Q: You are offered unlimited funds to open a business in Downtown SLO. What is it & why?
A: A right-sized club venue for live music and other performance (like comedy)…comfortable yet with a little flair, great acoustics, options for dancing, local beers or wines and perfect French fries. Because I love live music & performance but don’t like the hassle of big clubs or arenas (parking, lines and seating). Often the ambiance and acoustics of big clubs are horrible, there’s no room to dance and there is nothing good to eat along with my drink. With unlimited funds, boy could I bring in some fabulous performers; they could do a lot of little shows for an extended stay, so everyone would have a chance to see them.
Q: What do you wish you could tell your 21-year-old self?
A: “Do not worry so much!” but I’m an over-worrier. Some people need to worry more. I’d want to tell myself not to worry so much because I’ve worried an incredible amount over the past decades and all that worry did not do one bit of actual good; it didn’t make a difference at all. Just a waste of energy and time. Worrying is not productive or useful in any way for an over-worrier like me — now I know to either do something about it (which gets rid of the worry, even though it does not necessarily get rid of the cause of the worry) or put that worrying away, that’s my motto now. :~)
Q: What is your spirit animal?
A: A Phoenix rising in flight from the ashes. Phoenix because I’ve had a recurring dream several times in my life of exactly that, a phoenix lifting in flight from ashes, very wild and fiery and magnificent and strong. Including during the period I was Director of SLO Planned Parenthood when the clinic was arsoned and burned down. Those were good dreams, not nightmares, very healing.
Q: What is the best way for the under 40 demographic to get engaged with the city?
A: First, vote. Next: Start with something very small and easy, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, and take your time. The city has something for everybody and you don’t have to pay attention to it all. As with other parts of life—focus on something you are interested in or might be interested in. Trees, bicycling, energy, people, business, housing, public safety (fire & police), public transportation, tourism, environment, sports, water, kids — follow what the city is doing in that arena, explore the city’s website, maybe sign up for eNotifications, learn, get informed, take a few minutes to zap a short email sharing your opinion on something you care about, participate in an online virtual Town Hall, go to a meeting or watch it online, volunteer to serve on an Advisory Body or a short term Task Force. Get an organization you are already part of involved in the cause; explore whether there is some synchronicity between city and work issues; find a couple friends to help keep an eye on what’s going on; talk about an issue while you grab a coffee or drink. Engage at whatever level and in whatever way you have time and ability and interest for … even if it’s only to vote. Truly, if nothing else: vote. The essential engagement.
Q: How do you rationalize decision making on tough issues when you’re bombarded with conflicting views of what residents want?
A: My motto when making decisions is always to “make the best decision I can for the city as a whole going forward.” So I do the best I can at the moment (which includes doing my homework beforehand); I think of the city as a whole community, not one particular interest group (although of course I’m listening to those groups); and I tend to look forward quite a bit, not backwards and not too short-term. Plus I now tend to think more strategically, not necessarily aiming straight towards the goal, because I have more awareness of things like funding cycles. Among other things, public decision-making involves not just listening to “what residents want” right now, but anticipating and preparing for what residents will need in the future.
Q: What are some of the biggest impacts where the under 40 demographic can contribute to the city’s Climate Action Plan and 2035 goal?
A: Vote people into office (at the local county, state and national levels) who will officially carry these kinds of goals forward and then hold them accountable the next time you vote. Have they moved the goal forward in a meaningful way? They don’t have to be 100% perfect (governing is messy) but have they accomplished something real? I believe the U40 demographic has the energy, flexibility and motivation to truly assist in moving the city forward on these ambitious goals, by helping to educate, demonstrate and activate our community, and they can have a major impact by simply sticking with it over time. Don’t give up, be patient with people, change is very hard, and big change is harder. And again … voting! In the big picture, it’s the largest impact of all, for the least amount of effort.