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nutrition art inspiration essays

welcome to the farm the staves dear summer the view from here summer salad alaskan made volume three / summer / 2012

Š 2012 Off Switch Magazine All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the editor. Inquiries can be sent to the editor at: Printed in the USA by Publication Design: Katie Michels Cover photos: Katie Michels

volume three


off switch magazine

table of contents







through my lens


Summer reads


the staves


stomping grounds / “SG�

SG: San Luis Obispo


SG: Grand Rapids


SG: Seattle


the view from here



alaskan made


thrifting with starr


dear summer


the creative life

The Journey Home


Welcome to the Farm


Cheers to Juicing


Summer Salad


table of contents


katie michels executive editor, designer, writer, photographer

anna klenke copyeditor, writer

brittany austin writer

Rachel Blakley Ball photographer, writer

Bryan and mae photographers, writer

Starr Crow photographer

meg fee writer

Megan Gilger writer

Mike Gilger photographer

Elizabeth Johnson writer

Julia Manchik illustrator

Kelly Ann Mount writer

Whitney Reeder photographer

Kristin Rogers photographer

Joanna Waterfall illustrator

Jennifer Young photographer, writer

Olivia Rae James

Heather Zweig



interested in submitting to off switch magazine? Visit our website or blog to see the themes for our upcoming issues and view the Off Switch Mag Submission Guidelines document.

websites: / email:



Welcome to the third issue of Off Switch Magazine, folks! With this volume we wanted to expose the idea of “living life without an off switch” – turn it on it’s head and show the true versatility of the phrase this magazine is based upon. Here at Off Switch the goal is to inspire people young and old to pursue their passions, no matter how big or small they may seem. This message typically takes the appearance of interviews with business owners and activists, but with our third go-around we are touching on something deeper, something that goes to the origin of our message. And so I present to you Volume Three: a collection of summer fun wrapped up in the theme of home and togetherness. As you will see in the following pages, this theme can be found in the search for a place to call home, a summer of fun with friends, the importance of family to a successful business, a fresh start, or the realization that home was within you all along. Remember your journey to discovering those things is part of the process, and that you are not alone on that path. Enjoy it. For the person taking the journey of planting roots and allowing them to take hold is already living life boldly, without an off switch.

founder & executive editor



photo: jennifer young

through my lens each issue a theme is chosen, photographers are gathered, and images are submitted...all for the love of photography. the following photos will evoke the heart of this summer volume: a sense of connection between people, Whether it be a shared meal, a warm embrace, or simply a laugh. let’s celebrate one another this season.



Olivia Rae James (top) jennifer young (bottom)


off switch magazine

whitney reeder (top) heather zweig (bottom)

Through My Lens


Summer Reads text: anna klenke illustrations: julia manchik

Is there anything better than a good summer book? One with a beach scene on the cover, a great adventure waiting to be discovered inside the pages, and (hopefully) a happy ending? Even if you’re a serious reader who gravitates towards prize-winning literary fiction for most of the year, summer is the perfect time to lighten up and read some books just because they’re fun. Here are a few of my favorites.

Girls Like Us (2009) by Sheila Weller This biography of singer-songwriters Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon is a must for anyone interested in learning about the women responsible for some of the best American pop music ever produced. Weller provides an intimate look into the personal lives of these three extraordinary women and explores the concurrent development of their musical identities and the feminist movement gathering steam in the 1960s. The surprisingly small world of pop culture at that time is also revealed, as King, Mitchell, and Simon befriend and form relationships with legends such as James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Sean Connery, and the Beatles. If you aren’t a frequent biography reader, don’t worry about not being able to enjoy Weller’s story. A good word to describe this book is addictive – the writing is so engaging that you won’t be able to put it down. And the best way to enjoy Girls Like Us is to buy a greatest hits album for each of the artists to listen to while you read. Birthright (1997) by Kendel Hippolyte I never considered myself to be much of a poetry fan, until I participated in a month-long literature course held on the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Trinidad, and St. Lucia. Turns out that native Caribbean writers are churning out more English-language literature than most people ever realize – and much of it is fabulous, and justifiably angry. Kendel Hippolyte comes from St. Lucia, the same island that produced Nobel-prize winning poet Derek Walcott, and his unique perspective on Caribbean culture and daily life comes through loud and clear in this small but powerful book.

The poems in Birthright cover all of the subjects that preoccupy many Caribbean writers: the effects of colonialism and marginalization on their native cultures, resentment towards the tourism industry that supports their economies, the staggering natural beauty that the islands boast, the question of love, and the pure joy of living. This collection showcases Hippolyte’s flexibility as a poet. He utilizes classical forms such as sonnets as well as songs, raps, and Rastafarian language and imagery. Caribbean poetry is definitely meant to be read in the summer – preferably on a beach – when our climate somewhat approximates the lush, junglelike atmosphere that makes up the tropical world. The poems in Birthright will easily transport you to St. Lucia, where coconut-laden palm trees provide shade for people walking down the street as brightly colored birds fly by. Hippolyte very kindly signed my copy of his book for me. Above his signature he wrote, “For those who love the word, the poet gives thanks. And so the circle is completed.” The simplicity and beauty of his language marks every page of Birthright, a book that every lover of literature, islands, sunlight, and beauty should read. God-Shaped Hole (2002) by Tiffanie DeBartolo Beatrice “Trixie” Jordan was twelve years old when a fortune teller told her that she would meet her soulmate, only to lose him to tragedy. Unsurprisingly, this prediction stays in the back of her mind, haunting her throughout her teenage years and into adulthood. When Trixie replies to a personal ad that reads, “If your intentions are pure, I’m seeking a friend for the end of the world,” and meets Jordan Grace, it

summer reads


seems that she has found the predicted soulmate at last. The only question that remains in her mind is when the tragedy will occur, and what it will be. DeBartolo crafts an irresistible love story in God-Shaped Hole – the kind of love story that every girl wants to be a part of. Trixie and Jordan are incredibly happy together, but the tension in the story builds as the reader realizes that their relationship cannot be neatly wrapped up in a happy ending. While these two characters and their relationship sometimes come across as over-the-top, it’s in a good way, the kind of intense, once-in-a-lifetime relationship that takes your breath away, even if you don’t quite believe in it. I won’t spoil the surprise ending, but say only that the powerful pairing of hearbreak and joy in God-Shaped Hole is a rare gift. This is one of those books that you will revisit again and again, hoping that the story will turn out differently. The Disenchantments (2012) by Nina LaCour I’ll admit it – I first judged this book by its cover… and what a cover! To me, it screams, “This book is so fun and summery and you’ll just love it!” How could I resist? At its core, The Disenchantments is a novel about growing up. The four main characters, Colby, Bev, Alexa, and Meg, take off in a borrowed van right after their high school graduation to go on tour with their band, The Disenchantments. Colby, the lone guy in this group of wild, carefree girls, acts as band manager, tour bus driver, and general problem solver. But Colby has a secret from the other three – he is in love with Bev, and has been for years. The two of them have been best friends forever, and are planning to postpone college for a year and travel around Europe together. Colby can’t wait to spend time alone with Bev and he hopes to help her realize that they are perfect for one another. But what Bev hasn’t told Colby is that she applied – and got accepted – to a prestigious art school. And she’s not going to Europe. When Bev finally admits her true plans for the upcoming year, Colby feels his world come crashing down. He has no alternate plan, no college acceptance to fall back on. And Bev


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refuses to tell him why she lied to him, why she made plans that she had no intention of following through on. As the four friends drive across the western part of the United States, they each realize that they have some serious growing up to do. Now that high school is over and the world is open to them, a lot of things – including their relationships with each other – may get left behind. Colby in particular must come to terms with the huge changes that lie ahead, and learn to look forward into the future rather than back into the past. The Island (2010) by Elin Hilderbrand The house at Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, has been empty and neglected for thirteen years. But when Chess breaks off her engagement and her ex-fiance falls to his death in a rock climbing accident, her mother, Birdie, decides that it would do Chess good to spend some time healing on Tuckernuck. Chess’s younger sister, Tate, and Birdie’s sister, India, also decide to come along to help Chess deal with this enormous loss. The Island tells the story of how these four women gain comfort from each other and from the peaceful beach cabin that has housed their family for generations. The first surprise for Chess is how little Tuckernuck has changed over the years. The second surprise is how angry she is – at herself, at her sister, at anyone who gets in her way. Tate is dealing with her powerful feelings for the young, handsome caretaker who brings their groceries on a boat each week. Birdie walks all over the island looking for a cell phone signal so she can talk to her new boyfriend, who she’s starting to suspect isn’t that interested in her, and India is harboring secret feelings she has for a young female art student that she connected with at her university. As readers, we spend a lot of time on an isolated island with these characters, and it can sometimes be too much. I found myself getting annoyed with each of them at one time or another. But The Island is the perfect summer read, set in a beach community with well-drawn characters and a conflict that needs to be resolved. I loved the languid, summery pace of the novel, the well-written dialogue, and, most of all, the happy ending.

summer reads



a trio of sisters from britain take on the music industry. interview: kelly ann mount photos: rebecca miller

The Staves is an English folk trio comprised of sisters Jessica, Camilla, and Emily Staveley-Taylor. With gentle melodies and meaningful songwriting, the siblings have developed a perfectly harmonized and dreamy sound that will transport you to a different era...a simpler time. After releasing a few EPs over the last two years, The Staves have been embraced by the folk music world, as well as garnered praise from critics and music lovers alike. With touring stints supporting such acts as The Civil Wars, Joshua Radin, and Bon Iver, people all over the world are quickly becoming aware of, and captivated by, these ladies and their graceful singer-songwriter tunes.

When did you decide to pursue music professionally? Have you three always wanted to sing together? We have always enjoyed singing, together or apart. We have all grown up with the same music playing at home and are just very comfortable and natural with each other. We hadn’t really thought that we could make it as a band so singing together was just a hobby for years. A point came when we were getting more and more offers for gigs and playing was taking up most of our time, so we decided to just carry on with that and leave our jobs and take a chance. We haven’t regretted it so far. How would you describe your sound to new listeners? We sing harmonies together so it’s pretty melodic stuff. Asking an artist to describe their music is like asking a mother to describe her children – you’ll never get an honest answer! What inspires your music? Are there certain artists that have influenced/inspired you? Inspiration comes from many different places. We grew up listening to a lot of The Beatles and

their song writing style and harmonies are still an inspiration to us now. On the folkier side of things, Simon & Garfunkel have been an influence – the guitar playing intertwined with the harmonies is so beautiful. If you could collaborate with any artist in music history, who would it be and why? That’s a tough one. We would all differ on that one, I think, but I know we’d all agree on Jack White. He’s one of the greats of our generation. Emily would love to sing along with Dave Rawlings. I would love to add a third harmony line to Simon & Garfunkel purely for my own indulgence, but it would probably ruin their stuff! It would be great to work with someone very different from us with a really ambitious sound so you could come up with something you wouldn’t on your own. Maybe Thom Yorke? What is the songwriting process like for you – spontaneous or planned? Do you all write together or separately? We try to plan song writing time between tours, but inspiration is hard to predict. It’s often spontaneous when an idea creeps up on you, and

the staves

14 often we won’t all be in the same place when that happens. Sometimes it is difficult to express an idea to another person in its early stages so you need to be alone to develop it. Other times it’s a lot easier to throw ideas around together and work on it that way. In May and June of this year, you supported Bon Iver on their North American tour. What did you enjoy most about the tour? The great thing about supporting bands is that you get a free ticket to the gig every night. This was especially good in this case as we had heard wonderful things about the Bon Iver live show. We enjoyed playing in Canada for the first time and visiting different cities in the States. Do you have a favorite memory from past tours? What are some of your favorite things about touring in general? It’s hard to pick a favorite memory. We played in Woodstock recently and it was just the most beautiful place. We walked around a lake and saw a bald eagle flying over. That was very special. Boarding a plane to a new city or country is always such an adventure. There’s so much to explore but so little time, so you end up remembering anything special or extraordinary


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that happened while you were there. So all the best bits. Is it hard being away from family back home when you’re on tour? What are some things you bring along or do to make the tour feel more like home? Is there ever a family-like bond formed with your tour mates? On tour you become a sort of strange, dysfunctional family. With a tour manager to take care of things it’s easy to feel like children again. You form a special bond with the people you tour with – it’s a very intense lifestyle for short bursts of time, and then you return back home to the pace of normal life. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t do it. We always take Yorkshire tea on tour with us, especially to the U.S., as the tea there is just not up to scratch, I’m afraid. What are you currently listening to? St. Vincent. She is very cool. Or is it a they? Your new EP, The Motherlode, was released in April; do you have any other projects in the works for 2012? Yes we do – we are almost done with recording an album. It should be out in September.

Stomping Grounds: 3 cities and the people who love them

San Luis Obispo


The first words that come to mind when

I think of San Luis Obispo are: charming, community, small town, and nature at its best. As a photographer working mostly in the Southern California and Los Angeles area, I tend to gravitate toward the things that are less frequently found in the big city when I’m at home – open fields, under-crowded beaches, vast mountain trails, quiet neighborhoods, etc. I am constantly surprised and fascinated by the endless amount of beautiful trails for running and hiking here in SLO. These trails, along with the clean and numerous beaches, are truly gems...they provide me with peace in the midst of the craze of life that frequently happens upon me. I am drawn to SLO because of the community and their emphasis and aim to focus on local and sustainable farming. There are farmer’s markets every day of the week within fifteen minutes of San cool is that?! Although things have greatly changed in this town in the last five to ten years, the loyalty to small businesses and “mom and pop” shops is still palpable. I love that! This is the kind of town I imagine raising kids in – it’s simple, beautiful, and community driven.

text & photos: Jennifer Young

Not much is needed to describe the beauty of Bishop’s Peak! I run this trail often with my husband and love seeing seasons change through the vibrants colors.

Bob Jone’s Trail is the best paved trail around these parts for running, biking, and long boarding!


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This bridge leads to one of my favorite beaches, Avila Beach. Avila in general is charming – quaint houses, restaurants, places to stay, and a cute farmer’s market takes place every Friday evening right by the beach.

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Meze Wine Café and Market: a SLO spot I love to take visitors. Delicious bites made from fresh and local foods, the finest cheeses and wines, and a charming market with unique food and products.

Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café: the spot in San Luis. They have the best food and drinks – local, unique, organic, and always fresh. stomping Grounds: San Luis Obispo 22

Grand Rapids


Grand Rapids is a small midwest-

ern city, nestled on the west side of the “Mitten State.” Just thirty minutes from Lake Michigan, it is a gem of a place, offering the culture of a larger city in a location that allows an escape into nature – to woods, rolling farmlands, and expansive lakes – with just a short drive or bike ride. The mixture of big city living and small town friendships and landscapes is what has kept me in this city for the past six years. Once I had begun to put down roots in this place, I quickly found that it was becoming home; the first home I had ever chosen for myself. Though a smaller city with only 190,000 people, Grand Rapids has a vibrancy unique to its size. The city is filled with amazing coffee shops, eclectic restaurants, world-renowned breweries and a number of other small businesses that offer a community-centric focus. City pride is strong here, and life in Grand Rapids greatly revolves around a food, drink, and art culture that emphasizes thinking locally. The residents of Grand Rapids band together in beautiful ways to support each other – in their art, business endeavors, and everyday life – and that is something that makes Grand Rapids unique. It is the reason why this city will always have my heart. text: Mae Stier photos: Bryan and Mae

Marie Catrib’s food is sourced from local farmers, and the owner, Marie, welcomes patrons as if she were welcoming them into her dining room at home. Eating here is a must when visiting Grand Rapids. 25 off switch magazine

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The first co-operatively owned diner in Grand Rapids, Bartertown is a vegetarian diner. The menu is seasonal and comes from local farms. They also serve some of the best food in town!

Rebel Reclaimed is a unique store that revamps antique and used furniture into pieces you won’t find anywhere else.

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Washington State has always been

my home, and I’ve lived in the amazing city of Seattle for the last nine years. I love how it can feel so big and yet so small at the same time. I love the coffee shops, the fish, the ferries, the views of the mountains, the trees. I love that we get all kinds of weather – it rains here, but not as much as you’d think. We get sun, hail, snow, and occasional thunder. Overcast days may be the most common, but they’re also excellent motivators for getting things done. Visit Pike Place Market, watch them throw the fish, buy an inexpensive beautiful bouquet. Walk along the pier. Ride the neon escalators at the Seattle Public Library. People-watch at cafés. Eat at an Ethan Stowell restaurant. Go on the art walk the first Thursday of the month. Take a ferry over to Bainbridge Island, and stand out on the windy deck even if it’s freezing. Stroll through the University of Washington campus, especially when the cherry trees are in bloom. Eat at Paseo. Jog around Green Lake. Find a little corner of the city that nobody else seems to know about, and call it your own.

text & photos: rachel blakley ball


Watching the boats in the distance from a field at Golden Gardens.

On a gorgeous summer day, water activities are a favorite pastime at Green Lake.

stomping Grounds: Seattle 32

A rainy day at Pike Place Market.

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Bainbridge Island is a wonderful escape from the big city and is only a half-hour ferry ride away.

The University of Washington campus, just before sunset.

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short story & photo essay

the view from here story: rachel Blakley ball photography: Kristin Rogers Photography model: Jessica Kraus

Uncle Raymond and Aunt June weren’t actually relatives of mine, but my mother always said that they were as close to the real thing as I would ever get. What she meant was that Raymond was practically her brother, so by extension, he was also practically my uncle. We were used to only seeing them once every other year during the holidays, typically in a banquet room at a packed Marie Callender’s. Raymond and June had a son a few years older than me and seven-year-old identical twins. “Your cousins,” my mother would say, as if maybe I would believe it if she said it often enough. I wanted to tell her that they weren’t really family, and that they never would be. I wanted to ask why she wanted them to be, why it was so important to her, but I figured it was one of those adult things I couldn’t possibly understand. In the spring, Aunt June called my mother to announce that they were moving upstate. They’d bought a house in Rusville, about an hour drive from where we lived. My mother danced around the kitchen when she found out – literally twirled and slid across the linoleum until my father asked her to stop. She was making the dining room table shake, he explained, and all he wanted was to eat his chicken and rice pilaf in peace. “But isn’t that just fantastic news?” she asked, smoothing her skirt. “They’ll be so close.” “Yes,” said my father, “But I’ll be more excited about it after dinner.” By the time we visited them, the summer heat had been lingering through each night and into the following day. We drove the hour to Rusville, parked on a street that looked not unlike ours, and emerged from the car. I was tired and hot, even in the lightweight dress that my mother had insisted I wear. “How long are we going to be here?” I asked her, but she was busy inspecting her makeup with a pocket mirror. Nobody answered when my father knocked on their door, but we could hear voices echoing from the backyard. We walked around the side of the house. My mother was cradling a large bowl of potato salad, but she shoved it into my hands when she spotted Raymond.

“Gina!” he shouted, separating from the crowd of tan, slender bodies. He rushed over and kissed my mother’s cheek. All the attention was suddenly focused on us. Raymond and June had apparently invited neighbors from their whole block. There were plastic chairs scattered across the lawn, but all of them were already being sat in or had someone’s possessions marking it as taken. The sharp smell of meat on the barbecue wafted past us. “Beer?” Uncle Raymond offered to my parents, and then to me, “Soda? Lemonade?”

direction, which at the moment was making my cheeks burn. Or was it just the heat? It seemed to be getting warmer by the minute. As if on cue, Uncle Raymond’s twin girls ran in front of us, two bright coral swimsuits blurring by, one girl squirting a water gun and the other squealing. I swallowed dryly and glanced toward the house.

“Well,” I said, and glanced down at the bowl of potato salad in my arms that my mother had forced on me.

The air was cooler inside the house. I went down the hallway, pushed open the last door on the right, and washed the sweat off my face. Their bathroom was small but tidy: a wrapped bar of soap sat in a dry soap dish, towels were stacked on a row of metal shelves installed above the toilet. Someone had cracked open the narrow frosted window, and I could just barely hear chatter coming from the backyard.

“Tell you what,” said Uncle Raymond. “Go on and set that down on the table over there, and help yourself to whatever you’d like to drink. There’s a big cooler right by where Sam is standing. You recognize him, right? Even with that long hair of his?” Sam was his son – my cousin, according to my mother. “Uh huh,” I said. “Can I use your bathroom, though? Where is –” Uncle Raymond laughed. He was always a big laugher, causing people nearby to glance in our

“Go down the hallway, and it’s the last door on the right,” said Uncle Raymond, taking the potato salad from me, and turning back to the rest of his guests.

“Look how tall you both are,” I heard my mother exclaim, probably to the twins. “And so pretty!” I wandered out of the bathroom and peeked into the living room. They’d only moved a month ago, yet the living room already looked well lived in. There was an entire wall covered

The View From Here 38

in framed art and a pile of newspapers tucked between the couch and the side table. I sat down on the couch – sank into it, more like it – and stared at a menagerie of tiny glass animals parading across one of their bookshelves. I stretched and slipped my feet out of my sandals, one at a time, and sighed at the softness of the carpet underneath. When Sam woke me up, it was dark outside. It was dark inside, too, except for the dim lamp that he had switched on next to the couch. “Want to go for a ride?” he asked. My first thought was that my parents had left, and that he was for some reason obligated to drive me home, and I murmured a yes while trying to mentally untangle this problem. It wasn’t a situation I wanted to be in, but if it was my only choice, so be it. He led me outside and over to his truck, and it was then that I saw everyone was still in the backyard. There were lamps lit along the edges of the grass, and I could smell the last whiffs of barbecue smoke. My father was doing some kind of impression – waving his arms about, his voice manipulated – and none of them turned to see us climb into Sam’s truck. “Where are we going?” I managed to ask, even though my mouth was still soft from sleep. “You’re obviously bored being here,” Sam said, and he started the engine and backed slowly out of the driveway, “so I thought you might want to go somewhere else.” As he drove, he fidgeted with several dials until cool air blasted through the vents, sobering me right up from my sleepy state. “Did you know that my mom tries to convince me we’re actually all family?” I blurted out. He didn’t answer right away. Then he finally said, “Yeah,” followed by another pause, and then, “So? My dad doesn’t really have any other family.”

“My parents might be wondering where I–” I started to say, but Sam had already stepped out of the car. He ducked his head back in. “What?” he asked. “I think we should head back.” “Just get out of the car for a second,” he said. “Come on.” I did, and I finally saw where he’d driven us. We were parked high up on a hill, looking down over the city. The dim glow of houses filled the valley, but it was the haphazard bursts of light that got me. Little sparks of blue and white. Firecrackers. The hisses and crackles emerged from rows of miniaturized houses. Backyards glittered. Out there, in one of those yards, both of our parents stood. “See?” asked Sam. He was standing with his back toward me, hands in his pockets. “A beauty, ain’t it?” I didn’t reply. I was mesmerized by the show playing out in front of us. “You’ve come here before,” I finally said. “A couple times.” “At night?” “Yeah – it didn’t look like this, though, obviously. I wasn’t planning on coming up here tonight, you know, until I found you asleep on the couch. Man, you must have been so bored.” He paused, laughed. It sounded, unsurprisingly, like Uncle Raymond’s laugh. “Well, I’m glad I’m here now,” I said.

“It’s fine,” he said.

“Even with your fake cousin?” he asked, but he was laughing. “I know it’s kind of ridiculous. But if it makes them happy…anyway, we can leave if you want. Like you said, your parents are probably wondering where you are.”

There was no more conversation the rest of the drive. It seemed to me that was what Sam preferred, and I was busy silently reprimand-

“Let’s just stay another minute or two.” I said, breathing in the warm electric air, “and then we can go.”

“Oh,” I said. “Look, I didn’t mean–”


ing myself for saying what I had. By the time I worked up the nerve to say anything else, Sam was pulling the key out of the ignition.

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The View From Here 42

Alaskan made text: elizabeth johnson PHOTO: Sue Johnson

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creative non-fiction

The grass was mostly brown with green shoots breaking their way through, and bare limbs on trees were becoming sparsely populated with new, tiny leaves. I’d arrived home just in time to see spring starting to tentatively bloom. After a record breaking snowfall in Anchorage this past winter, over eleven feet, nature was wary of committing to blooming too soon. The sun had already started shining late into the night, though, and the Alaskan summer was clearly on its way. In many ways, Alaska will always feel like home. I don’t know if a permanent return to the Last Frontier is in my future, but as they say, you can take the girl out of Alaska but you can’t take Alaska out of the girl. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that more strongly than during my last trip home. I felt like a little patch of tundra being planted back in its home plot after having been transplanted in Washington. It felt good to sink my little roots back in to the rich soil of home. I could feel my soul humming at the same frequency as my surroundings. As I sat in the passenger seat cruising along the Turnagain Arm, I looked at the tentatively budding greenery and flowers along the edge of the road, clinging to the cliffs. Plants in Alaska are so hardy. They aren’t like the lush green trees of western Washington, the big Ponderosas of eastern Washington, or the large succulent leaves of plants in more southern latitudes. Plants in Alaska are more similar to desert plants. The flowers are relatively small and stay close to the ground, and everything is a bit more unruly and resolute. The plant growth is hardwired to get through the long, frigid, Alaskan winters.

I thought that I felt very much like those tiny, hardy flowers. I don’t imagine I’m anything akin to a bunch of roses or a sprawling field of tulips. I figure I’m more of a Forget Me Not, a small blue flower, whose only claim to fame is the title of Alaska’s state flower. They’re not particularly striking, but built to last through the eight months where the ground is blanketed with feet of snow. I’ve never enjoyed receiving flowers as a gift, particularly roses. They’re much too gaudy and fragile for me. They don’t resonate with my heart. Roses are the beauty queens of flowers, and I am no beauty queen. I have big, curly, tangled hair. My thighs are a significant portion of my body weight, and boast cellulite. I barely break five feet. I would look silly with a huge tiara on my head and an enormous, poofy dress engulfing my small frame. No, I’m no rose. I am a Forget Me Not. My bloom is modest, but I am stronger than any rose. I can last through hardships and bloom on the other side of them, just as beautiful as before, strengthened by the trial. I am thankful for growing up in Alaska. I’m thankful for learning from the Alaskan landscape that beauty is not one thing, and that a rugged beauty is no less stunning than primped and pruned beauty. Being home, I am reminded that my hardy, modest allure is stunning in its own way. While I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to Alaska long-term, my occasional visits home are so refreshing. To once again feel surrounded by a beauty of my own kind. You can take the girl out of Alaska, but you’ll never take Alaska out of the girl.

Alaskan Made 44



photos: starr crow & Jake Nevill

When she’s not busy with school or work, twentysomething Starr Crow from Little Rock, Arkansas enjoys spending her days snapping photos and thrifting her heart out. We asked Starr to share snapshots of one of her outings with us for our summer issue, because what’s better than finding new treasures to make your house a home?

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Thrifting with Starr 46

Dear Summer,

what does the phrase “an american summer� mean to you? we asked writer brittany austin and photographers bryan and mae laubhan that very question. this was their answer:

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Photo essay & creative non-fiction

text: Brittany Austin Photos: bryan and mae models: Lexie and Stephanieoff / The Matthew agency54 switch magazine

I’m sitting on my shaded back porch as I type. My tapping keys harmonize with the trilling birds, and the rustling oaks keep time. The sun has simmered this lazy Sunday evening away — the neighbors are quiet, even the squealy little over-the-fence, backyard voices have softened to the dusk of the day. I wipe the wisps of hair from my forehead and pull at the skirt that sticks to the backs of my knees. The air smells of saline pool water and charred meat. The old green swings sway in some ghostly breeze; sturdy flowers erupt from soil beds. The earth is still, and somehow greatly wild. In a word, summer. Sometime at the end of May, summer alights onto the surface of my spirit. My head, heart, kidneys, and toenails whisper about the changing season. I’m sure you know the feeling — that the season has somehow arrived inside of yourself first, while the outside signals lag a bit behind. But now it is July and the season we urge on is here. The world hums with bees and revived ceiling fans, life is lit by clear navy skies, and everything seems more possible than not. Summer is all-the-way here. And it will be only what I make it. Dear Summer, dress me in carefree — in nautical stripes and loose, transparent tunics. In boots on mountain peaks, shades in the city, and the widest-brimmed hat in the sand. I’ll find you in there, Summer, in the sand and in the crushing ocean, on beach towels and inner tubes. You are in the buoyant lake water and on the tips of thin lodgepole pines. You are the snap of smoky bonfires and the sizzling air over hot asphalt. Push me out of doors to lie in the grass. I won’t mind if the itchy blades find their way down my shirt and into my hair. I would wear them as precious gems forever if I could. I’d breathe in the lush rawness of the season forever, if I could.

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Summer, tattoo my skin with spatterings of sun. Stain the soles of my feet with the mud of the earth and a lust for adventure. Summer, fill me up. Fill me with food from carts and stands, food propped on sticks and in cones. Nourishment has been plucked from the soggy ground, and gobs of earth cling to each strawberry and string bean. I will let the water of melons drip down my chin and pool at my wrinkled collar. It will dry sticky and sweet, perfuming my summer-worn body. There are bugs and prickly weeds, but I won’t be afraid. Summer is brave — I am brimming with bravery and brashness. Fill me with ideas. I will read books, see films, and hear music that I deem too silly or too somber for any other season. Fill me with optimism and new philosophies. Fill my white sails with bright wind, that I can ride the cooler remainder months with grace and vigor. Summer, remind me of my freedom. I have celebrated with shaved ice and sparklers, all under the red glare of fireworks in the black night. I sang to my red, white, and blue country loudly, really meaning those star-spangled words on that one day. But I’ll celebrate with clearer ambition, bigger plans, and renewed excitement too. I will see, finally, that each possibility is mine. That I can be a gypsy, a hitchhiker, a bandit of life. I will burn more brilliantly than any season before. Summer, free me. Because soon, the warm moments will be days, will be weeks, will be months. In early September, I will recount the stripes, the fruit, the errant loudness. Summer will have been an instant, but a life all its own — a softly still and greatly wild life.

Summer is all-the-way here. And it will be only what I make it.

Dear Summer 50

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Summer will have been an instant, but a life all its own — a softly still and greatly wild life.

Dear Summer 54

the creative life:

INTERVIEW: MEGAN GILGER PHOTOS: Mike Gilger / weber photography

The journey of an artist creating a life can be a long, tedious, and beautiful one. This kind of journey can tell a story of the deep passion and drive it takes to turn a craft into a living. Cory Weber, the owner and eye behind the lens of Weber Photography, has worked hard to make a life he feels more than just proud of, but also joyful and thankful for. Living and working in a small coastal town in northern Michigan, Cory is raising a family full of love, honesty, and acceptance, all while creating a livelihood out of his passion and eye for capturing the beautiful landscape of northern Michigan. Beginning in 2009 he set out to create a business that would be set apart from other studios by focusing on his family and the business being friendly to living life as a father and husband. Now with a prominent studio located on Lake Michigan in Bay Harbor, Michigan, he is seeing his dreams come true. Raising a family where he grew up and has so many memories, there is no doubt this is where he is meant to be in life. The long summer days, the laid back afternoons at the beach, and the untouched dunes along the coast of Lake Michigan are what Cory calls home and where inspiration abounds.

What brought you to becoming a photographer? What made you realize this was what you wanted to do? So much of why I am a photographer has to do with where I live. Northern Michigan is a truly amazing place, and for years (even before I was a photographer) I’ve felt compelled to capture its beauty. One night I was up late watching PBS during one of their pledge drives and saw a documentary about a photographer who retired from National Geographic to live in northern Minnesota and take photographs of the place he called home. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized he was a lot like me, living in a place that looked very similar to where I lived. I immediately thought, “I’m going to do that!” I never looked backed. Making a passion into a business is a very hard transition for some. How did you make it happen? I was working as a carpenter while I developed my skills as a photographer and my photography business. Since I didn’t go to college for photography, I knew I had to dedicate every spare moment to learning more about the technical aspect of photography as well as the business of photography if I wanted to be successful. I did this for a few years until I was working 40 hours a week as a carpenter and 50-60 hours a week as a photographer/business owner. After 3 years of very hard work, dedication, and some extreme faith on the part of my wife, Ann, I made the transition to being a full-time photographer. What has been the biggest challenge within that transition? The most difficult part of making the transition has been trying to keep myself from working all the time. With all the work it took to get my busi-

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ness to where it is today, I inadvertently turned myself into a work-aholic. I have to try daily to make choices that are family-centric rather than work-centric. As someone who is very in love and focused on his family, how have you built your business to accommodate them and your desire to be present in their lives? I have two wonderful children and a beautiful wife whom I think the world of. After becoming a father, I was suddenly hyper-aware of what an important job that was and how it paled in comparison to any other job – including my own. My wife and I have always made our decisions based on what is best for our family and our kids. This has had an effect in all areas of parenting from what food our kids eat and what TV shows they watch to who they spend their time with. We have always felt that our kids are ours to raise and we cringe at the idea of someone else getting to spend all day with them. That being said, they are always with one or both of their parents. You were born and raised on the shores of northern Lake Michigan. What made you want to raise your family and build your business here? Why not somewhere else? After high school I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Newark, Delaware, and East Lansing, Michigan and have traveled quite a bit through the U.S. It was through my travels and experiencing other places that I made up my mind to call northern Michigan home. If you haven’t grown up near a large body of water like Lake Michigan or the ocean then you probably won’t understand what it means to be away from it. When I was away I missed being able to go down to the edge of Lake Michigan and look across and see nothing but the clear blue wa-

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ter fading into an infinite horizon. It’s a big deal to me!

from the creative side is to keep pushing myself and never settle for the status quo.

This area has been the background to many of your gorgeous shots, but why else is northern Michigan unique? The people. In all the places I have lived, people are never quite as warm and friendly as they are in northern Michigan. I’m not sure why that’s the case, but I know a lot of people that ended up living here solely because of the attitudes of the people here. It’s infectious to be around nice people!

My plan for the business is to have one of the most sought after studios in all of Michigan and beyond. I’d like to have a few photographer teams working all over the state as well as abroad at any given time of the year.

Where do you go when you need inspiration? Which places inspire you the most? Leelanau County, and more specifically the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is a 25-mile stretch of preserved public land that includes some of the most stunning landscapes you’ll find on this earth. Sandy beaches, deep blue water, and sunshine is all I need to be inspired. There is a fine line you walk between being a business minded person and being an artist. How have you found it easiest to achieve that? It’s not easy at all! It has been one of my largest struggles to make a creative mind think analytically. I read...a lot! I am not naturally a business minded person, in fact, I was about as business illiterate as it gets. I knew pretty early on that if I was going to not be the typical starving artist I was going to have to work really hard on personal development. Reading books on business has been my saving grace! In the next few years what do you hope to accomplish in life as a creative person, as a business owner, and as a father? When I became a photographer I said, “As soon as I get bored I’m done with photography.” I’m still not even close to being bored, and with as many possibilities as there are for the art form I don’t imagine I will ever get bored. My main goal

As a father, let’s just say I’m going to be able to spend more time with my family during the summer months. I also have a goal to spend the offseason sailing in the Caribbean with my wife and kiddos. I just need to learn to sail first! So many people can relate to your situation in life. Are there a few words of wisdom you wish you could have told yourself 5 years ago when beginning Weber Photography? I would say to that guy, “Don’t waste your time trying to be someone you think clients want you to be, just be yourself and own up to your faults and mistakes and then fix them.” Being a father has taught me many things and one of the unexpected lessons was quite simple yet profound. Kids don’t care about anything but who you are. They don’t care what you’re wearing, what your income is, what car you drive, if you’re popular, or what high-profile clients you have. They are only interested in your genuine character. Kids want to know if you’re a serious person or if you’re fun, if you’re mean or if you’re nice, if you’re selfish or if you share, if you’re a liar or an honest person. That’s all that matters to them and what’s more is that when you get right down to it, that’s all that matters to anybody! Young or old, in business or in friendships! Being genuine in business seems like a pretty elementary concept but you’d be surprised how far your genuine character can take you! Oh, and the last bit of advice would be, “Never, never, never, never, never, never under any circumstances give up!”

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The Journey


text: meg fee illustration: joanna waterfall

creative non-fiction

In the fourth grade I went to the rodeo with my friend Rachel Keenan. The two of us climbed onto the Sizzler, a spinning contraption in the parking lot outside, and just as I turned to complain that it wasn’t spinning and sizzling fast enough, the thing started moving with such force that I couldn’t lift my head from the seat. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard. I’m not sure why I’ve been thinking about that moment of late, but I have. And I’ve been thinking about how just after my college audition for Juilliard I took a cab with my mother to the airport and fell asleep with my head in her lap. These are the moments that make a life. These small, seemingly insignificant moments that only in hindsight can a person point to and say yes, that moment there – that was a really good day. The night I moved I sat on the floor of my new apartment, boxes everywhere, the bedframe pushed up against one of the curtain-less windows. I was freshly showered with a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc next to me. It was the end of an impossibly long day in which, with the help of my two best girlfriends, I packed everything of worth into a U-Haul and hurtled south to Brooklyn, where we then pushed and pulled and dragged all that worth up three flights of stairs into a tiny studio apartment that leans, just a little, to the right. We did it ourselves, the three of us, Kim and Ashlea and me. And at some point during the worst of it Ashlea made me promise that for the next move I’d hire a company and we’d sit in lawn chairs drinking sweet drinks with small umbrellas while we watched as someone else did what we were doing now. Stuck between the second and third floor, my arms shaking under the weight of a box of books I now wasn’t sure I needed, I gave in: yes, next time, yes – but please God, don’t let that next time come anytime soon. There were countless moments during the day in which I thought, for sure, we wouldn’t make

it – we couldn’t possibly come out the other side. So at the end of it all, that box of books tucked safely away, we each poured a glass of wine, took a shower, and readied ourselves for a celebratory dinner. Even as it was happening, I knew. Even as I watched the girls search through my clothes and put on makeup and laugh, I thought, well, this here, we’re living through the best of it. This is one of those moments. It was remarkable in that hindsight wasn’t necessary. I could feel the moment printing itself on me even as it was happening. A tangible sort of happiness. I don’t remember much of what followed – what we ate once we finally got out the door or what was said as night crept towards morning, but I do remember that at the end of it all, in those slow and sacred hours when the night is a particular sort of black, the sky opened up and it rained. A cleansing. A fresh start. A new world. I moved to New York at the age of eighteen and have spent the subsequent eight years here looking for a home – searching for a place where those moments that make a life – those moments that occasionally happen at the rodeo or in the airport or after an impossibly long day – could accumulate, take root, and grow. The night of the move, Kim, searching through my stuff for a pair of shoes, asked in which box I had put my high heels. “There isn’t a box,” I said. “I don’t own any.” “–because I need some for this outfit,” she continued, only to stop, turn her head. “What do you mean? What do you mean you don’t own any?” “I just – well, I don’t.” “What?!” She screeched. “Why?” “Because I don’t like them. Don’t worry about it, girls in Brooklyn don’t wear heels,” I finished.

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This isn’t entirely true. Girls here wear clogs and platforms and winter boots well into the summer months, but heels – the kind of heels that Kim was talking about – you’d be hard pressed to find them here. Perhaps this is one of the ways I knew that after eight years of Manhattan living maybe Brooklyn was the place to be. No high heels and an abundance of trees. Now that I am here in this small neighborhood with which I am undoubtedly, unquestionably, desperately in love I wonder why I didn’t move sooner. But the thing is, I didn’t know at eighteen that I would be the girl to eschew high heels. Didn’t know I’d be the girl to use the word eschew. Didn’t know I’d wake each morning and make myself a latte. Didn’t know it’d be men with dark hair and deep-set eyes that would invariably undo me. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know heartbreak. I didn’t know loss. And I sure as hell didn’t know failure. And without these things I knew very little of myself. It has taken eight years and many, many mistakes to piece together a picture of who I am and what I want. It is upon these things that a home is built. I used to think that the I-don’t-knows were the point of this life. Which is to say the things that transcended understanding were what gave meaning to this earth-bound existence. But as I get older (and, I hope, a little wiser) the I-don’tknows don’t hold so much sway. I like not only to love something, but to know why I love it – to be able to say why I love it.

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The area in which I now live – the area I will proudly tell people I am now building a home in – well, it was love at first sight. And immediately I knew I could explain and give voice to my wonder: the trees – the explosion of green, the Catholic church one block south, the absence of tall buildings, the front yards and back yards and corner bars, the pace with which I naturally walk here – slower – markedly different from the speed I use to dodge tourists in midtown Manhattan. Eight years ago I would have gotten off the train at Carroll Street and I would have been smitten, but I couldn’t have told you why. I only know now – I can only say now because I know myself. Because I’ve circled back to that girl I was at five years old, at eight – the one who without fear got on the Sizzler – the one who at seventeen chose a conservatory theatre program over an Ivy League education – a fearless creature was she: a girl who knew she’d always take trees over concrete; a girl not interested in bright lights or sky-high heels or the cutout of a city skyline; the girl who would grow up to fall in love with a small and diverse neighborhood, who would love the old New York with its cobblestone streets and turn of the century charm. Eight years. It took eight years in Manhattan to build a home within myself. To forget who I was and what I knew and what I wanted so that I could be surprised and delighted and totally in awe as I journeyed back to myself. I didn’t move to Brooklyn any sooner because I wouldn’t have known it was for me. The eight year old in me would have known, yes, but I had yet to reclaim her. And now that I have, all I can say is, holy hell it was worth the wait.

welcome to the farm text and photos: Katie Michels assistant: sue michels

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Farmer Wayne Adams is the face behind a newly converted organic vegetable farm in the small town of Sugar Grove, IL. With a successful past in the automotive industry, and many accolades to his name including over 200 awards for metal fabrication and custom paint for cars and motorcycles, Adams left it behind fourteen years ago to pursue a life of farming. Prepared to tackle whatever obstacles come his way, Farmer Wayne, as his customers call him, is ever certain that Mother Nature will not let him down. I had the privilege of chatting with Wayne as he guided me through the property known as Blackberry Creek Farm. Read on for a peek into the heart of a man so clearly living life without an off switch:

After decades constructing and repairing motorcycles worth as much as $120,000 and even owning his own automotive business – Scottsdale Auto Body – for seven of those years, it all became somewhat futile to Wayne. Sure, there were customers who appreciated their new vehicles, but there were so many more who didn’t. In some ways, he felt that he was practicing a trade with no benefit for the human race. So despite his success, Wayne chose to seek more meaning in his life and return to his roots growing up on a dairy farm. While living in Arizona with Debbie, his wife of nearly thirty years, Wayne began running a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program on the farm he was keeping. Together Wayne and Debbie successfully farmed in one of the most desert-like conditions in America. However, after thirteen years of farming in Arizona, Wayne began searching for a new adventure, land to till, and crops to sow. Meanwhile, businessman Brett Walrod was searching for an enthusiastic farmer to convert his family farm from GMO corn to its organic roots. The two men found each other online via an agriculture web-

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site, began chatting, and soon enough Wayne flew out to meet with Brett and his business partner to talk logistics. Clearly the meeting went well. Wayne and Debbie traveled across the country in their motorhome and have been living on Blackberry Creek Farm for the past year, prepping and preparing the soil and 1842 farmhouse for planting and living. At sixty years young, Wayne is grateful for his good physical health and ability to work long hours on BBC Farm. With nearly thirty of the forty-nine farm acres tilled and planted with 375 varieties of vegetables, Wayne needs all his energy intact. Most days he wakes at 5a.m. and eats dinner at 9:30 or even 10:30 at night. With just three people working the farm – himself, Debbie, and his farm hand, Gary Young – each day is filled with hard work and countless tasks to complete. He sagely pointed out to me that, as a farmer, work never takes a day off. Plants are similar to children in that they always need tending, and weeds need pulling. There’s just no way around it. But who would go into farming blind to those realities? Certainly not Wayne Adams. If any-

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thing this scruffy-looking, warm-hearted fellow has a child-like excitement for the good he can do at BBC Farm. Upon my arrival at Blackberry Creek Farm on a Thursday evening just before sunset, I took notice of the colorful flowers in the greenhouse and the delightful sign just inside notifying visitors to call Wayne and he would “come running.” And just as I snapped a photo of that sign, come running he did. Or rather, riding the tractor he had just repaired, putting his past career to good use. Clearly delighted with his successful project, Wayne climbed down and showed me around the property for nearly two hours. We chatted about his reasons for choosing to become a farmer. “Something fourteen years ago told me that this is how I need to end it, if you will, to make it go to the end of my time. It’s a neat thing, far neater than any cars or motorcycles or Rolls Royce’s…or anything I’ve ever done.” How so? Gratification. “There’s not a whole lot of vanity or arrogance in vegetable farming,” noted Wayne. “I’ve seen a lot of blatant vanity, guys with way too much money,” he said. “Because of what I’ve accomplished in my life with cars and motorcycles, somehow I feel I’m going to accomplish some…pretty incredible things [at Blackberry Creek Farm].” Countless plans have been conceived for the future of BBC Farm, including a fruit and berry orchard in the fall sporting fruit trees with five colors of apples on them. Educational tours and seasonal activities (think hay wagon rides and pumpkin picking) are also anticipated in the coming seasons. Wayne noted that it was a highlight for him, a man without a high school diploma, to be leading a class of students through the farm, sharing his knowledge with them. That sort of personal connection is what Wayne thrives on, and it was inspiring to listen to him relate the experience. He said that if just one of those kids chooses to become a farmer or keep a garden when he or she grows up, it would have all been worth it. The responsibility Wayne takes for educating and feeding his customers is obvious to anyone who talks with him. “I wouldn’t

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grow anything I wouldn’t eat,” he told me. Not only does he stand by the food he grows, Wayne is also determined to bring back the idea of the “family farm.” As he put it, “I try to get to know all my customers, not by number or box size… it’s all about knowing what they like.” With BBC Farm’s CSA (a program in which locals pay to support the farm and in return receive weekly produce from it), Wayne has the perfect opportunity to share the family farm experience with his neighbors. When the farm has a dry patch, so do the customers, thus giving the phrase “we’re all in this together” a whole new meaning. Guided by that spirit of togetherness, Wayne has built his customer base significantly in just his first year. Not only do CSA customers receive produce and herbs, they also have the option to buy flowers, eggs, and organic honey. Three hundred feet beyond the end of the field, near the creek BBC Farm was named after, live a half million honeybees. On the opposite end of the farm 110 chickens have a half-acre to free range. After meandering down the aisles of tomatoes, trombone zucchini, bush beans, sweet corn and popcorn, Easter egg radishes, sweet potatoes, and more, Wayne introduced me to Debbie and her parents and son who were visiting from Arizona. I stopped to see the chickens (who were plump and happy, in case you were wondering) and said hello to Wayne and Debbie’s four rescue dogs. After that it was time to say goodbye to a pleasant evening spent learning about a person so passionate about his work. Wayne walked me back to my car, and gave me an open invitation to visit any time I liked. “Bring your friends,” he said, and I just might take him up on the offer. As I drove away from the farm, stopping first to capture the glow the sunset had cast over the property, I rehashed my interview with Wayne. It’s amazing the opportunities we have in life to learn from one another, to hear people’s stories and take lessons from their experiences. A sense of optimism and dedication to the craft you love is what I took from my time with Wayne. He said to me, “I have no idea what I’m going to accomplish [here], but it’s gonna be pretty good.”

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Cheers to


recipes: modified from the juicing bible photo: olivia rae james

Fruity Mix Watermelon Cantaloupe Orange Pineapple

Veggie Wonder carrot celery cucumber zucchini beet

Orange You Sweet orange carrot ginger root granny smith apple

Beet ‘em to the Punch beet granny smith apple carrot spinach

Green Magic Spinach Kale Beet Celery Granny smith apple

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Summer Salad three ways

recipe: Katie Michels photos: Heather Zweig

Black Bean Summer Salad 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped 1 cup chopped tomatoes, unpeeled, seeded 1 medium avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes ¼ cup diced onion ¼ cup chopped green onions ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Dressing: 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon salt pepper to taste pinch of cumin

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl until mixed, pour over black bean mixture, and gently stir to incorporate. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to marinate.

Mix it Up! 1) Serve as is for a delicious side dish. 2) Fold into a 2 or 3 egg omelet and top with feta cheese. 3) Top a bed of lettuce with this salad for a tasty summer lunch! (Pictured above)

Summer Salad


Off Switch Magazine — Volume 3  

*** Now releasing all volumes in full online. This edition was originally released as a multi-page preview on March 22, 2012 *** We believe...