Colony Magazine #30 • December 2020

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this holiday season

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ON THE COVER HOPE: After a year of uncertainty, we celebrate human strength, community, love and the holidays amidst the pandemic. Photo Credit, Edalin



Atascadero 93422 • Santa Margarita 93453 • Creston 93432 Hotels • Wineries • B&Bs • Waiting Rooms • Restaurants • High-traffic Visitor Hotspots for advertising inquiries and rates email publisher @, or contact one of our advertising representatives.

Call today for Air Conditioning System Service & Maintenance

December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 5


Something Worth Reading Publisher’s Letter


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Round Town Cross Talk with Josh Cross: A Strong Foundation — Ensuring Solid Ground for 2021 Santa Margarita: May Your Days be Merry and Bright The Natural Alternative: Healthy Gift Ideas Colony People ECHO: On a Mission to Empower People to Make Positive Change Farmer Frank's Mushrooms: Hometown Hero Finds New Purpose Hidden Springs Tree Farm: Five Generations Strong Local Business The Human Bean: Mitchells Bring New Drive-Thru Coffee To North County Five Star Rain Gutters: 'Tis the Season for Rain and Rain Gutter Maintenance Tent City San Luis Obispo County Office of Education: Future Trends Post-COVID Arts & Culture: North County Dance & Performing Arts Foundation introduces 'The Nutshell' A Year of Perspective: Finding Our Way Through Uncertainty Holiday Blessing: Dr. Gary M. Barker Shares Hope and Joy Winter Solstice, Yuletide: Traditional Symbols of Celebrations Held on the Darkest Day of the Year Last Word The Little White Envelope: A Christmas Story by Nancy W. Gavin Directory to our Advertisers

James Brescia, Ed.D.

Josh Cross

Hayley Mattson

publisher, editor-at-large

managing editor

Brian Williams

Nicholas Mattson layout design

Michael Michaud

community writers

Connor Allen Camille DeVaul

ad design

ad consultants

Denise Mclean Jen Rodman

Dana McGraw Jamie Self

office administrator

Cami Martin |



* ad reservation deadline is the 10th of each month preceding the publication. for more information about advertising, upcoming issues and editorial themes, contact our advertising representatives above, or see our media kit at



5860 El Camino Real Ste G, Atascadero, Ca 93422


P.O. Box 6068 Atascadero, CA 93423


contributors Barbie Butz

publisher, editor-in-chief


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Commentary reflects the views of the writers and does not necessarily reflect those of Colony Magazine. Colony Magazine is delivered free to 17,000 addresses in North San Luis Obispo County. Our costs are paid entirely by advertising revenue. Our Local Business section spotlights select advertisers. All other stories are determined solely by our editors.


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Colony Magazine | December 2020

Something Worth Reading

s we welcome December and reflect upon the year, we are filled with deep gratitude and love. 2020 has presented us with multiple challenges and opportunities. It has allowed us to find strength within and stand firm on our faith to trudge forward, yet we still are not out of the crisis. We have learned so much from this year and about each other, good or indifferent. We pull strength from our fellow business owners and entrepreneurs. From our team and local everyday heroes that all continue to show up even when life is uncertain. We all have a personal journey, one we get to call our own, and how we decide to live it is only up to us and us alone. No one can hold you back, and if you feel the urge to quit, keep moving forward, keep pressing on.

If you only carry one thing throughout your entire life, let it be hope. Let it be hope that better things are always ahead. Let it be hope that you can get through even the toughest of times. Let it be hope that you are stronger than any challenge that comes your way. Let it be hope that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now, and that you are on the path to where you are meant to go‌ because during these times hope will be the very thing that carries you through. Nikki Banas

That is the incredible thing about being a human on planet earth spinning through space at 1,000 miles per hour. When you feel like things are spinning out of control, remember they are spinning under control. None of us are alone, and if you feel you are, reach out to us or those in our stories; we are here and want to help. We have seen our communities pull together through this crisis, and that is what we focused the entire December issue of Colony Magazine. From Shopping Local to supporting our last Christmas Tree Farm to Locals Sharing Hope and a Year of Perspective. Our community is Resilient; we have seen that. We can be extremely divided, too; our hope is as we move forward out of this contentious year, we can remember what is truly important. Treat one another with respect, kindness, and love. Remember that no one is responsible for you but you. Be a good human, and please be sure to laugh, smile, and sing! Happiest of Holidays to you and yours.

All our love, the Mattson Family This month’s edition of Colony Magazine is brought to you by all the local advertisers that fill our pages; thanks to them, we are able to bring you your local Hometown Magazine.

if thou wouldest win immortality of name, either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading. — Thomas Fuller, 1727




2020 was a tough year! Help us celebrate those local businesses that have risen to the occasion and made our community great against the odds. Now is your chance to bring some love to your favorite local businesses and attractions! Vote today for the Best of North SLO County! Vote by December 15 for your chance to win $500 to your local favorite store. See survey for details. Best of Voting ends on January 10, 2021. Scan the QR Code and go directly to the voting form.


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December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 9

Low inventory combined with low interest rates are resulting in most homes selling fast. Many sellers are experiencing noticeable short days on the market. Buyers must be more aggressive. If you are looking to buy, our team of skilled realtors can help you navigate these swift waters and craft a competitive offer that will help you acquire the home of your dreams. If you are thinking of selling in the next 1-3 years, call Greg or Jaime today to discuss the current market and your plans.



A STRONG FOUNDATION Ensuring solid ground for 2021






Interim CEO/President | Atascadero Chamber of Commerce

he year 2020 has brought its fair share of surprising challenges and hardships that the community and the Chamber has had to navigate. Despite the circumstances, local businesses have used 2020 challenges as a catalyst to create innovative ideas, building new channels and foundations for growth. Retailers are selling products over social media platforms, restaurants are offering to-go cocktails, and wineries were doing virtual tastings. Here at the Atascadero Chamber, we’ve used this time to invest in building a strong foundation for our community. We’re working hard to ensure that we’ll have a solid ground to stand together on for 2021 and beyond. What does investing in the foundation of our community actually mean? For us, it means two things. First, it’s equipping local businesses with tools and spaces they needed to help their organizations thrive. This led us to launch Workshop Wednesdays. Every week, business owners can tune in to learn new digital tools and advice from the experts. However, we didn’t stop there; providing the space to succeed was just as important as the education portion. To this end, we’re currently adding even more private offices to BridgeWorks

Upcoming Events For December: The State of the North County — Thursday, December 10 Join us and the Paso Robles Chamber for a deep dive into the state of North County! You’ll get key insight into economic updates for the North County, hear from Dan Baum (founder of Shutterfly) and learn about North County diversity efforts. Using Data to Drive Business Growth | Workshop Wednesdays — December 16, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Stop guessing and learn how to harness data to help you make informed business decisions. January A-Talks — Wednesday, January 2, from 5 – 6 p.m. Celebrate the new year with us for the first A-Talks of 2021! Join us for a virtual community event that’s all about Atascadero. Mingle and

Co-Working to provide a dedicated working environment right in the middle of downtown Atascadero for entrepreneurs, remote workers, and those without an official brick and mortar store. Second, investing in our community’s foundation means building programs and advocating for things that benefit the community. We’ve taken a comprehensive dive into this and addressed it in several ways. First, we worked with our Diversity Council to launch Diversity Works, helping share education information to foster inclusivity and understanding. Then we started A-Talks, a virtual event series, connecting residents, local business owners, and city leaders while sharing essential updates for our town. Last but not least, we took up advocacy and facilitated conversations about Measure D-20. We knew that the passing of this Measure would allow for better staffing of our fire and police departments and provide them with the means for critical improvements resulting in increased safety and services from our first responders for all of Atascadero. While I can’t say for sure what 2021 has in store, I can confidently state that together we have all worked to build a stronger foundation for our Atasca-mazing community for 2021.

network virtually with others, get the latest updates from the Chamber and the City of Atascadero, and enjoy a behind the scenes look at a local business (Cocktail kits will be available for purchase for the event). Design Thinking For Entrepreneurs | Workshop Wednesday — January 6, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Discover how to create a collaborative environment where everyone is responsible for design. You will go through design challenges and sprints that can be incorporated into any workplace or startup to unlock creativity and innovative thinking.  New October Chamber Members The Gardening Doula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Atascadero Police Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SLG Senior Care LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eastgate Petroleum LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Francesco Pierini Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Register for the above virtual events at or by calling (805)466-2044. Are you a Freelancer or Entrepreneur? Tired of Commuting? The BridgeWorks offices are perfect for anyone looking to eliminate distractions, get plugged into a community, enhance productivity and stay motivated. We’ve ensured that our prices are low for OUR community to ensure you can focus on work and not have to sweat affordability.

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Colony Magazine | December 2020

“Serving the pets, people and veterinarians of the Central Coast”

Full Service Veterinary Hospital

Open: 24/7 for Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care

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December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 13

Santa Margarita

Simone Smith


May Your Days be

Merry and Bright

fter what most might consider to be a very difficult, sad, and contentious year, we’ve finally reached December. As we close out 2020, December once again brings the chill of Winter, which, combined with the short daylight hours and continuing COVID situation, prompts us to turn our thoughts to contemplation, reflection, and planning for the future. It’s time for family, friends, and community. Reconciling our differences and finding ways to bring a little happiness, cheer, or comfort to others. We really are so lucky to be living here on the beautiful Central Coast. Things this December may be a little different, given our times, but there are lots of ways to help out and participate in the joys of the season here in Santa Margarita. This year the annual Christmas Tree Lighting will be going remote. On Sunday, December 6, bundle up, pile the family into the car and drive to a safe spot to park within view of the town Christmas tree in the Community Park before sunset. Next, settle in with some cozy blankets and maybe a thermos of hot chocolate as you tune your radio dial to 97.7FM to hear the lighting countdown presented by the Santa Margarita Community Church. After enjoying the beauty of the Christmas tree and the ceremony has ended, don’t head home just yet because you are invited to a free, drive-bye, soup f ome” o dinner pick-up from the H r e d n Win Decorate Community Hall, spon9 1 0 2 t sored and prepared by the Santa “Bes Margarita Lions Club. Santa Margaritas Boy Scout Troop 123 will be partnering up with the Lions Club for their Annual Food and Toy Drive this year, collecting for KSBY’s Season of Hope Photo by to make this holiday season a little brighter for those in Rachel Hunter need. A donation barrel will be available in front of the Santa Margarita Community Hall for the collection of new, unwrapped toys or non-perishable food items such as peanut butter, pasta, or dried fruit. Also, with limited fundraising opportunities, you can

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help Santa Margaritas Boy Scout troop 123 keep learning, growing, and getting outside through online holiday evergreen sales at and entering the code TR123ca002 or by donating to the troops ongoing Recycling Drive. It’s a win-win! Get rid of those CRV plastic and aluminum containers by bagging and delivering them to the Community Hall and help the Scouts. Too many to transport? You can arrange for pick up by sending a message through the Santa Margarita Lions Facebook page. In addition to decorating the downtown tree boxes, Santa Margarita Beautiful is helping to raise community spirits by promoting both the Third Annual Holiday Decorating Contest as well as a Holiday Passport program designed to help bring attention to and support Santa Margaritas small businesses. The Holiday Decorating Contest encourages local residents and businesses to once again participate in the season’s festivities with prizes and recognition given to those chosen with the most spectacular, whimsical, or traditional holiday displays. Margaritians have pulled inspiration from winners of the past two years, but rules have changed slightly to encourage more participation. What creativity will light up the town this year? To participate, you must be in Santa Margarita proper, and decorating must be completed by Friday, December 19. Holiday Passports can be picked up from any local participating merchant. With the passport in hand, shoppers can collect stamps from each listed merchant. Return your passport to any participating merchant by Friday, December 19, for a chance at winning a prize. Each complete passport enters you for a chance to win the grand prize or for a second chance to win return your passport with six or more stamps for the second prize. Also, depending on the merchant, you may be eligible for discounts, specials, or surprises by presenting your passport. Rules and details for both the Santa Margarita Beautiful Holiday Decorating Competition and the Holiday Passport prizes will be on fliers around town or on the Santa Margarita Business Facebook page, with winners announced on Monday, December 21. No matter what you do, be kind to one another, lend a helping hand, enjoy the season, and spread some cheer. Here’s wishing all of you a very healthy and happy month of December, the end to 2020.  Colony Magazine | December 2020



absolutely LOVE the Christmas season! As fun and exciting as the holidays are, are you feeling overwhelmed with the endless list of things to do and plan? Let the Natural Alternative help you with some healthy holiday gifts ideas & support YOU, so you don’t crash and burn! On the list of those you care for, put yourself at the top! Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen that can help keep you cool and calm when holiday madness hits! If you are feeling exhausted during the day and can’t shut off your brain at night, give this amazing herb a try! Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels (linked to belly fat & sleeplessness) in stressed-out individuals. Find the highest quality Ashwagandha at The Natural Alternative for best results!

If you’re looking for that special gift that is both calming and uplifting, look no further! We have a large selection of pure, organic essential

oils as well as beautiful, decorative diffusers that are perfect for a holiday gift. Choose lavender for its’ soothing, calming properties, orange or citrus blends for boosting mood and lifting spirits, or maybe grapefruit to calm the overactive appetite! Peppermint or sandalwood support focus and mental clarity, and eucalyptus is great to diffuse when that winter cold comes on! We also have organic essential oil kits available, which are a great way to introduce someone you love to the healing power of essential oils. SoulKu is a special line of lovingly handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings with the healing properties of gemstones and the spiritual laws of attraction, belief, and intention SoulKu was created by a group of moms in No Carolina who believe each piece finds the person at the exact time they need it most. Make someone happy (or treat yourself ) with a beautiful creation from SoulKu! CBD chocolates will make great hostess gifts or stocking stuffers. If you have a loved one (even your favorite pet!) feeling anxious or having muscle /joint discomfort, we have CBD drops, oils & lotions that would make special gifts! Don’t forget we also have gift certificates available –give the gift of health to that special someone in your life! Feeling gratitude during this beautiful time of year, Bobbi Conner, CNC, ACN, MH


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December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 15

On a Mission to Empower People to Make Positive Change

A Special to Colony Magazine


he El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) faced a challenging year, as many other non-profits did due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with much support from the community, ECHO not only rose to the challenge of COVID but expanded services to further assist those facing homelessness and hunger within our community. Wendy Lewis, ECHO’s President and CEO, shared that she and her team have been busy this year with new faces, programs, and updates to the facility. All while implementing a COVID-19 Critical Shelter that strictly follows State and County Guidelines to keep all volunteers and staff safe. One of the many ways ECHO has made a profound impact is with their housing placement program; individuals and families are directed to resources that help them find housing within three months of their arrival at ECHO. Wendy shared that this year to date (November), ECHO has housed a total of 46 people and assisted with 22 job placements and all during a global pandemic. ECHO is very proud of its success stories. They are genuinely grateful for the support, donors, and volunteers who believe in their mission. ECHO’s mission since 2001 is to empower people in SLO County to make positive change by providing food, shelter, and supportive services. Here are two of ECHO’s recent success stories:

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Chris & Dani

Not even a year ago, Chris and Dani made the brave decision to pursue a fresh start for their family. After struggling with addiction on and off for years, the couple and their three kids found themselves unhoused in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The pair knew that they needed a strong support system as they worked towards sobriety, so they made the difficult decision to leave their life in Louisiana, full of friends, pets, and precious belongings, and come to California to be near family. Once here, they were astounded by the cost of living. They sought assistance through ECHO after hearing encouraging reviews from friends who had used their services. The family’s first impression of ECHO was humbling. “It really put our situation into perspective,” Dani said, “Being in a shelter motivated us to want to make a change.” It was tough at first, but Chris and Dani kept finding every silver lining they could, always reminding each other that they were making a change for their kids. Over time, the family started to feel more and more comfortable. They bonded with other residents in the shelter while sharing their love of cooking with one another and built positive relationships with staff. ECHO slowly began to feel like home. During their stay, Chris and Dani worked diligently to maintain their sobriety. The couple relied on therapy

as a tool for behavioral change and accountability as well as staff for support during moments of weakness. After having success with managing their sobriety, the couple began to seek out employment opportunities. Within a month, Chris and Dani both found steady jobs and started the process of saving for their own home. However, the pair faced a hurdle during COVID-19 when Dani had to leave her job at the local supermarket to protect her compromised immune system. This left the family to rely solely on Chris’ income. Nevertheless, Chris and Dani persevered and maintained their hopeful attitudes, continuing to take small steps towards their case plan. Case managers collaborated with local resource agencies to find alternative and sustainable housing solutions for the family. Their search led to the option of portable housing. Despite the loss in income, Chris and Dani had enough money saved up to purchase their very own RV in full. Dani’s mother graciously offered the family a parking space on her property, where they could live in close proximity to their primary support system. Soon after purchasing the trailer, Dani was offered a full-time managerial position at a local organization. With trust in the process and unwavering commitment to their family and future, Chris and Dani were able to meet every obstacle they faced head-on. With the services and support received through ECHO, Chris and Dani ensured themselves and their family a brighter future. “ECHO really does help, they are good people, and they care,” Dani shared, “We are just super excited to leave, but super sad to leave at the same time because this place has become our home, and the people are like family.”


Anthony’s world was turned upside down when COVID19 struck. He was working as an in-house caretaker for the last two years when his client was advised by a doctor to limit all contact with others. Within a week, he was made homeless without any foreseeable income. While Anthony was waiting for his final paycheck, his car unexpectedly broke down in Atascadero. Uncertain about where to turn, he searched for homeless assistance in the area and stumbled across ECHO. Anthony arrived at the facility with hopes of receiving a free meal and possibly a blanket. He was able to meet with a case manager and was offered a bed that same evening. Having all of his basic needs met meant Anthony could focus his efforts on employment and self-care. During his time at ECHO, Anthony routinely went to Atascadero Lake Park to meditate and collect his thoughts in between his job interviews. It wasn’t long before he was given the opportunity to work refurbishing furniture. Anthony was only in the program for a month before finding sustainable housing nearby. When asked about his experience at ECHO, he said, “ECHO allowed me to work on myself in a completely relaxed environment. I was empowered to make the changes I needed to rebuild my life in the community I love; Atascadero is my home.”  Colony Magazine | December 2020

Hometown Hero Finds New Purpose

By Sheri Harrison ian, thinking that his battles were behind him. But that was not to be. tascadero’s peaceful Farmer’s Market is Frank was about to go to war again, but not a very different environment than the against a foreign enemy this time. This time his Triangle of Death in Iraq and the battle- battle would be against cancer. However, the unexfields of Kandahar in Afghanistan. After witness- pected benefit of undergoing chemotherapy was ing so much death and destruction and sacrificing that Frank noticed through his research that one much, veterans like hometown hero Frank Wall are of the medicines he was receiving was made from finding a new direction and solace from their war a fungus. That began a journey that has landed him experiences by becoming farmers. in his new role at Farmer Frank. Frank, the creator of Farmer Frank’s Mush“I started to investigate and discovered that rooms, has been working with the Homegrown mushrooms have all kinds of health benefits. I by Heroes program and the Farmer Veteran Coali- started growing them as a hobby, and love to eat tion to become Atascadero’s latest gourmet mush- them, of course. Oyster mushrooms have been room farmer. He can be found at Farmer’s Market shown to prevent tumors, and new studies are in Sunken Gardens every Wednesday selling his coming out all the time that show the health beneexotic and brightly colored mushrooms: Pink, fits of eating mushrooms.” Frank shared. Golden, Blue Oysters, Lion’s Manes, and Shitakes. After reading a few books and watching some Frank moved to Atascadero as an adolescent videos, Frank began farming mushrooms on a scale and graduated from Atascadero High School in that allowed him to move beyond hobby farming 2002, became an Army Infantryman at 18, and to becoming a licensed commercial farmer and was initially stationed in Germany after training. selling his products at local Farmer’s Markets and A rapid deployment to the war in Iraq came soon supplying restaurants. Frank explained, “When I enough, and on those battlefields, Frank earned started growing, I converted an old fridge into a the Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart after fruiting chamber. I would check on them several taking mortar round in Iraq, and the Bronze Star times a day, waiting for the pins to form. This led for service in Afghanistan during his nearly 13 to my excitement one morning when I opened the years of service, which included three tours into fridge to see a beautiful Blue Oyster mushroom combat. growing. At that moment, I knew what I would Because of the injuries he received in the war, be doing for years to come.” Frank had to leave the Army with a medical Frank ditched the old fridge, built a grow tenet, retirement after training other infantrymen at Ft. and has since expanded his operation to grow Hood, Texas, and Fort Lewis, Washington; he then enough to sell at the local Farmer’s Markets and returned to the Central Coast. supply local restaurants and wineries. Joining Upon retirement, he was looking the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the to provide stability for his two Homegrown by Heroes program children as a single dad and for has given him opportunities a new professional direction. and shared expertise to keep Frank used his vast military growing his business. Visiexperience to accept a job at tors to his stall at the FarmFort Hunter Liggett as a civiler’s Market can see his proudly


displayed Homegrown by Heroes banner, identifying him as a veteran farmer. “It’s satisfying to hear how much people are enjoying the mushrooms I grow; they are so appreciative,” Frank said. Frank is excited to find varieties of mushrooms to grow and new recipes to share with his loyal customers, like Pan-Fried Oyster Mushrooms, Oyster Mushroom Soup, and Oyster Mushroom Pasta. He hands out those recipe cards to his customers. His mushrooms are in high demand, so he is looking to expand his operation even further. “I’m currently looking to find a more permanent place for my mushroom farming practice and look forward to launching my mushroom jerky in the coming weeks.” When asked about the best part of being a mushroom farmer, after all, he has experienced as a combat veteran, Frank replied, “Doing something on my own, taking a risk, getting the work done, and overcoming the fear of possible failure is the most satisfying experience.” Coming from a man who has faced down this country’s enemies only to battle with his own injuries and cancer, Farmer Frank will likely not only find peace growing his mushrooms, but he will demonstrate the courage to make his fledgling business a big success.  For more information on Farmer Frank Mushrooms, check him out on Instagram by visiting

Happy Holi days ( 805 ) 466-7744

HOME  AUTO  LIFE  FINANCIAL SERVICES December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 17

Shopping Downtown holiday


he holiday season is among us, and it is essential to support our local shops, restaurants, and other retailers within our community. In years past, we may have thought about shopping local during specialized events like Winter Wonderland, Christmas Parades, and Small Business Saturday. However, this year due to the pandemic, many events have been canceled. This, in turn, requires us to make a conscious effort to venture out with our masks on and support our local retailers, and what goes better with shopping than coffee! Small businesses support our local economy, and the money you spend stays within our town and community, improving all of our future. This year more than ever, all of our small businesses need our support in order to succeed. Be sure to visit some of the retailers and coffee shops listed here and others while you shop and support local business owners this holiday season and the upcoming year. Together we will get through this because we are Atascadero Strong.

Retail Shopping


5760 El Camino Real, Atascadero


5983 Entrada Ave., Atascadero @indigochild19

It is recommended to follow the SLO County Safety Guidelines and Mask Mandate; for more information, visit

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5880 Entrada Ave., Atascadero @scissorclothing


5955 E. Mall, Atascadero @malibubrewcoffee


3168 El Camino Real, Atascadero



5965 Entrada Ave., Atascadero @blacksheepfindsatascadero


5870 Traffic Way, Atascadero

6917 El Camino Real, Suite E Atascadero


5915 Entrada Ave., Atascadero


5735 El Camino Real, Atascadero


5955 Entrada Ave., Atascadero


5975 Traffic Way, Atascadero

6005 El Camino Real, Atascadero - In the Carlton Hotel


6570 Morro Rd., Atascadero,


7835 El Camino Real, Atascadero

bloke For more information on supporting local businesses, visit the Atascadero Chamber at

Coffee Shops

5908 Entrada Ave., Atascadero

anna & mom

5890 Entrada Ave., Atascadero


5985 Traffic Way, Atascadero


7345 El Camino Real, Atascadero


22322 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita


5800 El Camino Real, Atascadero @thehopechestemporium Colony Magazine | December 2020

Hidden Springs Tree Farm By Camille DeVaul


his year I think it’s safe to say the holidays literally could not come fast enough. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some chilly nights, fire, and hot cider! What would make that moment even better is a lit up, freshly cut, genuine Christmas tree. And maybe some Dean Martin on vinyl to really set the mood. Hidden Springs Tree Farm in Atascadero, located off Monterey Road, has been a staple in the North County for decades and can provide you the perfect tree for your longawaited Hallmark moment. The tree farm has been a part of family traditions for over 58 years. Family owned and operated, Fred and Wanda Frank established the farm back in the 1930s, and in 1962 Fred Frank Jr. convinced his parents to start growing Christmas trees on a small section of the farm. Fast forward to 2020; the tree farm is now operated by third and fourth generations, the Dobbs. Now with most other holidays that have come and gone throughout the pandemic, this holiday season will look a bit different but with the goal of keeping the annual family tradition alive. In order to keep your tree hunting experience safe and just as memorable as it always has been, Hidden Springs Tree Farm has implemented a few changes due to COVID-19. As Auraly Dobbs puts it, “We’re going back to the classic Christmas December 2020 | Colony Magazine

experience.” To follow COVID safety precautions, Hidden Springs has created the following guidelines: • Mask required while on farm • Discourage groups of more than 8 • Sanitizing stations for saws and carts • No photographers on the property during selling season (Unless you are a family taking pictures of your tree buying experience) • No shaking or bailing (We are not offering these services this year but will provide a free bailing alternative to our customers) • We will have stands for sale. If you own a spike stand, we will be happy to drill it for you, so please ask one of our employees • We will have pre-cut Monterey pines of over 12 ft. available for purchase in our pre-cut area • Brochure with a map outlining a one-way path around crowded areas will be provided • No food or beverages offered • Card payments are accepted, and we will take the exact change • Offering senior hours on Fridays at 1 – 3 pm Families are still welcome to bring their thermoses and snacks to enjoy while looking for their special tree. And homegrown chestnuts will still be sold. A perfect addition to your roasting fire at home. Rainfall this spring was ideal for the trees meaning there’s a large

inventory for customers to choose from this year. “The trees look great,” Auraly shared. There are trees for every budget. All trees that are available for cut down have a tag marked with the price. Families can even visit the “misfit” section as well. Although I don’t think Charlie Brown would quite consider them misfit Christmas trees, I like to think he would be thrilled over them! Being the only "cut your own tree" farm in the area, the farm has been a staple for the community during the Christmas season for generations. What started as one tree lot is now five lots with nine different tree varieties, and every year, they plant their trees by hand after the Christmas season. But even though Hidden Springs Farm did not start with Christmas trees, the driveway to the Franks home was lined with Monterey Pines. One holiday season, they decided to cut down some of the trees and leave them at the end of the driveway for people to take.

Once their tree business began to expand, it became a ‘honk for a tree’ business. “We have this cool old sign over here that says ‘honk if you want a Christmas tree.’ People would just come up and honk, and they would just come out of their house and take their money and get a saw,” Craig Dobbs said. The farm has expanded to 10 acres of Christmas trees and operated by Frank's daughter, Auraly Dobbs, and her family. They continue to work hard every year to be able to provide the cherished family tradition of cutting down your very own tree. Hidden Springs Tree Farm opened on November 27 and will close on December 19, or possibly sooner, depending on inventory. And on the note of Charlie Brown’s Christmas, I think he has a perfect quote for us all to remember this year, “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters. It’s who’s around it.”  Hidden Springs is located at 3202 Monterey Rd. in Atascadero. Visit online at | 19

locals share hope A

s we look back and recognize the inner strength we all had within to make it this far in the most challenging and difficult years of our lifetime, we stop and take a moment to reflect. How did we make it through? What encouraged us to keep going amidst the chaos, fear, and uncertainty? Even though this question will be answered so different among all of us, the one thing we can all agree on is that we could have only made it through this together. One day at a time. One step at a time. You are not alone. Back in March, we started on what seems to be an endless journey into the unknown. Over the year, we have watched as everything we once knew change right before our eyes, and perhaps that was what we needed; please know that we are here for you. We asked a few local residents to share their words of hope and love after such a challenging year. Here is what they shared, words of encouragement reminding us all that we are in this together no matter what tomorrow may bring.

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Deanne LeMoine-McEwen, Atascadero “Hope is a 4-letter word...for some people, it truly is. But for me, those 4 letters lead to confidence, assurance, and light when it’s dark. Two years ago, I was given an aggressive cancer diagnosis. Why me, why now? Questions that can never truly be answered. Life is fragile, life is hard, and it just keeps coming at us. My faith is strong, so that hope will never be a 4-letter word.”

J.T. Camp, Atascadero “Something we can always count on despite trying times is the fact that our community is close-knit, and we can count on one another for support, encouragement, or a smile. We are grateful for the small-town feel we have and the fact that there is a friendly face at the gas station, local business, or restaurant. Knowing you can find a friendly face nearly anywhere in town is encouraging as it helps us to keep moving forward.”

Colony Magazine | December 2020

Jeannie Malik, Atascadero “2020 has been a remarkable year, one that revealed the best in many community citizens. Their support of online local fundraisers, the reverse Colony Days Parade, sustaining restaurants with take-out orders, and for me personally, the unwavering support when Dancing with Our Stars had to be rescheduled until September 8-11, 2021. Our community united, adapted, and shared their time and resources on many levels. I reflect on 2020 as a year of possessing an “Attitude of Gratitude” for the opportunity of living in Atascadero.”

Melissa Johnson, Templeton “Despite lasting for what has felt like a decade, 2020 is almost over. While this has been an intensely trying experience for most of us, it’s that time of year when we look back with the kind of reflection and reverence only hindsight can offer. This year it seems especially important to celebrate the love, kindness, and compassion that we have all witnessed in one form or another. Hold onto that if nothing else, and remember to choose happiness whenever you have the chance.”

Christa Abma, Atascadero “It has been a wild year, from our 15 days to slow the spread, killer hornets, our kids still on extended spring break, no kids’ sports, travel restrictions, and now, a wild election year. But there are things we can look back on and be grateful for, family time, and lots of it! Being able to be more involved in our childrens’ schooling. Learning different ways to run our businesses to survive. Spending more time outdoors. Buying local and supporting our neighbors! Knowing God can be worshiped, not just at church. 2020 is a historic year that will go down in our kids; history books. It’s a chapter in our novels, but one day we will look back and learn, adapt, and grow stronger from it. This, too, shall pass. Remember to live, laugh, and love!”

Mark Russo, Atascadero “2020 has been an especially challenging year. We have all experienced difficulties with this pandemic, political beliefs, jobs lost, and more sadly, the loss of our loved ones. It has always been my belief and comfort, knowing that light will always shine through the darkness. If you try to recognize the good in people, you will smile more and sustain a warm heart. Share your smile. Help someone laugh. Light will always shine through and with it comes comfort….”

December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 21

Taste of Americana

Barbie Butz Christmas with


here has always been a debate when it comes to the time of day that holiday meals should be served. There is really no hard-fast rule, but in our family, we tried for 3 p.m. to start our gathering, with dinner served by 4 p.m. Of course, we were as flexible as the turkey allowed! Because everything else in 2020 has brought change to our lives, I think serving a brunch will be in order this year. We’ll up the time for serving to 11 a.m. since the suggested hours for brunch are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests can trickle in starting at 10 a.m., allowing late sleepers a little more time to get ready.

The Beverages

Brunch often includes an alcoholic drink, and here’s a recipe to add to your menu, followed by one for a non-alcoholic punch.

Directions: Remove only the colored peel from orange and Ingredients: lemon in long strips with a citrus peeler. Refrigerate • 1 orange orange and lemon for another use. Combine peels • 1 lemon and cranberry-and orange-flavored liqueurs in a glass • ¼ cup cranberry-flavored liqueur or cognac pitcher. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 6 hours. Just before • ¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur or Triple Sec serving, tilt pitcher to one side and slowly pour in • 1 bottle (750 ml) pink champagne or sparkling white champagne. Leave peels in the pitcher for added flavor. wine, well chilled Garnish with a cranberry in the bottom of each cham• Fresh cranberries or citrus strips for garnish pagne glass and a citrus strip. CHAMPAGNE CRANBERRY ORANGE STARTER

WANT NON-ALCOHOLIC? TRY THIS CRANBERRY PUNCH Directions: Pour 3 cups well-chilled club soda into 2/3 cup (6 oz.) cranberry cocktail concentrate (if frozen, thaw completely ahead of time). Makes 3 ½ cups (6 servings).

The Salad

Jackie O’mara, a friend of mine here in North County, sent me this recipe for a sauce that could pass as a salad by adding a half cup of thinly sliced celery.

SANDY’S PORT WINE CRANBERRY SAUCE/SALAD Ingredients: • 1 ½ cups boiling water • 1 (6 ounce) pkg. raspberry jello • 2 cans whole cranberry sauce (I like Ocean Spray) • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained • ½ cup celery, thinly sliced (optional) • 1 cup sour cream • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened • ¾ cup port wine • ½ cup crushed walnuts (optional)

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Directions: Dissolve jello in boiling water, add port wine, cranberry sauce, undrained pineapple, and celery (optional), mix well. Refrigerate until set. Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream—spread mixture over top of jello. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts.

Colony Magazine | December 2020

The Meal

Plan the rest of your menu around your meat. Whether you choose turkey, ham, or chicken, you will want a variety of hot rolls, a couple of side dishes, along with a relish platter and cranberry sauce, of course. This next recipe could replace a potato dish since it contains herb stuffing. However, you might include a simple casserole of scalloped potatoes for those who are not stuffing eaters or use the red potatoes with artichokes recipe included here.


Ingredients: • 3 lbs. Yellow squash, chopped • ½ cup (1 stick) buttered1 large yellow onion, chopped • 2 medium carrots, grated • 2 (10-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup (I use Campbell’s) • 8 ounces sour cream • Salt and pepper to taste • 1 (8-ounce) package herb bread stuffing • Directions: Cook squash in a small amount of water until tender; drain. Spoon squash into a bowl. Melt butter in the saucepan. Add onion and carrots. Sauté until tender. Remove from heat. Add squash and mash. Stir in soup and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add half of the herb stuffing, mixing well. Sprinkle some of the remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish. Add squash mixture. Top with remaining stuffing. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.

RED POTATOES WITH ARTICHOKES AND FETA CHEESE Ingredients: • 2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered • 2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained, cut into halves • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme • 2 garlic cloves, minced • 1 small jar diced pimiento, drained • ½ teaspoon salt • ½ teaspoon pepper • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled Directions: Combine the potatoes, artichoke hearts, thyme, garlic, pimiento, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss to mix well. Spoon into an oiled 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 55 minutes. Spoon into a serving dish. Add the feta cheese and toss to mix well. Serves 6.

To round out your menu, add a dish of fresh green beans cooked until tender and seasoned with fresh lemon juice mixed with melted butter and Spice Island’s Beau Monde seasoning, which I use on everything. Or, serve roasted brussel sprouts. Either of those vegetables will add “something green” to the menu. Next, these bourbon apricot and sweet potato hand pies will fill the bill for dessert. BOURBON APRICOT AND SWEET POTATO HAND PIES

Ingredients: • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped • ¼ cup bourbon • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound) • ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top • 2 tablespoons unsalted buttered • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg • ½ teaspoon cardamom • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt • 2 tablespoons heavy cream • 1 large egg, lightly beaten • Pastry dough

Directions: Place apricots with bourbon and soak for 1 hour until fruit is soft and most of the liquid absorbed— Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil. Bake until soft, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove foil, allow potatoes to cool. Remove skin. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes with apricots and bourbon, sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Mash with a potato masher to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Roll out dough to 1/4”. Cut eight 4 to 5-inch rounds. Place about 2 tablespoons filling on the right side of each round, leaving a ½-inch border. Combine cream and egg and stir. Brush borders of rounds and fold left side of dough over the filling, so edges meet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Cut small vents in the top of hand pies. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate sheet until golden brown. Remove and let cool completely. 

Happy Holiday Cooking! Cheers! December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 23

Business Spotlight

The human bean


offee lovers in the North County have begun to rejoice as the popular drivethru coffee chain, The Human Bean, is now open to those looking for their morning caffeine fix in a quick, efficient manner at 7835 El Camino Real in Atascadero. The Human Bean celebrated its grand opening on Friday, November 20, the first of seven locations. Three will be on the Central Coast, that owners Patt and Vikki Mitchell will open in the next year or two. While this is the first time that owner Patt Mitchell has operated a coffee shop, he is an expert in quality products and has been a vital part of the growing coffee industry for years with his former company, California Natural Products. Patt grew up in Manteca and spent his time as a young man working as a farmer. Following high school, Patt graduated from Fresno State and continued farming until he started

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his own company in 1980. Focusing on delivering quality, natural food products, California Natural Products ended up partnering and providing some of the largest brands with their top products. “The company made food ingredients for all the major companies. Including soups, teas, coffees; we made all the chai tea for Starbucks,” Patt shared. “We were making about 500 different products there and supplying hundreds of companies. At the time, we had 400 employees, and the company was 350,000 square feet of buildings.” However, three years ago, after a lifetime of working behind the scenes as a middle man, Patt sold his company and is now ready to step into the spotlight and reap the delightful benefits that come in the form of smiles while handing a coffee to someone in need. After years of working in the factory setting, the personal connec-

By Connor Allen

tion and relationships with customers and the community have driven Patt and his wife Vikki into opening several Human Bean locations. “We looked around for quite some time, and we were just drawn to this area. We had a second home here for years,” Vikki shared. The new Human Bean owners recently bought a ranch in Templeton and are anxiously awaiting the completion of their new home. Patt announced the next Human Bean is opening December 1 in Morro Bay, followed by a location in Templeton near Trader Joe's. Mitchell will also open a drive-thru in Lompoc as well as three in the Clovis and Fresno areas. The Human Bean started in the Pacific Northwest in 1998 with a commitment to developing the best coffee in Southern Oregon and has grown into the national leader in drive-thru specialty coffee. “We ran across the Human Bean

about three or four years ago, and we really like what they stood for,” Patt said. “Really high-quality products, good service, the whole concept behind this is that you develop a real personal relationship with your customer base. We really like that because you really get to see the end product and the customer enjoying what you just prepared.” The Human Bean will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving up 400+ drinks. You can visit them online at 

Colony Magazine | December 2020

FIVE STAR and rain gutter maintenance! RAIN GUTTERS, M ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR RAIN

By Camille DeVaul

any of us may not think about cleaning or replacing our rain gutters until immediately before, or let’s be honest, after the first rain of the year when you see that waterfall outside your window where it’s not supposed to be! Since 1986, Cindy and David Kennedy, owners and founders of Five Star Rain Gutters, have provided rain gutter services to the entire Central Coast. Thirty-four years later, Five Star Rain Gutters is still a family business with the Kennedy’s children, David Jr. and Melissa, both working for the company. Now with almost 30 employees, the company services and installs rain gutters all over the Central Coast. “From educating our clients and building trust with our contractors, we are proud to preserve homes, hotels, and wineries all along the Central Coast.” Melissa Haydon, daughter of the Kennedy’s shared. Five Star Rain Gutters specializes in completely customized rain gutters. With over 80 colors and six styles to choose from, you can design a rain

gutter that is unique to your style. Five Star Rain Gutters pride themselves in providing quality, “When it comes to our gutters, when we say custom, we mean it! Everything we do is custom. We offer any type of gutter you could dream of for your home, and we can also help design it for you.” Another part of what makes Five Star Rain Gutters unique is everything is hand-cut and customized to your home. Hand cutting their pieces is often not offered anymore by many rain gutter manufacturers, making it a niche that Five Star Rain Gutters has to themselves. Not only does Five Star work with contractors and on commercial projects, but they work directly with customers doing repairs, yearly maintenance, installation, gutter guards, and more. With this year’s events, many people have been secluded at home. This has allowed time for many to finally tackle those “to do” list that they could no longer ignore or put off for later. If you find yourself being one of those people with a new “honey-do” list (most likely inspired by Fixer Upper), replacing your

rain gutters might be on it. Your rain gutters could be the final custom detail your home has been yearning for. And Five Star Rain Gutters has the resources and expertise you need to check those gutters off your list! Despite the challenging year for all businesses across the board, Five Star Rain Gutters has been able to pull through the rough patch and keep thriving and expanding their company. “We haven’t had a slow season, except for this season in five years. This year COVID really brought everything to a halt for several months. We still worked; we kept on all of our employees and did everything we could to keep them working,” Melissa said. The family at Five Star Rain Gutters is thankful for the loyalty and support they have received from their customers, who have ended up feeling more like an extended family than just customers to them. 

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December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 25

Future Trends Post-COVID San Luis Obispo County Office of Education

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done." ~ Marie Curie

Dr. James J. Brescia, Ed.D.



areer Technical Education (CTE) stakeholders across the county are considering what education might look like during and post-COVID. Will schools and postsecondary institutions return to full in-person or utilize a blended approach with online and in-person learning? I have been attending a series of webinars hosted by the Association for Career and Technical Education to discuss key considerations, guiding questions, and emerging best practices. Most business, government, and educational advisors predict that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of work in several key manners. Business, government, and academic leaders are advised to evaluate the impact these trends will have on operations, workflow, and strategic goals. We should identify which changes require immediate action and assess to what degree these trends change pre-COVID strategic goals and plans. One immediate change our Office of Education faced was the SLO Partners Summer/Fall Advanced Manufacturing Boot Camp. The Advanced Manufacturing

Boot Camp adapted to the COVID environment by integrating online instruction, physically distancing the hands-on portion of the instruction, requiring mask-wearing for all students and instructors, health assessments, etc. The flexibility, patience, and kindness demonstrated by the instructors, students, and program administrators allowed the program to move forward. Students completed the program and many were offered employment during the pandemic. The SLO Partners stakeholders understand the importance of increased remote working, expanded data collection related to trends, contingent worker adaptation, changes in employer/trainee roles, and the need for “Future Careers Locally Grown.” A late summer Gartner Research poll indicated that 82% of company leaders plan to integrate some remote or distance work as businesses more fully execute reopening. Several executives are evaluating more permanent working arrangements to meet employee expectations and build more resilient business operations. Organizations are instituting extensive safety measures, limiting face-to-face meetings, eliminating non-essential travel, and leveraging technology for communications. The Gartner Research poll indicated that many businesses are using technology more frequently to moni-





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tor employees with virtual time clocks, computer usage, employee communications, and project completion software packages. Some of the employers indicated productivity increases with remote work policies. The Office of Education has maintained operations continuously during the pandemic, with nearly half of our employees working remotely. Remote work has been completed on time and at a saving to the taxpayer because of reduced or eliminated travel-related expenses. Workplace adaptations have been implemented by many employers as schedules changed, in-person hours varied, and the need for remote access to information increased. Receptionists, assistants, and some customer service employee’s work practices have changed, and roles shifted. Employers are adapting to create some overlap in services, flexibility in work hours, access to

training opportunities, and restructuring to meet customer demand. Sales, public meetings, instruction of students, cleaning of buildings, and preparation of meals have all changed as well. Leaders that have remained flexible are experiencing higher levels of success in meeting operational budgets and workplace demands. The Office of Education established SLO Partners in 2014 to address college and career readiness among the county’s student population. SLO Partners’ mission is to engage business partners and educators in aligning workforce needs with career and college pathways and provide work experience opportunities to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge necessary for success. SLO Partners is committed to collaborating with local businesses and education to ensure pathways for opportunity and skilled local talent. 

Advanced Manufacturing Boot Camp adapted to the COVID environment by integrating online instruction, physically distancing the hands-on portion of the instruction.

We Love You Atascadero.

We’re getting through this together. We’ll be stronger. We’ll be braver. Together. Colony Magazine | December 2020

December 2020 | Colony Magazine | 27

North County Holiday Events


Santa Margarita

ven though this Holiday Season will look different as we continue to navigate through this pandemic, our December 6 cities and community have come together and created Annual Christmas Tree Lighting some safe alternatives to the events we love and look This year the annual Christmas Tree Lighting will be viewed from forward to each year. This is what makes our commuyour car starting at 5 p.m. nities so special and a true testament as to why we all love living here.

Paso Robles

December 5 Super Stocking Drive-Thru December 4 Santa Elves from the Paso Robles Police Department and Recreation Light Up Downtown Atascadero Drive-In! Services will be distributing special holiday stockings filled with toys! Starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Sunken Gardens, with the annual count(While supplies last). From 12-2 p.m. at Centennial Park. down to light up Historic City Hall at “Light up the Downtown Drive-In!” This year, “Light up the Downtown” will be drive-in style, December 6 – 24 all around Sunken Gardens! The gates will open at 5:15 p.m. to allow Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus guests to park and get ready to enjoy wonderful holiday music from a Downtown Paso Robles Main Street Association has invited Santa and collection of AUSD school choirs and bands that will begin at 5:30 p.m. Mrs. Claus to come Downtown and visit with children in the DownThen at 6:15 p.m., enjoy the traditional countdown to light up Historic town City Park Holiday House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is City Hall with our Mayor and Council members, followed by Santa and free. Face masks and social distancing are required. Mrs. Claus making their way around Sunken Gardens on the Model-A Firetruck, wishing everyone “Happy Holidays!” December 12 34th Annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase Glow, Shine, Sparkle Reverse Holiday Parade Presented by Paso Robles Main Street Association between 8th and 21st After Historic City Hall’s lighting, Atascadero High School will launch Street, Drive-thru showcase from 6 – 9 p.m. Visit pasoroblesdowntown. their Glow, Shine, Sparkle Reverse Holiday Parade from 5:30–8 p.m. org for more details. along High School Hill. Each of the school clubs and organizations will be creating a standing float. These floats will be filled with lights to light up High School Hill for families to drive through and enjoy. December 19 30th Annual San Miguel Christmas and Lights Parade December 4 - 6 Help the Grinch and the San Miguel Fire Association spread some Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus Christmas joy this year! Starting at 5 p.m. on Mission Street, traveling Rumor has it that the Claus’ will have a couple of their famous reindeer from 14th to 9th Street. on-site at Sunken Gardens for photo opportunities from 12 – 6 p.m.


San Miguel

December 4 – 25 Trail of Lights The City introduces a new holiday lighting trail map, “Trail of Lights,” for local residents to showcase their holiday lights.

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CALLING ALL KIDDOS This year we are introducing our very first children’s coloring contest! Scan the QR code and print out one or both color page options. If you do not have a printer, you can stop by our office and pick one up at 5860 El Camino Real, Suite G, Atascadero. Parents, please email us a photo of your child’s colored page with their name and age (no last name needed) to us at with your contact information. We will pick three winners on December 21 and publish them in the Atascadero News! Winners will receive a $10 gift card. Happy Coloring and Happy Holidays!

Colony Magazine | December 2020

North County Dance And Performing Arts Foundation Presents

'Nutcracker Ballet ' introduces 'The Nutshell ' By Brian Williams


he annual “Nutcracker Ballet” will go on but will be different as with most events in 2020. North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation (NCDPAF) produces the annual “Nutcracker Ballet.” Instead of having live performances on stage in front of a packed theater, a selected scene will be filmed as a part of a regional video production and available for purchase this year. NCDPAF's stage has been dark through most of 2020 due to COVID-19 protocols that do not allow for large gatherings. Because live theater is on hold this year, the Paso Robles Chamber Ballet (PRCB), NCDPAF's pre-professional ballet company, was invited to participate in a film production called "The Nutshell," directed by Nathan Cottam with Mannakin Theater and

Dance in the Bay Area. This compilation project will be filmed and edited together with Companies from all over the world. “We were disappointed that due to COVID-19 guidelines, we were not able to be on stage in person for much of this year, especially our traditional production of ‘The Nutcracker Ballet.’” NCDPAF officials stated. “We are so excited to have the opportunity to participate in the video and hope you will enjoy it. Thank you to the community for all of your support during this challenging year.” PRCB dancers will be filmed performing the “Waltz of the Flowers” scene as their film project component. Filming will take place on location at the beautiful Tooth and Nail Winery. Cheryle Armstrong, owner of Class Act Dance and Performing Arts Studio and Paso

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December 2020 | Colony Magazine

Robles Chamber Ballet Founder and Artistic Director, is directing the project. The piece is choreographed by Class Act Dance ballet instructor Molly McKiernan. “The Nutcracker Ballet” is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Although what is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot remains the same: the story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. The “Waltz of the Flowers” is a popular piece from the second act of “The Nutcracker.” The Prince escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy greets them. The Prince tells her about their daring battle with the Army of Mice and she rewards them with a celebration of

dances — The Spanish Dance; The Arabian Dance; The Russian Dance; The Chinese Dance; The Mirliton Dance; and The Waltz of Flowers. This would have been the 24th year of the North County “Nutcracker Ballet” production. Traditionally there are six local shows that all sell out and help fund future productions. NCDPAF was started in 1994 with a mission to expose the public to the richness and diversity of the performing arts while developing pride, self-confidence, discipline, and responsibility in the performers. Class Act Dance was the recipient of one of several generous grants presented by the City of Paso Robles to help support local businesses during these challenging times.  Visit for more information, including how to donate to continue to support the arts and when "The Nutshell" video will be available.


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A Year of



The year started with good news; Donn Clickard was awarded the first-ever CSBA’s Board Member of the Year, and Simone Smith introduced us to New Eateries in Santa Margarita and Terrie Banish was named citizen of the year. The Taste of North SLO County introduced several delicious restaurants and gave us insight into what appetizers, entrees, and desserts to try. We enjoyed the annual Tamale Festival, welcomed Casey Printing back to printing some of our publications, and got ready to add pickleball to the Colony Park Master Plan. The presidential primaries took place, and we elected local supervisors in the mid-term elections. We introduced “Best of North SLO County” to the magazines after acquiring the newspapers. We got ready for an exciting 2020 full of events, like the 12th Annual Tour of Paso, Brynn and Brittni Frace’s Memorial Chicken Run, and Senior Sanchos celebrated 30 years! We started preparing content according to our monthly themes and getting ready for a year of beautiful weddings, 5k races, award dinners, and gearing up for the 75th Annual Mid-State Fair. That is when things came to a screeching halt on March 13 with a state of emergency and shelter-at-home order that was put in place to “flatten the curve.”

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Starting in April, we were introduced to the terms “flattening the curve” and “social distancing.” Kids went from Spring Break to what was later defined as “distance learning.” All sports and events were suspended until further notice. Atascadero Strong was a slogan we used as we rallied together and started feeling the effects and aftermath of the national and worldwide economic shutdown. Toilet paper was a hot commodity, and the business crisis was inevitable. PPP and EDIL loans were introduced as the only thing getting businesses through. Unemployment broke a record high due to the lockdowns and businesses having to close. Community Facebook groups offered assistance to those in need of everyday errands, and delivery services for all products became a necessity. Local distilleries shifted their business models and starting producing hand sanitizers. Daily press briefings from our local health officials began, and Dr. Penny Borenstein and Wade Horton became household names. Stories that we wrote all came with disclaimers of social distancing and personal hygiene, and business that we all knew and loved started closing. In May, our Nation was forever changed with a call to end police violence against African Americans; protest and riots emerged throughout the county that would last long into the fall and lead to one of the most brutal election cycles we have experienced in our lifetime and started a divide that only time will heal. Colony Magazine | December 2020


finding a way forward through uncertainty

Having now gone through a year that will be told in our history books, we still are trying to find our footing. We began the year with inspiration and excitement and with “2020 vision.” We had plans of things we were going to accomplish and goals that we were setting with aspirations to help us grow, create, and change. We had set ideas on how the world would keep spinning as it had been with no immediate threat in sight and my how that all has changed. As we take a look back, we share a glimpse of what took place according to what we covered in the magazines. Recalling the historical events that happened over 2020, and as we continue on our path into 2021, we can take what we have learned and decide what is next.



Over the summer, annual events were canceled or adjusted to online or drive-thru versions. Zoom calls were now the new norm, and our kiddos did not go back to school. After the Mid-State Fair cancellation Colony Days introduced a drivethru parade, and it seemed as if this year was going to be placed on permanent hold. Mask wearing outdoors when not able to social distance was implemented, and outdoor dining was introduced in the wake of the colored tier system that the Governor introduced. We celebrated Independence Day like never before, and we looked for ways to get the kiddos out into the fresh air. At this point, what we understand that the novel coronavirus affects the most vulnerable, elderly, and immune-compromised. We are very blessed to live in the area we do with the medical teams we have in place. As we continued through the pandemic, we shifted our magazines’ focus and told the people’s stories who were making a difference. We celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote. We honored our high school seniors that were not able to graduate in a traditional ceremony; however, the incredible teachers and staff came together and created a drive-thru ceremony that the students could enjoy all together. Weekly Cruise Nights formed to give the community something to look forward to, and local businesses found creative ways to keep their doors open. December 2020 | Colony Magazine



In November, we honored our military veterans and first responders after an incredibly challenging year. We looked for hope and love in a time that seemed so fragile and lost. We found hope in our communities’ stories, like why Long Horns live on a ranch aside Highway 101 and Farron Elizabeth alongside Artist Adam Welch’s Resilient Project. Carmen Ybarra’s “Hope Project,” Z Villages continuing to build its incredible addition to our downtown, and NASA and Space X launched Astronauts into space for the second time this year that included a local Cal Poly Graduate. One thing is for sure is that if we learned anything from this year, it is that we are Stronger Together. We may see things differently and take opposite sides on matters, but we do not need to destroy each other. The other side of the coin is that we can choose to make a difference. We can decide to step up and find an outlet where we can help and get involved. It would behoove us to turn off any social media outlets that creates hostility and turn that focus into making a difference in someone else’s life. We are here for you; we want to do this together. Because together we can do anything, together we have hope. | 31

Holiday Blessing


By Dr. Gary M. Barker

he winter months of November, December, and January are times that we as Americans celebrate a season of thanksgiving and joy. As one nation under God, we can positively look forward to God’s blessing as we praise Him by giving thanks during Christmas, Hanukkah, and in the New Year. We all have gone thru difficult times because of the coronavirus pandemic, yet I believe we still have much to be thankful and joyful for this holiday season. As Americans, we have freedoms that are unique to our nation. We are richly blessed with material prosperity. During the holidays, we enjoy having an abundance of food to eat. However, we need to be mindful not to forget about all of these benefits and blessings during times of hardship. We have so many extra things that we enjoy that are far beyond our essential needs. Let’s be careful and avoid being unthankful and discontent when, in reality, we have so much. As I have grown older, I have come to realize


what is the most important thing in life. It is our relationship with God, family, and friends. During the holiday season, we have the great joy of spending quality time with family and friends. I have some wonderful memories of years past seeing our loved ones as we celebrate. My wife and I again will be with both sides of our families this Christmas. What a blessing it is for parents and grandparents to see and visit with children, siblings, and grandchildren. These reunions will bring a lot of joy and happiness. This is why I believe that relationships with people are the most important thing to develop in life. I sincerely believe as a clergyman and Rotarian that hope and love will sustain us. Our hope is based on our reliance and trust in God. At Christmas and Hanukkah, we acknowledge God for His past and present blessings and His miraculous answers to prayer. God doesn’t automatically bless any particular political movement but does bless people who do righteous,

loving, and truthful deeds. Our future hope as Americans will ultimately depend upon our desire to trust in God and behave and conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him. God will bless us when we love each other rather than hating one another, when we forgive one another instead of seeking revenge, when we are truthful instead of being liars when we treat others fairly and beneficially as we would like to be treated. Practicing these behaviors with God’s enablement is our only hope for healing the serious and harmful division we are experiencing as a nation. Our dependence on God is our only hope for healing and unity in our nation. May each of you have a blessed and Merry Christmas, a joyful Hanukkah, and a bright New Year. May the joy and happiness of this holiday season be passed on to everyone we know. 

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Colony Magazine | December 2020

Winter Solstice, Yuletide

Traditional Symbols of Celebrations Held on the Darkest Day of the Year


ire and light are traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year. The winter solstice is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight, and it marks the start of astronomical winter. After the winter solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter as spring approaches. This year, Winter Solstice falls on Monday, December 21, and in the northern hemisphere, the date marks the 24 hours with the fewest daylight hours of the year. Winter Solstice is considered a turning point in the year in many cultures. The day is held sacred and known as celebrating the new solar year's birth, also called Yuletide. Yuletide refers to the time around

the Christmas season, usually from around December 21 until January 1, and dates back centuries. It was originally a way to commemorate the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Though Yuletide's rituals have changed dramatically over the years, some Yuletide traditions remain and have contributed to modern-day celebrations of the festive season. Decorating an evergreen tree was a common Yuletide custom in ancient times, as was giving gifts to friends and loved ones. The Yule Log is another centuries-old tradition meant to symbolize the passing of an old year into a new one, with the promise of hope and happiness. The oak log is usually decorated with evergreen branches, sprigs of

holly, bare birch branches, and trailing ivy vines. A more delicious alternative is the classic French Bûche de Noël, a decadent chocolate cake baked in the shape of a Yule Log and shared with family and friends at a Yuletide gathering. This holiday season, we find peace and love in celebrating together and showing kindness to one another. “May you find peace in the promise of the solstice night, that each day forward is blessed with more light. That the cycle of nature, unbroken, and true brings faith to your soul and well-being to you. Rejoice in the darkness, in the silence, find rest, and may the days that follow be abundantly blessed.” Native American Solstice Blessing by Stephanie Laird. 

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A Special to Colony Magazine

The Little White Envelope A true Christmas Story by Nancy W. Gavin, December 2015


t's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else. Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an innercity church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball, and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent

them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. Mike's smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally disabled youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.” May we always remember what a blessing each day is with our loved ones. Take a moment to be present, to share love, and be a good human. You may not know whose life you will impact when you do. 

Thank you for being #atascaderostrong 13 Stars Digital................................. 35 76 Gas Station.................................. 33 A Heavenly Home...............................9 American West Tire & Auto..................5 Atascadero Pet Hospital................... 13 Avila Traffic Safety............................. 33 Best of 2021........................................9

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Colony Magazine | December 2020

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