Playa Vista Direct Feb 2019

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February · March 2019

Hot Prowler Playa Vista’s Jillie Reil is the Cougar of Comedy

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The Face of Phase II

Josh Goldstein Associate Broker, MBA

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

Josh Goldstein

The Face of Phase II


Vol. 3 | No. 6

EDITOR’S NOTE 6 Remembering a Forgotten History

MOM UP WITH GABRIELLE 26 My ‘vampire facial’ turned into a vampire weekend

COMMUNITY 10 Mutts and Mimosas @ Tocaya Organica

Pet Adoption 36 Three adorable pets ready for adoption @ Annenberg PetSpace

News 12 The Playa Vista community rallied behind its teachers during the strike People 14 Meet the LMU professor whose students give free history lessons about Playa Vista’s first residents, the Tongva 22 The Cougar of Comedy is on the prowl 32 Sandra Kitashima is Playa Vista’s Director of Experience

4 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019


HOME 38 After winning on TV, the Kirbys now have a winning home and family HEALTH 44 Einat Metzl uses art to heal emotional wounds


FOOD 48 Mompreneur goes back to her farm roots to create plant-based baked goods Events 53 Don’t miss the Friends of Playa Vista Elementary Gala and Auction

38 ON THE COVER: Comedian Jillie Reil lives the cougar life at the Centerpointe Club. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner. Design by Michael Kraxenberger.

E d ito r ’ s Not e

Remembering a Forgotten History


s much as I like to write about local history related to Howard Hughes and the groundbreaking aeronautical work he did here in Playa Vista, there is another powerful history that has often been overlooked: the history of the native Tongva people. The Tongva, also known as the San Gabriel Band or Gabrieliños, were Playa Vista’s first residents. It’s easy to see why the Tongva’s hunter-gatherer society thrived in this area for thousands of years: an ample bounty of seafood in Santa Monica Bay, pristine coastal wetlands as far as the eye could see, and the bluffs providing natural protection from the elements. Though much of the native people’s history has been forgotten, I was intrigued by a tweet that showed a professor and her students making efforts to keep the Tongva name alive. Loyola Marymount University history professor Elizabeth Drummond had shared a photo of her students at Runway giving “free history lessons” about the Tongva to anyone interested. Call me a history nerd, but I found this event to be one of the most delightful things to happen in Playa Vista recently. I was thrilled when Professor Drummond agreed to share with Playa Vista Direct why these types of history lessons matter. I hope you enjoy reading her story. Intrigued by the Tongva people, a little research online revealed a notable Tongva Medicine woman named Toypurina who led a rebellion against the Spanish rule in 1785. Though her efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, her lionhearted spirit inspired me. It made me think about all the women in Playa Vista today who work in tech and medicine, women who are entrepreneurs, and women fighting for smaller classroom sizes for their children in the recent teachers’ strike. The stories and photographs included in this issue show Playa Vista’s women are also willing to stand up against the establishment and have their voices heard. Once again, Playa Vista is revealed to be an inspiring place to live, work and rebel. Shanee Edwards Managing Editor ·

Managing Editor Shanee Edwards Art Director Michael Kraxenberger Contributing Writers Lara J. Altunian · Christina Campodonico Stephanie Case · Richard Foss Jessica Koslow · Brian Marks · Robyn Paris Andrew Dubbins · Andy Vasoyan Gary Walker Contributing Photographers Erica Allen · Inae Bloom Courtnay Robbins · Maria Martin · Shilah Montiel · Zsuszi Steiner Emily Hart Roth Graphic Designer Kate Doll Account Executives Renee Baldwin Kay Christy Rocki Davidson David Maury Senior Editor Joe Piasecki Associate Publisher Rebecca Bermudez Publi sher David Comden

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Mutts and Mimosas @ Tocaya Organica After a rainy morning on Saturday, Jan. 12, the sun came out just in time for the Mutts and Mimosas event that allowed potential dog parents to sip an organic bubbly concoction while meeting dogs in need of a home. The West L.A. nonprofit Wags and Walks, whose mission is to rescue family-friendly dogs from shelters and find them forever homes, hosted the puppy adoptions. Each dog at the event was given a specially designed bandanna with Tocaya Organica’s agave plant logo to wear while strutting around the dog park and mingling with prospective pet parents. Tocaya marketing manager Jessica Rupnik said the fast-casual restaurant’s charitable arm, Tocaya Life, enjoys giving back to the community that gives to them. The good news is that two of the five dogs at the event, handsome Humphrey and marvelous Mr. Rogers, were adopted out to loving fur-ever homes. — Shanee Edwards 10 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019







A tiny Chihuahua stays warm inside her dog mom’s down jacket on a rare cold day in Playa Vista Pups and people enjoy Tocaya Organica’s healthy Mexican brunch Hitomi Demers pets Amanda Greenfield’s dog Matza This charming Chihuahua keeps it stylish with a bandanna Cheers to Penny as her humans enjoy bubbly beverages With soulful eyes, Chuffy strikes a pose

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For Everybody’s Kids Playa Vista Elementary took the teachers’ strike to Jefferson Boulevard Story By Shanee Edwards | Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner


orning commuters honked in support as teachers, parents, students and one Vietnamese potbellied pig took to Jefferson Boulevard on Jan. 18 in support of the LAUSD teachers’ strike. While it was day five of the strike, energy was especially high because it was the first one without rain. Momentum was on their side all over the city. Just up the hill, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University had released survey results on day two of the strike showing nearly 80% support for teachers among Los Angeles County residents. Dressed in red and with many carrying matching balloons, striking teachers and their supporters traversed the south side of Jefferson from a block east of Lincoln Boulevard down to Centinela Avenue. Afterwards, many headed to a rally in downtown Los Angeles to watch Playa del Rey Elementary student Aryana Fields sing “A Strike Song” for the large crowd. Out on Jefferson, Playa Vista Elementary School kindergarten teacher Sonia Ahn said the most important issue to her is class size. She started off teaching classes of 20 students, and now that’s climbed to 24. “We are walking,” she said, “to show people that we care about public education. I think at first people thought we were striking over pay, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about really putting in the effort to save public education. It’s about respecting the teachers and also caring about our communities.” 12 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Teachers, parents and students came out in force on Jefferson Blvd. during the teachers’ strike

Lewis Tsai’s two daughters attend Playa Vista Elementary, one in kindergarten and the other in fourth grade. Tsai thinks the district can do better on many fronts. “Most parents have already given a lot of money to the school, and to have the school district not reciprocate, that’s kind of a slap in the face,” he said. Jennifer Whitley, the school psychologist for Playa Vista Elementary and two other LAUSD campuses, said she was striking because she needs more time at each school to be more effective. “I’m only at my schools about a day and a half each week. If ratios are reduced, I could possibly be at only two schools and provide more comprehensive services and emotional health services for my children,” said Whitley, who works

with kids in special education. By the following Wednesday, teachers would be back at work with a new contract agreement that included a 6% pay raise, class-size reductions, and more nurses and counselors. Westchester mom Alyssa Bost, who taught in New York City public schools, said she marched because she felt for the teachers and is troubled that the Golden State ranks 43 of 50 among per-pupil public education spending. When Bost told her four-year-old daughter they were going to march to support the teachers’ strike, her daughter replied that the preschool she attends was doing just fine. “I told her not everybody is OK — it’s not OK until everybody has a good school like you.”

High on the bluff at LMU, this memorial established in 2000 honors the native Tongva people

14 Playa Vista Direct | February ¡ March 2019

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Free History

An LMU professor sent her students on a mission to educate strangers about the Tongva, Playa Vista’s original residents By Andy Vasoyan | Photos By Maria Martin


bunch of students carrying signs has become a relatively common sight around Los Angeles in today’s political climate, but not necessarily in Playa Vista. Yet in early December of last year, that’s what greeted shoppers and diners at Runway: groups of Loyola Marymount University students descending on the area around lunchtime. “One of the things [the students] had to do,” says LMU Professor of History Elizabeth Drummond, “was figure out, OK, how do we actually go out and begin these conversations and make it clear we’re not there protesting. There were some people who thought they were there protesting Whole Foods!” The students’ mission was to give passersby free history lessons. The young historians, as Drummond calls those enrolled in her “Telling History in Public” class, were there to discuss the Tongva, a group of native peoples who thrived here before the arrival of Europeans. “This is such a dynamic space, and there’s so much going on in terms of technology and new urbanism, but there’s a longer history to Playa Vista,” Drummond says. “These are the original homelands of the Tongva people who were displaced, who suffered from extreme depopulation because of, originally, Spanish colonialism, but also the continuing effects of U.S. expansion as well.” Holding up a sign that reads “What happened to the Tongva during colonization?” and trying to give a free history

LMU history students brought these hand-made signs to help bring awareness to Playa Vista’s first residents, the Tongva

lesson might not seem like the easiest task, and Drummond admitted that it did take some getting used to. “That’s, I think, nerve-wracking for college students sometimes — to have go up to strangers and say, ‘Hey, do you wanna learn some history?’” Nevertheless, Drummond said the students soon got some takers: “They had some short conversations with people who were eager to get to yoga or back to work or lunch, but they also had some really extended conversations,” Drummond said. “One man said initially, ‘I don’t believe you, I’ve never heard of these people.’ Then he looked the Tongva up on his phone, and said ‘OK, what you’re talking about is real.’”

That so many people aren’t necessarily aware that the Tongva even existed is part of why Drummond chose to highlight that aspect of Playa Vista history, though there were a number of other reasons. “I wanted something that had that element of recovering histories that have often been forgotten,” said Drummond, “and something that tapped into questions of social justice and environmentalism, and also the history debates we’ve seen in the broad public.” Drummond cribbed the idea from the public history debates around the monuments to Confederate soldiers, (Continued on page 16) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 15

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(Continued from page 15)

where historians in North Carolina have been giving free history lessons as a type of public intervention. Another group from her class gave similar lessons on LMU’s campus about Junípero Serra, a Spanish missionary and Catholic saint celebrated for founding numerous missions throughout California, but criticized for his use of forced labor among the native peoples. “Part of the framing was about how we think about this history in terms of social justice.” Drummond said. “The [Tongva] people were dispossessed of their lands, have suffered under oppressive policies of the U.S. government, and still aren’t recognized as an Indian Nation, which means they don’t have access to certain resources, certain protections.” There are still Tongva people living in the region. When Playa Vista as it stands today was being developed, builders uncovered tribal burial grounds in the area, and had to work with Tong-

• The native Tongva people have lived in the Los Angeles basin for 7,000 years. They settled in Playa Vista, the Ballona Wetlands and the Westchester bluffs about 200 A.D. • Hunter-gatherers, the Tongva lived in this resource-rich area undisturbed until the 1800s when the Spanish arrived. The Tongva were enslaved and forced to build Catholic missions. LMU Professor of History Elizabeth Drummond teaches a class called ‘Telling History in Public’ and says ‘There’s a longer history in Playa Vista’

va representatives to relocate the hundreds of remains in a respectful fashion. The bluff roadway that passes behind LMU residence halls has a memorial to

• During the development of Playa Vista, the remains of Tongva people were exhumed. In 2008, the remains were laid to rest in a sacred burial ceremony near the Westchester bluffs.

“Wiyot’s Children” by Mary Leighton Thomson depicts life of the Tongva people that was undisturbed until the 1800s when the Spanish arrived. (Photo courtesy of Friends of Ballona Wetlands)

16 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 17

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(Continued from page 16)

The Tongva were hunter-gatherers who thrived for over 1,600 years in Playa Vista

Actual Tongva arrowheads excavated from the LMU campus are on display at University Hall

the Tongva, which overlooks the surrounding area. Getting the history of the Native peoples, the area they lived in, and the struggles they face is paramount for Professor Drummond. “With the Tongva, and the recent history with Standing Rock, and discussions around native rights and native lands, I thought it might make sense to kind of tap into those discussions about indigenous peoples and lands and space,” Drummond says. “There really is this long and fascinating history just in this space around us here.”

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Standup comedian Jillie Reil is ready to pounce on big laughs

22 Playa Vista Direct | February ¡ March 2019

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Hot Prowler

Look out, young studs — ‘The Cougar of Comedy’ is on the loose in Playa Vista Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner


otox? Check. Cocktail? Check. Desire to date much younger men? Double check. Looks like Playa Vista has its very own cougar on the loose. Of course we’re not talking about some rogue mountain lion stalking the Ballona Wetlands. “Cougar” is slang for an older woman stalking men at least eight years her junior. This particular cougar happens to like telling jokes. Fortysomething Jillie Reil is a frisky standup comedian who calls herself “The Cougar of Comedy.” When she’s not acting in movies and TV shows or producing live comedy shows to benefit the troops, Riel performs her “cute dirty” style of comedy at places like The Comedy Store, The Improv and Flapper. Originally from the wilds of Minnesota, Reil came to Los Angeles 13 years ago with the intention of going to law school. The juris doctor didn’t pan out, but like a big cat she sunk her teeth into standup comedy and still hasn’t let go. “I love connecting with a group of strangers and making them laugh,” says Reil. “It gives me such a rush when I’m able to do it.” Her comedy routine focuses on the challenges of dating younger men. “I often joke that we just want different thing: I want to spend my money on trips, and he wants to spend his on college,” she says with a wink. Then there are the dating apps. Riel

Reil is full of cat-titude as she lounges by the pool at the Centerpointe Club

has nine on her phone but claims to only use six. She calls swiping through the single men “window shopping for humans.” She also finds the sprawl of the city can impede the chance of a second date. Riel says she’s met people she liked online and even if the first date goes well, “You’re over there, I’m over here, and that’s that.” But she also claims to have recently had the opposite problem with a man

she thought lived about a mile away: “It turned out he lives in my building,” she shares. “It’s a big building, but it’s a little awkward since I didn’t think the date went as well as he did.” Another thing Reil worries about is how much information and photos of her are out there on the internet. Once, after Googling herself, she found her photo on a foot fetish website. (Continued on page 24) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 23

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(Continued from page 23)

“I had clothes on … they are just random creepers who like my feet. My favorite comment was, ‘Her face is okay, but her feet — they’re divine!’ I’ll take it, thank you. It’s a good thing my parents aren’t that Internet savvy,” she says with a laugh. But is Riel’s cougar lifestyle for real or just an act? “I was more joking about it at first,” she says. “But I like happy hour, Botox and younger guys, so …” She also says she loves living in Playa Vista because of its walkability. “I’m just so happy not to have to get in my car. And there’re so many cool bars, restaurants, yoga studios — anything you need is here.” One aspect of Playa Vista that Reil curiously doesn’t mention is its close proximity to Loyola Marymount University. Moms with sons at LMU, you’ve been warned!

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M om Up wit h G a b r i e ll e

My Vampire Facial turned into a Vampire Weekend By Gabrielle D’Addario


f it hadn’t been performed by my longtime dermatologist (Dr. Jack Silvers of Brentwood Dermatology), I might have lost my cool when I sat up and looked in the mirror after my recent PRP (platelet-rich plasma) with Microneedling treatment, dubbed the “vampire facial.” Growing in popularity and made famous by Kim Kardashian, this procedure begins with the drawing of your own blood that is then run through a centrifuge to isolate the platelets. The platelets are reinjected into targeted areas for cosmetic improvement alongside Microneedling. The results are said to be phenomenal, so after having a rough go with post-pregnancy / mom skin, like brown spots, fine lines and wrinkles, I decided to give it a try. I was super numb when they actually did the procedure (which lasted roughly 45 minutes), so I barely felt anything while it was taking place. My doctor had warned me that I would be leaving the office with a bright red “crusty” face, but I just figured it would be similar to the basic chemical peels I’ve done in the past. Boy was I wrong! My jaw dropped and I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness I was staring at! I literally looked like I painted my face with red paint. All I had to do to convince my poor husband I needed a hotel room by myself was send him an after photo. I figured once I could wash my face I’d look pretty close to “normal,” but my face had swollen overnight and the discoloration of the bruising mixed with Microneedling left me looking like a pluot. There was no way I could go home to my three- and five-year-olds like this.

26 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Gabrielle D’Addario shares a series of photos as she recovers from her “vampire facial,” saying she would do it again

So I decided to just take advantage of the opportunity to relax and I stayed in this very peaceful, kid-free hotel room in the marina for three nights. Lying in bed I enjoyed the rain and slowed down my mind; I literally just hid from everything. I took advantage of living in the age of technology that makes life easier and used and Postmates to deliver everything from wine to coconut oil to my hotel room. Feeling the need to really pamper myself, I used the massage-on-demand apps Zeel and Glamsquad for in-room services that I was able to seamlessly book for same day appointments. The biggest question I’ve gotten is

“Would you do it again?” To which my answer is YES! But next time, I’ll plan it with my friends and we can enjoy a staycation together. My advice for anyone who is interested in trying this procedure is to visit a reputable doctor and also to pad your budget, because with the weekend getaway it was close to $2,000 in expenses. I paid around $1,000 for this procedure, which is pretty average for this type of work, and the still evolving results have me feeling like it was money well spent. Gabrielle D’Addario is founder of the Silicon Beach Parents Group.

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Sandra Kitashima is the mastermind of connecting the community

Planner Ext Sandra Kitashima keeps Playa Vista busy as the

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Story By Kelby Vera Photos By Maria Martin


ith its beautiful parks, friendly neighbors and an abundance of local activities, Playa Vista offers the kind of community many people dream about. Behind much of it all is Sandra Kitashima, who is master planner Brookfield Residential’s director of experience for Playa Vista. Kitashima’s job is a juggling act of overseeing local event planning as well as working as a commercial property manager. That means she’s one of the brains behind things like Movies in The Park, the annual Halloween Hangout festivities, Playa Vista’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, and more. She’s also responsible for the events exclusive to Playa Vista residents, which range from bingo nights to coffee-and-bagel meetups to art-andwine discussions. Kitashima says she loves the way various types of events create connections between Playa Vista residents and people outside of the community. “It’s just a great way for people to come together and create moments and memories. It’s getting outside and having fun and having a positive experience,” says Kitashima. One of Kitashima’s favorite events as director of experience is overseeing National Night Out, an evening that allows the community to meet local police officers. (Continued on page 34)

raordinaire community’s official Director of Experience

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(Continued from page 33)

“A number of people walked up to me the first year we hosted National Night Out and thanked me for creating a wonderful community event. They felt that there are many great events in Playa Vista, but National Night Out was about bringing community together for the common good in support of our local law enforcement,” she said. The new year has plenty in store for the community, including the return of Shakespeare in the Park, an Earth Day celebration, dessert socials, a health and wellness expo with Elevation Fitness, as well as a possible 5K race in the works. One of the biggest changes will be closing the street that bisects the Runway retail center to cars in order to create a pedestrian promenade. Kitashima says she’s “looking forward to the new pedestrian-focused design that will only add to the excitement of its many diverse events.”

In addition to her day job, Kitashima gives back to the community as a board member of HomeAid Los Angeles, a nonprofit that helps shelters make the most of their resources by providing them with building and planning assistance. “It could be simply, ‘We happen to own the lot next door, but we’re not builders so we don’t know how to pull permits’ or ‘We have four bedrooms here but there are no windows,’” she explains. HomeAid partners shelters with a “Building Captain,” such as Brookfield Residential, which helps connect the dots so “the shelter itself gets to focus on what they’re good at.” Last October Kitashima was co-chair for HomeAid LA’s third annual fundraising event, hosted by Playa Vista’s Centerpointe Club. The night featured a live jazz band, a silent auction and some mouthwatering paella from grade-A chefs. Most importantly, it raised close to

Kitashima dedicates her free time to raising money to help the homeless

$150,000 — about $10,000 above the original goal. Keep up with Playa Vista Community Services’ latest projects at

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P e t A d optio n

Adoptable Pets

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

If you’re craving lots of affection, I could be the one for you! I’m Wes, a friendly older guy who could use some love in my life. If you think we could be a match, let’s get together!




Hello, I’m Bagheera. I’m a playful kitten who would like to become friends with you! Can you bring me to a loving, forever home?

Hello there, my name is Brock. I am an older boy who is looking for a home where I can relax and spend time with a kind, gentle pet parent. I’d prefer a space with adults or older children, please. I am ready to be your loyal companion.

Pet Dental Health Month

to remember yearly dental work at a pet’s older age, but healthy habits start when they still have puppy teeth. At any age, the time to put dental health in your daily or weekly routine is now. A cleaning routine takes time, but the more you train, the

By Eleasha Gall, CPDT-KA

Dog owners recognize the importance of pet health, but many don’t think about their dogs’ teeth as often. It’s easier

quicker habits are formed. Start slow. If your dog moves away and doesn’t like it at first, that’s ok! Throughout February, stop by Annenberg PetSpace to receive a free toothbrush for your dog. Learn more at

To learn more about pet adoption, or to see other available pets, visit or visit in person at 12005 Bluff Creek Drive 36 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

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From ‘Big Brother’ into

the Real World Will and Erin Kirby conquered reality TV before starting their real lives together

Story by Brian Marks | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner

38 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Hom e Left side:

From television to two kids, the Kirby family keeps it real in their Icon home B e low:

B e l o w r i g h t:


6-year-old Scarlett lounges in her bright and airy bedroom

Gorgeous sunlight streams in through cascading windows as 8-year-old Cash and mom Erin embrace

he style of reality television we’ve become accustomed to tends to focus on and celebrate the ultra-wealthy and the already famous, whose lives bear little relation to our own. That wasn’t always the case. In the early years of the current century, reality TV showed how regular folks from all walks of life could handle extraordinary situations. It’s from that era of reality TV that Will and Erin Kirby emerged. I speak to the couple during a late-morning visit to their cozy yet tastefully minimalist Playa Vista townhouse. They sit across from me on a stately sofa with their little Yorkshire terrier named Wriggley between them. Fans of the long-running CBS reality show “Big Brother” might recognize

Will from his star-making turn as the winner of season two in 2001. His ambitions weren’t always set on this emerging form of entertainment, though. Will previously trained as a dermatologist. “Like anything in life, you gravitate toward things you’re inherently good at,” he says. “I felt like I had an eye for aesthetics. I’ve always been sort of artistic, so I really like the symmetry of human beauty.” Will took a break after finishing medical school, which helped facilitate his television career. “For a physician, it’s an extremely non-traditional career pathway,” he explains. “It would be for anyone, but you don’t hear about physicians going on reality shows and winning, then going

back to their careers.” That non-traditional career path was also what brought Will and Erin (née Brodie) together in the first place. Erin, who was raised in the Bay Area, is the daughter of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie. After dropping by an audition on a whim, she got a call asking her to be in Bel Air in a few days to start filming. Erin competed on the first season of the dating show “For Love or Money” in 2003, in which she won $1 million. She appeared as the protagonist on the second season of the show, going double for nothing and winning an additional $2 million. She attributes part of her success to (Continued on page 40) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 39

Hom e

(Continued from page 39)

different practices in the early days of reality TV. According to her, the shows didn’t require the kind of cattiness that programs like “The Bachelor” now thrive on. Erin was also less prone to drama and histrionics than other contestants. “Because I was older than most of the girls on the show, I probably had more experience,” she says. “And I think I’ve always been comfortable around a lot of different, vivacious personalities. When things do get heated, I tend to be the one who stays more even keel — which doesn’t make for great TV, by the way.” Following their successful reality TV stints, Will and Erin both appeared as guests on a 2005 episode of a series hosted by Kathy Griffin. The two quickly hit things off. They became engaged in 2011 and eventually married in 2017. Their son Cash was born in 2010, and a daughter, Scarlett, followed in 2012.

The Kirbys hanging out barefoot and fancy-free

In the intervening years, Will returned to his passion, dermatology, though he still makes occasional appearances on medical shows like “The Doctors” and has even returned to host the jury roundtable segment on “Big Brother” for the last six years. He’s now chief medical officer of LaserAway, an aesthetic dermatology group, and considered one of the top aesthetic

dermatologists in the country. Will’s connection to Playa Vista began in 2004, prior to meeting Erin. At the time, much of the area was nothing but dirt, though he hoped to get an early foothold in the community. In 2012, he and Erin moved their family into their current home. (Continued on page 42)

I LIST. I STAGE. I SELL. ! n i w u o y . .. Michelle Martino • 310-880-0789 • 40 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

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Hom e

(Continued from page 40)

“One of the reasons I’m located in Southern California, and Playa Vista in particular, is because it’s really essential to the aesthetic world,” says Will. “L.A. is like the biggest aesthetic city in the world.” That commitment to aesthetics is apparent as we tour their home. Its white walls give off a cool, clean feel, but an abundance of large windows let in plenty of warm, natural light that prevents the space from ever seeming too cold. It’s also invigorated by little splashes of color, including pink pillows that Erin has placed on the chairs and sofa ahead of Valentine’s Day. Their space is relatively free of detritus, but Will and Erin seem to have a particular affection for some of the wooden furniture. We chat across a massive, dark wood coffee table, and later Erin shows off a striking display table in the foyer that’s made from a single tree trunk (Will is particularly fond of it). Will’s dedication to beauty and improvement also extends to upcoming renovations. He and Erin plan to redo the roof as a gathering spot replete with a fire pit. They’re sure to have the most aesthetically pleasing view in the neighborhood.

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P oi n t of Vi e w

Lessons in Barkeology Dog park etiquette that all dog parents should know By Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul


laya Vista may leave you with the impression that Silicon Beach is a utopia for dog park patrons. It is. More importantly, it’s also a utopia for dogs. There is a lot of barking and playfighting fun to be had at Playa Vista’s three outdoor dog play venues: Bluff Creek Dog Park and Oberrieder Dog Park, both on Bluff Creek Drive, and Longwood Dog Park at 13077 Villosa Place. But keep in mind that not all dog parks are created equal, nor are they necessarily created to optimize dog socialization, play and rigorous exercise. Most dog parks cater to the needs of owners and pet care providers. All three PV dog parks permit segregating large and small dog populations. But choose carefully, because we often forget to consider high energy vs. low energy, young vs. old, and socialized vs. ‘asocial’ when introducing naive dogs and more seasoned, off-leash ‘socialized’ dog visitors. For example, the Bluff Creek dog park is great for a quick trip and includes a “drinking water stream” for dogs to play in. But playing an intense game of fetch on diverse and elevated terrain can challenge the physical well-being of a dog in great shape, not to mention one with joint conditions. When I play fetch with my own dog, quite the agile Doberman, I’m careful to also “exercise” him at one of the two other parks, which use wood chips as a substrate and are comprised of flat and wide-open spaces. There is a ton of information about dog park safety and etiquette online, but my perspective may be a little differ-

While these dogs are socializing well at Bluff Creek Dog Park, not all dogs thrive in the same social environment

ent than your typical canine behaviorist or dog trainer. Dog behavior at a dog park is dictated by many things beyond simply basic social dynamics, breed temperament, individual disposition and rearing history. While at any dog park, here are a few things to keep in mind: • Not all dogs thrive in the same social environments. Pay attention to quality and quantity of space and environmental parameters that may be relevant to your dog. • Be preemptive and err on the side of caution. If you see a reactive dog, perhaps leave and come back later. Don’t wait for a potential engagement to go awry or escalate. And never assume another dog owner has the experience to respond to a challenging situation.

• Pay attention to your dog and keep cell phone use to a minimum. You can’t de-escalate altercations if you don’t see them coming. • Gated entranceways and exits are highly congested on busy days and can be stress-inducing for your dog. Don’t remove the leash until you have managed to open and close gates securely with a latch. Navigating these hotspots can make all the difference. The ultimate goal is for all our local dog residents to have a stimulating, fun and safe experience while playing with their furry friends. A Playa Vista resident, Schaul is a veterinary scientist and exotic animal trainer who works with celebrity dog owners and trains celebrity dogs. Contact him at Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 43

Chair of Loyola Marymount University’s Marital and Family Therapy Department, Einat Metzl combines emotional healing with art

H e a lt h

The Art of Healing

Einat Metzl finds that creative expression is a practical way to grapple with strong feelings Story by Shanee Edwards | Photos By Maria Martin


e’ve all heard that phrase, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Well, I think it’s worth more than that. And I have a big appreciation for words!” says local resident Einat Metzl, chair of Loyola Marymount University’s Marital and Family Therapy Department in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. Whether drawn by a traumatized child or a spouse in distress, when that “picture” is used as part of art therapy, it can communicate feelings that words often can’t. “There’s something about the somatic kinesthetic visual connection that cannot be understated,” Metzl says, adding that art “can also help us process things that are more existential and harder to make sense of through logical thought.” While it might sound progressive and experimental, art therapy isn’t new. The discipline got its formal start after World War II, when many soldiers returned from the battlefield with “shell shock” — in today’s language, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The medical community began to realize that art had a therapeutic effect on their patients. Today, art therapy is used for all types of diagnoses. Originally from Israel, “a place where war and conflict is part of daily life,” Metzl grew up in a family of artists and educators. From a young age she was curious about the connection between emotional healing and art and knew she wanted to put the two together in a formal way. She came to the United States and

Nancy Choe’s art installation at LMU’s Art Therapy department helps her to resolve the shame she experienced growing up as the daughter of Korean immigrants who owned a dry cleaning business

eventually earned a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy / Art Therapy from LMU, and then a PhD in Art Education / Art Therapy from Florida State University. Her doctoral research focused specifically on creativity and resilience after Hurricane Katrina, and how the creative process fostered growth on both the individual and community level. Metzl was then hired by LMU as a visiting professor. That’s when life handed her a detour. After marrying the man she calls “the only man I knew who knew how to love another as clear and as pure as water flowing down” in an essay she contributed to “South Writ Large,” she became pregnant with twins. Sadly, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and just one month after their girls were born, he passed away.

“This is part of our personal — and universal — journey, right?” she says with a smile that is bittersweet. When Metzl works with children in the foster care system, whether they were adopted or aged out of foster care, she’s reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. “Kids, they have a true intuitive wisdom about what they need,” she says, “and if we just get out of their way and give them some materials to express themselves, they will do incredible things.” Children who’ve suffered trauma can often benefit from art therapy. While they may not be able to express their experience though words, Metzl says they “can draw what they’re feeling or thinking.” (Continued on page 46) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 45

H e a lt h

(Continued from page 45)

Having that visual art also serves as a record that illustrates the child’s emotional journey. “We have a lasting product. So if somebody has created something — let’s say either in play or an artwork — I can take a picture, or I can have the physical art. When the child comes back and they do another piece, whether it is similar or different, I can always bring that previous piece out and we can witness that journey together, saying, ‘Wow, look at that. Last time it was here, and now it’s there.’” Metzl also finds art therapy to be helpful when she works with couples facing issues in their relationship. “Couples,” she says, “come for all the reasons you can imagine. Sometimes it’s communication challenges, the impact of past experiences, or sexual challenges.” Though not the right fit for every

couple, Metzl invites her clients to create art as a way to explore feelings, express pain and connect with one another when their words have turned toxic. “They can see each other’s pain in an art piece that is reflected and separated from anger and blame directed at them — there’s no point in arguing with that image. That image speaks to your right brain much more directly then it does to your logical brain. It’s a way for you to connect differently,” she explains. When she’s not doing the work she loves in her private practice, guiding her students at LMU, donating time to nonprofits like A Home Within and raising her two children, Metzl still creates art and, when possible, contributes to art exhibitions. “It’s a part of me that I think is essential,” she says. “I’m a practitioner in my core — I practice art, therapy, yoga. I don’t get to any of it as much as I would

Metzl is the mom of twin girls who attend Playa Vista Elementary

like. I am committed to my practices and am also deeply grateful for the challenges that inform myself and others.”

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46 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Cherryvale Farms Makes

Baking a Piece of Cake Lindsey Rosenberg’s plant-based mixes cut out the need for eggs and milk Story by Jessica Koslow Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner 48 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Left side: A bov e :

Lindsey Rosenberg is a local mompreneur who creates healthy, vegan snacks

After working in entertainment, Rosenberg returned to her family’s farm roots

A b o v e r i g h t:


Rosenberg’s LOVE IT! baked muffin bars are made with real fruit, whole grains and no GMOs

t’s 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, and Cherryvale Farms founder Lindsey Rosenberg is already on her second meeting. That alone is not such a great feat, until you factor in that she’s nine months pregnant, the mother of a two-year-old daughter, and that her company — which produces 100% plant-based baking mixes and on-the-go treats — is undergoing a brand redesign. And yet the 34-yearold is the image of calm and control. “My inbox is only at 36,” she says with a smile when I ask if she’s overwhelmed every day. We’re sitting comfortably in the front lounge of her husband’s ad agency in Playa Vista. “After USC, I worked in fashion and entertainment for a few years,” Rosenberg shares. “And I was ready for a big change.”

Change meant going back to the farm — literally. Rosenberg grew up in Soquel, just south of Santa Cruz, population 1,000. Her parents still live on their hobby farm, growing fruits and vegetables on Cherryvale Avenue. Rosenberg and her father, a veteran entrepreneur, set out to create a brand out of the Cherryvale Farms story. “I bake from scratch,” Rosenberg says, “but I’m also at the top end of the millennial generation. Sometimes you don’t have eggs or milk in fridge, and you don’t want to buy a dozen eggs for one cake mix. I realized there was a need for easy, allergen-friendly baking mixes that taste good. With our baking mixes, you don’t add eggs, milk or butter. You just add fresh fruit, a vegetable or nuts, and oil and water. You don’t need to break out the mixing bowls.” “Everyone has bananas going bad by

Friday in your pantry,” she adds, breaking into an infectious giggle. And it’s hard to remember to leave the butter out to soften. Cherryvale Farms products are vegan — egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free — and use a plant-based egg replacer. In 2011, Rosenberg and her dad debuted their baking mixes, including banana and pumpkin spice bread, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies, blueberry muffin, chocolate brownie and cornbread. The brand took off in the Bay Area, flying off the shelves of stores like Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl and Draeger’s Market. The Bay Area is still one of the company’s bestselling regions. (Continued on page 50) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 49

F oo d

(Continued from page 49)

Cherryvale Farms expanded nationwide in 2014, and the following year Rosenberg moved her base of operations to Los Angeles. The brand is currently sold in 5,000 stores nationwide. Just last year, Rosenberg and her team decided they wanted to move beyond the mom-and-pop label. In January, they launched Instant Indulgence™ Mug Cake Mixes — you just add water to the mix and microwave for one minute — and in September, Love It!® Baked Muffin Bars. Mug Cake flavors include rich chocolate brownie, salted caramel chocolate and birthday cake, and the baked muffin bar choices are cherry vanilla, blueberry lemon and banana chocolate. “I’m very excited about the bars and ready-to-eat snacks,” Rosenberg says. “We’re growing in Albertsons, Safeway, Ralphs and Kroger.” For now, Playa Vista residents can find Cherryvale Farms baking mixes in Whole Foods, the Mug Cake Mixes

Baby Julian is due Feb. 10.

on Amazon, and Baked Muffin Bars in Smart & Final. And, of course, all of the products are available on their website. “We do very well online because our customer wants ultimate convenience,” says Rosenberg. Her customers also have special dietary needs. “I have a customer in Alaska,” Rosenberg says, “and she has a son with special needs. He’s picky about his diet.

Your friendly neighborhood bar...

(Continued on page 52)

26 Years of Tamales

Tamara Tapp, a native of Venice, has been the owner of her one of a kind specialty tamale shop for 26 years. The shop has received numerous 1st place awards and widespread recognition and has been called the “Baskin Robbins” of tamales by the L.A. Times and “the best tamales in the world” by Wolfgang Puck.

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He eats our banana bread every week, so she special orders the mix, and I send it to her every week.” Rosenberg also fields questions from customers about dressing up the mixes. “People ask, ‘Can I add chocolate chips, or cranberries, or bake muffins instead of bread?’” she says. (I substituted almond butter in the peanut butter


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F oo d

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(Continued from page 50)

cookie mix, without asking, and they were delicious!) While Cherryvale Farms recipes do use organic cane sugar, most of the sweetness from, for instance, the banana mix comes from three bananas. “My daughter loves the bars,” says Rosenberg. “She calls them cookies because they’re sweet and sort of round.” In the next few days, Rosenberg’s family is about to get bigger. Even with her son on the way, she doesn’t plan on slowing down. “The best part of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility,” she says. “I love that I can give people good food, and they can give it to their kids.”







The most trusted news source for who and what is trending in Westside communities is preparing stories and taking ad reservations for its annual “Westsiders” edition. This much-anticipated special issue publishes March 21, featuring unique stories and photography highlighting a wide variety of local Innovators, Influencers and Unconventional Characters from the diverse communities that The Argonaut has served for over 45 years. Your advertisement in this Who’s Who issue will help you stand out ne and be considered a unique ad Deadli8 h and special contributor to the Marc local flavor of the Westside. : issue Date1 Don’t be left out! 2 h rc a


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52 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019


SKINCARE Sunday, February

17Saturday, December 22

Bids and Bubbles Benefit for The Power of a Shower A new nonprofit founded this year by Playa Vista Insurance Services and Sunny Side Up Events CEO Rachel Sunday, the Power of a Shower works to provide free mobile shower and hygiene services as well as clean clothes for homeless people in Los Angeles. “We’re not trying to solve the homeless crisis, we are simply trying to give people dignity,” Sunday says. The group’s first major fundraiser features signature cocktails, small bites, a photo booth and silent auction from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Centerpointe Club, 6200 Playa Vista Drive. Tickets are $53 at Visit for more information.


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Thursday, February 21

Closeted: Clearing the Clutter and Making Room for Joy This intimate workshop with “wardrobe therapist” Stephanie Gisondi-Little of ComposedCo helps professional women live their best lives, starting with their closet. The event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. also provides tips and tools from financial planner Marie Thomasson CFP, to help you declutter your financial life as well, from portfolios to bank accounts. Free. Aequitas Wealth Management, 5465 S. Centinela Ave., Del Rey (three blocks north of Jefferson Boulevard). RSVP to (Continued on page 54) Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019 53


(Continued from page 53)

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Saturday, March 9

Rock Roll & Run for Education The nonprofit LAX Coastal Education Foundation’s second annual Rock Roll & Run for Education, held in partnership with Loyola Marymount University, kicks off at 8 a.m. on the LMU campus. Eighteen local schools are confirmed to participate in this year’s event that features a 5K run/walk, kids’ 1K and an expo with family activities, free food, giveaways and more. The 5K race is $35 for adults or $30 for kids under 12. Kids under 8 can participate in the 1K for $20. Call (310) 645-5151 or visit to find out more.

Saturday, April 6

Friends of Playa Vista Elementary Gala and Auction New customers only. Participating locations only. Some restrictions may apply. Offer expires 3/31/19.

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54 Playa Vista Direct | February · March 2019

Dine, drink and dance at this second annual Friends fundraiser in support of teacher’s aide salaries, physical education, Art in Action, PlayWorks, the school’s technology program and other needs not funded by LAUSD. The event is from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Roski Dining Room in University Hall at Loyola Marymount University. Tickets are $80, with VIP tables also available to reserve. Visit or email events@playavistaschool. com for more info.


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