SLO LIFE Magazine Dec/Jan 20/21

slolife

SLOmagazine

REAL ESTATE

BY THE NUMB

SEASONAL

FAVORITES

NOW HEAR THIS

BREWING

UP SPIRITS

FAMILY

OUTING

BEHIND

THE SCENES

HAPPENINGS

DEC/JAN 2021

SLOLIFEMAGAZINE.COM MEET

LIFE

LOCAL

ARTIST

HEALTH

TRENDS

N THE

RISE

EWS

IEFS

TAKING IN

THE VIEW

SIDNEY COLLIN

RESTORING HOPE &

BUILDING A BUSINESS

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 1


Consistently Quality

Products Since

1947

Print | Mail | Apparel | Design | Web | Promo

805.543.6844 | 2226 Beebee Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 | www.prpco.com

2 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 3


We’re here

for you

now

and

always.

We know how important essential travel is to our community. SLO Transit

has taken extra precautions in implementing enhanced cleaning methods

and maintaining a rigorous cleaning schedule to keep buses clean and

sanitized. We’re here for you now with essential travel and we’re here for

you as our community is supporting one another on the road to recovery.

For more information on individual routes and schedules, please visit our website at

slotransit.org, download the SLO Transit app, or call Transit Dispatch at (805) 541-2877.

4 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


Emergency

care is just

a call away.

Tele-ER Visits with Local Doctors

Our emergency services team sees more than 57,000 patients a year. That

experience allows us to quickly evaluate patients and determine the best

treatment options. We’re here 24 hours a day to answer your call.

1. Call 805-546-7990. Talk

with a nurse or emergency

team member about your

health concern.

2. Book your Tele-ER

appointment with a

local ER doctor. It’s

helpful if you have a

thermometer nearby.

3. Get your smartphone,

tablet or computer

ready. That’s it! Don’t

delay your care.

For a Tele-ER visit, just

call 805-546-7990

For life-threatening emergencies, go to the nearest hospital or call 911.

TenetHealthCentralCoast.com/Telehealth

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 5


TEN OVER is on a mission to amplify local voices working to better our community.

To this end, we are donating the following ad space to local nonprofit organizations in need.

Together, we can leave the world better than we found it.

TENOVERSTUDIO.COM

All it takes is one person

to change a child’s life.

Rudy volunteers with

purpose...

Rudy is a local San Luis Obispo resident and

a proud CASA volunteer. He has served his

community for over six years with one

purpose; to be the caring adult in the life of

an abused or neglected child, no matter what.

The invisible children of San Luis Obispo

County need your help during this

unprecedented holiday season. You can make

a lasting impact for a child facing abuse or

neglect by becoming a CASA volunteer or

by making a donation.

Help us reach more children during this

uncertain time and support our mission,

just as Rudy has done.

Together we can change a child’s story.

www.slocasa.org

6 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


LEARN BY DOING

WAS BORN HERE

CAL POLY AND LEARN BY DOING

HAVE BEEN RESIDENTS OF

THE CENTRAL COAST

SINCE 1901.

Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design

students worked to design a structure to house exhibits and

collections for the Wine History Project, an organization that

educates the public about the history of San Luis Obispo

County’s wine industry. The pavilion will initially be placed at

Saucelito Canyon Winery in the Edna Valley and later displayed

at other locations throughout the county.

AD DESIGN BY CAL POLY STUDENT LAUREN WENSTAD

(FOURTH-YEAR GRAPHIC COMMUNICATION MAJOR)

See more Learn by Doing stories at

GIVING.CALPOLY.EDU

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 7


CONTENTS

Volume

24

26

28

11

Number 6

Dec/Jan 2021

32

Briefs

View

Q&A

MEET YOUR

NEIGHBOR

12

PUBLISHER’S

MESSAGE

14

16

18

22

Info

Sneak Peek

In Box

Timeline

8 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

30

NOW HEAR THIS


Love your legs again!

Before & After actual patients

Bringing Quality Heart and Vascular Care

to the Central Coast since 2008

Nationally recognized single physician practice

Offering consultative cardiology,

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Linked with Concierge Choice, one of the

nation’s leaders in patient care

Dr. Ken Stevens

www.premierheartandveincare.com | 805.540.3333

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 9


| CONTENTS

60

64

68

Real Estate

Discover

Health

74

TASTE

78

WINE NOTES

42

ARTIST

44

Family

46

48

On the Rise

Dwelling

82 Happenings

10 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


exceptional landscape

design + build contractors

805.574.0777

www.sagelandscapes.net

@sagelandscapes

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 11


| PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE

My mom always said to me, “Tommy, a good book can change your life.”

Last night, I finished one that surprised me, “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. He’s the guy who founded Nike.

His memoir was exceptionally well-written, considering it was authored by a former captain of industry.

In his Acknowledgments, he thanked among others, his fellow students at the writing classes he had taken

over the years he was penning his manuscript. Although the book was fascinating, I was most intrigued by

that revelation.

As an eighty-two-year-old multibillionaire, Knight could have simply hired a ghost writer or just sat on a

beach somewhere and sipped a Mai Tai (his favorite drink). Instead, he told his story. And he did it using his

own words.

After publishing SLO LIFE Magazine for a decade now, that’s the thing I love most: Listening to people tell

their story in their own words. It’s how they tell it that I’m interested in most. And it never gets old.

When I sit down to an interview, I always start with some variation of the same question: “Tell me, where are you from?” A few minutes in, the voice

recorder sitting on the table between us seems to melt away and I am drawn into the story as if I’m a kid back in the Tulare County Library reading

about astronauts and quarterbacks.

But while I was turning the pages of “Shoe Dog,” my mind was not in Beaverton, Oregon, where Nike is headquartered, but right here in San Luis

Obispo. Knight unfurled a white-knuckled tale familiar to all entrepreneurs, one filled with unending leaps of faith into the darkness of uncertainty. He

ended his memoir by heaping praise on the one thing he identified as the most important component of his outsized success: Luck.

Again, I was taken aback by his refreshingly honest appraisal. And while he certainly did everything possible to bend the odds into his favor, there were

many times early on where Nike could have very easily gone belly-up. Except the ball took a good bounce.

This has been a year made up almost entirely of bad hops and unlucky breaks. Many of us are hobbling to the finish line on the way toward completing a

race we’d like to forget.

But don’t do that—don’t forget.

Although we have not been dealt a hand stacked with the best cards, we are still holding cards. Which means we’re still in the game. Our stories

continue to unfold.

And I know this to be true because in the thousands of interviews I have conducted throughout my career, no one ever talks about their successes except

as a “The End.” The stories we tell one another and ourselves—our stories—are the amalgamation of adversity and setbacks and bad breaks. Smooth

sailing does not make for very interesting reading. I’m willing to bet that when we look back someday, we will all surely have a lengthy chapter in our

memoirs devoted to this most peculiar/frustrating/maddening/terrifying [insert your own adjective here] year.

As he reflects back on his life, closing in on “The End,” Phil Knight confirms this observation when he reveals his one, final wish. It’s not to buy another

building or a yacht, but to go back and do it all again—the heartbreak, the stress, the uncertainty. No money and deeply in debt, not knowing whether

his fledgling shoe company would make it to end of the month—that’s when he was happiest.

Interesting.

Mom was right about books.

I wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in producing this issue of

SLO LIFE Magazine. And, most of all, thank you to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you.

Live the SLO Life!

Bad Hop

Tom Franciskovich

tom@slolifemagazine.com

p.s. If you’d like to read more visit me at tomfranciskovich.com

12 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 13


SLO LIFE

magazine

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SLOLIFEMAGAZINE.COM

info@slolifemagazine.com

(805) 543-8600 • (805) 456-1677 fax

PUBLISHER

Tom Franciskovich

Elder Placements realizes the

IMPORTANCE of listening to the

client, in order to find the appropriate:

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Charlotte Alexander

Jeff Al-Mashat

Chuck Graham

Lauren Harvey

Paden Hughes

Zara Khan

Jaime Lewis

Andria McGhee

Joe Payne

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Hutomo Abrianto

Justin Aikin

Rob DeGraff

David Lalush

Katie Luna

Mark Nakamura

Vanessa Plakias

Amanda Vick

CONTRIBUTIONS

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? Submit your story ideas, events, recipes, and announcements

by visiting us online at slolifemagazine.com and clicking “Share Your Story” or

emailing us at info@slolifemagazine.com. Be sure to include your full name

and city for verification purposes. Contributions chosen for publication may

be edited for clarity and space limitations.

ADVERTISING

If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom Franciskovich by phone

at (805) 543-8600 or by email at tom@slolifemagazine.com or visit us

online at slolifemagazine.com/advertise and we will send you a complete

media kit along with testimonials from happy advertisers.

Nicole Pazdan, CSA,

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Ready to live the SLO Life all year long? It’s quick and easy! Just log on to

slolifemagazine.com/subscribe. It’s just $24.95 for the year. And don’t

forget to set your friends and family up with a subscription, too. It’s the

gift that keeps on giving!

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 express written permission of the publisher.

Contact us today for FREE placement assistance.

(805) 546-8777

elderplacementprofessionals.com

14 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

CIRCULATION, COVERAGE, AND ADVERTISING RATES

Complete details regarding circulation, coverage, and advertising

rates, space, sizes and similar information are available to prospective

advertisers. Please call or email for a media kit. Closing date is 30 days

before date of issue.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

info@slolifemagazine.com

4251 S. Higuera Street, Suite 800

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.


“They’re Amazing to Work With”

“American Riviera Bank gave us one of our first loans, and they’ve just been

amazing. They give me the best rates, and they’re amazing to work with. I feel

like I’m partnered almost with a family here to help me grow my business.”

— Tomas Medeiros, Jr., California Mobile Kitchens

What does True Community Banking mean? It means working together

to find solutions under even the most trying of circumstances.

EQUIPMENT LOANS | BUSINESS RESERVE LINES OF CREDIT | SBA504 AND 7A LOANS

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Paso Robles • San Luis Obispo • Goleta • Santa Barbara • Montecito

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 15


| SNEAK PEEK

ON THE COVER

behind the scenes

WITH SIDNEY COLLIN

BY VANESSA PLAKIAS

I asked Sidney on our first phone conversation is she had a

favorite hiking spot. She immediately said, “Montaña de Oro is

my happy place. And now that I think about it, it’s where I

got the inspiration for my company’s name, De Oro Devices.”

She reminded me of the people in Northern Italy during my

travels. When I mentioned it, she laughed and said, “Oh, my

dad’s from Canada. You know, nothing like that.” I said, “Oh,

maybe you’re part French.” And she said, “Well, I do speak

French fluently.” I’m like, she’s a Renaissance Wonder Woman.

We had so much fun. I mean she’s just

vivacious and a stunning young lady. She

seems like a very disciplined person, too.

She makes a great engineer, but she had to

come to those crossroads and make some big

decisions, because you can see she’s a natural

born ballerina. And also very bright.

16 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

A couple of deer came down a trail to take a

better look at her. And I said, “Hold still, Sidney.”

SLO LIFE


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 17


| IN BOX

Take us with you!

Hey, SLO LIFE readers: Send us your photos the next time you’re relaxing in town or traveling

far and away with your copy of the magazine. Email us at info@slolifemagazine.com

GRAND TETON MOUNTAINS, WYOMING

CABO SAN LUCAS

LAURA and

CORY HEIDEN

YOSEMITE

LOREN EYLER

STAYCATION

BETSY ASMUS

JOSE LUIS and

CAROLE FLORES

During the pandemic my husband and I made a camping

adventure video to share with family and friends. You

couldn’t tell until the big reveal at the end of the video

that our campsite was actually in our home’s dining room.

18 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 19


| IN BOX

SLO LIFE travels!

SEA OF CORTEZ

YOSEMITE

YOSEMITE

DR. MICHAEL CLAYTON

and EDDIE ABATE

SALLY and

JIM BROOKS-SCHULKE

ROUTE 66, WINSLOW, ARIZONA

DOMINICA and OLIVIA

ROBERT and

BETSY WILSON

20 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

Please send your photos and comments to info@slolifemagazine.com

Visit us online at slolifemagazine.com

Letters may be edited for content and clarity.

To be considered for publication your letter should include your name, address, phone number, or email address (for authentication purposes).


Happy

to be

Holiday.

court streEt Monterey street Downtown Centre

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 21


| TIMELINE

Around the County

10/4

California hits a “fearsome milestone” according to state fire officials:

four million acres burned in deadly wildfires this year, a new record

for the number of acres burned in a single year. The figure includes

some 125,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest north of San

Luis Obispo County, which ignited August 18 and grew to become

the Dolan Fire in Monterey County. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road

remains closed to public and residential traffic from Highway 1 to the

Fort Hunter Liggett base boundary line. Although most of the flames

are out, the Dolan Fire remains at ninety-eight percent containment

because the remaining acreage sits in steep, rugged terrain that is

difficult to control with a fire line.

10/5

Top leaders from academia, commercial agencies, and government—

including California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis—gather to begin

a four-day virtual symposium hosted by Cal Poly’s California

Cybersecurity Institute to discuss the latest strategies protecting U.S.

commercial and government space assets from cyber adversaries.

Recognizing that cyberattacks are now a national priority, Kounalakis

says California plays a unique role in America’s space and cybersecurity

future. Stressing the need to develop a 21st century workforce to

support the nation’s increasing private and public space resources, Cal

Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong promotes the university’s curriculum

devoted to preparing students to be day one-ready cyber experts.

10/24

The California Highway Patrol and the SLO County Opioid Coalition

celebrate “National Drug Take Back Day” by collecting hundreds of

pounds of medications during a four-hour drive-thru event. The annual

event isn’t the only way to dispose of household over-the-counter and

prescription medications, including pills, ointments, and lotions. County

residents also may access the free drug disposal program offered at most

pharmacies. Visit the Hazardous Waste section on the Integrated Waste

Management Authority website, iwma.com, for more information.

10/30

After a seven-month hiatus, California State Parks opens the Oceano

Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area to day-use walking, biking,

and street-legal vehicles, with a reminder that visitors should maintain

proper physical distance, avoid crowds, wear face coverings, and limit

groups to immediate household members. Under COVID-19 safety

guidelines, entry is limited to 1,000 vehicles a day. If unsafe conditions

develop, access once again may be restricted. Plans call for re-opening

the Dunes to off-highway vehicles and overnight camping in a second

phase, and finally in a third phase to day-use and camping in accordance

with local health orders. Dates for when the Dunes will move into the

last two phases have yet to be announced.

11/3

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon wins re-election, garnering

more than half of the nearly 25,000 votes cast. The City’s Measure G

sales tax increase passes, continuing the existing one-half percent local

sales tax and increasing the total rate to one-and-one-half percent

until ended by voters. The City expects the tax will generate more

than $21,000,000 in annual revenue that can be used for any purpose

approved by the City Council.

11/5

The California Office of Traffic Safety awards $76,000 to the County

Behavioral Health Department for a year-long program helping to

prevent local youth traffic-related injuries and deaths. The funding is

earmarked for public awareness and provides opportunities for young

people to actively engage their peers, family members, and community

in projects to reduce underage drinking and issues resulting from that

behavior. Driving remains the most dangerous activity for teens, as

crashes are the leading cause of death for fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds.

11/10

SLO County Supervisors review a staff report projecting a $12,000,000

to $22,000,000 budget shortfall in the County’s next budget cycle.

The 2021-22 Financial Forecast reflects the continuing impact of the

coronavirus pandemic on the local economy according to County

Administrator Wade Horton. Expenses are growing at expected

rates, but revenue is shrinking. The forecast is one of the first steps in

developing the budget that begins on July 1, 2021. It helps identify the

future fiscal capacity of the General Fund and helps the Board establish

its priorities, budget goals, and strategies for balancing the budget.

11/12

College faculty and students, community members, and even his fellow

trustees, urge Cuesta College Board of Trustees President Pete Sysak to

step down during a special Board meeting called because of controversial

posts he previously shared on social media. After Sysak’s refusal to

resign, the Board forms an ad hoc committee to investigate further and

to present findings at its December meeting, when Board members may

consider censuring Sysak, who was elected to the Board in 2014.

11/16

Following an uptick in COVID-19 cases, Governor Newsom announces

that San Luis Obispo will join forty other counties and 94% of

Californians in the most restrictive Purple Tier. Several business sectors

are restricted to offering outdoor-only operations or further reduced

capacity for indoor operations as they head into the winter months.

Newsom also calls for greater face mask requirements and a mandated

curfew. As of this date, thirty-four county residents with underlying

health conditions have died with COVID-19. SLO LIFE

22 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


IT’S TIME TO THINK DIFFERENTLY

LIVE BETTER. LEAVE A LEGACY.

William Henry Crew III, CA Insurance License #0B17626 is a Registered Representative with and securities and advisory services offered

through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Financial Planning offered through Crew Wealth Management,

a registered investment advisor and separate entity of LPL Financial.

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 23


| BRIEFS

“Next thing I know,

I’m underwater...

It happened so fast.”

Julia McSorley, safely back on land

November 2 after a humpback whale

surfaced underneath the kayak that she

and a companion, Liz Cottriel, were

paddling off the coast of Avila Beach.

Their vessel was overturned, but the two

escaped without injury. The video made

national news.

49

The number of fires in the past ten months

along the Bob Jones Trail and the adjacent

San Luis Creek attributed to unsafe,

unhealthy campsites. Multiple factors,

including the fires and flooding, recently

prompted the City of San Luis Obispo

in partnership with homeless service

providers to begin cleaning up the area,

connecting unsheltered people with local

services and support.

“Runtime”

Computer science isn’t just for super

geniuses according to author, illustrator,

and recent Cal Poly graduate Jasmine Patel,

who wrote this forty-four-page hardcover

children’s book to introduce young readers

to some of the fun and creative elements of

computer science. It was recently published

by Puzzle Piece Publishing and is available

on Amazon.

24 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

$70,000

The amount a local couple received

in October from the City of San Luis

Obispo as settlement of a lawsuit filed

over a 2019 incident in which a City

police officer shot and killed Bubbs, their

pit bull-boxer mix who charged at officers

responding to a false-alarm burglary call

at the couple’s home.

“He just flew

a plane on his

100th birthday.

He’s a living

legend.”

Kurtis Moyer, describing his grandfather

and former WWII pilot Harry Moyer

who, on October 30, likely broke a world

record for being the oldest licensed pilot

to complete a solo flight. The elder Moyer,

who has been flying for more than threequarters

of a century, took off from the

SLO County Regional Airport in his 1963

Mooney for a fifteen-minute flight.

LBM

The Adult Services Department of

SLO County Public Libraries offers a

free Library By Mail (LBM) service for

homebound seniors age sixty and over. The

Library will ship books (including large

print formats), audiobooks, and more via

the U.S. Postal Service in special heavyduty

bags with the postage paid both ways.

More information at slolibrary.org.

“He was a true pioneer

and shared a wealth of

history, passion, and

stewardship.”

Cuesta College President Dr. Jill Stearns

on the September 27 death at age 98 of

Dr. Frank R. Martinez, the college’s second

president. Hired in 1964 as the founding

vice president, Martinez developed the

college’s first curriculum, hired its first

faculty, and negotiated the purchase of the

land for the SLO campus. He retired in

1988 after serving eleven years as president.

Perch

A startup created by a Cal Poly alumnus,

two students, and three professors (with help

from the SLO Fire Department) that uses

a system of devices mounted on power lines

to collect data that can detect wildfires and

predict fire risks in California.

“I am honored

to be in this

position and

to be a part of

this great and

experienced

crew.”

Victor J. Glover, a Navy commander and

test pilot who joined the astronaut corps in

2013, as he prepared to be launched into

space November 15 aboard a SpaceX Crew

Dragon capsule. The Cal Poly alumnus is

the first Black astronaut to be living aboard

the International Space Station as part of

its extended crew. SLO LIFE


WISHING

A VIBRANT HOLIDAY SEASON,

A NEW

HOME

OVERFLOWING LOVE

AND A NEW YEAR FILLED WITH

JOY, PEACE , AND PROSPERITY.

WE

WELCOMED OVER 500

BUYERS & SELLERS INTO THE HAVEN FAMILY IN 2020.

IN

THE

OUR

CLIENTS,

FAMILIES,

FRIENDS

SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS,

THANK YOU

FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF REPRESENTING YOU.

WITH

BHGREHAVEN.COM

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25


| VIEW

HIDDEN

GEM

BY MARK NAKAMURA

If you are looking to get away and relax or reflect, I

recommend some of the beaches along the North Coast,

from north of Cambria to Ragged Point and beyond the

county line. Known for the rugged coastline and seaside

hiking trails, this region offers views you won’t soon forget.

Following the twists and turns of Highway 1, you will

discover several turnouts nestled between where the Santa

Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean that have access

to the coast very few people know about or use. Most of the

beaches are deserted or are occupied only by a fisherman or

some locals.

Consider the advice of Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

In the shot you see here, taken

at a beach located just south

of Ragged Point, I used my

16-35mm f2.8 wide-angle

zoom lens on the 16mm side.

The wide-angle zoom lens

exaggerates the distance between

foreground and background.

Try some of the less traveled

beaches. It’ll make all the

difference. SLO LIFE

MARK NAKAMURA, pursues

his passion in landscape

photography as well as

capturing the joys of

weddings, families, events,

and sports around the

Central Coast. Find him on

Instagram @nakamuraphoto

26 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 27


| Q&A

CHANGEMAKER

We visited recently with JOHN KLEVINS, a social worker employed by

the Transitions-Mental Health Association, who spends his days working

directly with San Luis Obispo’s homeless population as part of an innovative

partnership with SLOPD’s Community Action Team. To date, he has helped

more than one hundred local homeless seek treatment, reeducate, and

reunite with their families. He spoke to us while walking through a local

creek. Here is some of what he had to say…

Where are you from, John? All right. So, let’s see, I

was raised in Southern California, Costa Mesa. And

I went to USC undergraduate for business. I was in

real estate finance at the beginning of my career. There

was certainly money to be made, and I had some good

positions, leadership roles, and this and that. But, fast

forward a number of years, and I was telling myself,

“Okay, you’ve got to do something that kind of feeds

your soul a little more than just the sheer fact of making

money.” Not that making money is bad. I just felt that

maybe there was more in life.

Was there something precipitating these thoughts?

At the time, my wife’s mom was going through

Alzheimer’s. She had just been diagnosed, and it was

pretty rough on the family. That kind of inspired me

to help elderly folks. I started volunteering. Then, I

went and got a master’s in gerontology, which is the

study of old folks. I was in that line of work, senior

care, for about a decade and really enjoyed it. We were

living up in Seattle and we started our own nonprofit.

It was called LEAF, Legacy of Elder Advancement

Foundation. We did a lot of work for the elders of

Seattle; we had a lot of different programs to help them.

But we got to a point where Seattle wasn’t working for

us—just too cold and gray. Honestly, we were missing

the sun. San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay were places

that I’d always visited with my family, so I had good

memories of this area. We decided to make the move.

What did you do when you came into town? I became

interested in social work, because I wanted to have

direct contact with people. So, at the ripe old age of

55, I went back to school. My wife said, “Hey, do you

want to retire?” And I said, “I’m just not the retiring

type.” I can’t sit still long enough to do that. So, I

went back and got my master’s in social work. I went

through that program and did a couple of internships.

One at Atascadero State Hospital, and the other at

the psychiatric health facility here in town, PHF; it’s

where people are taken if they’re put on a 5150 hold.

Then, somewhere along the line, I saw this job pop

up working with the police department. The idea of

working in and around the police department appealed

to me right away. I’ve got a lot of respect for law

enforcement and thought, well, that might be a good fit.

How’s your caseload? So, I would say your typical

social worker has between twenty-five and thirty

clients. I have 855 right now. There are people who are

advocates for the homeless who say negative things

about what we’re doing out here at these

cleanups, but we come through weeks in

advance, like we’re doing today, to offer

help. But, the advocates have been pretty

vocal about it. But, it’s like, well, I’m here

every day working with the homeless.

Where are you? I haven’t seen you out

here lately, except when the cameras

show up. And, so, to me, what we do, our

goal is to provide services and solutions.

That’s why I describe myself as a

solutions-based social worker; and that’s

a perspective that’s taught in school. The

question is: What can we do to make

change? By the time people come in

contact with me, it means they’re in crisis.

It means things aren’t working out very well.

There’s a problem and so we have to get to the

core of that problem.

What have you learned in your two years doing

this job? Human beings don’t like change. So, in

the case of these cleanups, for example, like the one

we did over at Bob Jones trail recently, we took

fifty tons of trash out of the creek. Fifty tons. Now,

I’m also an environmentalist, an outdoorsman, and

I don’t like to see our open spaces just completely

thrashed. So, I think there has to be some

boundaries set. If you talk to people who are more

conservative, their opinion is that the homeless

are all drug addicts and thieves and we should just

get rid of them. Then, on the other side, people

on the liberal end of the spectrum will say that

homeless people have halos over their heads and

should be a protected class. I don’t think either one

of those points of view are correct. Remember, these

are people who are making a lot of choices to end up

where they are; many of those choices they are making

are not working out very well. That’s my job, to help

them see that. To show them there’s a different way.

A better way. So, yes, we absolutely need to continue

to set boundaries and enforce them, but at the same

time, we also need to help people create change in their

lives. Ultimately, my biggest thing, and what I try to

do, is provide hope. I try to show people that they can

have a different life, a different trajectory. I’m here to

help people overcome their challenges—mental illness,

substance abuse, whatever it is—so they can see that

homelessness should not be considered a destination,

but a place you pass through on the way toward

something better.

SLO LIFE

28 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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30 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


SOUL

SEARCHING

BY JOE PAYNE

IMAGES COURTESY OF CHRIS BELAND

I

t’s often said that musical aptitude and talent “runs in

the family.” And for Central Coast native and singersongwriter

Chris Beland, that is certainly the case,

although he didn’t know how much so until well into his

adult life.

Growing up in Santa Maria in the 90s, Beland received his first

guitar as a gift from his grandfather, who lived in a trailer next to his

childhood home. “He played in a country band, and I just remember

him giving me this little guitar and saying, ‘This will help you with all

your problems in life,’” Beland shares. “And I remember picking it up

and he would play and I would be fake playing along with him.”

His grandfather passed away when he was ten years old, before

Beland learned his C, F, and G chords to really play along. His mother

gifted him a box of grandpa’s cassette tapes, which included hours of

recordings of his grandpa playing the outlaw country songs he loved.

“Some of them were hard to hear,” Beland said. “He would just hit

record and leave the recorder in the corner of the room, practicing with

his band.”

Following in grandpa’s footsteps, whose generation cherished country

as rebel music, Beland joined his first punk band as a drummer in

junior high. The band, Milk Bone, performed the first song Beland

had ever written. He stayed in the punk scene and by high school he

became the lead singer in another band.

named Harmony and Jude. They all live together on the Arroyo Grande/

Nipomo Mesa. SLO Locals might recognize his daughter Harmony

from the numerous performances they’ve done together, or because she

received a New Times Music Award last year. Beland and his daughter

also write songs together, which he explains is a “pretty profound thing

that we have together.”

Though you could comfortably characterize Beland’s style as “indie

folk,” that’s hardly a complete picture. Much of Beland’s music belies a

quiet pain and struggle for closeness, for family, for home, told in stories

of self-discovery. Though he’s inspired by artists like Andrew Bird and

Damien Jurardo, his persistent use of acoustic guitar reveals the guiding

hand of his grandfather, but also somebody else.

It wasn’t until well into his adult life that Beland learned that his

stepfather and half-siblings were just that, and that his mother had long

kept a secret. She had spent the night with the lead guitar player for

Ricky Nelson’s band after a concert in Santa Maria during the late ‘70s.

After a DNA test and a Google search, they found out his father, John

Beland, was still alive, and wasn’t on the plane crash that killed Ricky

Nelson and his band in 1985.

“When I met my dad, everything made sense

to me, like why music was such a driving

force,” he said. “He’s 73 now, and we met for

the first time and hung out and he recorded

an album with me.”

Every music genre is unique, but there are some characteristics that

seem to hold universal no matter the style, time, or place. There was

infatuation and romance, of course, but there was also experimentation

with substances, which all too often leads to abuse and addiction.

“I was supposed to graduate in ‘97, … but I kind of got crazy, dropped

out, met this girl,” Beland reveals. “She ended up getting pregnant

by me, and I was only fifteen years old, a freshman. Her dad gave me

an ultimatum, and he said, ‘You can either be in my daughter’s life,

and be a good dad, and marry her and take care of her, or you need to

disappear.’ So, we got married and emancipated.”

That all seems like another life, Beland explained. He’s been remarried

for seventeen years now, and has two children with his wife Annie,

It’s been a long road for Beland to arrive

where he is today—recovery from loss,

addiction, fleeing and returning to the

Central Coast, and reuniting with family

while starting one of his own. And you

can hear it all in his songs, with his clear

and emotive voice accompanied by a crisp

acoustic guitar.

“I think the musical community here is very

scattered compared to other places, but it’s

still home to me,” he said. “It’s my natural

habitat. The oak trees, the ocean, it feels safe,

it feels like home to me.” SLO LIFE

JOE PAYNE is a

journalist, as well as a

lifelong musician and

music teacher, who

writes about the arts on

the Central Coast.

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 31


| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR

32 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DANCING TO

A DIFFERENT

BEAT

PHOTOGRAPHY BY VANESSA PLAKIAS

Five years ago, SIDNEY COLLIN was presented with an intriguing challenge:

Build something to help a local veteran regain his mobility. One of her

professors at Cal Poly announced that a man named Jack, a San Luis Obispo

resident and longtime sufferer of the debilitating disease known as Parkinson’s,

called the university to ask if there was anyone willing to take a flight on his

idea. Collin raised her hand and one thing led to another. Today, she operates

a fledgling medical device company known as De Oro Devices and its first

product called NexStride is allowing people to do something many dismissed

as an impossibility—walk again. Here is her story…

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 33


kay, Sidney, let’s talk about where you’re

from. I grew up in Berkeley, California.

I have two sisters, one is about a year

Oolder than me, and the other is almost

eight years younger than me. Our house was in the hills, fairly secluded.

It wasn’t really a neighborhood. We were kind of in the forest, and spent

a lot of time going on walks, going on hikes. I make it sound like we were

off the grid, but we absolutely weren’t. I could walk down to a café, or a go

to breakfast or whatever it is that I needed to do. We definitely weren’t out

in the middle of nowhere. I’ve always liked to be outside, so I definitely

spent a lot of time hiking, biking, rollerblading, camping. My dad used to

take us camping every summer. I loved that. I grew up thinking that my

dad just loved camping, but I asked him about it recently because I tried

to get him to go on a camping trip with me a few years ago and he was

like, “I never really liked camping. I just needed to entertain you guys.”

And what about school? I went to a French American school for

elementary school and learned French at the same time as I learned

English, so I’m able to speak French fluently now. But I was always a

math nerd. I always loved math and logic and was very analytical as a kid,

I would say. Still am. I danced ballet for ten years with the San Francisco

Ballet. It was a really big part of my life for a very long time. It was to the

point where I needed to decide either that I was going to pursue being a

professional dancer and be homeschooled, or if not, I needed to focus on

school. I decided I wanted to be an engineer. As much as I loved dance, it

wasn’t the career path I wanted to follow. At the time ,I was dancing two

or three hours, every single day, and when I was sixteen, I just stopped.

The thing about ballet is that it’s very structured. It’s very competitive. Just

the whole dance world, especially with the San Francisco Ballet, because

they’re very traditional. It’s hard to explain, really, because ballet is such a...

What do I call it? A sport? I guess it’s not really a sport. It’s very steeped

in tradition, which isn’t a bad thing, but it means that things have to be a

certain way. You have to conform.

So, how did you end up here? I came to SLO to study biomedical

engineering at Cal Poly. I think one of the things that I noticed the most

is that I feel really lucky to have been able to take advantage of was how

project based everything is. Cal Poly’s motto, as everybody knows, is

“Learn By Doing,” and they really do stick to that motto. And I loved

how many opportunities there were for me to engage in projects outside

of my classes, as well as part of my classes. I’m a very hands-on person.

I want to get in and build something and use the technology that we’re

learning about in some relevant way, in some applicable way to the world.

And that was something I was able to do at Cal Poly that I don’t feel like

other people had elsewhere. You know, my sister studied biology at UC

Santa Barbara and she was stuck in these 500-person lectures five hours a

day, and I was in these classes with thirty people where we were building

things and working together, creating things. I felt really lucky to have

that experience.

Let’s talk about your company, De Oro Devices. Sure. So, one of my

professors introduced me to Jack, a local veteran here in SLO who suffers

from Parkinson’s disease. Jack is the person that I originally built this

device for; he reached out to Cal Poly, specifically to the biomedical

engineering program at Cal Poly, asking for help in building this device

to help him overcome freezing of gait. So, that’s how this whole thing >>

34 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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started. It was just a side project for me, and I worked with an advisor at

Cal Poly, and a Master’s student at the time, while we built this product

for Jack. I had absolutely no intention of starting the company at that

point. It was really just a project for me to be able to use my engineering

skills so that I could help somebody improve their quality of life.

Freezing of gait? Yes, it’s called freezing of gait. It’s one of the most

common symptoms of Parkinson’s, but also one of the most debilitating.

It’s medically defined as a sudden onset of immobility, but Jack will

explain it as feeling like his feet are glued to the floor, stuck in a box of

cement. So, all of a sudden, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t pick

up his foot, even take one step. And the reason that this happens is that

there’s a disconnect between the brain and the body that makes it so that

when your brain is sending a signal to initiate movement, that signal

just doesn’t get to the motor neurons that are activating your muscles. So

somewhere in the pathway, where the signal is being sent from your brain

to start walking, that signal gets lost and it doesn’t get to motor neurons

that activate your legs to actually initiate the walking. So, you’re frozen in

place, basically.

And how long had Jack been dealing with this problem? A long time,

something like fifteen or twenty years. But he had been using these visual

and auditory cues with his physical therapist and it helped him a lot,

tremendously. Having these cues helped him overcome freezing of gait

and actually walk. But it occurred to him that there had to be a way to

make these visual and auditory cues portable, so he came to us with an

idea. It wasn’t just, “Hey, I have this problem. Can you help me?” He came

to us with, “This is my idea of a solution, can you help me build it?” So,

that’s what we did. We [built a device and] loaded it with all his favorite

songs on it. I’ll never forget the day we had him test it. I had been working

on this thing for three months but had never really seen how effective it

could be. It was remarkable to see him go from not being able to walk, not

being able to pick up his foot, to all of a sudden being able to activate this

device and be able to walk across his living room floor. I had never seen

him do that before.

How exactly did it work? That’s what I wanted to know, too, so I started

to look into the research behind why these visual and auditory cues are

effective. I didn’t really believe that a green laser line and a metronome

was going to make that much of a difference for him. But as I dove

into the research, I found over fifty peer reviewed articles showing the

efficacy of these exact visual and auditory cues that had been published

already, so I began to understand why this works. Essentially, there’s a very

specific neural pathway that’s been damaged by the disease, or somehow

disconnected, that causes freezing of gait. If you can change the neural

pathway that’s being activated in order to initiate that walking, then you >>

36 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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can get somebody to be able to walk again, because there’s nothing wrong

with the muscles. It’s not a weakness issue; there’s nothing actually wrong

with the body. So, if you can change the intention behind the movement,

then you change the neural pathways that are being activated, and you

allow someone to overcome freezing of gait. So, the idea behind it is by

adding that goal, you change how somebody thinks about the movement.

You change the intention behind the movement and that changes

the neural pathways that are being activated in order to initiate that

movement. In a way, it’s like dancing.

How so? Well, there’s a visual cue that we created, a green laser line.

You visualize yourself stepping over that line. And just by adding that

goal, you change the way that person thinks about the movement and

you allow them to overcome freezing of gait. And the same thing with

the metronome, you try step to the beat of the metronome. And by

setting that intention, you change the neural pathways that are being

activated in order to initiate that movement. So, as Jack began using

the device on a daily basis, I continued trying to improve it for him—

trying to make it smaller or trying to make it more effective, trying to

make it rechargeable, adding all these features for him, specifically. At

some point, he invited me to a support group just to show off this new

technology that was super helpful for him. And at that support group,

I remember meeting fifteen or twenty other people who all came up to

me, one by one, after the meeting and they all said some variation of

the same thing: “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I also experience freezing

of gait. When can I get one of these devices?” And I remember

thinking, “Oh, crap. Where am I going to get the funding to make

more of these?”

What did you do? I remember being so frustrated and thinking that

it was so ridiculous that something so simple and so well known to

be effective didn’t already exist in the world. I sort of had this anxiety

about it thinking if I don’t make them no one’s going to, so I need to

make it happen. I talked to the Master’s student I was working with at

the time about starting a company, but he was leaving to finish his PhD

and wasn’t interested. So, I applied to Innovation Quest at Cal Poly and

to the Accelerator program. And really the goal of that, I didn’t have

a vision for a company, I just had a vision for getting this one product

out to a few more people. But the Accelerator is the thing that changed

that. But, to apply to the Accelerator, I needed a business partner. So, I

did a few presentations at a few different MBA classes, entrepreneurship

classes at Cal Poly, looking for a partner to do the Accelerator program

with me. And I ended up meeting my co-founder, William, in an MBA

class at Cal Poly.

Tell us about that first meeting. I love the way that William tells the

story when people ask him how he got involved. He remembers me

going up at the beginning of his MBA class, drawing random figures

on the board, trying to explain neural pathways, and all of the stuff; like,

not understanding at all what I was saying. But, somehow, I convinced

him to come meet with me afterwards. He saw something, some kind of

potential, so he got on board. The company itself was founded a little bit

over two years ago now. De Oro Devices is the name and, yes, in case you

were wondering, it was inspired by Montaña de Oro. And NexStride is

the name of our product. It took a year and half to get the green light to

get approval to start selling it, which is a very short timeline when you

look at how long it usually takes to get to a medical device to market.

>>

38 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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We officially started selling in April, focused really on California. And right

now, we’re selling in five countries worldwide: the U.S., Denmark, Sweden,

Australia, New Zealand, and we’re talking to a few other distributors and

other places in the E.U. right now.

What does the future hold for De Oro Devices? In the long term, we

have expansions into a few different areas. So, there’s geographic expansion,

there’s disease state expansion, and then there’s expansion of our products,

of what we offer. Right now, we only have one device, the NexStride. We

have a few other products in the pipeline that we plan on bringing out all

along the lines of increasing mobility and quality of life for people that

need it. And then the expansion into different disease states because it turns

out that these visual and auditory cues are helpful in not only helping with

mobility in Parkinson’s disease, but also in cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis,

and stroke rehabilitation. There are so many applications to visual and

auditory cues that we can move into, once we figure out the best way to

expand into those different disease states.

How many employees do you have? Currently, we have five employees,

but we have a lot more long-term contractors that we work with, some

local, some not. For example, our whole engineering team is on contract;

our whole marketing team is on contract. So overall, on a regular basis,

we work with about thirty people. We have an office at the Annex. It’s

another building that’s owned by the CIE, the Center for Innovation

and Entrepreneurship at Cal Poly, but they separated their space into the

HotHouse and the Annex. It’s in the Pacific Coast Center. The main thing

that we’re focused on right now is creating awareness about NexStride

to the people who need it. We want people to know there’s a solution for

freezing of gait. The challenge is finding out how to do that in an effective

and efficient way. I’m not a salesperson. I’m not a businessperson, and my

goal is not to push this on anybody who doesn’t need it, but to show people

that if there is an opportunity that this device can help them walk, that we

want to make it as easy as possible for them to try it.

How is it operating a medical device business here on the Central Coast?

Well, I never thought that I would stay in SLO after school, honestly. That

thought never really crossed my mind, but I absolutely love living here.

And I could not be more appreciative of San Luis Obispo. I spend a lot of

time outside. I think there’s the perfect combination of all of this outdoor

space that you can experience, but there’s also downtown. There’s lots of

cute hip bars and restaurants and whatnot that you can check out. There

also is actually a really great community of entrepreneurs here in SLO.

Having that community here has been a really big help. I think the CIE

does a really great job and the SBDC, the Small Business Development

Center, does a really great job of bringing all of the small business owners

and entrepreneurs together to be able to learn from each other and have a

community of people that you can go to and ask questions, and even just

spend time with people that can actually relate to what you’re doing.

If you had to use just one word to summarize your journey in

entrepreneurship so far, what would it be? Rewarding. I’d say that it’s been

very rewarding. I have a personal relationship with a lot of our customers.

About a month after the first thirty NexStrides were sold and shipped out,

I called every single one of those customers and asked them a series of

questions: “How do you like the device? How’s it working? Do you have

any feedback for us? What can we change? How can we make this device

better for you?” And I heard overwhelming stories from people about

how it’s changed their lives. I’m not the person that grew up thinking I’m

going to start a company one day and I’m going to make a lot of money

and I’m going to rule the world. That wasn’t me. I’m just a research nerd

who wanted to help people and this was a way that I could do it. I had an

entire academic career planned out. I was going to go on to get my PhD in

computational neuroscience, but I stopped for a few months to build one

thing for one guy and accidentally started a company in the process. SLO LIFE

40 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 41


| ARTIST

W

PROFILE

Robert

Chapman

BY JEFF AL-MASHAT

hen you look at the lines of the 1953 Corvette, it can

be difficult to see its relationship to its 2021 incarnation.

But looking at the progression from year to year, over

time, it becomes clear how the evolution occurred.

The same phenomenon can be observed in the artwork

of Robert Chapman. Chapman’s work is the perfect

encapsulation of the concept of discipline. More plainly

said, each piece of art builds upon what was discovered in

everything that came before it. Some elements of today’s

piece echo yesterday’s, and that same thread will be

evident in tomorrow’s work.

Chapman himself, currently more prolific than ever,

embodies this progression in action. His earlier

landscapes painted in oils, with a painter’s traditional

tools, have shifted over time into abstract color fields, and

then again into the current computer-generated creations

that Chapman describes as “alien and familiar at the

same time.”

Chapman produces those Z-prints, as he calls them,

with his desktop PC, a mouse, and an older version

of Paintshop Pro. “There is a decorative note in the

Z-prints, but they are more demanding than traditional

abstract painting,” says Chapman. “I approach these the

same as I would a landscape painting, but there is more

surrealism to draw people in.”

Chapman describes his creative process as starting with

intuition and building from there to create realistic

compositions: “I believe our minds look for something

recognizable to connect with.”

Discussing how he made the leap from paints and palette

knives to the computer,

he notes, “Initially, I went

kicking and screaming.”

Ultimately, though, one of

the things that he likes most

about this current process is

its low carbon footprint.

The pieces are rich with

vibrant colors, active lines

and fantastical shapes. The

depth and sophistication of

the atmosphere within the

Z-prints make these works JEFF AL-MASHAT is a

spectacularly intriguing. It writer and visual artist with

an MFA in painting from

is as if Chapman is creating Georgia State University. He

new worlds every time he sits

lives in Grover Beach.

down at the computer. SLO LIFE

42 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


Dr. Arnie Horwitz

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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 43


| FAMILY

Pismo

Preserve

BY PADEN HUGHES

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB DEGRAFF

Iwill never forget the first time

I set foot on the sacred, magical

grounds known as the Pismo Preserve.

It felt so restorative to stand atop

the coastal range and gaze out over

a landscape that spanned from the

Oceano Dunes to the Avila Pier for one

incredible ocean panorama. To breathe

in the fresh sea breeze was worth

pausing to enjoy, at least for a moment

before chasing my fifteen-month-old

down the trail again.

The Pismo Preserve has become my

personal favorite local hike. In exactly

five minutes from the parking lot, the

natural beauty and impossible vistas

begin to unfold.

When I first heard about the Land

Conservancy’s ambitious $12 million

effort to preserve 880 acres (one third of

which are off limits to people in order to

support local wildlife populations) of the

rolling hillside overlooking Shell Beach,

I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas

morning. I couldn’t wait to get out onto

the trails and bring my family along to

share the joy.

It turns out, the Pismo Preserve is a gift

to us all.

The first time we hiked the preserve, it

became apparent that it was unlike any

of the other trails locally. It simply has

some of the most spectacular views in

the county—if not the country.

As a business owner and mom, getting

outside is more than just a win in a day,

it’s become more critical to our mental

health. It’s amazing what sunshine on

your face and fresh ocean breezes can

do to turn a mood in a better direction. It’s nature’s

medicine. You can go from exhausted and depleted

to energized and playful in the span of a few

minutes. Open spaces are so important to protect

and I’m deeply grateful for all the locals who

fought, fundraised, and carved intricate trails out of

the hillsides so families like mine can escape into

the natural environment whenever we want.

My favorite part of the eleven miles of trails are the

picnic benches at the top of most of the trail loops.

It makes a great family outing or romantic sunset

date night.

The Pismo Preserve is open daily from dawn to

dusk. The parking is ample and bathrooms at the

trailheads are clean and certainly a welcome sight

when you have kids with you.

The preserve welcomes a diverse range of outdoor

activities such as horseback riding, mountain

biking, trail running, and, of course, hiking.

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I

recommend scheduling at least two hours to

explore the trails. Don’t

forget to bring some food

along for a scenic picnic.

Gifts are given to bring

joy, and it’s clear the

Land Conservancy knew

what it was doing with

this one.

Getting There:

The Pismo Preserve is

located off exit 191B

from US Highway 101

in Pismo Beach. The

entrance and parking

lot are located on

the east side of the

freeway at the very

southern end of Mattie

Road. SLO LIFE

PADEN HUGHES is

co-owner of Gymnazo

and enjoys exploring

the Central Coast.

44 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 45


| ON THE RISE

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Emory Campbell

Honered with the Mayor’s Award for community service, as

well as the Black and Gold Most Oustanding Athlete for his

contribution to the swim team, this San Luis Obispo High

School senior is ready to take flight.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE LUNA

What extra-curricular activities are you involved in? I enjoy swimming with

Puma Aquatics and with the high school team. I also have been learning to play

drums, which fortunately is still possible with weekly virtual meetings, and I also

have a seasonal job that I really enjoy.

What do you like to do for fun? I spend a lot of my free time outside with my

friends and family, especially at the beach. I have a lot of fun surfing, bodysurfing,

and paddling in Morro Bay and Avila Beach. If I’m not at the beach, I also love to

ride my mountain bike.

What has been going on with you lately? Right now, I am busy applying to

colleges for next fall. I also am excited to be swimming with the boys team at the

new SLO High School pool and recently I have been training with the hope to

one day paddle from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach in the Catalina Classic

paddleboard race.

Do you have a career in mind? I haven’t decided on a career path yet, but I tend to

be interested in the life sciences and I’m looking forward to exploring my options

more in college. I really admire people who are able to have a meaningful and

positive impact on the lives of others through science and technology.

What should people know about you? I would want people to know that they can

count on me to follow through with my commitments to them.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would like to be right back in San

Luis Obispo. There is so much opportunity to have fun here and I love the sense

of community.

What has influenced you? I have been greatly influenced by my swim coaches

at SLO High School and with the Puma Swim team. They provided me with

great examples of leadership, commitment, and have taught me first how to be a

good teammate and second to pursue my goals tenaciously. They have contributed

significantly to my growth as a person.

Is there anything people don’t know about you? I love to make apple pie and it is

also my number one choice for breakfast.

What schools are you considering for college? I am applying to several public

California universities as well as a few out of state schools. I would love to be at a

university that has a strong science program and is near the coast. SLO LIFE

Know a student On the Rise?

Introduce us at slolifemagazine.com/share

46 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 47


| DWELLING

HOME

48 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


COMING

BY ZARA KHAN

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LALUSH

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 49


I

f you had the opportunity to remodel the house you grew

up in, what changes would you make? Which details would

you preserve, and which would you kick to the curb? These

are the decisions Kate Christensen found herself facing when

she was presented with the unique opportunity to perform

an extensive remodel on the home she grew up in. Raised

on the Central Coast and part of the last graduating class at

the original Bellevue-Santa Fe

Charter School, Christensen left

the area to attend San Francisco

State where she received a degree

in Education—both her parents

were teachers on the Central

Coast. Not long after, she found

herself on the East Coast where

she spent thirty-five years in

Annapolis, Maryland.

When she made the decision

to return home, knowing the

remodel would be taking place

while she remained on the East >>

In addition to being an

interior designer, ZARA KHAN

is also a shoe aficionado and

horror movie enthusiast.

50 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 51


Coast, Christensen understood there would be design

challenges to work through and assembled a team she

could trust. Roger Grizzle of Grizzle Construction had

completed a remodel for one of her friends and came

highly recommended. It was important to Christensen

that she remain an active part of the design process and

the home was handled with care. After meeting Grizzle,

she knew the search was over. Grizzle’s thoughtful

demeanor, attention to detail, and eye for design

confirmed he was the contractor for the job.

The two main driving forces behind the project were

creating a net zero home and integrating the old home

with the new. Net zero homes are more complicated than

they sound and involve more than just adding solar panels.

When building a net zero home every detail needs to be

accounted for from the start—the insulation plays a large

role and components like windows, appliances, and lighting

need to be taken into consideration.

Studio 2G Architects is a local firm founded by two Cal

Poly Alumni Heidi Gibson and Laura Gough. Studio 2G >>

52 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 53


is dedicated to integrating sustainability in all of their

designs. They strive to create net zero spaces in every project

and come as close as they can within the given parameters.

The firm emphasizes the importance of Integrated

Project Delivery—assembling the team early on to ensure

all aspects are considered and the project has synergy

throughout. Gibson was the lead architect on the project

and was eager to collaborate with Grizzle Construction.

As the team approached the project, they realized the

location would impact the design. Nestled in the hills of

See Canyon, the home is wrapped with three-hundredand-sixty-degree

views. They knew immediately that the

ceiling heights and insulation throughout the home needed

to be significantly updated to meet today’s building codes

and create a net zero home. They decided to repurpose

the pine walls and ceiling and incorporate them into the

fireplace cladding, feature walls, windowsills throughout

the home, as well as the exterior deck. I was amazed

that they were able to grain match the wood in every

corner and hidden compartment. The home is a post and

beam structure, and if you look closely you will not find >>

54 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


OVERLOOKING EVERYTHING.

NOTHING OVERLOOKED.

Ladera at Righetti Models Now Open!

Pricing starts from the low $1 millions. Shown,The Islay, Plan 2

Ladera at Righetti offers five different home layouts, each designed to take full advantage of the site’s gorgeous

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three and four bedrooms, and two and one-half to four and one-half baths.

Please feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to schedule a personal appointment to discuss San

Luis Obispo’s most attractive new home neighborhood.

Ladera


Call or go online to book a personal appointment.

(805) 774-3038 www.righettiladera.com

Information Center open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All prices, plans, terms and offers are effective date of publication are subject to availability and may change without notice. Housing is open to all without

regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. Depictions of homes are artist conceptions. Hardscape and landscape may vary

and are not included in the purchase price. Square footage shown is only an estimate and actual square footage may differ. Please consult our sales team for

additional information. Sales by CADO Real Estate Group DRE # 01525182 Construction by Ambient Management Service LP Lic. #1014645

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 55


any exposed hardware on the beams or trim around the

windows. It also surprised me to learn that the home does

not have any heating or air conditioning and is powered by

only twelve solar panels.

Christensen stayed active in her role throughout the

project. When she came into town for progress visits, she

was able to stay on the property and really understand

how the house would feel at different times of the day. She

didn’t just oversee the project during her visits but was

part of the effort in whatever capacity she could be—even

installing all the light fixtures herself. She felt strongly

about having a pellet stove in the living room and was

open to the idea presented by Gibson of modernizing it by

adding a steel box around it. This was often the approach,

taking a traditional or original design detail and adding a

modern twist.

As with any remodel, hurdles will present themselves and

the Christiansen home was no exception. My two favorite

hurdles that turned into design features are the front door

and gutter down spouts. The team had a difficult time

finding a front door that was three and half feet wide and >>

56 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 57


eight feet tall. Since they couldn’t compromise on the

design aesthetic, Grizzle crafted it himself. Next, with the

sleek modern concept, traditional gutters felt like they

would be an eyesore and rain chains just wouldn’t be the

right design choice. So instead, they custom designed

down spouts that split at the end, creating a water feature

when it rains.

With the project complete Christensen often finds herself

in disbelief that this is the same home she grew up in, and

loves discovering the pieces

of her childhood integrated

into her everyday life. When

asked, she admitted it is hard

to narrow down her favorite

design detail, but after some

thought she decided it was how

the rock on the hillside that sits

outside her bathroom’s window

lights up at night reflecting the

moonlight—a reminder of how

much thought went into every

detail of the home and how

fortunate she is to live on the

Central Coast. SLO LIFE

DAVID LALUSH is an

architectural photographer

here in San Luis Obispo.

58 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 59


| 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

2019

59

$767,730

$756,072

98.48%

31

2019

Total Homes Sold

28

Average Asking Price

$801,734

Average Selling Price

$791,429

Sales Price as a % of Asking Price 98.71%

Average # of Days on the Market 28

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

2019

20

$1,061,295

$1,022,744

96.37%

36

2019

24

$1,410,854

$1,456,958

103.27%

75

2019

61

$826,303

$807,517

97.73%

42

2019

40

$951,438

$902,026

94.81%

46

2019

51

$826,473

$805,774

97.50%

33

2020

55

$761,480

$757,481

99.47%

37

2020

32

$815,989

$810,676

99.35%

43

2020

22

$1,025,127

$1,012,000

98.72%

18

2020

17

$1,199,823

$1,148,453

95.72%

33

2020

56

$949,866

$927,340

97.63%

46

2020

36

$888,115

$887,931

99.98%

28

2020

57

$1,047,928

$1,018,198

97.16%

40

+/-

-6.78%

-0.81%

0.19%

0.99%

19.35%

+/-

14.29%

1.78%

2.43%

99.10%

53.57%

+/-

10.00%

-3.41%

-1.05%

2.35%

-50.00%

+/-

-29.17%

-14.96%

-21.17%

-7.55%

-56.00%

+/-

-8.20%

14.95%

14.84%

-0.10%

9.52%

+/-

-10.00%

-6.66%

-1.56%

5.17%

-39.13%

+/-

11.76%

26.80%

26.36%

-0.34%

21.21%

*Comparing 01/01/19 - 11/15/19 to 01/01/20 - 11/15/20

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®

SLO LIFE

60 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


Thank you for another

amazing year!

We couldn’t have done it without our incredible community.

Don’t wait for the ball to drop! Reach out to us today to get started.

Donna Lewis

Branch Manager&

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8743

C: (805) 235-0463

donna.lewis@rate.com

Dylan Morrow

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8738

C: (805) 550-9742

dylan.morrow@rate.com

Eileen Mackenzie

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 212-5204

C: (831) 566-9908

eileen.mackenzie@rate.com

Joe Hutson

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (831) 205-1582

C: (831) 212-4138

joe.hutson@rate.com

Ken Neate

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 706-8074

C: (925) 963-1015

ken.neate@rate.com

Luana Gerardis

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 329-4087

C: (707) 227-9582

luana.gerardis@rate.com

Maggie Koepsell

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8742

C: (805) 674-6653

maggie.koepsell@rate.com

Rate.com/SanLuisObispo

Rate.com/SanLuisoObispo

1065 Higuera St., Suite 100, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Applicant subject to credit and underwriting approval. Not all applicants will be approved for financing. Receipt of application does not represent an approval for financing or interest rate guarantee. Restrictions may apply,

contact Guaranteed Rate for current rates and for more information.

Donna Lewis NMLS #245945; CA - CA-DOC245945 | Dylan Morrow NMLS #1461481; CA - CA-DBO1461481 | Eileen Mackenzie NMLS #282909 | Joe Hutson NMLS #447536; CA - CA-

DOC447536| Ken Neate NMLS ID #373607; CA - CA-DBO373607 | Luana Gerardis NMLS #1324563; CA - CA-DBO1324563 | Maggie Koepsell NMLS #704130; CA - CA-DBO704130 | Guaranteed Rate, Inc.; NMLS #2611; For

licensing information visit nmlsconsumeraccess.org. • CA: Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 61


Thank you for your

support this past year.

The San Luis Obispo

Noor Foundation

receives $50 for every

loan that I close – over

$20,000 year-to-date.

slonoorfoundation.org

| SLO COUNTY

REAL ESTATE

REGION

BY THE NUMBERS

NUMBER OF

HOMES SOLD

2019

2020

AVERAGE DAYS

ON MARKET

2019

2020

MEDIAN SELLING

PRICE

2019

2020

Together, we take care

of our neighbors.

Arroyo Grande

Atascadero

290

332

266

340

55

41

56

39

$808,356

$583,381

$841,917

$608,170

Contact me today to learn more.

Ben Lerner

(805) 441-9486

Avila Beach

Cambria/San Simeon

Cayucos

Creston

19

129

50

7

25

136

53

10

96

67

127

93

82

78

134

210

$1,453,496 $1,404,277

$926,507 $855,210

$1,244,278 $1,171,054

$935,357 $8,989,000

Grover Beach

108

127

54

41

$555,715

$592,231

Los Osos

153

133

42

31

$668,020

$777,574

Morro Bay

120

121

65

60

$749,541

$742,951

Nipomo

275

228

59

51

$668,330

$743,826

**

Oceano

Pismo Beach

50

119

56

127

67

80

74

53

$520,596

$1,169,131

$604,697

$1,041,627

Senior Loan Advisor

NMLS 395723

blerner@flagstarretail.com

1212 Marsh St., Suite 1

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Paso (Inside City Limits)

Paso (North 46 - East 101)

Paso (North 46 - West 101)

Paso (South 46 - East 101)

342

51

107

45

335

51

98

56

45

63

74

64

34

44

93

58

$526,422

$561,104

$705,313

$596,731

$559,566

$598,098

$636,661

$614,710

The The The power of of the of the the

Human Interest Rate.

San Luis Obispo

335

330

45

46

$907,167

$953,188

Santa Margarita

29

18

93

124

$510,017

$613,522

Equal Housing Lender | Member FDIC

** Top 200 Mortgage Originator | Mortgage Executive Magazine

Not a commitment to lend. Programs available only

to qualifi ed borrowers. Subject to credit approval and

underwriting terms and conditions. Programs subject

62 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

to change without notice. Some restrictions may apply.

Templeton

Countywide

99

2571

135

2538

*Comparing 01/01/19 - 11/15/19 to 01/01/20 - 11/15/20

72 70 $813,759 $873,366

57 53 $723,672 $753,656

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®

SLO LIFE


TIMELESS DESIGN

FOR A CHANGING

WORLD

PUGLISIDESIGN.COM | 805.595.1962

freshpaintslo.com

@freshpaintslo

805-787-0451

LIC. # 1036406

Dream Big.

Contractor | Residential | Commercial

LIC 772045 805-544-4457 nkbuildersinc.com

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 63


| DISCOVER

in plain

sight

BY CHUCK GRAHAM

Concealed within a throng of Canadian milkvetch,

green ephedra, and swaying grasses, I observed

an active den of San Joaquin kit foxes—six pups

jostling amongst themselves as one of the parents

stood watch over its rambunctious family.

The kit foxes were surrounded by their prey. California

ground squirrels and endangered antelope ground

squirrels were readily available near the den site. They

hovered around their own burrows keeping a watchful

eye on the kit foxes. Ironically, the rodents’ alarm calls

also alerted the kit foxes of potential threats. Prey and

predator working in unison.

During the evening, giant kangaroo rats took their

nocturnal turn. Sitting in my tent, I heard them

communicating with each other by drumming their

kangaroo-like feet on the ground, burrow to burrow,

this sliver of grassland habitat working the way it’s

supposed to, twenty years after the Carrizo Plain

became a National Monument.

The last of California’s historic grasslands nestled in the

southern region of the San Joaquin Valley, fifty miles east of

San Luis Obispo turns twenty in January 2021. The Plain

is an example of a thriving ecosystem that’s home to more endangered species than

anywhere else within the Golden State; a diatom of what once extended 450 miles

north encompassing the entire California Valley.

Twenty years has seen continual growth for native flora and fauna alike on the Carrizo

Plain. However, there is plenty of room to expound on this growth to recapture more

remnants of these grasslands by extending habitat beyond the National Monument,

while increasing wildlife corridors and revegetating these surrounding lands.

RETURN OF THE GRASSLANDS

For decades, the Carrizo Plain was cropland and ranches of various ilk. As these

ranchlands waned and non-native animals removed, parts of the Carrizo Plain healed

on its own.

Other regions have required a helping hand. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) started

buying land back from ranch owners in the 1980s. Eventually the Carrizo Plain came

under control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). And although many public

lands are under fire for their natural resources, the Carrizo Plain remains protected.

Under watchful eyes such as nonprofits like Friends of the Carrizo Plain (FCP), the

cleanup of ranchlands, especially fence removal, has enabled wildlife to roam freely.

“I am generally pleased,” said Dr. David Chipping, president of the FCP, referring to the

overall restoration of the Carrizo Plain. “Although the recovery of former cropland has

been slower than original expectations due to destruction of the original soil profiles.”

64 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


Soil destruction on the Carrizo Plain is an example of

something that dates back to the great Dust Bowl era

that inflicted the West in the early 1900s. However, with

the return of the grasslands, one of the smallest, but most

important creatures on the Carrizo Plain and beyond is

putting in the hard work to reverse lasting damage.

Ecologically speaking, the giant kangaroo rat is small

but mighty, increasing biodiversity on the Carrizo Plain.

Biologists say: as the giant kangaroo rat goes, so goes the

rest of the Carrizo Plain.

The giant kangaroo rat is virtually responsible for

everything improving from the ground up on the Carrizo

Plain as they have come to be known as the eco-engineers

of the grasslands. They regenerate soils providing quality

habitat for native plants. Their burrows provide denning

habitat for a wide host of grassland wildlife. Vacant

giant kangaroo rat burrows are adopted and modified by

American badgers, kit foxes, burrowing owls, antelope

ground squirrels, and more.

Following wet winters, giant kangaroo rat populations

spike and the long-tailed, almond-shaped eyed, big-footed

rodents are a source of food for hawks, falcons, owls, canids,

snakes, and weasels. Giant kangaroo rats cover the gamut

of ecological stability, and the Carrizo Plain is their last

bastion of habitat for this integral species.

“The return of giant kangaroo rats seems to be the cure,”

continued Dr. Chipping. “They recast the microtopography

and microhabitats suitable for native plant preoccupation.”

THAT WAS THEN

This remnant of grassland habitat once encompassed the

entire San Joaquin Valley, from the 246,812 acres that

makes up the Carrizo Plain north for 270 miles between

the Eastern Sierra and the Coast Ranges.

The Carrizo Plain represents the least impacted region of

the San Joaquin Valley. Located at its most southern region,

the entire valley once teemed with massive herds of tule

elk, California’s only native elk, and fleet-footed pronghorn

antelope, the fastest land mammal in North America. The

Carrizo Plain now represents what once was.

However, there is hope for expansion beyond the Carrizo

Plain. Since 2013, the nonprofit Carrizo Plain Conservancy

(CPC) has been buying up old ranch lands and restoring

them with native vegetation and clearing fences to create

important wildlife corridors.

“This is our main purpose,” said Neil Havlik, president of

the CPC. “It is a great feeling for all of us to have things

like this happen.”

Once surrounding lands are acquired the CPC restores

freshwater springs, plants trees and shrubs, then fencing

those new plantings to keep herbivores (both native and

domestic) out until established. >>

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 65


WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Check out the photo book “Carrizo Plain Where The

Mountains Meet The Grasslands” by Chuck Graham

commemorating the twenty-year anniversary.

“We are all looking forward to a larger scale effort to “reshrub”

the Plain,” continued Havlik. “We want to restore

the open shrublands that we believe covered much of the

Plain before clearing for agriculture and which still can be

found in places which have not been so cleared. This will

significantly improve habitat for wildlife by diversifying the

habitat and making better cover for nesting birds and young

herbivores such as pronghorn. This is the long-term goal,

and I believe it can be realized, although it will take time.”

managed to locate the dens of kit foxes, badgers, burrowing owls, giant kangaroo rats,

antelope ground squirrels, and where to locate blunt-nosed leopard lizards. I located

nests of ravens, songbirds, barn owls, and great horned owls. It was an enjoyable five

weeks and my time observing animal behavior increased my knowledge of all the

species I encountered.

One late afternoon while working out in the field with the film crew, one of them

revealed the results from their FLIR camera, a locater of thermal imaging seeking

heat out on the grasslands at night.

GRASSLAND OBSERVATIONS

I admit, to experience the natural wonders of the

Carrizo Plain, it does take some patience and a pair of

binoculars. Virtually all its inhabitants blend in with

their surroundings. A maze of game trails zig zag across

the grasslands and hillsides of the Caliente and Temblor

Mountain ranges. Evidence is everywhere suggesting an

abundance of wildlife.

Last spring, I was hired to be a wildlife guide for a film

crew working on a two-part documentary about California

wildlife. They direct messaged me while I was partially

concealed in the brush photographing a kit fox den. They

asked if I could help with their project and I obliged.

Now all I had to do was find everything, and somehow, I

I was blown away by what they had captured two

nights before. Pointing the locater out into the

Panorama Hills, the imagery revealed an array of

wildlife. Within a short distance, kit foxes and

badgers foraged, coyotes marauded, burrowing owls

chased insects, and giant kangaroo rats drummed

overturned soil.

It was a unique perspective of the grasslands at

night. What was remarkable was how close all the

species were to each other, almost as if they were not

concerned with each other’s presence. It was a small

sample of what the entire San Joaquin Valley once

looked like, the Carrizo Plain being a reminder of

what once was but also of what can be expanded upon

over the next twenty years. SLO LIFE

Freelance writer and

photographer

CHUCK GRAHAM, views

the Carrizo Plain as a

second home. Find him

on Instagram

@chuckgrahamphoto

66 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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Connection

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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 67


| HEALTH

Making

Room

How much of a strain can clutter and disorganization put on our mental health?

BY LAUREN HARVEY

A

clean and organized home is what many

of us prefer to show our guests, quickly

concealing the obligatory messes of

everyday life before their arrival. But

what if your home was, by default,

clean and organized? Besides boosting

confidence when an unexpected guest

arrives, a tidy space may provide a

slew of other positive neurological

and psychological benefits. On the flip

side, we’ll explore some of the darker

hindrances you may not know are

perpetuated by a home in disarray.

Libby Sander, Associate Professor of

Organizational Behavior of Bond University,

states that, “Our physical environments

significantly influence our cognition,

emotions and subsequent behaviors,

including our relationship with others.”

Therefore, how organized, or disorganized,

our home is can impact not only our own

mental health, but our relationships with

whom we share our homes with as well.

How exactly can an organized home impact

our mental health? Let’s dig in. >>

LAUREN HARVEY is a

creative writer fueled by a

love of cooking, adventure,

and naps in the sun.

68 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 69


THE CONS OF CLUTTER

You know that feeling, when you’re rushing out the door to get to work on

time, or drop the kids off at school and you can’t find your keys? It’s a panicinducing,

irritating situation. Moments like this exemplify what living in a

consistently cluttered space is like: disorienting, distracting, and stressful.

As Erin Doland, of Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute states, “When your

environment is disorganized or cluttered, it limits the brain’s ability to focus

and process information, [which] affects decision-making, attention, and

memory retrieval.” Doland goes on to simplify the neuroscience behind a

cluttered space, “Overall, a messy environment triggers a stress response in the

brain.” That is the essence of what we feel in that moment we are frantically

searching for keys in drawers, cabinets, on desks; quite simply, stressed.

A 2009 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin focused

on how homeowners descriptions of their homes related to daily patterns

of mood and cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone in the brain, which

helps in triggering your “fight or flight” response. This study showed home

environments perceived as stressful correlated with “flatter dinural slopes

of cortisol, a profile associated with adverse health outcomes, and increased

depressed mood.” Those with self-described restorative homes experienced the

opposite, “steeper cortisol slopes . . . and decreased depressed mood.”

Dr. Eva Selhub, M.D, points out further negative impacts clutter can have on

our mental and physical well-being when it comes to our relationships with

others: “For couples, clutter can create tension and conflict.” Not only does

clutter increase stress and the possibility of depressed mood in our own lives,

but also it can have a lasting negative impact on the relationships with the

people closest to us. Dr. Selhub goes on to state, “Disorganization can lead

to shame and embarrassment . . . creating a physical and emotional boundary

around you that prevents you from letting people in.” Not only can clutter

pile up around you physically, but it can provide the ideal habitat for creating

emotional walls.

Considering all the negative mental and physical affects clutter has on

our brains, we can also hypothesize the positive affects by looking toward

opposites. If a cluttered environment induces stress, an organized environment

would encourage relaxation. A disorganized space creates tension, escalates

conflict, and builds emotional walls, while a clean and tidy space promotes

confidence, emotional wellbeing, and openness. That sounds like the life we

want to be living!

So how do we get there? First, we must take the initial steps to get organized.

WAYS TO GET ORGANIZED

No need to wait for spring-cleaning to tidy up and organize your

space. Kick the New Year off right by dedicating some time to

de-cluttering. Doing so may provide some of the psychological

benefits of living and working in a neat space.

Professional organizers agree, the best way to get organized is

to start small. Beginning in a designated area narrows focus

and encourages completion of the project. Adrian Egolf of

the Clean Slate Living Company, suggests a basic three-step

method to tackle any cluttered space: “Cull, Sort, and Match.”

Egolf goes on to explain, “First, get rid of anything you don’t

need, use or want . . . second, sort through what you have left,

putting [similar] things together.” Egolf reinforces the notion

of starting small, “Use cull, sort, and match on one shelf in

your closet, or one drawer in your kitchen and see where it

takes you.”

Susan McQuillan, MS, RDN, suggests a firm method of

decision-making during the process of tidying up, “When you’re

organizing . . . decide what to do with each [item] before moving

on to another. Have separate bags on hand for trash and charity

donation, placing each item in the appropriate bag.” Making

decisions about whether to keep or get rid of items can feel

paralyzing and may be one of the reasons our things accumulate

in the first place. McQuillan’s method encourages organizers to

face those decisions and make them, a process that can be easier

with practice.

Professional organizer, author, and Netflix star Marie Kondo is

internationally recognized for her KonMari method. Pick up an

item and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” If yes, keep it. If no, thank

the item for serving you in your life and let it go. Kondo’s method

provides space in the organization game for sentimental items,

ones that, though may serve no functional purpose, still “spark joy”

in your heart. Here, living a tidy life is not just about having an

organized space for essential items, but about being selective with

what items you give space to in your home. The KonMari method

emphasizes joy above all, shaping the home into an environment

that brings out the best in you.

So how do we get there? First, we must take the initial steps to

get organized. >>

70 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 71


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72 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

No matter how diligent your organization, the messes of everyday life will inevitably creep in.

However, with an efficiently organized space that best fits your lifestyle and every day needs,

clean up should, in theory, become more accessible, less stressful, and therefore, more likely to

happen. When everything has a place, tidying up simply becomes an act of returning items

to their rightful homes, instead of a scramble to make a home for everything in the moment.

Adrian Egolf of the Clean Slate Living Company suggests a simple daily rule to maintain

organization, “If you can do it in sixty seconds or less, do it now.”

“Our physical space, and the objects that fill it, give us, and others, a sense of who we are,

what we value, and what we have accomplished,” Dr. Sally Augustin, PhD, environmental

psychologist explains. Maintaining organization throughout a home and workspace is vital to

our sense of self, a centering act of our own identity. So, too, Dr. Augustin notes, “Too much

clutter can signal a lack of control and confuse that sense of identity.” While it’s vital to keep

our spaces personal, to display our own unique items and collections, it’s also important for our

mental wellbeing to keep that space clean and organized, however fits best for us.

FINAL WORD

Clutter and disorganization have been scientifically linked to increased stress,

depressed mood, and conflict in relationships. Using some organizational skills

suggested by experts is a great way to embrace the calm, confidence, and joyful

benefits perpetuated by a clean and tidy home environment. SLO LIFE


PEACE. COMFORT. HEALING.

Join our On-line Church Services at

ChristianScience.com

Sunday Services

Listen live on Sundays at 10 am or join audio

replay available within 30–60 minutes after the

service ends until Friday.

Wednesday Testimony

Participate in a weekly testimony meeting with

people around the world on Wednesday at 2 pm.

Hear others share insights, experiences, and

healings they’ve had through their prayer and

practice of Christian Science.

For inspiration in the form of audio casts or links,

talks and personal testimonials go to

Prayerthatheals.org

First Church of Christ, Scientist

1326 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo

805-543-5853

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 73


| TASTE

Dining with

Curiosity

STUCK IN A CULINARY RUT?

NUDGE OUTSIDE YOUR ROUTINE WITH A FEW NEW DISHES FROM THESE SLO COUNTY EATERIES.

BY JAIME LEWIS

If you’ve lived in SLO County

for any length of time, you’ve

noticed how casual most of our

eateries are. We love our tri-tip,

burgers, pizza, sandwiches,

and tacos. If supply responds

to demand, by all indications,

we demand street food and

comfort food here. We also

demand inexpensive food, probably owing

to our significant student population.

For my part, I am an equal opportunity

eater; I do not discriminate. There is a

time and a place for those tried-and-true

dishes we all love. But there is also a time

and a place for new flavors, and I want to

encourage you to put your brewpub food

aside for just one night to try something

deliciously different.

The truth is, we live

in one of the most

abundantly diverse

agricultural areas

in the world; it

would be a shame

to miss out on the

breadth of flavors

available locally.

Give your local

chef a chance to

wow you, or at the

very least, surprise

you. Switch it up;

your palate will

thank you.

JAIME LEWIS writes about

food, drink, and the good

life from her home in San

Luis Obispo. Find her on

Instagram/Twitter @jaimeclewis.

REFRESH, REGROUP, REIMAGINE

Since its doors opened in 2016, Flour House has been the domain of pizza napoletana,

wood-fired in a magnificent Stefano Ferrara oven. But Chef Alberto Russo has other culinary

pursuits, too. “During the COVID restaurant lockdown, I got creative,” he says. “I got

interested in playing with other dishes to offer.”

One of those is Flour House’s new Strawberry Gazpacho with stracciatella, micro-arugula

and toasted almonds. Gazpacho is a cold, tomato-based soup with origins in Spain, but Russo

switched the dish up with strawberries, cucumbers, bell peppers, and red wine vinegar. The

result is a subtly sweet base for a scoop of decadent stracciatella (the cream inside burrata),

fresh micro-arugula and crunchy almonds. You won’t find anything else quite like it in SLO

County right now.

“It’s right between a soup and a salad,” Russo says. “It can start a meal, or it can be the whole

meal.” Taken with a glass of crisp vermentino from the wine list, it offers a refreshing and

delicious getaway from the same-old-same-old. >>

74 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


DOWN TO THE ROOT

At Brasserie SLO downtown, Executive Chef Kenny

Seliger brings a vegetable you’re probably not too familiar

with to the table.

“Celery root is one thing I always try to filter into my

fall and winter menus,” says Seliger, holding the durable

vegetable in his hand, similar to a turnip or potato, but

with a subtle celery flavor. Seliger learned about using

celery root from a chef he worked with at the Breslin in

New York City.

“The purveyors couldn’t get rid of it,” he says. “That’s why

we started getting creative with it in the kitchen.”

For the Oro King Salmon dish on Brasserie SLO’s menu,

he wanted to incorporate a charred note to complement

the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. He chose to char celery

root, then blend it with cream for a sauce. The expertlycooked

salmon sits on a bed of buttermilk polenta and

bright green kale pesto, with the celery root sauce drizzled

over all. The puree is surprisingly bright and smoky

while remaining rich and creamy—a perfect foil for the

brininess of the salmon. >>

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 75


UNDERRATED INGREDIENT

Chef Julien Asseo spent years working in Parisian bistros

before bringing his French sensibility back to the U.S.

When he and his wife Courtney opened Les Petites

Canailles in Paso Robles last year, he noticed that a

common French ingredient was conspicuously absent

from Central Coast menus.“Leeks aren’t really popular

in American cuisine,” he says. “They’re not your typical

household ingredient.”

Asseo put Leeks Vinaigrette on his first menu, and it’s

stayed there since. A classic brasserie dish, it’s composed

of fully cooked leeks that are pan-seared for color, then

served with a warm herb vinaigrette over the top, plus

pine nuts and esplette pepper. The flavors are bright,

herbaceous, nutty, and unbelievably sweet. “It’s a very

straightforward peasant dish,” Asseo says. “I wanted to

highlight an underrated ingredient that doesn’t typically

stand on its own. People have been really intrigued by it;

it’s a best-seller for sure.” SLO LIFE

SOMETHING FOR

EVERYONE

“Peoples’ tastes are

changing in some ways,”

says Chef Kenny Seliger,

acknowledging the public’s

desire for more vegetarian,

vegan, and gluten-free

options. The dishes profiled

here are all plant-forward

and gluten-free, and the

gazpacho and leeks are

vegan, too. If you follow

an alternative diet—or

if you don’t—you’ll be

pleasantly surprised at

the concentrated flavors

and variety of textures

presented in each of these

compositions.

76 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 77


| WINE NOTES

lean

on me

BY ANDRIA MCGHEE

f there’s one thing a winemaker understands, it’s the value of an expert.

Learning from those around us helps us grow as people. Winemakers

take this ethos to elevate their craft on the Central Coast.

Over the past year, you may have had a chance to slow down to

appreciate a truly special glass of wine. That glass has been brought

to you by a winemaker and their journey of experience, often

influenced by mentorships. According to Merriam-Webster, “We use

the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in Ianother (usually younger) person’s life.” When it comes to winemaking, mentors

pride themselves in creating something unique to their taste and vision and

share that experience and insight with someone just as passionate.

Though books are necessary to learn these skills, the hours spent with a master

teaches the subtle tweaks and the personal flair that is reflected in the bottle.

These mentors have influenced many notable wines by guiding new winemakers

to consider slight changes when

making wine or to observe

what’s happening in the field.

When you look at the crowded

shelves in a grocery store, it

may be tough to find a wine

made in such a delicate and

thoughtful way. To our delight,

the Edna Valley and Paso

Robles wine regions have been

influenced by winemakers

who have harnessed the idea

of mentoring. It has led to the

production of some of the top

wines worldwide. >>

ANDRIA MCGHEE received

her advanced degree in

wines and spirits from

WSET in London and enjoys

travel, food, wine, and

exercise as a means to enjoy

those around her.

78 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


3076 Duncane Lane . San Luis Obispo

805 549 0100

DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 79


Deovlet Wines // Pinot Noir, La Encantada 2017 // $55

Ryan Deovlet is a winemaker with a warm smile and a firm

handshake. He runs his business with his head, heart, and

tenacity. He started school with ambitions to be a lawyer. He

knew law school would be all encompassing, so he decided to

take a small break. With his love of travel and surf, he found

himself in New Zealand and Australia. He worked on some

farms to make ends meet, including a vineyard where the world

of viticulture was revealed to him.

It was there that he met a winemaker named David Leslie who

gave him a book that moved his path in life in one fell swoop.

That book, “The Heartbreak Grape,” by Marq De Villiers tells

the journey of a winemaker as he apprentices in France. No

doubt Deovlet felt the same spark. He started reading, listening,

taking notes, and found his mission. Through many other

mentorships abroad and right here on the Central Coast, he

found that he wanted to grow great wine, not just make it. He

wanted to get better, not bigger.

He ended up as a triple threat. With book knowledge,

apprenticeship, and drive, Deovlet started the 2008 vintage with

fantastic Pinot Noir grapes from a coveted site in the Santa Rita

Hills. He kept a close eye on all steps of the process. Grace Kegel,

assistant winemaker, joined Deovlet after graduating from Cal

Poly and is now an apprentice. He humbly notes that they learn

from one another.

The wine is something special—the crisp whites, differing pinots,

and dark reds will make every palette happy. Stop in at their

tasting room to see for yourself.

Arianna // Torrontes 2019 // $25

Our parents can be our mentors, too. Arianna Spoto helped her

grandfather in his cellar when she was young. Her grandfather moved

to Davis, caught the winemaking bug, and made wine for fun. His son

saw a good wine and encouraged him to become a bonded winery in

Napa. Spoto just soaked it all in by living among winemakers.

Did she decide at that point to be a winemaker? No, not yet. Only

when her grandfather gave her a little nudge in the wine and viticulture

direction her first year at Cal Poly did she realize she loved it. She

showed up to class, surrounded by farmers in boots and flannels, walked

out to the field and knew this would be her life. That little nudge from

Grandpa was all she needed.

After school, Spoto looked for work that took her around the world,

guided by mentors during every stop along the way. Argentina took

her heart. The people, the experiences, the food all paired well with the

Torrontes (white grape) and Malbec (red grape) wine she had there.

While working back in California, she discovered a wine made of

Torrontes and had to find those grapes to make some of her own. With

the guidance of her father and grandfather, her first wine was born in

2018 in the same cellar where she started out as a child.

The 2019 Torrontes reminds me of green apple dipped is Swiss

fondue. You can find it here in San Luis Obispo at SLO Provisions on

Monterey, and at Wine Sneak on Broad near the airport.

To learn is to take what works best for us and leave behind what

doesn’t. Mentoring and learning throughout a wine career harnesses

this art. I hope you give these a try and take a minute to enjoy the

legacy of collaboration. SLO LIFE

80 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021


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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 81


| HAPPENINGS

Culture & Events

POINT SAN LUIS LIGHTHOUSE TOUR

Join a live docent via Zoom on any

Wednesday in December for an interactive,

hour-long, virtual tour of the Avila Beach

lighthouse. Travel back in time to 1890,

delve into the light station’s history, explore

the grounds, wander through the keeper’s

dwelling, climb to the top of the lighthouse

tower, step inside the fog signal building, and

admire the stunning fourth-order Fresnel lens.

Every Wednesday in December

pointsanluislighthouse.org

HOLIDAY MAGIC AT THE ZOO

Experience the magic of the holiday season

at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero.

Zookeepers step in as Santa’s elves to prepare

gifts for the animals, including red pandas,

monkeys, meerkats, parrots, a Malayan Tiger,

a variety of reptiles, and many more. Santa

will be there for the whole family, too.

December 19 // charlespaddockzoo.org

OPEN STUDIOS ART TOUR

One of the largest art tours in the

country, the annual ARTS Obispo Open

Studios Art Tour showcases some 200

artists who participate by opening their

studios for visitors. Art in a variety of

media and styles—from abstract and

representational painting to wood, glass,

metal, and ceramic—is displayed and

sold by artists directly. This year art lovers

connect with artists by viewing their

work online, then book appointments

directly with the artists for limited oneon-one

studio tours.

Now until December 31 // artsobispo.org

SLOPE AT STUDIOS ON THE PARK

San Luis Outdoor Painters for the

Environment (SLOPE) offers up

stunning originals and prints at Studios

on the Park in Paso Robles through

the end of the year. The region’s top

landscape artists use their art to raise

awareness, funding, and education for

the Central Coast’s treasured open

spaces, ranches, farmland, and wildlife. A

portion of the proceeds benefit the Land

Conservancy of San Luis Obispo.

Now until December 31 // slope-painters.com

WINTERFAIRE & CRAFT SHOW

Art Center Morro Bay presents its

annual juried craft show featuring some

of the finest work on the Central Coast.

Offering a collection of exceptional

paintings, photography, and fine crafts,

this free holiday event spans a variety of

artistic mediums from the traditional to

the contemporary in fiber, wood, glass,

sculpture, pottery, jewelry, and more.

Now until January 4 // artcentermorrobay.org

HALCYON PSYCHIC WEEKEND

Visit the Halcyon Store & Post Office,

known as a gathering place for those

who seek enlightenment, to consult

amazing and varied intuitive readers

who offer readings by appointment.

Techniques are offered to provide

guidance in the areas of love, travel,

relationships, finances, and loved ones

who have passed.

January 2-3 //halcyonstore.com

ART IN THE GARDEN

This free, unique fundraiser and art show,

running Thursdays through Sundays until

December 27 at the San Luis Obispo

Botanical Garden, displays and sells fine art

by local artists. Sales of handmade items for

home and garden, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and

unique hostess gifts benefit the Garden.

Now until December 27 // slobg.org

82 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

FALL JURIED EXHIBIT

Tom Gould’s acrylic, “Evening Shore,”

is the first-place winner in this year’s

Fall Juried Exhibit being held in the

Cambria Center for the Arts’ virtual

gallery online. The exhibit was juried by

Elizabeth “Libby” Tolley, an American

painter known for her plein air and

studio paintings of rural and coastal

California. Many of the exhibit’s entries

are available for sale.

Now until January 3 //cambriaarts.org

FLOWER POWER

This exhibit demonstrates the flexibility

of floral images to convey both timely

and timeless themes. The flowers offer

symbolic and healing values, as well as

ways of thinking about a wide range

of topics—the natural environment in

which we live, the communities we build,

and the commodities we buy.

January 7 – March 8 // artcentermorrobay.org


DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 83


LUXURY

with

STYLE

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HAVEN PROPERTIES Distinctive Collection by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate ®

offers the service and market experience you'd expect from a brand whose legacy was

built upon a passion for the home. Bringing together LOCAL knowledge and experience

with the global marketing and media network of the most trusted brand in real estate, it's

easy to see how HAVEN PROPERTIES is the clear choice for your distinctive listing.

84 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021

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BHGREHAVEN.COM

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