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Good Morning SLO is our platform for sharing ideas, news and inspiration. A monthly breakfast program that sits community leaders, business owners, nonprofit executives and staffers at the same table, and enables us to reconnect, engage and learn from each other.
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The headlines have moved on, but for those in Santa Barbara, rebuilding after last winter’s devastating fire and mudslides is still very much a daily concern. Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Ken Oplinger provides an update on how the recovery is going and shares lessons to help other communities shape disaster response plans.
Dr. Emily Taylor has chased rattlesnakes around the Sonoran Desert, stalked lizards from the Central Coast to Costa Rica and gotten up close and personal with all manner of reptilian creatures. Head of Cal Poly’s reptile research lab, Taylor shares tales from the field and busts some myths about our slithery neighbors.
SLO County produces almost a billion dollars worth of crops each year, from avocados and broccoli to strawberries and wine grapes. Who’s planting and picking all that produce? We asked Ryan Talley, manager and co-owner of Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande, to shed some light on the county’s farm labor workforce and the labor challenges facing farms of all sizes.
For Jeffrey Aparicio, the path to Cal Poly and aerospace engineering was not a straight and narrow one. There were stops in gangs, juvenile hall, even jail, all leading him toward a dead end. We asked Aparicio to share the resilient story of how he changed course, bucked expectations and set off on a promising future.
For all the futuristic gee-whiz of virtual reality, it’s been limited so far to a visual and auditory experience. One San Luis Obispo company is pushing those boundaries. HaptX has debuted technology that allows you to touch and feel what you see in the virtual world. Co-founder Bob Crockett talks about this technology enables us to do in the real world and why HaptX plans to stay in SLO.
Bluebird Salon in downtown San Luis Obispo is is known for the eye-catching window displays, especially the elaborate gingerbread replicas of local landmarks at Christmas-time. The windows are the work of shop owner Ariel Shannon, who also crafted a display celebrating the City of SLO for the Showcase of Cities at the 2018 California Mid-State Fair. We asked her to share her inspiration and how her creativity has given her an edge in business.
Joseph Cornelius has cerebral palsy that leaves him without the ability to walk or talk. But he recently participated in his fifth triathlon, thanks to his dad who brings him along with the help of assistive devices designed by Cal Poly students. We asked John Cornelius to share what the endeavor means to him and his son.
Amid a national political climate in which mudslinging and personal attacks are all too common, elected officials across SLO County signaled a departure last month, pledging to uphold civility as they go about public business. Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals – joined by County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon and SLO City Council Member Andy Pease – shares how this diverse group reached across political, ideological and geographic divides to begin the conversation.
One of the SLO Chamber’s core values is Connecting Diverse Perspectives, based on the belief that diversity and depth of thought lead to better outcomes and that awareness and understanding of different experiences make us a stronger community. CJ Gormley is a board member at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance whose alter ego, Rosé Aldé, is hosting the 22nd annual Pride in the Plaza. He shares his perspective on the role that drag queens play in the local LGBTQ community and the history of drag queens as advocates for civil rights.
Building Relationships – bringing people together to cultivate a sense of connection and belonging – is a Chamber value that Ermina Karim embraced, bringing the San Luis Obispo business community together to support and inspire one another, face challenges and celebrate successes. Outgoing SLO Chamber CEO Ermina Karim shares some parting thoughts.
MINDBODY is a local business that has found worldwide success. The company is a great example of commitment to excellence, continuous improvement and driving positive change, the elements that make up one of the SLO Chamber’s core values: Target Amazing. Targeting amazing doesn’t mean immediate success. MINDBODY CEO Rick Stollmeyer shares some challenges from the early days of the company and how he kept his sights high even when times seemed low.
The idea of grit is one that’s been gaining attention in the business world, and it’s another of our core values. To the SLO Chamber, the Grit to Achieve What We Believe In means working hard for the things we believe in and not being afraid to make tough choices. Grit manifests in many forms, from tenacity in business and passion in pursuing personal goals to perseverance through difficult times. Jack’s Helping Hand founder Bridget Ready shares her own powerful story of perseverance.
At the SLO Chamber, our core value of First up this morning is Ask What’s Possible is a reminder to listen, stay open and ask if there’s a better way. Innovative companies use this same notion to push boundaries, hatch groundbreaking proisjects and launch game-changing products. It’s an approach that has kept Promega Biosciences at the very forefront of genomics research and applications. Promega’s director of chemistry, Poncho Meisenheimer, shares insight into the life changing work going on in the company’s San Luis Obispo laboratories.
Recent months have seen the blossoming of a shared, regional approach to our shared regional challenges by leaders throughout SLO County. This renewed spirit of cooperation traces its roots to the Denver and Boulder trip the Chamber led last August to kick off our Economic Vision update. It also underscores the Chamber value of Rising Above Self-Interest – looking beyond ourselves to make long-range decisions we believe are in the best interest of our community. SLO City Manager Derek Johnson, who was on that Colorado trip, to talks about the concept of regionalism and how we can leverage it for the benefit of collective community prosperity.
Gil Stork touched many lives through his 50-year tenure at Cuesta College, where as president since 2010 he shepherded a campus expansion, the debut of the Cuesta Promise and a rise in the school’s educational stature. As he prepares to retire in June, Stork shared reflections on an impactful career.
Aaron Bergh is part of the cadre of SLO County distillers taking the burgeoning field from a side hustle of the wine industry to business in its own right. Bergh shares his story and some spirited insights into the spirits business.
Here all about how Tommy Gong and his staff will ensure a smooth and reliable voting process, especially in light of attempted meddling by foreign nationals, claims of widespread voter fraud, and social media-fueled news. Can we trust our election process anymore?
What’s it like to slog 26.2 miles through the cold, wet street of Boston with 30,000 other runners? How about to train for said insane event while juggling a demanding career, three kids and active community involvement? We asked Andrea Soderin, who crossed the finish line in Boston last week, to give us the scoop.
Gubernatorial primaries, like the one coming up June 5, traditionally have the lowest turnout of countywide elections, even in SLO Couny. County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong will address why voting this June is critical.
From a small office near the Mission, Unanimous AI harnesses swarm technology to tap into our collective intelligence to make remarkably accurate predictions on topics from Super Bowl scores to financial markets. Alex McClure will explain what all that means and how the SLO-grown company is using real-time AI to provide new insights and better decision-making.
For development-related decisions, SLO city officials gather extensive public input though a robust advisory body process. As the City Council considers potential improvements to address the clarity and timeliness of its development review process, we invited committee veteran Greg Wynn, immediate past chair of the Architectural Review Commission, to give us his perspective on streamlining.
From March 29 – April 1, a replica of Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial will come to Madonna Meadows, providing opportunities to view the 58,000 names inscribed on it, honor memories and pass on the legacy of fallen lives. Veterans Services of San Luis Obispo County Officer Christopher Lopez shares his view on the compelling impact of the Wall That Heals.
After last month’s school shooting in Florida, students across the country began speaking out about gun violence, including here in SLO County. They planned a school walkout and upcoming march as both protest and memorial to the lives lost. We invited Keanu LyDay, a senior at New Tech High School, to share how he and others have mobilized to take a stand.
Make gardening as simple as playing a game on your phone: That’s the concept behind FarmBot, an automated system that plants, waters and tends to your garden while you monitor from anywhere in the world. Co-founder Rory Aronson explains how the SLO-founded innovation is sowing the seeds for the future of farming.
Dawn Addis wanted to do something after last year’s presidential election. But she didn’t expect about 7,000 people to join her and a small group of cohorts in what became Women’s March SLO, nor to continue on afterward, expanding their goals and reach. We invited Addis to share the story of birthing an active new community organization.
Flu season hit hard this year. More people are getting more severe cases. Emergency rooms and doctors’ offices have been overrun. Medications have run out. SLO County Public Health Director Penny Borenstein addresses why it’s been a particularly bad year and how health officials are responding, along with reminders of what you should do if you get sick and how to avoid it in the first place.
Enviably, Cal Poly grad student Emma Weitzner recently spent 10 weeks cuddling — uh, that is studying — baby seals. Less enviably, she did it in the frigid, challenging conditions of Antarctica, where everything is more difficult and things rarely go as planned. We invited Weitzner to share highlights of her experience and what far-flung research can do for us here at home.
When word came down that Diablo Canyon was looking to close, the San Luis Coastal school district had the foresight to start planning ahead. Now that it’s official, Superintendent Eric Prater called the Good Morning SLO class to order and gave us the ABC’s on what’s ahead for local schools and how the district will approach future budget planning.
Matias Bernal is a busy member of the community, juggling a demanding job combating sexual and intimate partner violence as client services director at the nonprofit RISE with studies toward a PhD and JD. He also lives under the uncertain future of DACA, his work and residence status as risk of being rescinded. We invited Bernal to share his story and what it’s like to face a future in the balance.
Many of us are still struggling with difficult emotions in the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville. Rabbi Janice Mehring, who leads Congregation Ohr Tzafon in Atascadero, provided some stirring remarks at last week’s vigil in Misson Plaza, and we asked her to come to Good Morning SLO to spread her message of comfort and courage in the face of hate.
Starting July 1, 2017, California employers are now required to comply with a new set of state regulations governing the hiring and employment of transgender individuals. The FEHA makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate or harass any person due to their being in a protected class, including gender (i.e., gender identity or gender expression) and transgender status. Reasonable standards for employee attire and appearance may be imposed, so long as “an employer shall allow an employee to appear or dress consistently with the employee’s gender identity or gender expression.” The new regulations make it unlawful to inquire about an applicant or employee’s transgender status. Employers must also abide by an employee’s request to be identified with a preferred gender, name, and/or pronoun. As of March 1, 2017, all “single-user” bathrooms must be available to all users on a gender-neutral basis. Such bathrooms must have appropriate signage indicating that its availability is regardless of gender. Such signs are readily obtainable on-line.
Alzheimer’s disease is so associated with the elderly that it’s often called “old-timer’s disease,” but it can strike in the prime of life, as Pamela Montana learned last year. Montana shared insights into her journey from Intel Corp. executive to her new job learning to live with the progressive disease while fighting for a cure, at the May 2017 Good Morning San Luis Obispo.
“We all want this to end so let’s talk for a second about how. The good news is there is a lot that we can do. First, we can start by believing someone when they tell us this is happening to them. And we can stop asking that same old question, that one that never helps but always blames the victim, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?” Can we just retire that question?” – Kirsten Rambo, Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County
“I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I do know, that we must learn from history. And that black history, the traumas, the triumphs and everything in between, inform who we are as a nation. If we want to move forward we must look back and not just in February.” – Courtney Haile, RACE Matters SLO County at the February 2017 Good Morning San Luis Obispo.
Ryan Caldwell, the 2017 chair of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors talks at Good Morning SLO about his goals for the coming year which include economic development work in response to the closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant. “When I talk about recruiting businesses that pay head-of-household jobs I’m really talking about the idea that maybe one more parent in this county can be home to have dinner with their kids. Or maybe there will be one less person worrying about whether the rent check is gonna clear.” – Ryan Caldwell
“I am committed to the nonpartisan nature of my role and recognize that bigotry, misogyny and attacks on basic human decency are not partisan issues, they are human issues about which all leaders must take a stand,” Mayor Heidi Harmon at Good Morning San Luis Obispo on January 26, 2017.
For the past seven years, the JCC-Federation of San Luis Obispo has worked to build community and promote cultural awareness with the goal of connecting the Central Coast community through its programs and services that celebrate culture and community values. Executive Director Lauren Bandari spoke at Good Morning SLO and shared what the JCC has done to become the fastest growing organization of it’s kind and what motivates her to keep expanding.
How do we keep the peace with family during the holidays? Kelly Donohue of Creative Mediation, shares some tips on how to listen, mediate and generally keep calm and carry on during potentially awkward and painful conversations with family during the holiday season.
On June 3, Insight Studio took a road trip to learn from executives at LinkedIn about company culture and how they are working to improve the lives of all members of the global community. Brooke Shepard, human resources generalist at RRM Design Group shared her three main takeaways from the trip to LinkedIn during the July 2016 Good Morning San Luis Obispo.
“This is not a decision we made overnight, it’s one that we have been working on for the last, really, license renewal since 2009. But over the last year the landscape has changed, the market has changed and we’ve had to work through this.” – Ed Halpin, chief nuclear officer, PG&E, speaking at Good Morning SLO about the closing of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
“This terrorist attack was intended to scare and intimidate us as Americans and as members of the LGBT community. The opposite occurred. Instead of fear, we found courage. Instead of cowering, we mobilized. Instead of division, we stand in solidarity.” – Daniel Taylor, president, Gay And Lesbian Alliance, on the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
The bombing in Paris and the massacre in San Bernardino only increased Naiyerah Kolkailah‘s resolve to dispel misconceptions about Islam. Born and raised in SLO, Kolkailah is a Muslim. Currently the president of the Islamic Society of San Luis Obispo, Kolkailah joined us at Good Morning SLO to share her experiences challenging Islamophobia, how misconceptions and generalizations hurt, and how education and healthy relationships with the Muslim community can benefit everyone.
As one of the first 10 employees at Amazon, you could say Tod Nelson is savvy to the ways of a successful startup. After years of work in support of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Nelson recently increased his commitment to a whole new level, taking on the role as the center’s executive director. Nelson joined us at Good Morning SLO to share his vision for the future of the CIE, and how he intends to continue supporting students in residence as they generate innovative solutions to real-world problems, research promising technologies and develop viable business plans.
When the Serial podcast debuted in 2014 it quickly rocketed to the top of the charts, earning a Peabody award and a place in local high school curriculum. Morro Bay High English Teacher Mike Godsey joined us at Good Morning SLO to share his experiment with replacing Shakespeare with Serial in the classroom, and the resulting attention the curriculum has received from The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Al Jazeera.