BY THE NUMB
NOW HEAR THIS
RESTORING HOPE &
BUILDING A BUSINESS
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 1
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 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
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
2. Book your Tele-ER
appointment with a
local ER doctor. It’s
helpful if you have a
3. Get your smartphone,
tablet or computer
ready. That’s it! Don’t
delay your care.
For a Tele-ER visit, just
For life-threatening emergencies, go to the nearest hospital or call 911.
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.
All it takes is one person
to change a child’s life.
Rudy volunteers with
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.
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
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
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 7
8 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
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
On the Rise
10 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
design + build contractors
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
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
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.
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!
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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(805) 543-8600 • (805) 456-1677 fax
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name
and city for verification purposes. Contributions chosen for publication may
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If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom Franciskovich by phone
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media kit along with testimonials from happy advertisers.
Nicole Pazdan, CSA,
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
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The opinions expressed within these pages do not necessarily reflect those of
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or in part without the express written permission of the publisher.
Contact us today for FREE placement assistance.
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
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
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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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
GRAND TETON MOUNTAINS, WYOMING
CABO SAN LUCAS
JOSE LUIS and
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
DR. MICHAEL CLAYTON
and EDDIE ABATE
ROUTE 66, WINSLOW, ARIZONA
DOMINICA and OLIVIA
20 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
Please send your photos and comments to email@example.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).
court streEt Monterey street Downtown Centre
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 21
Around the County
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Next thing I know,
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
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.
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
24 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
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
He’s a living
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.
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
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.
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
to be a part of
this great and
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
A VIBRANT HOLIDAY SEASON,
AND A NEW YEAR FILLED WITH
JOY, PEACE , AND PROSPERITY.
WELCOMED OVER 500
BUYERS & SELLERS INTO THE HAVEN FAMILY IN 2020.
SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS,
FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF REPRESENTING YOU.
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25
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
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
26 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 27
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
28 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
Tell us what
you need and why,
and we’ll help you out.
Talk to us.
Call us today
for your consultation
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 29
| NOW HEAR THIS
30 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
BY JOE PAYNE
IMAGES COURTESY OF CHRIS BELAND
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 43
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
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
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
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
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
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
48 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
BY ZARA KHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LALUSH
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 49
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
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
Ladera at Righetti Models Now Open!
Pricing starts from the low $1 millions. Shown,The Islay, Plan 2
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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
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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
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
here in San Luis Obispo.
58 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 59
| SLO CITY
BY THE NUMBERS
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 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
*Comparing 01/01/19 - 11/15/19 to 01/01/20 - 11/15/20
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
60 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
Thank you for another
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.
VP of Mortgage Lending
O: (805) 335-8743
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VP of Mortgage Lending
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C: (707) 227-9582
VP of Mortgage Lending
O: (805) 335-8742
C: (805) 674-6653
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,
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Donna Lewis NMLS #245945; CA - CA-DOC245945 | Dylan Morrow NMLS #1461481; CA - CA-DBO1461481 | Eileen Mackenzie NMLS #282909 | Joe Hutson NMLS #447536; CA - CA-
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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
receives $50 for every
loan that I close – over
| SLO COUNTY
BY THE NUMBERS
Together, we take care
of our neighbors.
Contact me today to learn more.
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San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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62 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
to change without notice. Some restrictions may apply.
*Comparing 01/01/19 - 11/15/19 to 01/01/20 - 11/15/20
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SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 63
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.
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
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
CHUCK GRAHAM, views
the Carrizo Plain as a
second home. Find him
66 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
Forge a Natural
805-215-0511 lic.# 887028
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 67
How much of a strain can clutter and disorganization put on our mental health?
BY LAUREN HARVEY
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
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
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
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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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.
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
Listen live on Sundays at 10 am or join audio
replay available within 30–60 minutes after the
service ends until Friday.
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
First Church of Christ, Scientist
1326 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo
DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 73
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
The truth is, we live
in one of the most
in the world; it
would be a shame
to miss out on the
breadth of flavors
Give your local
chef a chance to
wow you, or at the
very least, surprise
you. Switch it up;
your palate will
JAIME LEWIS writes about
food, drink, and the good
life from her home in San
Luis Obispo. Find her on
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
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
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
“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
76 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021
made by hand
right here on the
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DEC/JAN 2021 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 77
| WINE NOTES
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
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
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
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
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
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84 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | DEC/JAN 2021