SLO LIFE Magazine Dec/Jan 2014

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Jamoca Almond Fudge

Some of my favorite and most enduring holiday memories were made when our out-of-town family would come for a visit. And, because I had my own bedroom growing up—my two younger sisters shared a room—it went without saying that I would be the one to make the sacrifice when our guests arrived.

Preparing for my grandmother’s visit was a big deal. She always brought a lot of fun along, but I did have to psych myself up for the relocation to my parents’ bedroom floor. Grandma—she went by “Grandma Fran,” an abbreviation of our last name—did not really fit into our “early to bed, early to rise” family culture. With the volume dial pointed at “High,” she liked to stay up really late watching television well beyond the point when the broadcasts ended. Then she would read every word of the local paper with that distinctive sound of the T.V. “snow” buzzing in the background keeping her company. To this day, I’ve never heard someone read the paper as loud as Grandma Fran. Plus, she turned on every light in the house and cranked up the heater to max capacity. With the combination of the hallway lights flooding in from under the door at my eye level, and our old gas furnace gasping and clunking and chugging its way back to life every few minutes in an effort to keep pace with the thermostat, I probably would have had better luck rolling out my Coleman sleeping bag next to the train tracks down the street.

Despite the lack of quality sleep, it was a magical whirlwind when Grandma Fran was in town, and the party never stopped. My sisters and I looked forward to her visit all year long. She played board games with us, helped us transform our living room into the Millennium Falcon, took us for walks, and, best of all, she shared our passion for ice cream. Every evening during her stay after my parents returned from work, she would talk them into driving her to 31 Flavors. “You know, the kids really like ice cream,” she reasoned. Invariably, they would return with the 31st best flavor: Jamoca Almond Fudge. Don’t get me wrong, my sisters and I tried our level best to choke it down—it was ice cream after all—but Jamoca Almond Fudge? Dark chocolate, coffee, and almonds? Seriously? We were hoping for Rainbow Sherbet or Bubble Gum, and we would have gladly settled for Gold Medal Ribbon. As it turns out, Grandma didn’t need our help. Each day, as she slept deep into the mid-morning hours comfortably snuggled into my Star Wars sheets with a head full of curlers, my sisters and I would find an empty carton in the trash can strategically concealed between the “Local” and “Sports” sections of the previous day’s paper, which made us giggle to ourselves as we realized that Grandma Fran had pulled off another awe-inspiring ice cream heist.

As our out-of-town family has begun to arrive this holiday season, I found myself searching for my sweatshirt one night recently. I tip-toed into my bedroom where our ten-year-old daughter was sleeping fitfully in her purple butterfly sleeping bag on the fold-out cot next to our bed. Her two younger brothers had been crashed out for hours in their shared bedroom on the other side of the wall—they had struggled valiantly to keep their eyes open during the last hotly contested round of Candy Land. It was getting late when someone launched into one of the same old stories that I had heard at least a hundred times before. They were opening and closing cabinets and making all kinds of commotion with lights turned on that I didn’t even know we had, when somebody in the living room became caught up in a fit of uncontrollable belly laughter. As I looked up from my dresser, I could to see my daughter thrashing around in the glow pouring in from under the door, and it made me smile—the only thing that could have made me happier in that moment, I suppose, would have been a bowl of Jamoca Almond Fudge.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy, healthy holiday season and a prosperous year ahead. And, to everyone who had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, especially to our advertisers and subscribers—thank you for your support.

Live the SLO Life!

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Tom Franciskovich

BEHIND the scenes

As a general rule, most people do not like having their picture taken. The same goes for me. I had my photo taken recently and, through no fault at all of the photographer, I was super uncomfortable. It was just a weird situation. About halfway through our session with Naomi, her kids arrived home from school. And, from that point on, you can you really see the difference in the quality of her smile. The first half of the shots show someone who is politely smiling for this guy who has a big hunk of lens in her face, while the second half of the shots after the kids arrived are much more warm and genuine. In fact, in the cover photo we chose, Naomi’s daughter was tugging on her shirt, which caused her to twist to the left and give us a bit of a sideways look with a pure expression of love and joy.

We had been talking a lot over the last few months about how cool it would be to do a cover in black in white. And, since Naomi has such a classic, timeless look I thought that she would be the perfect candidate for this technique. To prepare, I spent some time looking at old black and whites of famous actresses to get a better sense for appropriate lighting and posing. I did plan to shoot both digital and film, but had a feeling that film, so long as I could get the right shot, would be the clear winner, which it was.

Film versus Digital 172

I love film not because it is inherently better than digital, but because the size of the camera sensor is so much larger on my equipment. The size of the sensor dictates the amount of light and information the camera can record, and with my film camera I am able to get a much larger exposure compared to my digital equipment. Although there are tradeoffs; the film equipment is bigger and clunkier, plus you have to develop the negatives.

Total number of frames made during our session with my two digital cameras (a Fuji X-Pro1 and a Fuji X100) and the film I shot on the Hasselblad.

10 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 SLO LIFE | ON THE COVER
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So many of the stories we publish come from our readers’ great leads. We are always looking for interesting homes to profile (see “Dwelling” on page 32), have a recipe that your friends and family love? Share it with us! To get an idea, check out “Kitchen” on page 60. Is there a band we should know about? Something we should investigate? Go to and click “Share Your Story.”



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Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.

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You said it...

>> Bravo

This was a great issue. I loved the story about Botso Korsheli. I have lived on the Central Coast for years and been connected to the arts and hadn’t heard about him. A very warm story that shows how America benefits from welcoming people from all over the world.

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>> Like

Great job! I read the magazine because of the cover story on Botso Korisheli, which was very good. However, I read the entire magazine cover to cover. “Bursting at the Seams” succinctly stated every one of my concerns about Cal Poly’s expansion and gave great statistics of which I was totally unaware. Job well done.

>> Dislike

This magazine cover is absolutely atrocious.

First of all, yes, it is considered stylish for recognizable magazines to put their logo behind the picture on the front. However, you are not Vogue or Cosmo. You’re not even Country Living, and they don’t put the logo behind the picture. You’re SLO Life. Put the logo on top.

Secondly, you’re NEVER supposed to put the teasers behind the picture. It’s sloppy-looking and hard to read.

>> Says Who?

Who wrote the Health article? What are their credentials? Since when did “gluten free” imply healthier? Pasteurization removes most of the beneficial nutrients??? Says who? It also kills the germs in fruit juice that could make you sick.

In general I like SLO LIFE magazine but I’m not a fan of articles that make blanket claims with no byline and no one with any credentials making the “health” claims.

>> Thank you for your feedback, Denine. Our intention with the Health feature was not to pass ourselves off as physicians, but to make our readers aware that there is quite a bit of solid evidence showing that some of the foods we take for granted as being healthy may not, in fact, be optimal for good health. Emotions tend to run strong about whether or not the current “gluten free” craze has merit, but there is ample credible research available showing that the protein can be damaging, especially in the quantities we consume on average (we referred to the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD while writing this segment of article). And, when you pasteurize fruit juice, you kill everything that is alive (bad germs and good nutrients) in the liquid and create a longer shelf life, which is commercially advantageous. The end result is that a typical glass of pasteurized orange juice has the nutritional make-up more similar to a Gummy Bear than an actual orange.

>> Vested Interest

The “Bursting at the Seams” article was excellent. Many of us have far too much invested in living here to want to put up with students taking over our neighborhoods.

14 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SLO LIFE IN BOX
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>> The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I enjoyed your article about Cal Poly, student population growth and rentals in SLO. Thanks for the information. I’ve referred this article to a friend who rents in SLO and has a son who is a freshman at Cal Poly.

On another note, it grates on my ears to read on page 66 “....I had been thinking about planning a date night that would allow my husband and I to channel our ‘inner artists’....” Where did this writer study English? If you remove ‘my husband’ from the sentence, does it sound right? That’s an easy test if one doesn’t know which is the correct pronoun to use (in this case I or me).

This particular grammatical error is so frequent people have almost become immune to it. Do you have a proofreader? If not, I volunteer for the position.

>> Conversation Starter

Kudos to you Tom Franciskovich for your well stated and researched story “Bursting at the Seams” in the October issue of SLO LIFE. It seems critical to the future happiness of SLO that Cal Poly President Armstrong’s stated objective for growth of the University be rationally and carefully planned. His DAD (Decide, Announce, Defend) approach to springing this on the college and community does not raise one’s confidence level that the University fully appreciates its impact on the community.

This article was a good start to the discussion of the campus housing needs both now and in the future and one realistic alternative to how it might be met. You are encouraged to

continue to explore and discuss other critical issues such as timing impacts, traffic impacts, teaching facility and faculty needs. With all of the University’s property there are alternatives to consider such as satellite campuses or other offsite teaching opportunities - also the potential ability of electronic distance learning to meet some of the growth needs.

It appears to me that now is the time for a series of well organized joint City-Campus public workshops to consider how the University will grow. Both the City of San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly have enjoyed 100 years of mostly positive change - let’s make the next 100 work as well.

Good article about housing problems caused by students. Two comments, if I mayMany communities (university and otherwise) prevent the problem of single-family houses being turned into dorms/flophouses by enacting ordinances that limit the number of non-related people living in a single dwelling. My neighbors are in their 80’s, and I dread the day they sell their house to someone who may turn it into a dorm. I’ll have no choice but to sell and move myself, but the value of

my house will already be diminished.

To the point of low graduation rates exacerbating the housing problem, the simple answer of why Poly students take forever to graduate is, lacking a school-imposed limit, they can. It’s more fun than getting a job and the area is a pleasant place to live. Affordability of protracted stays seems to not be an issue (as long as one can pay $600/month).

Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 15
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>> Why leave when you can stay?

You said it...

>> Off Campus Housing

I read the article in the latest SLO Life Magazine and have one correction on “Bursting at the Seams.”

When Cal Poly announced in May it would build a 1,400 bed residence hall it wasn’t proposed for on-campus; it’s proposed to be on Grand Avenue, the gateway to Cal Poly. As if it isn’t enough that we who live on Grand Avenue contend with traffic, WOW Week, etc., now they’re proposing a 1,400 bed residence hall here! Where will the extra water come from? Also the parking? It’s a nightmare right now on Grand Avenue. There are a lot of family homes here. I was born and raised in San Luis and I’ve seen it slowly going downhill as a pleasant town to live in.

>> Trifecta

I loved reading both your publisher’s message and the Cal Poly story in your latest edition.

My wife and I always get excited when we receive the new copy of the magazine in the mail.

We are feeling the pinch in housing as well since we are looking to buy something. The Cal Poly effect gets us in 3 ways:

1) There are streets that we won’t even consider because of the amount of college students

>> Graduation Rate

Thank you for publishing this article, which told about the deteriorating rental market in SLO where the landlords prefer to rent to college students because they cram in more people and raise the rent beyond what a family can afford. Tom Franciskovich was very clear that Poly has plans to enroll more students, in spite of less room for them in the future.

My older daughter just retired and I asked her if she was thinking of moving back to San Luis and she said, “Hell no, are you kidding!? Poly is taking over.” And she’s right.

It seems the kids nowadays have no respect for anyone or anything. They’re a new breed, for sure. It’s sad.

(e.g. Couper St. as well as Cuesta Dr. north of Highland).

2) Fewer houses are available on the market to buy because investors and owners would rather rent to students than sell.

3) The high rental pricing and limited supply artificially forces up the purchase price.

Looking forward to the next issue!

Perhaps Poly should talk to UC Berkeley about how students can graduate in four years. How about asking Franciskovich to research the subject to see what Berkeley is doing that Poly isn’t?

It would be an interesting follow-up article.

>> Thank you


referring to came from one of our City Council members, Dan Carpenter. In the interview he stated that “67% of our homes are now non-owner occupied.” We did follow-up with some local real estate agents who felt that his estimate was fairly accurate. Although difficult to say exactly, the trend does appear to be moving in the direction of more rental properties.

16 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SLO LIFE IN BOX
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you are

Thank you for your excellent article “Bursting at the Seams.” It has been noticed, applauded and discussed by many SLO residents.

You make two major points in this article: the first one, that Cal Poly is far behind when it comes to providing on-campus lodging to their students, and they need to build significantly more dormitories in order to ease the pressure upon the long-suffering residents of the adjacent neighborhoods. The second one, that the four-year graduation rate stands at 31%, with most students graduating in five or even six years.

Since I taught at Cal Poly for more than thirty years, I know that students don’t graduate on time because the courses they need are either full or not offered. Ever since I came here in the seventies, I complained that not enough new teachers were hired to keep up with the student increase. Instead, the money has slowly shifted toward increasing the number of administrators. From 1973 until now, I saw the ratio of administrators versus teachers at least triple, possibly even quadruple. The same problem has been occurring all over the US, and this partially explains why tuitions have increased so drastically. If the number of administrators was cut down by half (which would still leave a number much higher than during the seventies) the university could hire the assistant professors it needs to teach all the missing courses, and make it possible for students to graduate in four years.

You were certainly right to target Cal Poly on the missing dormitories, considering that 13,000 of their students live off campus, but I would have liked to hear something about Cuesta College as well. 12,000 students are presently enrolled at Cuesta, 7,000 on the San Luis Obispo campus, yet Cuesta does not provide any housing at all for their students. Lack of water is a poor excuse because Cuesta has recently added several buildings to its campus, and its neighbor, Camp San Luis, has accommodated numerous people for years. A dozen community colleges in California offer on campus housing to their students, including Santa Barbara City College. It is high time for Cuesta to face its responsibilities toward the city of San Luis Obispo.


Excellent issue, the Cal Poly housing article is a must read for residents of SLO.

Helen Sipsas

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Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 17
Gary Dwyer
Emeritus College of Architecture and Environmental Design Cal Poly State University
>> And don’t forget about Cuesta...
>> Read SLO


Two years ago, Dagmar Collins of Los Osos figured she would give photography a try. With her new digital single lens reflex (DSLR) Canon E620 in-hand, she took a leisurely drive down Bitterwater Road. The lightly traveled stretch in east San

Luis Obispo County connects highways 58 and 46, and lends itself to some stunning landscape shots when the conditions are right. On this day, Collins began practicing her new craft by shooting some old barns. As she fiddled around with her camera’s

settings and focus, a curious group of young cows started closing in around her. She instinctively pivoted and began clicking away as they approached. With a distinct accent revealing her German upbringing, Collins insists in a no-nonsense declaration

18 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014

that, “It was no big deal, just a bunch of cows.” But, if you look closely at their expression, it may prove otherwise. The characteristically docile creatures carry an expression that could be interpreted as, “Hey, lady, don’t mess with us!” That day on

Bitterwater Road was just the beginning for the budding photographer, and it has led to many more sessions, particularly while hiking one of her many favorite Central Coast trails where “capturing the beauty of nature” is the goal. Collins, an

ardent environmentalist who operates SLO Plant Propagation, which specializes in expanding the population of endemic species locally, admits that she has been “bit with the photography obsession— I just can’t stop.”

Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 19

In the Hot Seat

Both you and SLOPD Chief Steve Gesell were colleagues in Arizona. How’d you meet?

In Scottsdale the police and fire departments shared a headquarters building; there was a hallway down the middle with police on one side, fire on the other. When I first met Steve he was the commander of the SWAT Team and I was the Fire Operations Chief. Our personalities just seemed to mesh. When Steve moved on and ultimately landed here, he called me and said, “Hey, you’ve got to apply for this newly created Deputy Fire Chief position; this is just an amazing community. It’s a great opportunity.” I was very happy where I was and would not even consider it. I just said, “No, thanks. It’s just not for me.”

What changed your mind? About six or seven months later, Steve called me again. It was July 9th of last year, and it was 114 degrees in Scottsdale. He said, “I think you’re what we’re looking for—just come out and visit.” He sounded like one of those timeshare salesmen. [laughter] So, we decided to come out for a visit and we arrived on a Thursday and came downtown for Farmers’ Market. My wife and I were holding hands as we turned the corner onto Higuera and saw this absolutely amazing community. We both squeezed each other’s hand at the same time and said, “Oh, wow.” I turned to Steve and asked him, “This happens every Thursday? This isn’t some sort of annual event or something?” He said, “No, this is every Thursday.” That moment was game-changing for us. By Sunday morning we put a bid in on a house here. And, that’s not us. We’re very, very planned, conservative, think-about-things-kind-ofpeople. We absolutely fell in love with SLO. It’s weird; it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Speaking of love, we hear you’ve got a thing going with Apple Computers… This is going to sound weird, but every time Steve Jobs would give a keynote address announcing new products, my son and I would wait until the weekend and watch it together. We’d talk about how the iPhone has got this new feature or they’re coming out with an iPad. They were usually about an hour-and-a-half long and we would just sit there fully geeked-out watching Jobs talk about the next great thing that was coming out. Both of us kind of preserved it as this intimate father-son thing to do. Neither of us would check online to see what he had announced at the keynote until we could actually watch it together. I can remember my son, as a little boy, sitting on my lap when we were watching it, and then him sitting next to me on the couch as he grew into the shape of a young man. That’s just a great memory for me.

As municipal budgets tighten in cities across the country, fire departments have been scrutinized for their costs, including employee benefits. What do you say to that? That’s peoples’ right to scrutinize

everything. That’s their right. And, you can embrace that, and educate those people—sometimes get them to see your way and sometimes not, but that’s okay. Or you can ignore it, and every assumption they had about you is now correct. So, if we ignore the questions or ignore the relationships, any assumption people would form about this fire department, by our lack of participating in the dialogue, the assumption is that it’s true. It’s like going home and telling your wife, “I think you’re cheating on me.” And she ignores you and walks in the other room, you go, “Oh no, it really is true!” That’s kind of what we have done. We’ve disengaged a little bit.

Switching gears... For many in the community, there remains a feeling of bitterness about your predecessor’s handling of John Ryan Mason, the SLO Firefighter who was rehired after beating someone unconscious in the bathroom at Pappy MacGregors. What’s your point of view? There will always be a question as to whether the punishment matched the crime. And, I understand that. His discipline here was extremely severe. Financially, he was on leave without pay for 14 months. He was demoted to the lowest step of firefighter. He’s no longer allowed to perform as or be compensated as a paramedic. He is just starting a five-year period of essentially probationary status. The attorney that assisted Chief Hines with the conditions of his return to employment said that in his twentyplus years as a labor attorney for police and fire, he had never seen somebody hired back under those type of conditions—never that severe. We would not have gotten that, I don’t believe, had we gone to court. I really don’t know how Chief Hines could have handled it any better. So, where does the SLO Fire Department go from here? Our community expects us to put out fires. And they expect that if they get trapped in a vehicle after an accident that we will cut them out with the Jaws of Life. That’s what we are paid to do; that’s what we are trained to do; that’s what we are equipped to do. But, it’s the little things that always define what is quality service and what is not. For example, if you respond to a call at an elderly woman’s home who has fallen; it’s not just picking her up and putting her on a gurney and sending her on her way to the hospital. It’s holding her hand; it’s cleaning her up; it’s straightening up the room; it’s looking around to see what else you can do; making sure it’s secured. If she’s got a dog, making sure that someone is looking after the dog; it’s talking to the neighbors so they know what’s going on and that she is cared for when she returns. It’s all those things that are almost invisible when they happen that end up resonating with people so much. That’s how I define good service. There are plenty of technically highly competent firefighters and paramedics out there, but none of them can be great if they don’t also have compassion.

20 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
| Q&A
SLO LIFE Newly appointed San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garret Olson takes our questions.
Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 21 805 541- 1790 Helping you hear the things you love for the holidays and throughout the year






installment of our “Meet Your Neighbor” series, SLO LIFE Magazine sits down for a conversation with Naomi Neilson Howard, the founder and CEO of Native Trails. She started the company out of a spare bedroom closet while attending Cal Poly where she studied social sciences. Today, Native Trails, which is most well known for its copper sinks that are handcrafted by artisans in Mexico, serves as a model for a new type of company and a new way of doing business.

She lives in Shell Beach with her husband, Chris, and their young children Braylon and Ania. Here is her story…

Where are you from, Naomi?

I grew up in the Bay Area, San Jose. My parents divorced and they were both remarried, so I have had a lot of different influences in my life. My mom was an accountant, my dad was an engineer, my stepfather was a teacher from a small village in rural Mexico and my stepmother was an artist. My dad, he was a very careful businessperson. I mean, he would loan me money, but I had to pay him back with interest. It was good. He taught me to be cautious. My mom, she’s just always thinking about other people, just very in touch with others. She’s very empathetic and wanting to lift people up. She always had this amazing confidence in me for some reason. She told me recently that she always believed in me; she always knew I would do whatever I set my mind to. I didn’t think about that consciously until recently, but I always felt her confidence in me and I know that it had a big impact on my life. So, it’s interesting how the separation and remarriage of my parents was such a blessing for me. I ended up with four incredible parents who each taught me something different and incredibly valuable. >>

Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 23
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What were you like as a kid?

I was very active. I always liked to be doing something. So, I guess not a lot has changed in that respect. I was always very social and I do remember, even in elementary school, I was always drawn to the kids that were being picked on. I always wanted to protect them. I had sort of an oddball crew of friends when I was a kid. I was always beating up the boys so they would leave my friends alone. [laughter] I’d say, “If you are going to pick on her, you’re going to have to take me on!” I just thought I could conquer the world.

Tell us about your company. How did you start it?

I started Native Trails when I was still at Cal Poly, which was in ’96. I graduated a year later. I was inspired by travels I had done with my family over the years to Mexico. My stepfather is from Central Mexico and we have lots of family on his side down there, so we’d always go visit. And my favorite places were always the village marketplaces. So I would just get lost there, and my family would have to drag me out. It’s kind of still like that today, actually. You find all these artists and artisans there, creative people, and all sorts of people. I always love finding the people who make unique and beautiful things. Each person, each family had such unique stories. And it wasn’t really being recognized or appreciated, so I thought, “Wow, I wish there was a way for me to bring that story and bring what they do to people who understand and appreciate it like I do.”

What were those early days like?

I started very small, initially with just a spare closet in my house. I remember one of my first trips, there was this one woman in the marketplace and she was selling some kind of craft and she had only 50 or 100 pieces. I really liked what she had and so I told her that I’d like to buy all of them. And she said, “If I sell all of them to you today what will I sell tomorrow?” She made me leave her five pieces that she could sell the next day. [laughter] When I started, a lot of people still didn’t have telephones or electricity either. There was one village that

had only one phone. So I would call, and they’d recognize my voice after a few times and I’d say, “This is Naomi and I need to talk to Tomasa.” And they’d say, “Llama otra vez en diez minutos,” [call back in 10 minutes]. Then they’d get on the loud speaker and yell out, “Tomasa Gonzales! Naomi le busca por telefono,ven a la caseta a esperar la llamada!” [come to the phone and wait for her call]. Then Tomasa would come, and I would call back and she would be there. There had been a lot of challenges like that. I remember once visiting this town called Ocumicho in Michoacan. It rained so hard that the river rose too high for us to cross, so we had to stay overnight. Not only were there no hotels, the homes had dirt floors and the beds were truly family beds shared by several people. One of our artist families gave us their bed and they braided our hair and told us stories of village folklore all evening. They had never had a foreign guest stay overnight so all the kids were pretty excited. Nobody got much sleep that night!

Where did the money come from to start Native Trails?

I had a little bit of money left over from student loans, and from working part-time, and credit cards. I sold my car once when I was down in Mexico and had run out of money. I called my roommate and asked if he would sell it for me. I said, “The pink slip is in the drawer and keys are on the dresser. I need 5,000 bucks.” I had just enough money to make it home, but there was more that I wanted to buy. He sold the car and wired me the money. It was in my bank account a few days later and I was like, “Yeah! Alright!” I forget exactly what it was at the time, but I had found something that I thought had a lot of potential that I wanted to bring home. And I thought, “Ah, to come all this way and not be able to get it!” It wasn’t like I could just send the people the money and have them ship it, because we weren’t that sophisticated at the time. I needed to buy it right there and shove it in my van.

When did you realize that the business was starting to take off?

I was selling at craft shows and festivals in little booths trying to get a feel for what

24 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014

people liked. And then I started selling to retail stores, gift stores, and boutiques. And before long things evolved, and I started going to gift shows where I would meet buyers from bigger companies; buyers from stores all over. A lot of my customers in the early days were from very high-end boutiques and museum gift stores like the Smithsonian; a lot of museums. Around the same time I had connected with some artisans who were working with copper. I had a thought that the copper might work well as a sink. So, I started designing copper sinks. I remember when the first shipment came in and I said to myself, “Wow, these are really cool. I wonder what people will think?” So, I took them to Pacific Coast Kitchen & Bath, just down the street, and introduced myself to Brian Metcalf, the owner there. I really lucked out because Brian has great vision. He’s also very positive and encouraging. He bought everything I had with me at the time and he called me up a few days later and said, “Naomi, do you have anymore of those copper sinks? I sold everything you brought me. I need more. You really have something hot. This is a winner.” He said, “I think you’re going to go big with this.” I just remember sort of going, “Yeah!”

Has your philosophy about the business evolved over time?

My inspiration for starting Native Trails was really all about the artisans, and it still is. That’s really where my passion is. It’s designing beautiful things using recycled materials and working with artisans who can create them by hand and put their whole heart and soul into their work. That’s what I love. That’s what makes me go every day. But, I’ve come to realize over the years that, in order for anyone’s lives to be affected, we have to make a profit. We have to have a viable business. I realize the importance of every decision I make and how much of an impact it can have on people. And, it has; I have seen amazing things happen with the artisans we work with. Their lives have changed dramatically. Many families we work with started with just a little workshop behind their house and now they’ve got huge facilities where they have

Having fun at home with daughter, Ania, son, Braylon, and their golden retriever, Merlin.

maybe a hundred people recycling copper and craftimg products. It usually starts off as a family, then it grows to the point where it can support the whole village. It’s really a beautiful thing. The impact we have is pretty powerful. But you can really see that, if we trip up here and our business slows down, then suddenly people there don’t have work. It really makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

What do the artisans think of all this? Sometimes we bring them here to show them their products displayed at a high-end retailer with the lighting in a beautiful showroom along with our bath furniture. That’s when it really clicks, and they say, “Wow, that’s why you’re so particular about quality and detail and finish.” They really understand. And, it also makes them feel really good. It makes them feel happy that people appreciate their work. This was my dream from way back when I used to go to those village marketplaces. I used to dream about taking their techniques and bringing them to a market where they could really be appreciated. Well, when they come and see their work in a showroom, it’s a dream come true for me. When they come here and they’re just like, “Wow! This is amazing!” They take pictures for everyone back home and they just feel so good. We are always trying to find ways that we can grow with the artisan families that we work with. We support each other.

Speaking of families, tell us about your own. We have a three-year-old girl, Ania, and a fiveyear-old boy, Braylon, who is in kindergarten. I couldn’t have had a family in the early days, there was just no way that I would have been able to make either function properly. Native Trails needed my full attention because it was like my big, huge baby for many years, twenty-four seven. There was no room in my life for anyone else. When I met my husband, Chris, about ten years ago, which was about seven years into the business, I was at the right point in my life. I really needed some balance. And, I had the business to a point where I did not have to be so intimately involved in every single function. I had managers and I had a great team of people. I was growing things to a different level. That was good because Chris is a psychologist and he is an expert in work-life balance. So, he was a really good influence on me. He inspired me. I wanted to spend time away from the business. He arrived at the right time; if it was any earlier I wouldn’t have been able to make time. He came into my life right when I needed him.

How has starting a family impacted your business?

Every time something major in my life happened, the business transformed. With my son, a friend of mine called it “The Braylon Effect.” I came through this

Wedding day memories are preserved in a NativeTrails hand-crafted, copper frame.

huge transformation where I really grew my management team. It’s hard for an entrepreneur to let go when you’re used to doing so much of it yourself. To actually let go and pass off responsibility, it’s a big step to take. But having a baby, of course, really made it worthwhile. So, having my son had a profound impact on the company. Then, two years later when Ania came, it was the next evolution. I have an amazing team. I’m able to be a mom, too. Like, I’m not going back to work after our visit today. I’m done for the day. I’m going to go run errands. Of course, I’m far from done. I’ve got to pick up some things for the kids. And I’ve got to do a whole bunch of other random home maintenance things.

Before we let you go, Naomi, can you share some advice for new entrepreneurs?

Find your passion. Find something that you just care so deeply about, something that you are willing to make sacrifices for. If you are going to start your own business, it requires a lot of sacrifice. But, if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like a painful sacrifice; it’s a sacrifice that you love to make. So, I think that’s an important place to start. And, then, just don’t give up, because it’s so easy to give up. So many obstacles will come your way. There are always challenges. And, sometimes you will say, “I’m at a dead end.” But, there’s always a way to keep going. So, if you kind of have it in your head that failure is not an option, then failure isn’t an option. There may come a point where it’s time to change paths, to look at things and do things a little bit differently, but for me “failure” was not a word that I ever used. It was just not in my vocabulary. And I should have probably failed like ten times along the way, and I think that probably every entrepreneur has that same story. There are so many ways we can fail, but you can’t look at it that way. I think you always have to look for lessons—instead of looking at something as a failure, look for the lesson. There are lessons everyday that are so valuable. Sometimes the biggest challenges and setbacks are the things we grow from the most. SLO LIFE

26 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
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with Josh Talbott

I grew up in Georgia, the youngest of eight children. I had to get out of there or I was going to end up in the family business building swimming pools. I moved to New Orleans and did construction work to make ends meet. I met some characters who were selling their paintings behind the Saint Louis Cathedral, and they said to me, “What are you doing laying tile? You could be selling your paintings and having a blast with us instead.” That experience was instrumental for me in my life as an artist.

I have a love of old books. When I find one that is falling apart, I take out the pages and collage them together and paint on top of them. It adds an extra element to the painting; it’s like built-in nostalgia. It gives it an old-world quality.

Not too long ago, I was setting up to sell my paintings in front of Good Clean Fun in Cayucos and this kid walks up with his father and says, “Dad, look! It’s a Lego monkey on a banana boat; and he’s safe from the waves until he gets hungry and eats the banana and then he’ll sink.” I thought to myself, “Wow, that kid just described the human condition.” Whatever lingering issues I had with becoming “The Lego Guy” were alleviated in that moment.

“I was doing paintings of bugs as jazz musicians, and there was one piece that needed some balance. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, a Lego!’ Legos were everywhere for me growing up, there were seven of us boys. So, I put a Lego in the scene and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I had the Lego people doing battle with the ants and it just grew from there. The ideas were coming to me faster than I could get them down on paper. It was a really exciting time.”

After leaving, I put it on the backburner for about seven years until one of my friends in New Orleans called me and said, “What are you doing with your life? Paint the Lego paintings! Paint ten of them and send them to me when they’re done. I’m mailing a check today.” So, I did the paintings and in the process I came up with some really good ideas; some really fun ideas.

28 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 SLO LIFE | ARTIST
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Victorian by Design

You get the feeling from talking to Kathy Foster that once she sets her mind to something, there is not much that can stop her. In high school she lettered in five sports. But what makes it more remarkable was the timing—this was during the 70’s when women were just entering the athletic realm. So it’s no surprise that when she decided to move to the Central Coast with her husband, Mark, nothing would get in her way—not even the fact that there was just one position available in her field. “There were over a hundred applicants for an opening at the kindergarten at Bellview-Santa Fe School,” she remembers. “I dropped off my application and we headed back home, five hours away. They called and asked me, ‘Can you come tomorrow and teach a class? We want to see how you perform in the classroom.’ So, I said, ‘Sure. See you in the morning.’”

Foster got back in her car that night and made the drive to Avila, and despite the one-hundredto-one odds, she nailed the interview and landed

the job, which she continues today, more than ten years later. Her husband is rather mobile in his work as an energy industry consultant for Deloitt, so moving for him was easy. With their two children away at college, the couple settled into a granny unit owned by another teacher so that they could plot out their long-term plans. “Mark had always wanted to build his own home. I’m more interested in remodeling something old. But, we settled on the best of both worlds by building a new Victorian-style home—only not with such small, squishy little rooms,” shares Foster.

The couple settled on a 1.2 acre parcel in the Edna Ranch Estates neighborhood south of San Luis Obispo off of Orcutt Road. And, with a clear vision in mind, Foster set out to design the home of her dreams. She put it all down on paper then had an architect tidy up the details and make sure that everything was up to code. With Foster on the design side, her husband took over as the general contractor overseeing the many subcontractors. The couple, who had been high school sweethearts in Anaheim,

worked like a well-oiled machine and the massive undertaking moved right along. Once one bathroom and the offices were finished, the Fosters moved into the half-built home.

From the beginning, there weren’t many nights or weekends when the couple could not be found working on their three-bed, three-bath, 5,324 square-foot home. And, whenever their children came to visit, it was not long before they were handed a paintbrush. The whole thing has been very much a family project. For example, their son, Eric, who is enrolled at UC Irvine studying engineering, has put his adept math skills to good use, especially when calculating impossibly difficult crown moulding cuts.

In the end, the hard work was well worth it. Because over the course of those ten years, as the Fosters worked side-by-side, shoulder-toshoulder, a funny thing happened: their house became a home. And, recently, when their daughter, Sarah, who now lives in London, was married on the back lawn, they realized their vision had become a reality, as the sod was rolled out just in time for her to walk down the isle. >>

34 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
far left Mark Foster and daughter, Sarah, on her wedding day near left Kathy Foster and son, Eric
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Serendipitous Styling

Early on in the project, Mark Foster found himself in New York City on business. With some time to kill between meetings he stumbled upon an architectural salvage store. Tucked away in the back of the building he made a stunning discovery, a treasure trove of dark wood paneling and carvings removed from the J.P. Morgan Library in Manhattan. Turns out that it was the last of the haul. Not knowing exactly where it would fit in, he bought all that remained and had it shipped to San Luis Obispo.

Learn by Doing

In her spare time, Kathy Foster has become something of a tile expert. After having searched for the most interesting tile patterns, she set out to create designs of her own—intricate patters of tiny pieces of tile, which are thoughtfully paired together can be found throughout the home.

Recycled Style

The couple stopped by Old Edna Antiques one day and found this peak which had been removed from a historical Islay Street Victorian in 2003. The original (seen in the foreground) served as the design inspiration for the rest of the house and its 15 additional peaks.

36 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
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the numbers

laguna lake

tank farm

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market

cal poly area

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market

country club

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market

2012 47 573,340 558,786 97.85 66

+/10.64% -3.53% -2.85% 0.36% -15.15%

2012 31 577,355 566,578 98.09 61

2013 24 677,146 676,079 99.85 14

+/-22.58% 17.28% 19.33% 1.76% -77.05%

2012 21 500,195 479,369 96.09 49

2013 29 553,582 544,068 98.54 35

+/38.10% 10.67% 13.50% 2.45% -28.57%

2012 17 803,465 771,323 96.21 131

2013 16 882,212 864,806 98.06 69

+/-5.88% 9.80% 12.12% 1.85% -47.33%

2013 45 642,939 627,424 97.65 38 down-


foothill blvd

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market

2013 46 657,257 644,915 98.10 37

+/12.50% 7.74% 7.72% -0.62% -39.68%

+/17.95% 25.42% 24.33% -0.11% -37.29%

Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market

2013 52 553,103 542,875 98.21 56 by

+/-16.33% 2.72% 3.88% 0.71% -53.23%

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS®

38 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market
2012 40 596,733 582,442 98.27 63
2012 45 529,334 523,468 99.13 28
2012 49 586,339 575,580 98.53 62
2013 41 602,276 597,929 99.24 29 johnson ave *Comparing 1/1/12 - 11/20/12 to 1/1/13 - 11/20/13
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40 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SLO COUNTY REAL ESTATE SLO LIFE
by the numbers 2012 308
2013 292
46 7
95 2013 61
MEDIAN SELLING PRICE SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ® *Comparing 1/1/12 - 11/20/12 to 1/1/13 -11/20/13 WEALTH MANAGEMENT David S. Nilsen President & Chief Financial Advisor 1301 Chorro Street, Suite A San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.541.6500 Risk Management | Estate Planning Accumulation | Taxation | Business Planning | Retirement Planning INVESTMENT RETIREMENT INSURANCE David Nilsen is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative with/and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor, Insurance Lic. #0B50436. Fixed Insurance products and services offered by Obispo Wealth Management are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Can you retire? Give us a call for a free review of your Retirement Income Plan. Helping you with your Real Estate needs here on the Central Coast with knowledge, experience & integrity! 805.801.1734 Office Lic #01320707 Michelle Braunschweig Broker Associate Lic #01736789
Atascadero Avila Beach
Simeon Cayucos Creston Grover Beach Los Osos Morro Bay Nipomo Oceano Pismo Beach Paso (Inside City Limits) Paso (North 46 - East 101) Paso (North 46 - West 101) Paso (South 46 - East 101) San Luis Obispo Santa Margarita Templeton Countywide
150 52
90 185 118 217 47 103 381 65 92 72 314 23 114 2,643
300 10 140
110 155 136 221 47 117 380 59 114 69 321
86 2,631
93 192 101 151 201 103
115 100 120 104 79 86 119
64 66 98
53 96 83 103 138 49 48 59 64 82 67 52 65 127 80 55 87 64
457,000 320,000 655,000 482,500 652,500 470,000 315,000 325,000 420,000 410,500 260,000 570,000 320,000 247,000 341,250 328,500 540,000 265,100 422,500 389,000
524,500 399,950 994,500 503,000 625,000 610,000 380,000 380,000 430,691 481,000 356,000 635,000 366,500 332,500 352,500 396,000 623,500 375,000 464,950 445,000
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Everything has fallen into place and expectations are running high for the band as it puts the finishing touches on its first EP.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam once worked as a security guard; Beyonce swept floors at a hair salon; and Jasmin Poncelet—a name you might not have yet heard—served up Rooty Tooty Fresh & Fruity’s at the IHOP on Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo.

Like Vedder, who was eventually fired for playing his guitar on the job, Poncelet, a product of the North County, had a hard time focusing on breakfast when new song ideas were constantly coming to mind. And, while she roamed the Central Coast in a quest to refine her music, she found herself on a parallel track with another like-minded soul, Garrett Craig.

Craig, who grew up in Morro Bay and attended Cuesta College part-time with Poncelet, explains, “We ended up at a party together, really it was a jam session, and we had a similar style and just hit it off.” Poncelet, who played in various Central Coast bands after attending both Paso Robles and Templeton high schools, came to the realization that she needed a bigger stage if she was going to make a serious

go of her career. With Los Angeles as her springboard, she began working with different bands, but none seemed to have the right sound. She continued to think about her friend Craig, who complemented her style so perfectly. With a plan in mind, a stream of phone calls and texts ensued. “Move to L.A. and take a shot at this with me,” she cajoled. Confirms Craig with a bit of a chuckle, “She basically pestered me and kind of twisted my arm a bit to make it happen.”

It turns out that Poncelet’s hunch was correct. With Craig taking the lead guitar, and Kenneth “Biz” McKenzie of Southern California on the drums, and Poncelet handling the vocals, as well as rhythm guitar, the band she had envisioned, The Universal Tone (also known as “T.U.T.”), was formed. In a Jimi-Hendrixmeets-The-Black-Keys fusion, the trio relies heavily on a combination of electric guitars to pull off its soulful style. But, it is the charismatic Poncelet who carries the vocals with a fresh and unexpectedly powerful punch. Their first single called “Nebraska” shows off her range

beautifully and the instrumentals come together in a way that suggest T.U.T. may just be the next evolution in sound—if The Black Keys broke a new barrier, it is not a stretch to suggest that T.U.T. is carrying it through to the next level.

The band, which has been drawing increasingly larger crowds around Los Angeles, plays regularly, including gigs at The Viper Room, The Whisky, El Portal Theatre, and Universal City Walk. They expect to reach beyond their current geographic bounds in 2014 as their Grammy Award winning producer Bob Horn of Hive Studios strategically releases singles throughout the year. Recently, Scott Page, saxophone player for Pink Floyd, gave T.U.T. the ultimate compliment after a show when he intimated, “They remind me so much of us when we were just getting started; I really think they’re on to something.” Indeed, for Poncelet, Craig, and McKenzie, you get the feeling that things are starting to really happen. And, for the rest of us, at least we can say that we enjoyed the waffles.

42 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
left to right Garrett Craig - lead guitar Jasmin Poncelet - lead vocals, rhythm guitar Kenneth “Biz” McKenzie - drums
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gift guide! HOLIDAY


Carefully selected, handmade Nichos are brought to you directly from small artisans in San Miguel De Allende. Hand-tooled and adorned with iconic religious and cultural images, these one-of-a-kind crafts make for gorgeous decoration, statement pieces and gifts.

$19 - $79 // Luna Rustica // 2959 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 546-8505 //


These recycled, repurposed and colorful sheet-metal heart sculptures are crafted by Morro Bay artist Anthony Hansen. Each has a story to tell, and is often stamped with sweetnothing sentiments. A unique way to add art and dimension to your home. Available in a variety of sizes.

$200+ // Fiona Bleu Gallery // 900 Embarcadero, Morro Bay (805) 772-0541 //


Collect your table scraps and spruce up your kitchen with this handsome 3.25-quart countertop compost pail. Thoughtfully designed with a removable liner for easy washing and convenient transport along with dual charcoal filters in the lid that keep odors contained.

$44.95 // Bambu Batu // 1023 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 788-0806 //


Pink Marmalade husband and wife team, Todd and Sandra Standish, bring you handmade rustic and vintage artwork inspired by shabby chic and French antique style. Wall art made in the USA with reclaimed wood and poems based on inspirational love and life themes.

$70 - $350 // Hands Gallery // 777 Higuera Street San Luis Obispo // (805) 543-1921 //


American-made and exclusive to San Luis Traditions, these angels designed by Margaret Taylor, whose talents turn scrap into art, are made from salvaged and recycled building parts from residential and commercial tear downs and tornados. Their wings are from antique ceilings, their hallos are from scrap wire. You’ll also find balustrades, banisters, moulding and siding in these unique items. Available in three sizes.

$89 - $229 // San Luis Traditions 748 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 541-8500 //

44 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014


With iconic styling, the Barbour Striped Wool Tarras Bag is made from a tough wool blend in a striking blanket stripe design. Leather trims and metal fastenings enhance this versatile bag’s stylish appeal.

$269 // Jules D. // 672 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 781-0722 //


Transforming nature into treasure. Each piece in this collection of natural leaves is handpicked, carefully selected, and preserved in 24k gold, silver or iridescent copper—a timeless beauty of nature that you can treasure forever. Collection includes earrings, pendants and ornaments.

$15 - $26.95 // Turn To Nature 786 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 540-3395 //


These rose-cut natural diamond solitaires are cool enough to stand alone, and versatile enough to stack. Each diamond is set in 18K gold and tells its own story in rich organic colors and unique saturations. Perfect for everyday rings or as an engagement ring for the woman who wants to stand apart from the crowd.

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Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 45


Should Clouds Have Silver Linings?

I have always had a thing with the rain. My family likes to say that, since I was born in Portland, Oregon, I actually have webbed feet— that’s not quite true, but one foot, my left, is a full size larger than my right. But, that’s not the point. My point is that I love it when it rains. At the risk of sounding like a granola-munching Portlander, when it rains, I don’t know, I just feel at peace, like Mother Nature is giving us all a fresh start by cleaning up the air and filling up our creeks and lakes. So, as I sit here feeling self-conscious about my gigantic left foot, a few tiny drops of rain tap on my office window and I find myself leaning in with the same posture, the same hopeful mindset I use every time I turn the key on my ancient veggie-oil-powered Mercedes… “Please start, please start.”

It is no secret that the Central Coast is currently experiencing an epic drought and, although our area has long been prone to prolonged arid conditions, the phenomenon seems to have become more frequent and more severe. Of course, weather records only go back so far, and debate over why the weather is changing continues. In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 2,000 scientists from United Nations member countries, made its most definitive statement yet when it said, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th Century.” The report then goes on to explain that by “extremely likely,” they mean the odds are 95% likely. While some may look at those findings and point to the 5% of doubt, the fact remains that the weather is changing; and it is doing so regardless of how anyone believes it is happening. And, the most important component of climate change on our little blue marble floating through outer space is, of course, water.

One of the most fascinating things about water, I think, is that all the water we have on Earth now is all the water we have ever had or ever will have. In other words, in your shower this morning it is possible that you shampooed your hair with some of the same water that General Washington had crossed on the Delaware

River 237 Christmases ago. It’s what you call a closed system. No water in; no water out. Although, water, as we all know is just two particles of hydrogen bound to one particle of oxygen, H2O, and it can be synthesized in a laboratory by combining those two elements, it is nowhere near practical, nor cost-effective, to produce it in this way.

Once you understand the closed system nature of water on Earth, droughts start to mean a lot more than inconveniently discolored lawns. With 7 billion people now occupying the planet, finite resources have become, well, a lot more “finiter.” In places like rural SubSaharan Africa water is akin to liquid gold, and having consistent and reliable access is the difference between life and death. And, to a high-end Rocky Mountain ski resort, the difference between water, and therefore snow, is the difference between profit and loss. And to the Chinese, who practically guaranteed that it would not rain during the 2008 Olympics, it became a source of national pride. As losing face is a matter deeply ingrained in the culture, it explains why members of the Bejing Weather Modification Office fired 1,104 silver-laden rockets into ominous looking clouds prior to The Game’s Opening Ceremonies. When the Olympics were underway not a single cloud came anywhere near a sporting event without essentially being shot down by a shoulder-fired weather altering rocket.

Cloud seeding, as it is known, is nothing new and the technology is relatively simple. The idea was originally conceived in the 1830’s by a Colby College professor named James Flemming. His theory was not put to test until 1915 when the City of San Diego, which was then mired in an intractable drought, in desperation hired a fellow who identified himself as a “rainmaker.” Charles Hatfield, who sold sewing machines to make ends meet, scurried up some hastily constructed wooden towers hundreds of feet above the ground and blew his secret chemical concoction into the clouds overhead. As Hatfield carefully climbed back down the structure it began to rain, big, fat, heavy drops. And, it did not stop for 17 days.

All told, 28 inches of rain fell, which washed out over one hundred bridges, flooded roads and homes, and displaced thousands of San Diegans. And, the United States military, which aided in the disaster response, stood up and took notice of the sewing machine salesman’s rainmaking antics.

The fundamentals of making rain are actually quite easy to understand. Clouds are full of moisture, which comes from water that has evaporated from the ocean, for example, into the sky. But, in order for a drop to be heavy enough to fall to the ground, it requires something for the H2O molecules to bind themselves to, or condense around, which ordinarily would be some sort of dust particle. Depending on the nature of the cloud, those dust particles are often not able to condense drops heavy enough to fall as rain. That explains why not every cloud you see is a rain cloud. Many just float through the sky morphing in shape with the wind from a circus elephant, to your Aunt Mildred, to a wheelbarrow. The one thing that can potentially turn a cloud that resembles your dearly departed aunt into a torrential downpour is a chemical called silver iodide (AgI). That compound is more effective, by far, many claim, than any naturally occurring dust at condensing the moisture in clouds into raindrops. The problem is that you can’t get something for nothing, and the cloud seeded water that comes pouring down out of the sky also brings with it a whole lot of chemical residue.

Starting in 1966, the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron initiated a campaign called Project Intermediary Compatriot with an effort they called “make mud, not war.”

The intention was to wreak havoc with their pro-communist adversaries in Vietnam as they continuously seeded the clouds above the strategically important supply line known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By the time Operation Popeye—as it was later renamed—ended in 1972, the military completed over 2,600 cloud seeding missions. By 1977, the United Nations having observed the destruction as a result of the constant flooding, formulated a treaty ordering the “prohibition of military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques.” With the stroke of his pen in 1979, President

46 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SPECIAL FEATURE

Jimmy Carter ratified the agreement, and it was no longer lawful to weaponize the weather.

Still, to this day, cloud seeding is used domestically for much less sinister purposes. Big dollar ski resorts, currently eleven of them in the United States, use the technique routinely to ensure that their slopes remain the winter wonderland that their guests have come to expect. For the resort operators, the cost of paying a small, private plane equipped with silver iodide canisters to sweep overhead is far less than the cost of not having skiers show up to purchase lift tickets. With a ski season that only lasts a few months the math is easy. But, the cost to the environment is less quantifiable, as silver iodide, which has historically been used to develop photographic film, has not been studied extensively—at least not in the quantities that are increasingly being released into the clouds above. The Office of the Environment, Health & Safety at UC Berkeley rates silver iodide as “a Class C, non soluble, inorganic, hazardous chemical that pollutes water and soil and has been found to be highly toxic to fish, animals, and humans.”

Studies have shown that, while perhaps not immediately apparent, silver iodide has, in fact, been affecting the ecosystem. After exposure, previously crystal-clear alpine lakes have been found spawning algae blooms. And, in perennially parched Australia, their pygmy possum populations began to disappear when silver iodide was introduced (the practice had been banned there, but after a protracted legal battle it was deemed lawful last year). Currently, cloud seeding is lightly regulated in the United States and, if it is done at all, rules concerning the use of silver iodide have been created at the state or county level.

So why don’t we just get it over with and fire some weather altering rockets at those clouds that have been lazily taunting us from above the hills of Paso Robles, or over Cambria, or Nipomo? All of those cities have been particularly hard hit by our current drought. Wouldn’t the tradeoff, sending some silver iodide into the ecosystem, make it all worthwhile? Aside from the environmental concerns, the other issue is that there remains a

legitimate question as to whether or not cloud seeding actually creates rain. Moreover, critics in the meteorological science community, of which there are many, charge that most of the cloud seeding success stories come from clouds and conditions which, left on their own, would have produced rain anyway.

Additionally there is some evidence right here on the Central Coast that may lead some to question its efficacy. Since 1992, the Water Agency of Santa Barbara County has been dusting the clouds above the Twitchell Reserve Watershed, which supplies much of their drinking water. The body of water sits in Southern San Luis Obispo County near the Huasna Valley area, just south of Highway 166. The reservoir, which was artificially created by damming the Cayuma River, was completed in 1958, and is also designed as a rainwater capture area. When the water accumulates it is then released into the ground where it resupplies local aquifers. While Twitchell continues to play an important role in water management on the Central Coast, it is unclear weather or not the cloud seeding activities there actually work, as no studies have been conducted proving or disproving its effectiveness. Further, no credible research has been completed to measure its environmental impact.

One thing is clear, however, and that is the critical importance of water to the health and vitality of everyone here on the Central Coast. Everything from our world-class vineyards to our hotels bustling with tourists use water, and a lot of it. Despite the promise of weather manipulation technology, there are still many questions that require answers. Most importantly: does it really work, and, if so, what is the effect on our environment? Knowing that water is a finite resource within a closed system I begin to realize—as I sit here watching the raindrops pelting my window, now with greater frequency—that wishing for more of it makes about as much sense to me as my Sasquatch-like left foot.

We want to know what you think about this issue. Email us at



With training in Europe’s most prestigious culinary schools, including the Cordon Bleu in Paris and London, La Varenne in Burgundy, France and Avignonesi Culinary Center and Tenuta de Capezzana in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Emilia-Romangna region of Northern Italy, and most recently Southern Italy, Debbie Duggan has taken her vast knowledge and bottled it into 3-hour classes of sharing food facts, recipes, enjoying wine and sampling a string of dishes. She offers a variety of classes ranging from soups to sauce, and appetizers to Paleo.

The workspace at Central Coast Culinary features five commercial ovens and an 18-foot long granite countertop with its stools lining the perimeter of the welcoming French country studio. The atmosphere lends itself to friendly conversation and a constant stream of learning and laughter abound.

I sat in on a Paleo cooking class because, like so many, I’ve struggled to make healthy food taste flavorful, meal after meal. We started off with some wine while Duggan explained the theory behind Paleo and how she came up with the evening’s menu. While she shared her wisdom about the true differences between yams and sweet potatoes, her staff of four prepped, chopped, stirred, and seasoned dishes.

Over the course of the evening, we learned the nutritional benefits of persimmons, kale, and coconut oil while enjoying incredibly colorful, delicious dishes. It was striking to me how much more attention I paid to each flavor of the dishes after learning why herbs were selected and pairings made. The private showing of a talented chef exposed us to some of cooking’s best secrets and encouraged us to take the tips home to our own kitchen.

48 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | NIGHT OUT

What is Paleo?

Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 49 Central Coast Culinary is located in the heart of San Luis Obispo, behind Smart & Final off of High Street and Parker Street. Class rates begin at $60 per session and are offered every week throughout the year with limited seating. Privates sessions and in-home parties are also available.
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The Paleolithic Diet, or Paleo for short, is based on the way that human beings ate as huntergatherers prior to the advent of


By day, Jennifer Alton is a defense attorney with Alton & Allen. By night, she is a budding documentary producer who recently completed her first project, “Passion & Purpose,” which is an exploration into what it is that drives people in their chosen careers.

Alton first conceived of the film a year ago during a conversation with a friend which started with the question, “Why do you love what you do?” The answer was intriguing and she suddenly felt compelled to talk with others in the community about their chosen paths. Before long, Alton had lined up a dozen or so Central Coast professionals to find out what made them tick.

Serendipity seemed to grace the project from the beginning, as Alton’s newly-formed company, Brighten Hall Productions, teamed up with Molly Kiely, whose similarly named business, Bright Age Productions, collaborated seamlessly. Along the way, a path continued to open up for the pair, at one point quite literally. After setting up her camera on a local

peak at dawn one morning, Kiely was surprised to see Linnaea Phillips appear out of the darkness at the end of the trail. Following their conversation, Kiely called Alton to say, “You have to interview Linnaea! I just met her— she’d be perfect for this.” Phillips, who founded Linnaea’s Café in San Luis Obispo, became a key figure in the film as she shares a lifetime of wisdom.

The film made its debut in front of a packed house at the Palm Theatre recently, and while Alton is excited that it has been added to the SLO International Film Festival line-up, she also stresses that box office success is not necessarily what she is after. “It was such a wonderful journey, and I’m open to wherever it takes me,” she reflects. And, after pausing for a moment to collect her thoughts, she talks at length about how the subjects in the film inspired her. “Really, in the end,” Alton leans in and lowers her voice as if to pass along a secret, “I’m just trying to be a better human being than I was yesterday.” SLO LIFE

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9 quotes from author Christopher McDougall to pique your interest

If you can run six miles on a summer day, then you, my friend, are a lethal weapon in the animal kingdom.

“ ” “

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle—when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

“There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.”

We were born to run; we were born because we run. ” “

Only recently have we come up with the technology to turn lazing around into a way of life. We’ve taken our sinewy, durable, huntergatherer bodies and plunked them into an artificial world of leisure.

Running is the heart of what it means to be human.

52 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | HEALTH SLO LIFE
“ ”
“ ”
If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them. Perhaps all our troubles—all the violence, obesity, illness, depression, and greed we can’t overcome—began when we stopped living as Running People. Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way.
Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 53
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sem·per fi·de·lis the US Marine Corps) often abbreviated as Semper Fi

Since 2004 a battle has been waged on a quiet cul-de-sac in San Luis Obispo’s gated country club neighborhood. Every Tuesday morning, inside an unassuming ranch-style home resting under a sun-bleached red and gold Marine Corps flag, a beehive of activity takes place as twenty or so volunteers scramble to assemble care packages for members of the United States Armed Forces. Working feverishly and squeezing through tight hallways with oversized boxes, the volunteers are under the command of retired Marine and Korean War veteran, Si Tenenberg.

Equal parts Kris Kringle and John Wayne 79-year-old Tenenberg refers to those currently serving in harm’s way as “my boys.” In a clipped, no-nonsense-don’t-waste-my-time-I’ve-gotstuff-to-do manner, Tenenberg explains the rationale for his win-at-all-costs commitment to the troops. “As long as my boys are over there—boys and girls, I should say—we’ll keep doing it.” Now, nearing 11,000 care packages sent, Tenenberg and his team of volunteers have refined their operation down to what can only be described as military precision.

Central to Tenenberg’s strategy is his enlistment of six Central Coast Dollar Tree stores. At the checkout stand, customers are asked if they would like to donate items to the troops. Throughout the week, collection boxes fill up with everything from deodorant and toothpaste to batteries and protein bars. Tenenberg then picks up those boxes and returns them to his home where the volunteers sort items by category. “Si,” one of the volunteers shouts across the garage, “Should breath mints go with candy or toothpaste?” Tenenberg fires back, “Candy.”

their spirits up,” she reports. After visiting for a moment, she suddenly realizes that her station in the assembly line has fallen behind. “I’m really very sorry, but I have to get back to work.”

Reaching down into one of the bins and picking up a can of chewing tobacco, Tenenberg bluntly states, “People say this is not good for them, but those people have never been in combat. My guys are on patrol out there and I need for them to be alert. The last thing we need is for someone to get careless and step on an I.E.D.” His comment brings things into perspective and illustrates his commitment to the cause. And, after sending the package he usually receives a thank you email from the recipient, but sometimes photos and other memorabilia come back, too. He once received an American flag, which is displayed proudly above the pool table.

The first time Tenenberg sent a package, it was as much to unload some of his old paperback books as it was to help marines in Afghanistan pass the time. An email came back a few weeks later with a note that read: “Dear Mr. Tenenberg, I want to thank you for the books, but we’re in the Hindu Cush on the border of Pakistan. It’s 25 below zero outside. We’re cold and we’re hungry. Can you help us?” It turns out that old Louie L’Amour novels can only do so much when you’re pinned down on the

front lines of hostile territory, and as memories of those impossibly cold days on the Korean Peninsula came rushing back, Tenenberg set forth on a mission that continues to this day. “I don’t want to go through that again,” he shares as his demeanor shifts and his cadence slows.

Unfortunately, the contributions from Dollar Tree shoppers only go so far. And, it turns out that a $1 pair of socks isn’t what it used to be. Undaunted, Tenenberg has tapped his retirement account to make sure that those troops, “his boys,” in forward operating positions and elsewhere have top-of-the-line warm, dry socks. “Socks,” Tenenberg states flatly, “make all the difference.” And, as the worker bees swarm around him, crisscrossing paths through his house, there is a palpable sense of purpose with the mission. Although everyone is polite, nobody stops to talk for long. Even Tenenberg’s dog, Charlie, is careful to stay out of the way of production and seems to pick up on his owner’s thoughts, which are most accurately summed up with just two words: “Always faithful.”

If you would like to make a donation, please contact Tenenberg at or (805) 234-3101

54 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 |
Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 55 What they really want for Christmas! “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.” - Ted Turner on his secret to success Call us. We can help your business grow. 805.543.8600 SLOLIFE magazine

Shell Beach Sunset Jam

Anyone who knows me well, knows of my love affair with the benches above the cliffs at Shell Beach. At various times in my life there have been different benches that call my name. They are magic places where I sit down to watch the sunset, or just sit and stare at the ocean.

About six months ago I was craving a little solitude, but instead happened upon the music of Brian Jeffrey Goldfaden. It ended up leading to a whole new circle of friends.

On this given day, during that beautiful transition from afternoon to evening, I opted to take a pass on heading to my regular sunset spot and took a seat on a new bench where I could soak up the serenity of this magic time alone. A bench or two down the way, just within earshot, there was a guy playing his music for no one in particular, it seemed, but for the beauty that lay before him.

We never spoke a word but my heart smiled as a young girl joined him and began to sing along. It was a magic little moment even before I noticed the words to their song. “I sat here and listened to Brian and just thought I’d join in and sing,” says 11-year-old Holland Rolapp after joining him in the chorus to his song “Moment.”

Turns out Rolapp and I weren’t the only ones drawn to this place at this time. Bob Seeley used to walk his dogs past this bench, but finally decided to bring his guitar and join in one night. “The whales come by, the dolphins come and listen, the otters cheer us on and clap sometimes,” shares Seeley.

Over time a hodgepodge of personalities have joined in the ritual. A public works director, a retired lumberman, a psychotherapist... “Oh my God. This is where we play. This is our auditorium,” says Seeley as he takes in the view.

There are no set times for the gang to perform. The sunset serenades usually start with Goldfaden bringing his six-strings to the bench. “I come down when I feel like it, yes; which is often,” says Goldfaden.

And in the process of making music by the sea, friendships are made, as well. Rick Warner found out just how much so when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. The group that gathers at this bench, gathered support as well to help Warner and his wife, Shannon, get through her diagnosis. “Our friends from the bench got together and we didn’t cook a meal for six months. They got together, and between Sue and Bryan’s wife, Nikki, every night someone showed up at our house with a dinner,” Warner remembers with a grateful heart.

Whether heartache or health issues drew them to this bench, Goldfaden’s music seems to inspire some healing. “I think everyone has been through heartbreak, or transition in their lives—and I’m no exception to that. So, that’s kind of the reason I started writing. I think that’s why a lot of my songs are about finding hope in the face of heartache and believing that the best is yet to come.”

And that starts with being in the moment. Whether skies are crystal clear and the horizon ahead is easy to see, or when clouds and fog slip in for a spell and blur the beauty some, there is magnificence in the moment nonetheless. You just have to take the time to take it in. “It’s unreal,” says Carroll Robinson, who has only lived on the Central Coast for a short time, but says he knows everybody by hanging around the bench. “It is magic. It is Magic. I love it. Welcome home!” Welcome home indeed.

Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and reporter, hosts the “Out and About with JT” series every Tuesday evening at 6pm.

56 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014
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1. Whether feeding a group or dining solo, you’ll enjoy these Goat Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers featuring herbed goat cheese, basil oil, red wine reduction, and seasoned breadcrumbs (gluten-free if you order without breadcrumbs).

$6 // Luna Red 1023 Chorro Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 540-5243 //

2. Tieman’s proudly brings you 100% Premium Arabica bean from Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador that is naturally “Fused” with Matcha Green Tea from Japan, Rooibos Red Tea from Africa, and Goji Berry from the Himalayas. Better Coffee. Better For You. Low Acid Coffee.

$10.99 - $42.75 // Tieman’s Available at New Frontiers in San Luis Obispo (949) 420-4008 //

3. If you’re ready for fresh local fare it’s time to sign up with SLO Veg for your weekly or biweekly deliveries of fruits and vegetables from local farms accompanied by seasonal recipes.

$27.82 - $40.66 // SLO Veg (805) 709-2780 //

4. The cold weather has arrived and it’s the perfect time to savor these fullfilling Lavender Lamb Chops made from marinated New Zealand lamb, lavender, and sea salt served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and balsamic reduction.

$32 // Novo Restaurant and Lounge 726 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo (805) 543-3986 //

5. Cab lovers will dig Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards’ 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. Not only will the blackberry, vanilla, and nutmeg aromas provide the perfect complement to a hearty steak, the wine is also a solid value. And, you can’t go wrong showing up at a holiday party with a bottle under your arm.

$20 // Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards 1437 Wild Horse Winery Court, Templeton (805) 788-6300 //

58 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SLO LIFE TASTE SLO LIFE
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cozy up

With the holidays upon us, we here in the SLO LIFE Kithen are craving comfort food that can be made quickly and with ease. Keeping fresh and healthy in mind, we found combining just a few simple ingredients can still inspire the taste buds and create a wonderful winter meal.


Pairing apples and shallots with pork chops is an old favorite, and seasoning them with cinnamon and cooking it in coconut oil fills the kitchen with the most delicious scent. And the ease of the one-pan clean up is an added bonus.


2 large apples, sliced thinly 2 shallots, sliced thinly 4 pork chops 5 tablespoons coconut oil ¼ cup white wine cinnamon sea salt

1. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat until melted. Add the apples and shallots and sauté for 5 minutes or until just tender but still crisp.

2. Remove shallots and apples from pan and set aside. 3. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil to pan. 4. Generously sprinkle cinnamon on both sides of pork chops and season with sea salt.

5. Place pork chops in the heated pan of coconut oil and sear each side for 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add white wine and bring to a simmer. Pour the apple shallot mixture over the pork chops, cover and cook over medium heat for approximately 6 to 8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°.

7. Allow to rest for 3 minutes and serve with apple shallot mixture.

60 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 | SLO LIFE KITCHEN

Ready for roasted garlic? Make a dozen to keep on hand with this easy tip. Preheat oven to 400°. Slice off the top of the whole garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and place in a muffin tin for the perfect stand-up solution. Bake for 30 minutes.

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets 1 onion, sliced 6 thyme sprigs 6 garlic cloves peeled and smashed 4 tablespoons olive oil ½ teaspoon sea salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper ½ cup grated Parmesan 1. Preheat oven to 425°. 2. In a large rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower, onion, thyme sprigs, and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. 3. Place filled baking sheet in preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes. 4. Remove pan and sprinkle with Parmesan. 5. Toss to combine and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. The combination of meaty, caramelized cauliflower florets and onions combined with fresh thyme and garlic is a go-to winter side dish.



Artistic Director Kevin Harris will star in this remarkable one-man show based on the true chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s Santaland display. This cult classic riffs on a few of Sedaris’ truly odd encounters with his fellow man during the height of the holiday crunch. November 30 – December 21 //


Presented by Coastal Dance & Music Academy and Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet, Babes In Toyland, under the direction of Molly McKiernan, is a magical holiday story ballet that is sure to delight the entire family.

December 7 – 8 //


It’s Christmas Eve and Clara is about to have the night of her dreams. Audiences of all ages will marvel at the magic and wonder of this spectacular, professional production accompanied by a live orchestra.

December 14 – 15 //

HOLIDAY MAGIC AT THE ZOO Watch and be delighted as the animals investigate and tear open homemade packages of every shape and size

December 21 //


An exotic Rhapsody in Blue, the haunting sounds of the Forbes Pipe Organ and saucy gypsy tunes are just some of the treats in store for you at our New Year’s Eve extravaganza. This magical evening of glitter and glamour will be enhanced by aweinspiring aerial artists who defy gravity with every spin of their silks.

December 31 //

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 delivered
by Santa and his elves. During the festivities children
have the opportunity to make a craft to take home.
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Kick off the New Year by jumping into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean off Cayucos as part of the Carlin Soule Memorial Polar Bear Dip. Festivities begin at 9:30am with the dip at noon. January 1 //



The talented young students of the Academy of Creative Theatre bring this classic tale to life. Experience the adventures of the willful little wooden marionette who runs away from the carpenter Gepetto to encounter a host of fantastic adventures and characters. January 10 – 26 //

The Early Music Ensemble will be joined by student instrumentalists, Cal Poly faculty, and professional guest artists to perform great music by the greatest of the Baroque masters: Motet, BWV 230, “Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden” and Cantata, BWV 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden.” January 25 //


This January, Startup Weekend returns to San Luis Obispo. In just 54 hours, local entrepreneurs, leaders, community members and students will converge to create businesses. It’ll be chaotic, fast paced and incredibly rewarding. January 25 - 27 //


Lace up your sneaks

join the 5k,

or Fun Run put on by the Cal Poly chapter of the National Honorary Band Fraternity supporting the marching band, wind ensemble and wind orchestra among many other musical organizations on campus. January 26 //

Dec/Jan 2014 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | 63
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 At the PAC Tickets Make A GREAT GIFT Anytime! Season highlights include: MANDY PATINKIN In Concert January 10 ROBERT IRVINE LIVE! January 15 CIRQUE ÉLOIZE February 5 & 6 MOSCOW FESTIVAL BALLET – “GISELLE” February 8 “WEST SIDE STORY” March 10 MIKE SUPER Magic/Illusion March 21 “ROCK OF AGES” April 16 20+ events still to come this season. . . Visit for details! Tickets: 756-4849 ~ Discount subscriptions available ~ Untitled-29 1 11/22/13 4:04 PM
64 | SLO LIF e Magaz I ne | Dec/ J an 2014 HAVEN PROPERTIES A PAYNE INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION 1212 Marsh Street, Suite 1 | San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 office 805.592.2050 | The agents at HAVEN PROPERTIES would like to thank our local community for all its support during our inaugural year. Our friends, family and clients are the foundation of our business and we are proud to serve the needs of the community. Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season and Wonderful New Year. EXCLUSIVE AFFILIATION
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