SLO LIFE Magazine Feb/Mar 2016

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Meet our family

“Working with The SLO Land Conservancy on the Octagon Barn Center has special meaning to me. This landmark project is going to add great value to our community and will be a gathering place for my family and others for many generations. It is a great reminder of why I got into this profession in the first place.”

Architecture Landscape 805.541.1010
8 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | f eb/mar 2016 SLOLIFE magazine 32 CONTENTS Volume 7 Number 1 Feb/Mar 2016 CLINT PEARCE We spent an afternoon on the ranch talking about everything under the wide open sky. Publisher’s Message Info On the Cover In Box 12 14 16 18 View During an afternoon in Shell Beach, DAVID LALUSH captures a timeless moment with focused precision. Timeline Look back at the most recent newsworthy events from in and around the Central Coast over the past two months. 26 28


New to town, DEANNA CANTRELL reflects on her 21 years in law enforcement and discusses her newly appointed role as the San Luis Obispo Police Chief.


With a country sound and an intuitive style, THE SHAWN CLARK FAMILY BAND is on the fast track.


A hot topic among researchers, we learn why a balanced gut is about more than just your belly.

Special Feature

We take a peak at the 25-year-old San Luis Obispo County institution known as LEADERSHIP SLO, and get to know some of the people who make up its rich fabric.


Perfect for warming your palette on a cold winter day, JAIME LEWIS hunts down some of the best local spots for a hot bowl of curry.


If you want comfort food, look no further. CHEF JESSIE RIVAS shares a recipe for his classic linguine with clams.


Check out the calendar to discover t he best e vents around the Central Coast in February and March.


It’s the quiet comfort of her home that gives DEBBIE MENDES the strength she needs to persevere.

Real Estate

We share the year-to-date statistics of home sales for both the city and the county of San Luis Obispo.


Never one to pass up a challenge, PADEN HUGHES gathers up a few of her best and brightest friends to test themselves under lock and key.

Out & About

For a community that loves live music, the thought of losing one of its long-standing venues was beyond depressing. As it turns out, not only did the local landmark keep its doors open (just down the road) but it’s also looking to expand its stage presence.

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66 78 86 88


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If you have a life threatening emergency, call 911.

That moment in the ER when you realize you could

The Candle

When my wife and I were considering having a third child, we received some great advice, “Be careful, because you will be going from a man-to-man defense to a zone.” While true to the prophesy, the parental defensive schemes have become infinitely more complex; the offense employed by the kids has also turned out to be equally impressive.

The thing is, when you have two kids, you have two easily identifiable seats of power. Think of the USSR and the USA during the height of the Cold War. There is a constant struggle, complete with a well-defined global map outlining “us and them.” With three kids, however, it is more like dealing with marauding bands of rogue fiefdoms that are forever shifting alliances.

Over the years, one of the stronger allied forces has come about when our sons—we call them the “The Brothers”—team up to torment their big sister, now a 7th grader. One day it dawned on me that things were abnormally quiet in The Brothers’ bedroom, so I poked my head in to check on them. Furious at their sister and vowing revenge—she had told on them—they converted their room into a munitions factory. I found them huddled over a baseball that they were wrapping with black crayon-colored paper and the word “BOMB” etched in red—they were plotting to unleash a level of fury not seen since the days of Wile E. Coyote.

Trying my best to be a mature and reasoned adult was impossible; instead, I kneeled down to inquire about their plan of attack. “We’re going to wait until she leaves her room, then we’re going to put this bomb in her underwear drawer,” they reported after first swearing me to secrecy. “Ah, yes, smart,” I concurred. “The old preemptive sneak attack.” In that moment something came bubbling up from way down deep in my memory banks, and I began chuckling to myself. “Shhh! Dad, be quiet!”

When I was just a little guy, a close family friend had dropped off a box of old “hand-me-downs.” Since the Vega kids were all a few years older than my sisters and me, we could count on an occasional bounty consisting of worn out Toughskin jeans and sun-bleached Veva Blunt Elementary t-shirts. But, on this day, something else was also included in the stash. Reaching down, my mom slowly lifted up what closely resembled a small human brain. Turning it over in her hands, she realized that it was, in fact, a candle. A very ugly—we all agreed, disgusting—candle. Looking up from the waxy medulla oblongata, my mom gazed off into the distance, now deep in thought, when a wry smile settled on her lips.

Later that night, after dark, we piled into our sandy-beige Toyota Corona wagon for a recon mission. The first shot of The Great Candle War against the Vega Family was about to be fired. When we reached their house at the end of Cindy Lane, my mom turned off the lights and slipped the transmission into neutral. Now stealthy quiet, she coasted to a stop in front of their house; slipping out into the inky darkness she carefully placed the candle into the mailbox, slowly raising the red flag. Sliding back into her vinyl seat, she sped away as we joyfully buzzed with adrenaline from our mission accomplished.

As the next few days passed, we thought it a bit odd that the Vegas never said anything about that candle—we figured they’d call to share a good laugh, and the whole thing would be over before it started—but the realization soon settled in that we were in for a long slog. As my parents began tilling the soil of the garden in front of our house a few weeks later, my dad’s shovel struck an unusually soft rock. Digging it up, they discovered that they were victims of a perfectly placed land mine. A month after that, an intrepid spy—one of my little sisters—somehow penetrated enemy lines making it into the Vega’s master bedroom where she tucked the candle neatly between the pillows of the queen-sized bed. Then, later that spring, on my birthday, the Vegas stopped by to deliver a massive layer cake. As we sliced through the white and blue frosting that night, we found, you guessed it, the candle. The war has gone on for decades, despite periodic détentes, and when our families get together many laughs are shared as tales of valor are recalled; that is until someone finally stops and says, “Wait a second—who’s got the candle now?” So, this year, it warmed my heart as I watched The Brothers sitting under the tree holding a beautifully wrapped present from their big sister; as they opened the box, they realized that they had fallen for the oldest trick in the book—a Christmas morning surprise attack.

I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who has had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, most of all, to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you.

Live the SLO Life!


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Tom Franciskovich




Vanessa Plakias

Trevor Povah David Lalush Jenny Doody Ian Wilkinson Renoda Campbell

Have some comments or feedback about something you’ve read here? Or, do you have something on your mind that you think everyone should know about? Submit your story ideas, events, recipes and announcements by visiting us online at and click “Share Your Story” or email us at Be sure to include your full name and city for verification purposes. Contributions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.


If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom Franciskovich by phone at (805) 543-8600 or by email at or visit us online at and we will send you a complete media kit with loads of testimonials from happy advertisers.


Ready to live the SLO Life all year long? It’s quick and easy! Just log on to It’s just $24.95 for the year. And don’t forget to set your friends and family up with a subscription, too. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!


The opinions expressed within these pages do not necessarily reflect those of SLO LIFE Magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole

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Trompeter Paden Hughes Dawn Janke Jessie Rivas Jaime Lewis
CIRCULATION, COVERAGE AND ADVERTISING RATES Complete details regarding circulation, coverage and advertising rates, space, sizes and similar information are available to prospective advertisers. Please call or email for a media kit. Closing date
days before date of issue. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations. SLOLIFE magazine Ask for Eddie’s list of luxury homes 805-714-7558 or visit Eddie Stanfield Member of Institute of Marketing Luxury Home Specialist Member of Century 21 International Hall of Fame BRE #00992808 Let me match your lifestyle with your dream home! Century 21 Hometown Luxury Home Specialist for The Central Coast Feb/Mar Inventory of Central Coast Homes Currently 78 Homes Available starting at $1,500,000/2,700 sq ft + SERVING: ARROYO GRANDE . ATASCADERO CAMBRIA . SAN SIMEON AVILA BEACH . CAYUCOS CRESTON . LOS ALAMOS LOS OSOS . MORRO BAY NIPOMO . PISMO BEACH PASO ROBLES . SANTA MARIA SAN LUIS OBISPO. TEMPLETON
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BEHIND the scenes


For as long as I have lived here—first as a Cal Poly student and now with my family—I have always wondered about that palm tree in front the house next to the Madonna Inn. Whenever I have hiked up Cerro San Luis or driven by on the highway, it always captures my imagination, especially when it is decorated with Christmas lights during the holidays. Apparently— at least according to a photograph that is dated 1917—that tree was planted in front of the old farmhouse sometime around 1912 when it was originally built.

This is probably my favorite shot because it seems to capture Clint so well. I know this sounds dumb, so don’t quote me on this, but it just sums it up for me. Like, life is good. And he’s in a place where he belongs—Happy Trails and riding off into the sunset, all of those things come to mind; you know, quietly living the dream.

Growing up, I spent my weekends on an avocado ranch with my dad who was a wannabe cowboy; and later when I was a teacher I would take my students to the rodeo, so I was totally impressed with Clint’s roping skills. He did a little demonstration with the equipment he had set up near his house and nailed 100% of the targets.

During our shoot, Clint’s wife, Connie, drove up. She rolled down the window and cracked a joke, poking some fun at Clint. I asked her if I could include her in some photos and promised to make her look good. She shot back, “They always say that!” The two of them were so cute together. With some couples it doesn’t matter what you do to lighten it up, it’s just weird and awkward. I said, “Just pretend like you are at the prom,” and they both busted up.

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said it...

Thank you for the joyous cover this month!

SARAH BELLUM is so fresh and beautiful. She is the kind of person who makes San Luis Obispo look good. I applaud her values and you for recognizing they should be shared. There are celebrities out there who are phony, photo-shopped and doing things for all the wrong reasons. Sarah shows you can live your life quietly, cleanly and happily. Thank you for sharing her story. I will not put it away—every time I see it I smile.



very least figured a comma or two was in order. Perhaps, one, “We aim to please, you aim too please.” Or, two, “We aim to please, you aim too, please.” Or, even three, “We aim to please, you aim, too, please.”

It’s funny how much a comma—or lack thereof—can really screw up a sentence. And, it’s not uncommon for a healthy debate to break out here while copy editing the magazine. Consider some classic examples concerning the power of a comma. The most shared story, perhaps, is one you may have heard a variation of at some point. In the early twentieth century, a man went on an expedition to the Congo in search of a gorilla for a zoo in New York. The man sent a telegraph back to his boss which said, “They want $75,000 for the ape. Should I buy it?” His boss immediately replied back, “No price too high.” And, the man showed up a few weeks later with a seriously overpriced gorilla. The boss, of course, messed up the grammar after “No.” See

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Glad I made time to read your PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE , “Bad Grammar.” Great piece of writing! Nice respite from the holiday season. — JAN DOWNS Words have generally come easy to me—math, not so much. That is why it felt like such a cruel irony when, as a seventh grader, I settled into my desk in the corner of the English 1 classroom. On the chalkboard, Mrs. Maddox scratched out something that looked suspiciously like long division; she called it “diagraming a sentence.” Up to that point, I had never given much thought to subjects and predicates—never knew they existed, actually. Most of the time, a story would pop into my head and I would jot it down on paper, oftentimes in one of those old composition booklets, then grab a football and head out to recess. Done deal. Now I was learning that there were rules involved, lots of rules. And, these weren’t the logical rules of mathematics. They were ridiculous, arcane, arbitrary rules. It was during a visit to my Aunt Melba’s house when I first debated proper comma usage. Aunt Melba was actually my mom’s aunt, which made her my great aunt. She was a child of the Depression who saved just about everything, and repurposed and reused almost all of it. She
it was cool. In her bathroom, which was so small that could almost touch two of the opposing walls with my outstretched
the most confounding bit of grammar had come across up to that point in my young life. Sitting there on the back of the toilet
placard that read, “We aim to please you aim too please.” Although I suspected I was dealing with a dangling
“upcycled” before
fingers, I found
was a
participle, at the
how, “No, price too high” completely changes the meaning? If that is not enough to illustrate the point, consider another, much more controversial example. Think about how punctuation can affect this statement: “A woman without her man is nothing.” Depending on your point of view, and likely your gender, you may add a couple of commas. “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” But a different, and likely more accurate statement, comes about with different grammar. “A woman: without her, man is nothing.” You can see how complicated this stuff becomes, but also how important it can be. And in this new era of tweets, texts, and posts, bad grammar can be found everywhere. Yet, there is hope, as in the case of the man buying a gorilla in the Congo; if he were contemplating the purchase today, he probably would have done a video chat. I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, most of all, to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you. And, to you and your family, my best wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2016. Live the SLO Life! Tom Franciskovich | PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE Bad Grammar Just
a note to say how much my husband and I enjoy SLO LIFE . Your thoughtful work and commitment to quality shine through in each publication, and your contributors shine, too. You’ve created a community gem. Bravo!!


each other in the community, but it’s hard to take that caring and that knowledge and translate it into activism, and actually doing something. My little brother, who is 16 now, thinks that I’m a totally crazy hippie. [laughter]

Is he right? don’t know. Some people probably think I’m crazy. think everyone’s a little crazy. It’s good to embrace it. But no, a lot of my friends in the community, they’re really supportive. People like what I’m doing. They like to see that at least I’m trying to do something to make a difference. We’re all just one person. We can do what we can, but we all have to realize too that we are so powerful. But in our consumer culture, they want you to feel disempowered, you know? And so think it’s really cool to inspire people and empower everyone to be an activist, in their own way, themselves. Our culture has taught us how to be great consumers and they have seduced us with all of these advertisements and such. And they don’t give—they don’t empower people to be great citizens. There’s a consumer muscle, and there’s a citizen muscle. And our consumer muscles are really strong. Everyone knows how to shop and consume really well. But, our citizen muscles—how to get involved in our community, how to make a difference—are pretty weak. We can all use a little strength training in that area.

to get everything either used, or I’ll make it myself out of trash. I’m going to take my time and will drop in to talk with a lot of people who are working on this issue to see what they’re up to. So, you’ll ride your crocheted bike all the way to Portland then fly back? No, I’m actually, in 2016, I’m not getting into a car for the entire year. No car, no plane, no petrochemicals. Just simplifying my life has been really eye-opening and feels really good, so I’m going to keep moving in that direction. No plane for me. I’ll be riding back. My plan from there is to go with the flow and see what the universe has in store for me next. We’ll see how it unfolds. really just want to do whatever I can to best serve the world, really. Whatever I can do to make zero waste more accessible to more people is what will be doing. SLO LIFE

I am writing to inform you of the reason(s) I had to pull your latest issue of SLO LIFE (Dec/Jan 2016) from my patient reception area.

As was pointed out to me by a patient, the cover page shows 7 inches of skin, and 1 inch of clothing. Her p. 34 layout, replete with tilted head and left nipple poking through a bra-less tank t-shirt, looks like more of a profile picture or a romantic personal beach photo intended for a close friend, rather than an expose on an environmentalist.

Her p. 40 skateboarding photo. Really? Her right hip and ass cheek is visible to the entire camera. Your Behind the Scenes section, just wow is all I can say. The top photo is very suggestive. Blowing up the photo, I can just make out Ms. Bellum’s medial border of her left areola. The bottom photo within the hula hoop, again, she is wearing next to nothing and seems more poised for skinless romance and sensual frolicking rather than saving the world.

Your portrayal of women, girls really, as scantily clad sex symbols is offensive to this business and the plight of the modern woman. It’s okay if Ms. Bellum didn’t have the decency to dress appropriately for her photo shoot, but it doesn’t mean you should print it.

More congratulations are in order though. For the first time I could detect in any SLO Life Magazine, you featured pictures of non white people (“Makeover” p. 68 and “Harmony of Gerald and Betty” p. 92).

I respectfully ask that you put a stop to magazine covers and pictures of scantily clad women in suggestive poses.

“What can I say about Amy Daane, beyond the fact that she is just an amazing and caring person she is also hardworking, dedicated, extremely honest, and just an extraordinary person inside and out. She is not afraid to dig in and work hard to make sure all our needs were met. On many occasions she went that extra mile to make sure we were taken care of. I just couldn’t get over how professional she was throughout the whole process and her friendly and courteous attitude brightened my day every time we talked or met. I firmly believe that she has the best interest at heart for all her clients, with us she definitely made us like we were number one and always gave us her complete undivided attention. So if you need help finding your dream house or selling the one you have to afford that dream house call Amy, there is really no one else I would want to deal with!! ”

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managed. In San Francisco they use some very progressive processes, which will, hopefully, start to get adopted elsewhere. I’m leaving on February 2nd and will be camping out and blogging the whole way. You should check it out. It’s, that’s with an “s,” my name, was already taken. [laughter] The whole thing will be zero waste, zero emissions. Yeah, I’m going to camp and I’m trying to get gear right now. I’m going
I’ve been making bicycle panniers— you know, those little racks on the back of bikes—out of plastic kitty litter boxes that had been tossed out. They’re water proof and really sturdy and durable. They’ll mount on the back of my bike for my ride up to Portland. I’m doing a zero waste bike tour and will be interviewing trash activists along the way, and stopping to visit landfills to see how they’re
stuff, what
personally practice
bring my own reusable bags and buy in bulk. And
the Farmers’ Market for produce. There
“ah-ha moment” for me
year ago
crocheting with all these plastic bags. I went to get a snack and opened my refrigerator and said to myself, “Oh my gosh, everything’s wrapped in plastic.” So much food is contained in single-use plastic packaging. Since then, I have been steadily working toward zero waste and not having any plastic in my life at all. I think the important thing though is just to get started. We have to start reducing our consumption of the stuff. It’s really hard and it doesn’t happen all at once. But once you start moving in that direction, it gets easier every day. For some it may just mean picking up a reusable water bottle and stop buying plastic water bottles. When you start looking into it, you will be shocked by how much plastic there is everywhere you turn. Where might we be surprised to find it? So, for a long time, I was thinking about toothpaste, right? Toothpaste comes in this little plastic tube, one-time use. And, oftentimes toothpaste actually comes >> et’s take it from the top, Sarah. Where are you from? I’m from Portland, Oregon. I really loved it there, it was nice growing up by the forest and just having so much open space and trees to climb. It’s a great city, friendly. But, when turned 18 I just needed to get out. I needed something new and adventurous, something new in my life. I was working at this place called Pizza Schmizza in Portland with a girl who grew up in the area and she told me about the Central Coast. I’d never been here before. just bought a one-way Amtrak ticket, and found paradise. That was five years ago now. I’ll never forget stepping off the train in San Luis Obispo; the very first thing I noticed was that the streets were sparkling in the sun. I was so excited. And the palm trees. I was so excited about the palm trees. It felt so tropical to me.
There’s a consumer muscle, and there’s a citizen muscle. And our consumer muscles are really strong. Everyone knows how to shop and consume really well. But, our citizen muscles—how to get involved in our community, how to make a difference—are pretty weak. We can all use a little strength training in that area.
Aside from crocheting with the
waste lifestyle as
I can. And,
I shop at SLO Natural Foods Co-op;
was an
about a
after had been
By day, you can find SARAH BELLUM working at the Hemp Shak in downtown San Luis Obispo, by night she is busy trying to save the planet from its addiction to all things plastic. In her free time she can be found roaming Central Coast beaches collecting trash, crocheting bikinis from plastic bags, blogging about how to live life without creating any trash, and advocating a simpler existence for
- Kymberly & Michael

Take us with you!

Hey, SLO LIFE readers: Send us your photos the next time you’re relaxing in town or traveling far and away with your copy of the magazine. Email us at



Here we are enjoying SLO Life on our way to the Roskilde Cathedral and Viking Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. — Ysabel Moriarty, Aidan Moriarty, Charlotte Dierks, Lesley Santos Dierks, Allison Dierks, Trevor Moriarty (photographer)


This was a very windy day at Stonehenge in England. We spent a month touring the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Scotland). — NANCY AND MICHAEL JACKSON ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH @quinn&gwendolyn



We took SLO Life to Machu Picchu when we went to Peru as part of a 35-member I Care International team to help Peruvians improve their vision. — DR. CHUCK TRIBBEY AND KATHRYN TRIBBEY, NP, CNM We went to Mo’orea and we took a photo with your awesome SLO Life Magazine. — YATIN AND MUKTA NARAN
feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 23 Send your photo to
TAHOE Here I am sending some love from Sugar Bowl in Tahoe. Love reading your mag! — PETE AYER Taken in Tortuguero, a remote village accessible only by boat. — JAN MARX
We were in Madrid visiting our daughter Amy and her family before Christmas. Here we are at the Cibeles Fountain with the government building in back. Notice the sign hanging, refugees welcome! — RICHARD & SALLY EQUINOA COMPOUNDING PHARMACY Compounded Medicine is Personalized Medicine Because One Size Does Not Fit All 46 Chromosomes 25,000 Genes 1 Trillion Cells You are unique. Your medicine should be too. WHY CHOOSE COMPOUNDED MEDICINE? Contact Us for Your Next Prescription 181 Tank Farm Road San Luis Obispo (across from Kennedy Fitness) 805.542.0864 Download our New Mobile App!



I was recently on a two-and-ahalf month trip through Europe. I took you with me throughout and got these pics outside of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. This church is massive! Construction was started in the late 19th century and they are still working on it. I wanna check it out again in 10 years, maybe with the latest edition of SLOmag. — RYAN STARBUCK

Enjoying the SLO Life with my new friend Salma while in Meknes, Morocco. Visit us online at Letters may be edited for content and clarity. To be considered for publication your letter should include your name, city, state, phone number or email address (for authentication purposes).

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Slowly, carefully, David Lalush put one foot down and then another on the soggy, slippery tide pool one wintery afternoon in Shell Beach. On his back, tucked neatly into a baby carrier, his not-quite-one-year-old son, cooed in his ear and played with his hair. As he set his gaze seaward, a fleeting thought bounced in Lalush’s mind: “I wish this moment would last forever.”

The sunset that day appeared to be somewhat compliant, as it did hang around for an impossibly long time, especially for the dead of winter. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lalush remembers, “it was the most beautiful sunset ever, and it just went on and on.” With a close eye on the tide, the photographer set up his Nikon D800 atop a tripod no more than a half-inch above the waterline, so that the full reflection of the oil painted sky above could be captured in the tide pool below. Through a simple polarized lens filter, and with minimal touch-up in postproduction, the photo that you see here was made that day.

Although Lalush graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in architecture, the profession never ignited his passion the way he thought it would. “I went to work for a large firm in San Francisco, and 90% of what I did there was buried into the computer never to see the light of day,” he shares. Photography became an outlet, a way to express an artistic side, a way to commune with nature, a way to connect with his family and his past.

When he was young, Lalush lost both of his parents. With their passing, so many of the stories that are shared from one generation to the next were gone. Fortunately, he would learn later; photography ran in the family, as his parents left behind a treasure trove of archived 35mm slides. Over time, Lalush has been able to digitize the images, which has allowed him to bridge the gaps of his fading memory. “I feel like I’ve been able to reconnect with them,” he reflects, “photos stick with you forever—it’s like visual storytelling.”

Now, a love for photography is something that Lalush hopes to continue for a third generation. When dramatic weather appears, his wife and two kids are coaxed out to the various corners of the Central Coast for a bit of adventure, and growth. “I see photography as the catalyst to get us outside to explore together,” the San Luis Obispo-based landscape and architecture photographer pauses to reflect. “And, I’m still learning—I’ll always be learning.”

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Around the County



Developer Ryan Petetit, co-owner and CEO of San Luis Obispo-based PB Companies, stepped down following his Thanksgiving Day arrest for allegedly battering his girlfriend, who claimed that he had choked her and smashed her head through a window. During his arraignment where he was charged with five felonies, it was revealed that it was not the first time he had attacked a woman. PB Companies and Petetit’s business partner John Belsher had been involved in the Long-Bonetti Ranch project on South Higuera and Tank Farm Road, as well as the Foster’s Freeze property in downtown San Luis Obispo, and has since changed its name to Central Coast Developers.


A hero’s welcome awaited Isaac Lindsey as he finally returned to his home in Templeton following a traumatic brain injury suffered more than three months prior in a football game against SLO High. His family credits the quick actions of medical personnel following his collapse after what was believed to have been his second concussion of the game. Following an emergency brain surgery at the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Clinic in San Luis Obispo, Lindsey had been transferred to a rehabilitation center in Santa Clara.


Testing reveals that toxic industrial solvents known as trichloroethylene, or TCE, and toluene, had been detected in somewhere between 11 and 21 domestic water wells in San Luis Obispo near Buckley Road. Officials were unable to determine the source of the contamination, but suspect that the TCE, historically used as a solvent and degreaser, as well as the toluene, a gasoline additive, could have originated at the nearby airport.


Embattled Los Osos Community Services District (CSD) general manager Kathy Kivley was placed on paid administrative leave amid ongoing scrutiny following an independent audit of the 2013-14 fiscal year, which found that she had made changes to


A longtime San Luis Obispo institution, The Sub, goes up in smoke as an inventory of one-of-a-kind collectibles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is lost. Richard Ferris, the owner of the 10,000-foot store, was critical of the firefighters who took more than six-hours to extinguish the blaze. The fire was later determined to have been accidental, and likely began somewhere near the front of the building.

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Bus service is shut down in San Luis Obispo after a Cal Poly student stood up and addressed his fellow riders, warning them that there was a bomb on a SLO Transit bus, and to avoid riding it for a week. SLOPD later apprehended the computer science major, following his on-air interview with a KSBY reporter, but later released him to mental health services where he remained for several days following the incident.


The Morro Bay City Council unanimously approved an agreement to partner with Avila Beach-based non-profit Central Coast Aquarium to build a multi-million dollar waterfront aquarium on the Embarcadero. The facility would replace the old aquarium, which had been burdened by controversy over concerns for animal welfare, and would require somewhere between $7 and $10 million and four years to complete. As part of the


As the spring semester begins, 85 members of the Cuesta College faculty picket on campus with signs that read, “The time is NOW! Fair pay for excellent work.” At issue was an impasse concerning compensation. The college had offered a 4.46% increase, but the faculty union held firm to its 6.41% request. Cuesta College faculty had received 1% raises in each of the past two years.

also owner and president of San Luis Obispo-based engineering company the Wallace Group—was subject to an independent review, which found multiple incidents of conflicts of interest involving hiring of his own company at inflated rates. The Sanitation Board voted unanimously to forward the report on to the district attorney, the FBI, and the state attorney general for possible criminal charges.

An email is sent out by Jeffrey Armstrong, president of Cal Poly, revealing that, “The university is discussing the possibility of developing a worforce-housing complex at the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Slack Street. The employee housing complex would be built on 10 to 15 acres and could include up to 420 units.”

The site in question had been designated for workforce housing in its Master Plan a year ago. SLO LIFE

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People First

Last month, the City of San Luis Obispo swore in its new chief of police, DEANNA CANTRELL, who had spent her entire twenty-one year law enforcement career with the Mesa, Arizona police department. We sat down to get to know her one recent rainy afternoon…

So, Deanna, does policing run in the family? Not exactly, pretty much the majority of my family is on the wrong side of the law. I grew up poor in New Mexico. I grew up underprivileged with a lot of domestic violence. I thought I was going to be a teacher; I actually went to school to become an art teacher. I draw, I paint, I write poetry, I play the guitar, I write music. But, I ended up leaving college after two years to get a job. I did not have help from parents for school or anything like that, so having to support myself, the job came first; school would have to come later.

How did it go? I realized pretty quickly that I really needed a career, not just a job. A friend of mine had a brother who was a police officer. He and I started talking about it and I had never really considered it because of my family situation; and it was never something I looked at as a noble profession or as anything I would want to do. But, I started talking to him and he told me about all the stuff he did in policing. He was a detective and he dealt a lot with victims of domestic violence. I thought, “Wow, I like the idea of being able to help;” especially kids, especially considering the way that I grew up.

So, how did you get your start? I was hired at the Mesa Police Depart and eight years later, after becoming a sergeant, I went back to school. I was working graveyards and had three little kids at the time. But someone said to me, “Two years is going to pass. And, it’s going to pass whether you’re in school or not in school. And, at the end of two years you can have a degree or not have a degree.” I thought, “Well, that’s a good point.” So, I went back to school while I was working and ended up with my bachelor’s degree.

Tell us about your family. My partner, Kristi, and I have been together 19 years. Our three kids were actually my brother’s kids. He’s a meth addict. He did not break the cycle of violence from our childhood. He’s used for a long time and it has kind of been on and off. When he’s clean he’s a really super good guy; but when he’s not, he’s not. And, so we ended up taking his kids when they were very young. The oldest one was six at the time. They were losing their apartment and were going to be living out of a car. We did not have any intention of having kids; it wasn’t in our plan. But, what are you going to do when you find out that your nephews and niece are going to be living out of a car?

Your career path must have included some unique obstacles… conservative. It is consistently voted one of the most conservative cities in the nation. I was the first out—gay person altogether, male or female—for our police department back in ’94. So, yes, it most definitely did create some challenges. [laughter] So, yeah, I got hate mail. Yeah, it was a tough, tough beginning. There are quite a few folks there who are out now. And, four years ago the Mesa Police Department became the first one in Arizona history to march in a gay pride parade. Over the past few years other agencies have joined in.

Did that experience make you a better leader?

Earlier in my career, I didn’t understand leadership the way I do now. Looking back on it, I think that I was probably a terrible lieutenant. It was about the time that I was promoted to commander that I really started to understand that leadership is about people and not about tasks and not about accomplishments—it’s not about you. It is really about your people. Once I figured that out, it was so much better. I began to excel when I made people my priority. Once that change happened and I started to understand leadership at a different level, and I made people more important than anything else—including myself—that’s when all those pieces of the puzzle came together.

How does that philosophy manifest itself on the front lines?

on a call for an older lady—she was probably 75 years old—we were called out because her husband had just died. I was sort of rushing around her house, preoccupied as I was thinking about all the paperwork I had waiting for me back at my desk when the woman said, “Would you sit down and have some tea with me?” Sort of reluctantly I said, “Okay, okay.”

So as we were sitting there drinking tea, she said to me, “This is the first conversation I’ve ever had with a police officer.” She had no idea how much of an impact that had on me. Here is this woman, who during her entire life had never had contact with a police officer, and in her time of need having just lost a loved one, without fully appreciating it, I had an opportunity to make a difference. But, I wasn’t thinking about her; I was thinking about me. That experience changed me forever—she had no idea what that cup of tea did for the way I see the world now.

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In a wide-ranging interview with Madonna Enterprises president CLINT PEARCE, we talked about everything from rodeo to family legacy to real estate development to meditation.


So, Clint, we like to start from the beginning. Where are you from originally? Well, I was born in Roseburg, Oregon. When I was very young we moved to the Central Valley. I spent the first part of my life as a child in the Central Valley until I was between my freshman and sophomore year at high school. We lived in a little town called Snelling. It’s in the foothills, about 20 miles out of Merced. We lived on a cattle ranch. My mom and dad were cattle ranchers, so I grew up in a rural cattle ranching sort of culture and environment. I went

to kindergarten through 8th grade at Snelling Elementary. I think it averaged around 80 students for the entire school for all grades combined. It was fun to grow up in a really small community like that. It was pretty rural there. Everybody knew each other.

So, where did you go from there? I went to high school at Merced just one year. The freshman campus had a thousand students and it was very urban. I had always been involved with rodeo when I was growing up,

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which was a natural kind of outgrowth from loving horses and cattle, which then led to competing in rodeo and roping. So we lived there in Snelling until after my freshman year then we moved up to Central Oregon, to Redmond, which is on the eastern slope so it wasn’t wet and soggy like most people think of when they think of Oregon. When I found out that they had their own rodeo team at the high school up there, I was in heaven. After I graduated, all my friends were going up to Pendleton. There’s a junior college there called Blue Mountain Community College. I went up there with a lot of my buddies, so we could join the college rodeo team.

Was your plan to stay in Oregon? You know, the whole time I was growing up—you know how as you grow up you just get these deepseated ideas of what you’re going to do, whether it’s in life or where you’re going to go to school or any of that? Well, my parents had both gone to Cal Poly and I grew up hearing about their Ag Department and their rodeo team. I always knew I wanted to go to Cal Poly, so I transferred there. And, the rodeo community is so tight-knit, like one or one-and-a-half degrees of separation. So, one day I bumped into someone from San Luis named Connie Madonna. She went to Cal Poly and was on the rodeo team—it was love at first sight.

So, what happened next? We dated and were engaged. In ’91 I graduated with a business degree, and it was a terrible time to head out into the workforce because we were in the middle of a recession. Thankfully, her dad, Alex, offered me a job in his construction company. So I graduated on a Saturday, and on Monday morning I was flagging traffic as a laborer on Highway 46 out by Geneseo Road in Paso. I started at the bottom truly, which is where everybody really ought to start, especially when they’re inexperienced like that. But, I was happy to have a job. It paid pretty well. You can make some good money in construction. But, I knew that I didn’t want to be a laborer and a flagger the rest of my life. I wanted to work my way up the ranks. That’s the motivation and the ambition, to do what you can to build skills and learn about the business and work your way up.

How did that turn out? It wasn’t until about three years later when I started estimating and project managing that I really worked day in and day out with Alex. It was challenging, but rewarding at the same time. He was a genius of a businessman. He was a very intelligent boss and so creative. He also never took setback and adversity as the final word. I think a really good example of that was when he threatened to turn Froom Ranch—over where Whole Foods is now—into a pig farm. He was having trouble getting his shopping center approved and there was some pushback saying that it should stay in agriculture, and so his answer to that was, “Well, if you want ag so much, why don’t we just go all the way and have a pig farm?” And he would roar with laughter every time he’d bring that up, because it’s just the way he was. He combined a wonderful sense of humor with a genius mind that was very creative, and he would just think of things that were really funny. And on the surface, it sounds like just a funny joke; but under the surface he was doing a masterful job of playing the county against the city to try to force the city into making a decision.

Did you get involved with these types of projects back then? I got involved in development a little, but Alex—he was a self-made man. And he liked to make the decisions. And so you did what you were asked to do and you got as involved as he wanted, but you didn’t want to overstep the boundaries. So by about 2000, I had been doing the same job for several years and felt like I wanted a little bit more, so I went back to school and enrolled in Pepperdine’s Executive MBA course, which is a program that allows you to work at the same time you are going to school. So then I graduated in ’02 and continued working when Alex passed away in ’04. At that time Phyllis asked Connie and I if we would sort of step up and move into more of a management role to help her navigate and manage their overall businesses. So, that started a whole new chapter for us from that point forward. >>

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What did you do first? We really kind of opened up the place, and, well, we cleaned up a lot. In fact, one of the first things that Phyllis said after Alex passed away, because she was in grief and this probably helped her with her grief; but she said, “I want to clean up that damn junk pile!” And so the old timers out there will probably remember the old equipment yard full of literally acres and acres of old construction equipment that was up there behind where the Expo is now and further down by the arena; that was all just a sea of old rusted construction equipment. A lot of it was still operable, but we sold it off and got out of the construction business. Construction is one of those businesses where you have to have a passion for it in order to be successful. If you’re not 100% passionate and all in on it, it can be a tough business. So Phyllis, her love was the Madonna Inn, and she really wanted to do the best we could for the Inn and not stay with the construction.

So, how exactly were the responsibilities divided? Connie’s the general manager of the Madonna Inn. So she is the final word and the boss, if you will, over the Madonna Inn. That being said, we have a management team that includes myself, who all confer and discuss and a lot of times come to a group decision on different things. So we help Connie as an executive team. And then as far as what I’m in charge of, I suppose, is more of the development side of the business—development and property management. So we have the Home Depot/Costco/Irish Hills Plaza project and then across the street, the Target shopping center. Those are the properties that we have developed and we retained ownership on. And then in Santa Maria we have a shopping center and we’ve got a portfolio of office buildings and our newest project that is ahead of us in the pipeline is the Del Rio Marketplace, adjacent to the Wal-Mart center in Atascadero. We’re going to build the non-Wal-Mart portion of that shopping center out and then manage it in the future.

What do you think Alex would say about how things are going? Actually, I’ve had a lot of dreams about Alex walking in, and Connie has too. I mean seriously, it sounds dumb, but when someone is almost larger than life in your eyes, he’s walked back in during the middle of the night and said, “Hey, how are you doing?” And, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh; he’s going to see what we’ve done!” And that’s good and bad. It’s like, “I’m really not sure he’s going to like all this.” But at the same time, I think that—I hope—I hope that he would be happy with some of, if not a lot of what we’ve done. But, at the end of the day, some of the most important things that endure today are some of the lessons he taught. For example, Alex always returned a phone call. It didn’t matter if it was someone who he was in a bitter dispute with, he would still return that phone call. He never ignored anyone and I always remember that, and I always try to do that. It was a key component of his personal relationships that he had with people. Those personal relationships, I think, are really, really important. I think about that all the time. How important personal relationships are; and when you tell someone you’re going to do something, then you better follow through.

Let’s talk about the state of development on the Central Coast. Are we on the right path? You know, that’s a good question and I think it’s one that the community really needs to think about, because you have to grow at least to some degree to not stagnate. But you don’t want to grow too fast either, because that creates a whole other set of problems. I think that if you look at all the projects that are on the books right now, around the area, around San Luis, it’s mind blowing; it’s staggering. I mean, my gosh, if all of this gets built, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But the reality is it’s not all going to get built or some of them might get built now and some might get tabled for the next 10 or 20 years. It’s hard to say. But there are a lot of people, I suppose this is probably the best way I can

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answer it, is that there’s people in sort of the hypergrowth camp that think that we should do away with regulation and that we should streamline it, streamline every project and all that. Well, there are other countries in the world that do that. And sometimes, many times, that approach leads to unintended consequences.

What about here in San Luis Obispo? I believe that we have a good system in San Luis. It’s not perfect. Everyone would like to get through different departments faster than they do. It is sometimes a little bit overregulated, but what that does is it creates a really good filter so that only the better—I don’t want to say the great projects, because not every project is great that gets permitted and built—but at least the better projects make it to the finish line. Not every concept that’s dreamt up makes it to a full build-out. That’s always a source of contention within the development world which I’m in, is that we’re overregulated. But I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of security and safety in having some regulation too and having some real checks and balances to make sure that we really look hard at what we’re putting in the ground, because we’re going to be living with it as a community for a long, long time. So, I applaud the groups that—I don’t always agree with them—but I applaud the groups that really take the time to look at what’s going on in our community.

Let’s shift gears and talk about the Madonna family… Absolutely, it’s a wonderful group of people that I’m proud to be a part of. They’re all different. They’re all incredibly bright and interesting and creative. And,

with our kids, we kind of drilled into their heads that you’re nobody. You’re going to have to work for a living. Nothing’s entitled or handed out. And so they, I think that they have a good kind of grounded, I hope, sense of self and position in the community, and the understanding that whatever they get, they need to work for; whether that’s respect in the community, whether that’s good grades at school, whether it’s a paycheck. Our son Dalton is working in the maintenance department at the Inn and he says he prefers to plunge the toilets because he hates to paint. But guess what? He has to paint, too. And our daughter Audrey, she was ten when she started boxing up cakes in the bakery. She now works with us in our marketing department and is finishing up her bachelor’s degree at Poly and is looking to go on to get her masters.

And, you and Connie recently started a rodeo team at Cuesta College? Yeah, so this is Dalton’s second year at Cuesta. They didn’t have a rodeo team when he started, but I know from my own experience that there were a number of times where I thought I was done. I was pretty fed up with school and I would have probably quit had I not been required to keep my grades up to be on the rodeo team. I mean, it meant that much to me to be part of that. So I thought, if just for that reason alone, if it keeps him and other kids hooked on school, it’s worth whatever time we spend to get it started and get it going. So, last year we started the rodeo team with 12 student-athletes that will go to the rodeos. This year we have 27. So, we more than doubled it just in our second year. It’s been a very rewarding experience. >>

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Here’s a question we like to ask: What would we be surprised to know about you? Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. I guess that I’m really happy just the way things are and don’t feel the need to try to affect change any more than what’s natural. There’s a saying, “However it ends up is the way that it’s meant to be.” And for me that gives me a lot of peace because we spend a lot of our lives, I think our egos spend a lot of time trying to dictate outcomes. So, being free from that and releasing it and letting go— you’re still motivated, and ambitious and you get enjoyment out of doing the best you can in whatever direction you’re headed in life—but at the same time you’re not trying to force outcomes.

Interesting, I wonder if you could give us an example? Sure. Like we had talked about earlier with Alex, he loved confrontation; he was like a lion. He really had the heart of a lion. And I’m more, I don’t know, I don’t like conflict near as much. So a lot of times I’m looking for other ways to meet my objective or my goal. I’ve got a great mentor and she kind of helped me with that thinking. I also love the book A New Earth, which a lot of people read and it’s kind of trendy probably, but I feel that it’s got some really interesting things to say about your ego and how your ego can control you; basically, keeping you unaware, unconscious. Whereas if you just kind of let go, and if you let things turn out however they are going to naturally turn out, you’re probably better off. Of course you’re still doing your best, but if you’re in the moment doing the best you can and not worried about the finish line all the time then a lot of times you’ll wind up in a better space than you may have thought you were going to go; than you were trying to dictate from the beginning. I mean I’ve heard the story, or different variations of it, it seems like half-a-dozen times in the

last year: someone goes in for an appendectomy, and during the surgery they find some cancer in its very early stages before it has spread. If it hadn’t been for the first ailment they wouldn’t have found what was even more important. How can you say then, “Man, I don’t want to have an appendectomy”—because maybe in the big scheme of things, maybe you do want to have one.

So, Eckhart Tolle, the guy who wrote A New Earth is a big proponent of meditation. Is that something you practice in daily life? I never thought of it as meditation, but, this is long ago, probably 15 to 20 years ago, I started really thinking about the breath, especially when I’m getting nervous, particularly in a competition when I’d be getting nervous. I’d really focus on my breathing and I didn’t know—it was before the whole Power of Now and all that kind of stuff was out—but for myself, I knew that when I was breathing and concentrating on my breath, I could really kind of relax myself. And so, even now, when my shoulders start to kind of rise up toward my neck, and I realize that I’m getting way too worked up here; I just need to relax, and then that relaxation, that breathing comes into play. So it’s probably not in a formal sense, but I think I do meditate. And it sounds stupid, but when my mind really gets to doing some wacky stuff and when I get some really crazy thoughts going on, I try to shine a light on the ego so that I can quiet down the chatter. Because we don’t multitask like we think we can; we’re single-trackers, and so the breath, I guess, is the same way also. When I’m really focused on the breath, sometimes my ego will still outsmart me and will find ways to get back and start working on its chatter again, so I just keep going back to the breath; and just keep moving forward. SLO LIFE

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Literacy for Life is empowering adults in our community by helping them learn to read and write. This means more opportunities for education, employment, and a better quality of life.


feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 41
in seven people struggle to read.
Find out how you can help. Visit to donate or volunteer. National Center for Education Statistics



Imagine the whirlwind of writing a few songs, connecting with fellow musicians, starting a band, recording an album, and heading out on a US tour, all within a few short months. That’s how it happened for San Luis Obispo resident Shawn Clark.

Kick up your boots when the band performs on these upcoming dates:

February 21 . Grange Hall, San Luis Obispo . 7:00 p.m. with Sam Outlaw and Whitney Rose

February 29 . Del’s Pizzeria, Shell Beach . 8:00 p.m.

March 10 . Naked Fish, San Luis Obispo . 7:00 p.m.

March 31 . Naked Fish, San Luis Obispo . 7:00 p.m.

May 22 . Tablas Creek Winery, Paso Robles . 11:30 a.m.

June 4 . Pioneer Days, Paso Robles . 1:15 p.m.

Find out more at

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Irecently sat down with members of The Shawn Clark Family Band at Del’s Pizzeria in Shell Beach before their performance as part of Del’s Spaghetti Western night, and for a little over an hour, I felt like part of the family too. We laughed, shared a meal, and talked about the headlong start to their down-home music.

Even though Clark grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas, he says he never really liked country music, but when his grandfather passed away a few years ago he started listening to Hank Williams, Sr. “It was healing, and I understood it,” he explains. So when times got rough for Clark last year, he returned to country music to heal. “I got started writing songs because I was going through some crazy stuff in my life, and I needed an outlet,” says Clark.

“I wrote some songs and shared them with one of my friends, Chris Deming. Deming encouraged me to write more and to play with him at an upcoming show.” At first Clark was hesitant, but the show happened to be on his birthday, April 3, and he thought: “That’s a weird sign—maybe I should do it.” That’s when the journey began.

Clark agreed to be added to the performance bill and started writing more songs. “Everything just flowed,” he says. He had written songs before, but “never like that, and not that fast. I was super inspired.” When Clark performed on his birthday, Santa Maria native Kris Chavez, who plays mandolin and banjo for the band, joined him on stage and encouraged him to continue writing.

“But then, the music was just kind of there,” says Clark, “and I wasn’t planning on doing anything else with it.” Enter guitarist Hilary Watson and fiddlist Kate Feldtkeller, who met Clark and loved his stuff. Feldtkeller says, “We have similar styles of music, and we were really excited to back him up with some vocals and instrumentals.”

Since 2012, Watson and Feldtkeller have been performing together as Hilary + Kate, a bluegrass/folk duo that has toured both nationally and around the world. Feldtkeller also plays with the SLO Chamber Orchestra, so Clark felt like if they liked his work, maybe there really was something to it.

Clark agreed to continue writing and playing music only if Chavez, Watson and Feldtkeller agreed to play with him, and the Shawn Clark Family began. Then, at a house show in April, the foursome ran into Mary MacLane, who grew up in Atascadero and now attends the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. When Clark found out she was a stand-up bass player, he asked her to join them on stage. By all accounts, the band’s performance was awesome. As Clark says, “It just felt right.” Welcome to the family, Ms. MacLane.

Chavez explains that he and a few others have known drummer Teddy Ramirez for a long time, and they always wanted to play with him.

Ramirez, a Paso Robles native, graduated from the LA Music Academy with a degree in music performance, has been a member of Eager Seas since 2011 [see the Oct/Nov ’15 issue], and also performs in the alternative rock group The Rocket Summer, a band out of Dallas, Texas.

Ramirez was in.

Watson and Feldtkeller had recently hired pedal steel guitarist Brenneth Stevens to perform a few shows with them. They suggested to Clark, “You have to meet Brenneth—you’ll be great friends, and he’s perfect for your music.” Stevens met Clark at a campout and heard him perform. He explains, “After that, I made sure I always stuck around.” And, Stevens made seven.

Local audio engineer Nolan Perry also heard the band perform and said to Clark, “I’m gonna be the guy who records your music.” Perry thus served as the recording engineer for the band’s first full length album, Tumbleweed. And while tumbleweeds might conjure desolate, aimless wandering, the Shawn Clark Family Band is anything but. In just three weeks, the band recorded the album.

Post-recording, at the end of May, the Shawn Clark Family Band performed live as a full band for the first time at Kreuzberg Coffee Company. Clark says, “It was insane because we didn’t know if anyone was going to show up.” But, the place was packed. Feldtkeller says, “I think that’s true to SLO—everyone is very supportive and comes out to support local music.” MacLane, who is classically trained on the double bass and played in the SLO Youth Symphony for a number of years, adds, “And outside of this band, we all have a lot of music connections in the area, so we brought in our friends, who brought in their friends.”

In June, the band held their CD release show at Boo Boo Records, the day before Watson and Feldtkeller left for their own tour, and then for about two weeks in October they toured Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Clark says he likes to perform for the community, especially in SLO where folks are super supportive, and what he loves most is that people dance. “Remember that scene in Coal Miner’s Daughter with the band playing in the barn and everyone dancing? I want to be that band. I like when the community comes out and

dances to our music.”

And continue to dance, they will. The Shawn Clark Family Band has only been together for nine months, and Clark already has another album ready with eight original songs and two covers of local singer songwriters. Clark says, “There’s just so much talent on the Central Coast, and I want to honor that when I can.”

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DAWN JANKE, Director, University Writing & Rhetoric Center Cal Poly, keeps her pulse on the Central Coast music scene.


Homeowner, DEBBIE MENDES, shares her story of survival and how her “Happy Healing Place” provided the quiet strength she needed for the fight of her life.


It took Debbie Mendes more than a year of dedicated effort—lots of time and money—to finally obtain the permit to demolish her old oceanfront beach bungalow in Pismo Beach. Then, she decided not to do it.

Following what was to be a final meeting with her architect, she met her three daughters, and a friend out for lunch. It was to be a

celebration of sorts, as the demolition crew was scheduled to roll up on Cypress Street the next day. “They were all talking,” Mendes recalls, “and then something just hit me. I told them, ‘I’m not going to knock it down.’ They all asked me, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. I really don’t know why.’”

It could be that Mendes saw something in

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that home that she also sees in herself. Both have been knocked around, but keep getting back up. For better or worse, they are kindred spirits. A year after buying the home that she had fallen in love with long ago, Mendes began experiencing strange symptoms. She thought she was having a series of strokes. One doctor referred her to another, then another until she found herself at the

Stanford Medical Clinic where an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) was found in her brain. She was presented with three options, one being a very aggressive 6-hour nip-it-in-the-bud surgical option. Mendes, displaying her characteristic decisiveness, said, “Let’s do it. I don’t need to think about it. Take it out. It’s yours. I don’t want it.” The operation was a success, and Mendes spent

many hours recuperating as she watched the tide roll in and back out again from her living room window atop the cliff north of the pier. It was during those early years when Mendes christened her house, “Deb’s Happy Healing Place.”

Over time, the home came to represent family, and togetherness, as it served as a headquarters

feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 47

for Mendes’ seven grandkids who loved to visit grandma and spend precious time getting to know one another on the sun-drenched sand below. Despite its outward appearance, the little 1,660-square foot bungalow-by-the sea was wearing a brave face as it was taking a pounding from the heavy, salt-laden ocean air day after day. It was falling apart. Mendes knew it. And she had to do something.

Tearing it down and building something new was the obvious choice. In the weeks leading up to demo day, one of her daughters brought over some markers. She thought it would be fun if everyone could say, “Goodbye,” to the old house by writing messages on one section of the hallway wall. Before long, everyone in the family took turns sharing their feelings for the house with every color the set of

Crayolas provided. The commemoration grew to the dimensions of one of those oversized checks presented to lottery winners, and it sat quietly tucked away as it awaited its fate. Mendes stopped to read the notes each time she walked down the hallway. And the tribute opened a floodgate of emotions.

Again, Mendes and her little house found

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themselves in similar predicaments, as the diagnosis for both of them left little room for optimism. While the bungalow awaited its date with a bulldozer, Mendes was deep into a fight with cancer. She had recently learned that the lump in her breast had spread to her liver, and that twelve tumors were in her brain. Now, having endured twenty rounds of radiation,

Mendes declares matter-of-factly, yet defiantly, “I’ve never felt sick. Never felt a thing. Felt great the whole time.” In her next breath, she heaps credit for her medical progress so far on her happy healing place. Mendes pauses to reflect for a moment. “When I’m here things are different,” she shares while taking in a sweeping ocean view. “I know I’m going to be okay.”

When she called San Luis Obispo-based home builder Robbins|Reed Inc. to tell them about her lunchtime epiphany, explaining that she had opted for a remodel over new construction, it was a major blow. Months of planning, scheduling, estimating, ordering, and coordinating vaporized into the ether. Although the company specializes in custom home >>

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feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 51

projects, there was something about Mendes and her pluckiness that won them over. The team, after digesting the news, agreed to pivot along with their client and bring the happy healing place roaring back to vibrancy. If Mendes wanted a remodel— or more accurately a


Wearing “Team Deb” t-shirts, Mendes is treated to the unveiling of her newly remodeled home by family, friends, and an assortment of people who had worked on the project.

restoration—that is exactly what she would get.

Since everyone was already geared up to build a home, the process was lightning-fast. Mendes spent her time in a rental property across town scanning the internet for ideas. Every time she found something she liked, a particular type of kitchen flooring for example, she would email a photo to the builder. Her ideas were added daily, on the fly. Because she was not able to drive, Mendes put a lot of trust in her team and her daughters, who became involved in the project along the way. Aside from an occasional Uber ride across town to check progress, Mendes was mostly kept in the dark as she waited in

anticipation. When the completion date arrived, her family decided that a surprise, reality showstyle “reveal” was in order. The day Mendes walked up to the house for the first time since its makeover, she was overcome. Her family, friends, and the people who had worked on the project were all there, and the energy from the happy healing place was beaming anew. While she was being led through the remodeled 3-bedroom, 2-bath house for the first time, she gasped with surprise as she stopped in the hallway; there, sandwiched between the family photos, was a framed piece of the wall from the original home—complete with the handwritten notes that said it all. SLO LIFE

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construction and shies away from remodeling TREVOR POVAH is an architectural photographer here on the Central Coast.
feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 53 CRAFTSMAN EDNA RANCH ESTATE. This 1.4 acre estate in prestigious gated community offers an approx. 4,700 sqft custom built main residence with 5 bedrooms, attached 2 bedroom guest quarters, and 5 car garage with shop. Panoramic views of vineyards and rolling hills can be enjoyed from every room with large windows and French doors framing the picturesque surroundings. View decks & outdoor patios promote indoor/outdoor living with the beauty of the interior only rivaled by backdrops of Edna Valley. Property is located in a world class wine region, close to beaches and downtown San Luis Obispo. Offered at $2,395,000 BACK COVER CREEKSIDE OASIS NEAR DOWNTOWN 15K SQFT YARD | 2,500 SQFT HOME | 4 BED Located in the most sought after neighborhood in SLO. Family room, living room, dining room with breakfast bar, commercial stove, farmhouse sink, granite counters, & spa. Offered at $1,299,000. STEVEN FERRARIO 805.215.3350 CASA DAVANTE 3 ACRES | 4,784 SQFT HOME | 4 BED | 4 BATH Unparalleled attention to detail is showcased in this custom wine country masterpiece with handcrafted elements. Enjoy all the Central Coast has to offer. Offered at $1,895,000. GAVIN PAYNE 805.550.3918 HISTORIC DOWNTOWN BUILDING RETAIL LOCATION | 5,923 SQFT Iconic retrofitted building established in 1925 in prime downtown SLO location. Showroom is approx. 4,040 sqft with two mezzanines, beam ceilings & storage room. Offered at $3,100,000. LYNN COOPER 805.235.0493 STEVE INGELS 805.305.8882 HAVENSLO.COM 805.592.2050 | INQUIRIES@HAVENSLO.COM MAIN OFFICE: 1212 MARSH STREET, SUITE 1 GALLERY LOCATION: 1039 CHORRO STREET SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA 93401


laguna lake

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

2014 61 633,643 622,489 98.39 51

tank farm

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

2014 28 750,737 740,442 98.74 39

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

2014 25 625,342 610,273 97.80 42

country club

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

2014 15 1,057,067 1,024,972 97.15 65

2015 63 685,306 669,075 98.13 61

+/3.28% 8.15% 7.48% -0.26% 19.61%

2015 29 739,441 732,820 99.16 53

+/3.57% -1.50% -1.03% 0.42% 35.90%

2015 34 606,153 582,841 96.98 34

2015 14 1,054,929 1,013,385 96.34 38

down town

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

2014 41 742,041 726,136 98.27 44

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

2014 57 671,681 659,129 98.09 40

2015 28 699,100 697,371 100.34 22

+/36.00% -3.07% -4.50% -0.82% -19.05%

+/-6.67% -0.20% -1.13% -0.81% -41.54%

+/-31.71% -5.79% -3.96% 2.07% -50.00%

2015 47 756,500 742,350 99.45 27

+/-17.54% 12.63% 12.63% 1.36% -32.50%

2015 49 753,229 727,780 97.33 42 johnson ave *Comparing 1/1/14 - 12/31/14 to 1/1/15 - 12/31/15

2014 29 673,190 656,281 97.66 85

+/68.97% 11.89% 10.89% -0.33% -50.59%

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS®

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

“Bruce Freeberg was a difference maker in many ways in the sale of our home. His professionalism and incredible people skills made an emotional time a positive experience. He managed the presentation of our home in a beautiful way and walked us through the entire process with great skill. We felt lucky to have him represent us.”

feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 55 Relax. Let us do the work. For the best Real Estate Search Site look here. Bruce Freeberg The New Partnership Corrin LePell Bruce Freeberg • Broker Associate # 01771947 • (805) 748-0161
Jennifer and Mike Krukow
56 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | f eb/mar 2016 | SLO COUNTY SLO LIFE Arroyo Grande Atascadero Avila Beach Cambria/San Simeon Cayucos Creston Grover Beach Los Osos Morro Bay Nipomo Oceano Pismo Beach Paso
San Luis
Templeton Countywide BY THE NUMBERS 2014 277 369 19 132 55 6 99 147 134 228 57 107 419 87 89 67 328 14 108 2,742 2015 316 385 18 146 49 13 107 182 154 246 54 133 506 109 129 72 361 22 110 3,112 REGION NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD 2014 65 61 60 102 133 92 51 52 82 67 66 71 58 76 134 85 56 55 76 69 2015 70 53 66 102 92 145 48 44 67 65 47 71 61 80 110 77 47 77 72 65 AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET 2014
MEDIAN SELLING PRICE SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ® *Comparing 1/1/14 - 11/20/14 to 1/1/15 - 11/20/15 REAL ESTATE Join us on HIGUERA STREET (BETWEEN OSOS & NIPOMO STREETS) EVERY THURSDAY 6-9PM DOWNTOWNSLO.COM 3001 Broad St., San Luis Obispo 805.548.0413 BANNERS | WRAPS | VEHICLE GRAPHICS It’s not chocolate, but it’s still a sweet deal!
(Inside City Limits)
(North 46 - East 101)
(North 46 - West 101)
(South 46 - East 101)
589,000 425,000 810,000 566,250 820,000 529,000 405,000 438,900 504,500 506,000 382,500 700,000 387,000 320,000 365,000 380,000 655,000 398,775 516,500 475,000
666,750 469,000 912,500 595,000 865,000 480,000 463,000 460,000 572,500 549,450 387,925 790,000 415,000 320,000 412,000 424,950 668,305 410,000 557,500 519,000
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The Locked Inn

12:10 pm - You have gathered some of your smartest friends together to willingly let yourselves be locked into a small room, filled with mind-bending clues and puzzles. You have exactly one hour to find the code needed to unlock the door and get out.

1:05pm - Your heart is pounding, you have only five minutes left; the floor of the room is littered with clues, and your friends are all wracking their brains to find a four letter word needed to unlock the final padlock and solve the mystery. Welcome to the Locked Inn: live escape room and playground for analytical minds.

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Between watching Sherlock Holmes, playing Settlers of Catan and being highly competitive, I have always loved strategy and solving problems. I first heard about “escape rooms,” embarrassingly enough, watching a friend experience one on reality TV from the Bachelorette last season. But when I heard that a couple in Grover Beach had designed their own, I knew I had to try it.

First-timers at the only escape room open to the public in San Luis Obispo County, we did not know what to expect. We showed up fifteen minutes early and met Patrick Eaves, one of the owners.

After giving the group a rundown, the game master brings you into the room, closes the door and then observes your group from his surveillance system. It’s debatable who gets more entertainment out of this hour, the participants or the game master. Eaves was our game master and he said, “I can normally tell in the first twelve minutes if a group has a chance to solve it or not.”

Apparently in the history of the Locked Inn, there have only been three groups to ever complete the challenge in the hour time frame. I’m sorry to admit our group was not one of them. But when we ran out of time, Eaves, through an overheard speaker, asked if we wanted more time and we did; so he gave us two other clues that eventually pushed us in the right direction and we busted out in ten additional minutes.

I was thankful to walk through the whole process and end up solving it. It was such a rush at the end as the pieces started to come together and we zeroed in on the final clue. All five of us were completely on a high from the time stress, the brain exercise and the thrill of figuring it out (thanks to Eaves’ final clues). My husband, Michael, noted, “ I felt about that room like I felt about playing golf for the first time. I was frustrated that I didn’t get it as quickly as I wanted, but I’m totally hooked!”

“Escape rooms started in Asia, based on online game scenarios. Now they are popular all over

and people love them,” shares Eaves. Both locals to Grover Beach, Eaves and his wife, Mariah, had gone to a live escape room and loved the idea of building a business and offering the entertainment experience back home. You would think you would have to buy the intricate strategy plan online somewhere to piece together something that complex and challenging, but interestingly, the Eaves actually created this escape room themselves.

This was one of the best entertainment experiences I’ve had, and I’m thrilled to share that the Eaves are planning to open a new location locally within the next few months. They will offer multiple rooms and totally different puzzles to solve. I will certainly be quick to sign up for both of the other rooms, and encourage you to try something new and do the same.


• Bring people who love solving problems—an engineer and math whiz, if you can. And, you’ll need to communicate easily, This experience will test your ability to work together.

• There’s a minimum of three people for a private booking, with a maximum of eight guests, designed for those over the age of 16.

• View availability and sign up online for $35 per person.

• The escape room changes every couple of months; great for locals who want to go back.

• The experience is designed to be suspenseful, not scary.

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SLO LIFE PADEN HUGHES is co-owner of Gymnazo and enjoys exploring the Central Coast.


Gut Health

We’ve all heard the saying, “Listen to your gut.” And while that advice often refers to our intuition, it should also speak to our digestion. Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health.

t’s been said that the gut is the second brain. Your gut’s “brain” is known as the enteric nervous system. This system is home to 100 million neurons within your intestinal wall. While the enteric nervous system initiates and sustains digestion on its own, signals from the brain, such as stress and anxiety, can have dramatic effects on how well it works. In addition, the brain receives chemical messages from the gut, which can affect your mood and emotions. In fact, the vast majority of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, anxiety, depression and more) is actually made in your gut, not your brain—it’s all connected. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health. >>

60 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | f eb/mar 2016 | HEALTH
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In this first step we remove the offending foods and toxins from your diet that could be acting as stressors on your system. This means caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, bad fats, and any other foods you think may be causing issues, like gluten and dairy. All of these irritate the gut in some form and create an inflammatory response.


The next step is to begin to repair the gut and heal the damaged intestinal lining. You do this by consuming an unprocessed diet and giving your body time to rest by providing it with substances that are known to heal the gut, like L-glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, antioxidants (in the form of vitamins A, C, and E), quercitin, aloe vera, and turmeric.


This involves the restoration of your gut’s optimal bacterial flora population. This is done with the introduction of probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. A probiotic is a good bacteria and is ingested to help reinforce and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract and to help fight illness. In general, a healthy lower intestinal tract should contain around 85% good bacteria. This helps to combat any overgrowth of bad bacteria. Unfortunately, in most people these percentages are skewed and this allows for the gut health to drastically decline. The human gut is home to bad bacteria like salmonella and clostridium, which is fine as long as they are kept in order and don’t get out of control.


This involves getting your bile salts, digestive enzymes, and hydrochloric acid to optimal levels to maintain and promote healthy digestion. This can be done by supplementing with digestive enzymes and organic salt to help make sure you have enough hydrochloric acid. >>

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Helps to heal and seal the gut along with aiding in recovery after workouts, so it’s a double whammy supplement.

Fish Oil

Preferably a liquid, not capsule, if you can stand the taste. This helps reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and support the immune system.


They provide live strains of good bacteria to help bolster your defenses.


It can help to improve digestion and, as an added bonus, is great at balancing blood sugar levels.


Great at soothing the stomach, mint can help to relax the gastrointestinal tract.


An important supplement, zinc is utilized to form digestive enzymes and is also used in regulating hormones.


In the form of fermented foods, prebiotics help to feed friendly bacteria and allow them to thrive in a healthy environment. Fermented foods include bio-available yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut among others.

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Each year, in January, thirty-six San Luis Obispo County residents nervously eye each other from across a banquet room at the Wonder Valley Resort in the icy Sierra Nevada foothills above Fresno. Chosen through a lengthy application process to ensure maximum diversity, in terms of both personal backgrounds and industries represented, the group has no way of knowing that many of the strangers sitting across the room will eventually become lifelong friends.

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Leadership SLO follows a tried-and-true formula, which

consists of a year-long learning and collaborating experience. Following a three-day retreat, which is intended to gel the group as they begin to grapple with questions, such as “What is a leader?” the format then settles into a once per month day session. Those day-long field trips to different areas of the county focus on different parts of life on the Central Coast, including Education/The Arts, Manufacturing & Agriculture, Media & Communication, Business/Economic Development, Sustainability, Criminal & Civil Justice, Health & Human Services, and Government & Political Process. During each day session, the Leadership class interviews panels of representatives (for example, during Criminal & Civil Justice day may include the sheriff, a police chief or two, both a prosecuting and defense attorney, etc.). The group then attempts to collaboratively answer both actual and theoretical questions facing the community (in the case of Criminal & Civil Justice day again, it may be “should we expand the jail? And why?”). At the end of the year, the class collaborates on a class “legacy project,” something of enduring value that is left to the community.

The program, known simply as “Leadership,” now in its 25th year, boasts a wide alumni network. Over the course of this year, SLO LIFE Magazine, will be profiling one individual from each class who will be sharing their experience with the program. For this first installment of the multi-part feature, our own Paden Hughes sits down with Michael Cannon (Class I), Kris Kington-Barker (Class II), Pat Veesart (Class III), Jim Grant (Class IV), and Peggy Carlaw (Class V), in an attempt to understand how Leadership has become one of the most beloved institutions on the Central Coast today. >>

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DAVE GARTH, the former CEO of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is credited for starting Leadership SLO in 1991. He called it the “most important work” of his 39-year career.

The first retreat was held at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria.

JUDITH BEAN, who is the President & CEO of the Arroyo Grande/Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce was the Assistant Director of Leadership SLO (PG&E executive Bob Burke was the inaugural director). Bean led the program through its infancy.

PATRICIA KOHLEN is an artist and philanthropist whose donation made the giant spheres in front of the PAC (commissioned by artist Ivan McLean) possible.

CLIF SMITH passed away a couple of years ago after a career of service to the community, notably as SLO County Supervisor Harry Ovitt’s legislative aide.

EVA VIGIL was the force that created the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden CAROLYN MOFFATT was an elected commissioner for the Port San Luis Harbor District up until last year when she stepped down.

1992 CLASS I >

For MICHAEL CANNON the timing of the program was perfect, he had just become president of his company and wanted to get more involved in the community.

Cannon moved to San Luis Obispo in 1980 in order to attend Cal Poly and study engineering. While waiting for his future wife to graduate, Cannon took a job with a local civil engineering firm. He would always talk futuristically about going back to the Bay to get a “real job,” but he never left the Central Coast and never got a “real job.”

Instead Cannon worked at a local company for four years before learning the owners wanted to close the firm. Believing it held promise, Cannon acquired the business. Starting with only a few people in the company, today CannonCorp Engineering Consultants employs over 150 people in four offices in California. It is one of those entrepreneurial success stories that we love hearing about on the Central Coast, where many have paved their own careers to stay and call San Luis Obispo home.

So when offered the opportunity to try something new, Cannon joined Leadership SLO Class I. It was intriguing for him to be exposed to new things to satisfy his insatiable love of learning.

“Leadership SLO was an elegant way to get involved, meet new people and expose yourself to community needs,” reflects Cannon. For a self-proclaimed introvert, the experience of bonding with 36 strangers in a weekend and then learning together about polarizing community issues was definitely out of Cannon’s comfort zone. The icebreaker exercises, designed to bring the group together and create meaningful connections, still stands out to Cannon today, as he credits them with developing lifelong friendships.

Perhaps the most valuable takeaway Cannon recalls was during the day his class discussed the county’s growth issues. At the time there was a tremendous discord about how—and if—San Luis Obispo should grow. Going into a topic he was not only familiar with, but passionate about, and still connect meaningfully with someone on the opposite side of the issue was powerful.

Always quotable, Cannon shares, “You don’t live in a community; you live community. We are all creatures of habit and we don’t naturally push ourselves out of our comfort zones. If you want to be a leader you have to be able to embrace all stakeholders in making decisions. If you don’t, you will make suboptimal decisions. Leadership SLO provides the kind of exposure leaders need to cultivate to be truly influential.”

Today Cannon continues to lead his organization and give back to the community. He is a cycling enthusiast who started a riding group at CannonCorp that goes on extreme group rides and adventures, including hiking to the top of Half Dome. And to top things off, he has a passion for wine, so much so that he owns a winery. >>


Rebecca Berner, David & Christine Blaine, Sylvia Bolander Muscia, Julie Bolger, Bob Burke, Michael Cannon, Lionel Chadwick, Robert Christensen, Dawna Davies, Karen Frees, David Garth, Frank Gonzales, Ann Grant, J.T. Haas, Wayne Hall, Deb Hossli, Patti Kohlen, Russell L. Lambert, Pat Lawson-North, Leah Licea, Mary Loomis-Genthner, Jerry Michael, Carolyn Moffat, Linda Osty, Mary K. Pagel, Richard Palmer, Chris Pillsbury, Jeanne Potter, Anne Quinn, Nancy Rosen, Patti Rowe, Sandi Sigurdson, Ann Slate, Cliff Smith, Drew Squyres, Marguerite Stafford, Raul Vasquez, Eva Vigil, Marcy Villa, Gary Wiseman

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Michael Cannon

• It is important to be prepared for any type of emergency that could impact San Luis Obispo County. In the unlikely event of an emergency at Diablo Canyon Power Plant, it’s important to know if your home, workplace, or children’s schools are within the Emergency Planning Zone as well as any actions you may be directed to take. Your plan should include any assistance needed by elderly family members, those with medical needs, as well as your family pets.

• In an emergency, officials may direct protective actions to protect public health and safety. It is important to stay tuned to local radio and TV stations throughout the emergency to receive current information and actions you may need to take.

• For more information on how to prepare, visit: or call (805) 781-5011.

feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 69
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Back at Camp Ocean Pines, classmates were greeted with a unrelenting downpour, complete with floods and power outages.

YVETTE YONG was a high school student when she was accepted to Leadership SLO and went on to Cal Poly.

TOM FULKS is a journalist and energy expert, who continues to speak at Leadership SLO “day sessions,” including Communications Day, Government Day and Sustainability Day over the years.

JEFF BUCKINGHAM, co-owner of Norcast Communications went on to serve as Chair of the Board for the SLO Chamber and Rotary de Tolosa, as well as becoming a board member at the Farm Bureau, Softec and the Cuesta College Foundation.

When you’ve been living in Arroyo Grande and have been working almost exclusively in the health care sector, opportunities to network outside of your industry can be both valuable and eye-opening. When KRIS KINGTON-BARKER was solicited to apply for Leadership SLO, little was known other than it was a new and exciting program that promised to provide unique insight into local government and find fresh avenues to volunteer. She joined Class II truly not knowing what to expect. The program was still evolving and growing organically. Kington-Barker was drawn to it, in part, because it seemed quite collaborative and the leaders were so enthusiastic about it.

It was an El Niño year and Kington-Barker distinctly recalls during that winter almost every day trip was fraught with unpredictable weather and operational challenges. Looking back she believes it actually brought the group closer together, because each day was an adventure and you had to remain flexible and positive.

“The most eye-opening experience with Leadership SLO was the retreat itself. It kicked off the program with team-building exercises that were surprisingly physical. Everyone, myself included, combined our strength and succeeded together. As someone who was once afraid of heights, this pushed me outside my comfort zone on day one,” she said. “It’s ironic, because I am such a high ropes junkie now. I have a motto that I’ll trying anything once and love anything that safely pushes me out of the envelope. I think Leadership SLO helped me embrace that side of myself.”

When she looks back almost 24 years ago to Leadership SLO, the most important takeaway is the value the program placed on diversity and learning from the unique perspectives and backgrounds of the classmates. No matter what your bias is—to remain flexible and open is to remain learning and growing. At the time KingtonBarker remembers considering controversial issues of the day and understanding local politics are not merely about what is right or wrong; more times than not it means picking between two good options and weighing which is best, or picking the least of two bad options. It’s complex.

Today Kington-Barker is the compassionate and inspirational Executive Director for the San Luis Obispo County Hospice. She lives on Lake Nacimento with her husband and continues to enjoy adventure seeking in her spare time. >>


Cindy Marie Absey, Linda Asprion, Barbara Bailey, M.D., Barbara Barker, Cynthia Becker, Adrian Bray, Jeff Buckingham, Cyndi Butterfield, Eric Caggiano, Albert Calizo, Kathleen Friend, Andy Frokjer, Tom Fulks, Brooke Fuller, Carol Ann Garsten, Steve Goschke, Mike Harkness, Candace Havens, Rick Hernandez, Kris Kington, Kathy Laster, Debbi Lopez, Debora Moore, Kathi Niffenegger, Kathleen O’Neill, Susan Polk, Grace Hayes Romero, Paul Severtson, Warren Stephenson, Sally Stoner, Peggy Thomas, Bruce Trueman, Barry Williams, Burma Workman, Yvette Yong

1993 CLASS II >
Kris Kington-Barker
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The annual retreat moved to Wonder Valley near Sanger in the Sierra Foothills. There was some controversy about going out of SLO County, but it turned out that carpooling on a three-hour drive spurred lots of conversation and fellowship.

CHARLOTTE ALEXANDER has spent her career in public service and nonprofit management. Today she leads the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.

DEBORAH HOLLEY CASH went on to lead the SLO Downtown Association with distinction from 1995 to 2013 before turning over the reins to Dominic Tartaglia, Class XXII.

JANICE FONG WOLF after a 20-year career in health services, is currently the director for grants and programs at the Community Foundation.

1994 CLASS III >

With a love of nature, rural beauty, and a penchant for hunting and falconry PAT VEESART has loved the Central Coast for decades. Moving here from LA in the 70’s, Veesart attended Cuesta College and started a career in construction. However, in the late 80’s Veesart started to become more involved with community issues and by the 90’s was a passionate advocate for conservation.

It is interesting to note that prior to attending Leadership SLO as a participant, Veesart was one of the original experts solicited to speak to Leadership SLO about conservation. When selected to participate in Class III, Veesart was flattered but did not expect it to be as good a program as he later found it to be. He already loved SLO dearly and loved to learn, and this program gave him a great opportunity to expand his breadth of knowledge.

The day he found the most valuable was Media Day, where Veesart learned interview skills that served him well in the years to come. For example, he recalls learning how to appear credible when being interviewed, how important image is, and how to make the most of every opportunity to make your point.

“The best part about Leadership SLO was that it reinforced the value of being a part of the community and exploring how to give back. This program is a great way to introduce that and give locals the confidence to join in,” says Veesart.

At the time he participated, Veesart was still making his living as a general contractor, but the experience affirmed for him that he could make his passion for conversation his career, which he went on to do, eventually working as a San Luis Obispo County planning commissioner, becoming the state chapter liaison for the Sierra Club, the chair of the club’s Santa Lucia chapter in San Luis Obispo county, as well as the executive director of the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO), just to name a few.

Today Veesart is still involved in community issues and enjoys bird hunting and hiking in Eastern San Luis Obispo County, where he lives. >>


Charlotte Alexander, Lori Atwater, Deborah Cash, Sheree Davis, Mike Driscoll, Fran Dukehart, Linda Easton, John Ewan, Suzanne Fritz, Lt. Col. Cary Gray, Dave Greewald, Cheryl Hertan, Deborah Holley, Jan Jensen, Kathy Johnson, Bill Keyworth, Margie Mortimer, Michele Murfin-Fanning, Cindy O’Hare, Dan O’Hare, Susan Price, Micki Ready, Dr. Philip L. Searby, DPM, Charlotte Smith, Patty Smith, Penny Sullivan, Jill Sylvain, Pat Veesart, Phil Wagner, Gail Wilcox, Janice Fong Wolf, Tom Zeulner

Pat Veesart
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Class Chair KEN HAMPIAN, former SLO City Manager, observed that, “The days of one great ‘man’ are over, and thus the idea that a single wise person can lead us to the mountain top is pure myth. Today it’s got to be us.”

The Class IV myth is that they’re the “dysfunctional class.”

Great friendships were formed by CARL DUDLEY (banking executive and nonprofit volunteer), DAVE JUHNKE (attorney, who became San Luis Obispo’s Citizen of the Year in 2011), MARY GAMLIN VERDIN (founded and operates an advertising agency), and DEBBY NICKLAS (now leads French Hospital’s philanthropy efforts).

A couple of political careers were borne: CARLYN CHRISTIANSON, currently a SLO City Councilmember, and JERRY LENTHALL was a former SLO County Supervisor.

And, classmates, GORDON JACKSON of the Pismo Beach Conference and Visitor Bureau, and SHERYL FLORES, now the Vice President of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, have flourished as executives in the nonprofit sector.

1995 CLASS IV >

As the former County Administrator, JIM GRANT is widely credited with leading San Luis Obispo County with a steady hand through the recession as he was continually challenged to strike balance and fair compromises. Moving to San Luis Obispo with his wife 38 years ago, Grant found employment in social services and began working his way up the chain of command.

By the time Leadership SLO was looking for local leaders for their fourth year of the program, Grant was being groomed for more responsibility at the County. Having observed several of his colleagues before him go through Leadership SLO, Grant saw it as a way to gain a better perspective, as well as to expose himself to different viewpoints from the business community, because when you work in government it can be difficult to keep a pulse on other stakeholders.

From the beginning of the retreat and the team-building exercises, Grant recalls how fascinating it was to see the strategies utilized to bring 36 strangers together and create friendships. One of the most powerful things Leadership SLO does is to start with coalescing a group together, and then, once an initial bond is established, it facilitates education about sometimes polarizing local issues that naturally create passionate discussion within the group.

“The most valuable part of the Leadership SLO experience is that if you take the time to get to know who you are talking to, their issues, their perspective, and you simply listen, you will undoubtedly make better decisions. My class was philosophically diverse and it could get heated. But we saw time and again when dissenters were able to digest an alternative perspective and at least see where they were coming from, our collective conclusions on local issues were stronger. It always involves compromise, but when you can reach a compromise, you’re not stuck and can move forward,” shares Grant.

Looking back, Leadership SLO was an affirmation for Grant that being a public servant was the direction to pursue. Many of those in his class were influential in their respective industries and the relationships he made there served him well as he became County Administrator and needed alternative perspectives.

Today Grant can be found mountain biking, pursuing his aviation passion, and teaching karate. Now retired, Grant is passionate about giving back and he actively serves on the board of the Homeless Foundation of San Luis Obispo and is involved in Rotary. To Grant, a common trait of all those involved in Leadership SLO is the desire to give back and the sense of volunteerism—it is part of what makes this area so great; people here have a strong sense of pride and want to work to make it better. >>


Meredith Bates, Ben Beesley, Cynthia Boche, Fred Bond, Christine Burkett, Linda Caldwell, Carlyn Christianson, Russ Cracknell, Steve DiGrazia, Carl Dudley, Alan Fillmore, Gladys Fiske, Sheryl Flores, Jim Grant, Gary Henderson, Gordon Jackson, Catherine Jaeger, Susan Bailey Kadin, David Juhnke, Heathyr Knowles, Jerry Lenthall, Emmy McCormack, Debby Nicklas, Paulette Perlman, Mark Porczak, Angelo Procopio, Tim Quiggle, Karen Robert, Wilda Rosene, Eric Schwefler, Stephen Secrest, Karen Shanley, Mary Verdin, Ron Whisenand, Ann York

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Jim Grant
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This class built “The Wall,” treasured in Leadership SLO lore for inspiring both terror and triumph. The Wall, which measured 14’ was an obstacle that the class was challenged to climb, was an integral part of the Wonder Valley retreat experience for two decades.

SANDEE MCLAUGHLIN, now vice president of student services at Cuesta College, was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Cuesta North County Campus.

JEFF LEE is mayor pro tem of Grover Beach and now serves on the Leadership SLO Board of Directors.

GEOF LAND was running ECOSLO when he was in Class V. In the years since, he has taught hundreds of young people at Paso Robles High School. After hours, he plays brass for local band The Rag Bone Saints.

1996 CLASS V >

Twenty years ago the beauty and tranquility of the Central Coast called PEGGY CARLAW and her husband Malcolm to move from Laguna Beach and relocate to Cambria. As owners of a successful consulting practice, that for years required them to split time between Chicago and Laguna Beach, the Carlaws wanted life to slow down a bit. They bought a house in Cambria and after catching their breath, then decided to launch a successful reusable shopping bag company. After several years of enjoying Cambria, the Carlaws decided to move to the “big city” and relocated again, this time to the historic district of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Desiring to engage with the business community in her new town, Carlaw decided to get involved in the SLO Chamber of Commerce where she was introduced to Leadership SLO. The program promised to teach participants about the city, as well as the county, and allow them to meaningfully connect with other professionals. Carlaw was intrigued and signed up for Class V.

Looking back on the experience, Peggy says that the program far exceeded her expectations. It was in-depth and cultivated a greater appreciation for the County and opened her eyes to topics and elements of the city that she didn’t know about.

“Going back twenty years, I remember being impressed with Media Day and the hostile interview experience. I distinctly remember learning to not repeat key, possibly inflammatory, words the interviewer chose when responding to a question,” shared Carlaw. “With my background in sales and marketing, I thought this was such a fascinating educational experience.”

Another personally useful takeaway was gaining the understanding, with more clarity, exactly how local government functioned and the role locals play in the impact government can make on their daily lives.

“At the time the Mills Act Program had been put forward, which proposed tax incentives to my neighbors and I to preserve our historical homes. We hadn’t thought to go and voice our support of this program to the city council. After the Government Day Session with Leadership SLO, I followed up on the program and learned no one had showed up for public comment, so it did not go through. I was disappointed, but had just learned the steps to take to get something like that passed. So my husband and I gathered the documentation and went door-to-door to get signatures and made sure that the program passed. This was a great value to us personally, but also the community; and I’m thankful, because of Leadership SLO, I paid attention to it.”

Leadership SLO impressed Carlaw because it reinforced for her how much she loves her hometown with its many opportunities for locals to volunteer and continue to invest in its future. Carlaw continues to invest back into SLO today, and is involved in Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the HotHouse where she works with young entrepreneurs to help them build their dreams. In her spare time she enjoys learning how to make vegan food, hiking, yoga and working out.


Larry Allen, Eileen Amaral, Jodee Bennett, Sam Blakeslee, Leslie Brown, Bob Bunch, Peggy Carlaw, Terri Cook, Dan Culhane, Carolyn Dominguez, Bob Grayson, Scott Gregory, Rona Griffin, Tom Harrington, M. Kim Heath, Susan Hughes, Jon Jaeger, Brandon Jones, David Juhnke, Leslie Jones, Deborah Kelly, Tanya Kiani, Geof Land, Jeff Lee, Mark McDougal, Sandee McLaughlin, Deborah McNeil-Amorteguy, Frank Mecham, Rod Neubert, Terri Palacios, Alison Peterson, Carol Pimentel, Dave Redel, Alice Reyes, Carrie Sims, Todd Sims, Pablo Torres, Brandon Weg

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Peggy Carlaw
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On chilly winter days, nothing says cozy quite like a deep bowl of curry.

When the mercury drops, I can often be found running to a steaming bowl of creamy curry over rice. There’s something magical—medicinal, even—about a spicy, exotic stew that clears the sinuses and sticks to the ribs.

n the Central Coast, curry is often understood in the context of Thai cuisine, in which a paste of spices and chilies is sautéed along with vegetables and proteins, bathed in hot coconut milk and topped with fresh garnishes. But the word “curry” is as generic as the wide variety of curries from India and Southeast Asia would suggest. Curries can manifest as a brothy soup or like a stir-fry; served over rice or noodles, or stand-alone. The common denominator? A complex melding of herbs and spices that’s an ideal antidote to the midwinter blahs.

Here, I peel back the coconut curtain to explore what goes into the much-loved curries of three SLO County restaurants. >>

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JAIME LEWIS is a sommelier, world traveler, and food writer, who lives in San Luis Obispo.

This hip, modern eatery includes a little something from many corners of the world, from India and Korea to France and Spain. The Thai-style red curry originally developed in 2003 by Novo restaurateur, Robin Covey, has stood the test of time in part because the curry paste is house-made every day. “We go through about twelve to fourteen quarts of red curry per day,” says Executive Chef Ben Richardson. “Making the paste from scratch is key.”

Ingredients in the paste include red chilies (responsible for the high heat factor), turmeric, onions, paprika and Laos powder, a term for dried galangal, an earthy relative of ginger. Partnered with coconut milk, pineapple, greens, shiitakes, and tofu (or beef, chicken or prawns), Novo’s red curry is a rich but balanced stew with plenty of upfront spice that mellows into three-dimensional flavor. “The focus here is on being authentic,” says Richardson, “not straying —even down to the garnishes.” >>

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Situated on Paso Robles’ City Park, Basil prepares authentic Thai cuisine with an emphasis on vibrant produce. “I’ve lived here over half my life,” says Basil’s owner and chef, Judy Hengcharoen, a native of Bangkok who originally learned to cook from her grandmother and, later, from culinary schools, before opening Basil in 2004. “I’ve had to adapt recipes here with what’s available.”

In the case of Basil’s green curry, those ingredients include a house-made paste of Serrano chilies (native to Mexico), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, cumin and garlic, along with coconut milk, chopped japanese eggplant, zucchini, green beans, onions, bell peppers, a drizzle of concentrated coconut cream and, of course, basil. “No curry is complete without basil,” Hengcharoen insists. The final curry is sage-green in color, creamy and herbaceous with subtle heat. >>

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Basil Thai, Paso Robles
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It has to do with the chilies and spices used, not the color of the final dish. A green curry is named after the fresh green chilies in its curry paste, red curries are named for the use of dried red chilies, and yellow curries often include curry powder rather than chilies—which generally means more sweet, less heat.

Noi’s Little Thai Takeout Los Osos

It may come as a surprise to fans of this tiny, beachy Thai joint that Noi Miner didn’t start cooking until she came to the U.S. from Thailand. “I didn’t have any experience,” she says. “Friends said I should open a restaurant, but I was afraid to start something too big. That’s why Noi’s is so small. I was the only person cooking there for the first fifteen years.” Today, 23 years after opening, Noi has a small staff and second kitchen to accommodate the restaurant’s fiendish demand.

Monday through Friday, Noi cooks a curry of the day, the most sought-after of which is Friday’s pineapple curry. To reserve a bowl of juicy pineapple, chicken, and red and yellow bell pepper floating in warm coconut broth and topped with fresh green onions, customers have to call ahead of time. Otherwise, when it’s gone, it’s gone.

When asked why people go so crazy for her pineapple curry, Noi shares her trick: “Fresh pineapple,” she says. “It tenderizes the meat as it cooks.”

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feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 85



Treat the seafood lover in your family to Chef Jessie Rivas’ classic comfort favorite. This traditional Italian fare is sure to warm up even the coldest winter day.

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When making pasta dishes always reserve some of the boiling pasta liquid to adjust the thickness of the pasta dish. It helps with sauces that get too thick when all the ingredients are combined.


1 lb linguine pasta

6-8 large garlic cloves, sliced not minced

4-5 dozen little neck clams

1 cup white wine

½ cup lager—Corona or any light beer will work

crushed chili flakes to taste

1 ½ tsp dried Mexican oregano

3 Tbs butter

2 Tbs chopped Italian leaf parsley

½ to 1 cup Parmesan cheese

8 oz. cherry tomatoes cut in half juice of ½ lemon olive oil

1. Using a large sauté pan, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and warm to medium heat. Cook half the garlic to a light golden brown. Add half of the clams, beer and white wine. Cover and simmer just until all the clams open, about 5-10 minutes on high heat.

2. Remove the clams, but reserve the liquid. Place the clams in a bowl to cool

and then remove clam meat from their shells and discard the shells.

3. Reduce the sauce left in the pan on medium heat for 4 minutes. Remove sauce from pan and set aside.

4. Meanwhile start salted water for the linguine.

5. Bring sauté pan back up to medium heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil and cook the rest of the garlic until golden brown. Add the rest of the clams in their shells, the previously cooked clams without their shells, sauce, oregano and chili flakes. Simmer until the clams open.

6. When pasta is al dente, add it to the sauté pan with the clams and sauce. Season with lemon, butter and Parmesan. Add tomatoes and parsley to garnish. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with sliced sourdough bread. SLO LIFE

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JESSIE RIVAS is the owner and chef of The Pairing Knife food truck which serves the Central Coast.
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Mesmerizing ocean views at the Dolphin Bay Resort provide the perfect backdrop for Opera San Luis Obispo’s annual Valentine-themed afternoon of song. Greatest Opera Ensembles performed by an internationally acclaimed quartet of opera stars.

February 7 //



Grammy Award-winning country and pop vocalist will perform in an intimate acoustic setting that will show off the distinctive, emotionally rich and powerful quality in her voice. Presented by Rotary Club of SLO de Tolosa as a benefit for rotary charities. February 13 //


This multiple Tony Award winning musical will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its Broadway debut in 2016. The scene is a night club in Berlin, as the 1920’s are drawing to a close. You know the story, you love the songs.

February 19 – March 13

February 25 – 27 // March 3 – 5

Enjoy a weekend filled with the art of music,


pairings. Relax as the musicians take you on an exploration of the works in this performance.

February 26-28 //

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THE CRUCIBLE This is the suspenseful exploration of the Salem
Trials that
infamous witch hunt. Arthur Miller’s classic play examines a community divided, and the pursuit of individual integrity within a landscape of compromise.
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A spectacular live concert, recreating the look, sound, pomp and showmanship of arguably the greatest rock band of all time. This World’s Premiere Queen Tribute Band have received rave reviews.

March 10 //


What a night it will be— Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky— it doesn’t get better than that. Pianist Steven Lin and Maestro Kiesling join SLO Symphony for a picturesque evening using the full palate of orchestral colors.

March 12 //


Grab a partner and head out to collect checkpoints on a kayaking, mountain biking, and trekking challenge through Santa Margarita’s beautiful backcountry. March 26 //


Explosive Taiko drums combine with athletic bodies, contemporary costumes and innovative choreography filled with extraordinary precision, energy and stamina to deliver modern entertainment based on the timeless, traditional art of Japanese drumming. March 21 //


There’s a new wave coming from Hawaii, a blend of traditional music and Big Band Swing. Come hear the Grammynominated nine-piece band. March 26 //

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The closure of a longtime downtown San Luis Obispo concert venue, restaurant and pub is hardly the end of the show.

mainstay for live entertainment on the Central Coast for more than 25 years, SLO Brew held its last party on New Year’s Eve. The closure of its Garden Street location in San Luis Obispo was a heartbreaker for hundreds of locals who made regular pilgrimages for concerts and catch-up sessions with good friends. But as they say: “When one door closes....” The longtime bar and restaurant will re-open within a few weeks just around the corner, and will expand to a second location this spring.

SLO Brew was a pioneer in micro brews locally and in bringing live music to the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. “Where you can drink and dance and have a good time and it’s not pretentious at all,” explains Ariel Venglar. The venue gave live music lovers a place to flock to, shares Nancy Dwyer, “We saw Nicki Bluhm and The Grambers here. It was so great. She’s so great. And, I saw Jeff Bridges here, too.” Bartender Alexa Heter recalls, “One of my favorites is when I got to serve Snoop dog when he played here. It was just cool to see someone at that level be here in such an intimate atmosphere.”

“You know without places like this, musicians got no place to stop in town trying to put together a tour from Northern California down to San Diego. It’s been a great stop,” says Lech Wierzynski, singer and musician with the California Honeydrops. “Good vibes,” adds Ben Malament, the band’s drummer.

SLO Brew is growing, by getting back to its roots—beer. Hamish Marshall has owned SLO Brew for the last five years, and started resurrecting the business’s heritage as soon as he bought it by bringing back its original name and stepping up the focus on local brews. The move to a new location, he says, will just take that to the next level. “That next step was really to get the beer back out on the market and start promoting it, because SLO Brew was really one of the first micro-breweries,” says Marshall.

When SLO Brew’s Garden Street location closed, important pieces like the old copper kettles and memorabilia from the original location were moved right around the corner to its new home

on Higuera Street. “You know we’re going to take the red curtains across. They’ll be behind the stage to give heritage to the music that was over here,” Marshall explains.

Everything old will be new again. Look for selfserving taster-taps, a new menu, outdoor dining, a whiskey lounge upstairs, as well as five hotel rooms and a rooftop deck. The new and dynamic plans for Higuera Street, though, are just part of the picture for the next generation of SLO Brew. A a larger facility, dubbed SLO Brew Rock, out by the airport will serve as the main tasting room and will offer a larger outdoor concert facility.

“There are so many nice aspects we’re finally going to have that we’ve just done without for so long. I think it’s finally the facility that SLO Brew deserves and the venue that SLO Brew deserves,” says John Nguyen, who has worked for SLO Brew for more than a decade.

You can check out the work happening now at the new SLO Brew location at 736 Higuera Street (across from Marshall’s Jewelers). Managers will only say, “Look for a grand opening in early 2016.” And there’s more to come with the addition of a second location on Aerovista this spring. It will expand its production capacity with a 35-barrel brewing system. The goal, say the owners, is to produce 2,500 to 3,000 barrels by the end of 2016, and 5,000 barrels the year after.

90 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | f eb/mar 2016
JEANETTE TROMPETER, KSBY News anchor and reporter, hosts the “Out and About with JT” series every Tuesday evening at 6pm.
feb/mar 2016 | SLO LI fe m agaz I ne | 91 Honored Fellow, American Academy of Implant Dentistry · Diplomate, American Board of Oral Implantology / Implant Dentistry Carol L. Phillips, DDS Results that make you smile! Cost-effective Packages IV and Oral Sedation Onsite Laboratory Doctor Training Facilities iCat Imaging (3D X-rays) Complete Implant Dentistry providing Restoration & Surgery SWISS DENTAL CENTER 3046 S. Higuera Street, Suite C San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805·541·1004 Support your lips with proper dental implant and esthetic reconstruction. Whatever your lifestyle, we can help you achieve the self-confidence you deserve. “My whole attitude improved as soon as I got my great new smile. Now, I’m a much more positive coach. Thanks Swiss Dental.” Eric Wagner coach, trainer, mentor
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