SLO LIFE Magazine Jun/Jul 2016

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30 CONTENTS Volume 7 Number 3 Jun/Jul 2016
SLOLIFE magazine
Publisher’s Message Info On the Cover Inbox 12 14 16 18 Timeline We look back at the most recent newsworthy events from in and around the Central Coast over the past two months.
It was a warm, humid night that led MARLIN HARMS to the water’s edge for this unique perspective of
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caught up with the entrepreneur to find out how he did it his way.
Morro Rock.
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As the Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, HEATHER MURAN shares an insider’s look into our local viticulture.


After stepping out from behind the drum kit, JOSHUA BARNHART finds his way to center stage with his new album.

On the Rise

San Luis Obispo High School student LILY SVETICH offers insight into her success. Hint: a positive attitude and hard work have a whole lot to do with it.


Not her first visit to Cuba, KIMBERLY WALKER avoids tourist hot spots and takes us on a journey as she explores its back roads.


Looking for a much-needed retreat , PADEN HUGHES stops into a local day spa and teahouse.


Taking the time to connect and love isn’t always easy, even when it’s with the person staring back at you in the mirror. That’s why we’re sharing a plan to help you reset in just seven days. Summer lovin’ will never be the same.

Special Feature

In this multi-part article exploring the 25-year-old San Luis Obispo County institution known as LEADERSHIP SLO, we get to know a few of its graduates from classes eleven through fifteen.


With Cal Poly students flooding local neighborhoods and finding bedrooms in garages and closets alike, we gain a unique perspective by talking with forty-year residents on the eve of their move to North County.


Nothing says comfort food like a salty basket of French fries. Join JAIME LEWIS as she noshes her way through some of our local favorites.


The season’s long, sunny days are begging for a backyard cookout and CHEF JESSIE RIVAS shares his recipe for “more than just Santa Maria barbeque.”


With both Spanish and Tuscan influences, WAYNE and DEBBIE SHIMP open the doors for a look into their refined, rustic Shell Beach home.

Real Estate

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


If you’ve ever wondered what makes beer bitter, join the crowd. Our local expert, BRANT MYERS explains the wonders of all things hoppy.


Looking for something to do? We’ve got you covered. Check out the calendar to discover the best events around the Central Coast in June and July.

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jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 11 Heartfelt Home Care Services offers an individualized around the clock approach to companion care, prenatal and postnatal care, senior /elder care, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other specialty in-home care that fit the personal needs of you and your family, allowing your loved ones to remain in the comfort of their own home at an affordable price. The Heartfelt Home Care family is committed to partnering with your family to provide the highest level of safety and independence to you or your loved ones. Heartfelt Philosophy: Everyone heals faster both emotionally and physically when they are in the comfort of their own home. Locally Owned and Operated | Available 24/7 | NO Long Term Contracts Screened Caregivers | Satisfaction Guaranteed | Licensed by the State of California Yes, now you can have quality care in the comfort of your own home! locally owned and operated 805.439.4700 1333 JOHNSON AVENUE | SAN LUIS OBISPO | HEARTFELTHOMESERVICES.COM

humble & kind

A few weeks back, on Mother’s Day, my wife told us that since we hadn’t been there in a while, she wanted to walk the Bluff Trail in Montaña de Oro. On our way there, because it was her day, we all conceded full command of the minivan’s stereo system to her. As we wound our way beneath the canopy of eucalyptus trees, the whole family gave it everything we had in backing up Neil Diamond as we belted out “Sweet Caroline.”

But, it was the next song she had queued up in her playlist that I have not been able to get out of my head. As we slipped into our parking space near the trailhead that day with the sparkling Pacific before us and shiny, happy families everywhere coming and going with their mothers in tow, we all sat in the van quietly listening to a melodic, almost hypnotic country song. I have never been much of a Tim McGraw fan, mostly because I’ve had a hard time with his cowboy hat—to me, it looks like something he made himself by doing origami on Darth Vader’s helmet—but his song, “Humble and Kind,” in my opinion, ought to become our new national anthem.

Since that time, I’ve been humming the tune under my breath pretty much constantly; but it occurred to me at some point that I did not know all of the words. And, candidly, I have a pretty spotty track record when it comes to discerning lyrics from songs. In just one just one of my many examples, when Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was dominating the radio waves in 1986, I, too, was singing along with Mr. Jovi, but with my own set of words: “Oh, oh! We’re living on bread!” Although I was just 12 years old at the time, and had no problem turning “bread” into a two syllable word, I’ve never gotten over it when my best buddy, after laughing so hard he exhaled Orange Crush through his nose, explained, “Dude, it’s ‘livin’ on a prayer,’ not ‘living on bread!’”

To this day, I have not regained any of my former lyrical confidence, so I decided to search the song online. Hold the door, say please, say thank you / Don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t lie / I know you got mountains to climb but / Always stay humble and kind. Further down, I saw a link that read, “Humble and Kind –official video.” Although I hadn’t watched a music video since the Reagan Administration, I decided to click “play.” What happened next, I cannot fully comprehend. I am not one of those guys who normally wears his heart on his sleeve, and it takes quite a lot to elicit any demonstrable emotion, but as I sat there watching the little four-minute film, I broke down and cried like a baby. It completely caught me by surprise, and I’m still not sure where it came from—a beautiful song, with a beautiful message, played against beautiful imagery—it was all too much. Or, maybe I just felt regret for all the times that I was a jerk over the years, I don’t know.

It was uncharted territory for me when the song came to an end and I saw my reflection in the blank screen staring back at me. With tears still rolling down my cheeks, I reflexively sprung up to close my office door. After collecting myself following a few minutes of foggy disorientation and feeling, frankly, a surge of embarrassment that was on par with my livin’ on bread incident—a grown man is not supposed to be balling his eyes out watching MTV, especially in broad daylight, and double especially at work—I went back to read more of the lyrics. Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you / When you get where you’re goin’ / Don’t forget to turn back around / And help the next one in line / Always stay humble and kind.

Since that day, I have had the time to wonder why the song has resonated so deeply with me—I still cannot listen to it without a lump in my throat— and have come to the conclusion that, as simplistic as it may sound, humility and kindness are the key to just about everything, including solving some of society’s most intractable problems. So when the first Tuesday of November rolls around this year, Trump and Clinton can forget about my support— I’m voting for Tim McGraw.

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


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the SLO Life!

SLOLIFE magazine



Tom Franciskovich CREATIVE


Vanessa Plakias

Trevor Povah


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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 4251 S. Higuera Street, Suite 800 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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

Paden Hughes Dawn Janke Jessie Rivas Jaime Lewis Brant Myers Kimberly Walker
Renoda Campbell Marlin Harms Kristy Tolbert
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BEHIND the scenes

There is a great photo, which was made into a poster that hangs above Wally’s shop that really seems to capture him so well. He talked about how he would come home every day after work and play with his kids, which, he said, made him happy. And it shows.

Toward the end of our shoot, a customer, a young girl named Rebecca, came by with her boyfriend to pick up her bicycle. She went right up to Wally and gave him a huge hug. She was so excited and I could see the joy he had in getting her back on her bike.

When conversation turned to vintage bicycles, Wally’s true passion revealed itself. He started talking so fast that I could barely keep up. His favorite bike was a 1940’s vintage called the Commander, which came from Germany, or Belgium, I can’t remember now. There were so many in his shop, it was like a museum.

Wally and I really connected over the idea that people automatically assume that if you speak broken English you are not smart. I saw that a lot in Guadalupe where I was a teacher for 14 years, mostly second grade. Wally has a busy brain, full of ideas, lots of dreams; but he’s making those dreams come true. During our time together, it became clear that he is constantly looking to learn more, to improve himself.

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You showed us...



Answer: They all are great places to read SLO LIFE Magazine!


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do Academy of Athens, Athenian Agora, Place of the Giants, the Garden of the Illiou Mellathron, and Olympieion/Hadrian’s Gate have in
CUBA An amazing, People-to-People Educational Exchange trip to Cuba, through Cal Poly Alumni Association — JANICE NANNINGA and LIZ GLADWILL SLO LIFE made it to Marieta Islands, Punta de Mita, Mexico.


We took SLO LIFE on vacation to the Moeraki Boulders on the South Island of New Zealand in March. As always, I love the magazine and April was no disappointment. — GIFFORD and DEE LAWSON GOLDEN PAVILION, KYOTO, JAPAN Ken, Judy, Jacob, Linda, and Peter
20 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | jun/jul 2016 Take us with you! | INBOX 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 SOLOMON ISLANDS Tom, Sharon and Devin Rippner PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO
Ed Dawson Barbara Dawson
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!
Lisa Johnson


Enjoying an absolutely beautiful week in Punta Cana with my mom, Gayle.




Send your photo to
@lucy14e Robyn & Chloe Berry
7 million tulips planted at Keukenhof Gardens—a must for your bucket list. — NORMAN and MOLLIE SMITH
22 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | jun/jul 2016 GUANGZHOU, CHINA @marvelous FIJI INBOX Please send your photos and comments to Follow SLO LIFE on Facebook: Visit 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). Here we are on Tavarua Island in Fiji enjoying our favorite mag! — MIA and MACY ELLIS OAHU, HAWAII Touring the island with SLO LIFE Magazine! — DEBRA SANCHEZ ZION Wesley & Tyler Plakias 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 Jun/Jul Inventory of Central Coast Homes Currently 98 Homes Available starting at $1,200,000/2,700 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

Around the County



A farmworker housing project, known as Mads Place, which had been under construction, catches fire overnight in what is later determined to be a case of arson. In the aftermath, berry farmers Greg and Donna France of Santa Maria, who were in the process of buying the lots to house their workers, said, “We are family farmers trying to do the right thing by providing quality housing for our workers, who are visitors to our country.” Later, the Frances opted to cancel the project.


A 27-year-old man from Fresno wearing a wetsuit, Michael John Paul Banks, became perilously stranded after climbing Morro Rock to propose to his girlfriend via video chat. The Morro Bay Fire Department and the CHP teamed up for a dangerous and technically difficult helicopter extraction from an east-facing cliff. Later that afternoon, Banks was arrested at a nearby beach for possessing and being under the influence of methamphetamines.


Claims are filed against San Luis Obispo County by 48 residents who live in the vicinity of Buckley Road on the south end of San Luis Obispo, after finding that their wells contained unsafe levels of trichloroethylene or TCE. The lawyer representing the group expects that the county will reject the claims, which come, they argue, as a result of the county dumping toxic chemicals at the airport prior to the 1970’s when TCE was phased out of the solvents used in aircraft maintenance.


For the fifth time, Friends of Oceano Dunes, an off-road advocacy group, sued the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) over its dust mitigation rule. Following twelve years of monitoring and research to determine the cause of unhealthful air over the Nipomo Mesa, the APCD developed Rule 1001, which calls for a series of remediation efforts including wind fencing and plantings. Despite its attempts, the particulate matter in the surrounding areas has remained mostly unchanged.


Templeton native Topher Ingalls produced a promotional video on YouTube that goes viral, prompting concerns from officials at the CHP. In the video, the 26-year-old Ingalls, who was formerly a professional motocross racer, is shown doing a series of illegal maneuvers, including jumping over a Highway 101 on-ramp as he commutes to his office in San Luis Obispo where he is a real estate agent. Following a period of national media attention, Ingalls apologized for the film.

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The Veterans Memorial Hall, which sits at the beginning of the Cayucos Pier, is shut down by the county amid safety concerns regarding its structural integrity. The state-owned building, which is maintained by the county, and managed by the Cayucos Lions Club, hosts many events—nearly 140 had been planned for the remainder of the year—including weddings. Similar to the recent pier restoration, it is anticipated that a combination of government funds and private donations will be needed to bring the building back to full compliance.


Despite strong opposition locally, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission, by a 3-2 vote, authorized the first step in approving the Phillips 66 rail spur project. Under the scaled down plan, the multinational energy conglomerate would be allowed to transport 2.2 million gallons of crude oil per week, requiring 150 trains traversing the county per year, to its Nipomo Mesa refinery. The company argued the project would allow it to save 200 jobs.


With a 4-1 vote, the San Luis Obispo City Council decided to award its city manager, Katie Lichtig, and its city attorney, Christine Dietrick, $5,000 bonuses—they currently earn $321,201 and $275,778 including benefits respectively. Councilman Dan Carpenter, the lone dissenter, said the payments sent the wrong message when the city was negotiating with its labor unions. Mayor Jan Marx called the bonuses a “gesture of gratitude and acknowledgment of jobs well done.”


Against the backdrop of a protracted drought and a rapidly disappearing groundwater basin, the Paso Robles City Council approved the construction of a 119-room Marriott hotel. Construction on the project, which is located near the intersection of Union Road and East Highway 46, is expected to begin in the spring.


On the 20th anniversary of Kristin Smart’s disappearance, despite the ongoing efforts of local law enforcement, the case appears no closer to being solved. Smart, a 19-year-old Cal Poly student in 1996, left a party at a house off-campus and walked back to her dorm with a friend, Paul Flores, at approximately two o’clock in the morning after a night of drinking, and has not been seen since.

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MAY ‘16

Around two o’clock, Harms arose from his bed and within a few steps had slipped his trusty Canon EOS 70D over his shoulder, and tucked his tripod underarm as he strode out the front door in his shorts, unusual for the man who almost always wears pants. Less than a mile from home, at a dock just yards south of Giovanni’s Fish Market, he meticulously assembled his own crow’s nest alongside the fishing vessels resting eerily still to his left and his right. From this vantage point, Harms could easily see the source of his sleeplessness. Megawatt lightning bolts were touching down on the water, just beyond Morro Rock, in an awesome show of power and beauty that only Mother Nature could provide. “I put the camera on the tripod,” Harms remembers, “and just kept blasting away, trying to time the lighting strikes.”

For the amateur photographer, who is most at home quietly taking close-up shots of wildflowers with his macro lens, the experience was exhilarating. And, with the exception of a brief interlude when three tipsy bar-goers on their way home stopped by to say, “hello,” Harms took in the show alone, right up until the first light of dawn appeared finally chasing the storm away. “I tried a bunch of different exposures, but wasn’t sure what I had,” Harms shares. Later, after a long nap, and through still heavy, dreamy eyes, the retired Psychiatric Technician uploaded the exposures to his computer. When he viewed the sequence of visible electricity it occurred to him to combine several of the photos. The image you see here is a actually an amalgamation eight shots he took that night; one laid on top of another into a composite taken within about an eight minute span during the storm’s rousing climax.

For Harms, the composition shows just how far he has traveled with his photographic journey since the days forty years ago when he could be found in his dark room carefully adding exposure chemicals to black and white film. But the art form, which Harms explains is the “only one I can do,” offered the perfect outlet while away from his often stressful job at the Atascadero State Hospital. His photography has called him to the Sierra Nevadas each summer where subjects for his telephoto lens abound. And, a penchant for travel has led to a bounty of nature shots in Panama, Hawaii, Belize, and, his favorite, South Africa. Additionally, as a member of several local and national conservation organizations, he has often donated his work for the sake of those causes he holds close to his heart. “Now, I’m a bird watcher, or birder, and am into wildflowers,” Harms pauses a moment to reflect. “I’m into the details, the intricacies of nature.”



Marlin Harms is a light sleeper. And he is not a “night person.” But, the wee morning hours of July 19th last year did not bring a cool, misty night to his home in Morro Bay as was customary mid-summer. Instead, an unusually warm and humid ether had grabbed hold of the Central Coast, the coattails of Hurricane Dolores, simmered in the sky; a slow boil. Initially, what may have resembled hunger pangs conspiring for a midnight snack became a chorus of bellowing sonic blasts.

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Coastal Crush

One recent morning, HEATHER MURAN, who is four years into her role as Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, stopped by to talk grapes, music, and backyard farming…

We hear that you nailed a very unusual interview question to land your job… Yes, that’s true. It was a panel interview and it was one of the last questions. One of the board members said, “I’ve been told that you can sing.” And I said, “Yeah, I’ve sung with a local band, and I’ve sung all my life.” He said, “So, we have this band called the Crush Tones, and all the members are winemakers. Would you want to sing with us?” I said, “Sure, why not? Yeah, if that helps me get the job; sure thing, I’ll sing!” [laughter] So, yes, it’s been great; it’s such a fun group.

Okay, Heather, tell us about our local wine country. We are a wine coastal growing community, so it’s all about the coast. The vineyards are between one to ten miles from the ocean, which makes for a longer growing season. And, what’s nice about our wine region is that it’s small; there’s about twenty producers here in our association, and the tasting rooms are very approachable, everyone is very friendly. It’s a very outgoing wine community. A lot of times you will meet either the winemaker or the owners behind the bar, so it still has that charm of a small family owned and operated winery. Our winemakers live the coastal lifestyle along with making superb wines; they go surfing in the morning and make wine in the afternoon.

And, what is it about the grapes here that makes our wines so unique? Our cool, coastal climate creates a longer growing season, so it gives the grapes time to really mature and then build up those flavor profiles and give the opportunity for that acidity to run its course. The climate helps with bringing the acidity into balance. Plus, we have so many different soil types—over 20 different soil types here—some clay, loam, salt, and volcanic, just to name a few. But, it’s all of these factors coming together that go into making really dynamic and complex wines. Pinot and Chardonnay are kind of like the king and queen of the varieties produced here, but outside of those two big players we’ve got all these beautiful aromatic wines like Albariño, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, and Riesling.

Do you have a favorite? For me, it’s all about the people, because I see these people every day and I hear their stories and I get to know their families, staff, and they all have their own stories to tell. I think that’s what really resonates for me as a wine

consumer. I like the wine, I love to taste great wine, but it’s always the story behind the wine that intrigues me most. I mean, you can definitely enjoy some really great wine without having the story, but I think that it really enhances the experience when you know the people behind it—who they are; what they did; all the different things that happened during the harvest and their challenges and those stories; it makes for such a rich experience.

And, you’re married to a winemaker. Tell us about how you met.

SLO Chamber at the time. I like to roller skate, and I had just broken my leg roller skating. We have a mutual friend who said, “Oh, you have to meet this guy, he’s a winemaker. You guys both snowboard, surf, and you do all this stuff; you guys would be perfect, so I’m going to introduce you.” So, we were introduced at a Chamber mixer and it was literally, “Heather, Patrick; Patrick, Heather; Okay, I’m out.” His eyes were like, “Okay, where is the nearest exit?” And I’m trying to start a conversation with him just thinking, “The guy is so not interested.” Then, a few months later, my girlfriend came out to visit from Arizona and said, “You told me about this winemaker guy that you were supposed to meet; whatever happened with that?” She said, “You need to call him right now because I want to go wine tasting.” So, I called him and it was like ten o’clock in the morning on a Sunday and he was at the winery working during the harvest season. He said, “Sure, come on over; I’ll give you a tour.”

Well, what happened? literally the entire time! I maybe got three words in. We had these moments where he’d connect with me with eye contact, and he’d smile and I’d smile back at him. Anyway, he called me the very next day and said, “We’re doing a real date this time, and we’re going to go hiking.” The rest is history. All these years later, we have two kids, and live in a tight-knit neighborhood with lots of families. We don’t have a huge yard, but it’s a pretty good-sized yard for Pismo Beach; we’ve got three chickens, an Australian Shepherd, and even a bunny now—it’s like a little mini-farm out there.

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| Q&A
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 29 80 5 5 41-1790 Call us today for your consultation Please
for a dog! Helping You Hear The Things You Love
don’t vote


Eleven years ago WALLY AJANEL opened his shop, Wally’s Bicycle Works. Today, despite struggles including living through a civil war and overcoming homelessness, he thrives in San Luis Obispo with his wife and two sons. Here is his story…


Tell us, Wally, where are you from? I’m from Guatemala, Central America. I left the country in ’94. We had a civil war there for thirty-six years, I think. It was very hard for us to be there. For me, being there as a young guy, I kept getting picked up by the army because they wanted me to join. There was no way to avoid it. You just walked down the street and they would pick you up. So, I escaped a couple of times and thought, there has to be a better place to live. I’ve always loved books and history and read a lot about other places, so I was aware of other countries. And because I was in a tourist area, people from all over the world would come to visit.

So, how did you end up here? There was a couple from Canada who came one time; they had two daughters, and I took them to the top of the volcano. I was their tour guide. It was a dangerous journey because there were so many checkpoints, but they wanted to do it. At that time I had just finished school, I think it was 1993, and I had become a school teacher. I learned that the Canadians spoke English, and French, and a little bit of Spanish. I asked them, “How do you know all these languages?” She said, “We were just raised that way.” I asked, “Where is that?” And she said, “Quebec.” In my head I said to myself, “I’m moving to Quebec to learn English and French.” So, I started my journey north. I worked along the way, and ended up living in Mexico for about four years. The whole time I just kept telling myself that I have to go north to Canada. Go to college there, get an engineering degree, and make bicycles. My dream was to have a bike factory. But, I got stuck here in San Luis Obispo. [laughter]

It sounds like a lot happened along the way. Can you tell us more? To make it short, I came through the US on my way to Quebec. I met a friend during the trip who lived in San Diego and I stayed with him for a few weeks and got a job working in a tow truck yard, when a group of his friends invited me along to go to LA during Thanksgiving. I said, “What’s Thanksgiving?” They told me in Spanish, and I said, “Okay, sounds good. I’ll go.” We drove from San Diego to LA and it turned out that their friends didn’t live there anymore, so we kept going to Santa Maria where they knew some other people. I didn’t have anything, just my backpack. We didn’t have a place to stay, and it was raining so I started walking around Santa Maria looking for somewhere to sleep. I saw a homeless guy and did some sign language for sleep, putting two hands together next to my head. I only knew Spanish and a Mayan dialect, but I could make out the word “bridge,” so I followed him. Further down the road, on Broadway, we encountered another guy who said he was going to the National Guard Station where they had a shelter set up. When

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we got there, I asked them how much are they going to charge to stay there? And they just started laughing.

What did you do next? I went over to the community college, Allan Hancock, right away because I wanted to immerse myself in English lessons. I didn’t want to lose any time. I told them that I was heading to Quebec and wanted to learn French, too. And they thought that was strange. I said, “Don’t you guys speak like four or five languages in America?” They said, “No.” I could tell that they thought it was strange. I asked them how long it would take to get through the course. They said, “If you’re good, it will be eight months. If you are not, it will be ten years.” I started doing an ESL class and looked for a job. The only thing available were jobs working the fields. I worked at a strawberry farm. I couldn’t speak English, so I was stuck.

How did you get yourself unstuck? I remember seeing a sign for Main Street Cycles in Santa Maria, so I went in one day because I wanted to know who is this? What are they doing here? How are they fixing bikes? I always rode a bike my whole life, and raced bikes in Guatemala. I had a small shop in my youth back home and could fix anything on a bike. So, I asked the owner if he needed any help. He had trouble understanding me, so he said, “Come back; go to school and come back. I will hire you.” I was already going to school at that time, and I wasn’t truly satisfied after our interaction. So, I met this other guy who was working at a car tire store. He was bilingual and had lived there for twenty years. I asked him for a favor: to go back with me to Main Street Cycles to confirm what the owner had told me. I said, “I think he told me to go to school then come back to work for him, but I’m not sure.” So, I went back with my translator. The owner’s name was Scott. And he told my friend that he did need help, but that I needed to learn English first. So, I said, “Tell him I’ll be back in six months.”

That’s pretty fast… Yes, but it was fuel for me. I was so determined. I spent any extra minute I had at the Hancock reading lab. Back then it was full of headphones and cassette tapes. I befriended the guy who was running the lab, and he gave me extra access and extra minutes with the learning tapes. During that time I took on whatever side jobs I could get. My friend from the tire store went to the dump every day to salvage, and he told me that he saw bikes there all the time. I couldn’t believe it. I asked him to take me with him. Sure enough there were bikes there that people had thrown out. And there was this big guy there who was in charge, Chuck; I called him Potato Picker because he was from Idaho. He commuted on his bike every single day. I said, “Tell him, if he gives me one bike, I’ll fix two for him.” Chuck said, “Okay.” I don’t think he believed that I was going to fix them, so I brought some tools the next day and fixed two of them right there in the parking lot. I told Chuck to get me more bikes. I’ll fix them and then we can sell them and split the profits. I did that on the side while I was working in the strawberry fields and doing the ESL classes.

Whatever happened to the bike shop? and got a job at Main Street Cycles. It wasn’t full time to start out, so I continued to work in the strawberry fields, and I also found work unloading trucks at the Dollar Mart down the street. I continued taking classes at Hancock and spent as much time in the reading lab as I could. As my English improved there were more opportunities for work. I found a place to live, but it was hard because it was like ten guys in one room. So, I picked up another job at a donut shop. It was very early in the morning, but they let me sleep in the back where it was quiet, which also helped me save on rent. I had some baking experience because my dad was a baker in Guatemala. I just kept working, trying to figure out what to do in order to make it. After a while, I found a permanent place to live and things were rolling. Then I met this guy at the Dollar Mart who had been part of a crew that cleaned drugstores, like CVS and Rite Aid, all over the Central Coast. He said he hated the early morning hours and was going to quit. I said, “I’ll do it.”

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Wow, another job—were there enough hours in the day? He picked me up at three a.m. the next morning to clean three stores in San Luis Obispo before they opened at seven. Going into San Luis Obispo was a very strange thing. It felt like a different planet. It was very quiet and clean and nobody spoke Spanish. I decided that I wanted to live here. I knew that I would be able to learn English faster. But first I needed a vehicle, so I could drive up here with my cleaning supplies every morning. So I bought an old Toyota truck for $700, which I still have. I gave him $400 as a down payment and then made three monthly payments of $100 to pay it off. One day, after my cleaning route, I asked someone, “Hey, dude, where’s the bicycle shop around here?” He pointed me to Art’s Cyclery. I went there and asked for a job and they hired me on the spot. I was still living in Santa Maria at the time and couldn’t find a place to live in San Luis that I could afford. So, I started staying at the Maxine Lewis homeless shelter over on Orcutt Road. But, it was terrible because there were guys there who were on drugs and staying up all night making all kinds of noise. And, I was still cleaning stores and had to get up at two o’clock in the morning. When I was getting up to go to work, they were finally going to sleep. To stay there, you had to check in at six p.m. So, I’d tell my boss at Art’s that I had to leave at twenty minutes before six. He said, “Where are you going? Do you have a girlfriend or something?” I’d just say, “No, I’ve got an appointment.” Around that time I signed up at the Adult School to take more English classes and computer classes, too. From there I went to Cuesta College, and then I took an Italian class at Cal Poly.

Italian? The manuals for bicycles were written in several languages. So, I was forcing myself to read Italian, and French, and German. We sold really high-end Italian bikes and their sales reps all spoke Italian. So, when they would call the shop I would greet them in Italian. Then we would have a little conversation. We would then negotiate prices for bicycles in Italian, and they would love the back and forth on price. It was just the culture, the way it worked. I remember my boss asked, “What were you guys talking about?” And I said, “Guess how much we got the bikes for? $1,800.” He would say, “No way, how did you do that? We were paying $2,300 for them before!” That’s when I started to realize the potential for the market. I realized that people wanted something unique, something different, and saw value in it, and were willing to pay for it. I worked there for eight years, but I always knew there was a possibility to do something different. My dream was to have my own bike shop in a brick building with a Saltillo floor.

Okay, Wally, let’s switch gears here for a minute—pardon the pun—but this must have been around the time you met your wife, Lisa, correct? That’s right. I met my wife at the Farmers’ Market. She was listening to a band there playing Peruvian music. I sat down on the curb next her; said, “Hi,” to her. She’s a school teacher at Pacheco Elementary, and she thought I was one of the parents. We joke now that we met in the gutter on Chorro Street. That’s how the whole thing started. I was still going to the Adult School and she was taking some classes, so I would see her

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there once in a while. One time I said, “Hey, I work at Art’s. Come and visit sometime.” She came in one day to buy a light for her bike. I helped her choose the right one and asked her if she would like to join me for dinner across the street at Chili Peppers. That was our first date. After we got married we lived in this little apartment. My parents were married for sixty years, so I wanted to build a solid foundation. We talked a lot about how we wanted to be, and how we wanted to raise our kids, and where. Living in San Luis Obispo is not easy cost-wise; the cost of living is very high. But, we decided that we wanted to raise our kids here, so I knew we needed to own property. We were raised that way in Guatemala; by the age of fifteen you would be married and own a piece of property, which was passed down through the family. It was a great feeling in ’99 when we bought our first house on Mitchell Street. I didn’t care about the house itself, just the location and the size of the lot.

And, so now you have kids? Yes, two boys. We tell them all the time that that they’ve got to have something to offer, something to share with the world. Our fifteen-year-old, Miguel, is a musician and writes songs and plays the piano and guitar; and our twelve-year-old, Enrique, wants to be a screenwriter. He makes cartoons and comic strips. We read a lot and they did not have a TV growing up. We have one now, but just for movies occasionally, no cable or anything like that. I read a lot and my fifteen-year old son reads a lot, too. I’ve been starting to talk with him about how to treat customers.

Alright, that brings us back to bikes—tell us about how you started your business. Okay, yes. I was looking for just 500 square feet, and I came across this huge building on Higuera that used to be an auto repair shop. It had a hoist in the middle and everything. When I started I didn’t have anything, no money, just a handshake deal with my landlord. He told me that if it didn’t work, we’ll tear the contract up. Eleven years later, we still have the agreement. People have asked me, “How did you do it. What’s your secret? Did you get a bank loan?” I tell them, “My secret was that I didn’t get any loans, and I didn’t pay myself for seven years.” I invested everything right back into the business. It’s like the farmer that plants ten avocado trees and cares for them and tends to them in the hopes that five will survive. Once those trees begin producing he can sell the avocados and use the proceeds to plant ten more trees. Five will survive, and so on. There’s no secret about that. So often though now people have it backwards—it’s about getting money, borrowing money first or getting investors, then starting it. Just the opposite. But you can’t really understand the market that way, you cannot get to know the customer and what they want. I pay as I go. That’s what I tell my sons, “Whatever you want, you’ve got to go and get it. Don’t ask anyone, just do it yourself.”

That’s old school. Well, yes, and no. The old school way—when you buy a bunch of stuff to put on your shelves and open the doors and hope it sells—those times are gone. You can’t be afraid of change; you have to >>

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change. You have to figure out what people want. Then you have to learn everything there is to know about that thing, so you can demonstrate it and explain it. They have to have peace of mind and know what they bought. That’s the beauty of the internet, because it has affected business, but in my case it has helped me a lot. I have to spend a lot less time explaining what things are, because many of the customers have done so much research already. Then, if they end up buying from us, they may pay a little more, but they know they are going to get the service they need and not have to deal with shipping, and assembly, and all the adjustments to get it working properly. I’ve also started a bicycle rental business where tourists can rent bikes at different locations around the Central Coast. It’s called SLO Bike Rentals and we have 300 bikes in the rental fleet. We rent mountain bikes, road bikes, bike racks. The future of bike shops is very slim, a lot of bike shops will be closing down. You have to diversify and figure out different ways to make it. You have to change things up.

So, what advice do you have for someone just starting out? Over the years people have asked me about starting a business; they’re looking for tips and advice. The first thing I say is, “What are your French fries?” They say, “What?” You’ve got to have French fries in any given business. The French fries are the cheapest thing to buy, reproduce, and make. They are your highest margin item, the thing you are known for, the thing everybody wants. Everything you do, everything you sell, should be based around your French fries. That’s how I know if a business will work or not work. If there are no French fries it will not work. If it’s got French fries it

has a chance. But, you still have to hustle very hard for every single dollar.

Can you give us an example of this concept? There was a Cal Poly business professor who came to me and asked me if I would help him start a pedicab business in town. I used to do a pedicab business here when I worked at Art’s. I would drive people around and make them laugh, tell lots of jokes. He brought some college kids with him to run the pedicabs. They said they wanted to be entrepreneurs; but it was so hard to talk with them, really difficult to get a conversation going. I told the professor, “I don’t think this is going to work.” You have to have a story to tell, regardless of where you come from. I told him that these kids needed an acting class or something, otherwise no one would ride in their cabs. He was laughing at me and thought I was joking, but I was serious.

How’d it go? We tried it for a few nights and it was very awkward and difficult. It didn’t go well because there was no connection between the person who was offering the service and the customer, no rapport. Pedicabs around the world are known for interacting with the community, being a part of it. You can’t just ride around and not engage. I told the professor, “You can’t do a business if you don’t have a story to tell.” I told one of the kids, “You have to have a story, man, come on. Tell me about yourself.” And he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and didn’t have anything to say. They didn’t understand—you’ve got to have something to share with the world, a story to tell—and the good news is that we all have one.

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For as long as Joshua Barnhart can remember, he has wanted to make noise. The Arroyo Grande native began constructing drum kits out of cardboard boxes and pots and pans at the age of five. At twenty-eight, Barnhart has shifted from behind the kit to front his eponymous project.

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“Turn Out the Light” is available at Boo Boo Records. Original illustration by Jeremiah Conte. Layout and design by Crystal Labs.

With years of success keeping a steady beat, moving front and center wasn’t easy. Barnhart explains, “Drums are sort of an extension of my body. I can be on stage in any scenario playing drums, and I feel

pretty secure.” He adds, “Holding a guitar and singing my own songs is a different thing altogether—I am way more vulnerable, and it took some time to adjust.” A listen to his recent album, “Turn Out the Light,” doesn’t suggest an adjustment at all.

Barnhart credits his high school band, The Attractives, with giving him a start in the local music scene. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles where he connected with other San Luis Obispo natives who had a folk rock duo called Port O’Brien. “Port O’Brien was where my music became more professional and expanded outside of local life. It was really exciting,” remembers Barnhart. As the drummer for Port O’Brien, he toured the world opening for bands like Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, and Rogue Wave.

Throughout all his drummer roles, and there are seven to date, Barnhart has played guitar on the side, and at about twenty years old he began writing songs more seriously. “Just playing drums for years and years left something to be desired within me,” he explains. After returning to San Luis Obispo a few years back, Barnhart set out to make something of his songwriting project.

“It was really good to come home to San Luis Obispo because it afforded me the environment I needed to get my project going,” shares Barnhart. He adds, “I reconnected with the guitar player in Sparrows Gate, Paul Dutton, who has been with me since the project’s birth many years ago. Dutton kind of sparked something in me, and helped me realize that the songs had potential.”

Along with Dutton, Barnhart looked to Jameson Swanagon on electric guitar; Caleb Nichols on bass; and his dad, Robe, on cello and tambura to capture his vision for the album. “All of the other work I have released in the past has been as a drummer, a collaborator, an aspect of a band, so to have something under my own name with songs I have written was an entirely different experience,” says Barnhart. “The responsibility was on me to put this album out into the world.”

“Turn Out the Light” has that hip, do-it-yourself production quality to it. “I lived in a red Victorian on Higuera Street where we recorded quite a bit of the album,” says Barnhart. “Other tracks were recorded at Nichols’ house in Los Osos,”

Performance Dates:

Kreuzberg . San Luis Obispo . June 11

Bocci’s Cellar . Santa Cruz . June 21

he adds. “It’s a homemade album with not a lot of technical knowledge behind it, but we do have an experienced ear.”

Barnhart released his album in early February to a packed crowd at Kreuzberg Coffee Company. Since then, he has a lineup of local musicians for his live performances, mainly in an effort to recreate the album’s sound. “My brain goes to harmonies—I love to sing with people,” he says. “So, we’ve recently added Taylor Belmore from local band Mothra to the stage.” Other artists who join Barnhart for live shows include Anthony Zaitz, Alex Nash, Zeb Zaitz, Adam Nash, and Joel Tolbert. Barnhart adds, “Now it’s getting louder and more atmospheric, and there’s more energy to feed off of—it’s all about performing and enjoying ourselves.”

Given the band’s momentum, they are currently working on another album. Barnhart describes the upcoming release as “a living, breathing thing that we’re working our way through.” He says, “The sound has settled into itself, but we’re still figuring it out, and I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a point where I’m not figuring it out, because everything is always changing.”

Barnhart and his collaborators are capturing the constant change that will become the second album at Dutton’s home studio, Rat Palace Records, where a number of other albums have been made, including one by San Luis Obispo native Kyle Field’s band, Little Wings. “The studio is in the woods,” says Barnhart. “It’s surrounded by oak trees, and it’s a really nice place to record.”

Harmonies abound on “Turn out the Light,” and Barnhart

says the next album will be similar. “Aesthetically, the sound is influenced by music like Crosby, Stills, and Nash; the Beach Boys; and the Byrds. Brian Eno’s earlier albums are in there too—he’s kind of a hero of mine,” reveals Barnhart. He continues, “In my music, I try to convey the experience of what it’s like to be here on the coast of California.” Some have described it as dreamy. It sounds like SLO livin’ to me.

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


Lily Svetich

Fifteen-year-old San Luis Obispo High School soon-tobe sophomore LILY SVETICH shares how her positive attitude and strong work ethic lead to her achievement.

What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in? This year I have been privileged to be on the girls’ varsity teams for golf, basketball and track and field. I am involved with school programs such as The SLOHS Latin Club and SLO FFA. I also really enjoy volunteering in my community.

What recognition have you received? I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected to receive the Daughters of the American Revolution Award on two different occasions. I have also received the Mayor’s Award for my community service. I was on state winning teams with SLO High’s FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure Team and Latin Club. I was also named to the All League PAC 8 Basketball Team as an honorable mention. And last, but not least, SLOHS Girls Track and Field won League!

Outside of school, what are your interests? I enjoy hiking around SLO County with my dogs, surfing (but I’m not too good at it), and being active.

What would you say is most important to you? Being a good older sister is really important to me; when I was younger I remember looking up to older kids. I want to be someone who my brothers, little cousins, and other kids can look up to. Helping others is very important to me. I volunteer at SLO Excursions and Project Surf Camp, two organizations that support special needs children and teens.

What is something that not many know about you? I am a fourth generation SLO town native.

What annoys you the most ? I dislike when people are unnecessarily mean to others; it’s something that the world could live without and there is no reason for it.

What career do you see yourself in down the road? The way the human body works really interests me; I could see myself being an orthopedic surgeon, or maybe I’ll be an elementary school teacher because I like working with little kids.

Who has influenced you? My parents have influenced me the most. They are great examples of hardworking people and are very loving. They have influenced me by teaching me how to be a good person.

If you could go back in history and meet anyone, who would it be? This isn’t too far back in history, but if I could go back in time I would like to meet John Wooden, because he not only was a legendary basketball coach, but had a cool philosophy on how to live life.

What do you want people to know about you? I want people to know that having a positive attitude and bringing good energy everyday has helped me grow tremendously.

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bama is my President,” the fedora-clad Cuban proclaimed when I told him we were from America. It was three o’clock in the morning; we landed in Havana on the late night flight from Mexico City four hours later than the scheduled arrival. By the time we pulled up to our accommodation, all the doors were locked and the front desk was closed. Our taxi

driver assured us that he would find us a place to stay. He spotted the fedora wearing man leaving the salsa club across the street and asked him to put us up for the night. He agreed to let his new American friends sleep at his apartment, since “Obama es major.”

The excitement over Obama’s recent visit pervaded the streets of Cuba; it was the most noticeable change since our visit two years ago. This time we returned with our bicycles to ride through the southeast section of the country known as ‘The Oriente’; a cyclist’s paradise of rolling hills and empty roads shared mainly with horses, oxen, and carriages. The 320-mile loop traverses through some of Cuba’s most historically significant cities and villages less frequented by tourists.

Once arriving in Santiago de Cuba, we geared up our touring bikes with panniers, spare tires, Garmin GPS navigator, tools, and Gu (a sweettasting energy gel) in preparation for a long, 80-mile first day of riding. My dreams of Santiago de Cuba, being the “off the beaten path” of Havana, were crushed as soon as we rolled out the door. Nestled between the Sierra Maestra and the Caribbean Sea, the former capital of Cuba plays an instrumental part in Cuban culture, but essentially is a frenetic metropolis with motorcycles swarming up and down the narrow streets to a backdrop of Reggaeton and hustlers.

As we pedaled out of Santiago, the polluting traffic gave way to desolation. Long gradual climbs over the Sierra Maestra, coupled with reintroducing my ass to the saddle for the next ten hours, made for a challenging morning; but the views of rugged peaks of the blue mountains and the intoxicating smells of burning trash, tobacco, and ripe flowers made the pain a small price to pay.

As we raced down the backside of the mountains, our Garmin GPS fell from the bike and was promptly run over by a large semi truck. We stared at our precious navigation tool, feeling a little deflated that we had lost our guide so early in the trip. We sat on the side of the road figuring out our Plan B, when an elderly couple came pedaling up to us in flip flops, linens, and safari hats. They had no bike gear, and no apparent biking experience. Their luggage was bungeed to the back of their bicycles and spare inner tubes dangled around their chests. They, too, had climbed over the Sierra Maestra and were heading west without a planned destination. “We’ll stop when we’re tired,” the jolly man exclaimed with his thick British accent. By that time, they had walked their bikes up some of the more challenging hills, broke down and repaired a pedal, fixed a flat tire, and were in high spirits for the journey ahead. Free from expectations, or mileage goals, they

were purely absorbing Cuba and all it had to offer. That sort of open-mindedness, I realized, is the key to loving Cuba—and the Britons’ whimsical spirit stayed with me throughout the journey.

Our destination was Bayama, one of the most historically important towns in Cuba and the site of Cuba’s first revolt against Spain. Its impeccably preserved downtown is practically car-free; a perfect antidote to the hustled energy of Santiago de Cuba. We cruised into town during the rush hour traffic jam of horse-drawn carriages, cowboys on horseback, and bicycles; all vying to make it home for a café at sunset.

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KIMBERLY WALKER is a writer, traveler, and entrepreneur who lives in San Luis Obispo.

The first order of business was to find a Casa Particular for the night. Casa Particulars (private homes) are similar to homestays. In 1997, the Cuban government allowed Cubans to register their homes as privately owned businesses to rent out rooms to foreigners. Before 1997, all accommodation in the country was entirely state-owned and operated. Casa Particulars are distinguished by a blue symbol above the door. The cost is between $20-$40 per room per night and usually includes a home-cooked dinner and breakfast. The easiest way to find a good one is to simply walk (or in our case, ride) up and down the streets, spot a good-looking house, and knock on the door. “Hola, tiene un habitacion por un noche?” No Expedia or Trip Advisor required.

Our chosen Casa Particular was the simple and gracious home of Oscar and Carmen. Oscar welcomed us with ice-cold beers and water, while sharing his entrepreneurial vision of being the accommodation of choice for all cyclists passing through Bayamo. Dinner was a three-course meal that rivaled some of the best restaurants in San Luis Obispo. After a peaceful night’s sleep, we woke to the sounds of roosters, and the smells of our delicious breakfast of eggs, fruit, bread, juice, and coffee.

The next few days of cycling ranged from 40 to 50 miles a day, without many hills or obstacles to overcome. Rich cattle country, and sugar cane fields created a welcomed monotony to each day’s ride. The only thing more pervasive than the lush agriculture were the propaganda displays concerning “Fidel & The Revolution.” Apparently, the current administration has a chronic case of the “glory days,” even though most Cubans will tell you they have replaced the mantra “Viva la Revolucion” with “What have you done for me lately?”

One of the highlights of cycling eight hours a day is the heightened pleasure of food and drink. The first sip of an ice-cold beer will never taste as good as it does after a long day’s ride. Discovering new restaurants and street food vendors along the route without reading reviews or making reservations was a refreshing treat. We simply viewed and smelled the offerings, then decided what to eat. Roadside “pizza” vendors roasted whole pigs to create a thick dough taco stuffed with pork, cheese, and sauce. Other vendors sold fresh fruits, creams, and drinks made from sugar cane. Fueling es muy rico. >>

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On the fourth day, the route took us along the coastline, climbing over headlands; then dropping back to sea level, along isolated rocky shores and a few short sections of unpaved road—no houses, no street vendors, nothing for miles and miles of coastal riding. The dramatic landscape reminded me of home, only its habitants aren’t people, they’re wild farm animals; packs of goats frolicked on the beach, giant pigs leisurely crossed the roads, horses and cows meandered through the landscape, all without a single fence, barn, or human in sight. It was as if Wild Kingdom came to life.

After the challenging day’s ride and three nights of Casa Particulars, we splurged on an all-inclusive oceanfront resort in Pilon: the only time in my adult life that the idea of allyou-can eat sounded amazing! All-inclusive resorts are scattered through Cuba and owned

by the Cuban government. They cater to Canadian and European travelers who have been frequenting Cuba for decades. It was not nearly as special as the Casa Particulars, but we were able to load up our panniers with snacks for the desolate route ahead.

Our last day of riding was 70 miles along the coast to Santiago de Cuba. Land crabs scuttled throughout the roads; we dodged hundreds of them as they glared at us with pure disgust and raised their little claws in an attempt to grab hold of our tires. Daydreams of hot showers and a wine-fueled celebratory meal made for our fastest day of riding over the final leg of the trip. We celebrated the end of our tour at a tiny Palador (private restaurant) near the center of town. Paladors are often converted from old colonial homes allowing diners to forgo the uninspiring state-run outfits. The dining room

of Palador Mercada was in the chef’s childhood bedroom, with a balcony overlooking the streets below. Upon hearing about our cycling adventure, the chef brought us Cuban cigars and Havana dark rum for us to enjoy while we peppered him with tales recalling our favorite moments of the trip.

Exploring Cuba may not provide the comforts of a typical vacation destination, instead it offers a unique sense of place, only to be found in a country still living in a time gone by. A place where Spanish colonialism, American expansionism, and Cuban national pride, mix with salsa and cigars to create an intoxicating blend of a simpler life: conversations with strangers on the street, decision-making without Google, and satisfaction with needing only what one can carry on a bicycle. Viva Cuba Libre.

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After years of travel, WAYNE and DEBBIE SHIMP were ready to settle back into the same quiet, close-knit Shell Beach neighborhood where they started.

n a rather ordinary summer morning in 1976, Wayne Shimp methodically made his way down a preflight checklist. From the cockpit of the Swift Aire propeller-powered commuter plane, the pilot bantered via radio with the San Luis Obispo control tower. He was informed that the June Gloom fog was lifting and the weather looked perfect all the way to the destination in Bakersfield. The tower radioed back that he was “all clear for takeoff,” and, carefully, Captain Shimp flipped

a switch firing up the first of his four engines. He had no idea how much his life was about to change.

Scattered about the cabin were a handful of passengers, and after exchanging pleasantries with them, the hostess introduced herself to the pilot. “Hi, I’m Debbie, can I get you anything?” The pilot craned his head back, barely able to make eye contact and offered something along the lines of a quick “nice-

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to-meet-you-no-thank-you-I’m-fine” and returned his full attention to the control panel. Engine number two roared to life, then three, then four. The 15-seat airplane headed down the runway that day, gaining speed until it lifted off the ground, very slowly at first then quickly. Just a few months later, Wayne and Debbie Shimp would be married.

The couple made their first home in one half of a quaint little duplex in Shell Beach

originally built in 1948, which was owned by Debbie’s father. But, it was not long before turbulence plagued the tiny San Luis Obispo-based airline, and Wayne accepted employment in Denver. The Shimps figured it would be a short-term move, and they would be back before they knew it. While packing up to move out, Debbie mentioned to her father, “If you ever decide to sell this place, let us know because we would like to make you an offer.” The move to Denver led

to a larger aircraft, more responsibility, and more moving around. Next up was San Jose and then North Carolina. All during that time, the Shimps dreamed of returning to Shell Beach. Finally, in 2003, they received a phone call. It turned out that Dad was ready to sell. The couple figured that they would continue to rent out the property until they could move back after Wayne retired in 2009. At that time, they thought, they would build their “forever home.” >>

jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 53

It was during their daily walks around the neighborhood, just a few blocks from the ocean bluffs with its crashing waves below, that they talked about the type of home they would like to build. When they spotted a house they liked, they could usually catch the owner outside watering plants and would ask about their home. “The neighbors are the best part of where we live; people just welcomed us right away,” Debbie shares. “We told them what we were doing and they

would invite us in and show us around.” It was not long before the couple settled on a Mediterranean-style concept, and had a rough floor plan penciled out. Although it was a double lot, Debbie resisted the idea of subdividing—it was tempting—but she had grown up with an apricot orchard and wanted space to plant a garden.

After hashing out the details with their architect, Garth Kornreich of San Luis

Obispo—they told him, “We don’t really know what Spanish or Tuscan means, but make it look like that”—the couple set out to find a builder. Mark Sullivan, an Arroyo Grande-based general contractor, rose to the top of a short list and by 2013 construction was underway. Wayne, in the same calm and confident cadence he once used to announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking,” states plainly, “Mark and Teri made this possible for us.”

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As two halves of a husband-wife team— Mark is the builder and Teri is the interior designer—the Shimps felt like they were all on the same wavelength.

“Our problem wasn’t that I wanted something and Wayne didn’t, or the other way around,” Debbie reveals their laidback nature, “It was more like, ‘What do you want? I don’t know, what do you want?’

Neither one of us were very decisive.” Much of the decision-making, they admit, was increasingly deferred to the Sullivans, who were glad to oblige. “There were things that we could have never imagined,” Wayne recalls. “Like the time Mark had his guys out in the garage distressing the beams— pounding on them—before they put them up. It was quite a sight to see.” And, the project went like that from start to finish.

Debbie marvels at the mountains of minutia that comes with building a house, “You find yourself obsessing over drawer pulls. I think that’s all I thought about for a week. Now, I couldn’t even describe them to you.”

The result is a home that fits the Shimps perfectly. An office at the front serves as Wayne’s headquarters where a framed photo of the couple with their two grown sons

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Please go to our website to see more
of the
Architecture Landscape Interiors 805.541.1010
Julia (left) sitting with Adelaida Cellars owner Elizabeth Van SteenWyk along with General Manager Jessica Kolhoff and winemaker Jeremy Weintraub on the balcony of the new tasting room.

posing triumphantly in front of Machu Picchu in Peru after a four-day hike is the

focal point. A large kitchen with a generous island sits off of the master bedroom, and a laundry room is conveniently located on the way to the garage. The radiant floor heating system quietly warms the hardwood underfoot, perfect

for cool coastal evenings. And, an array of solar panels is tucked away neatly out of site on top of one side of the tile roof. Perhaps, most impressive of all, is the second story where two guest rooms can be found, complete with a coffee service area and mini-fridge below. Next to the hallway, running alongside is a spiral wrought iron staircase leading up to a rooftop deck with 360-degree views and back down below to a quiet, sunshine-filled courtyard.

As a result of a long career with the airlines, the Shimps have friends who are scattered about all over the country. And they want them to visit and be comfortable and feel

at home when they do, so creating separate quarters was a priority. Debbie starts a sentence, “They can feel like they are in their own space and not imposing,” and Wayne, not one to mince words, finishes, “and we don’t hear them.” The corner lot in Shell Beach where an aging duplex once stood has been such a popular destination for family and friends looking to reconnect with the Shimps, that Wayne deadpans, “We give them a discount the first time, but that’s it; then we tell them we have to raise the rates.” And, Debbie, who makes a feeble attempt at an eye roll as if she has heard this joke a hundred times before, can’t help but laugh.

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TREVOR POVAH is an architectural photographer here on the Central Coast.
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 59
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laguna lake

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

2015 22 637,036 622,329 98.13 49

tank farm

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

2015 6 716,983 707,481 98.81 8

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

2015 19 523,226 502,215 97.52 34

country club

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

2015 2 1,000,000 870,000 88.13 16

2016 16 726,231 717,400 98.69 43

+/-27.27% 14.00% 15.28% 0.56% -12.24%

2016 11 730,500 725,636 99.35 46

+/83.33% 1.89% 2.57% 0.54% 475.00%

2016 20 626,355 621,276 99.24 12

+/5.26% 19.71% 23.71% 1.72% -64.71%

down town

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

2015 12 793,075 807,533 102.35 18

foothill blvd

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

2015 21 700,314 685,517 98.02 30

2016 7 1,147,429 1,107,000 96.80 64

+/250.00% 14.74% 27.24% 8.67% 300.00%

2016 8 695,488 694,132 100.30 18

+/-33.33% -12.30% -14.04% -2.05% 0.00%

2016 15 752,040 742,160 98.83 41

+/-28.57% 7.39% 8.26% 0.81% 36.67%

2015 21 622,638 605,219 97.09 41

2016 15 729,170 718,417 98.64 98 johnson ave *Comparing 1/1/15 - 5/20/15 to 1/1/16 - 5/20/16

+/-28.57% 17.11% 18.70% 1.55% 139.02%

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS®

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Total Homes Sold Average Asking Price Average Selling Price Sales Price as a % of Asking Price Average # of Days on the Market
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 61 Relax. Let us do the work. For the best Real Estate Search Site look here. Bruce Freeberg Bruce Freeberg • Broker Associate # 01771947 • (805) 748-0161 “This was the best home buying experience I have ever had. Bruce was responsive, helpful and offered great guidance along the way..... he just made it easy!!!! I would highly recommend Bruce to anyone
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| 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
Limits) Paso
San Luis
Santa Margarita Templeton Countywide BY THE NUMBERS 2015 105 134 7 52 16 6 34 61 55 90 23 47 159 33 38 17 119 6 30 1,032 2016 111 98 10 57 10 2 44 64 47 83 20 46 149 31 52 27 121 5 39 1,016 REGION NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD 2015 83 56 62 100 84 43 46 37 61 68 64 51 84 87 114 102 41 61 63 68 2016 45 52 123 124 126 31 41 66 74 49 42 70 52 58 126 77 53 56 72 64 AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET 2015
MEDIAN SELLING PRICE SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ® *Comparing 1/1/15 - 5/20/15 to 1/1/16 - 5/20/16
(Inside City
(North 46 - East 101)
(North 46 - West 101)
(South 46 - East 101)
639,000 457,484 865,000 608,500 867,500 504,000 429,500 442,000 570,000 537,000 383,000 705,000 408,000 320,000 393,750 360,000 629,000 384,500 489,500 500,000
625,000 452,500 808,000 590,000 1,247,500 912,500 479,500 555,000 590,000 579,900 407,450 837,500 440,000 320,000 433,000 425,000 696,755 170,000 530,000 545,000
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Where YOU take center stage

I don’t often take time to relax and restore, so when I do it’s particularly meaningful.

With that in mind, I booked a couple’s soak and massage at East Wellbeing & Tea, a new, luxurious spa and tearoom in San Luis Obispo. It was a much needed break in the midst of life’s busyness.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, stress melted as we entered a sanctuary devoted to relaxation and rejuvenation. We chose a lavender bath salt and our tub was drawn. We were guided to an inviting massage room with an adjoining soaking room. Those thirty minutes of soaking provided the perfect way to prepare for an hour-long full body massage. With a rhythmic pace, the massage was not too deep, nor painful, and gave my mind a quiet calm. It was heavenly. The treatment wrapped up in the tearoom where fresh herbal teas were served, with each sip so delicious it reawakened my love for quality tea.

We walked out feeling completely refreshed, and since that experience, I have been curious about the vision behind this new addition to the wellness community. “We want any service to be rooted in wellness practices, while still being luxurious. We want you to feel like you went to a five-star resort while staying in town,” says Jill Stollmeyer, who along with her husband, Rick, is the owner of East Wellbeing & Tea. I was impressed with her attention to detail, which weaves a tapestry of luxury that certainly brings a quality and sophistication to San Luis Obispo.

Knowing there were already a number of massage therapists in town, Stollmeyer wanted to bring in something unique by focusing exclusively on Eastern practices. Every staff member has been

trained in Eastern wellness and shares the philosophy that the body, mind, and spirit are deeply connected. Each service is designed to bring harmony in an environment that is both relaxing and uplifting. “Our mission is to inspire guests to incorporate Eastern traditions into their daily lifestyle,” explains Stollmeyer.

Certainly an upgrade to Monterey Street, the wellness center offers services a la carte, as well as a monthly membership. They offer Shiatsu, Reiki, acupressure, reflexology, Thai massage, acupuncture, and facials, in addition to classes in guided meditation, yoga and T’ai Chi Chih. These ancient practices and traditions of wellness are worth exploring, and this new business certainly makes it feel more approachable.

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

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7 DAY RESET you should try

If you want to find someone to love, there’s an app for that—dozens, actually. But if you want to learn how to love yourself, you’ve got about the same number of options on your phone as vegetarians have in a steak house.

n modern day style, Jennifer Kass is adding a contender to the mix with Love Pioneer, a new app that combines digital meditation cards, journaling, audio content, and more—all designed to make personal growth accessible anytime, anywhere.

“Because I value meditation so much, I wanted to create something that could help guide that practice,” says Kass, a former Allure editor who started her own self-love path after self admittedly hitting a series of rock-bottom moments with her career, health, and relationships. She now spends her days leading others on personalized spiritual journeys via one-on-one coaching and online courses.

Love Pioneer uses digital cards, each one bearing an original reflection, meditation intention, and artwork by Kass. Users can

select a random card themselves, or have one pop up on their phones at the same time each day.

Don’t expect to find any overly simplified spiritual platitudes here. “There won’t be an intention that says, ‘Just let go and everything will be great!’” Kass says. “I really value being a teacher who says what’s true rather than what’s popular. My work is about looking at the not-so-pretty pieces of you, rather than just positive thinking—it’s going a little bit deeper so we can heal the root.”

The Love Pioneer community will also be able to access Kass’ podcasts and a journal feature through the app—and to break it in, she’s created a seven-day self-love program.

Carve out some time in your calendar for her reset plan, designed to help bring you back into alignment with the most important person in your life (and yes, we mean you). >>

66 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | jun/jul 2016 | HEALTH
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Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating, nor does it have to feel like a waste of time, or that you’ve somehow “failed” at it. You can’t fail at meditation.

When we approach meditation with love, we allow our experience, our practice, to be whatever it needs to be in that moment. Using an “intentional meditation” practice, you can make it very practical and uniquely yours, so that your meditation directly affects your life and relationships rather than feeling esoteric.

Our meditation practice is here for us to expand our human experience, not escape it or negate it. We do this by recognizing the challenges we would like to shift and heal in our lives and by loving ourselves wherever we are at.

YOU SHOULD TRY meditating. Start with five minutes a day and let your meditation expand to 20 minutes and beyond. Use an intention so you can focus your sessions. For example, an intention may be: “I connect with my inner wisdom now. I am open to receiving what is flowing to me.” You may feel love, get inspired ideas, release a blocked emotion, experience a revelation around a challenge in your life, or see truth on the other side of a fear. Anything is possible.


So often, we judge ourselves. We can be harder on ourselves than we would be with anyone else. When we see aspects of ourselves we dislike or that are not desirable by society’s standards—such as emotions like anger, sadness, or other natural human qualities—we will judge even harder.

YOU SHOULD TRY being a compassionate observer of your thoughts, your emotions, your relationships, and the situations in your life. Through selfcompassion we relax and we gain access to our intuition, our self-healing capacity, and we detach from dramas in our minds, and lives, and experience more love.


As we observe ourselves and become more self-aware, we will see thoughts, behaviors, and choices that are no longer working, even holding us back. This is the first step to blasting through a block: seeing it.

YOU SHOULD TRY identifying one limiting or sabotaging pattern that is playing out in your life—it might have been the reason you chose to do the seven-day reset. Maybe it’s emotional eating, choosing unavailable people in relationships, over-giving, or feeling taken advantage of. Maybe it’s an old story that you’re not worthy or deserving. Remember, be the compassionate witness, not the judgmental critic. Often our greatest challenges hold our greatest power when we overcome them.


Spiritual people tend to only want to focus on the light and love, but as we allow ourselves to feel everything, even the negative—rather than being positive or optimistic, when there’s a human emotion that needs to be released—we actually clear an internal emotional block that sets us free from the very patterns that cause us pain and suffering.

YOU SHOULD TRY feeling—instead of faking happy, being overly busy, or reaching to the addiction, or distraction. This is the fastest way out of a vicious cycle. Getting emotionally honest with ourselves is a courageous act that sets us free and lets us shine in our authenticity and vulnerability. >>

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We are so trained to do more. We believe our worth is predicated on how much we do and accomplish, and many of us have been living in the masculine energy of going out and making it all happen. And while this forceful, active energy is a part of our experience, if we never create balance and live in the space of our divine feminine energy, we are not living in our true power.

YOU SHOULD TRY making space for stillness, self-care, nurturing, conscious activities, creativity, beauty, and connecting with your spirit. This actually amplifies your life force energy, making you magnetic to your desires and naturally in the flow of life. In other words, things fall in line when we are in a peaceful place with ourselves.

Grounding and centering ourselves through movement that we enjoy and being in a loving relationship with our body resets our mood, energy, thoughts, and our overall daily experience.

YOU SHOULD TRY connecting with your body through listening to its messages right now. Eat intuitively rather than rigidly, and let your body tell you what it needs. Maybe it wants more rest, more water, more hugs, more greens, more baths, more gentle activities, or more vigorous activities. Every day is a new day. Practice staying present with your body’s shifting messages for you, and it will guide you to exactly what you need.

Taking care of ourselves allows us to create healthy relationships. Maybe we have to create better boundaries and learn how to say, “No,” even if that upsets someone, so we can take better care of ourselves. Maybe we can see where we are closing our hearts and putting walls up when we really need to forgive or let go and trust. Relationships are beautiful mirrors to show us where we need to improve.

YOU SHOULD TRY letting your spiritual practice be in your relationships—not separate from them—and watch them transform. A fulfilling life path includes emotionally safe relationships and a connection to community. Love is fearless. Keep opening your heart to others.

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We continue our look into the beloved San Luis Obispo County institution known as Leadership SLO. With an alumni network featuring 900 members, the program has played an important role in the lives of many locals. This issue marks the halfway point of this ongoing year-long series, and our own Paden Hughes continues her visit with one member from each of the classes during its twenty-five years of operation. This time, she shares perspectives from members of Classes XI through XV.

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jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 73


JESSE SOSTRIN went on to earn his Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems and authored well-received books in the field. He has been featured on a number of television and radio programs, including MSNBC, Fox Business, and NPR. His ideas have been published in a variety of online and print publications, including Inc., The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

KARA WOODRUFF was in the thick of negotiations with Hearst Ranch during her Leadership year as she hammered out an agreement to permanently preserve 13 miles of the local coastline. Working first for the Nature Conservancy then with the American Land Conservancy, through great effort she brought together skeptics, foes, and passionate planet protectors to help forge the deal that was finally inked in February, 2005.

PATTY THAYER returned to theatre in 2013. As Communications and Development Director at the SLO Little Theatre, she makes it her mission to light a fire for live performance with everyone she meets. Thayer’s experience and media acumen is sought after due to her astounding success for telling and sharing stories.

No matter how much you love where you live, sometimes opportunities knock at your door and lead you away for a time. For KEVIN BUMEN that time came shortly after completing Leadership SLO. Having lived in San Luis Obispo from 1992 to 2002, Bumen had created a fulfilling life here—it’s where he met his wife and had his kids while he was working with the Growing Grounds project.

Stepping back in time to Bumen’s Leadership SLO experience, he had no plans to leave San Luis Obispo. After hearing about the program through some friends, he was interested in learning more about the community and its many facets. Outside of that, Bumen did not have many expectations.

One of the highlights of the Leadership SLO experience, according to Bumen, was the retreat. To kick off the year, the program takes all of the class participants to Wonder Valley, which is in the foothills above Fresno, for a three-day team building retreat. Bumen recalls that the format was particularly unique and effective in quickly developing trust and camaraderie. Once back from the retreat and participating in the monthly “day meetings,” he appreciated that each session brought in businesses and leaders to show what they are doing in the community and what problems they are trying to solve.

“The community is an ecosystem,” reflects Bumen. “It all needs to work together to reach its potential. There is always something to learn in any sector of the community. No matter the topic, there is something you can apply to your work. I always came back thinking freshly about problem solving techniques and inspired to re-think solutions. That’s the power of the sector model.”

One of the biggest impacts Leadership SLO made on Bumen was in maintaining some amount of risk in his professional growth, even if it was just a perceived risk. For Bumen, the value of always growing and taking risks to keep moving ahead was a key factor in staying engaged and maintaining his passion. And, ironically, it is what eventually led him away from San Luis Obispo to pursue career opportunities elsewhere.

One enduring passion for Bumen, from the time he was a young boy, was aviation. So, he followed an opportunity to build skills in airport management in Truckee, California, near Lake Tahoe. Ten years later, Bumen had climbed the ranks to become the Director of Aviation, but when he learned that San Luis Obispo County was looking for a new of Director of Airports he did not hesitate to toss his hat in the ring. Today, Bumen finds himself cast in that role, which he notes has been tailormade for him, and describes it as a blend of government with enterprise into one job he loves—in the place he loves.

When not overseeing the county’s airports, Bumen admits he has more interests than he has time. Still, he finds a way to carve out space to enjoy live music, aviation, surfing, traveling, gardening and horseback riding. >>


Rosana Aldama, Chantel Babcock, Kara Blakeslee, Kerry Boyle, Nantanya Brady, James Bremer, Kevin Bumen, Barbara Carey, Don Clark, Cara Crye, Deborah Donnelly, Bill Henry, Lisa Hernandez, Dee Krogh, Michael Leon, W. H. Buddy McCree, Brendan Morris, Ed Moscoso, Frank Mumford, Lisa Mumford, Richard Nyznyk, Nancy Orton, Sara Pazell, Sean Porcher, Dawn Rowland, Machele Ruthemeyer, Bob Rutledge, Jesse Sostrin, Kate Stulberg, Patty Thayer, Kim Tulledge, Justin Vanderlinden, Gary Willey, Ann Marie Wood, Laura Wunsch, Tom Zehnder

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2002 CLASS XI >
Kevin Bumen


• Knowing how to respond should a disaster strike is an important step to keeping yourself and your family safe. Do not dial 9-1-1 unless you are in need of immediate lifesaving assistance. • First identify if you need to take protective actions by tuning to a local radio or TV station for emergency information. Emergency officials will use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to direct protective actions such as evacuations or sheltering in place. It is important to only take action if it is directed. Evacuating when it is not ordered may put you or others in harm’s way. • Only pick up children from school if you are directed to do so. • Evacuation routes and shelters will also be broadcast on the EAS.

• During a large emergency, the county will activate a phone assistance center to answer questions regarding the emergency and actions you should take. • For more information, contact the County Office of Emergency Services at (805) 781-5011, or visit

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JENIFER RHYNES retired from her position as Executive Director of the SLO County YMCA in 2013 and went on to serve as President of Rotary San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. She is an ardent fan of the pint-sized Icelandic Horse and their unique gait called “tölting” and has travelled to Iceland to delve deeper into her favorite subject.

BILL PROLL is a SLOPD Lieutenant and a tireless advocate for the Special Olympics, who carried the torch last summer for the games in Los Angeles. For years he has been instrumental in guiding class members through their police ride-along experience, which is a prerequisite for Justice Day.

THE WALL, as it was affectionately referred to, was a key component of Leadership lore, originally built by Class V, but somewhere along the line it was cut down. Over one Labor Day weekend, Class XII came together to re-build the structure and it remained part of the program until it was retired in 2014. Class XII’s legacy project plaque reads in part: “May we always work together as a team toward our accomplishments and lift each other up as we go.”

2003 CLASS XII >

BRYCE ENGSTROM first moved to San Luis Obispo to study at Cal Poly. Instead of going home for the summers between his college years, he stayed in town working construction jobs. Doing so enabled him to seamlessly transition out of Cal Poly and into the local economy and community.

After working for years in construction, Engstrom decided to continue his formal education and officially become a licensed architect. Since then, he has been running a successful architecture business and is energized by his work.

Sixteen years after moving to San Luis Obispo, he heard about the Leadership SLO program through his neighbor and friend. At the time, Engstrom was transitioning his business from construction to architecture and his neighbor recommended the program because it was great for networking and professional development. He figured that, since Engstrom was entering a evolutionary period of his career, it would prove especially useful.

Just as with the other classes, Engstrom participated in the three-day retreat at Wonder Valley. During this time, he recalls an exercise they played to try to quickly learn all of the 36 classmates’ names. He was shocked that on his second try, using a technique they taught, he was able to recite each and every name. “The retreat was mind-altering,” Engstrom shares, and filled with interesting and challenging team building exercises to better connect the classmates with one another. Today, he maintains close friendships with several members of his class.

“I had been living in San Luis Obispo for a long time and I knew my circle of friends and contacts, but that was it. Leadership SLO opened my eyes to volunteerism and how important a role it plays in a local community. For example, we take so much about the arts community enrichment for granted. We think our tickets pay for shows, but it doesn’t begin to cover the true costs that non-profits end up covering. It opened my eyes to non-profits,” recalls Engstrom.

The most impactful day session for Engstrom was Arts & Education. He remembers Patty Thayer, now the Development Director for the SLO Little Theatre, and a good friend, spoke with the group and shared that the community playhouse needed help. Later that day, Engstrom called Kevin Harris, who is the Director of SLO Little Theater, to let him know that he had a passion for theater and the arts, and was willing to step up and do whatever he could to support the organization. Eventually, a friendship formed which led to Engstrom joining the SLO Little Theater’s board of directors, where he now serves as its president.

Engstrom has always had a passion for the arts, originally in the form of music. Today, he sings and plays guitar in a local band called Box of Fog. Each year he attends the Live Oak Festival, near Lake Cachuma, as well as the Strawberry Music Festival, which is hosted in his small hometown of Tuolume in Northern California. >>


Alec Ramsey, James Allen, Karen Bates, Jim Beaver, Laurent Bernad, Tim Bochum, Paul Boisvert, Russ Bower, Nancy Cochran, Gary Dee, Phil Dunsmore, Bryce Engstrom, Dan Horn, Kristin Johnson, Bryan Krill, Kelley Lashley, Dawn Legg, Kevin Lewis, Jennifer Martin, Janna Matteoli, Margaret Merisante, Dave Morgan, Dan Norris, Bill Proll, Brady Radovich, Jenifer Rhynes, Tricia Ritchie, Charlene Rosales, Armida Ruano, Carol Schmidt, Derek Senn, Ginny Senn, Gail Whiting, Tracy Wills, Jim Wilmore, Minke Winkler Prins, Kristina Wyatt, Morgan Young

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Bryce Engstrom
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LAURA ALBERS is the former Executive Director of Leadership SLO. She recently earned her Masters in Public Administration at the prestigious Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC. An accomplished nonprofit executive, Albers now puts her skills to use as the Executive Director of the Central Coast State Parks Association.

VALERIE KRASKEY has often played a critical role on Arts & Education Day due to her experience as the Administrative Manager at the SLO County Office of Education. For years she worked with Superintendent Julian Crocker, and now Jim Brescia, to gather and brief education professionals for Leadership class edification.

RENODA MONZA CAMPBELL is the photographer behind this ongoing Leadership SLO series. This summer, she will be leaving her longtime job at Cal Poly so that she can follow her passion full-time as a freelance photographer.

When you have been successful in a big city and then relocate to San Luis Obispo to find a better quality of life, the immediate question becomes, “What am I going to do to make a living?” PATRICK O’HARA, a financial planner, moved his family here from Los Angeles in 2002 and was determined to make it in his adopted hometown. He did that and more. Today, he can be found at Wacker Wealth Partners, where he is an advisor and partner.

As we all know, San Luis Obispo is a place where you are separated from a stranger by no more than two degrees. A couple of years into his relocation, O’Hara started attending Good Morning SLO, the once-monthly breakfast program produced by the SLO Chamber of Commerce, to network. There, he bumped into a childhood acquaintance of his, Dan O’Hare, and fellow Stanford alum, Dave Jhunke. Both of them encouraged him to apply to Leadership SLO, which he did.

O’Hara saw Leadership SLO as a springboard to meet the people making things happen in the community. And, as it turned out, it was also a great way to quickly and broadly gain a deeper understanding of the county’s inner workings.

One of the themed days he most remembers was the Agriculture Day, where he saw a presentation about solar energy and how it was being used on a small family farm. He remembers driving out to a certified organic farm operated by a young, very passionate couple and their family. Coming from Los Angles, it was so refreshing to see their efforts to provide quality food while, at the same time, preserving the environment. Later that day, O’Hara recalls the bus heading down to the southern portion of the county where they toured a strawberry farm. There, they walked through a pristine field when it dawned on him just how precious this part of the world is.

“One of my goals coming out of Leadership SLO was to go deep and narrow with one non-profit. I’ve seen leaders spread themselves too thin, and so I wanted to focus on doing one thing well when it came to volunteering. For me, that was French Hospital,” said O’Hara, who served in many capacities with the hospital, including seeing them through their transition to Dignity Health.

When he is not helping others build wealth or working with the hospital to better serve the community, O’Hara writes music and plays in an Irish folk band called Young Ireland with his son. He plays the guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bodhran (an Irish frame drum). This band, he explains, is a way to blend his love of Ireland, passion for storytelling, enjoyment of music, and spending time with his son. Young Ireland was named after a political movement in the 1840’s whose stated goal was to raise awareness of the need for Irish freedom. The father-son duo plays mostly original folk music inspired by themes of the Young Ireland movement. The two also bring in other talent when available, and look for opportunities to play shows that benefit local charities and non-profits. >>


Laura Albers, Michael Bates, Joy Becker, Carla Berkefeld, Derek Bishop, Kathe Blankenburg, Cindy Campbell-Monza, Renoda Cannon, Stacy Carlisle, Daniel Chilton, Vivien-Valentine Crawford, Corinne Franz, Jenna Kraskey, Valerie Kuang, Timothy Lapp Tallman, Denise Lipper, Al Long, Brad Lott, Tom Maxwell, Carol McCulley, Wendy McGee, Dan Morici, Vince Mueller, Isaac O’Grady, Daniel O’Hara, Patrick Palmer, Karen Pollock, Jon Rittenberg, Rick Silacci, Celia Stark, Brian B. Stokes, Gary Stout, Shelley Swanson, Amy Tanner, Gary Walter, Jay Walter

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Patrick O’Hara
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 79 It’s that time again, we’re moving! August 1 see us at 3195 MCMILLAN, SLO (805) 785-0275 3220 Broad Street . Suite 100 . SLO Offering group classes and more rentalavailableinstruments


LINDSEY MILLER is now with PG&E in their Community Relations department; LYNNE BIDDINGER is a marketing consultant; JUNE MCIVOR is a San Luis Obispo-based attorney; and LISA HOROWITZ MCCANN is the Executive Director of the Central Coast Water Board.

MICHAEL GUNTHER, KRIS YETTER, and CHERYL CUMING all went on to serve Leadership SLO as board members, and later, they each took turns as board chair at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

IAN PARKINSON, who is now the Sheriff of SLO County, has carried on an impactful Leadership SLO tradition going back to Class I, hosting every class at the county jail, which has offered participants a unique look into local law enforcement.

2005 CLASS XIV >

San Luis Obispo has a unique ability to attract influential and motivated people, of which KIM CONTI could certainly be counted as one. Originally from Rochester, New York, Conti, at age thirty, was the only woman in the business making a sixfigure income working for the Fortune 500 company Eastman Kodak. She sat on the council for the Olympics for both the Atlanta and Japan games. She has been in People Magazine and appeared on Good Morning America, and has been sent around the globe to represent Kodak internationally. Conti has lived in places like Russia and Budapest. But at thirty years old, she decided that the corporate life was not for her, and she needed a change. Kodak gave her a paid leave, allowing her time to consider what she would like to do next, when she came to the realization that she wanted to find more meaningful ways to give back.

In the mid 80’s her family had relocated to San Luis Obispo, and in 1997 she rejoined them before deciding where to move next. But, as it has been said, “Life happens when you are busy making other plans.” Conti bumped into her future husband, Dan DeGroot, one day and the couple began to create a life here.

In 2006, she heard about Leadership SLO through the SLO Chamber. Serving on the Issues & Evaluations Committee and now on the Business Council, Conti has been involved with the chamber for a number of years. But she knew she wanted to learn more about the community and Leadership SLO, she felt, could provide her that opportunity. “Every good leader has to have a foundation from which to build. How do you lead without knowledge?” Conti questions then answers, “Leadership SLO gives you that foundation of understanding.”

Leadership SLO came to Conti at a pivotal time in her life, just as she was pondering her next move. Many of her Leadership SLO friends were small business owners. During her time in the program she decided to open Kimberly’s Global Real Estate Corporation. She even negotiated one of her first deals, a lease, during a break between presentations at one of the offsite day sessions.

“Becoming ‘chief bottle washer’ in a small town after years of high-profile work was a huge shift, but a rewarding one,” laughs Conti. She expresses her love for her chosen profession, now believing she stepped out of Corporate America to discover her highest and best use, which she declares is to better serve people.

Conti not only serves people through her work in real estate, but she and her husband established a fund at the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation that supports youth activities. This fund, called the DeGroot Youth Endowment Fund, gives money directly to low income children whose families cannot afford to enroll them in after school activities. In her personal time, Conti enjoys knitting baby blankets, reading a mix of fiction and leadership books, and traveling. >>


Julie Alonso, Jim Arkinson, Carl Behmer, Lynne Biddinger, Steve Brown, Kimberly Conti, Cheryl Cuming, Heather Fortner, Patricia Golden, Lisa Gonzalez, Michael Gunther, Bob Haddad, Elizabeth Jaeger, Drew Littlejohn, Rob Livick, John Ljung, Chris Long, Chris McBride, Lisa Horowitz, June McIvor, Lindsey Miller, Bruce Nash, Marjan Otto, Davina Palazzo, Ian Parkinson, Dan Pronsolino, Michael Rees, Alex Rothenberg, Mary Stephenson, Lezlie Talley, Mary White, Kristen Yetter

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Kim Conti
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 81 Where you never know what you might find! Z OEY’S HOME CONSIGNMENTS 3583 S. HIGUERA ST | SAN LUIS OBISPO 596.0288 | Open Tues-Sat 10-6 | Closed Sun & Mon Owners Brian & Marie are happy to celebrate 4 years of being your favorite consignment store and winning Best of SLO 2015 & 2016.


JOAN PARKER is a wealth manager with a heart for service. Currently serving as the treasurer for HumanKind Fair Trade, she is also on the board of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, as well as the board of the Women’s’ Legacy Fund.

RON YUKELSON has continued to take on more responsibility at Sierra Vista Hospital, where he is now on the executive team as its Associate Administrator of Business Development. He is also president of the board for the SLO County YMCA.

San Luis Obispo’s City government was well-represented in Class XV: DEB LINDEN, Chief of SLOPD (now retired); MONICA IRONS, Human Resources Director; CHRISTINE DIETRICK City Attorney; and KIM MURRY, Deputy Director of Community Development (now retired).

ALI SEMON grew up watching her parents run a successful framing shop in downtown San Luis Obispo. Aiming to become a teacher, Semon headed off to UCSB where she received a masters degree in education. As her college years came to a close, she moved to Italy where she took on a job teaching English as a second language. When she returned stateside, she began teaching in Paso Robles. It was then that her parents decided it was time to sell their business and retire to Mexico. Seeing an opportunity, Semon pivoted away from teaching, and instead bought the family business.

As a new small business owner in town looking to build her network and improve upon her skills, Semon was first introduced to Leadership SLO through a friend of hers who was also applying. Semon was accepted into the program, and was excited to interact with people that she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

She admits to being unsure about what to expect at first, but assumed there would be some sort of formal leadership training. The program, it turned out, taught leadership skills indirectly through discussions, problem solving concerning local hot topics, and consideration of alternative points of view. More than leadership training, Semon was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful insight the program provided her into the entire community.

Each month, the 36 classmates meet for a full day, called a “day session,” to learn about a specific sector of the community, for example, agriculture, law enforcement, and the environment. Each day features an assortment of experts in their respective fields, and they discuss hot button issues and generate debate and problem solving exercises. One of Semon’s favorite days was Media Day because of how it addressed head-on the controversial issue of responsible journalism. Earlier that year, the New Times had published a story about methamphetamine and included with the article the recipe for how to make the popular drug. It outraged many locals. Leadership SLO brought in the editors of the New Times and Tribune to answer questions and discuss the role of ethics in journalism and whether this type of article is socially responsible. Semon recalls how fascinating it was to feel like she was a part of this local debate, as she was confronted with several different perspectives.

“Leadership SLO made you realize you can be heard locally and involved to the extent that you wish to be. I regularly see my classmates in various boards I’m on. Everyone did something to get involved and give back,” reflects Semon. Since then, Semon has been an active board member on a number of non-profits, from Rotary and the YMCA, to now, where she is on the Leadership SLO board of directors. She jokes that whenever she walks into a board meeting for the first time, she can count on seeing another familiar face of someone from Leadership Class XV, who is also volunteering.

When she is not running her business, she enjoys spending time with her husband, A.J. Jansen, and caring for their one-year-old son. Semon also enjoys being outdoors, walking, cycling, traveling with her family, and Italian cooking.


Courtney Anderson, Casey Appell, Shannon Bates, Miranda Battenburg, Kirsten Behrmann, Terry Conner, Maryann Creasy, Christine Dietrick, Diane Farquhar, Carol Fleury, Christine Hepner, Steve Hopkins, Monica Irons, Benjamin Jordan, Amy Kardel, John Knight, Starr Lee, Deborah Linden, Mike Maddy, Sarah Maggelet, James Morgan, Heather Muran, Kim Murry, Grant Nielson, Myra Osuch, Joan Parker, Sandy Sachs, Cassandra Sasso, Michael Schedler, Ali Semon, Margaret Shepard, Erica Stewart, Julian Varela, Ron Yukelson

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Ali Semon

Abercrombie & Fitch

The Apple Store

Banana Republic Barnes and Noble Bowl’d Bull’s Tavern

California Pizza Kitchen

Cal Poly Downtown


Chronic Tacos


GAP Jamba Juice

Lush Handmade Cosmetics

Moondoggies Surf Shop

The Movie Experience

Open Air Flowers

Palazzo Giuseppe Papyrus Pizza Solo

Pottery Barn

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe

Salon Lux-Aveda


Shoe Palace

Solstice Sunglass Boutique Starbucks

Splash Cafe Seafood & Grill

Sunglass Hut

Urban Outfitters

Victoria’s Secret

White House Black Market

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A conversation with long-time residents on the eve of their move yields interesting insights into San Luis Obispo’s housing crisis.

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Awell-worn brick path bisecting the garden is all that separates the old house on Slack Street from its many visitors. The walkway—unlike the thoughtless and unyielding rigidity found with the concrete of a city sidewalk—bends, sinks, and rises, giving way slightly, imperceptibly, recording the trace history of each and every footstep. On this day,

another exceptionally beautiful sunny afternoon in San Luis Obispo, a stack of mismatched corrugated boxes are tucked neatly inside the entryway of the front door at the end of the path. Outside, at the other end, a blonde girl in her early twenties wearing a green Cal Poly hoodie sweatshirt stops and cranes her neck forty-five degrees clockwise.

“I read that one,” she smiles broadly, pointing to the paperback resting alongside three dozen others in an oversized mailbox-type contraption with a sign declaring, “Free Lending Library.” Baxter, clearly a terrible watchdog, trots up clumsily to the girl, who kneels down to scratch him behind both ears. “I miss my dog back home so much,” she explains to a man in his 60’s sporting a close-cropped white beard, black roundrimmed glasses, t-shirt, shorts, and running shoes with ankle socks. The two slip into an easy conversation that begins with dog breeds and ends with fruit. “Here, let’s get you some loquats,” the man says, as he leads her through the garden to a tree in the corner of his yard bending heavily under the weight of its springtime harvest.

Thirty-six years ago, Terry Elfrink pulled everything he had out of savings and put it down on a “little junker house” he found at the base of Monterey Heights, a stone’s throw from Grand Avenue, in a neighborhood affectionately referred to as the “Flatlands.” Over those years, the retired middle school principal, and amateur metal sculptor and wood worker reshaped the house with his own two hands. When he married and kids entered the picture, he added on to the back of the home, but asked the builder to stop after constructing the exterior walls; the remaining work he completed himself during evenings and weekends. Over the years, the house grew not only in size, but also in personality, and remnants of his handiwork are found everywhere.

“We’ve never had any intention to leave.”

Elfrink settles deeply into an overstuffed armchair in the middle of the living room, removes his glasses, rubs his eyes, and gazes off toward an empty hillside across the street where knee-high grasses dance in the subtle afternoon breeze, already having turned a shade lighter than goldenrod after another disappointing rainy season. He begins, “We’ve never had any intention to leave.” Earlier in the day, Elfrink and his wife, Vicky, had been informed by their real estate agent that escrow officially closed on what was to become their new home in Templeton. Rather than excitement, the air is heavy with trepidation and neither of their words are coming to them easily. A heaviness, a somberness

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provides subtext for the conversation. The vibe would not be much different at a wake following a funeral where everyone is putting on a brave face, trying to smile and mingle over untouched sliced cheese and cold cuts, but the real communication comes through in hushed tones and drooping shoulders. Yet, their emotions are much more complex than would seem apparent from the outside looking in, their mourning more nuanced.

“We’re losing our community,” Vicky states plainly before recapping a nearly four-decade-long neighborhood history. “The percentage of home owners has gone from 80% to 20% during that time.” And she explains that, for most part, they have embraced that evolutionary dynamic. She ticks off numerous violations—broken windows, beer cans tossed in the garden, vomit on the sidewalk, even once finding an inebriated couple having sex on their hammock—but dispassionately dismisses the transgressions as “the bad that comes with the good.” The Elfrinks take exception to, and practically scoff at an “it’s us against the college kids” mentality. “That’s such a simple way to look at it; and it’s really just not accurate. There are two or three houses in the neighborhood that are basically satellite fraternity houses that ruin it for everyone else. But, other than that, we happen to really like college students. Maybe it’s because we have four adult children, who were all college kids at one time.” No matter the reason, Mrs. Elfrink is known to deliver hot, home-cooked meals to students in the Flatlands during finals week.

With earthmoving equipment rumbling around the old parking lot down the street, making way for the new 1,475-bed dormitory complex, the pace of change has visibly accelerated in the neighborhood. The mail carrier, like a honey bee who deals in gossip rather than pollen, brings news every few weeks, it seems, of another long-time permanent resident who has decided to put their home up for sale and head off to

greener pastures in places like Arroyo Grande and Santa Margarita. Yet, the Elfrinks, while they objected strenuously to the new dorms now under construction—their concern was that freshman would be going out into their neighborhood in search of parties at off-campus homes, a phenomenon they already observe, particularly with younger students— finally made peace with it, and decided to accept it. This was their home, they reasoned, they raised their family here, made many happy memories here, and contributed to the community here, so they would make the best of it. Plus, they loved it. But, then, one day, it all became too much.

It was the twenty-first day of January, this year, to be precise. At 10:37 a.m. Terry Elfrink was sitting as his computer replying to email when a message from Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong popped up in his inbox. He immediately recognized many of the names listed in the “Cc” line as his neighbors. The next line down, in the subject field, it said, “Cal Poly Considering Workforce Housing Development.” Elfrink anxiously scanned the text, which began, “The university is discussing the possibility of developing a workforce 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.” Stunned, he read it again.

Despite the many times the Elfrinks have been awakened at night by parties and loud music, they have never once seriously discussed leaving the Flatlands. That changed after the email. “It takes a lot of energy to maintain when there are so few of us now, but we try to be engaged, and then...” Elfrink, although outwardly stoic, is unable to continue, as if the reality of the situation had finally hit him. Vicky takes over for a moment, and after rejoining the conversation Elfrink identifies what he sees as the problem, “What concerns me is the lack of communication. We received that email four or five months ago, and since then there has been nothing. I mean, we are making

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life-changing decisions here.” In a soothing baritone he explains, “Cal Poly is growing too fast, certainly much faster than it is adding on-campus housing. But, the biggest problem is that we have no idea how big it’s going to get. They’re at 20,000 or so now, but you keep hearing about increasing it to 25,000. So, how can we, as a community, as a city, make any plans about the future—in terms of quality of life, water, traffic—if we don’t know how many more students we are going to have to house in our neighborhoods?”

on the their little street. Plus, it does nothing to relieve the stress put on city neighborhoods that are already bursting at the seams with college students. “We know so many of them,” Elfrink reveals, “that are living in garages with gas water heaters in their bedrooms. And you can’t blame the students; they’re just doing what they have to do.”

After the idea of moving started to become a real possibility, the Elfrinks remained conflicted. They had invested too much of their time in their neighborhood. Too much of themselves had been given to their community to just give up, so they reasoned. In an effort to give the Flatlands one last shot, they decided to invite Armstrong over to coffee to, as Elfrink puts it, “Really just get to know a neighbor; because he is our neighbor.” Vicky adds that she was interested in “understanding his perspective, and hoped he’d hear ours.” The meeting never materialized. Although there appeared to be some interest at first, an inquiry came back from his office asking for additional details, but the return call went unanswered.

Many businesses, at least the good ones, the forward-thinking ones, routinely conduct what is known as an “exit interview.” When someone is poached by the competition or quits for some other unknown reason, the executives sit down for a postmortem to ask a simple question, “Why?” It is during those sessions, when the employer-employee roles are lifted, that the truth emerges and the five-star generals get an unclouded boots-on-the-ground perspective. The employee can offer incredibly valuable insights that no amount of focus-grouping or surveying could ever possibly provide. If done properly, the exit interview can find the company’s blind spots and head off potential danger down the road. Yes, of course, it’s a bummer to lose that one great employee, but listening very carefully to what he or she has to say on their way out the door can make the whole operation better, stronger, and more likely to thrive into the future. Exit interviews, while they require a lot of courage to confront hard truths, are critically important.

The three-legged stool the Elfrinks describe as representing San Luis Obispo—the institution of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo’s city government, with the third leg being the community—is looking a little wobbly with their departure. No longer will the students living in the Flatlands have the opportunity to interact with, in a true “learn by doing” fashion, a couple that represents the best of what the community has to offer. How much can we, all of us, learn from people, who after raising four successful adult children went on to raise four more foster children? Those are values that cannot be

The Elfrinks ruminated for weeks after that email, debating the odds of the employee-housing project actually coming to fruition. They reasoned that Cal Poly had a history of throwing out big ideas, such as the on-campus hotel and conference center project, then quickly and unexpectedly killing them. The university’s desire to house 65% of its students on campus (currently, 36% are housed on campus) is going to be impossible to achieve because the goal posts continue to get pushed further down the field with each new student enrolled; plus, there is no mandate, no requirement, no accountability. The city is certainly not holding them to that number, or any number at all, so what’s to say it will ever happen? Additionally, they, along with their neighbors wondered: considering all the land that Cal Poly owns, why build right here? And, if you must, why in the world would you build faculty housing? Why wouldn’t it become student housing instead? After all, 420 townhomes equals 420 garages and 420 cars. That’s a lot more traffic

taught in a classroom. Yet, after 37 years in education, teaching is something Elfrink, who moved to San Luis Obispo in 1972 to attend Cal Poly, contemplates often. “I think that we have a responsibility to model what a community should be like; because it’s an important component of the college maturing process, where, at some point, you break away from the actual school and get into the community and become a community member.”

After the going away party, and after their friends helped haul their stuff up to Templeton, Elfrink remains at the house with his tools. He is doing all of those little projects he meant to get to over the years as he holds out hope that the new owner will appreciate it enough to want to actually live there instead of converting it into yet another student rental. As Vicky shares, “Terry wants to take a couple of months to make it shine, because the home has a heartbeat. And, you probably can’t appreciate that if you’re 18, or 19, or 20 years old.”

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“So, how can we, as a community, as a city, make any plans about the future—in terms of quality of life, water, traffic—if we don’t know how many more students we are going to have to house in our neighborhoods?”


Late one night, I ask my Facebook friends: “Who makes your favorite French fries in SLO County?” They respond using words like obsessed, tortured, and irresistible. Yes, referring to potatoes.

Why the deep-set lust for French fries, I wonder? And then an image surfaces: My mom, my brother, and me, at McDonald’s in Santa Maria circa 1987, dipping fries in barbecue sauce. Like Paula Abdul, roller skating, and the kink of a fresh perm, fries live in the time capsule of my childhood.

I review the list of fry joints offered by my impassioned friends. Why not pick a few and make a fry crawl of it? At the time, it seems like a good idea. >>

JAIME LEWIS is a sommelier, world traveler, and food writer, who lives in San Luis Obispo. The Most-Loved Spud

Fry #1: Firestone Grill

My husband and I enter Firestone on a busy Thursday night and meet Darnell Harris, the General Manager. At the bar, he presents us with a basket of skinny golden fries speckled with what he calls “crack seasoning, because no one can stop eating it.”

Harris is right: the seasoning makes Firestone fries addictive. I taste chili powder, paprika and lots of salt, but when asked what else is in the blend, Harris’ lips are sealed. He does, however, share that the accompanying ranch dressing is house-made with buttermilk and herbs twice a day.

I stop myself at ten fries—a feat of restraint on what I realize will be a cruel, cruel night.

Fry #2: Big Sky Cafe

Entering the colorful atmosphere of Big Sky, we meet Floor Manager, Gloria Amaya, who brings around a cone of bright orange sweet potato fries, topped with orange zest and parsley, and a cup of house-made toasted pecan ranch dressing. Because these are sweet potato fries, the texture is a bit different, but even my Russet-loving husband admits that these fries are special; dusted with potato starch, fried and seasoned with celery salt, sea salt and cayenne pepper; they’re crisp on the outside and custardy on the inside. And that nutty ranch? Over the edge. >>

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jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 95 Happy Father’s Day! meet the FINALISTS SUBSCRIPTIONS GO ON SALE JUNE 1, 2016 Join us for an exciting Classics in the Cohan season. Experience LIVE music conducted by our five Music Director finalsts. Become a Season Subscriber and get the Opportunity to “Chime In” on each Conductor as part of the Selection Process. CALL 805.543.3533 OR VISIT US AT SLOSYMPHONY.ORG
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Fries #3 & 4: Mother’s Tavern

We stroll past booths at Farmers’ Market before reaching Mother’s Tavern, the downtown hangout dressed in wood and brass. Our server, Hannah Medrano, brings a cone of beer-battered fries, bubbly-crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside. Thicker than Firestone’s, they taste much more distinctly of potatoes than seasoning. Mothers’ also makes its own buttermilk ranch dressing.

Medrano mentions another menu item called cheesy garlic truffle fries; we request a sample. Arriving soon thereafter, bathed in garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and truffle oil, these fries are obviously decadent, but I still prefer the crunch and simplicity of the beer-battered original. We move along, whimpering a little, reeking of garlic.

“No more fries,” my man murmurs. I’m not faring much better, and decide to put the fry crawl on hiatus until tomorrow. We drive home, our bellies like bricks. >>

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jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 97 HOME TO EDNA VALLEY’S MOST DRINK IT ALL IN. CHAMISALVINEYARDS.COM 7525 ORCUTT ROAD • SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA 805-541-9463 TASTING ROOM OPEN 10AM-5PM DAILY RELAX . RECHARGE . RETREAT wellness for your body, mind, and soul Massage, Acupuncture, Facials, & Bodywork with classes in Meditation, Tai Chi Chih, Yoga, Breathwork & Shamanic Journeying 1238 MONTEREY ST SUITE 110 | SAN LUIS OBISPO | (805) 542-9500 | WWW.EASTWELLBEING.COM $20 OFF Services Use Promo: SLOLife (not available with any other promotions)

Fry #5: Frank’s Famous Hot Dogs

The next morning, I bring my three-year-old daughter along to Frank’s, SLO’s stalwart greasy spoon, for hair-of-the-dog fries. We meet Don Garza, a cheerful cook who’s been frying ten cases of krinkle cuts per day since the Clinton administration. While our fries dance in canola oil, Garza asks my daughter if she wants an ice cream. I check the clock: 10:17 a.m. Her eyes plead.

Garza delivers both the ice cream and fries to our booth. The fries are plump and airy with a kiss of house-made seasoning (again: paprika, chili powder, salt, etc.). And the ice cream? Vanilla soft serve in a sugar cone, of course. Perfect diner food.

Fry #6: Beda’s Biergarten

Limping into Beda’s Bavarian eatery, my daughter and I meet proprietor Beda Schmidthues, who is quite serious about fries. “We use the Kennebec potato,” he says, referring to a specialty spud beloved for browning perfectly. “We fresh-cut them every day and pay double for high-grade canola oil because it tastes so much better.”

A bucket of fat fries arrives with citrus aioli and curry ketchup, both made in house and deadly delicious. The fries, seasoned only with sea salt, are lightly crisped on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside. Schmidthues prefers a little extra structure, though, asking the kitchen to fry his “El Jefe-style.” (He is the boss, after all). He mentions a new item on the menu, gulasch fries, smothered in tender spiced beef and brown gravy.

Much as I want to taste them, my body won’t let me. This lightweight has hit her fry quota for the year. SLO LIFE

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Along with long, sunny days, summer brings backyard barbecues. Chef Jessie Rivas lights up the grill and shares his recipe for “not just Santa Maria BBQ.”

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The secret to this barbecue is the pinquito beans, which purists insist are the only way to do a Santa Maria-style meal.


Tri-Tip: 3 ½ - 4 lbs cleaned and trimmed tri-tip loin 2 Tbs high smoke point oil, such as canola 2 – 3 Tbs Bren’s Original Blend Seasoning

Garlic Bread: 1 loaf rustic french bread 3 - 4 Tbs salted butter 1 clove garlic, crushed

Beans: 2 – 3 cups pinquito beans 16 oz can crushed tomatoes ½ yellow onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tbs New Mexico chili powder 1 Tbs paprika 1 – 2 tsp cayenne (optional) 1 tsp cumin 1 bay leaf 2 Tbs vegetable oil salt to taste

Clean tri-tip by removing all silver skin and most fat, but it’s good to leave some fat for flavor. Oil the loin and rub with Bren’s Original Seasoning. Let it sit at room temperature until ready to barbecue. Cook meat until medium-rare over white oak or regular charcoal briquettes. Barbecue over hot coals. If coals are flaming hot, cook indirectly so meat doesn’t char. Cook until internal temperature reaches 130°. Allow meat to rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Don’t soak the beans as you normally would. Put beans in pot with one bay leaf and cover with water. Simmer until beans are tender, for about 45

minutes to one hour. Add water as needed to keep beans covered.

While beans are cooking, add vegetable oil to hot pan and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and cumin and stir until incorporated. Add tomatoes and simmer about 15 minutes. When beans are ready, add the sauce to the beans and stir.

Lastly, slice the bread loaf lengthwise. Melt the butter and the crushed garlic together. Spread the butter mixture over the sliced loaf. Wrap in foil and warm over hot barbecue, about five minutes.

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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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Let’s talk about these lupulin wonders for a moment. Without delving too deeply into its botany, the hops we see in brewing come from a climbing plant grown in temperate climates around the world. Most notably our neighbors in Oregon and Washington are best known for their crops, but just like any good consumed plant there are terroirs to be found in not just the plants of the Pacific Northwest, but here on the Central Coast. Is it any coincidence that where there are wine grapes, there are hop vines nearby? SLO County is lucky to have just enough of these little enclaves to be able to grow a few for “estate” beers. Just look behind the brewery at Barrelhouse in Paso, the entryway to Libertine Pub in Morro, the side projects of Bang the Drum and Tap It in Edna and Los Osos or, notably, the 200+ plants intermingled with rows of barley being grown by Brendan Cosgrove of Toro Creek Brewing. Found in the verdant hills between the pastures of North County and the rolling fog of the coast, these hardy rhizomes are taking full effect of the sunny days and the foggy mornings to reach their fifteen-foot stature.

Why are hops so important? Well, the product of this tall crop is a small flower shaped like a cross between an artichoke and a rose bud, sticky with oily resin and blooming with a pungent aroma. That resin provides a much-needed bitterness to a beer while the aroma gives the drinker their first experience before a drop touches their lips. Specialty grains, most notably malted barley, supply the brewer with sugars essential for feeding the yeast during the brewing process. Without hops we would all be drinking alcoholic barley soda, something akin to malt liquor. The most important job of a hop cone is balance. Funny when you think of the biting pale ales, IPAs, and even double- or triple-IPAs that we see flowing from the taps, but that’s another story. Just like the art of cooking, the art of brewing is about finding a balance of sweet and bitter to make the perfect beer. Only this versatile of an ingredient can be used throughout the brewing process to impart the crucial, acrid bitterness needed to offset the sweet grain sugars and then again toward the end to bring beer its


Hops are used year-round in nearly every beer type from stouts to IPAs, but nothing says summer to a beer drinker like the unique aroma and wonderfully biting crispness of a fresh hoppy beer.

essential fragrance. These aromas can range from earthy and grassy to fruity and bright—a brewer can transport you to anywhere in the world with their creation. Hold that beer under your nose for a few seconds before drinking it, let those floral notes of grapefruit, pineapple, or honeydew melon waft through your olfactory system. Imagine yourself on a white sand beach, then raise the glass to your mouth and let the liquid sunshine roll over your tongue and hit the back of your throat. What a journey in just one a sip. In our biased, but mostly popular opinion, the best hoppy beers come from the West Coast of America, and the Central Coast is no exception. Focusing on resinous, dank pale ales and IPAs, we are known for providing a nipping bitterness and tropical fruit fragrance to our beers. Even the most sought after beers on the East Coast and Midwest can not hold a candle to our adept use of this little green bud. Want to try for yourself? We have hops in spades at every brewery on the coast. Still reeling from their win at the World Beer Cup, jaunt down to Central Coast Brewing in SLO and try their Gold Medal award winning Lucky Day IPA to see what the best Strong Pale in the world tastes like. Guaranteed to be fresh, the crew over there didn’t rest on their laurels from last year’s Great American Beer Festival gold medal win with Monterey Street Pale, they continued to push the limits and showcase how the right varietal of hops and the intricate balance of bitter and sweetness can breed champions. Want to really get that extra hit

of tropical fruit from a hoppy beer? Barrelhouse Brewing Company is continuing the trend of amplifying subtle hop nuances by adding mango to their brewing process, and the result is their wildly popular IPAngo, available in their Paso brewery or SLO taproom.

With the temperatures rising and barbeque season upon us, keep the macrobrews for your uninvited guests and reach for a chilled can or bottle of this liquid gold to experience the rich smells and nipping taste for yourself. Just like potato chips at a picnic you won’t be able to stop with one sip. Better yet, spend a sunny day on the patio of one of our many breweries and revel in this epic battle between flower and seed while you begin your own journey.

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BRANT MYERS is owner of Hop On Beer Tours, a concierge service for craft beer enthusiasts along the Central Coast.

2016 Central Coast Shakespeare Festival Under the Stars at Filipponi Ranch Cellars, San Luis Obispo

The Importance of Being Earnest & Romeo and Juliet

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Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1961, Bye Bye Birdie is a delightful satire of the 1950’s crafted with the fondest affection for the time and the people. Filled with toe-tapping musical theatre classics.

June 3 – July 2 //

Join the Pinot producers and talented local chefs for an afternoon of great wine, creative Paella dishes, and live dance-inducing Latin guitar fusion beats of Incendio. June 5 //


Come and enjoy food, wine and specialty beers from vendors all over the Central Coast. All of which you can enjoy while listening to music from Café Musique and experiencing the beautiful sunset at the hilltop. June 4 //


Thousands of people flock to downtown San Luis Obispo every Friday throughout the summer for a free, family-friendly concert in beautiful Mission Plaza. June 10 – September 9 //

Head to Pismo Beach for a fun-filled weekend featuring the hottest classic cars where you will find like-minded aficionados from all over the state and the world.

June 17 -19 //

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Enjoy delicious eats and meet the people behind the wines. Experience four days of wine, food, music, and fun.

June 23 - 26 //


Blondes and brunettes will compete in a flag football game to inspire fundraising, awareness and action in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Come and watch the ladies battle it out on the gridiron.

June 25 //


Celebrating the artisan talents, flavors, scenery and people, this unique lakeside wine festival has grown to boast wineries, chefs, acclaimed artists and live music.

June 24- 26 //


One of the largest of its kind on the West Coast—enjoy a full day of music and amazing art installations held in beautiful Avila Beach. July 9 //


Since 1946, Blue’s Baseball has been San Luis Obispo tradition. This family-friendly setting offers plenty of games and activities for the kids, as well as a concession stand and beer truck. The fireworks show will begin immediately following the game.

July 3 //

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SummerMusicFestivalJuly13-24 TICKETSONSALENOW or 805.781.3009 The ART of MUSIC on the Central Coast - Scott Yoo, Music Director CRUSHED GRAPE Est. 1986 God Bless America Join us on HIGUERA STREET (BETWEEN OSOS & NIPOMO STREETS) EVERY THURSDAY 6-9PM DOWNTOWNSLO.COM


Enjoy tastes of lavender cuisine, sampling of oils, dipping sauces, ice cream, and education, growing, and sustainable farming practices throughout the county.

July 9 //


2016 marks the 47th year of the Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier Fun Run. This six-mile event is held entirely on the beach from Morro Rock to the Cayucos Pier and is open to participants of all ages and abilities.

July 9 //


The annual Summer Music Festival features orchestra, chamber music, fringe concerts, notable encounters, family activities and other musical and social events for you to enjoy.

July 13 – 24 //


The Filipponi Ranch is once again hosting the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival. Pack a picnic and bring lowback chairs. Wine will be available for sale by the glass and bottle.

July 14 – August 6 //

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JULY ICE CREAM ZOOFARI Cool down on a warm summer evening at the Charles Paddock Zoo’s ice cream-filled event. Entry includes all you can eat ice cream, sundaes, root beer floats, and more. July 16 // (805) 786-244 through JUL 2 JUN 3 Dr. Arnie Horwitz HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS Are you feeling overwhelmed and confused? I can help. Specializing in - Relationship Conflicts - Parenting & Self-Esteem - Separation and Divorce - Personal Life Planning - Grief and Loss - Career Uncertainty Therapy/Counseling/Coaching Dr. Arnie Horwitz • 30 yrs. Experience 805-541-2752 1351 Monterey Street . San Luis Obispo (805)783-2887 .
jun/jul 2016 | S l O l IFE Magaz I n E | 107 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. “Look as young as you feel.” Les Phillips Buttonwillow Raceway Park
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