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Meet Ahmad Nooristani FEB/MAR 2012

medicine, Afghanistan and giving back SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 1


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| PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE

As we pulled up to the Wonder Valley Ranch Resort in the foothills above Fresno, my carpool mates and I admitted to feeling like we did when we were kids heading off to summer camp. A little nervous, a bit excited and disoriented. This is how the three day Leadership SLO retreat began for Class XXI - the same way it likely started off for the twenty year’s worth of alumni who have gone through the program before us. For those of you not familiar with Leadership SLO, it’s a year-long program consisting of 36 San Luis Obispo County residents coming together from diverse backgrounds, but with one goal in common: to strengthen our community and make it a better place to live. The year kicks off with the retreat, then follows-up with monthly day-long programs, each aimed at exploring different facets of the area. And, during the course of the year, the group of 36 is expected to collaborate on a project designed to make a tangible contribution locally (for example, the development of the Johnson Ranch Trail was spearheaded by a former Leadership class). I will admit that my expectations going into the program where sky high because I have had so many of its graduates, people I really respect and admire, consistently describe it as a life changing experience. It seems to me that when you go into something expecting something “life changing” to happen, more often than not you are going to end up feeling pretty let down. I know that was true when I made my first trip to Candlestick Park as a kid. I fully expected my life to change then. I mean, it was a great experience and all - I pretty much live and die with the San Francisco Giants - but my teeth chattered and my lips turned all shades of blue as I struggled to hold my It’s-It Ice Cream through that frigid, wind-whipped July afternoon. Plus my team was shut out, 8-0. But, this case was different - cold weather and the Pittsburgh Pirates did not show up in Wonder Valley - and what transpired over the course of that weekend was truly profound. But, before I get ahead of myself, the one thing that I learned about Leadership SLO is that there is almost a cult-like adherence to the idea that everything that happens within the group is confidential. It reminded me of the movie Fight Club. If you haven’t seen the film, there was one thing that the main character, played by Brad Pitt, ingrained in the members of the group: “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” So I do not run the risk of violating the first and second rules of Fight Club, er, Leadership SLO, I am going to stop jabbering about it now. I will, however, strongly encourage you to check out the program website at leadershipslo.org and consider applying for ClassXXII this summer. The program is open to everyone and a class consisting of people from widely varying backgrounds and careers enhances the experience for all - our class ranges from doctors and lawyers to counselors and community volunteers with many sectors from art to law enforcement represented. And, as my 35 new friends and I can attest, the experience will change your life. I’d like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to our advertisers, who make all of this possible. Live the SLO Life!

Tom Franciskovich tom@slolifemagazine.com

SLOLIFE magazine

4251 S. HIGUERA STREET • SUITE 800 • SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA 93401 SLOLIFEMAGAZINE.COM • (805) 553-8820 • (805) 456-1677 fax CONTRIBUTIONS: Submit your story ideas, events, recipes and announcements by visiting us online at slolifemagazine.com Contributions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations. ADVERTISING: If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom Franciskovich by phone at (805) 553-8820 or by email at tom@slolifemagazine.com.

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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 is 30 days before date of issue.

CONTRIBUTING DESIGNERS

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

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PHOTOGRAPHER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Tom Franciskovich

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LETTERS TO THE PUBLISHER/EDITOR: 4251 S. Higuera Street, Suite 800 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.


LIFE SLO magazine

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Meet Your Neighbor: Ahmad Nooristani

The Way We Live:

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Caring, Qualified Legal Representation Estate Planning & Trust Administration Will, Trust & Conservatorship Litigation

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| NOTES

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TRUE INSPIRATION

Dear SLO LIFE, I just left a message asking to be contacted about the article mentioning Meeka Rudd (Not sure of my spelling)! I hate long messages so what I didn’t say is that the article on Bridget Ready and Jack’s house was so inspiring I made a donation. Keep up the good and interesting work. Cheers, Sammy Pineau Thanks for your voicemail and email, Sammy. And, we’re glad to hear that you were inspired by Bridget Ready’s story as much as we were. SLO LIFE

TOUCHING LIVES

Dear SLO LIFE, In 2004 I was a newly practicing Emergency Physician in SLO. Jack Ready was my patient one night at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center; his feeding tube had come out and required reinsertion. At that point Jack had been through a great deal and I was acutely aware of the discomfort I was causing him during the procedure. In a moving reversal of roles I’ll never forget, it was Bridget Ready who comforted and reassured me. “It’s OK”, she said, sensing my distress. Her absolute grace, calm, and strength that night left a lasting impression on me. Four years later, when my daughter, Annika, was diagnosed with achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism), it was thanks to Jack’s Helping Hand that she received OT and PT in the fully-equipped CCS Medical Therapy Unit in SLO. It was there that she took her first steps! Thank you for profiling such an extraordinary individual (and family) and the invaluable assistance provided to special needs children in our community by Jack’s Helping Hand. Sincerely, Brian Koch, MD

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

Dear SLO LIFE, Your magazine is great! I do not have a story to tell, but I was wondering if you would do a profile on the owners of the property located across the trailer storage on Higuera St. next to Trader Joe’s. I moved here in 1962 and have always seen “Old Glory “ consistently flying high, every day, except when it rains. It would be interesting to know the background of such honor and patriotism. Simone M. Leroux San Luis Obispo, Ca.

We appreciate your kind words, Simone. And, since Old Glory is flying not too far from our office here on South Higuera, we’ll be sure to pay the owner a visit to see what his or her story is all about! Thanks for thinking of us and continue to let us know what else piques your curiosity so we can be sure to follow-up. SLO LIFE

WELCOME FEEDBACK

Dear SLO LIFE, Thank you for the excellent article you published about PEAK in this month’s SLO Life Magazine. It has generated significant buzz for the program, not to mention given us precisely the opportunity we had hoped for: to answer questions about PEAK and encourage people to become involved. Just last night, for instance, I was at a dinner party where a friend mentioned the article, which led another man to ask me, “What’s PEAK?” Today he dropped by my house with a check for $150. That would not have happened had we not appeared in SLO Life Magazine. We’re excited about the PEAK program spreading to other schools in the district because we strongly believe in giving local children opportunities to pursue the things they are most passionate about. In the long run, the entire community benefits. You have done us, and the children we help, a great service by writing and publishing the article, so a heartfelt thank you to you. Best wishes for 2012, Susan Westwood

CARROT CAKE CONNECTION

Dear SLO LIFE, I enjoyed reading “It Takes a Bakery” in your recent issue of SLO Life. I would like to share my carrot cake recipe, below, with Kendra Williams to promote her success. Could you please make sure she gets it? Feel free to share it with anyone else, too. This recipe has received rave reviews & requests! Thank you, Jeneale Nett Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake 2 cups whole wheat flour ½ cup flaxseed meal 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ¾ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup pineapple juice ½ cup canola oil ¾ cup sugar ½ cup pure maple syrup


Central Coast College Consultants Know your options. Follow your dreams. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped (I use walnuts) 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (best if you can find small pieces specifically for baking) 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 2 cups carrots, grated Preheat oven to 350 F. Have ready two 8 inch round springform cake pans, lightly greased. Alternately, this could be made in a 9x13 inch baking pan and cut in half lengthwise to create two layers or just as one layer. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. In a separate large mixing bowl, mix together the pineapple, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, and combine well with a hand mixer or strong fork. Fold in the macadamias, ginger, coconut, and carrots. Divide the batter evenly between the two round cake pans, or spread in the rectangular pan, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans completely. Once cooled completely, frost with a cream cheese frosting. IMPORTANT: The crystallized ginger, pineapple juice, and maple syrup really make this carrot cake stand out from all others. I don’t sift the dry ingredients.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

Dear SLO LIFE, If you decide you need fillers or whatever maybe you can use my blurbs – all true stories – add or delete, it’s ok. And, I don’t want money – just want to make people HAPPY! Thanks a million, Aileen Lehto/Papiro We so appreciate your sending us a wonderful sampling of your “blurbs,” Aileen, and we’d like to go ahead and publish one now, which we have neither added to or deleted from… SLO LIFE

“Chicago, My Kind of Town” By Aileen Lehto/Papiro Next to my special happiest little town of San Luis Obispo, CA where I have resided for 17 years, my favorite town is Chicago. I entered that big city at 17, fresh out of high school (Washburn, Wisconsin), having passed a government test and found myself embedded at the Merchandise Mart (a city within itself), doing keypunching. I was so elated when promoted upstairs to the typewriters – yea! I have loved typing ever since – graduated to computers and even texting, now. Do you remember the juke boxes of yore? Well, Chicago had cute little ones attached to the tables in the coffee shops, still, in the early 2000’s, when I made a nostalgic Am-Track run to visit daughter and hubby at their 23rd floor apartment in Chicago. It was close to downtown, the Loop, and the “L” train - so handy! I loved that friendly city of so many memories. And, “kudos” to the honest people of the world. When on a holiday visit to my home in Wisconsin, I stupidly left my purse on the platform while waiting for the train. No money for the duration of my stay, but I wasn’t destitute as I had family – just felt a bit helpless, being the independent person that I thought I was. Back in Chicago, I received an amazing surprise from a lady saying she had my purse and wanted to return it. Unbelievable! She even refused a reward. Perhaps, it was the same all over the USA during the WWII years, when everyone pulled together unselfishly toward the common goal – the war effort. And, it was so heartwarming to see our service people treated so kindly – everything free in Chicago. It was so special, as were they. Also, great fun for us farm gals to be transported by train to the Great Lakes Naval Base to dance with the sailors – hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

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| Q&A

Steve Gesell He grew up in San Luis Obispo and left to study Justice Administration in Arizona. He worked in the Scottsdale Police Department for 20 years, followed by a brief stint as acting chief in Atascadero. We dropped by for a visit on the sixth day into his “dream job” as the new Chief of Police in San Luis Obispo. As he walked us down the hallway to his office, he stopped to point out an old black and white framed photo that had been hanging for many years just outside of his door…

Was Nesa on board for all of this? I had made the same comment to her that my mom had made to my dad in 1959: “You know, if there is ever a way that we can get out to San Luis Obispo, I would jump on it. I would love it. I want to raise our kids there.” She really wasn’t interested in moving. We had a good set up in the Phoenix Metro area, we both had great jobs, great careers, great friends. But, then we came back here for an extended visit and after day two or three – we had just come back from Farmers’ Market. She says to me, “Okay, I’m sold. Let’s figure out how to do this.”

What exactly are we looking at here, Steve? You see this guy on the motorcycle? That’s the guy that gave me my first ticket, Officer Pete Hubbard. I absolutely deserved it. It was the last day of my senior year at San Luis High School and I had a ‘70 Plymouth Barracuda. My friends were egging me on saying, “Come on, Steve! Come on, Steve!” I floored it and he caught me right away. He was a really nice guy. Now, I’ve got this reminder everyday hanging outside my office. Have you found any other reminders from your youth? I just drove past my old house yesterday; there was some guy there in a robe standing out front so I didn’t bother to stop. It’s on the corner of Broad and Upham. Old Spanish style house, it’s got to be 800 or 900 square feet. Pretty small. When we came here that was the house that my dad could afford. It was really cool, I shared a room with my brother. We were real close to downtown. I always remember walking to school – I went to San Luis Junior High, which doesn’t exist anymore. It’s now the Adult School, I believe. What brought your parents here in the first place? As newlyweds in 1959 my parents were visiting this area, and as they were driving from Morro Bay to Los Osos on South Bay Boulevard past the estuary there my mom turned to my dad and said, “You know, if there was ever any way we could get here, and raise our children here, this is where we 10 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

should be.” Lo and behold, twenty years later my dad got the job as the airport manager here in town. So, we packed up and moved across country before I went into middle school. What were you like in those days? I was one of those kids - at least this is how I saw myself back then - I kind of filtered through all of the cliques. I was friends with a lot of different kinds of people, a lot of different personalities. And I think that’s been true throughout my life. I try to respect people for who they are. I played a little football one year, I wrestled one year. Soccer has been my passion throughout my life. They actually didn’t have a team when I was there, but we formed a group to bring it in. The year after I graduated is when it finally started there. I’ve been involved with the Police Games as the goalkeeper.

So, why did you ever leave? My dad got a job teaching Aeronautics at Arizona State. He left a couple of months after I graduated from San Luis High School. I stayed here. I went to Cuesta for a year. Poly didn’t have a Justice major, so I followed my dad to ASU where I was able to go tuition-free since he was an employee there. I crammed everything I owned into my 1969 VW Bug. I barely made it to Phoenix because I nearly ran out of gas. I didn’t realize that gas stations would be so few and far between out in the desert. It was one of those rare days when it was pouring down rain and I remember thinking to myself, “I should have got gas waaaay back there.” Take a minute to introduce us to your family, if you would. Sure – my wife is Nesa. Our oldest is Lauren, she’s in third grade. And, our twins, Nate and Lindsey, will be turning five in April.

When did you really start thinking seriously about making the move? I remember very clearly one day, this was probably eight years ago now, when I was waiting for my friend, Doug, who was my counterpart at the DEA to show up at my office. We had been working a case together. Anyway, he was running a little late so I decided to pull up the San Luis Police Department website. Doug finally arrives so I spin around in my chair and he says, “Hey, get back to work! What are you looking at?” He was sort of giving me a hard time. And I said, “You know, I was just kind of daydreaming, I guess.” I told him it would be my dream to end my career as the chief of police in my hometown. I’ve never seen it line up this way. It’s bizarre. I feel like I just happened to be a SLO LIFE character in a story.


2/29/12

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 11


| PLACES

Cayucos Pier as you’ve never seen it before

“I was arguing with the helicopter pilot to go lower and stay out longer – the conditions were perfect, the afternoon light just right,” recalls Joseph Dominguez, a professional photographer based in Cambria. The pilot, who barked back that they were getting extremely low on fuel, told him he could take just one more shot and to make it count. Dominguez, who despite his extensive experience in “self-taught” aerial photography says that being strapped halfway into a helicopter is “sketchy for sure, but it’s exciting.” Dominguez leaned out with his camera, and, as is his routine, said to himself, “Don’t fall, Joe, don’t fall,” then he focused, triggered the shutter, and captured the shot you see here. SLO LIFE 12 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


Do you have an amazing photo to share? Email it to places@slolifemagazine.com

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 13


| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR

Meet Ahmad Nooristani In this installment of our “Meet Your Neighbor” series, SLO LIFE Magazine sits down for a conversation with Ahmad Nooristani. He was born and raised in Afghanistan, smuggled into Pakistan to escape the war, and immigrated to the United States at 14-years-old where he worked full-time since the third day he arrived. Today, he is a physician employed by area hospitals, and has spent his spare time over the past two-and-half years working to start a free medical clinic, which recently opened in San Luis Obispo. Here is his story… don’t realize what you don’t have. So, it was okay living there. I carried my day the way I do here. It was not a big deal. Okay, it was a war zone, people died, there were explosions left and right but that’s something that you grow up to know and to accept. That kind of thing is part of your life because there is nothing to compare with. So, now it’s a big shocker when I look back. How exactly did you get out of Afghanistan in the middle of a war? We had to find a smuggler who we paid to take us to Pakistan. It was actually a network of people, but we were hidden in trucks that drove through some very treacherous and remote mountain roads. The conditions were horrific. Looking back now, I’m amazed that we all survived. It was me and my mom, my brother, my sister, and my grandma. There were a lot of crazy stories from that time. Maybe we can talk about it some other day? Sure, let’s switch gears. Tell us about becoming a doctor. Did you always want to get into medicine? No, actually I always wanted to fly. That was always my passion. My uncle was a fighter pilot in the military back in Afghanistan. He flew a Russian MiG jet, I forget which model; it was similar to an F-14. When I came here I wanted to become a pilot for the U.S. Air Force. My family did not want me to get involved with the military. They were very unhappy about it and persuaded me not to join.

Okay, Dr. Nooristani, let’s start from the beginning. Where you are from? I was born in Afghanistan and came here in 1991. I was 14 at that time. I have two brothers and a sister. My dad passed away when I was four. He was in the military and my mom was a teacher. We left because of the war. We lived in Kabul, the capital city. It was a little safer because that’s where the majority of the Russian Army was based. But, living conditions got to the point where it was just really hard to live. My uncles were here, six or seven years before we got here. So we came to California and lived in Simi Valley. It’s kind of quiet there. What was life like in Afghanistan? You know what is so surprising, when you don’t have anything to compare to, you don’t know what’s good, until you have bad. You have to have some comparison. So, when I was there, life… it is what it is. You make the best of it, but you don’t know any better. So, when you come to some other place and you look back, and you look at your life, you are in awe and you think, “Really? Is that how I lived? I mean, that was normal?” I thought it was okay to live that way. So, especially as a kid you 14 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

So, how do you go from airplanes to medicine? Coming from a country whose health care system literally doesn’t exist and seeing people suffering there, the idea was to become a physician so I could help people and give something back. It’s one of those professions that it doesn’t matter where you go. You have something that everyone needs. But, once I decided I wasn’t going to be flying jets, I became very focused on my path to become a physician. Go study, get your degree. I went straight through school and my residency without a break. I didn’t want to say, “I’m going to try this, I’m going to try that.” I was very focused. I worked in hospitals in L.A., and Miami, and New York. What was that experience like? I was in New York City for two years, I lived in Queens. I rotated through different hospitals there. I wanted to broaden my horizons and experience different things and see how medicine was practiced in different places and in different hospitals. It was crazy to see the differences. I did my residency in Atlantic City at the Regional Hospital for Internal Medicine. I was there for three years. Then I finished up, and here I am in my first job here in SLO. Whoa, let’s back up… it seems like you skipped over some stuff. How’d you end up in SLO? I wanted to come back to California for sure. I have family and friends here. So, I had set up interviews up-and-down the state, from San Francisco to Orange County. A recruiter called me and asked if I wanted to interview in San Luis Obispo. I said, “Sure, it’s on my way from one interview to another.” I was just about to accept a position in Vacaville. continued on page 16


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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 15


| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR But, I came here and fell in love with my group – now my partners – I really liked the way things were set up. I liked the town, but felt it was too small for me. I had been in New York, and Miami, and now here, and I said, “Darn, it’s too small, it’s just not going to work out.” But, I just loved the system of how they practiced medicine here. So, finally I decided, “I’ll give it a shot, I have nothing to lose.” So, now, three years down the line and here we are. So, slowly I’ve realized what beauty this place has and anything you can think of, you can have it. Beautiful, amazing weather. Outdoors are unbelievable. I mean you can do anything you want here. But, you did give up some things by not being in a larger city, right? Hey, I’m from Afghanistan! So I can’t complain, right? [laughter] Fair point. Alright, let’s talk about the Noor Foundation clinic. Why did you start it? I’ve always wanted to do something, to give back. I’m a big believer in giving back. And, why is that? Is there something about your upbringing or religious background that led you down this path of service? Part of it is religious. There is a strong tradition of giving back in the Muslim faith. It’s a huge part of it. But part of it is just being human. When I was growing up I really wasn’t in a position to give back, but now that I have graduated, I’m a doctor, I have a great job and I can do it. My initial thought was to create clinics internationally. I was looking at doing something in Afghanistan and Kenya. My focus had been to do something there. But, after living here and getting to know the area and seeing what was going on in the county I realized that there was this tremendous need locally. We have over 30% of our people uninsured, over 4,000 uninsured come to the hospital annually. There are a lot of uninsured people using the ER as their only source of health care. In many cases we’re talking about serious diseases, many of which could have been avoided with proper care. But, isn’t it true that so many of these ER visits are avoidable? It’s not that they don’t take their medication or they don’t care, it’s that they can’t see a physician for care because they can’t afford it. Some of them don’t see physicians for years. Some had health insurance but they lost their job and stop taking their medication. I remember a gentleman coming into the ER, he was about 45-years-old with three kids. He had lost his job. And when his health insurance ran out, he stopped going to the doctor, stopped taking his medication, and he ended up having a stroke. Not only is he unable to care for his children now, but the cost of the initial care for his stroke is somewhere between $90,000 and $100,000. Over his lifetime, including rehabilitation, it can go into the millions. Who pays for that? We all do. So, seeing that, I knew it was preventable. I’m a big believer in taking care of your neighbors first – that’s a big part of the teachings of Islam, as well: “Care for your family; care for your neighbors; care for your town, and then care, care and keep expanding outward.” I grew up with that instilled in me, so I needed to help my neighbors. How did you plan to do that? So, my idea was just to open a small place to see people when I wasn’t working. Even if it was a church basement somewhere, I didn’t care. I just planned to donate my free time to seeing patients locally. That was my goal initially. But, then when I started talking to other physicians and nursing staff about my plan, there was just a huge desire to be involved. People would say to me, “I want to do this too, I want to be a part of this. Tell me what you need me to do.” The number of people who wanted to help became so big that I thought there is no way we can be in a church 16 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

basement, we need an actual medical clinic, a place to practice medicine. The idea kept evolving... I said, “Let me create something that will not only be sustainable for the community in the long-run, but be something that the community and this county really need.” So that was the idea, and after that, it had this snowball effect with others volunteering to help. Everyone was so excited about it, they wanted to do things to help. That was two years ago, about a year after I moved here, that I came up with the idea. I looked around for guidance or someone’s footsteps I could follow, but I couldn’t find anything. I really had to start from scratch.

... you see the beauty of what we do, and the sadness of what is missing...

How long did it take? There are so many things to have to deal with. Just making sure it’s a non-profit, for example, is a big process. Doing that alone took about 7 or 8 months to establish the status with the IRS. Just opening a place is easy. But to do it as a non-profit, a free medical clinic, there were so many hoops to jump through. I spent about 20 to 25 hours a week for nearly two-and-a-half years just to get all of the paperwork completed and all of the equipment and lease improvements we needed to be able to open. We had rented the space during that time - about two years in all because you have to have a physical location as you are going through all of the various applications for various licenses. Wow. I also interviewed over 600 people, volunteers, during that time. And so many people from all different areas of the community have helped get it started. I still haven’t come across anybody that has said, “No.” That’s fuel for me. Name a person in the community and chances are they have done something to support this project. The question they ask is, “What can I do to help?” And, that has just been the most amazing experience for me. This community has just blown my mind, the amount of people that care so much is incredible. The sense of pride and joy they have in being a San Luis Obispan - is that a correct word? [laughter] - it’s just amazing. We all really pride ourselves in being a part of this community, so it doesn’t matter what we do, we’re going to give back. And, that makes this a very special place. You know, this town, San Luis Obispo, has the most non-profits of anywhere in the world. There are so many, like hundreds of them. Everywhere you look there’s a not-for-profit, so that shows that people do care, they want to be involved. They want to make this place better and give back. So, tell us about the clinic. Everything that we generate goes back to patient care. We have a very small amount of overhead, but all donations go directly to patient care. I don’t get paid. Nobody gets paid. The only person who is paid is our clinic manager because there are a lot of logistics involved, and we just hired him this month. He volunteered for a long time before we hired him. What was it like the first day you opened the doors? At 10 o’ clock in the morning I received a call from one of the volunteers that said, “There’s a patient here waiting for you.” We weren’t even supposed to open until 1. So, I came in right away to see him and I was checking on everything and making sure it was in order. Everybody was kind of nervous because we didn’t know how it was going to run. We’ve


never done this. It was all new. And, so I walked out into the waiting room and said, “Come on in!” I told him, “You will be my very first patient here, you are, what do you call it?... uh… my guinea pig,” and we laughed about it.

NOOR FOUNDATION everything in this exam room has been donated How did it go? I saw him and he had some issues that we were able to deal with there that day. It turned out that he was a priest. Really nice guy. When we were done, he sat down with his bible and said, “I want to bless the clinic.” So, we sat down together. He read some verses. And he blessed the clinic. It was touching. It was really touching. You know, I just sat back and thought to myself that everything I did for two years to get this place going was worth it. And it goes on and on because everybody that comes in here has a beautiful story. There’s not a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t cry and break down. And you see the beauty of what

we do, and the sadness for what is missing out there. So, would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Absolutely, without a doubt. Can you describe a typical patient? 98% of the people we see at the clinic are middle class or working class. The vast majority of our patients have a job, they are working, or have businesses. We’ve seen maybe one homeless person so far. The people who are very poor will qualify for government assistance, but for everyone else that pays for their own insurance it is very expensive. That is if they can qualify for it at all. The top and the bottom get whatever they need. It’s this huge group of people in the middle that we see here. And what about the volunteers? I have never seen the physicians or the nurses more happy than they are when they are working at the clinic. They come here to have fun, to just practice medicine. It’s not your regular office. The patient sees that joy and happiness, and they’re doing it for free and I think that changes things. So it’s just a different environment, a very happy environment. They come here to remember why they got into medicine in the first place. And, the name of the clinic, “Noor Foundation”… what exactly does that mean? Noor is the first part of my last name and it translates to “hope” or “light.” My last name, Nooristani literally translates to “land of hope” or “land of light.” I really wanted to call it something that signifies what we do. Dr. Nooristani, we know you have a busy day ahead of you and need to be getting back to work, but we’d like to close by saying thank you very much for the work you are doing for our community. Thank you – I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way.

SLO LIFE

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The Peterson Home

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


THE WAY WE LIVE |

Georgiana Peterson likes to describe her home as “a country-style house with French accents.” And, it’s those accents - mostly eclectic French antiques that were collected over a lifetime - that provided the vision for its design long before construction began in 2003. The home, which she shares with her husband Dewey Peterson, a retired insurance executive, is nestled among oak trees near the top of Barron Canyon Ranch, a neighborhood quietly tucked away in the hills at the far end of the Avila Valley, east of Highway 101. The couple, who lived in their neighbor’s guest house during construction, was very “handson” throughout the entire process. During her career as both an interior and landscape designer,

Georgiana never lost sight of her vision for the home during its design and construction. Today, the home, which winds softly from room to room, is adorned meticulously with heirloom furniture pieces and includes a Flow Blue China collection, as well as unique touches such as a valance box that frames the guest bathroom shower perfectly. When asked what two words best capture the home, Geogiana pauses to reflect for a moment then offers her assessment: “comfortable elegance.” To be sure, the home, which takes in sweeping views of the winding Edna Valley vineyards beneath, does reflect an exquisite taste, but melds it nicely with a warm and welcoming style all its own.

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 19


| THE WAY WE LIVE

MASTER SUITE Exposed beams and an oversized bay window with sweeping views of Edna Valley vineyards combine to create this oasis.

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

QUIET REFUGE His and her wingback armchairs, a warm fire and a good book work together to create the perfect place to relax in comfort and in style.


COUNTRY CLASSIC The island serves as a focal point and provides an extra work surface with additional storage.

FARMHOUSE CHIC An apron-front sink contrasts beautifully against bright aqua cabinets in the laudry room.

VINTAGE CHARM Creative use of an antique chest inspired the design of this bathroom. SLO LIFE

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 21


by the numbers

| REAL ESTATE

laguna lake tank farm cal poly area country club downtown foothill blvd johnson ave

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

2010 42 562,983 530,010 94.14 115

2011 48 484,482 468,625 96.73 109

+/11.63 -13.94 -11.58 2.59 -5.21

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

2010 27 587,878 570,252 97.00 117

2011 27 605,559 590,367 97.49 82

+/0.00 3.01 3.53 0.49 -29.91

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

2010 23 490,839 463,691 94.47 77

2011 19 541,998 517,495 95.48 96

+/-17.39 10.42 11.60 1.01 -24.68

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

2010 25 809,824 758,128 93.62 92

2011 22 898,145 837,455 93.24 130

+/-12.00 10.91 10.46 -0.38 41.30

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

2010 19 627,239 599,316 95.55 67

2011 39 632,253 576,013 91.10 107

+/105.26 0.79 -3.88 -4.45 59.70

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

2010 39 559,751 534,803 95.54 73

2011 39 540,684 515,448 95.33 69

+/0.00 -3.41 -3.62 -0.21 -5.48

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

2010 36 566,960 540,215 95.28 98

2011 35 544,814 517,189 94.63 88

+/-2.77 -3.91 -4.26 -0.65 -10.2

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS 22 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

SLO LIFE


“Luckily for you, I am a Realtor that knows homes! Having had a career in architecture, I’m the smart choice as your central coast Realtor.”

Traci Ferguson, Realtor #01875751/ Eco Broker Certified/ LEED AP/ BA Architecture 444 Higuera Street, 3rd Floor, San Luis Obispo, Ca 93401 (805) 235-6396 www.TraciFerguson.com

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 23


| REAL ESTATE

How to Choose a Neighborhood

Much has been made of finding the right house, but what about the neighborhood?

The saying that real estate is about “location, location, location” is true, but for residential real estate it may be more accurate to say “neighborhood, neighborhood, neighborhood.” Fortunately, here on the Central Coast there are so many great areas to choose from, but before you set out it is important to get clear on what it is you want in your neighborhood. You can begin to narrow down your options and start to hone in on a few areas by investigating the following criteria: QUALITY OF SCHOOLS | There are many resources online for this, we recommend that you start by visiting greatschools.org to get a rundown of recent test scores and trends. But, better yet, visit nearby parks and ask local moms and dads what they think. PROPERTY VALUES | If you are considering San Luis Obispo neighborhoods, carefully review the chart on page 22 [By the Numbers] to see the trends over the past couple of years. For other areas in the Central Coast, be sure to contact a Realtor. TRAFFIC | Don’t just think about this in terms of quantity of traffic, but also consider quality. Is it fast moving? Loud with lots of heavy trucks? What about traffic patterns? Late at night? And how does it flow? Is it heavy when you would be leaving for work? Is it impossible or dangerous to make a left-hand turn out of your would-be neighborhood? CRIME RATE | This is all public information, and much of it can be found on various websites. If you really want to do some detective work, go down to the police station and ask an officer! FUTURE CONSTRUCTION | Check with the Planning Department, they’re the ones that keep all of this information. Also, consider your local Board of Realtors as a resource as well as area Chambers of Commerce.

W e a lt h

ManageMent

LOCATION | What is the proximity to schools, employment, hospitals, shops, public transportation, freeways, airports, beaches, parks, stadiums and cultural activities such as museums, concerts and theaters. How does it fit with your needs and lifestyle?

InvESTMEnT RETIREMEnT InSuRAnCE

Risk Management | Estate Planning Accumulation | Taxation | Business Planning | Retirement Planning FR EE FOLIO PORT W R E vIE t o oday Call t tar ted! s t ge David S. Nilsen President & Chief Financial Advisor

Of course, financial realities will dictate some of your search, but if you are a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, for example, you may want to find a home that meets your needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price range. And, keep in mind, that the “best neighborhood” is not necessarily the most expensive or most exclusive. You can maximize your home purchase location by adhering to some of these strategies during your neighborhood search: SPOT TRENDS | Look for up-and-coming communities that are likely to become “hot neighborhoods” in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas. Consider a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If a longer commute is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.

1301 Chorro Street, Suite A San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

GET THE INSIDE SCOOP | Ask a Realtor whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing, and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and do a spot check to get a feel for how many “sale pending” and “sold” signs there are in a particular area.

ObispoWealthManagement.com

BE CREATIVE | Consider purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. Using this strategy may allow you to purchase in a prime area that you may not have otherwise been able to afford.

805.541.6500

David Nilsen is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative with/ and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor, Insurance Lic. #0B50436. Fixed Insurance products and services offered by Obispo Wealth Management are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth.

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

SLO LIFE


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| MUSIC

Derek Senn and the tale of two guitars

IN THE MOMENT Senn tuning his guitar

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


MUSIC VIDEO go to slolifemagazine.com and click on See our Commercials to watch “I L-O-V-E the SLO Life” which was written and performed by Derek Senn

San Luis Obispo-based musician, Derek Senn, asked his parents for a guitar on his tenth birthday. They were happy to support their son’s interest in music, so they also purchased lessons with a teacher who was a classical guitarist. He went once, it was a miserable experience - he was told to grow his nails long, and he never went back. The guitar collected dust for the next ten years and his nails remained short. Then, while bicycling through South America with a friend during a year-long hiatus from college, he came across a couple of $25 guitars at a local market. On a whim, he and his travel companion, Chip, each bought one and headed back to their hotel room in La Paz, Bolivia where they played well into the night. “We hooked up with a couple of Peruvian college students who taught us how to play some Guns ‘n Roses songs - we stayed at that hotel for a month doing nothing but learning to play,” remembers Senn, who works as a broker with Anderson Commercial Real Estate. That experience in the Bolivian hotel never left Senn and, as he returned to San Luis Obispo to settle down for good, he was inspired to write and record his own music. “I bought an 8-track recorder and started off playing all the instruments myself, doing the singing, editing, everything,” explains Senn. At some point, he decided that he needed a partner, so he persuaded his wife Melanie, who teaches English at Cal Poly, to join the one-man band. “I taught her how to play the drums. She had never played an instrument before but she really took to it. She was actually pregnant with our first son, Diego, when we played our first show together - I think it was at Downtown Brew or the Frog and Peach - I can’t remember.” The first album that Senn produced was called the “Wedding Industrial Complex” which is a play on Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex” and it features original music that is highly autobiographical in nature. The song “My Degree,” for example, is a fun, bluesy, up-tempo, impossible-to-not-tap-your-foot-with-the-beat, examination of the usefulness of his wife’s college degree while she was doing unfulfilling work early in her career (in her case taking pictures and writing ad copy for Photo Ad to advertise cars). Here’s a sampling of the lyrics: “Well, I started out in bio / then I moved on to pre-med / then I settled on a Latin American studies degree instead / Now I’m taking pictures of new and used cars / and I’m hustlin’ pool on ladies night in Blind River bars / I hope this helps you see how I’m implementing my degree.” Today, Senn finds himself busy with family life - he and Melanie now have a second son, Charles - but he still finds some time to write and record. He has made all of his music free to download on his website (dereksenn.bandcamp.com) and performs selectively as the mood strikes. It would have been hard to predict that one month in a Bolivian hotel would have led to his lifelong love for making music. SLO LIFE SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 27


| OUTDOORS

Choose Your Adventure Rock Climbing Bishop’s Peak WRITTEN BY PADEN FOLLOWWILL PHOTOS BY CAITLIN EMMA SMITH

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


For the past 6 years I have been scaling rocks from Yosemite to Joshua Tree. But even if you don’t have the time or interest in traveling, there is good news for adventurous locals. A strong climbing community exists on the Central Coast along with a smattering of rock faces and boulders available - the most densely populated of which are nestled throughout Bishop’s Peak. As the primary climbing area and most popular local cragging spot in the county, Bishop’s Peak offers several dozen (mostly) single-pitch routes. You’ll find bouldering, sport, traditional, mixed, you name it. An extinct volcanic plug and the tallest of the Nine Sisters, also known as the Morros, Bishop’s Peak features a rock formation with some crack, mostly face, and a lot of slab (Morro Rock, Black Hill, Cabrillo Peak, Hollister Peak, Cerro Romauldo, Chumash Peak, Cerro San Luis and Islay Hill make up the other eight volcanic peaks and hills between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo). It is also home to Chlorissa, Pete, Potato and Hummingbird Boulders. These, along with a handful of other boulders, provide locals access to some of the best bouldering along the Central Coast. If you are a beginner, Bishop’s Peak offers a number of friendly climbs for those willing to face fears of heights. Cracked Wall is home to a 70 foot route called 60 Seconds Over Soledad. Rumor has it that this beginner route and popular favorite can be done in a minute flat. Other notable climbs are Camel, Only Way to Fly, and Western Airlines. There is also a classic multi-pitch route on the face of the “P” painted wall that takes climbers up a series of pitches and a final thrilling scramble up to the very highest summit boulders. Rock climbing is exhilarating. No matter your level or expertise, tying into a rope, chalking up your hands, putting on highly uncomfortable shoes and facing a towering, immovable rock fortress and mentally pep-talking yourself to succeed, is an incredible experience. It is you versus the rock and It takes strength, technique and mental toughness to succeed. SLO LIFE

Directions to Bishop’s Peak: There are three trailheads. To reach the first from 101, head north on Santa Rosa Street. Turn left on Foothill Boulevard. Turn into the parking area off of Foothill Boulevard on the right hand side of the street at Bishop’s Peak. To reach the second from from 101, head north on Santa Rosa Street. Turn left on Foothill Boulevard. Turn right on Patricia. The trailhead is on the left had side of the street about a mile ahead. To reach the third from from 101, head north on Santa Rosa Street, turn left on Highland and follow it until the dead-end at the trailhead. SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 29


| TO YOUR HEALTH

OPTIMISM

The key to a good attitude is resiliency, especially in times of adversity. This means remaining focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. So, how do we become an eternal optimist? It is widely studied that only about 50 percent of optimism and happiness is considered innate, 10 percent is derived from your circumstances, and 40 percent is determined by your actions. This leads us to believe that achieving an optimistic outlook is distinctly possible.

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

DEVELOP FRIENDSHIPS Adopt a pet, volunteer or join a club. Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience during tough times.


HELP YOURSELF

At R&R Dental Care we offer several options to get your smile looking its best including 1 hour whitening, and no shots, no drills Veneers.

Meet us at the Health & Fitness Expo! (March 24th & 25th at the Madonna Expo Center)

Learn something new, enjoy the beauty of nature and art, travel, and practice self-discipline. Investing yourself in enriching activities will reduce your stress and build self-esteem.

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Quality road bikes starting at $1100.

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Each bike custom assembled to your specs. Instead of selling you a bike in stock, we help you assemble the bike that’s best for you at prices typically 40% below brand names. Because we buy direct from the manufacturers and sell direct to you, we save you lots of money while still offering the best products available. We sell only quality carbon and alloy road and cross bikes and have a full line of wheels including carbon and alloy tubular wheels. We service only what we sell allowing us to focus entirely on you.

Engage in meaningful, creative work. We all need a reason to get out of bed each morning, so find a cause that moves you, and get involved.

SLO LIFE

142 Cross Street Suite 100 SLO, P805-544-2703 Across from Idlers. Monday through Friday 10-5 Saturday 10-4

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 31


| ALTERNATIVE HEALTH

Herbal Immunity Builders

prevent the common cold with natural boosters Much has been written about herbal cold remedies, but opinions vary so widely that it’s difficult to know how to begin tackling a cold with herbs. We decided to consult some experts—not doctors and pharmacists but herbalists who are personally and professionally involved with the herbal medicine industry—and asked them, What do you do when you have a cold?

“Why don’t I get colds? Because I know about Echinacea,” says Portia Meares. An herbalist living in Wolftown, Virginia, former editor of The Business of Herbs Magazine, and a founding member of the International Herb Growers and Marketers Association, there’s no doubt Meares knows about Echinacea.

Jeanne Rose, prominent herbalist, author, and teacher in San Francisco, relies on a trademarked formula she calls YEGG whenever her chest tightens up and she’s coughing more than usual. She combines yellow dock, echinacea root, goldenseal, and ginseng in a ratio of 1:2:2:1, puts it into capsules, and takes three of them three times a day for ten days. “And I eat lots of garlic soup,” she says.

Mark Blumenthal of Austin, Texas, executive director of the American Botanical Council and editor of HerbalGram, adopts the following regimen when he feels a cold coming on: two to four tablets of garlic daily, a whopping 3 to 4 grams of vitamin C daily, two to three droppers of echinacea root extract every four to six hours, two to three droppers of liquid astragalus (an herb often used in Chinese medicine) every four to six hours, and two 500-milligram capsules of goldenseal root four times daily.

Garlic and echinacea, used alone or in combination, seem to relieve many of the early symptoms of a cold. Our respondents incorporate this pair into the diet in small amounts with the goal of maintaining a vigilant immune system, increasing the dose to supplement natural defenses if a cold virus gains a foothold. Many times, they observe, no other treatment is necessary.

garlic

yellow dock

echinacea

We must have chosen the right group of people for this survey. None of them has been really sick for years, they say. In addition to using herbs to alleviate the symptoms of a cold, they also use them daily to promote good general health. And this, they feel, prevents cold viruses from taking hold in the first place.

You don’t have to believe that echinacea root supports the immune system by stimulating circulation and respiration or that garlic increases blood flow to the extremities and boosts the immune response directly. For many people, it’s enough to know that garlic and echinacea can make you feel better. SLO LIFE

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


it’s time to get back to the basics. A solid foundation for staying active begins with Chiropractic Care.

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Call me, we’ll talk, and I’ll listen. (805) 544-6846 I’d call that “a good start” on constructing a whole new you.

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 33


| RUNNING

Team In Training BY DEMITRIA CASTANON

Barbara Saia first became associated with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society as a participant in the Maui Marathon in honor of her two friends that lost their lives because of blood related cancer. She quickly grew to realize that the only way to find a cure for cancer was to raise money for the research of the disease. And, as the the Senior Campaign Manager for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training (TNT) of the Central Coast, Saia is running strong towards finding a cure. Her fundraising efforts during the past eleven years have included one full marathon, and thirteen half marathons, in all of which she was also a participant. The TNT Central Coast has raised over five million dollars and the TNT national account has raised over one billion dollars for blood related cancer patients and their families. From that money, the research programs supporting the cure for blood related cancers have been successful in discovering life-saving drugs such as Gleevec and Rituxan. TNT offers walkers and runners the opportunity to take on a challenge of a marathon or half-marathon while making a positive difference in the lives of nearly one million Americans living with blood cancer. The local chapter comprises more than 100 participants, including students from Cal Poly and Cuesta, middle-aged adults, and seniors. Participants receive a personal training schedule, and meet each Saturday with the team and coach. During the first eight weeks, the members learn about everything from wearing the right shoes to eating properly, so by the time the event comes, the team is well prepared.

TEAM CAPTAIN Barbara Saia is the Senior Campaign Manager for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society TNT

Joining the team for the Honolulu Marathon in 1998, the Cenoz family has a personal connection to the passionate fight against cancer. Jeniene and Jeff Cenoz’s son, Alex, was diagnosed with Leukemia at just three years old. He received treatment at Stanford Hospital and it was during their visits that they learned about Team In Training. Both Jeniene and Jeff instantly became eager to join. Since becoming involved, they have raised nearly $85,000 and have run a total of twenty-six races. Alex, who currently attends Arroyo Grande High School as a senior and plays on the varsity basketball team, will run in his first race at the 1st Annual SLO Half Marathon this year. The environment of TNT, explains Saia is “very addicting! A lot of people come back because they like the support of the coaches, and the past participant mentors are awesome, and so involved. You are getting healthy and doing something for yourself, as well as supporting a great cause! We live in an amazing area where this works really well because people live healthy lifestyles, and they also want to give back and do something for the community. So Team In Training is a perfect fit for our area.” SLO LIFE

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

THRIVING Alex Cenoz has grown up with TNT and will participate in his first race this year


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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 35


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SERVING THE CENTRAL COAST SINCE 2000

You know how it goes... a friend visits the Central Coast for the first time, and it’s never the last. Suddenly, they’re annual guests in your home. That’s kind of how it goes with a bunch of “beach bums” near San Simeon. And, they’re really kind of hard to miss.

Get Back to the Business of Running Your Business

Business Liability Workers’ Compensation Commercial Auto Insurance Employee Benefits Life Insurance Call today and let us begin assisting you with all of your commercial insurance needs. (805) 783-7130 Visit us online at www.rlassoc.com 1363 Marsh Street, Suite A San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 36 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

The Northern Elephant Seals have chosen this little stretch of coastline to birth, breed, and bathe in our Central Coast sunshine for the last 20 years. And each year the crowd grows. “Every year the population increases a bit. They like it here, it’s protected, kind of,” guide Bill Cook explains. The latest estimates indicate that there are somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 Northern Elephant Seals along our coast. The males can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. And, though they may not be pretty, they’re pretty impressive to see up close. You’ll see the most activity in January and early February when it’s birthing and mating season, but they’re pretty much hanging around all year. Right now, it’s the pups cuddling up, and cussing at each other. They have reason to be a little cranky. Their mothers fattened them up, and then took off for the Pacific Northwest already pregnant with future siblings.

“When they’re born they will weigh about 60 pounds. They will nurse about 28 days and will be about 300 pounds in that 28 days,” says Cook. So these pups are on their own until their instinct takes over and they learn to swim and find food. They’ll return next month with adult females to shed their winter coats. And seeing a beach full of these blubbery bodies may help you shed any inhibitions you have about bearing your winter bod come springtime. It’s always entertaining at this beach near Piedras Blancas, and the only admission is the time it takes to pull over and get out of the car. It’s one of the few places in the world where elephant seals live. At most of those places, you can’t get close enough to see them. But you can here, and it’s right in our own backyard. It’s more proof, that there’s No Place Like Home. SLO LIFE Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and reporter, hosts the “No Place Like Home” series every Thursday evening at 6pm.


Come Hang Out!

Enjoy Song Time with Matt Cross Every Thursday at 10:15am Located Downtown SLO 863 Monterey Street • 805.540.7222 Store Hours Tues.-Sat. 10am-6pm • Sun. 12-5pm Closed Mondays

www.ShopEcoBambino.com

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 37


| EDUCATION

developing

world

above NAPALI CLASSROOM students pack into a crowded room for their lessons right RESPONSIBILITY while some children are able to attend school in Nepal, others, like the boy pictured here, bear the burden of work

In a remote village in the highlands of Nepal, school-aged children wake up at dawn each day and brave the chilly morning air to fetch water from the community well. After a breakfast of tea and roasted barley, the lucky ones go to school. The rest go to work.

Proceeds from this year’s event will fund scholarships for Nepali teens, early childhood development centers in rural communities, and a library with educational resources for students of all ages. A portion will also support education projects in Haiti.

An estimated 2.1 million Nepali children between 5 and 14 years old are child laborers. They harvest crops in the fields, break rocks in stone quarries, and forgo education in order to help support their families.

On March 1st, students in San Luis Obispo schools will learn about life in Nepal. They will hear Nepali music and make Nepali dumpings called momos, and they’ll wear purple clothing to school in solidarity with other children worldwide. The SLO Children’s Museum, the YMCA and other local groups will host Purple Cake Day celebrations.

Some of these children may soon be able to go to school, thanks to the efforts of a New Zealand woman who turned her own personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others—and to inspire children around the world to do the same. Emily Sanson-Rejouis, a former United Nations aid worker, lost her husband and two of their three young daughters in the devastating 7.1 Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010. In honoring their memory on her return to New Zealand she created Kenbe La Foundation Charitable Trust (“Kenbe La” means “never give up” in Haitian Creole), to provide educational opportunities for Hatian children in need. The Foundation has since established Purple Cake Day as a specific day to celebrate, connect and support children around the world and is meant to empower children to give to others in need. The first Purple Cake Day was celebrated throughout New Zealand on March 1, 2011. It has since spread worldwide, with participants in Australia, Europe and North America—including San Luis Obispo. 38 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

At a Farmer’s Market booth hosted by the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Daybreak and the San Luis Obispo High School Interact Club, volunteers will sell purple cupcakes and handicrafts like reusable sandwich bags to raise funds for the foundation. “It’s fantastic to hear about people in other countries who are keen to get behind an initiative that I started locally,” says SansonRejouis. “It validates my belief that this is an issue that touches and connects us globally.” Local organizers Kim Lisagor and Dr. Natasha Raja brought Purple Cake Day to San Luis Obispo this year with support from sponsors Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Bravo Pediatrics. “We saw this as a chance to teach our own children about the importance of helping others,” says Lisagor, a travel writer and Cal Poly lecturer. “Whatever they decide to be when they grow up, we hope they’ll also become global citizens.” SLO LIFE


FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

LIFE SHOULD BE

WITHOUT LIMITS Night

Wi t h o u t

Limits

Come join Danny P. of 95.3fm The Beach Dance to your favorite hits from the 70’s 80’s & 90’s SLO Vets Hall • March 9th • 6:00pm - 11:00pm Food, Beverages and a chance to win an iPad For Ticket Information Call Kristine 805.543.2039 SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 39


40 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


SPECIAL INTEREST |

Earthen Oven Last year, Roberto Monge made an astonishing discovery in his backyard: the soil was a near-exact match to the soil he had grown up with in his native El Salvador. Today, Monge is a software architect for Canadian-based TransGaming, which enables him to work from his home office that backs into Madonna Mountain. It was the flooding last year that soaked his kids’ playroom off of the back of the house that led to the discovery. “When the rain finally stopped and much of the topsoil was swept away, I reached down into the exposed clay and sunk my hands into it. Immediately, I felt this strong, emotional connection to my childhood and El Salvador,” remembers Monge. Moved by the powerful experience, and encouraged by his wife, Valerie, a physician assistant at the Cal Poly Health Center, Monge, who admits that, while he works in high-tech, he’s really “much more attracted to low-tech” set out to teach their young children, Liliana and Kai, how to use the clay to build things. They started out making simple adobe bricks in the backyard - the same type of brick that was used to build Monge’s childhood home. Then, as Monge researched other uses for the clay, he found a “how-to” book explaining the construction for an earthen oven. More memories came flooding back. Sadly, it was around this same time that Monge’s father had received a terminal diagnosis. The cancer had spread. His father immediately moved back to El Salvador for hospice care. A plan was quickly set in motion for a family reunion to celebrate the elder Monge’s 67th birthday. And, it was during this visit that Monge and his family were able to rediscover the lost village of “Los Monges” which had been “bombed into oblivion” during the war. It had been 35 years since the family had returned to the site, and it took all day with heavy machete “bushwhacking” to carve a passable trail through the jungle into the deserted village. The family elders were able to point the way through the thick, tropical vegetation. Once they arrived, just like he did a few month prior in San Luis Obispo, Monge sunk his hands into the soil and confirmed his intuition: the soil was exactly the same as it was in his yard back home. For Monge, who fled a war-torn El Salvador when he was eight years old, food had always helped him maintain a connection to his heritage and culture but there was always something missing. He and his father shared a love for a Salvadorean quesadilla, which is more like a cake than the traditional Mexican quesadilla that has become so popular in the United States. The problem was that, although his family had developed a great recipe [see Local Food by Local People on page 44], it just wasn’t the same – at least not how he remembered it in El Salvador. The missing component, as it turns out, was the earthen oven. So, Monge returned to San Luis Obispo with a new resolve to build a full-sized, fully functioning “horno” (oven in Spanish). He found some books on the subject, surfed the web, and asked around locally. His research led him to a local company called N’Credible Edibles, which specializes in developing edible gardens as well as constructing earthen ovens. Monge continued on page 42 SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 41


| SPECIAL INTEREST

There’s something very core about it – the visual fire, being outside with friends and family, and the food just tastes better.

For a sample of recipes used in the earthen oven, turn to Local Food by Local People on page 44.

contracted with the company, owned and operated by Jordan and Meleah Hosea, to help him build the oven. For this purpose, the company employs a novel tactic, whereby they invite others to learn how to build their own earthen oven in exchange for their labor - the process is very “hands on.” So, over the next four weekends (a standard oven construction takes two weekends generally, but Monge elected to build an adobe seating area, as well) the company, Monge, and a collection of other local trainees dug into the clay and began molding the structure. The entire process is surprisingly free-flowing and organic in how it all comes together. No hardand-fast measurements are made, no blueprints are developed (although, in a nod to his high-tech training, Monge did create a computer generated rendering to illustrate where the structure would sit in the backyard). The building of the earthen oven is also a very communal experience, as it turns out, probably similar to the early American tradition of “barn raising” where a group of families come together to help a neighboring farmer erect a barn. In El Salvador, Monge estimates that earthen ovens are built and shared by a collection of four or five neighboring households. And, the mechanics of the earthen oven make it so that sharing makes much more sense from an efficiency stand-point, which makes its use a social experience as well. First, a wood fire is built in the oven. The coals then sit in the structure to allow it to fully heat. The way the earthen oven works is that the clay absorbs and stores the heat. After about an hour the coals are removed from the oven, which is now somewhere close to 900 degrees (depending on the length and intensity of the fire) and is ready for cooking. According to Monge, everything cooks in less than half the time it would in a conventional oven and is nearly impossible to burn or dry out. No matter the type of food, it tends to retain more moisture despite the higher heat because it operates like a convection oven with very little heat escaping and steam coming in from the wooden door, which is soaked in water before it is sealed. The oven can cook for several hours once it starts and the residual heat is perfect for roasting fruits and vegetables overnight. Monge offers that their new earthen oven has not only brought him closer to his native El Salvador and allowed him to finally replicate the quesadilla of his childhood, but it has also brought him closer to his friends and neighbors. “It seems like people have a natural connection to it, especially men; they immediately fall in love with it. There’s something very core about it – the visual fire, being outside with friends and family, and the food just tastes better,” observes Monge. And, he has noticed that when he begins to stoke the fire, neighbors start to show up and it invariably turns into a communal activity, not unlike 35 years ago in the village of Los Monges. Only, now the village is the neighborhood and the food, which is readily shared, consists of pizzas, breads, and casseroles instead of masa and other corn-based staples. The earthen oven, which was made entirely out of the clay found in Monge’s backyard, has brought the native Salvadorean full-circle. And, he reports that his only regret with the project is that his dad was not able to sample the quesadilla before he recently passed away. But, he did get to see a picture of the final product and in one of thier last conversations he told his son, “I saw what you did, and I think it is great that you built it with your kids. I’m very proud of you.” And, so the tradition continues. 42 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

SLO LIFE


SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 43


| LOCAL FOOD BY LOCAL PEOPLE

Salvadorean Hospitality GARDENS OF AVILA

SHARED BY ROBERTO MONGE

restaurant The Salvadorean quesadilla is a bread that is served after just about any meal. When you visit someone’s house you’ll be offered a slice of quesadilla and some coffee. Its consistency is like a pound cake, but you have to try

it yourself to understand the salty, sweet, cheesy goodness. Most people aren’t sure what to think when they are first offered a slice, but after tasting it, they always reach out for a second.

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SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012

SALVADOREAN QUESADILLA 2 cups white rice flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon of salt 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened 2 cups of turbinado sugar 6 large eggs 1 cup whole goat or cow milk 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese 1 teaspoon of cinnamon 3-4 drops of vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2. Whisk together the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. 3. Mix the sugar with the softened butter. 4. Cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate for 6 hours. 5. Incorporate the flour mixture with the butter and sugar. 6. Drop in the eggs, one at a time, and pour in 1 cup of whole milk until fully incorporated. 7. Beat in the whipped cream cheeese, parmesan cheese, cotija cheese and rice flour mixture until a smooth batter forms. 8. Butter two eight inch round pie pans and place batter into pans. 9. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. 10. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the top has a golden color before removing from the oven.


Atol de Elote is a traditional warm corn drink served in El Salvador. Its roots are from Mayan cuisine and it’s perfect on a cold day.

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ATOL DE ELOTE 4 ears of corn 1/2 cup cold water 1 gallon of milk 2 tablespoon of cornstarch 2 sticks of whole cinnamon 1 cup of turbinado sugar 1 teaspoon of salt 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk (optional) Kahlua or Rum

1.Boil ears of corn until soft. Remove and let rest until cool enough to handle. Cut corn from the cob. Puree corn in blender with 1/2 cup of water. 2. Strain corn puree through sieve into a sauce pan. Discard the solids. 3. Add milk, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and sweetened condensed milk into sauce pan with corn puree and bring almost to a slow boil, stirring often. 4. Mix cornstarch with cold water and add into sauce pan. 5. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes. 6. Once the mixture thickens serve in coffee cups. Traditionally it’s served in small gourds and sprinkled with a little bit of powdered cinnamon. 7. If you’re feeling festive, add Kahlua or Rum to the drink.

SLO LIFE

Have a recipe to share? Go to slolifemagazine.com to tell us about it.

SE RV I NG San Luis Obispo | Avila | Los Osos Five Cities | Nipomo

sloveg.com 805.709.2780 SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 45


| COMMUNITY CALENDAR

My Generation February 17th - March 25th San Luis Obispo Little Theatre slolittletheatre.org In 1961, as our boys went to war in Vietnam, the British Invasion swept through the nation forever changing the direction and sound of our culture. Join us for this original musical, chronicling one young man’s journey from the squeaky-clean 50’s to the Summer of Love. Featuring an amazing live band, swingin’ singers, dynamic dancers, and the music which fueled one of the most dramatic decades in the history of our country.

Encore! March 2nd - 3rd Alex Madonna Expo Center womensshelterslo.org Phyllis Madonna’s Musical Revue benefitting the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County is back for its 25th Annual event. This promises to be an evening of fun, fashion and music. Come see local performers and other notable figures sing and dance on stage while you enjoy local wine and a delicious meal. Wrap up the evening with music and dancing.

SLO International Film Festival March 7th - 11th slofilmfest.org Variety is the spice of life, and the San Luis Obipo International Film Festival is proud to embrace that philosophy in its programming. From cutting edge documentaries to tried and true cinema classics, the SLOIFF celebrates film on the ‘big screen’ by offering something for everyone. 46 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


More Classic Scenes March 8th - 10th Pavilion at the PAC pacslo.org Opera San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Student Opera present songs, arias, duets and ensembles from opera and musical theater. The scenes will be cast with more than 25 Cal Poly voice students who will have the unique opportunity to be considered for roles and chorus parts with the Opera San Luis Obispo Young Artist Program.

Suite Serenades March 10th Christopher Cohan Center pacslo.org The San Luis Obispo Symphony presents Classical Sketches featuring Schubert’s Symphony No.8, “Unfinished,” Bartok’s Hungarian Sketches, and the U.S. Premiere of Bacewicz’s Concerto No.3 for Violin and Orchestra.

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Spaghetti Western March 17th San Luis Obispo Elks Lodge slorotary.org

Monday Dinner Buffet 5:00pm - 10:00pm $9.99

The Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo will hold a Spaghetti Western Fun Family Fundraiser. Spaghetti, top sirloin and goodies to the sweet tune of $25/adult and $5/child. They’ll offer up games for lil’ buckaroos and their kin folk, spaghetti western films and a silent auction to holler about. You can purchase your food to dine-in or carry out. SLO LIFE

Sunday Brunch $9.99 2115 Broad Street, SlO 805.781.0766 | shalimarslo.com SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012 | 47


The Payne Team View This Home and More at

www.HomesofSLO.com

www.5245PaseoDeVaca.com

Our approach to real estate is about much more than property... it’s about people.

The Payne Team Jed Damschroder

Kate Hendrickson

Gavin Payne

805-550-7960

805-801-1979

805-550-3918

962 Mill Street, San Luis Obispo, California 93401

48 |

SLO LIFE Magazine feb/mar 2012


SLO LIFE Magazine (Feb/Mar 2012)