Tag Archives: community


In 2010, National Geographic stated that San Luis Obispo is one of the happiest places to live. In 2011, Oprah Winfrey sent Jenny McCarthy out to SLO to do a segment about how it’s the happiest city in the US. After that, this town has used the “happiest place to live” as a commercial motto to bring in tourism, invite businesses in, sell homes at inflated prices, and make this little town into a very prosperous place to live; which makes people happier. So, yay Oprah and National Geographic for letting people know that we do live in a beautiful place with incredible mountains, clean oceans, clean air and (somewhat) controlled development. So yes, it is happy.

This isn’t about that. I see the positive aspect of taking on the role of such a title but then I also spend a lot of time walking in just about every part of this happy town, seeing the things people forgets to recognize when they are so focused on “happy” and meeting people who are invisible because they are reminders of what isn’t right in the place they live. There are little clusters of forgotten people who have made homes out of little corners of this town. Under the freeway overpass, under bridges, behind large multimillion dollar commercial spaces. People will find anywhere they can to make a home for themselves. As much as I find this the strength of the human spirit to survive, I always know that no man (person) should go without basic needs that help him look in the mirror and know he matters. Every man should have a place to lay his head, to wake up and be able to make himself something to eat, to wash himself, and make his way through his world as a member of the community he lives in. No man should be living under a bridge or in his own filth while there are those around him live with more than they know what to do with.

6 weeks ago, around 6:30am as I was walking to Black Horse on Marsh to get my morning coffee, a man literally stumbled into my life. He had a hurt leg, a walker, a backpack, and that was all. I ran to him to help him get up and the first words out of his mouth was “I’m not crazy, I won’t hurt you”. He was homeless and in pain. He is one person in a larger group of people who are disregarded, considered failures, who are put into a cluster of whatever view there is in the culture that blames a person for a bigger social problem that isn’t going to be resolved. So after helping him up and getting him a cup of coffee, we sat at the bus stop and talked. His name is Pauly. I laughed and told him that I live in the house of many Pauls. I told him I’d look for him and he told me the same. He seemed like the kind of guy who fell on hard times and hasn’t been able to get out of it. After that I looked for him when I was out but didn’t find him. I hoped that he found a place to live or was able to get out of town to a better situation.

Last week, I was walking to get my coffee and I looked at the place I saw him the first time and he was on the bench, weeping alone. I went over and said hi. It hurt my heart all over again to see a perfectly capable person unable to be capable because of his situation. I listened to him and tried to put together what his story is and figured out it doesn’t matter. He is a person and he matters. As I was leaving him, he said “I don’t believe in god anymore, I thought I should tell you”. I’m not religious person but I understand the need to believe in something bigger than oneself, to have faith in something to keep the spirit to move forward. When I heard that, I got angry. To lose your faith, whatever it maybe, means that you have lost faith in the people around you. This man needs a place to call his own and it shouldn’t be under the bridge. This man needs a door to walk through every night, and chair to sit in, a kitchen to make coffee in, a bathroom to…, and a job that he can work at to earn his living. But more than that, he needs to know that he hasn’t been forgotten because he matters.

What’s the point of all soap boxing? I don’t know. I just know that when I’m walking around and looking at all that is celebrated about living in this happy place, I also see a whole lot of people who would be happy with something as basic as a little acknowledgment that they still exist, even if they aren’t living the happy life we are selling to ourselves in the happiest place to live.


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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


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It’s contagious!!! I hope you catch it.

ImageSomething incredible is happening around me and it’s contagious. People are helping each other just because it’s good to help each other. I don’t know when it started and how it is spreading but it feels like a little bit of light shining through in a world of anger, selfishness, and retaliation. I don’t think it’s the start of this grand step toward a loving and caring world we keep telling our kids they can create because let’s face it, as long as people keep holding onto the idea that ‘mine is mine and get your own’, that’s never going to happen.

No I’m not about to go on a hippie-dippy rant about giving up your possessions or sharing because I would be thought of as naive and ridiculous. This is about the little things people are doing around me at a time when everyone is uncertain of what is coming around the corner for them at a very politically and socially fragile time. It is at these times when the big boys/girls in government don’t know how to play nice, bickering and fighting like unruly children that people in communities start to see the importance of becoming active members of the communities they live in.

I know when I met her but I’m not sure how that introduction in a backyard kid birthday party manifested into the relationship that is developing with Terri Kurczewski but it’s a nice one to be in. She is involved in helping children try to reach their potential in their world of uncertainty. She isn’t a saint or anything but dammit if you can’t give kudos to anyone who doesn’t try to help the ones most of us disregard as unfortunate. What’s her do-gooder thing? She went from being part of a school to help kids to creating a space to bring people together to feed off of their own creativity, donate their unused goods, sell the goods to make more goods, and take all the funds and put it toward helping the children AND creating a more sustainable way of creating thing. WHA? She is doing two good things in one? Yup.

Plug for her gig: If you are in SLO, stop by. If your not, contact her and donate the unused (but meaning to) things that are collecting dust. if it isn’t being used, it’s useless, people.Just sayin’.

From this comes the fund raising that I was lucky to be involved it. The brains behind it was Sherry Jimenez. She has a hair salon (plug for her place below) and loves to do her part in making a difference in the town we live in. She doesn’t seem to think that what she is doing is significant but it is INCREDIBLE. She decided a couple of months ago to have an fundraiser with local artists who create their work with recycled, reclaimed, reused items. You know, using the stuff you keep holding onto but never get around to using? Yea. What’s the money going for? To help the school that Terri is part of. See the connection? So with over twenty artists donating their work, musicians donating their time, incredible food donated ( for the event, the party happened and the feel goodness of knowing that the money you spent didn’t go to a handful of people who don’t care. Good things happened.

Get your hair done here because I said so:

Okay so now I’m going to pull a ‘me, me, me’ moment. I had this crazy whim to do something bigger than I think I can and signed up for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara. I figured it would give me motivation not to slack off this summer and when the time came, whatever money I raised is going to do something necessary for people who are fighting cancer. I know it’s cliche but I HATE CANCER. From this came an incredible outpouring to support that has made this event bigger than just a two day walk. It’s becoming a community that I am taking with me. It feels incredible. One of the most wonderful things that has come from this has been my dear wonderful and creative friend Robyn Berry who started a portrait photography business from her house last year and is now just having a blast creating images. She contacted me and said she is having a fundraiser photo shoot sessions for families and 100% of the money would go toward the event. Please mind you that i know for each short session she is having, she is putting in a whole lot of time editing, cleaning and delivering her products. AND all of that work is being done without compensation. She said to me “I could just give you $20 or do this. It just seems funner to do this instead”. Okay Robyn but you are a super star for it.

Her link because she sorta kinda seriously rules both as a photographer and a human being:

Oh and if you want to donate some money to the Avon Walk, here’s the link. No this is not a plea for funds, it’s just something I thought of adding into it.

So that being said, I’m feeling pretty happy to be surrounded by givers. Kindness is contagious and side effect is a good feeling.


Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


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