professional

expertise and marketing tools to sell or find your dream home.

Local Ownership | Local Knowledge | Global Reach

EXCLUSIVE AFFILIATION

1212 Marsh Street, Suite 1 | San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

office 805.592.2050 | inquiries@havenslo.com

80 | SLO LIFE Magazine | feb/mar 2014

HavenSLO.com

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