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5 inspiring stories of the human-animal bond

Year of the Dog April · May 2018


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The Face of Phase II


Contents

Vol. 3 | No. 1

EDITOR’S NOTE 6 Lucky Dogs, Luckier Humans COMMUNITY 10 Playa Vista Fun Run @ The Pointe Park 14 Playa Vista Poker Party @ CTRL Collective 16 Athena.LA Women in Tech Mixer @ Hal’s Bar & Grill People 20 Year of the Dog: 5 inspiring stories about the human-animal bond 34 TGA Sports founder Joshua Jacobs adds STEM training to youth sports programs Pets 31 Adopting these senior pets can provide surprising benefits to your lifestyle

HEALTH 38 The Superwoman Workshop at Lorna Jane provides a workout for body and soul 42 Science 37’s Belinda Tan works to cure lack of diversity in medical trials HOME 48 The Marayag family love to throw parties in their Capri Courts II home FOOD 54 Mezcal, tequila’s sophisticated cousin, adds flavor to Playa Vista

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SHOPPING 58 Let your pooch be a peace ambassador with this peace and love dog collar Events 60 Don’t miss Fit Expo at The Resort

SCHOOL OF ROCK | Venice 12300 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066 310-469-ROCK venice.schoolofrock.com

4 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

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48 ON THE COVER: Jacob Peacock and his dog Chef. Photo by Maria Martin. Design by Michael Kraxenberger.


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E d i to r ’ s N ote

Lucky Dogs, Luckier Humans

R

isk-takers. Givers. Healers. Survivors. Jokers. You may think I’m describing the people who live and work in Playa Vista. Actually, I’m talking about their dogs. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. To honor our furry friends, I visited the local dog parks, hung out at the Barking Lot and worked with the kind humans at the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace to meet as many dogs as I could in an effort to share the most inspiring dog stories I could find. There were many. Too many, in fact, to publish all of them in the magazine, but the five we’ve included are sure to touch your heart. We know dogs provide companionship, affection and protection. But every dog-parent I spoke with implied that dogs do even more than that. For some, their dogs give them a spiritual purpose, a reason to go out into the world and thrive. For others, their dogs were the beginning of creating a family — they literally learned how to parent by taking care of their dog. I found these stories to be incredibly moving. On a sunny afternoon at Fountain Park, I watched Chef, a White Swiss Shepherd, literally try to herd the Peacock family’s two young boys, Atlas and Odin, together. It was amazing to watch this formerly homeless dog that once roamed the streets of Venice follow through with his ancient instinct to herd and protect. When I met Shayna, the tiny poodle with a big heart that spends her days sitting with hospital patients and the elderly, the journalist in me desperately wished I could actually interview the dog herself. Shayna’s owner, Sandra Heller, told me every detail about her dog’s life, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Shayna’s experience was like. If only dogs could talk. I was impressed by all the dogs I met, but I was also surprised by how willing their owners were to share their stories with me. Every story was highly personal and courageous. Thank you. I hope you enjoy this issue of Playa Vista Direct. For me, it’s the most inspirational one yet. Shanee Edwards Managing Editor · editor@playavistadirect.com

6 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

Managing Editor Shanee Edwards Art Director Michael Kraxenberger Contributing Writers Lara J. Altunian · Christina Campodonico Stephanie Case · Richard Foss Jessica Koslow · Robyn Paris Andrew Dubbins · Andy Vasoyan Gary Walker Contributing Photographers Erica Allen · Inae Bloom Courtnay Robbins · Maria Martin · Shilah Montiel · Zsuszi Steiner Emily Hart Roth Graphic Des igner Kate Doll Account Executives Renee Baldwin Kay Christy Rocki Davidson David Maury Advertising Director Rebecca Bermudez Senior Editor Joe Piasecki Publisher David Comden

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Playa Vista Fun Run @ The Pointe Park Pushing strollers or trailed by toddlers and pooches, Playa Vista families turned out on March 24 at The Pointe Park for an early morning run that culminated at a the end of a rainbow balloon tunnel. Silicon Beach Parents Group Director Gabrielle D’Addario said the inaugural Playa Vista Fun Run was intended to build community at home while supporting HomeAid LA, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness. HomeAid LA Executive Director Michael Foley said the organization is currently working on a 12-bed facility in Long Beach for victims of domestic violence and is collaborating with the National Health Foundation to create 61 beds in the Pico-Union District for homeless people who need recuperative care after hospital stays. Elevation Fitness, Kris Zacuto of Hilton & Hyland, Kabrita and Lorna Jane sponsored the Fun Run. — Shanee Edwards 10 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

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Runners discover where the rainbow ends: Playa Vista

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Elevation Fitness program manager Micaela Robinson and president of the Silicon Beach Parents Group Gabrielle D’Addario

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Tiny feet pound the pavement as a little girl takes the Fun Run seriously and has a blast

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D’Addario leads the pack with other local parents running the 5K with their kids

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Bootcamp specialist and R.U.N. coach Trevor Clark is happy doing what he loves


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Playa Vista Poker Party @ CTRL Collective Local risk-takers literally laid their cards on the table, ready to go all-in, at a Texas Hold’em tournament for a good cause on Feb. 24. Hosted by the Silicon Beach Parents Group and Kris Zacuto of the real estate firm Hilton & Hyland, the Saturday night Playa Vista Poker Party at local co-working space CTRL Collective was a fundraiser for TGA Sports, a foundation that combines sports like golf and tennis with STEM to improve the lives of children nationwide. Tasmin Trezise, the founder of the software company Tanda, managed to bluff his way to a big win, while Playa Vista Farmers Market founder Farmer Mark followed suit by perfecting his organic poker face. Despite playing my cards close to my chest, I ended up sinking when the river card was dealt, losing all my chips in about 20 minutes. Luckily, there was some great wine and all the tacos I could eat. The event raised nearly $5,000, making TGA Sports the big winner. — Shanee Edwards 14 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

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Playa Vista Direct editor Shanee Edwards, second from left, on the verge of losing it all

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Tasmin Trezise of Tanda Workforce Management Software shows off his ace to the camera

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Event sponsors Kris Zacuto of Hilton & Hyland and his wife, Gabrielle D’Addario, president of Silicon Beach Parents Group

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Gregory Loomis makes a gentleman’s bet with his tablemate, comedian Angelina Spicer

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A view of the Poker Party from CTRL Collective’s mezzanine

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Poker players take a break from the game to read Playa Vista Direct


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Athena.LA Women in Tech Mixer @ Hal’s Bar & Grill Women-in-tech networking group Athena.LA and Eric Thomasian of Playa Vista Tech hosted a sold-out dinner at Hal’s Bar & Grill on March 20, sponsored by Amazon Web Services. The evening’s featured speaker was Cat Chen, founder and CEO of the Playa Vista-based natural fragrance company Skylar Body. When Athena.LA founder and Playa Vista resident Morgan Sacco moved from the Bay Area to L.A. three years ago, she found networking opportunities among women in tech to be comparatively sparse. Inspired by the group Bay Area Girl Geek, she launched Athena.LA last August to fill that niche. Attendees mingled over wine and appetizers, exchanged business cards, laughs and career advice. While Athena.LA is mostly about networking right now, “Hopefully, we’ll move on to helping people get jobs or get promoted within their companies,” Sacco said. More dinners are scheduled for May and June. — Robyn Paris 16 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

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Haley Stauss enjoys vino with event organizer and Athena.LA founder Morgan Sacco

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Playa Vista resident Cat Chen of Skylar Body, the event’s keynote speaker

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Year of the Dog 5 inspiring stories of the humananimal bond

Story By Shanee Edwards Photos by Maria Martin

Loyola Marymount University student Emmely Canela adopted her dog Mona using the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace app 20 Playa Vista Direct | April ¡ May 2018


Peo p l e

T

he dogs of Playa Vista reflect who we are as a community and who we aspire to be. “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s,” wrote Mark Twain to a friend, summing up beautifully how we feel about our dogs. They are gentle, affectionate, forgiving creatures that teach us about trust and loyalty in ways other people cannot. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. To honor these joyful creatures, five local dog owners have shared their inspiring stories of how one precious dog came into their lives and touched their heart, forever changing the world around them.

Jacob & Chef: A Lesson in Fatherhood Liz Peacock had just gotten out of spin class and was picking future husband Jacob Peacock up from work when she got a big surprise. He said, ‘I need you to meet my friend,’ and I said I wasn’t meeting anyone because I was all sweaty.” But Jacob was persistent. If you guessed the “friend” had four legs, you’d be right. One of Jacob’s coworkers at Library Ale House had shown up that day with a big but gentle dog that had been wandering the streets of Venice. “This beautiful, white, wolf-looking dog jumped up and put his paws on my chest,” recalls Jacob of the moment the dog chose him. “We can’t have dogs!” Liz scolded, knowing their Santa Monica landlord forbade pets. But Jacob wouldn’t take no for an answer. He put the dog in the back of the car, telling her they’d just keep him for the night. “I didn’t talk to him the whole ride home,” Liz recalls. But by the end of the night, her heart began to open up. “I was taking pictures of him. He was a really good dog and I fell in love with him that night. By the next day, I was buying him bowls and a collar — everything.” They named the dog Chef and took him to the vet, but he wasn’t micro-

The Peacock family (Odin, Liz, Atlas and Jacob) and their Berger Blanc Suisse dog, Chef, at Fountain Park

chipped or reported missing, so from then on Chef was their dog. A couple weeks later, they took a road trip together. “I had a brand-new Mercedes,” says Liz, “like two days old, and he threw up in the car.” It turned out Chef was pretty sick and vomited all night long. “Jacob was getting up, taking him out all night, taking such good care of him,” recalls Liz. “That’s when I knew he’d be a really good dad.”

Dogs can be teachers. This one taught the Peacocks how to parent together. “I thought, if we can take care of a dog together, I guess we can have a kid,” says Jacob with a grin. “We’ve got two of them now.” When Liz got pregnant, she wanted to know exactly what breed of dog Chef was. “We didn’t know if he was part wolf or something,” she said, “But (Continued on page 22) Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018 21


Peo p l e

(Continued from page 21)

he’s 100% German shepherd.” Berger Blanc Suisse, if you want to get fancy. Now the Peacock family happily lives in Playa Vista, where they are allowed to have dogs. Chef is very protective of their boys, always watching over them.

Sandra & Shayna: ‘The Lady with the Dog’ Sandra Heller admits she isn’t really a dog person. Shayna, her 11-year-old poodle, is the only dog she’s ever had. But the little white puffball is a rock star at places like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and numerous assisted living facilities where Heller works. “When I became a senior living advocate,” says Heller, “I thought how cool it would be to bring Shayna with me to the assisted living communities. Every client has loved her, and I became known as the lady with the dog.” Shayna really does seem like an old soul. There’s a special calmness about her — a gentle presence that emanates patience and love. “People who have Alzheimer’s or dementia see a little white poodle stroll in and it just changes the whole landscape immediately. A lot of them will start telling you about dogs they’ve owned in the past. It brings them a feeling of happiness because they’ve often been without their dog for so long.” Given how gentle Shayna is with the elderly, it’s no wonder Heller had Shayna trained and certified to be a POOCH (Pets Offering Ongoing Care and Healing) volunteer at Cedars-Sinai. But she says the process wasn’t easy. “I always joke and say it’s easier to get a PhD than getting your pet qualified. First you have to go through this Pet Partners program, take an online test, and go for a live interview where they gave Shayna every possible obstacle in the world to see how she would react. Then they took blood from Shayna, blood from me. And then there’s an orientation.” Though the process was rigorous, Heller says it’s the best “job” she’s ever 22 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

Senior living advocate Sandra Heller out for a ride at Runway with Shayna (Bike courtesy of Bike Attack)

had. She volunteers her time at the hospital every other Wednesday and it’s made a world of difference for many who are suffering and in a great deal of pain. “You walk in that door and it’s dark. I say, ‘I’m here for a little pooch visit.’ The lights go on, and all of a sudden their faces light up. One man said he was having a really hard day and visiting with Shayna changed it.” Sometimes dogs can be healers. Shayna may be tiny, but she’s proven her heart is huge.

Hector & Charlie: Puerto Rican Blood Brothers Hector Vasquez, better known on YouTube as The Hood Chef, is of Puerto Rican heritage and was especially motivated to help ease the suffering of people and animals after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last fall. That’s how he found the Puerto Rico Dog Fund on Instagram. “They gave me some photos and I (Continued on page 24)


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Charlie made a full recovery and now spends his days running up and down the bluffs over Playa Vista. One of Vasquez’s friends adopted Charlie’s brother and recently came for a visit. “They were all over each other. They would not leave each other at all, just having fun, playing. And as soon as his brother left, Charlie was acting rude. He didn’t want to play with anybody else. He was like, ‘Daddy, take me home.’” Charlie is now eight months old, and Vasquez and his girlfriend are anticipating the arrival of another boy, this time a human one. “My son is coming next month. He can grow up with Charlie, and I know they’ll be best friends.” Charlie truly is a survivor, with lots to teach about courage and fortitude.

Emmely & Mona: A Reason to Start the Day Need an emotional support dog? There’s an app for that. But Emmely Canela already knows about the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace app because she used it t o find her dog, Mona. A student at Loyola Marymount University, Canela suffers from depression and often struggles to feel she has a real purpose in life. But Mona is helping her with that. “By getting Mona, I had something to wake up to. I had to wake up because Hector Vasquez’s dog Charlie was rescued from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria I knew I had to walk her, feed her, and it felt nice and rewarding. It made me was diagnosed with every dog owner’s Peo p l e (Continued from page 22) happy to care for something outside worst fear: parvo. The dog had survived a myself. I found happiness.” hurricane, but could he survive this virus? selected a dog. But when I went to pick She recommends anyone with “I felt like a parent ready to lose his him up at LAX there were four pupdepression to consider an emotional child. I said a little prayer. ‘Please God, I support animal. pies that came out of the kennels and just got this dog and I really want him.’” I thought, ‘Which one is going to be “Adopting Mona was the best Charlie stayed in the hospital for five decision I’ve ever made. She’s not only Charlie?’ This dog came right to me. He days. Eventually, he began eating and wanted to become Charlie.” my emotional support animal, she’s an was returned to Vasquez. As wonderful as the introduction emotional support animal to all of my “He recognized me, started wagging was, things quickly went downhill. After roommates. Everyone looks forward to his little tail but he was skin and bones. three days, little Charlie stopped drinkcoming home. Everyone is very involved I’m Puerto Rican too, that’s why I got ing water and fell limp. Vasquez called with Mona.” the people at the Puerto Rico Dog Fund him, so I made him some rice and beans (Continued on page 26) and chicken.” and they took him to the vet. Charlie 24 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018


OF LY MI LS FA HOO C S


Peo p l e

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With Mona providing support, Canela is excelling in school, majoring in education with an emphasis on history. When I ask about her favorite historical era to explore, she gives a surprising answer: “The Troubles.” The term refers to the Northern Irish Conflict in the 1970s that saw a decade of brutal violence. It’s a time period she says she can relate to in many ways. “I grew up in a low-income community and there was a similar struggle in trying to find safety every single day. There are people targeting innocent people, and you never know if you’re going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Canela acknowledges that the history of the Irish people “is so much deeper than anything I could ever understand or imagine … but it’s the one piece of history, even though it’s not U.S. history, that I really enjoy.” With the loyal and loving Mona at her side, Canela is now free to make her own history.

April & Heidi: A Mother’s Love “If it wasn’t for Heidi,” says Playa Vista resident April Armenta, “I don’t think I would have made it this far. I’ve had some dark days.” Heidi is a 10-year-old black and white border collie, a breed known both for herding and being incredibly smart. Sadly, it was tragedy that brought them together. Armenta’s parents had a loving marriage that lasted more than 40 years, but both died within 18 months of each other in their early 60s. Though her mother had been sick with rheumatoid arthritis for years, it was her father who passed first. “The arthritis was attacking my mother’s major organs. She was put on life support, and my dad couldn’t live without my mom. He died of a broken heart,” says Armenta. And although her mother managed to wake up, life without her husband was too much. “She went downhill afterwards.” But Heidi, one of Armenta’s parents’ 26 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

April Armenta walks her “fur angels” Chillie, Charlie and Heidi at Bluff Creek Fields

three dogs, was still going strong and had a lot of love left to give. Armenta’s brother and sister each took a dog, as did she, despite having two little dogs of her own. But Armenta is glad she did. “I could have gone into a deep, dark depression if it wasn’t for my fur angels. They really just know how to love — give hugs and kisses when you need them the most. I would walk in from work and Heidi was there with open arms.” During this difficult time, Heidi has become a surrogate of sorts for Armen-

to’s mother. “I feel closer to my parents, having her with me.” She also thinks Heidi is the one looking out for her: “When I’m upset, Heidi will do something with my other two dogs. She’ll jump or get them all to play. It’s like they’re laughing and having a good time. That’s how my mom was, always cheerful and laughing.” Armento has this advice for anyone with a broken heart: “I highly recommend you get a dog. They are the best healers.”


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Reminiscing on my first sail to today …


A Sailor’s Tale from Sea to CYC

T

he first time I set foot on a sailboat I was 10 days old. My parents had just bought a new boat and took me with them to get out of town for New Year’s. Who knew that this early adventure would inspire a lifelong passion! Over the years I practically grew up on our family sailboat, spending long summer days at Catalina Island, where we enjoyed the many outdoor activities that the island offered. It was on Catalina where my family first became involved with CYC. Friends of my parents were members of California Yacht Club, and we were often invited to events at the Ballast Point Outstation. On the mainland, I hunted for chocolate eggs at the annual Easter Egg Hunt while my parents tried to convince me not to eat all of them in one sitting. Other sports and a move took us away from sailing for several years, but when I started my undergraduate studies at USC, I moved back to the marina. By then, my parents were members of CYC and I frequently joined them in volunteering with the race committee. I loved the excitement of race day and watching the boats round marks while enjoying my own time on the water. Through these volunteer opportunities, I came to know so many people who I now count as friends. These new friends invited me to sail with them. I had never sailed competitively before, but they were patient as I “got my feet wet” (literally) in the weekly Sunset Series. These Wednesday night sails during the summer are a great way to meet new people and gain experience. After a year, I began to sail in regattas on the weekends, such as Cal Race Week. I loved the thrill and challenge of sailing competitively, and through my CYC network I met my current


teammates. I am now part of two women’s sailing teams, and our endeavors have offered a new way to expand my network as these competitions have taken us all over the United States. Looking back, my involvement in both volunteering and sailing at CYC has greatly enriched my life and is a major contributor to my health and happiness. The network I developed in my early time at CYC is flourishing today, and I love the diversity it brings to my life. I have had so many opportunities and have met so many wonderful friends at CYC, including my husband! When we moved to the East Coast, we had access to many reciprocal clubs that we visited during our travels. Now, he and I are at the club every week either sailing, swimming, or playing paddle tennis with our friends and family. We recently joined the CYC Keelboat Program, which gives us access to the Club Martin 242 boats. This has been a wonderful experience because we can invite our friends out sailing on Santa Monica Bay, and then head back to the club for a drink in the bar or dinner at the restaurant. I am so thankful for the amazing people I have met through activities at the club — many of whom I would not have had the opportunity to meet! The membership is always growing, and with it comes new benefits. For CYC members who own boats, the club facilities are ideal! For members without boats, it’s easy to meet CYC boat owners and get out on the water for a pleasant day sail or motor cruise. There’s nothing like the magnificent mountain views, stunning sunsets and seeing dolphins and sometimes whales playfully leaping around you.


From social activities to sports, I’ve experienced it all: elegant winemaker dinners, family movie nights, book and bridge clubs, annual galas, a booming young professionals group, sportsman’s club, Epicurean Society, a robust cruising schedule, scuba, paddle-boarding, gorgeous pool and lounge areas, paddle and pickle ball, exciting regattas and outstanding adult and youth sailing and rowing programs. Plus, the gourmet dining is second to none! When needed, picturesque event space is mine to use for surprise birthday parties, anniversaries, office celebrations or meetings of all kinds. Membership at CYC also includes social membership at sister property the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown Los Angeles … a great home base whenever I’m downtown for an event. LAAC boasts fabulous dining, fantastic bar, amazing hotel rooms and world-class athletic facilities. I also take my membership with me as I travel. I have reciprocal privileges at over 800 yachting, social and athletic clubs around the world that make my travels just as special as the time I spend at California Yacht Club. I have made even more friends and new colleagues worldwide because of the close affiliations.

Are you ready to have an invigorating, friendly and exciting gateway to the water? We’re ready to see you! Call Sallie Wolcott, Director of Membership and Marketing today to schedule a private tour. 310.823.4567 or email sallie.wolcott@calyachtclub.net


A do p t i on

Adoptable Pets

from Annenberg PetSpace The coolest buddies in Playa Vista are waiting for their new forever homes

Remi and Lexi

Pierre

Patches

Hi, we’re Remi and Lexi, a sweet boy and friendly girl who are a bonded pair. Together, we’re looking for a forever home with a yard so we have room to play and chase each other. We love to cuddle up together and we’re smart, food-motivated, and progressing well in our training. Come say hi!

Hi there, I’m Pierre, a black and white male with soulful eyes and awesome whiskers. I’m known around here as a social butterfly and love when our volunteers spend time with me - I especially love being brushed. I’m looking for good home where I can curl up next to a loving companion.

Hi, I’m Patches, a special older guy in search of a loving home. I’m almost blind, but that doesn’t take away from my spunkiness or ability to offer plenty of affection and companionship. Perhaps we can meet to see if I’m the missing piece in your life.

“Tip from the Trainer”

excited and playful when you first meet them, they’re more likely to be a match for your everyday life. With an older dog, you already have the answer to so many questions. Their personality is set and consistent. They generally do not require the intensive time commitment of training, and they tend to be pretty happy to relax at home or go for a walk to a coffee shop. While

by Eleasha Gall, CPDT-KA

The Benefits and Considerations of Senior Pets When most people think about adding a new pet to their home, they naturally think about getting a puppy. Most people don’t realize how wonderful older pets can be. While they may not be as

they may not be up for 10-mile hikes through the woods, they have no trouble offering love and loyalty Older pets flourish with good companionship and a safe place to sleep. So, if you’re thinking about adding a new family member and want to make the process easy and enjoyable, be sure to consider a senior pet.

To learn more about pet adoption, or to see other available pets, visit annenbergpetspace.org Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018 31


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Tennis coach AlexTegels  teaches a student how to swing a racquet

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Peo p l e

Let the

STEM Games Begin TGA Sports uses athletics to unlock your child’s scientific curiosity Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos courtesy of TGA Sports

A

erodynamics. Newton’s Laws of Motion. Chemical engineering. By themselves, these scientific concepts may sound like a bore-fest to your child. But TGA Sports founder and CEO Joshua Jacobs has a secret to unlocking a child’s scientific mind. Jacobs knows that when science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are combined with a kid’s favorite sport, suddenly they become eager to learn everything they can because understanding the science behind the game can give them a competitive edge. Oh, and sports are fun. A Los Angeles native, Jacobs played golf in high school, college and then in amateur competitive events. He simply couldn’t get enough of the game. So in 2003, when he learned his little sister’s grade school didn’t have an afterschool golf program, he decided to step in. “I saw an opportunity,” says Jacobs, “so I brought it to her school and the next thing you know, we had 25 schools in L.A. and camps all over the city. I started getting calls from all over the country.” Jacobs franchised his golf education program, TGA Premier Junior Golf, in 2007. Eventually, the United States Tennis Association called and asked if he could add tennis to their roster, which he happily did. But by 2010, Jacobs began to see a real need to bring his golf and tennis

The Lomita Park tennis group raises their racquets and their IQs by combining sports and STEM

programs to kids whose families couldn’t afford to pay for them. “The motto is ‘Sports Change Lives,’ so I started the 501c3 TGA Sports Foundation and we’re just so thrilled to be able to bring sports to everyone in the community. From teamwork to confidence building to life lessons, we really believe that sports can make an impact.” One year ago, after a call from the United States Olympic Committee, Jacobs stepped up his game and added cheerleading, flag football, volleyball, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee and floor hockey to make his programs as inclu-

sive as possible, appealing to both boys and girls. Now, there’s an exciting sport for everyone. But Jacobs knew he could add another powerful component to his athletic training: STEM. “We’re the only junior golf and youth tennis program to incorporate STEM into our programs,” he says. And there’s definitely a need. According to the most recent PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results from 2015, the (Continued on page 36) Playa PlayaVista VistaDirect Direct || April · May 2018 35


Peo p l e

(Continued from page 35)

U.S. ranked 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries. America’s next generation needs all the STEM it can get if it wants to be competitive in a tech-driven global economy. If you’re scratching your head wondering exactly how STEM works into sports like golf or tennis at an elementary school level, Jacobs says it’s actually a no-brainer. “Spin, gravity, lift, angles — everything you can think of! You’re going to learn the angle the club goes into the swing and the angle the ball goes off the club. Also, the higher or lower it’s going to go, depending on the angle. The more or less spin it’s going to generate. And lift — everything to do with how airplanes work, basically. Then you’ll Lorem look at gravity, the rate atipsum which the ball falls, the angle, how far the ball is going to bound forward.” There are all sorts of lab activities they do with the kids so that they aren’t

TGA Sports founder and Playa Vista resident Joshua Jacobs

just playing sports, they’re beginning to understand how the sport works. “From a science standpoint, that’s a really great thing for a kid who’s in elementary school to capture. And we’re adding STEM to the other sports

as well, launching it this summer,” Jacobs says. Though the offices of TGA Sports are in El Segundo, Jacobs lives right here in Playa Vista and his programs currently serve Playa Vista Elementary School. He also dreams about having summer camps here, too. “I’m hoping to launch a weeklong camp that incorporates these academics and athletics,” he says. “We’ve got some restaurants involved that will provide lunches.” The only missing piece? An affordable location in Playa Vista. Jacobs says TGA Sports is hoping to work with Playa Vista parks to create an affordable alternative for parents. “It’s all about providing quality programs for kids that change lives,” he says. To find out more about TGA Sports, call (310) 333-0622 or visit playtga.com.

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The Superwoman Workshop @ Lorna Jane By Shanee Edwards | Photo by Shilah Montiel

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hursday, March 8, was International Women’s Day. To celebrate, the new Lorna Jane Playa Vista opened its doors, rolled the clothing racks aside and let a group of superwomen exercise, meditate, eat and shop. Created by the indefatigable Esme Leon, the Superwoman Workshop is a workout for body, mind and soul. She started the event by sharing her inten-

sion for the workshop: “I want to create a space where, together, we create the next generation of super women who harness and own their power.” To nurture self-esteem, she encouraged each woman to share something she was proud of with the group. After that, the feminine energy in the room was electric. Next was a high-energy, vigorous interval workout to pop beats, a guided

meditation and a clean dinner provided by Fitness with Taste. Lorna Jane gave all participants 25% off its stylish yet durable activewear designed with posh colors and playful prints. Sweaty, with well-nourished bodies and souls, the wonder women of Playa Vista show off their muscles and favorite Lorna Jane gear


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Physicianscientist Belinda Tan stands next to Science 37’s office motto


H ea l th

Better Medicine

for All

Science 37 is curing a lack of diversity in clinical trials with new technology and old-fashioned house calls Story By Stephanie Case | Photos by Courtnay Robbins

W

hat happens when you have an idea for a new medical treatment, but can’t find a single patient to test it on? That sounds like a theoretical question, but it’s one a staggering amount of clinical researchers grapple with. “In your typical clinical trial — and this is all across the industry — fewer than 50% of the clinics that are involved in the trial will ever recruit a patient, and even fewer will reach their recruitment goal,” says Playa Vista-based physicianscientist Belinda Tan. The dearth of volunteers, she says, isn’t for lack of interest; it’s for a lack of accessibility. “Many trials are designed around hospitals and doctors, and it doesn’t keep in mind that that’s really inconvenient for people,” Tan explains. “For instance, if I work at UCLA,” she adds, “I can technically only reach the people who are willing to drive to Westwood to participate.” This creates a barrier for would-be volunteers who live on the other side of the state — or even on the other side of the 405 — and don’t have the free time or resources to regularly make the trip. To address this problem, Tan and fellow physician-scientist Noah Craft cofounded Science 37: a virtual research practice that puts patients first, treating them remotely via telemedical services and mobile devices.

Tan and her team work together to democratize all aspects of scientific research

At the company’s Playa Vista headquarters, doctors, lawyers, patient coordinators, marketing experts and software developers all work under one roof, each doing their part to make the clinical trials they administer as open and accessible to the public as possible, no matter where a patient lives. “We’re trying to democratize all of science, by not only being able to take away the geographic limitations — so you don’t have to worry that it takes you 2½ hours to take the bus to a hospital — but also by reaching out to patients across all of these different channels, and building awareness and education,” Tan says.

Tan’s Science 37 colleagues use digital advertising and other outreach efforts to target people for a wide range of clinical trials, whether it be testing a new treatment for cluster headaches, diabetes, a rare skin condition or a psychiatric illness. In the 3½ years since they went into business, Science 37 has found creative ways to overcome the challenges of providing treatment from a distance. In one acne trial, the team shipped a refrigerated topical live bacteria spray to patients across 10 states. Twice a day, the participants sprayed the treatment on (Continued on page 44) Playa PlayaVista VistaDirect Direct || April · May 2018 43


H ea l th

(Continued from page 43)

their faces, then photographed their skin and uploaded the pics to NORA — Science 37’s cloud platform — so dermatologists could remotely analyze their results. In another acne trial, Science 37 contracted mobile nurses to visit patients’ houses to inject an acne-fighting drug, draw blood, do an EKG test, and photograph the skin of the participant. The process required an intense amount of coordination on the company’s end to fit the needs of every single patient, Tan says. “Say it’s a 28-year-old and they have a part-time job, but they’re also going to school, so they can only do visits on Wednesday evenings, or weekends,” Tan says. “Our staff makes sure that the right nurses with the right availability will be at the patient’s home during the window that she’s able to get the procedures done.”

Meeting the patient where they are shifts the onus of coordinating care to Science 37. That reversal not only makes things easier for patients, but also improves the diversity of the study and the quality of the research being produced. “[So much of ] science up to now has only really been tested on mainly Caucasian people, and a lot of males,” Tan says. “Traditionally, over the past several decades, doctors who are designated as the KOLS — the key opinion leaders — tended to be white males” at major universities, she adds. Because of this, “the majority of people who are coming to these trials are a certain education level, a certain type of insurance — and that’s kind of what is driving the very narrow demographic of participants.” Through their patient-centric approach, Science 37 has been able to recruit more and more non-white

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The Marayags share many passions, but Playa Vista is their one true love By Robyn Paris | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner 48 Playa Vista Direct | April ¡ May 2018


H ome

Left side:

Ryan and Myra Marayag, their daughter Brooklyn, son Ethan, and dogs Zoey and Buboy B e low:

B e l o w r i g h t:

W

Brooklyn reads a picture book on her sleigh bed fit for a princess

The proscenium arch over the Marayag’s kitchen adds drama to their Capri Courts II home

hen Playa Vista couple Myra and Ryan Marayag aren’t chasing snow, they’re spending most of their time at home, throwing parties for “almost every occasion” and taking their two young children, Brooklyn (4) and Ethan (1 ½), and two dogs (bulldog Buboy and bullmastiff Zoey) to local events. Myra and Ryan moved to Playa Vista back in 2011, making them some of the pioneering residents of the area. Myra notes that although they’ve been told the smart financial move might be to sell their home because they have so much equity in the property, she doesn’t see how they could part with it. “We love it here so much. It’s so unique in terms of the neighborhood, stuff for the kids,” she says. “It’s hard to replicate. There’s really no other place we

could move that we would like as much as Playa Vista.” As the VP of Sales at Defy Media, Myra works with movie studios, gaming companies and the automotive industry, offering them advertising on Defy’s digital properties, branded content and digital video distribution. Ryan is a financial services consultant and wealth advisor who over 20 years has built a practice helping the “mass affluent” (those with assets ranging from the $200,000 to $1 million) achieve personal financial goals. Myra adds that being in Silicon Beach means her entire industry is nearby. With many of her digital media clients living in Playa Vista, she can take morning meetings locally before heading to her Beverly Hills office. As a marathon runner, Myra also loves

the Playa running group that meets every Wednesday. “I force the family to do 10Ks — we do it with the kids,” she says. “My knees don’t love it,” Ryan adds with a grin. But when Myra mentions that Whole Foods sponsors pizza and beer at the end of the running club’s weekly three- to five-mile run, I think I should probably take up running myself. Myra says that when friends visit, they call her the mayor of Playa Vista because the Marayags know so many of their neighbors. What they don’t understand, she says, is “it’s like that for everyone here!” “Coming from New York, we liked that this was a unique neighborhood (Continued on page 50) Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018 49


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(Continued from page 49)

where we can walk everywhere. It’s similar to New York, but it has the L.A. feel,” Myra explains. The Marayags’ Capri Courts II home is filled with pieces that remind of them of Brooklyn, where they spent the early years of their relationship. Although both Myra and Ryan are L.A. natives, Myra moved to New York when she was getting started in her career and Ryan would frequently visit. Sure enough, they named their first child Brooklyn. Also featured prominently are snowand skiing-themed art. The couple spends most of their free weekends skiing — this season alone they went to Mammoth, Deer Valley, Squaw, Lake Tahoe, Snowbird, Banff, and Alta. The couple jokes that they are training Brooklyn to be the next Chloe Kim or Michaela Shiffrin. And when they are home, they really do love to throw parties. Their annual Halloween gathering usually tops 80 or even 100 people.

A photo of farmland owned by Myra’s grandparents in the Philippines lends a personal touch to the master bedroom

“Ryan does an elaborate maze in the garage. It’s like Knott’s Berry Farm,” says Myra. “It’s the only time I’m handy,” jokes Ryan. “I’ll ask him to change a light bulb and he won’t do it, but he’ll spend two weeks building a maze,” Myra concurs. They both laugh, and then the conversation turns to a party for a boxing match and how their bulldog, Buboy, was named

after Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Buboy Fernandez. The Marayags’ Filipino origins play a strong role in their home’s décor. In their bedroom hang several large photos of different places in the Philippines. There’s one of bread from Ryan’s father’s bakery, Silang Bakery, which has been around for more than 100 years, and another of farmland in Agdangan owned by Myra’s grandparents. (Continued on page 52)

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A dizzying spiral staircase adds a sense of adventure to a home known for throwing parties

H ome

(Continued from page 50)

The photos remind the Marayags of their family’s humble roots and “how we owe a lot of our blessings due to the hard work our parents did to come to the U.S.,” Myra says. Throw in a supportive local Facebook group, the Playa Vista Moms Club and neighbors dropping off dinners during maternity leave, and the Marayags are completely sold on the Playa Vista lifestyle. “Some people call it Pleasantville,” says Myra, “but we love it. Having the community and knowing the neighbors is so nice.”

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ÂĄHola

Mezcal!

The smoky, sexy and sophisticated tequila alternative is finally getting its moment Story by Andy Vasoyan Photos by Maria Martin

54 Playa Vista Direct | April ¡ May 2018


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L e f t s i d e : SOL Cocina’s mezcal margaritas are made with guava, passion fruit purée, and agave nectar strained over ice with a chili powder rim Ab o v e :

Tangy ceviche cucumber rounds pair perfectly with smoky espadin mezcal

Ab o v e r i g h t:

Beverage director Colin Pffugradt serves up a spicy and rare tobala mezcal cultivated in the wild highlands

of Mexico

F

or those above a certain age, the word “tequila” can provoke a powerful emotional response. Some react with strong negatives born from unpleasant memories, others a manic grin and a willingness to call in sick the next day. Like the blue agave it’s fermented from, tequila is a spiky, hardy thing, and unrepentantly so. But is that what tequila has to be? Increasingly, tequila is shedding its rough roots and buttoning up. Costly, ultra-high-end tequilas have made stellar increases in sales; actor George Clooney sold Casamigos, the tequila brand he co-founded, for a billion dollars last year. The growing demand for a more premium agave spirit has made some producers look back to Mexico, the birthplace of tequila, for other options. Enter: mezcal. Mezcal, like tequila, is created from the agave plant. Tequila, however, can

only be produced in limited areas of Mexico, and is strictly a product of blue agave (agave tequilana). Mezcal, on the other hand, can be distilled using a number of agave varietals. All tequila is a kind of mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Because many of the agave plants used for mezcal are wild and can’t readily be cultivated en masse, the price of the spirit becomes steeper to compensate, and batches of mezcal are often limited runs. Many brands are familyrun and operated in the same way they have been for generations; the concept of cultivation on an industrial scale just doesn’t apply. Fortunately for interested parties, there are viable commercial options for those who want to sample the world of mezcal. At SOL Cocina at Runway in Playa Vista, Beverage Director Colin Pflugradt has been making a concerted effort to ease in customers.

“It’s a high-proof spirit, so a cocktail or at the very least on ice is the way to start,” Pflugradt says. “Some people will just put the cheapest mezcal into a regular old margarita; it’ll just overpower those components, it needs a bolder fruit to hold up to the bold spirit.” His recommendation? A mezcal margarita: guava, passion fruit puree, a touch of agave nectar, shaken and strained over ice, with a chili powder rim. That drink was on offer at Mezcal LUV, a tasting event in February held in conjunction with National Margarita Day. The restaurant teamed up with Oaxacan-owned mezcal brand El Jolgorio to feature three very distinct types of mezcal offered neat for sipping and tasting, as well as Pflugradt’s margaritas and hors d’oeuvres. The margaritas went quickly; the cocktail was balanced while still being (Continued on page 56) Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018 55


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(Continued from page 55)

odd enough to be interesting, with the smoky flavor of the espadin mezcal adding a welcome element of richness and complexity. Espadin is a type of agave that can reliably be cultivated, which is why it’s more commonly used in mixological concoctions or for unusual distilling techniques, like in El Jolgorio’s Pechuga. Pechuga translates to “breast” in Spanish, and the mezcal itself undergoes a multi-phase distillation with fruits, nuts and a raw chicken or turkey breast cooking in the alcoholic vapors. Another standout was the smoky and spicy tobala mezcal, made from a plant that can take between 10 and 15 years to mature at high altitudes in the wild, and when all’s said and done, will only have grown to the size of a head of cabbage. Perhaps because of its rare pedigree, the tobala mezcal seemed to be a crowd favorite. Madrecuixe agave can grow up to 300 pounds in just under

Guests of Sol Cocina’s Mezcal LUV event learn about the complexities of tequila’s sophisticated cousin

10 years, but the mezcal of the same name didn’t seem to have nearly as much weight with the tasting crowd. It bodes well for the future of mezcal that size doesn’t seem to matter. For those interested in trying these unique spirits, bottles can cost upward

of $125. As the premium tequila market blooms, mezcal is looking to carve out a space next to its upstart descendant. And with its unmistakable flavor, palates nationwide may soon embrace the complex, rewarding tequila alternative.

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EVENTS

Compiled by Griffin Baumberger

Sundays in April

Sunday Night Jazz @ Hal’s Bar and Grill

saturday, April 14

Complex rhythms, improvasation, and a touch of the blues, Hal’s Bar & Grill serves up the best of the local jazz scene every Sunday this April. Two of the more distinguished names in jazz, Thom Rotella and Harvey Newmark perform April 15, Greg Poree and Isaias Elpes bring Brazillian sounds on April 22, and Ashun, the famous classical Flamenco guitarist, performs April 29. Hal’s Bar & Grill, 1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. halsbarandgrill.com Saturday, April 14

Boys and Girls Club of Venice’s Texas Hold ‘Em Poker @ Microsoft Organized by the Boys and Girls Club of Venice, the 8th Annual Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament is truly going all-in for the kids. Food trucks, craft beer and high stakes poker is sure to be a lot of fun for a good cause. Noon to 5 p.m at Microsoft at The Reserve, 13031 W. Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista. $175 early bird registration. RSVP required. Search “BGCV Poker” at eventbright.com to register. Saturday, April 14

Puppy Hour @ Bluff Creek Fields saturday, May 12

60 Playa Vista Direct | April · May 2018

Puppy Hour is back on at the Bluff Creek Fields. Bring your furry friends for a pawsome time, noon to 1:30

p.m. at the dog park, 12604 Bluff Creek Dr., Free. playavista.com Friday, April 27

IMAX Family Movie Night @ IMAX Headquarters Come experience the immersiveness of the IMAX screen as the IMAX Headquarters hosts a kidfriendly film for Playa Vista Elementary families. 12582 Millennium Dr., Playa Vista. Playa Vista Elementary School students & families only. playavistaschool.com/google-calendar Saturday, April 28

The Nartey Sports Foundation Founders Ball @ The CenterPointe Club Hosted by Celebrity Sports and Entertainment Real Estate Broker Kofi Nartey and FIFA World Cup Veteran Mimi Nartey, this ball aims to raise money for sportsrelated interventions for underserved youth. CenterPointe Club, 6200 Playa Vista Dr., Playa Vista. $250 minimum. RSVP required. narteysportsfoundation.com Saturday, May 12

Fit Expo @ The Resort Shop the latest activewear styles and catch up on cutting edge fitness trends. The Resort, 2852 W. Runway Road, Playa Vista. playavista.com/events.


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Playa Vista Direct is a community magazine that aims to nurture community bonds in the modern village that is quickly growing in the 90094 z...

Pvd apr may 2018  

Playa Vista Direct is a community magazine that aims to nurture community bonds in the modern village that is quickly growing in the 90094 z...

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