Paws and Pivot

805 Living Summer 2020, Paws and Pivot story by Leslie Dinaberg. Photos by Victoria Pearson.

805 Living Summer 2020, Paws and Pivot story by Leslie Dinaberg. Photos by Victoria Pearson.

After its closure during the COVID-19-related stay-at-home order, the Humane Society of Ventura County (hsvc.org) recently re-opened for pet adoptions. “We have room for three appointments per day,” says director of community outreach Greg Cooper. “We have stopped the intake of adoptable animals since the start of the pandemic, so our on-site population is way down,” he says.

Thanks to the power of social media and photographer Victoria Pearson’s Instagram pet portraits (@victoriapearsonphotographer; see a sampling above), Cooper says, “engagement on our feeds has increased by close to double since the pandemic began. People show a great deal of interest if they can see what the dog, cat, horse, or pig looks like before coming up for a visit at our shelter.”

He also credits the contributions of volunteers. “The work they produce is stellar,” he says. “We consider ourselves lucky to have access to such a great resource.”

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Fetching Food for Seniors

805 Living Summer 2020, Fetching Food for Seniors, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living Summer 2020, Fetching Food for Seniors, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Stuck at home for the remainder of his junior year at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara due to the pandemic, Daniel Goldberg felt the urge to help others in some way. He texted a few friends about it, and within a matter of days, Zoomers to Boomers (zoomerstoboomers.com), a free grocery delivery service for the elderly, was born.

Since early March, the program has grown to encompass 29 cities nationally and an affiliate in India.

“With the pandemic, I think there is this universal feeling of helplessness,” says Goldberg, “where everyone is just trying to stay away from people, and you feel like there’s nothing you can do. Just seeing how many people are reaching out and saying, ‘I want to do something similar [to Zoomers to Boomers],’ has been a very welcome surprise.”

Jackie Kaplan, one of more than 100 local volunteers, recently finalized a partnership with The Foodbank of Santa Barbara to deliver hot meals from Chef’s Kitchen to seniors, further cementing Zoomers to Boomers community collaborations.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Color Them Lattes

805 Living Summer 2020, Color Them Lattes, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Photos by Denisse Salinas.

805 Living Summer 2020, Color Them Lattes, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Photos by Denisse Salinas.

The colorful Moon Mylk Lattes at Hook & Press Donuts (hookandpressdonuts. com) in downtown Santa Barbara are more than just a pretty pour.

“We wanted to offer more than just coffee and doughnuts at Hook & Press, and a line of plant-based, adaptogenic [containing ingredients believed to help the body resist stress] drinks that are healthy, delicious, and colorful was the perfect answer,” says owner John Burnett.

Available hot or iced (perfect for summer), the blends are made with almond, coconut, or oat milk, and their colors come straight from the all natural ingredients.

Flavors include Rose Mylk Latte with rose, almond, and subtle beet notes that go perfectly with fruity doughnuts; Yerba Mate Latte, featuring a slightly grassy taste with a hint of cacao that pairs well with chocolate doughnuts; Matcha Latte, infused with green tea and citrus flavors; and Golden Mylk Latte, a mingling of warm spices that marries well with the cinnamon crumb browned-butter doughnut.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Mindful Millinery

805 Living Summer 2020, Mindful Millinery, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living Summer 2020, Mindful Millinery, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Lovely, handcrafted works of art, the bespoke hats of Ojai-based Ninakuru (ninakuru.com) are also environmentally friendly.

“Felt hats are ethically sourced and hand shaped,” says founder and designer Jennifer Moray (left). “I source beautiful materials from around the world, such as vintage grosgrain and brocade ribbons, leather, turquoise, and other finishes, ensuring each hat is one-of-a-kind.”

Made of sustainable toquilla straw from Ecuadorean rainforests, the company’s authentic Panama hats are handwoven by master artisans in Ecuador before final touches are added in Ojai.

“The art of weaving an authentic Panama hat is such a cherished skill and so worthy of appreciation,” Moray says, “that in 2012 the handweaving of Panama hats was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

I’m honored and humbled to be able to create sustainably made products and do my part to preserve a precious cultural tradition.”

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Cheers to Connecting

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Treat friends to a drink, even if you’re not there to raise a glass with them. It’s easy via the Get Your Drink On (GYDO; gydo.me) app, which works with U.S. wineries and breweries that accept Apple Pay or Google Pay.

“In the 805 area alone, we have almost 200 participating wineries and breweries, [so] friends can buy friends a drink at their favorite spot,” says Ryan Williams, cofounder of the Carpinteria-based company.

The app was conceived, Williams says, to help the beverage companies increase their sales and expand their user base. “However,” he says, “as GYDO began to take shape, the focus became more on the actual experience of the GYDO user and how they felt when buying or receiving a drink.”

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Catch the Short Shorts Wave

805 Living Summer 2020, Catch the Short Shorts Wave, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Hammies photos, clockwise from top, by Annabelle Sadler, Grant Nestor and Tony Kozusko.

805 Living Summer 2020, Catch the Short Shorts Wave, story by Leslie Dinaberg. Hammies photos, clockwise from top, by Annabelle Sadler, Grant Nestor and Tony Kozusko.

The rad, retro beachy spirit of the 1970s and ’80s lives on in Hammies Shorts (hammiesshorts.com). Named after Hammond’s Beach, a favorite Montecito surf spot of co-owner Grant Nestor during his formative years, the Santa Barbara-based brand is inspired by the era’s classic OP corduroy shorts, which Nestor wore long after they stopped being manufactured in the 1980s.

For years, he says, he thought, “If somebody doesn’t start making these shorts again then I’m going to have to.” He and his wife Sarah Kozusko started Hammies to bring the retro style back, and their timing turned out to be right on trend, with short shorts coming back in a big way.

Hammies are available at Coco Cabana in Montecito and Canyon Supply in Ojai, as well as online.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Unraveling the Kinks in the Local Food Chain to Build and Sustain a Resilient Food System

This story was published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

Like a heat map, the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to areas of strain, places where we need to pay greater attention. One of the most noticeable of these is the food system.

This week, two of the founding members of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network — Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and Sigrid Wright, CEO of the Community Environmental Council — sat down with food writer Leslie Dinaberg to discuss how COVID-19 is sending shock waves through a fragile global food system, and why this is a particularly good time to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system. They draw on the guiding framework of an action plan published in 2016 and developed in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Orfalea Foundation, and more than 200 community members.

Leslie Dinaberg: A few years ago when you were developing the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan, your intention was to “future proof” the local food system, though presumably, you weren’t anticipating that a pandemic would test it so brutally. What are you thinking now?

Sigrid Wright: We’ve had other disasters that have had a ripple effect through the food system, but the COVID 19 pandemic is sending reverberations through the system unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime, in part because it’s global, and in part because it’s both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. This is a good time to be talking about why we want to build a healthy, sustainable and decentralized food system, because the global system has a lot of fragility to it.

Erik Talkin: The food system now is so hyper-organized and so dependent on every little link of the chain from here to China and back, that one break in that chain creates a lot of problems. The Foodbank has seen a 60% decrease in the amount of food that we get donated because grocery stores are selling out of food that would normally be provided to us. At the same time, our donations from the agricultural community, primarily the Santa Maria Valley, are up by 50% from this same month last year.

So that’s an indication that local growers have products available. Obviously they have their own problems with food distribution, as there are no schools or hotels operating, but we have a system in place that has allowed excess food to be effectively used. People are reading in the New York Times and elsewhere about milk being poured away and crops being plowed under, but that’s not happening really significantly in California.

LD: Are there any supply chains that are likely to be disrupted so that you won’t be able to access certain products a few months from now?

ET: Yes, there already have been disruptions in that the supply chain is overheated and unable to respond to requests. The Foodbank spent a quarter of a million dollars a couple of weeks ago on food that we haven’t received yet, because it’s slow in coming and our order is not as big as other orders.

Overall, in theory, there’s enough food in the country, but in terms of specific foods, we are already unable to get everything we would like.

SW: The modern food system is designed for speed and convenience. It’s highly efficient and certain aspects of it are really compacted, particularly around meat processing. From what I’m hearing, I would expect to see shortages of meat within the next few months.

This relates to Santa Barbara County because although we’ve traditionally been a cattle region and still do raise a lot of cattle here, we no longer have processing facilities. The same is true of fisheries. We have access to a good amount of animal protein on the Central Coast, but everything has to be shipped out, processed, and shipped back. That was one of the many issues that surfaced with the Food Action Plan: how do we decentralize some of those processing facilities so they are local?

LD: What have you learned about Santa Barbara’s food resilience in the past couple months that you didn’t anticipate?

SW: On the production side, pretty much every small farmer and fisherman is having to think on their feet and make some drastic adjustments to their business models as people are shopping less at farmers markets, and as schools and restaurants stop their orders. They’re having to go direct-to-consumer, often in inventive ways, whether that be a pop-up farmstand or more community supported agriculture boxes. Managing those new market routes is like picking up a second job: the first one being food production, the second being the delivery and marketing through different channels.

I’m also really concerned for our local restaurants. After the Thomas Fire, many businesses were barely hanging on or were just starting to recover, and now they’ve gotten hit again. We may lose a lot of local capacity, both on the producer end with farmers and fishermen and then on the consumer end with restaurants. That to me is a sadness. I personally am not ready for a future in which I get most of my food from Amazon.

ET: There haven’t been the types of runs and shortages over the last few weeks that theoretically could have happened, but I think we are still at the beginning of this crisis. People are afraid to go out and stand in line to get food. Toward the end of the summer, once the economic impacts have really cut deep — with people who are working but have large debts, and people who are still out of work — we’ll have a huge need for additional food for the community. That food can’t all be produced here, but has to be purchased or donated within the state and nationally.

LD: Is there a government entity to help with that?

ET: There’s a national emergency food program called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that is designed to pay local distributors to put together food boxes and make those available to either Foodbanks or to be distributed directly. So we’re having to go out to all of these people and say, “Do you want to be involved in this program? You get paid to provide this food, you get paid to truck it to a particular location.” But it’s a hugely complex 17-page application. Companies like Jordano’s, which is probably our largest local direct food distributor, don’t want to be involved because there’s not enough money in it for them.

The government, in a way, is trying to respond to this issue of food being dumped by offering incentives further down the chain than previous incentives. But there’s not the time or the organization or the planning to make them successful in anything more than the very short term.

SW: The Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, which was spearheaded by CEC and the Foodbank to implement the Food Action Plan, is looking at how we deal with all of this locally. One solution is to create a food hub, so that those who have products have a central vehicle for getting information out about them.

LD: Let’s talk about how this situation is affecting labor. According to the Food Action Plan, the agricultural sector is Santa Barbara County’s primary economic driver, and nearly 20,000 residents work in food and beverage stores or service locations. What are you seeing?

SW: It’s a bitter irony that people who work in the food system — in the fields or grocery stores for example —are deemed as essential workers, and yet they are not being protected as essential workers.

In our region we are really seeing this with farm workers who just don’t have the proper protection and are often having to work shoulder to shoulder. We saw similar inequities in other crises like the Thomas Fire, where it wasn’t until groups like CAUSE and MICOP got involved when farm workers had access to the N-95 masks that everyone else already had. We need the public to strongly advocate for protection for our farm workers, our seasonal workers, our grocery workers, so that they have safe conditions.

ET: It should be a requirement for the employers to do that. Even at the Foodbank — we have very stringent rules and we’ve been wearing masks and gloves for weeks — people just can’t help congregating together in tiny spaces and I’m constantly chasing away people. (Laughs) I’ve been doing that for years, but now I have an excuse to break up the party.

LD: What are you seeing at the home level? Food waste is certainly top of mind right now because no one wants to go out and buy food any more than they have to.

ET: At the most basic level of individuals, people are being forced to reckon with having to provide for their own nutritional health and to sit down and make something to eat, which wasn’t necessarily the case in the past. This may be an opportunity for people to increase food literacy and their understanding about how to take care of themselves and be healthy with food.

SW: We’re clearly seeing a shift in shopping and eating patterns as more people are cooking at home. I know the news media are using the word “hoarding,” but I don’t love that language. What I’m seeing is that people are trying to do a couple weeks of shopping at one time to reduce their exposure. It’s good people are shifting their behavior, but that caused some of the slowdown that Erik referred to.

Again, it’s not that the supply chain has a shortage of food, although there may be some gaps in things that we may not have access to when and how we want it. I think we’ve gotten quite spoiled, frankly, because we’ve built a food system that was designed around getting things fast and conveniently. To really be resilient you need some amount of redundancy and things that are less consolidated.

LD: When you are providing food from the Foodbank, how many days worth of food are people picking up at one time?

ET: We typically give out bags of groceries that are about 30 pounds. We’ve begun to switch to boxes which are slightly bigger, so there’s a variety of dry goods, canned goods, fresh produce, fresh meat, but it’s not your total dietary or meal requirements for that period of time. The food that we provide is supposed to be a supplement to the other food you’re getting. It is possible to go to more than one place if your need is greater.

We see the need for that type of food increasing dramatically and there’s been a real kind of blockage with the USDA food. There’s definitely problems with the emergency food distribution network, as well.

LD: Beyond the critical need for emergency feeding, at this moment is there anything else that stands out from the Food Action Plan?

ET: I think people’s understanding of the need to have more fully developed local networks for both distribution and availability of food is important.

We talked earlier about the need for local processing for seafood and meat, but that’s also a need for agricultural products. For example, if facilities were available we could make spaghetti sauces and other things out of produce before it goes bad. There’s a lot of potential there, but it requires an investor. It may be something we have to think about in more of a tri-county way.

LD: That feels like such a great way to use some of those kitchens that aren’t being used right now.

SW: One of the projects of the Food Action Network was to map out sites that could serve as community kitchens. In good times they might be used to make the value-added products that Erik was talking about. If farmers had a bumper crop of tomatoes, they could hand that off to a caterer to go in for a couple of weeks and make tomato sauce, for example. In bad times like now, community kitchens could be used to help with disaster feeding.

LD: This is obviously an excellent opportunity for us to illustrate the importance of protecting the local food system. What are some things that individuals can do right now?

ET: Continuing to utilize local farmers markets, purchasing from smaller local stores to enable those stores to be able to weather the current situation, and keeping away from chain stores. I think that restaurants will be gradually opening up in a more limited fashion, so just make sure that you’re supporting local restaurants, even with a kind of take out environment that we have at the moment.

SW: At the moment there are still some strengths in the local food system, and there is some scrappiness. We are a community that does seem to care about this kind of stuff.

One of the outcomes of all of this is that people are actually talking about things like the food system, either using that phrase or having a great awareness. Hopefully that will have a positive effect. But protecting the local food system will mean that we will have to step in as individuals and really support it.

ET: Every generation needs something to wake it up a little, so I guess this is it.

Originally published on cecsb.org on May 13, 2020.

The Original Garden Wise Guy

From Santa Barbara Independent, May 14-21, 2020.

Landscape Architect and TV Host Billy Goodnick

“Nobody ever says it’s too easy to take care of my garden,” laughed landscape

architect Billy Goodnick, host of City TV’s popular Garden Wise series.

His approach to working with clients is straightforward. “I’m a service provider,” he said. “My attitude is not that you’ve hired some high-end person and you’re lucky to have me. I try to design as egolessly as possible. If I step over the bounds and they need to rein me in, that’s fine because I’m just there to provide a service. I know about this stuff, and they don’t.”

After working for City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation for more than 20 years, Goodnick learned that “most park planting is about getting the most cluck for your buck out of the site.” He applies that same philosophy to working with clients and teaching classes for home gardeners, which he does around the country. “I always start with a slide that says we have three goals: Make it beautiful, make it useful, make it sustainable — and those are the three touchstones for me.”

A natural entertainer and raconteur, Goodnick began his career as a musician and still performs as the drummer for King Bee. His sense of humor is evident from his lecture titles: Life After Lawns; How to Kill Your Lawn Without Using Napalm; Gone with the Wind: What to do with Your Drought-Stricken Lawn; and Crimes Against Horticulture: When Bad Taste Meets Power Tools.

“I have a monstrous ego, and I like to see people nodding and laughing because it’s edutainment,” said Goodnick. “Somebody once said, ‘You could charge a two-drink minimum for your lectures.’”

After some initial conversations with clients, Goodnick uses a website called PlantMaster to provide a big list of plants that meet their criteria. “You’re stocking the pantry,” he tells them. “You don’t know what the meal is — you just went to Whole Foods with a $500 gift card and threw everything into the basket that you like. I’ll figure out how to turn it into a meal.”

It really comes down to what the customer likes and what will work with the site. Though he recognizes most clients don’t have Oprah’s budget, he does ask them to pretend they won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes in the beginning. “Let’s design as if money is no object, and let’s explore all of the different things that could happen here,” he explained. “There may be a great idea, without being too terribly constrained at first, that we can simplify or downsize to make it less expensive later.”

He sees his role as a problem solver, and he is happy when gardens are being used as designed a year or so later. He’s also satisfied when plant choices succeed. “There’s that whole biological side of landscape architecture and not mixing it with other plants that want twice as much water and spacing them properly so you don’t end up with plants colliding into each other,” he explained. “I’m trying to make it easy on them, make it fit their lifestyle, and also be drop-dead gorgeous.”

See billygoodnick.com and waterwisesb.org/gardenwise.wwsb.

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

Is an ADU for You?

From Santa Barbara Independent, May 14-21, 2020. Photo by Jim Bartsch.

Allen Construction’s Ryan Cullinen Discusses Granny-Flat Rules

With people spending more time working and schooling at home these days, adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is definitely something to consider. The process got even easier in 2020, when new California laws went into effect to allow small second residential units on single-family lots and on multifamily zoned lots.

“We are seeing a trend of more new home projects, including ADUs, as part of their master plan,” explained Ryan Cullinen, director of pre-construction at Allen Construction, which has several such projects in the works. “We have not seen any dramatic changes in demand recently, although I expect a larger demand for home offices and general home refreshing now that so many are spending more time than ever in their homes.” He explained that the standard ADU can either be detached, attached, or repurposed existing space in the home and can be up to 1,200 square feet in size.

“Most units are being designed for family or rental units with an end goal of retirement living,” he said. “I find many longtime homeowners who decide to build an ADU treat it as the miniature version of the dream house they wish they had. This is often because they plan to retire into it or have other family members live in it. When you have limited space, it forces creativity to be able to accomplish the needs you take for granted in your larger house.”

Originally known as “granny flats,” today’s accessory dwelling units take different structural forms. They can be garage conversions, units placed over the garage, stand-alone units, attic or basement conversions, or units otherwise attached to the main house. They are allowed to have full kitchens and bathrooms and will not be required to have a utility hookup separate from that of the main house. They can be rented, and most likely will be, but cannot be sold separately from the main dwelling.

The first step is to identify if it’s feasible to build an ADU within your zoning restrictions and whether the investment makes sense for you. “An architect or planning specialist can verify your zoning restrictions and help play out a concept to get preliminary pricing,” said Cullinen. “You can understand costs by speaking with a contractor who has a résumé building multiple different types of ADUs.”

ADUs do still need to go through Santa Barbara’s design review and permitting process. “There are many nuances to what your structure will be required to have, such as fire sprinklers, set-back requirements, and off-street parking,” said Cullinen. “The best thing you can do to expedite the process is get a professional with experience involved early. This limits your chances of any delays from incomplete submittals and keeps the building departments happy when they are very busy.”

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

Solarizing Made Simpler

Originally published in Santa Barbara Independent May 14, 2020.

CEC Makes Sun Power Easy and More Affordable

As everyone shelters in place, our home energy use is going through the roof. Why not use that roof to harness the power of the sun to create energy?

If the nuts and bolts of researching, purchasing, and installing a solar panel system seem overwhelming, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) offers a group purchasing model to help homeowners install solar electricity through a streamlined and hassle-free process, at a discounted price.

As of March, CEC programs have served almost 800 homes, according to April Price, the organization’s renewable energy program senior manager. The programs run for a limited time to make sure that the recommended vendors and products are fully vetted.

“In this ever-changing market, we want to make sure that we’re working with companies that are currently doing well financially and offering solid services and products,” Price explained. “Every time we run one of these programs, we will negotiate a discounted price. A local committee reviews the vendor applications, and each time we run a program, we come at it with a clean slate to determine who we’re going to partner with.”

This summer, CEC will run a Solarize Ventura and a Solarize Santa Barbara program for residential customers and is also relaunching the Solarize Nonprofit program, which helps nonprofit organizations install photovoltaic solar systems, free of charge.

Pairing your solar power with energy storage is becoming a trend and is an option that is also available through the CEC programs. “There are two reasons why people consider pairing their solar with energy storage,” Price said. “The most straightforward one is you want to have power when the electricity goes in the event of a public safety shutoff or for any other reason. The second is there’s a definite financial savings for most customers that pair their solar and storage.”

If installing solar is on your wish list, the federal tax credit available for residential solar systems provides a great incentive to do it sooner rather than later. Systems installed before the end of 2020 have a 26 percent tax credit, which goes down to 22 percent in 2021 and disappears in 2022.

 See cecsb.org/go-solar.

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.