August · September 2019
Healthy ‘Little Humans’ harnesses parenting wisdom from the community
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Vol. 4 | No. 3
6 Real Connections
32 Endurance athlete Rob DeCou swims 31 miles to help stop human trafficking
10 Stonewall 50th Anniversary Block Party @ TBWA\Chiat\Day
28 Chill out with Angelica, a cat who loves peace and tranquility
12 “Hatshepsut” @ Cinemark Playa Vista
14 Playa Vista Mom’s Group Annual Summer Party @ Concert Park
3 6 5 Tips for helping your kids transition back to school 32
FOOD People 16 New documentary “Little Humans” focuses on empowered parenting 22 Pop artist Kenny Scharf paints a new art installation at The Bluffs 24 A Voice for Guac: Father of Parkland Shooting victim speaks out
38 The Conference Room offers a modern twist on old-world food 42 Make your own healthy version of “Chunky Monkey” nice cream 38
Events 46 Learn how to make your own papier- mache mask in a hands-on workshop
ON THE COVER: Osiris Chan at The Lawn. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner. Design by Michael Kraxenberger.
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Ed i t o r ’ s N o t e
hen I started editing this magazine more than three years ago, I was excited for the opportunity to work in print — publishing a glossy magazine is a rare opportunity for a writer these days. But what I didn’t expect was to make real connections with the people here. It’s been an unexpected blessing to have people in this community show up and support my writing outside of the magazine. I feel humbled and grateful. A new connection for me in this issue is husband-and-wife filmmaking team Renee Airya and Akira Chan. They share their unanticipated journey into parenthood that inspired their new documentary “Little Humans.” More than an educational video for parents, it harnesses the Playa Vista community to share wisdom and find ways to offer support. As fall approaches, I feel lucky that Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist Rachel Tomasian agreed to share her wisdom about dealing with anxiety kids might face about going back to school. It’s a must-read for all parents. We have a new recipe contributor this issue. Her name is Amanda Prince and her passion is cooking and food styling. I’m excited to share her recipe for a homemade version of Chunky Monkey ice cream with you. Peter Georges is opening his third restaurant at The Bluffs called the Conference Room, and the salmon and mac-and-cheese are to die for! I’m planning to take a few “meetings” there myself that may involve a discussion about a great craft cocktail. I also had the chance to see Sonia Machado-Hines’ new film “Hatshepsut,” about the female Egyptian pharaoh who ruled as a man thousands of years ago. It’s an inspiring story for modern times as we all continue to explore identity. Getting to speak with street artist Kenny Scharf about the art he installed behind our local blue mascot BFF was the highlight of this issue for me. His kooky, playful characters transform a simple parking garage into a place that engages the imagination — a quality highly valued in this community. As always, I hope you’re enjoying your summer along with this issue of Playa Vista Direct. Shanee Edwards Managing Editor · email@example.com
Managing Editor Shanee Edwards Art Director Michael Kraxenberger Contributing Writers Lara J. Altunian · Christina Campodonico Stephanie Case · Richard Foss Jessica Koslow · Brian Marks · Robyn Paris Amanda Prince · Andy Vasoyan Lawrence Yee Contributing Photographers Jake Ahles · Inae Bloom Courtnay Robbins · Maria Martin · Shilah Montiel · Zsuszi Steiner Emily Hart Roth Graphic Designer Kate Doll Account Executives Renee Baldwin Kay Christy Rocki Davidson David Maury Senior Editor Joe Piasecki Associate Publisher Rebecca Bermudez President Steve Strickbine
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community Photos by Maria Martin
Stonewall 50th Anniversary Block Party @ TBWA\Chiat\Day To celebrate LGBT Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, five local advertising agencies — TBWA\Chiat\Day, 72andSunny, R/GA, Media Arts Lab and Deutsch — joined together for a block party that focused on the theme “Thanks for Coming Out.” The tunnel from the iconic yellow gatehouse into the TBWA\Chiat\Day offices was painted with a rainbow and lined with photos and information about numerous unsung heroes from the queer movement. More than 300 people from the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Greater Los Angeles advertising community attended. Performances from sassy local drag queens entertained the crowd as they sipped cocktails and ate burgers from the In-N-Out food truck. “We think it’s important to harken back to the history of the movement and try to educate folks about people we might not know, but we’re standing on their shoulders thanks to their activism,” said Jeremy Gozzip, a junior designer at Deutsch and one of the event’s organizers. — Shanee Edwards 10 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
Drag queen Billy L’Amour dances with strategically placed feathers
The advertising community enjoys music and performances at the TBWA\Chiat\Day offices
Billy L’Amour performs as Marilyn Monroe with a fog machine
Deutsch designer Jeremy Gozzip celebrates with a cocktail and a fan
A boy toddles past a classic car decorated with rainbow flags
Billy L’Amour uses her gloves to entice a young man
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community Screening Photos by Maria Martin
“Hatshepsut” @ Cinemark Playa Vista Local filmmakers and Egyptian enthusiasts gathered on June 10 for a private screening of the short film “Hatshepsut” at the Cinemark Playa Vista. Starring Kelsey Scott and Terence Bernie Hines, the story is inspired by the real female Egyptian pharaoh, born in 1507 BCE, who dressed as a man and wore a false beard. The film’s director, Playa Vista resident Sonia Machado-Hines, says she was attracted to Hatshepsut’s story because “she was a badass woman choosing to operate in a man’s world on her own terms.” She also hopes Hatshepsut’s success as a leader will inspire other women to, “stand up and be recognized.” The screening was followed by a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers, who then celebrated at a reception at neighboring Urban Plates. If you’re interested in seeing the film, it will be showing at the Laemmle in Santa Monica the week of Sept. 13. — Shanee Edwards 12 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
Kelsey Scott as Hatshepsut The filmmakers at a Q&A after the screening A packed audience at Playa Vista Cinemark Producer/actor Terence Bernie Hines (right) speaking with guests The cast of “Hatshepsut” in a photo from the film (left to right) Cassandre Ursu, director Sonia Machado-Hines, Adrian Ursu, Ingrid Rogers
community Photos by Maria Martin
Playa Vista Mom’s Group annual summer party @ Concert Park Giant soap bubbles filled the sunny skies over Playa Vista on Sunday, August 4, as families gathered at the PVMG annual summer party. Stacy’s Cookie Lounge provided cookies and all the fun frosting colors to decorate them. Children had their faces painted with magical designs while HomeState provided their signature queso and chips to the hungry crowd. Broadway Gymnastics encouraged kids to tumble on their colorful equipment when they weren’t taking a jounce in the giant bounce-house. Though it sure felt like a party, the event also had a serious side: benefiting School on Wheels, a non-profit organization that provides support for homeless children. “Right now,” said PVMG President Erin Valich, “we’re doing a back to school drive to collect goods to put in kids backpacks, but people are also making financial donations. We raised nearly $500 dollars today!” — Shanee Edwards 14 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
A budding gymnast hangs from a bar
Little Aiden enjoys Stacy’s Cookies
Devon looking fierce in tiger stripes
Siblings Sofia and Kai
Making giant bubbles was a big hit
PVMG President Erin Valich with Amanda Goldman
Playa Vista Direct | August Â· September 2019 15
Tiny Osirus Chan pushes the scooter he was gifted when he accidentally stepped into a photo shoot for the scooter company
16 Playa Vista Direct | August Âˇ September 2019
Empowered Parenting Renee Airya and Akira Chan struggled to find relatable resources for new families, so they started creating their own Story by Andy Vasoyan | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner
edia producer, brain tumor survivor, visitor to Richard Branson’s private island: at 44 years old, Renee Airya is not your typical mom. The self-described healer and speaker was living an international bohemian lifestyle when she found out that she was pregnant — at the age of 43. Airya had been working abroad for RARE media, the company she and husband Akira Chan started in 2014. The “conscious media company” has clients all over the world, which includes Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Center and the Mindvalley University in Estonia. The couple decided to transition their lifestyle to one that would be more child-friendly, eventually settling in Playa Vista. They also worked to find more information on their impending parenthood, which was — surprisingly — a bit scarce. “We would get on Google and ask question by question, and some of the information and answers we would get back we would connect with, but most of it, we just didn’t,” Airya says. “So that was around the time that we thought: We have a production company. We’re already in a community of such empowered people — experts, and authors. What can we do to bring this out to the world?” The answer, at first, was a short video series called “The Power of Pregnancy,” about “empowerment principles while being pregnant.” That series then lead to the conception of “Little Humans,” a
(Left to right) Osirus and dad, Akira Chan, Kingston with dad, Preston Smiles, Renee Airya and Alexi Panos
documentary project with expert interviews, footage of their son Osiris, and useful tips about the parenting experience of the kind that Airya had been looking for during her pregnancy. “I was really surprised by the lack of empowering pregnancy information I could find,” Airya says. “Most of the conversations people were having with me were around … all the things I would have to buy. I felt the dialogue was very consumer-oriented, and I wanted more depth in the conversation.” “Little Humans” adds depth through human experience: 14 experts and modern-day families tackle subjects ranging from parent-to-parent relation-
ships such as co-parenting, external influences such as the use of cell phones and social media, and being emotionally intelligent. “A lot if it is taking best wisdom and practices that we were seeing … and putting it together in an organized way,” Chan says. “The reason we’re doing this is not to tell people how to parent — no one wants to be told how to parent — but to provide inspiring stories and inspiring practices that may work for you, so you can figure out how you want to do it.” The couple is planning on premiering their documentary in Playa Vista
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Playa PlayaVista VistaDirect Direct || August · September 2019 17
(Continued from page 17)
near the end of the year, but fitting all those weighty topics (others include education, growth and parental rituals) into one 40-minute documentary would be impossible. So, in true Playa Vista fashion, the “Little Humans” documentary will also be getting a sibling “Little Humans” app to accompany it. “The unique differential with this parenting app is that we’ve divided transformational parenting into six different pillars that make it really easy for people to integrate these lessons into their lives,” Airya says. “All of those [pillars] come together to form a really holistic look at modern parenting today, which is changing, like, every day, every week,” Chan adds. “There’s a lot of information out there, but just not a lot of human storytelling and direct guidance and learning that we can see or find easily from other parents.” Finding storytellers was not hard
Osiris and Kingston imagine they’re driving a Tesla Osirus loves to climb
for Airya and Chan. Two are neighbors; one who lives in their building, and another who lives two blocks away from their Runway apartment. “My community are my friends, and they were a big inspiration for me to come,” Airya says. “We would love to premiere [the movie] here in Playa Vista. It would just be very meaningful for us, and I think, for the other families.”
While the local premiere of the movie is aiming at a release after filming wraps in September, the online additions will be offered separately via a partnership with Mindvalley University, followed by a release of the app. With both a global and local distribution, Airya and Chan are aiming for “Little (Continued on page 20)
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Documentary filmmakers Renee Airya and Akira Chan with their tiny human, Osirus
(Continued from page 18)
Humans” to cast as wide and as helpful a net as possible. “If we can really be a resource that can assist parents in feeling more empowered and more comfortable and safer in their parenthood,” Airya says, “they will be able to really be there for their children and provide an environment and a relationship that allows them to thrive.” Visit raremedia.tv for more information about Airya and Chan’s production company.
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Move Over, BFF Pop artist Kenny Scharf paints a new art installation at The Bluffs Story by Shanee Edwards | Photos by EJM Equities
f you’ve visited BFF recently, you might have noticed he has some new “friends.” BFF — the electric blue, 15,000 pound, 26-foot tall sculpture with x’dout eyes — was created by the artist KAWS and stands in the EJM Equities courtyard at The Bluffs at Playa Vista. Behind BFF, however, is a new art installation from street artist Kenny Scharf, who’s known for his psychedelic, graffiti-inspired artwork. Gone are the trellises supporting ivy that was struggling to grow on the outside of the parking garage. Now there are nearly three-dozen colorful, impish characters who appear to be racing each other. The images are cute and comical, if not a tad mischievous. But installing any art behind such an imposing sculpture like BFF created a bit of a conundrum for Scharf. Should the artist address BFF in his own work or simply ignore it? “In the end,” says Scharf, “I kind of did both. The figures run north and south like on a highway, so they’re not really paying attention to the sculpture. But at the same time I thought about the color — it’s so blue!” The artist says he limited the amount of blue in his own artwork, but didn’t eliminate it entirely. Neon yellows and oranges as well as radiant reds dominate this cast of funny, whimsical figures. One vibrant pink character appears to have crashed into the parking garage’s overhang. The pink character’s x’d out eyes seem to be the only reference to BFF, but the playful tone of each installation certainly compliments the other
22 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
and creates a fun vibe for the otherwise average-looking business courtyard. Scharf says his favorite part of the project was that it was close to home. “My house is very close to the site. It’s fun for me because I’m used to doing these projects in another city, staying at a hotel. It’s great to do one near by.” He’s hoping to add a few more embellishments to the installation. “I have this idea to do a couple of those flying characters — not on the garage, but across the way in random places. Like they flew off and have gone places they’re not supposed to be. I’m doing it for free just because it would be really cool.” Scharf says he’s waiting for permission from property owner Edward Minskoff, who will decide next time he’s in Los Angeles. If you’re a fan of Scharf ’s art you’ll be excited to know he will be doing a mural at the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, the future home of the Rams and Chargers that’s expected to open next year. Details of what the mural will look like are under wraps because Scharf says he never plans out what he’s going paint. “I usually make it up on the spot. It has a lot to do with the site itself. It could come from whatever inspiration I might have that day,” he says.
Local street artist Kenny Scharf spray-paints quirky, mischievous, shark-like creatures to compliment BFF
Playa Vista Direct | August Â· September 2019 23
A Voice for Guac
Mass shooting victim’s father takes to the stage to carry his son’s legacy forward
Story by Christina Campodonico | Photos courtesy of LJ Public Relations
Manny Oliver fused visual art with personal theater to pack an emotional punch at TOMS HQ
n Feb. 14, 2018, artist Manny Oliver dropped off his son Joaquin at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a bundle of brilliant yellow sunflower poseys that the 17-year-old wanted to give his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. He asked Joaquin — affectionately nicknamed “Guac” — to call once he’d delivered the bouquet, but never received that call. Hours later Oliver learned that Guac had been caught in the crosshairs of a former classmate’s violent attack on the school with an AR-15 assault rifle, a casualty of one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Oliver retells this heartbreaking story in “Guac: My Son, My Hero,” a one-man show the artist-turned-activist premiered in July at the TOMS Shoes headquarters in Del Rey. The highly personal work of theater is an extension of the Oliver family’s nonprofit Change the Ref, which lobbies for gun reform
24 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
through art activations and aims to take “Guac” on tour through key swing states during the 2020 presidential election. Part memoir, part TED talk and part ode to his slain son, Oliver developed “Guac” with the help of “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., “Dear Evan Hansen” songwriter Benj Pasek and co-writer/ director James Clements. Throughout the piece, Oliver reminds us that the personal is political. Utilizing home video and family photos, he weaves anecdotes about his son and the Oliver family’s immigrant journey from Venezuela to Florida with his own transformation into an activist following Guac’s murder. Oliver repeatedly says that he lost his best friend, that his heart was “stolen.” In a moment of impassioned anger, he takes a hammer to his son’s portrait — a prop he’s created for the show that echoes other art pieces he’s done for Change the Ref — and strikes it again and again, evoking the boom and pierce of bullet holes. Later he sprays red paint around
his son’s chest, which dribbles like blood from a wound. This raw and heartwrenching display of rage and vulnerability feels like witnessing a private moment of art therapy, but also like seeing a bold, public display of protest art. In this way, Oliver also reminds us that the issue of gun violence is far bigger than any one father’s grief. Every 15 minutes during the show a bell rings, which Oliver explains is a symbol for the fact that every 15 minutes someone dies of gun violence in the U.S. That horrendous statistic not only rears its ugly head with every ominous ring, but resonates long after the show when place names like Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton join the tragic roster of communities ravaged by rogue gunmen with deadly missions. The loss of a child or a loved one to such extreme gun violence is unimaginable for most — even as recent mass shootings have made that seemingly remote possibility somewhat more tan-
gible — but at key moments, Oliver invites audiences to step into his experience of that fateful day. At one point, he asks audience members to take out their phones and call someone that they love. As you wait for your loved one to pick up, you may begin to feel the anxiety that Oliver felt as he waited for his son to call him and his worry warped into a strange sense of “hope.” At first, you hope “he dropped his phone,” Oliver recounts in another part of the play; then you “hope your kid is injured in a hospital”; then, finally, that “he didn’t suffer … that it was fast.” In short order you figure out that no one should ever have to feel or think like this, especially a parent, and yet in the U.S. such crises persist. Back to the phone call — with your phone pressed to your ear, you think, “Will they pick up? Are they okay?” And then relief, when the familiar voice finally answers. In this context, I was overwhelmed to hear my mother — a school teacher who’s undergone active shooter lockdown training —say, “hello” back. Oliver never received such assurance, but he’s dead set on never letting his son’s legacy perish.
Learn more about “Guac: My Son, My Hero” at changetheref.org.
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from Annenberg PetSpace The coolest buddies in Playa Vista are waiting for their new forever homes
Ollie Hi I’m Ollie! I’m looking for a home where I can be your only cat, but I do love kittens. In fact, I currently have a kitten buddy while I wait to find a family to adopt me! I’m friendly, fun and playful. Let’s meet up!
Summer Safety By Eleasha Gall, CPDT-KA It’s heating up in Playa Vista, so make sure you’re practicing summer safety for your pets!
My name is Dug and I’m looking for a home with adults only, no kids. I need consistent positive reinforcement training, but I’m a lot of fun to train. I love to be around people who understand my behaviors and needs.
When you take your dog for a walk outside, remember to press your hand to the ground for 11 seconds first. If it’s hot to you, it’s hot to them! Go for longer walks early morning or after sunset too. Have plenty of water available at all times, and for a cool
Angelica Hello, I’m Angelica. I am looking for a calm home. I’m shy and reserved in the beginning, but I warm up and am very sweet if you take your time with me. I’ll definitely come over for lots of pets when you have my trust.
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Endurance athlete Rob DeCou swims 31 miles in harsh conditions to help end human trafficking Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos courtesy of Rob DeCou
ocal resident Rob DeCou is a father of two and an executive producer at Lux Virtual, a digital animation studio. He’s also a fanatic when it comes to ultra-endurance sports, an obsession that started in high school. At 16 years old, when DeCou was a Rotary exchange student in India, he surprised himself by completing a 50-hour nonstop aerobics event. After that, pushing his body to the max while raising money for a good cause became his thing. On July 20, DeCou took on a challenge fit for a real-life Aquaman — an open-water swim from Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Peninsula in Washing-
32 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
ton, up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and into Canada — all to raise money to prevent human trafficking. But what was supposed to be an 18.3 mile swim became a 31-mile swim due to heavy currents that continued to blow him off course. Immediately after the 15-hour water odyssey, DeCou posted this on his Facebook page: “I made it within 670 feet of Canadian shore before the currents swept me back. It took a few minutes of talking to the crew and we made a decision to pull out for safety reasons. I can’t thank all the supporters and our crew enough. It was an incredible day, and I felt like my body and my crew performed outstanding.”
Working with Rotary International District 5280 Charitable Foundation — which includes the Rotary Club of Playa Venice Sunrise, of which DeCou is a member, as well as the Westchester Rotary Club — this epic swim was part of a two-year fundraising campaign supporting efforts to prevent human trafficking. As of July 21, this swim raised nearly $10,000, with donations still coming in. A few days before his aquatic adventure, DeCou told Playa Vista Direct he chose an ocean swim because he wanted to challenge himself. “I’ve never been that comfortable in the water because I’m not a great swimmer,” he said, “so I thought it would be
Rob DeCou swims in 54-degree water off the Olympic Peninsula in Washington An 18-mile swim turned into a 31-mile swim due to very strong currents L e f t: DeCou’s 13-year old niece worked as the “feeder” supplying him with peanut butter, hot coffee or a Cup O’Noodles every 30 minutes R i g h t: Though DeCou didn’t make it all the way to the Canadian shore, he and his team thought it was a success Opposite: A bov e :
good to go after something that’s not in my natural skill set area and spend a year training for it.” DeCou has numerous extreme sports events under his belt, including Race Across America — a 3,000-mile, 12-day cycling race in which he slept only about 20 hours in total but raised $20,000 for brain cancer research. He says finishing an ultra event feels a lot different than you might think. “With a shorter event, you finish and there’s a pride that goes with it. With ultras it’s more like, ‘Thank God I’m done and got through that!’ It’s also more of a humble feeling than a prideful feeling, so I mostly just feel grateful to pass through the experience. So much is outside of
your control, and you have this whole crew that helps you get through it.” For his swim to Canada, DeCou’s seven-person crew included a safety monitor, two boat captains on separate boats, a swim observer, a videographer, his wife Kristin, and his 13-year old niece Madison. Madison was the “feeder” in charge of handing him food like cantaloupe, bananas with peanut butter, and a hot Cup O’ Noodles every 30 minutes. The water this time of year is typically 53 or 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and swollen lips and mouth from the high salt levels in the water can make it difficult to get the 300 calories per hour needed to sustain this type of rigorous physical activity.
If it all sounds extreme, DeCou admits it is. But he thinks it’s worth it bring the community together and fight for a good cause. “One of the powerful things about each of these events I’ve done is you connect with other like-minded people who are doing positive things for the environment or for the community around us. In this case it’s human trafficking prevention. The money raised will go to a lot of programs right here in the Los Angeles area.” Find the fundraising page for Rob DeCou’s Swim to End Human Trafficking at facebook.com/rob.decou.1. Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019 33
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H Eal t h
5 Tips for Helping Your kids
Transition Back to School Expert advice from Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Rachel Thomasian Story by Shanee Edwards | Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner
there might be some anxiety or some sadness at first, and be patient. Almost everyone adjusts and settles in just fine. It’s OK to recruit help from teachers and get the line of communication started so everyone is on the same page.
4 Rachel Tomasian encourages parents to create rituals and celebrations around changes and milestones
oing back to school or starting school for the first time is normally a happy, exciting time for children. But for some kids, facing new social situations or dealing with a new routine can cause anxiety. I asked Playa Vista’s own Rachel Thomasian, a licensed marriage and family therapist, to share her advice for helping to ease the transition from summer vacation to school.
Set a Routine Anxieties can range from being separated from their parents and away from home to whether or not they’re going to have any friends. Parents can start by establishing a pretty reliable routine and schedule, and clearly communicating this with their child. Routine provides relief from anxiety by creating a sense of normalcy. When children know what time they’ll be going to school, what their schedule will look like, and what time they’ll be picked up, they tend to adjust more quickly. If there’s going to be
36 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
a change in that schedule, make sure to talk about it in advance.
Make Talking About Feelings a Thing The next time you’re reading a book or watching a movie, pause and ask what your child thinks a character might be feeling, or how your child might feel if they were in that situation. When you normalize having and talking about feelings, you increase the likelihood that your child will come talk to you about something going on at school that may be unpleasant. It also helps them identify and talk about feelings instead of hiding them, which can cause even more anxiety.
Avoid Saying, ‘There’s Nothing to Worry About’ While well meaning, this sentiment can invalidate their feelings and may make them feel even more alone if they think you don’t “get it.” Instead, try “It’s OK to worry. Let me tell you about a time I was worried and what I did to be OK.” You can try breathing exercises or going on a walk together. Help your child talk about a time that they were anxious about something — maybe a time when things changed in their lives — and discuss how everything turned out fine. Remind them of the new friends they made and the positive things that actually came out of the situation they were so worried about.
Create Rituals and Celebrations Around Changes and Milestones I think it is so important to celebrate the positive emotions associated with change and uncertainty. Change in our lives often fuels a sense of adventure, curiosity about our world, and the joy of experiencing things for the first time. Celebrating the beginning of the school year is an example of how to create a sense of excitement around this new experience. I remember really enjoying back to school shopping and have made this a big event for my kids as well.
A Parent’s Energy and Mood Informs the Child’s Children feed off their parent’s energy. If a parent is excited, their children are more likely to be. If they’re very anxious, it sends their child the message that there For more info about Rachel Thomasian and is something to worry about. Expect that her practice, visit playavistacounseling.com.
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Food & Fun at the Bluffs
Dance, drink and eat at the Conference Room, Playa Vista’s newest spot for ‘restau-tainment’ Story By Lawrence Yee Photos by Jake Ahles 38 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
Opposite: L e f t:
This lamb burger is the boss with feta, tomato jam, grilled red onions, tzatziki and arugula
Pub cheese mac, spiked with beer and topped with bread crumbs
R i g h t:
An array of craft cocktails, beer and wine is available at the Conference Room
hen Peter Georges — whose HASH and Rodini Park have become gastro go-tos in Playa Vista — was planning his third restaurant in the area, he didn’t have to look far. His newest venture, The Conference Room, isn’t just adjacent to Rodini Park on Bluff Creek Drive, it’s actually part of the same space. “We signed a lease for that one space where The Conference Room and Rodini Park share,” the restauranteur explained. “The landlord wanted to put in a Rodini Park. But I thought it was too large to put in [just the] Rodini. So we thought it would be great to take this huge space and carve it up into two and do two different concepts.” With HASH catering to breakfast and Rodini to lunch, it was only natural that the Conference Room would be an
evening concept. But Georges envisions it as much more. “Happy hour is going to be our big thing — with live entertainment. We want to do a community thing, every day have something different: movie nights, a game night, maybe an open mic night. We will have live entertainment on Friday starting at happy hour.” Georges reteamed with chef Gena Lora, who created HASH’s menu and the desserts at Rodini Park, to conceive the Conference Room’s offerings. “The happy hour menu is going to miniature versions of what we’re serving for lunch and dinner: smothered fries (mac & cheese sauce, bacon, green onions and sour cream), a tray of four sliders (fish, chicken, beef and lamb), as well a vegetarian (jalapeno hummus, cauliflower wings) and gluten-free options,” Georges explained.
Main plates will include Scallion and Sweet Corn Arepas, Chicken Loves Waffles (buttermilk fried chicken on a cheddar waffle topped with a fried egg), and the signature CR Burger (topped with cheddar frico, caramelized onions, picked cucumbers, tomatoes and a special sauce). But save room for dessert, which include big ice cream sundaes in seethru margarita glasses, as well as the decadent baklava cheesecakes that are a Rodini Park favorite. The drink menu includes wine, beer and twists on classic cocktails such Harriot’s Hemingway and Mae’s Mule. They can be enjoyed at the sleek, modern bar or one of the more intimate lounge spaces or booths. The Conference Room is also offering non-alcoholic pick-me-ups in the
(Continued on page 40)
Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019 39
(Continued from page 39)
form of an all-day international coffee menu, inspired by Georges’ business travels. “What we plan on doing is opening early and doing an international coffee menu in the morning with counter service. I used to travel the world as an executive and there were some great coffee drinks you’d have in other countries like India and Thailand and Vietnam that you can’t get here. We’re working with Groundwork to come up with an international coffee menu. We’ll see those all day long even with lunch and happy hour and dinner.” Georges’ business background helped inspire the tongue-in-cheek restaurant name, as well. “We’re in the corporate campus. We’re looking to capitalize on the double meaning; people coming in, talking, meeting and eating,” he explained of the Conference Room’s name. “We just thought it was such a great idea. Companies are always looking to rent out a
(left to right) Louie Pozos, Donnie Bland, Peter Georges and Connie Becerra
conference room for off-site meetings, and the only thing they’re left with is those sterile bland places at hotels with nothing to offer. We hope that our neighbors catch on.” If there’s enough interest, Georges can envision the Conference Room ballroom or hip-hop dance classes. He hopes the formula of food plus fun will catch on.
TRIVIA MONDAYS & TACO THURSDAYS SPORTS * BOARD GAMES * BILLIARDS COCKTAILS * DRAFT BEER
“We’re trying to make it a really good hangout. There’s a term that caught on a year ago — ‘restautainment.’ It combines restaurant and entertainment and makes it more attractive. Coupled with great food — we definitely have a chef-driven menu.” Visit conferenceroomplayavista.com for restaurant updates.
26 Years of Tamales
Tamara Tapp, a native of Venice, has been the owner of her one of a kind specialty tamale shop for 26 years. The shop has received numerous 1st place awards and widespread recognition and has been called the “Baskin Robbins” of tamales by the L.A. Times and “the best tamales in the world” by Wolfgang Puck. Her famous traditional, vegetarian, vegan, seafood and sweet tamales have been hailed — terrific, ingenious, classic, fabulous, perfection, virtuosity and best!! Along with the help of her family, Tamara has dedicated a majority of her career to maintaining and expanding on their tamale-making craft.
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40 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
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Playa Vista Direct | August Â· September 2019 41
“Chunky Monkey” Banana Nice Cream
Servings: 8 Ingredients 6-7 large bananas, cut into chunks, and frozen 1 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk 1 Tbsp vanilla extract ½ cup raw walnut pieces ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chunks or chips Instructions
Using your large food processor, add the frozen bananas, milk, and vanilla extract. Pulse until the bananas are broken up, and then process on high for 3-4 minutes, or until completely smooth and creamy. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides periodically.
Pour half of the banana mixture into a standard loaf pan lined with parchment paper, or another freezerfriendly container. Sprinkle with half of the walnuts and chocolate before adding the other half of the banana mixture on top. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and chocolate. Cover, and freeze until solid – about 1 hour.
Nice cream should be stored in an air-tight container and best eaten within a couple of days. It loses its creaminess and can become icy if left longer.
R e c i p e s b y A m a n d a Pr i n c e Amanda is the food blogger behind A Thousand Crumbs and a resident of Playa Vista. Find more delicious recipes like this one on her website, www.athousandcrumbs.com, and be sure to follow along on your favorite social channels. 42 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
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EVENTS Thursday, August 15
Vista Studios Summer Bash 4 to 7 p.m. This networking opportunity includes a moderated panel discussion and gadget showcase while you enjoy fine wine, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Vista Studios 12615 Beatrice St. RSVP: email@example.com.
Wednesday, August 21
Wednesday, August 21
Blue Bottle Coffee Lab: Dripper Brew Class 1 to 2 p.m. Get ready for an intimate, hands-on class led by an expert barista. Learn to make a delectable pour over with the Blue Bottle Dripper. Tickets are $35. Visit eventbrite.com for more details. 12105 West Waterfront Drive. Monday, August 26
“The Camino Voyage” @ Cinemark Playa Vista and XD Monday, August 26
This documentary is a modern day odyssey about a small crew who embark on a traditional boat to sail the Camino by sea, traveling all the way from Ireland to northern Spain. 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $13.75; tickets.demand.film/event/8204. 12746 West Jefferson Blvd. Thursday, August 29 7 to 9 p.m.
Playa Vista Ladies Book Club @ Urban Plates 7 to 9 p.m. Meet on the outside patio to discuss “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. There is a $2 fee to cover the cost of the meetup website. Visit meetup.com for more details. 12746 Jefferson Blvd.
Sunday, September 1
Saturday, September 7 46 Playa Vista Direct | August · September 2019
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Saturday, September 7
Thick Girl Yoga LA Beach Party 12 to 6 p.m. Join the Thick Girl Yoga LA Community for yoga, games, and giveaways. Wear your favorite beach wear, bring a yoga mat and water. A vegan lunch will be available for a $10 donation. Event is free. Visit eventbrite.com to register. Dockweiler Beach, 12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey. Sunday, September 8
End of Summer Silver Strand 8th Annual Party 12 to 4 p.m. Hosted by the Silver Strand Homeowners Association, this family party includes a wine bar, hamburgers and hot dogs, face painting, jumpy house and balloon man. Location is Quarterdeck Mall and Roma Court in Marina Del Rey. Free. Visit bergmanbeachproperties.com for more details. Saturday, September 21
Strengthening the Cat-Human Bond @ Wallis Annenberg PetSpace 3 p.m. Cat training and behavior expert Dr. Kristyn Vitale discusses the science behind your cat’s behavior, as well as exploring the basics of cat clicker training using positive reinforcement. Visit annenbergpetspace.org to register. 12005 Bluff Creek Dr. Free.
Papier-Mâché Mask-Making @ Playa Vista Branch Library 2 p.m. Learn how to make papier-mâché theatre masks with members of Raze The Space Theatre Ensemble in a hands-on workshop for all ages. Dress to get messy! Session includes a free printed worksheet. Free.
Freshwater Marsh Tour @ Ballona Freshwater Marsh 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, October 10
Expert docents lead you through the Ballona Freshwater Marsh, where you’ll learn about its history and ecology. Enjoy all the unique native plants while getting a special behind-the-scenes look at this protected place, and meet some of the birds who call the marsh home. No RSVP required; meet by large purple welcome sign on Jefferson Ballona Freshwater Marsh. Free.
Kickoff this brand new event with a variety of hearthealthy activities for companies and community members to enjoy. A water station and food vendors will be onsite. Visit heart.org for more info.
American Heart Association’s Field Day @ Central Park 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Have an event coming up in or around Playa Vista? Send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WESTCHESTER ARTS & MUSIC BLOCK PARTY Hosted by the Emerson Avenue Community Garden
September 21, 2019 12pmâ€“8pm Emerson Ave. at W 80th St. wamblockparty.org
ARTS MUSIC DANCE FOOD DRINKS FUN
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Check out Reid’s insightful blog on a variety of Playa Vista and real estate topics
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