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The Face of Phase II

Josh Goldstein Associate Broker, MBA

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Compass is a licensed real estate broker (01991628) in the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdraw without notice. To reach the Compass main office call 310.230.547

Josh Goldstein

The Face of Phase II


6 ‘Ohana’ means family

Vol. 3 | No. 4

33 LA Film Festival brings virtual reality to Playa Vista


43 Randi Firestone gathers the community to raise money to fight Alzheimer’s disease

10 Playa Vista Mom’s Group Summer Party @ Concert Park


12 Chinese Lessons @ Playa Vista Branch Library

30 Why I’m waiting to send my daughter to kindergarten

14 Media Day @ LA Clippers Training Facility



50 The Salgueiros build an eSports Empire

18 Meet five women charting bold and innovative paths


28 Shepherd Hoodwin heals the spirit by channeling an entity called Michael

4 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

FOOD 58 The husband and wife team behind Playa Vista’s newest restaurant Piccolo Ritrovo Pet Adoption

54 Seven tips women need to know for self-defense

36 Meet Ballerina, Coco and Raphael — one of them could be your new best friend Events 66 Don’t miss the Halloween Hangout at The Lawn on Oct. 31

ON THE COVER: Ciarra Carter, Courtney Fricke, Bethany Joy Clark, Kelly Rudnicki and Susan Ko getting to know each other at SOL Cocina. Photo by Courtnay Robbins. Design by Michael Kraxenberger.






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E ditor ’ s N ote

‘Ohana’ means family


he women who work and live in Playa Vista are special. They are business professionals, nurturing mothers, artists and tech-savvy creators, but most of all they care about family – both found and blood. When they’re not focused on family, they spend their free time volunteering, raising money or awareness for a cause they feel passionate about. The women in this community inspire. When I reached out to find women who might be interested in being featured in the magazine, I was overwhelmed by the ease and openness with which they shared their stories. Both triumphs and tragedies were revealed as was heartache and healing. Hopefully, these pages will serve as a proper introduction to these individuals, but I really wish that all my readers were as privileged as I felt to meet and spend time with each of these fantastic ladies. One of my favorite things as a writer is that my work takes me to new worlds and into new perspectives. I get to meet and speak with people I would otherwise never get the chance. Bethany Joy Clark of WeWork introduced me to the concept of “ohana” which is Hawaiian for family – no one gets left behind or forgotten. Isn’t that exactly what Playa Vista is all about? From mom networks to tech mixers, to the dog parks and athletic fields, there’s something for everyone in Playa Vista – no one gets left behind or forgotten. Clinical Psychologist Susan Ko of Science 37 shared her experience of being a second generation Korean-American and how that ultimately led to her decision to pursue psychology. Hers was a new perspective I hadn’t considered before and I’m so very happy to share it with you. Randi Firestone shared her deeply personal story about losing her mother to Alzheimer’s disease. In true “ohana” fashion, she now works tirelessly to raise money to fight the disease that affects too many of our loved ones. I want to personally thank all the women in this issue and let you know each and every one of you has left a lasting imprint on me. I expect they will leave a lasting imprint on you, too. Shanee Edwards Managing Editor ·

6 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

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 Andrew Dubbins · Andy Vasoyan Gary Walker Contributing Photographers Erica Allen · 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 Advertising Director Rebecca Bermudez Senior Editor Joe Piasecki Publisher David Comden

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Playa Vista Moms Group Annual Summer Event @ Concert Park Before she began singing to the crowd of local families, pop singer JoJo said, “I’m so happy to be here on a such a beautiful day, raising money for such a beautiful cause.” Known for her commitment to charitable causes, JoJo came out to help the Playa Vista Moms Group raise money for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. In between somersaulting through gym equipment, soap bubble ponds, and a pirate-themed bounce house, kids enjoyed summer treats like snow cones, hot dogs, burgers, even Hawaiian food. Stacy’s Cookie Lounge provided ice cream cone-shaped cookies for little ones to decorate. Star Education, the non-profit who provides after school classes at Playa Vista Elementary was also on-hand to provide airbrushed “tattoos.” Star representative, Patrick Yeoman, said, “Star is happy to have a presence at Playa Vista Elementary. It’s a great school with great kids. We look forward to serving the students any way we can in the upcoming year.” — Shanee Edwards 10 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018


Pop singer JoJo performs for an excited crowd


A tiny tot makes her way though a tunnel of hoops


Kids enjoy a pirate ship-themed bounce house


A dad band entertains little dancers


Face painting is always a crowd pleaser


Roxana Sarrafian and daughter enjoy the sunshine

community Photos by Maria Martin






Chinese Lessons @ Playa Vista Branch Library This summer’s blockbuster movie “Crazy Rich Asians” created an enthusiastic following of fans seeking to learn more about China’s history, culture and, of course, the popular game of Mahjong. For adults interested in all things Chinese, Playa Vista Library recently partnered with the Ni Hao Chinese educational group to offer a free program called “Learn Chinese the Fun Way: Tea Talk Chinese Language & Culture.” The first session, held on Sept. 19, introduced the language’s character structure and its Pinyin system of pronunciation. The students then learned over a dozen words and sentences, including the all-important “I love you” and “What would you like to drink?” The lesson ended with a quick intro to Mahjong. Everyone who attended agreed that Chinese is quite challenging, but a fun language to learn. The next class is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 2 to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Playa Vista Branch Library at (310) 437-6680 or visit — Maria Martin 12 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018


Playa Vista residents along with librarian Prudence Michael learn how to say “I love you” in Chinese from teacher Xiao Luan


Xiao Luan explains the Pinyin system of pronunciation


Chinese-native Xiao Luan happily breaks out the Mahjong tiles


The game of Mahhong was developed by the Qing dynasty in the 17th century


Mahjong is played with 144 tiles that feature Chinese characters and symbols

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community Photos by Maria Martin






Media Day @ LA Clippers Training Facility The LA Clippers hosted a Media Day on Sept. 24 at their training facility in Playa Vista. From rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to international player Danilo Gallinari, athletes answered questions about training regimens and the future of the team before signing basketballs. Owner Steve Ballmer plans to create a $1.2 billion stadium by 2024 that will be located in Inglewood, according to The team currently shares the Staples Center with their rival, the LA Lakers, but many think it’s time for the team to have a place of its own and escape the shadow of the Lakers. LA’s two NFL teams, the Rams and the Chargers also have a stadium under construction in Inglewood. The new arena for the Clippers would be very close to the NFL stadium and would be able to seat approximately 18,000 fans. If approved, the new basketball arena would heighten the team’s fan base. — Destinee DuBose 14 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018


Clippers players Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Avery Bradley pose for media photos


Small Forward Luc Mbah a Moute signs basketballs for eager fans


Tyrone Wallace goes airborne for his publicity photos


Popular players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson share a laugh between press interviews


Shooting Guard Desi Rodriquez poses with a basketball in hand

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The Real Women of Playa Vista Five amazing women charting bold and innovative paths Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos by Courtnay Robbins

Susan Ko uses personal experience to heal others

Susan Ko of Science 37 is on a mission to change the world 18 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

While Susan Ko was born in America, she is the child of Korean immigrants. She remembers watching the struggles her mother experienced when they went out shopping. “I watched as salesclerks assumed she couldn’t speak English and turned to me, a 7 or 8-year-old kid, to ask questions or start to speak more slowly and loudly,” says Ko. While these may sound like small incidents, they were highly impactful and remain vivid. “I remember wondering why people treated my mom like she was invisible. I couldn’t understand it. And I also heard her express to me and to other immigrant friends, her sense of isolation, and sometimes sadness about missing her country, her ‘home.’” These experiences and the lingering sadness they caused remained a mystery to Ko until she took a high school psychology class. ‘It was really eye opening to me. Words like acculturation and assimilation pieced together the struggle that I had observed.’ She learned that her mother’s experiences, or “micro-aggressions” and other challenges her family faced, related to

their different experiences being first and second generation Korean-Americans. She was fascinated to discover there were psychologists and sociologists who were actually interested in learning more about these experiences. Ko wanted to learn more too. Her observations about the hidden hurts of immigrant families, together with her curiosity about why some types of challenges are acceptable to share (e.g., broken bones, medical illness) while others are stigmatized (e.g., depression) made her want to find a way to learn from her multicultural background and provide a bridge towards making mental health services more accessible and acceptable for everyone. So, she became a clinical psychologist. But to be fully present for clients takes a lot and she also had an interest in a “big-picture business.” For Ko, that “big-picture business” was Science 37 whose mission is to “accelerate biomedical research by putting patients first.” It sounds simple, but their goals are huge. “We are looking to change the world and we actually have a shot at that.” When she’s not seeing patients or trying to change the world, she’s expressing herself through creative outlets like piano and baking. She says

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it’s possible that later in life she may just find herself as a student at a culinary institute to become a chocolatier. Though psychology and chocolate may seem like completely different paths, Ko says there is one thing they have in common. “They both have the potential to make you happy. But all things aside, it’s about creativity. A lot of therapy is about thinking about things differently, finding a different way and being able to explore your feelings.”

Actress Ciarra Carter cares deeply about women and kids Originally from Nashville, Ciarra Carter has wanted to be an actress and model since she was about seven years old. Luckily, her mother supported that dream but also gave her some good advice. “My mom told me,” says Carter as we chat at Runway, “’You have just as much of a right as anyone else. If you want to do it, do it. But whatever it is you want to do, be the best at it.” Those words stuck with Carter and she made her way to Los Angeles about 10-years ago. Like anyone coming to Hollywood to follow their dream, she had to hustle. “There was a lot to learn. I’m still learning,” she says. But Carter has a gentle confidence and warmth that makes her approachable in a way that women with her beauty sometimes are not. Those qualities have served her well and her first breaks came fairly quickly. She landed spokesmodel deals with both Pit Bull Energy Drinks and Rosco’s Chicken and Waffles. “For the energy drink, they would fly me to military bases all over to hang out with military guys and talk about the drink. I enjoyed it because it gave me some patriotic stripes.” Her affable, breezy demeanor also helped her meet her husband, film producer Paul Goldsby.

“I was walking out of a restaurant on Pico and saw this producer who looked familiar, I think I had auditioned for him before. He was with an artist and he came up to me and said, ‘Are you an actress?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’” Turns out, he was shooting a very legit music video for a rap artist and was in desperate need of an actress – the timing couldn’t have been better. Carter showed up to the packed set ready to work. Goldsby was impressed. “After that, Paul would ask me to go to movies with a group of people, or dinners. It felt very casual. I didn’t realize until later that he was courting me all that time.” The couple married and now have a 19-month-old daughter with an unusual but beautiful name. “We knew we were having a daughter and Paul said he had the perfect name. He asked me questions to see if I could guess it.” He asked her what she thought of when she thought about God, but she wasn’t sure how to answer. Then he asked her what she thought of when she thought about them as a couple. “I said, ‘Unity? Hope?’ I was all over the place. Finally, I just said ‘Tell me!’ He said, ‘Love.’ I said it out loud, ‘Love, come here Love. Baby Love.’ I loved it.” To raise little Love, she says she wanted to live in a place where she felt comfortable and knew there were other families around. “I wanted space, I wanted community, a place where we felt we could be here for a long time and get comfortable.” As with the baby name, Paul knew the perfect place: Playa Vista. “I had no idea this community was here. It’s everything I could imagine and more. The support systems, the mom’s groups, the activities for the kids – it’s everything a family could want.” Since moving here, Carter’s acting career has really taken off. She almost had to miss the photo shoot for this

Actress Ciarra Carter’s most recent film “Dead End” is set to release this fall

story because she booked a job – lucky for us, the timing worked out. She recently appeared on an episode of CBS’s “Pink Collar Crimes” and her film “Dead End,” also starring Vivica A. Fox, is set to release this fall. In addition, her fitness video series will be coming to television in the near future. If there’s one thing Carter wants people to know about her, it’s that she cares about women and kids. “I’m really (Continued on page 20) Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 19

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(Continued from page 19)

into female empowerment and making sure kids and women are safe and have food in their bellies. Whether that means donating food to a food drive or going downtown to volunteer at the women’s shelter – I do all those things, especially when it comes to kids, they are the future.” Carter’s hopes for her daughter are simple. “I hope that every day for her is a happy day. I don’t necessarily want her to follow in my footsteps but I want her to be carefree.” Playa Vista is certainly the place for that.

Mom of two, Courtney Fricke takes the unconventional road When Courtney Fricke’s parents were anticipating the birth of their only child, doctors told them to expect a boy. The doctors were wrong. “Instead, my dad got me – his one and only shot,” says Fricke who was born in China under the country’s one child policy. But instead of feeling disappointed, her father decided his dream of raising a son didn’t have to go entirely out the window. “He was like, ‘By golly, I’m going to turn you into a boy.’ In second grade he cut my hair off and that was the beginning of my tomboy stage. He got me into sports, Tai Kwon Do, and fast cars. I was essentially the biggest tomboy ever.” Her family moved to the United States when she was about four and she loved the empowerment that came from not having to conform to typical “girlish” tropes. As her love for cars grew, she eventually began to race them professionally. “I started getting into the import culture and I loved it.” She had a Mitsubishi 3000 GT and started getting paint jobs and body kits to modify the car. “I had sponsors, and I did quartermile drag racing. It cost a lot of money, but it was so much fun. ‘The Fast and 20 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

the Furious’ movies started coming out around that time which made it a little bit easier [to get sponsorship] but there was a lot of portfolio writing, making phone calls, sweet talking and begging. It was important for me because, at the time, I was one of very few women.” Now a middle school science teacher at the local Westside Neighborhood School, she says racing cars taught her never to give up. “It may be a man’s world but there’s room for me if I make room for me. A lot of people said no to me without knowing what my skills were - it was the fact that I was a girl. Drag racing is a very male dominated sport and this was about 20 years ago. I want girls to believe in themselves. I have two daughters and that’s what I want them to grow up seeing, that’s also what I want for my students.” Not surprisingly, Fricke also takes an unconventional road when it comes to teaching. Instead of relying on stuffy science text books or boring lectures, she teaches her students to problem solve using real-world problems like the one facing her soon-to-be two-yearold daughter. “I have this problem,” she told her students. “The law says car seats need to be rear-facing until the child is twoyears-old. Tell me why. What are the physics behind it? What does it look like when you’re in a front-end crash? Why is it safer to be rear-facing versus forward-facing and explain that in terms of Newton’s laws? So that’s what we did.” She and her students went out into the community, became car seat experts and helped other people install them. “They learned about physics and that’s exactly how they’re learning right now.” For Fricke, it’s not about teaching the information that anyone can find on Google. She says she wants her eighthgraders to develop grit and perseverance. “It’s my job to give them opportunities to practice these skills. They are changing their mindset. They don’t look at me and say, ‘Tell me the answer to this problem so I can remember it just long enough

Former racecar driver Courtney Fricke now teaches Newton’s laws of motion to middle schoolers

to take this test. Now, it’s, ‘What is the next problem I need to solve and which direction do I need to go in?’”

Bethany Joy Clark’s sense of ‘ohana’ Growing up in a large military family with a mother who’s a flight attendant, Bethany Joy Clark lived in or visited at least twenty different countries before she turned 30. But it was spend(Continued on page 22)




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Bethany Joy Clark is Director of Community for five locations of WeWork

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(Continued from page 20)

ing time in Hawaii that made the biggest impression on her. “I’m Hawaiian at heart. I love their sense of celebration, their love of nature.” But there’s one aspect of islander culture she’s vowed to live by. “I love the idea of ohana which means family. Nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” Given her personal motto of ohana, it’s no surprise she’s the Director of Community for five locations of WeWork, the office-share company that’s 22 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

soon opening their second location in Playa Vista. But it’s easy to see how someone who moved around a lot as a kid, often not speaking the language as was the case in Panama, became an expert at making new friends. Clark is a natural community builder. “My job is to serve and support those community teams and our members in doing what they love. When we’re doing that well, all businesses thrive.” She and her husband Trevor, who’s a fitness trainer at The Resort, moved to Playa Vista in 2013 and even appeared on an episode of “House Hunters.” The Clarks now have a one-yearold daughter named Cali Joy and by working at WeWork and living in Playa Vista, Bethany seems to have found the perfect family-work balance. “I love that there are so many sub-communities in Playa Vista that support mothers, especially working mothers.” The vast network of working moms is another example of ohana. But that’s not a coincidence. Clark is convinced that one of the reasons WeWork has been so successful in Playa Vista is because the company and the local community share the same values. “Playa Vista was built with community at its core. It was built so intentionally to live, work, play. You have homes, businesses, medical facilities, a grocery store. WeWork is the same way, it has community at its core. We want to take care of all the little things so you can come to work and do the thing you love. We want to set you up for success so you can thrive. I think when they were building Playa Vista, they were thinking all of those same things.” WeWork’s new location will be in the same building as The Honest Company on Millennium Drive. It opens December 17. “We are taking over the second and third floors. We’re excited to be neighbors with YouTube, Facebook and Google.’

After helping so many female-led startups thrive, Clark has this advice for women who want to start their own businesses. “I’m a big fan of mentors. Find an amazing mentor and have them hold you accountable - someone who cares about you and can be your champion, but also pushes you to achieve your dream.”

Kelly Rudnicki found her life’s purpose in Haiti After being a stay-at-home mother of five for over a decade, writer and documentary film producer Kelly Rudnicki came to Playa Vista to kickstart her career after getting divorced. From her Playa Vista base, Rudnicki spends most of the week working on her film projects, then co-parents her kids with her ex in San Clemente the rest of the week. Currently, she’s finishing her film “Latter Day Jew” about a gay comedian who survived cancer and converted to Judaism. But it wasn’t by chance she chose Playa Vista as her home away from home. Her childhood friend and Playa Vista resident Liz Peacock invited her over to get to know her neighborhood. Rudnicki liked what she saw. “I went to the leasing office and chose an apartment that day. I fell in love with the community aspect of Playa Vista and the fact that when I come home, I’m able to walk to the grocery store, walk to restaurants, really enjoy just being home and not have to get in the car to go get something.” When Rudnicki isn’t making films and parenting, she’s giving back to a community in need that seems a world away from Playa Vista. About five years ago, another friend invited Rudnicki and her daughter on a volunteer trip to Haiti. (Continued on page 24)

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“I knew a little bit about the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake there,” says Rudnicki, “but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When I got there, I quickly realized you can’t even begin to describe that world unless you step foot in it. That’s the only way to really understand what it means to be in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. That trip changed my life. It changed my daughter’s life. She’s studying international relations at Boston University.” Rudnicki is now a board member of the non-profit organization, Global Family Philanthropy, that is based in Arizona and visits Haiti two to three times a year. She says she can’t get enough. “People go ‘why Haiti? It’s such a difficult place to work in.’ It is difficult and that’s why a lot of charities have closed down. I feel a responsibility to go to the places nobody wants to go to.” Between raising money to set up an orphanage and medical clinic in Haiti, visiting the children in need, and working to thwart sex-traffickers, her

24 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

volunteer work was a guiding light during one of the most difficult times of her life – her divorce. “I clung onto my experience [volunteering in Haiti] for dear life because it kept me out of what was going on in my own world. It gave me a sense of perspective. It truly saved me – it allowed me to be inspired.” It’s no surprise that the mother of five says she feels a responsibility to take care of people in need. “Whether it’s taking care of your neighbors, saying something kind to someone or helping a third world country – it doesn’t matter. It’s the idea that we have to step out of our circle of problems and always take care of each other. That’s really become my life’s purpose as I moved through the pain of my divorce and the shift in my family, having to work again and rediscovering my creativity in my work as a writer that I really silenced for many years to be a stay at home mom. I really owe a lot of that to working in Haiti. I’m super grateful that I get to go back in a couple weeks.”

Filmmaker and author Kelly Rudnicki is helping build an orphanage and medical clinic in Haiti

Ciarra Carter, Courtney Fricke, Bethany Joy Clark, Kelly Rudnicki and Susan Ko getting to know each other at SOL Cocina

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Brokerage Products: Not FDIC–Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value Restrictions apply: The $4.95 commission does not apply to foreign stock transactions, block transactions requiring special handling, restricted Brokerage Products: Notlarge FDIC–Insured • No Bank Guarantee • MayorLose Valuestock transactions. Foreign ordinary shares that trade online in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market and do not settle in the U.S. will have a $50 foreign transaction fee added to the cost of the transaction. All broker-assisted and automated phone trades are subject to service See the Charlesdoes Schwab Pricing Individual Investors for full feetransactions and commission schedules. compensation transactions are subject to separate commission Restrictions apply:charges. The $4.95 commission not apply to Guide foreignfor stock transactions, large block requiring specialEmployee handling, equity or restricted stock transactions. Foreign ordinary shares that trade schedules. online in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market and do not settle in the U.S. will have a $50 foreign transaction fee added to the cost of the transaction. All broker-assisted and automated phone trades are If you are not completely satisfied for any reason, at your request Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) or Charles Schwab Bank (“Schwab Bank”), as applicable, will refund any eligible fee related to your subject to service charges. See the Charles Schwab Pricing Guide for Individual Investors for full fee and commission schedules. Employee equity compensation transactions are subject to separate commission concern within the required timeframes. Schwab reserves the right to change or terminate the guarantee at any time. Go to to learn what’s included and how it works. schedules. If you areSchwab not completely satisfied for anySchwab reason,Bank at your Charles Schwabcompanies & Co., Inc.and (“Schwab”) or Charles Bank (“Schwab Bank”), as applicable, will are refund any eligible fee related to SIPC. your Charles & Co., Inc. and Charles arerequest separate but affiliated subsidiaries of The Schwab Charles Schwab Corporation. Brokerage products offered by Schwab, Member concern and within the required timeframes. Schwab reserves the rightSchwab to change or Member terminateFDIC the guarantee at any time. Lender. Go to to learn what’s included and how it works. Deposit lending products and services are offered by Charles Bank, and an Equal Housing Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and Charles Schwab Bank are separate but affiliated companies and subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation. Brokerage products are offered by Schwab, Member SIPC. Deposit and lending products and services are offered by Charles Schwab Bank, Member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.

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Master channel Shepherd Hoodwin’s book ‘Journey of Your Soul’ addresses age-old questions about why we are here

P eople

Soul Survivor

Shepherd Hoodwin soothes the spirit by channeling the wisdom of Michael – a healing collective of souls Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos by Maria Martin


hepherd Hoodwin is a master channel. If you don’t know what that means, you’re not alone. A channel is a person who allows a group of bodiless beings to speak through them. A channel is different than a medium, who communicates with individual spirits (i.e. loved ones who are now deceased). Hoodwin channels an entity called Michael, who according to Hoodwin is “a causal plane teacher. The causal plane is an intellectual dimension directly above the astral plane, an emotional dimension.” He also explains that Michael consists of 1050 souls working together and have all completed their lifetimes on the physical plane. Still not clear about what Hoodwin does? I wasn’t either, so when I heard Hoodwin would be channeling Michael in Playa Vista, I decided to check it out for myself. On Sunday, September 30th, Hoodwin invited about 30 guests to participate in his Michael channeling that took just over two hours at a yoga and meditation center called Middle Way LA. But accessing Michael doesn’t happen immediately; Hoodwin spent about a half hour speaking about his 30+ year relationship with Michael and various books he’s written. As sense of calm envelopes the room, Hoodwin goes into a meditative state that allows Michael’s energy to enter his body. He asks the guests to join him in a “grounding” exercise. He, along with many others, close their eyes

and engage in some deep breathing. Hoodwin’s face contorts, exposing his teeth as if he were in pain. A few seconds later, his face relaxes. After a few moments, he begins to speak. His voice is now slightly higher, but his speech is slow and stilted. His eyes are mostly open and he makes eye contact with individuals around the room. The information he shares isn’t necessarily specific to any one individual in the room, but rather the group as a whole. Topics include making suggestions to “create a stronger bond with Earth energy” and ways to access the divine in physically or emotionally painful situations by “realizing the temporal nature of pain.” The goal of being on Earth is to raise its inhabitants’ consciousness, though he says, “You can only raise your own consciousness but you might inspire others to raise theirs. There is great ignorance in the world and some of it is willful. You will not reach those who still wish to defend their ignorance.” He also acknowledged the political divide that is present in America and why the truth is so difficult to get at. “There are many reasons people can be unconscious and believe things that are not true. Do not assume they are lacking in goodness or intelligence or evolution. People are extremely complicated. The side they are showing you at any given moment is not the whole of who they are. See if you can engage with others as divine be-

ings and not who they are temporarily revealing themselves to be.” Something to remember when the subject of politics comes up this Thanksgiving. Overall, the messages were hopeful and intended to be healing. He suggested not beating yourself up over making mistakes and to instead, “learn from them and move on.” The wisdom shared was not outlandish or revolutionary, it was simply a reminder that none of us are perfect and to move through life with compassion for others and especially ourselves. Many of us can get stuck in our lives, possibly due to fear or having been the subject of conditional love, but our souls are meant to grow and evolve through the conflicts we face everyday. Many people at the event shared their own feelings, epiphanies and tears. Sometimes, just a reminder that we are all good enough just as we are — that even our pain is part of the divine — goes a long way. To find out more about Shepherd Hoodwin and Michael, visit To see upcoming events at Middle Way LA visit

Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 29

M om U p with G abrielle

Why We’re Waiting to Send Our Five-Year-Old to Kindergarten By Gabrielle D’Addario

30 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

(photo by Maria Martin)


ur five year old was reciting the ABC’s before hitting two, and can count pretty high, so when I considered waiting another year in preschool versus starting kindergarten, I originally opted for kindergarten. Most of our core group of friends in our preschool class were advancing to kindergarten. For us that meant we would have to make a new group of friends and that could be challenging for our little one. It also meant another year of preschool tuition, which everyone is well aware can be expensive! But when we spoke with our preschool director, we realized we were looking at the wrong indicators.  It turns out that it’s not as much about how old you are as it is about how emotionally and socially ready you are to start kindergarten – for both your child and you. Some of the things she told us to pay attention to were how well our child sat and listened to instructions, i.e. morning meeting. Since we didn’t make it on time to school hardly ever, our child missed that routine and structure that the advancing friends were able to consistently learn from. If we pushed her to kindergarten despite our inability to make it to school on time, by 8:45 a.m., then we would likely be late to the much earlier start time of 8:05. To be honest I feel guilty about us always being late and it seemed like our tardiness started to be associated with a negative feeling towards going to school, which is not what I want to have happen.   Another key detail she advised us to pay attention to was how our child interacted with peers. At first I thought,

Gabrielle D’Addario with her kids Gracie (5) and Charlie (3)

“Oh, she’s just like me and can talk to anyone.” Which is true, she can talk to anyone but that’s not the only thing that matters. What I began to notice was that she was following the leaders versus being a leader, probably because she was among the youngest in her class. When we mixed the kids up in her circle and she spent time with younger kids, we noticed her leadership skills start to shine. We realized it wouldn’t be a bad thing to allow her more time to build her confidence before advancing. Something else that she told us to think about, was the length of experience we’ve actually had with a school setting. We waited to start preschool, mostly because I knew we would have a hard time getting there on time. At that point, there were no preschools in

Playa Vista, so that meant me having to drive somewhere else, which meant needing to get out the door even earlier. I’m really a terrible morning person. I’m more of a nightowl when I try to muster the energy to work through my giant list of to-dos. Because of that, we didn’t start at two or three-years-old like most kids, we started at four, and then spent the year showing up late every day.  We thought a little more about if we were actually ready for kindergarten, and what we decided was that we weren’t ready. We would benefit from spending another year in preschool. Another year for all of us to grow a little more, because at the end of the day, we want our child to feel like she’s set up for success as she begins her journey of education.

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“The Portal” showcased VR films on the cutting edge

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Out of Body


LA Film Festival’s ‘The Portal’ debuts in Playa Vista

Story By Christina Campodonico | Photos by Randall Michelson, Courtesy of LA Film Festival


t may be impossible to actually walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but for a few hours I felt as if I had shed my skin for another’s. Strapped into a virtual reality headset, I’m seeing the Amazonian rainforest through the eyes of a female shaman. I’m piecing together the past of a gay man struck down by AIDS. And I’m learning what it’s like to walk through life while black. These were a few of the experiences I engaged with at “The Portal,” the L.A. Film Festival’s first-ever VR and immersive storytelling showcase held this September at Loyola Marymount University’s new Playa Vista campus, located at the Brickyard. In this year’s LAFF competition, 42% of films were directed by women and 39% were directed by people of color. “The Portal” continued that festival trend by highlighting VR films made by women and stories that invited you to step into diverse bodies and worlds. Over the course of the two-day festival, you could immerse yourself in the transcendent spiritual prayers of Sufi Muslims, or go through the celestial experience of being abducted by aliens. Other VR experiences brought you closer to Earth, like Columbia assistant professor Dr. Courtney Cogburn’s VR simulation of living life as a black man. In “1000 Cut Journey,” you are confronted with acts of racism blatant and covert — a teacher blames you for

Zikr: A Sufi Revival” turned the usually solo VR experience into a communal prayer ritual

riling up your classmates, a job interviewer mistakes your white counterpart for an Ivy Leaguer, when you actually have the prestigious pedigree. In one harrowing moment, a cop — for no reason — tells you to get down on your knees and put your hands up. The command is so fear-inducing that you follow it. It’s a part of the experience that sticks with a lot of people. “The police scene was very frightening and disturbing,” writes one anonymous viewer on a white board next to

the simulation. “It was really sad how I was accused of so many things I didn’t do,” writes another. Such first-person VR experiences tap into people’s empathetic capacities, notes Cogburn, who hopes to use data from “1000 Cut” to inform future VR experiences tackling racism. “VR gives us an opportunity to put someone into an experience and see it from a perspective they might not see (Continued on page 34) Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 33

P eople

(Continued from page 33)

otherwise,” she says. “It starts to become personal. It’s not the same thing as being black in the real world outside, but to have that personal experience and for us to create a gut punch, a reality check, is an important cognitive shift that needs to happen, if people are to meaningfully engage with these issues.” Emmy award-winning director Lynette Wallworth, the creator of “Awavena,” also agrees that VR has the unique capacity to help us engage with people and places unlike our own, especially in the case of her film. It follows the spiritual journey of the first woman to become a shaman of the Amazonian Yawanawa people. “The technology is powerful from the perspective that you’re situated inside someone’s world view,” she says. “It’s particularly compatible with indigenous peoples, especially in its documentary form because you can give such (Continued on page 36)

A special panel on women’s voices in VR featured Columbia’s Dr. Courtney Cogburn, new media artist Illya Szilak, LAFF guest director of VR and immersive storytelling Jacqueline Lyanga and director Lynette Wallworth

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a distinct sense of place. “It acts like a portal, carries you without your body to a place you haven’t been, intensifies color and sound, allows you to meet the ancestors and then you are returned.” VR technology not only enhances documentary-style experiences, but also opens up new possibilities for fictional storytelling, notes “Queerskins: A Love Story” creator Illya Szilak. For her piece, which she made with creative director Cyril Tsiboulski, you’re dropped into the backseat of a car driven by a man and woman down a long country road. (You can even feel the seat rumble.) From bits of their conversation and a box filled with mementos, which you can rifle through with Occulus Rift hand controllers, you piece together the life of Sebastian, the dead son of the couple who tragically died of AIDS. You’re not just in the story. You’re also interacting with it.

Putting on a VR headset could transport you to various worlds

“What we really wanted to do,” says Szilak, “was put you into that situation of being behind your parents, who are fighting in a car. You feel helpless and then gradually your own imagination, your own history is harnessed in service of the story.” Ultimately, Szilak wants her VR story to bring attention to your body, regardless of whether you identify as LGBTQ, because that feeling of being trapped in the backseat — in that “universally familiar situation” — may help you understand what someone like Sebastian might have gone through as the child of conservative parents. “We didn’t want to make a piece where you could pretend to be a gay person,” she says. “You’re still going to be whoever you were when you went in. … I’m really interested in using the experience of being embodied. I want to use that in VR. That’s something I can’t really do in film.”

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A group of walkers rally the crowd in Tongva Park

46 Playa Vista Direct | October ¡ November 2018

P eople


for a Cure

Randi Firestone remembers her mother Shirley while raising money to end Alzheimer’s Story By Gary Walker | Photos by Maria Martin


or some, the epiphany of a life’s mission comes during moments of inspiration. For Randi Firestone, hers was sparked by a family tragedy. Firestone, a Playa Vista resident, was visiting her mother Shirley six years ago when she began observing small but significant changes in her mother and how she was living. “I noticed a stack of unpaid bills on a table, which I thought was odd because my mother would be livid if she realized that she was behind on her bills,” said Firestone, a former retail executive manager. “And her refrigerator was empty, and she always had food in the house.” Little did she know that her mother Shirley, at the time a high-profile food writer with the California Restaurant Association and Entertainment Today, was in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis that would eventually send Randi Firestone on the crusade of her life. Shirley Firestone was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 and passed away from complications of the neurodegenerative affliction in 2015.   “When I moved in with my mother to take care of her, I had to get to know her all over again. What people don’t understand about Alzheimer’s is that it changes the person completely. I remember being in the room of my childhood home after a particularly difficult day with my mother and thinking,

(Left) Randi Firestone’s mother Shirley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. (Right) Randi Firestone has personally raised over $100,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

‘I’m living with a stranger,’” Firestone recalled. She was at her wits end until she heard about the Alzheimer’s Association’s California Southland Chapter in Beverly Hills.  “They were my lifeline. I didn’t know what else I could do. I no longer knew my mother,” Firestone said. “With Alzheimer’s, it erases who you were like an Etch-A-Sketch.”   Firestone immersed herself in literature about Alzheimer’s disease and has raised over $100,000 for the association. She also began taking part in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in California and the third leading cause of death in the nation, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s California Southland Chapter.  A week ago, Tongva Park in Santa Monica was blanketed by over 500 purple-clad walk supporters, one of 12 such walks the association sponsors. An Alzheimer’s Associations California Southland Chapter spokeswoman said the walk raised nearly $170,000.  While the cause can make for (Continued on page 48) Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 47

P eople

(Continued from page 47)

a somber discussion, the mood at the park was festive with music, laughter and smiles all around. Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden, who wrote a book chronicling her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, joined the Santa Monica walk. “I don’t want to see another generation lost to Alzheimer’s,” Harden told a cheering crowd waving brightly colored flowers.  Three generations of the Cox family turned out to walk for the family patriarch, Albert, who is wheelchair bound and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  “We’re walking because Alzheimer’s affects the whole family,” said daughter Celeste Cox. “My dad used to run marathons so we want to be here to support him.” Dr. Oana Dumitrascu, an assistant professor of neurology at Cedars Sinai says there are current clinical trials that

suggest in cases of early detection of the presence of Alzheimer’s disease some patients may be able to maintain a certain level of independence and improved quality of life. Dumitrascu says there is a causal relationship between poor vascular health— diabetes, high pretension and high cholesterol— and Alzheimer’s. “Studies have shown that a healthy diet along with any kind of stimulating cognitive engagement or activity can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease with early diagnosis,” said Dumitrascu, who is “cautiously optimistic” about the clinical trials and is researching the connection between vascular aliments and Alzheimer’s. Last month, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn launched a countywide initiative called “L.A. Found” to assist dementia and Alzheimer’s caregivers when patients or

family wanders away from home. It features a system of trackable bracelets that can be located using receivers carried in Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department helicopters and designated patrol units and return patients safely.  “If you have cared for someone with dementia or autism, you know the fear of what might happen if you turn your back for just one minute,” said Hahn, who represents Marina del Rey and other Westside communities.  “L.A. Found will not only save lives, it will finally give caregivers some peace of mind.”  Firestone will be holding her final fundraiser of the year —a jewelry and gift sale —on Nov.4  at Runaway in Playa Vista. For more information about Alzheimer’s, visit



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The Salgueiros

Build an eSports Empire in Playa Vista

This Brazilian family has big plans to make your gaming a lot more rewarding Story by Brian Marks | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner

50 Playa Vista Direct | October ¡ November 2018

H ome L e ft s i d e :

Danilo and Vanessa Salgueiro with their kids Lorena and Andre B e low:

B e l o w r i g h t:


t’s an unusually overcast morning when I drive up to the Playa Vista home of Vanessa and Danilo Salgueiro. Despite the ominous atmosphere, the Villas at Sausalito are inviting and pleasant. Although the unit is hidden away from the street, it’s surrounded by open courtyards and a broad pathway that don’t have any of the stuffiness of a gated community. It’s a cozy domestic abode that houses them and their two children, but also the site of their newest eSports venture, Lootrix, a rewards platform to help gamers get the most of their hobby. Vanessa and Danilo have been together since 2002, the year they both started their undergraduate studies in Brazil. Originally from São Paulo, the two met while in business school. Their schooling would help prepare them for future entrepreneurship, although they had to switch roles to find a better working relationship. “I did my master’s in finance, and Vanessa did her master’s in marketing,” says Danilo. “But now we’ve switched

Andre and Lorena have playtime in their Sausalito Villa

Danilo Salgueiro is founder and CEO of Egg & Bacon and Lootrix

places. I’m the marketing guy and she’s the finance person.” “It’s super funny,” replies Vanessa. “I don’t know how I did marketing. It has nothing to do with me — I’m totally about numbers. But it worked out in the end.” The married couple’s greatest professional collaboration has been in the rapidly advancing field of eSports. “Back in 2013, I decided to invest in some companies,” says Danilo. “I saw some pitches from people, and one thing that stuck out was eSports. At the time I asked people, ‘What are eSports?’ When we took a look at it, it was the same thing as traditional sports, but instead of playing with a ball, it was playing with a computer.” The term eSports suggests some kind of futuristic version of recreation, like baseball played with jet packs, but it’s simply a new form of competition in existing video games. Players from across whole continents can compete with each other in multiplayer games, often popular first-person shooters including “Call of

Duty,” “Hearthstone” and “Overwatch.” Teams compete against each other in the game, and now players can even compete professionally. Their games are often streamed on sites like Twitch, which allows for spectators to get in on the action. Danilo and Vanessa first entered the eSports arena by purchasing a team of 22 Brazilian gamers to play for the brand Lenovo, who would all live together while playing on the team. “In Brazil, the culture is different from the US,” explains Danilo. “They don’t leave the house. Here, you go to college, or you leave the nest. So they were all leaving their families, and they had never had that experience before. It was very good for the company and creating content, but pretty bad in terms of living in the place you work.” Danilo and Vanessa sold their eSports team, then invested the profits into their current marketing agency, Egg & Bacon. “It’s ‘Electronic Games and Gamers,’ and then we just added bacon to make (Continued on page 52) Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 51

H ome

(Continued from page 51)

fun of it,” says Danilo. “Actually having a business card with Egg & Bacon written on it was a big ice breaker for us.” The Salgueiros have also created a new, millennial-friendly rewards platform for gamers and online consumers in general called Lootrix. The platform is somewhat similar to Honey, a popular website that helps to find coupons and discount codes for online purchases. With Lootrix, users rack up points whenever they make purchases at participating retailers, which can in turn be used to make other purchases. Unlike other services, though, Lootrix also lets users watch videos from advertisers or fill out surveys to help accrue points. Although the bulk of Danilo and Vanessa’s work is built directly and indirectly around video games, they find other ways to relax at home. The kitchen, with its bright white cabinets and lightly colored wood, is a spot for family bonding. Danilo is an accomplished chef, and seven-year-old Lorena likes to make

Cooking is a family affair for the Salgueiros, who enjoy making crepes and carrot cake in their bright and sunny kitchen

crepes, or even the occasional carrot cake. Both the living room wall and kitchen feature multiple windows, which allow an abundance of natural light to illuminate the space. Despite the clean, modern lines of the interior, it creates a warm feeling, whether Vanessa and Danilo are working on the computer or the whole family is preparing a meal together. The

space isn’t huge, but it’s just right for the family, and for Vanessa and Danilo’s ambitions. “We pretty much have everything here,” says Danilo. “You have a gym in walking distance, a pool for the kids, the kids have friends, and the community is close. It’s small (in a way), but it’s perfect for us right now.”

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888.705.9970 | 1914 Pacific Coast HWY | Redondo Beach, CA 90277 Prices, terms, promotions, features, options, floor plans, elevations, designs, specifications, square footages, and descriptions are subject to change without notice. Prices shown refer to the standard house and the plan and do not include any optional features, upgrades or lot premiums. Square footages are approximate and may vary in construction and depending on the standard measurement used. EHOF II Redondo Beach, LLC (“Owner”) reserves the right to make changes to its home plan and the project design and layout. Any information such as but not limited to community or neighborhood benefits, features, descriptions, open spaces, and school information are not guaranteed, are subject to change or modification at any time. Owner does not guarantee that any specific level of energy utility costs or savings will be achieved or maintained. All renderings and floor plans are an artists’ conceptual drawings and will vary from the actual plans and homes as built. Home images, colors and sizes are approximate for illustration purposes only and may not represent the standard homes in the community. Images show model homes displaying options/upgrades and upgraded landscaping which may be available at predetermined stages of construction for additional charges. Models also display many decorator items and furniture which are not available for purchase. Visit the community or speak to our representative for additional important disclosures for the community and the home. Images do not reflect any racial preference. Maps may not be to scale. Equal Housing Opportunity. Information sources: and Offered via Terra Nova Professionals CA BRE 01142554.

Nelson Nio trains a woman to use both hands to protect herself

H ealth

7 Tips for Women’s

Self-Defense The women of Playa Vista learn how to fight back Story By Jessica Koslow | Photos by Emily Hart-Roth


hile a few vendors are

still packing up from the Saturday farmers market, a small crowd forms outside of an empty storefront at Runway. Inside the large store 13 athletically clad women are grabbing, kicking and screaming at a man named Nelson Nio. Though it might appear they’re angry at Nio, that’s not the case. He’s actually the instructor of this afternoon’s women’s self-defense workshop. Nio is the founder of SHIELD Women’s Self Defense System and an advocate of ending violence against women. He’s helped train the Kardashian sisters, appeared on numerous TV shows, and his self-defense program is the only one endorsed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health. These are Nio’s top seven tips for women’s self-defense: Make a lot of noise. Be as loud and as nasty as you can.

1 2 3

When you fight on the street, you always bite! And when you bite, don’t let go. Let him rip it off.

Get in the center (inside) position -- his arms are outside and your arms are inside. Use both hands to grab on to him.


When you knee the groin, get very close with the front leg, and smash with the back leg in an upward momentum. Grab on to him close, and

rock your hips upward and smash from underneath.


When someone is grabbing you from behind, hold on to his arms, move your hips sideways, and smash the groin with your fist.


When someone is grabbing your hair, grab and hold on to his hand, lock it to your core, and step back until you bump into him. When you bump into him, move your hips sideways and smash the groin with your hammer fist.


When you fight, be fully committed and go all out. It’s your life that is at stake. Go ballistic, all systems GO, from zero to 100 m.p.h. in a split second. And you never stop fighting. From the first strike you throw, keep striking vulnerable parts (face, neck, groin), and never stop attacking. Become the aggressor until you take him down, so you can safely escape. The goal is to escape safely. If it’s hard to imagine some of the moves Nio describes, the best way to protect yourself is to train. “I would highly suggest for women to actually train,” says Nio, who has taught self-defense classes to over 15,000 women and girls in the L.A. area. “It makes a big difference when you train. To feel what it’s like to be jolted off the ground and fight back with full force.” Nio also advises, “Teach them early, teach them young. It makes

Nelson Nio has taught the Kardashian sisters self-defense

a huge difference when you train at a young age.” For girls ages 6-17, SHIELD Women’s Self Defense System offers an afterschool program teaching selfdefense, nutrition, yoga, meditation, assertiveness training, dance, tumbling and more. SHIELD will pick up girls from their schools and bring them to SHIELD’s Culver City studio, and parents can pick girls up by 6 p.m. The women’s self-defense workshop was presented by Gabrielle D’Addario, Director of Playa Vista Events and Silicon Beach Parents Group. SHIELD Women’s Self Defense is located at 6295 Bristol Pkwy, Culver City; (310) 854-9239; Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 55

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Ritrovo brings

a simple menu with simple pleasures to Playa Vista The husband and wife team behind Piccolo Ritrovo find strength in family and food Story by Jessica Koslow Photos courtesy of Ritrovo 58 Playa Vista Direct | October ¡ November 2018

F ood

L e ft s i d e : A bov e :

Fresh burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes

Grilled Colorado lamb chops topped with a red wine reduction and served with roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables

A b o v e r i g h t:


Spaghetti Integrali: Whole-wheat spaghetti in a lemon and white wine sauce with vegetables and spinach

t’s easy to forget, as you bite into a delicious piece of pizza margherita or a tasty bite of gnocchi al pesto, that every restaurant has a story. Many are tales of triumph, starring real people powered by incredible persistence and passion. This is definitely the case with Italian eatery Ritrovo, opening this month in the old Pinkberry location on Seabluff Drive next to Playa Vista’s Concert Park. The couple behind the scenes of this new spot is Ivan Kodeh and his wife Deva, who fell in love as teens in the south of France. Deva, a Santa Monica native whose parents are French, spent every summer growing up in France. While still a senior at Samohi, Deva met Ivan and decided to stay in France after graduation. Now, the inseparable duo own Piccolo Ritrovo in Pacific Palisades and Mariners Cafe in Marina del Rey. Yet only three years ago, life didn’t look so rosy. “After we met, we traveled around Africa and decided to open a restaurant in Cameroon,” says Deva. “But we were

way too young. Then we came back to the south of France and opened a restaurant with Ivan’s family in a city next to Saint-Tropez. That didn’t work. We were only 21 at this point. Next we went to the French Alps, found jobs and we were doing well financially.” On vacation in Africa, the couple traveled to Zanzibar, an island chain in Tanzania. They instantly felt at home. So they started looking for property, and with the help of family, they bought some land and started building an empire over the next 10 years. “We thought we would spend the rest of our lives there,” says Deva. Unfortunately, fate was not in their hands, and what happened next would change Ivan, Deva and their two children’s lives forever. “One day some foreigners asked to buy our place for $5 million,” says Ivan. Their property now consisted of two hotels with 32 rooms, two restaurants (including a Thai-sushi fusion), a swimming pool, diving center, spa and school.

The couple declined the offer, but the businessmen went over their heads with a bribe to government officials. “One morning, the police came to get Ivan and put him in jail. They kept the kids hostage, even Ivan’s 70-yearold mom,” Deva says, becoming visibly emotional. “I had no food, and I was nursing,” she adds. The harrowing ordeal lasted a few weeks before Deva could secure an attorney, and the American ambassador came to their aid. The couple lost all of their assets, and Ivan’s reputation was ruined. The government planted guns and drugs in his home, labeling him a wanted man. With the help of friends in the Tanzania government, the family made it safely to Santa Monica, landing in the home of Deva’s twin sister. They had to start from ground zero. For the next six months, Deva worked 12-hour days at Sonoma Wine (Continued on page 60) Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018 59

F ood

(Continued from page 59)

Garden in Santa Monica, saving every penny. Ivan spent his days searching for a way back into the restaurant industry. In 2015, they opened Mariners Cafe in Marina del Rey, a café in an apartment complex with 3,000 tenants. The next year, along with friendpartners, they took over Piccolo Ritrovo in Pacific Palisades. “I used to eat at Jacopo’s Pizzeria, the restaurant that was at that location before,” says Deva. “I would watch them flip pizzas through the glass window.” Now, they’re looking to make their culinary mark closer to home. The couple lives in Playa Vista, as does their Ritrovo partner, Will Kirby, a successful restaurant entrepreneur (Geisha House, Big Wangs). Their kids go to school together, and their families hang out on weekends at Icon Park. The menu at this new location of Ritrovo in Playa Vista will be similar to Piccolo Ritrovo, except with less

Traditional prosciutto and mozzarella with fig reduction

items. They will add sandwiches, special weekly menus for employees in the area, takeout and delivery, and eventually brunch service. The restaurant seats 40, and another 40 can sit on the outside patio. Not only is the couple prepping their third restaurant for its grand opening in November, but they welcomed their third daughter nine months ago. “We don’t stop,” says Deva, “We

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don’t give up. We can’t. It’s not who we are. They took everything away from us. But they can’t take away our experience. This whole experience has made us better and stronger.” Deva continues, excitedly: “Everybody is calling our other two restaurants to see when we open. It’s pressure, but good pressure.” “Family,” says Deva. “This is what makes us move forward.”

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. Try our Veggie Tamales • Vegan Tamales • Sweet Tamales Seafood Tamales • Chicken/Beef/Pork Tamales & more... • 310-305-7714 13352 W. Washington Blvd (Marina Plaza) LA 90066

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Playa Vista Direct | October ¡ November 2018 63

P et A doption

Adoptable Pets

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

Nothing would make me dance for joy more than to find my forever home! I’m Ballerina and I’m a little bashful, but I’m quite lovable too. If you think we could be a match, come meet me!




Bonjour, I’m Coco, a young female looking for a wonderful home to call my own. I’d do best in a single bunny household and sometimes need my space from people, but it’s nothing personal. I love sunbathing outside in Barks ‘n Rec and enjoy dining on a big plate of veggies. Let’s rendezvous soon!

Hey, I’m Raphael! I’m a cool young cat, looking for a couch to curl up on and maybe some toys for playtime. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, come meet me!

Tips from the Trainer

dogs learn and keep coming back for more. Trainers are such an underutilized tool for all dog owners. Families and their pets can both become happier with better understanding of the dog’s behavior. It truly helps their relationship grow. Trainers even take their own

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The Value of Dog Training

Many don’t realize how valuable dog training sessions can be. Most who take classes become hooked on the new tricks and behaviors their

dogs to classes! They know how fun courses can be, for people and dogs alike. With this in mind, Annenberg PetSpace proudly launched Mutt Manners training classes to help dogs learn a variety of new tricks and behaviors. Register at

To learn more about pet adoption, or to see other available pets, visit 64 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018

Your Playa Vista home is perfect for someone. If that isn’t you, call The Nartey Group.

As a ten year Playa Vista resident, I love telling and selling our collective story. And with an increasingly motivated pool of buyers actively seeking out Playa Vista, there’s no more important – or lucrative – story to tell than your home’s. Find out how much our buyers are willing to pay by arranging a meeting with The Nartey Group. Maybe we can meet for coffee at CBTL or margaritas at Sol? Your neighbor,


Celebrity & Luxury Real Estate Specialist Playa Vista Resident 310.849.5634 •

Not intended to solicit properties already listed for sale, nor intended to cause a breach of an existing agency relationship. E&OE.

Learn more at • DRE # 01404511

EVENTS Monday, October 15

Improve Mindfulness with Chan Meditation Shana Han, a meditation instructor, will guide you through an hour of stretching, finding the correct sitting posture and a 15 to 30 minute silent meditation. Bring a yoga mat or towel. 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at WeWork Playa Vista, 12655 West Jefferson Boulevard. Visit to reserve your spot. Free. Thursday, October 18

Monday, October 15

Saturday, October 20

Campus at The Brickyard hosts Dan and Susan Gottlieb’s annual celebration of the very best in environmental and eco-conscious storytelling. Opening night includes a screening of “Living in the Future’s Past,” a documentary produced and narrated by Jeff Bridges that examines the broader context of not how but why human beings created climate change and are struggling to address it. 12105 W. Waterfront Drive, Playa Vista. RSVP for free tickets at Saturday, October 20

Tech in Motion LA’s 3rd Annual Timmy Awards

Brunch B-I-N-G-O!

This awards ceremony recognizes the best places for tech professionals to work in Los Angeles. While many tech awards are given to brilliant individuals and their technological advancements, the Timmy Awards aim to recognize those who employ those technologists, the companies and managers supporting and driving the innovation. 7 to 9 p.m., CTRL Collective, 12575 Beatrice Street. Register at events/251696146/.

Spend Saturday morning with Playa Vista Community Services (PVCS) for some friendly games of BINGO! We’ll provide provide breakfast, juices and coffee along with great prizes. *Tickets are available for Playa Vista residents exclusively and are $10 each (suggested age: 8 years and up). 9 to 10:30 a.m. at The Resort Club Room, 12852 Runway Road. Call (310) 437-6070 or visit playalink.

October 19, 20 & 21

Kids Night with Champ Camp

Gottlieb Native Garden Green Earth Film Festival

The Champ Camp team will provide your kids with an outrageously good time. Between learn-

Loyola Marymount University’s new Playa Vista

(Continued on page 70)

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Playa Vista Direct | October ¡ November 2018 67


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(Continued from page 66)

ing teamwork skills to building a fort, indoor group games, a scrumptious locally sourced dinner, snack and a movie, your little champ’s Saturday night will be full of excitement. You can enjoy an early date night at Runway while the kids have their own fun. *Exclusive to Playa Vista residents. 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Resort Club Room, 12852 Runway Road, Playa Vista, (310) 437-6070, Wednesday, October 24

Thursday, October 25

Thursday, October 25

Campus Brunch & Bubbly at the Central Park Bandshell Treat yourself to a splash of bubbly and brunch that includes an assortment of breakfast bites, coffee and non-alcoholic mimosas while socializing with Campus colleagues. Bring your company ID badge. Nosh and sip from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Central Park Bandshell, 12045 E. Waterfront Drive.

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project

Tuesday, October 31

Beginning its third year, this exciting project focuses on removing invasive iceplant and other non-native vegetation that can inhibit and impede the growth of drought-tolerant, native California plants such as pickleweed, salt grass and alkai weed. 9 a.m. to 12 noon; 303 Culver Boulevard, Playa Del Rey. To register, call The Bay Foundation at (310) 417-3962 or visit

Halloween Hangout

Playa Vista Moms Group Charity Ride Help raise money for Make A Wish Foundation of Greater LA by burning calories on a stationary bike. 7:30 p.m. Flywheel is at 12746 West Jefferson Boulevard at Runway. Tickets are $30; visit for more info. Saturday, November 3

Ghouls and ghosts of all ages can gather for a variety of Halloween treats including arts and crafts, a DJ, juggler, stilt-walker, and group activities provided by Champ Camp. 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Lawn on Millennium Drive, directly south of Runway. Saturday, November 3

Playa Vista Community Yard Sale Declutter before the holidays or browse through all the items your Silicon Beach neighbors are selling. Contact resident organizer Jennifer Kingshott by (Continued on page 72)

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Molly Maid of Playa Vista 310-838-3300


(Continued from page 70)

email at to learn more and register as a seller. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Concert Park on Concert Park Drive. Monday, November 5

Saturday, December 1

National Doughnut Day Playa Vista Community Services will be handing out FREE doughnuts in various locations throughout Playa Vista so keep your eyes peeled. All day. Saturday, November 10

Grow Native! Workshop Monday, November 5

Learn about native plants, container gardening and purchase plants to liven up your own indigenous plant garden. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ballona Discovery Park, 13110 Bluff Creek Drive. To register or preorder plants, visit Saturday, November 17

Kids Night with Champ Camp

Saturday, December 1

their own fun. *Exclusive to Playa Vista residents. 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Resort Club Room, 12852 Runway Road, Playa Vista, (310) 437-6070,

The Champ Camp team will provide your kids with an outrageously good time. Between learning teamwork skills to building a fort, indoor group games, a scrumptious locally sourced dinner, snack and a movie, your little champ’s Saturday night will be full of excitement. You can enjoy an early date night at Runway while the kids have

Holiday Hangout at The Resort Take a break from baking, shopping and stressing out to bring the whole family to this Californiastyle winter wonderland that includes crafts for the kids, food trucks, music, performers and games. 4 to 7 p.m. at The Resort, 12852 Runway Road, Playa Vista (310) 437-6070; Playalink. Tuesday, December 11

LAPD’s Santa’s Sleigh Santa Clause will be riding in on the LAPD sleigh, so stop by Concert Park to take part in all the holiday cheer. Remember to bring your camera. The sleigh will be canceled if there’s rain. 5:30 p.m. at Concert Park, 13020 Pacific Promenade. Free. Want to see your event in Playa Vista Direct? Send information as early as possible to

Kelly Myers REALTOR®

(626) 676.5778 (cell) (424) 272.6984 (direct) CalRE# 0149204

Please contact me in the Coldwell Banker Playa Vista Office:


6020 Seabluff Playa Vista Ca. 90094 6266765778 Where I Live, Work, & Play!





7101 Playa Vista Dr #316, Playa Vista $950,000

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12411 Fielding Circle, Playa Vista Lease - $3,700




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72 Playa Vista Direct | October · November 2018


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NEW PATIENT SPECIAL X-rays, Exam, & Regular Cleaning $ 195

Complimentary Invisalign / Dental Implant Consultation

All that is good begins with a SMILE. Conveniently located in Playa Vista in the heart of Concert Park Shops. Dr. Marsha Levi, graduate of UCLA is a general and cosmetic dentist and Dr. Soheil Levi, graduate of USC is a Periodontist and Dental Implant specialist, with combined experience of over 30 years serving Westside.

(310) 496-6000 | 6020 Seabluff Dr. Suite 5 | Playa Vista 90094


Bridgeway Mills, Playa Vista 2BR / 2.5BA - Office, Roof Top Deck w/ views & 2 Car Garage COMING SOON!

Wilshire Holmby, Westwood 1BR / 1.5BA - Renovated, Patio, Mountain Views COMING SOON!

6020 Seabluff Drive #414 Playa Vista 3 BR / 3 BA IN ESCROW!

Tempo, 6020 Seabluff Drive Playa Vista 3 BR / 3 BA $5,800/MO - FOR LEASE

5831 Seawalk Drive #230 Playa Vista 2 BR / 2.5 BA / + Loft $1,210,000 - RECORD SALE!

4300 Via Dolce #212 Marina Del Rey 2 BR / 2 BA $875,000 - SOLD!

6010 Celedon Creek #3 Playa Vista 3 BR / 3.5 BA /+Bonus & Loft $1,790,000 - RECORD SALE!

1315 Geddes Street Los Angeles 2 BR / 2 BA $515,000 - SOLD!

901 S Flower St, #506 & #302 Los Angeles $680,000 & $490,000 RECORD SALES!

4211 Redwood Ave. #303 Los Angeles 2 BR / 2 BA $869,000 - RECORD SALE!

5565 Ocean #103 South Bay 360 3 BR / 3.5 BA $899,000 - RECORD SALE!

6518 W 87th Street Los Angeles 3 BR / 2 BA $905,000 - SOLD!

13020 Pacific Prom. #216 Playa Vista 2 BR / 2 BA $900,000 - RECORD SALE!

13173 Pacific Prom. #112 Playa Vista 3 BR / 2.5 BA $1,455,000 - RECORD SALE!

5831 Seawalk Dr. #141 Playa Vista 2 BR / 2.5 BA $1,215,000 - SOLD!

Call Us or Text “THEONE” to 59559 For A Free Property Valuation! Barbara McNeill, Owner / Realtor

310.908.4869 DRE# 01464458 ThresholdRealEstateGroup

13075 Pacific Prom. #403 Playa Vista 2 B BR / 2 BA $915,000 - RECORD SALE!


CONDITIONS WE TREAT: • Sciatica • Spinal Stenosis • Facet Disease • Bulging Disc

• Pinched Nerve • Disc Disease • Herniated Disc • Scar Tissue • Arthritis of the Spine • Foraminal Stenosis

Orthopedic Surgery / Sports Medicine Non-surgical treatment of arthritis

Stem Cell Orthopedic • PRD Treatment • Joint Injuries


5450 Lincoln Blvd. Playa Vista 90094 • (310) 305-9200 • Free Parking in LA Fitness Lot, Enter from Brisa; at Jefferson Blvd.

B R E A K FA S T | L U N C H | D I N N E R

#1 for Best Breakfast One of the Best Brunch and Contemporary California Cuisine

4375 Glencoe Ave. Marina del Rey 90292 | 310.823.2283 |

Playa Vista Direct Oct/Nov 2018  

Publication for the community of Playa Vista

Playa Vista Direct Oct/Nov 2018  

Publication for the community of Playa Vista