Friday, July 30, 2010

A Weekend in Santa Barbara: Books, Beets, and Bustle!

Goodbye grey LA, hello green SB!  On Friday, July 23 my parents and I packed up and headed up to the lovely little city I am currently lucky enough to call home, Santa Barbara.  After a quick bite at Cantwell's Market and Deli and several circles around the block to find parking (yes SB is also better without a car!), we set up our displays on State Street right in front of Borders bookstore. It was a bit slow as most passersby were tourists busily snapping photos or zeroing in on their next shopping target. But a few people did pick up fliers and I must say I really enjoyed just sitting in the sun watching the world happen around me.

In your busy day to day life, how often do you just sit and basically allow yourself the luxury of doing nothing? It can be hard to make that time for yourself, but I have realized how crucial it is to one's sense of calm and wellbeing.  Even if it's just a few minutes to breathe deeply and relax before entering your house after work, make some "me time" for yourself!

Laughter is another essential element and luckily is quite abundant any time I get together with my parents.  At night we had dinner at Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant and sat for another hour in the restaurant talking and laughing before going to see "Despicable Me" in a theater in Goleta.  "So fluffy!"

Saturday began with the unforgiving beeping of my alarm clock at way-too-early o'clock in the morning, but when three people are sharing my one bathroom to get ready and be set up at the farmers' market by 8:30am, one must heed the beeping fiend.  It was surprisingly cold most of the day so I clutched my mug of tea and took breaks to walk in the sun and enjoy the beautiful displays of fresh local fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Despite the chill, the folks at the market were friendly and warm and I really enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the talented musicians sharing their art for tips tossed into upturned hats.

These folks were also much more attentive of our display and interested in the Holigent concept. 

We had some good conversations with locals and visitors alike and collected petition signatures.

When the market closed at 1pm we headed to Goleta for a tasty light lunch at Cafe Fresco. (Note to self: Go back to try their amazing looking fruit pies!). My parents went for a walk down to Stearn's Wharf while I went for a much needed run. It can be hard to make daily exercise a part of one's life, but now that I have, it is as essential to my day and my happiness as food and sleep.  At night, we curled up on my couch and laughed our way through "The Princess Bride."  The problem was, since I have seen the movie before, I started to laugh in advance of each joke!  Despite my premature giggling fits, everyone really enjoyed the movie.

Sunday was a leisurely day that started with breakfast at one of my local favorites, CrushCafe.  I was impressed that nearly every table has an electrical outlet so you can charge your laptop while recharging your own battery with coffee or one of their made from scratch meals.  The atmosphere is cozy and the food is always delicious and fresh with many healthy and unique options. Yes I know this is not a food blog, but I've become somewhat of a foodie lately plus I make a point to support local businesses. I should tell you that one of my main passions along with sustainable cities is sustainable food systems.  Consider it this way: Shouldn't we ensure that food and water, the two things we literally cannot live without, be absolutely secure and sustainable?!  But that's a whole other bag o' beans!  For now let's wrap up our lovely SB weekend.

The main entrance to Paseo Nuevo shopping center was pleasantly busy with shoppers, promoters and other tablers so we drew a decent crowd, collected several signatures and made a couple interesting contacts. I feel fortunate that I live in a town, and a state for that matter, with more open minded people than other parts of the country.  We need grand thinkers, risk takers and serious movers and shakers to make a dent in the various challenges us quarrelsome, complex humans have created for ourselves.

After several hours we packed up and went to lunch - yes more food - at "Your Place," my favorite Thai restaurant in the entire city. The name has more than once caused some confusion such as when I asked where my friend was having her goodbye party and she cooly responded "Your place."  "What? I don't have anything prepared!"  "No silly, the Thai restaurant."  "Oh, right... Great, I love that place!"

So amid the lingering scent of curry, my folks set off again for LaLa Land with happy memories of books, beets and the gentle bustle of Santa Barbara.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dida the Poodle, Holigent Mascot for a Day

On Saturday, July 17, I took the Surfliner train along the familiar but always beautiful coastal route south to Los Angeles for my brother's birthday, which was highlighted by the hilarious show "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" at the Hollywood Bowl with a fireworks finale and culminated with my Mom's mouth watering ice cream chocolate fudge cake. On Sunday, my friend and her little poodle, Dida, volunteered to table with Holigent on Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade.  We set up our display between a group of Mexican dancers in beautiful dresses and an eclectic gipsy dancer with unintentionally frightening makeup, so we had ample entertainment between chats with curious shoppers and tourists.

Dida was our mascot for the day and did a great job of luring people over with her seemingly innocent, almost unbearable cuteness. Here she guards one of the display boards during the drive to Santa Monica. See those fangs? Please do not touch the displays...

Here I am chatting it up with folks on the Promenade.  I just realized that in photos those sandals make me look barefoot, but no, I do not generally prance about Los Angeles without shoes.  Case in point, my unfortunate mother later stepped in gooey blue chewing gum.  She was not barefoot either, but that was still little consolation.

On Tuesday we hitched up the Holigent trailer banner once again and headed off, through rush hour traffic, once again.  Having spent the great majority of my years in LA without even a drivers license, by choice, and after over 2 years in walkable Santa Barbara, I now find this smoggy stop and go experience quite nearly maddening and apologize to my parents for any sour notes on my part.  HOW do people do this every day to and from work?!  Does one get numb to it after a while?  I imagine a fleet of zombie drivers... the trance broken only by occasional bursts of road rage.

Passing by the Americana shopping center in Glendale. At least it's mixed use!

Driving through Old Town Pasadena where the streets and sidewalks were bustling and I got left behind after snapping some photos until the car could circle back and find me!

As the sun set, we parked in front of the surprisingly beautiful Pasadena City Hall to walk into town. The traffic and temporary abandonment were made up for by dinner at Mi Piace where I had Pollo Rustico with Peruvian purple potatoes, easily one of the most delicious meals of my life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And We're Off!

June marked the official start of the Holigent Solution Roadtrip.  It's not a linear trip - since we are a grassroots organization after all, we are springing up like grass seeds here and there following the summer sun and the happy shiny people it brings out onto the streets, beaches, and boardwalks.

Our handy CEO designed and built two rolling display boards that we can stroll with into places that the trailer banner can't go. Here's a peek at the behind-the-scenes process before we took to the road.

Day One

We unveiled the trailer banner, hitched it up to the car and started off through the heart of West Los AngelesNot surprisingly, we found ourselves in a sea of rush-hour traffic.  Luckily we were in no rush ourselves and turned quite a few curious, commute-weary heads who likely looked us up on their Blackberries and iPhones since our website hits shot up.

On our first official tour with the trailer banner, we made appearances in Santa Monica, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Culver City, California.

Day Two

What better place to take a test stroll with our rolling display boards than busy and eclectic Venice Beach Oceanfront Walk.  We had a smooth stroll under cloudy but warm skies and handed out fliers to interested people.  On future occasions, we will be tabling and have displays set up on one of the permitted sites along the Venice Walk so check back on our location list above to find us out among the fun, funny, interesting, and unusual folks of Venice Beach!

Elisa and Nick with a rolling display board on Venice Boardwalk.

Wait, is it mounted on a stroller frame?  Yes, as you can see we find that funny too.  But it steers quite nicely!