Okay, this meeting is being recorded. Okay, great. Well, welcome to our visioning empathy circle for the 1964 kenosis. Road retreat center. I'm Edwin Rutsch, Director of the Center for building a culture of empathy. And we're doing a series of these visioning circles to talk about the, just our vision for the space. And hopefully, you saw how it worked, you saw some of the videos that I sent out about how the process works, the outline of what we're going to do is, let's see, where's our outline, is we're gonna start, we're gonna go for about two hours, maybe not the full amount, but close to two hours. And so, and then we'll have some participant introduction, so everyone can introduce themselves. I'll explain the empathy circle process. And then we'll do the empathy circle process for about 80 minutes. And then we'll sort of open it up for just general open ended discussions. So I guess we can just start with if everyone like to share your name, and you know why you're interested in taking part in this circle, and maybe your location, and you know, take up to 30 seconds or a minute and I'll just model it Edwin Rutsch, Director Center for building a culture of empathy. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area near Berkeley and Charles asked me to manage the property so that's why I'm interested in really excited about about it to create a empathy based retreat center there at the 9019 64 canal with so very excited about that. So Charles, do you want to introduce yourself my
name, my name is Charles Rutsch. Edwin's brother, this is my wife. So at least so we have four children. We live in the Sacramento area. I bought the property last November.
If Lisa, I introduce yourself.
Yes. Hello, my name is Esther Lisa. I'm Charles's wife and their twin sister in law. Well, of course, I'm going to be interested in the property that has been decided. And I like it that this is a former Catholic seminary. Because Christianity and faith means a lot to me. And I like that there's a chapel there and across, and the prayer garden. So for me, that's kind of the you know how to utilize those those kinds of my ideas about that.
Right, Thanks, Lisa Peter, which like,
sure, yeah, hi, my name is Peter van CROs. I'm an architect, been in the business since 1996. And when Charles invited me to join the circle today, possibly working on the project, full time, see how that goes. And I worked in the Bay Area for seven years after graduating college from Tucson, Arizona, and moved down to San Luis Obispo 2021 years ago and love it down here in Central Coast and I'm on a spiritual journey myself. So this kind of aligns exactly what I'm looking to do in life. believer in the Dow and things of that nature. And so I'm like, lastly, so very interested in this, you know, former seminary and what that evokes terms of reflective personal reflection and empathy from Jesus Christ, what he had to teach. I think that kind of rules into empathy and teaching that to what I've heard in other visiting circles to the youth. I think that's very important. If you want this culture to continue. Following aid, I'm sorry, necessary. A lot of divisiveness in this country right now. So I'm the thing to try and implement. And I'd love to be a part of it. Be part of the team, figure out how to make it work.
Thanks, Peter. Haley, do you like to introduce yourself?
Sure. Hi, everybody. I'm Hayley. I'm here in Santa Barbara. And I was born and raised in the canyon. still live in the area. So I've passed that building many many times in my life and the kids And it means so much to me. I'm a therapist here in town. And my background is in landscaping and botany. So all of these things holistically are really important to me. So I'm mostly here just with curiosity to hear what y'all have in mind. That space is, I think, wonderful in the aspect of community connection feels really important right now. Especially, I mean, for all of us. So yeah.
All right. Well, thanks for joining us, Wes.
Yeah, good morning, everyone. My name is West cook. I live in San Luis Obispo. I've got a design firm here called Seventh Generation design. And we focus on designing resilient human habitats, and gathering spaces that are integrated with the larger ecology in a, in a sustainable and an even beyond sustainable and regenerative way. And, and ecology, not in terms of just the landscape, but also the social fabric and cultural fabric. So Edwin reached out and invited me to join. Yeah, this, I'm attracted to this project for several reasons. One of which is I really would love to see just more educational hubs develop up and down the coast that are demonstrating more holistic ways of integrating with the ecology with the culture. Spirituality. I also I have some, some experience personal experience with another well known retreat center in California, and my fiance was actually born and raised there. So we've we've had years of conversations about what really worked there, and what what didn't work so well there. And, and the place has just been such a a impactful part of our lives. So I really the I just love the idea of another retreat center, developing. And already what I'm seeing here with just this discussion with the broader community is something that is going really well that the other retreat center we are familiar with, I think didn't attend as much too. So yeah, feel really grateful also to just sit in on this process and learn more about empathy. circles. So yeah, thank you all for having me.
Okay, well, thank you for joining us. And this is participatory, so everyone's equally involved in this process. So the mission of the empathy Center, I'd sent that out in the email is to build a culture of empathy, which is really to for nurturing fostering deep listening and bringing together people bridging social, political and personal divides. And we to model the practice for using this empathy circle practice process, which I find is the best first step gateway practice for empathy, building skills and listening skills. So it's a chance for everyone to be able to express themselves fully, freely say whatever's on your mind, there's no nothing's off the table here. Everyone gets her into their satisfaction. And I just it has a lot of other many other positive benefits, which I hope we'll get to experience here. And so in the process, hopefully, you had a chance to see how the process works, the instructions for anyone watching this or will be down in the description area. And the process is we're going to have a topic, which I'm going to put into the chat here, which is what is your vision for developing a retreat center at 1964 Los Pinos Road, Santa Barbara, or whatever's on your mind, you know, if there's anything that feels you feel energetic about, feel free to talk about that, we're going to have four minute turns, and I'll keep time. And if your time is up values hold up a little something like this, you know, time, at that point, you just kind of finish what you're saying, get a final empathic reflection. And then it'll become the turn of this listener to become the speaker. So in this process that we have our topic, eel, as the speaker you select someone to speak to you share an idea to your listener is going to reflect back their understanding of what you've said you so check, did they really understand what I'm saying? If they did you continue with what you're saying? If you don't feel I really understood you, you can just say it again. In other words, until you feel heard, and understood to your satisfaction, it's based on active listening or empathic listening. So we're doing it in a group setting. So with that, once one So as the listener, once the speaker feels heard to their satisfaction, their time is up, then you select your listener, then you speak. And we just go around for the time a lot. And I think you all saw the instructions, hopefully, that I'd sent out for how to do this. So we can just dive right in, and whoever likes to start, I'll be the first listener to model it. And you have four minutes to talk about, whatever, whatever your vision is for the center. And remember to pause periodically, so the listener can reflect back. So who'd like to start and speak to me about whatever's your thoughts are?
Maybe I will start listening, I have to mention that I only have time until 11 o'clock. Because I have an appointment at 1115 I have to be at. So it's like,
okay, just want everyone to know, 11 o'clock, you got to drop out you have appointment?
Well, there's so much that can be done with the center as I mentioned, you know, because faith is important to me, and I'm a Christian. I'm thinking about the decor of the center. And I would like to keep it consistent was kind of what is there now.
So you're just sharing that you're a Christian and in terms of decor, you'd like to keep it consistent with that religious decor.
I do feel like you know, even though I'm not Catholic, for me, it's kind of, you know, it's, it's a place where it was prayed over and probably sanctified in a Catholic way. So to me it so, to me, doesn't matter which branch of Christianity the seminary belongs to, belongs to.
Yeah, so it's a Catholic seminary, and you're not Catholic, but you feel it's Christian. And so you want to keep within that area of Christianity and aspect.
Yeah, so like the cross the statue of, you know, Mary, anything like that. They feel like that's great. Of course, you know, other religions and people will be welcome there. It's not just exclusively for Christians. But like the physical decor is hoping going to stay consistent with kind of the foundation
other religions are welcome by you hoped at the core the Christian decor stays there, the Christian core that's there stays there.
And that may be you know, maybe more of it. But along the same line,
yeah, it's just that thinks they sort of along that same line,
the prayer garden, I
know it is kind of overgrown right now. And there's fear of rattlesnakes. I don't know. I don't know if there are devices to get rid of rattlesnakes, like you know, there are gopher electric cards to scare those away. I don't know what to do with rattlesnakes. But I would like to put you know the prayer garden into a usable conditions so that people can actually walk on paths. Enjoy the nature, meditate, pray, whatever they whatever they want to do there.
Yeah, you like the prayer garden, the pathway so you're hoping that that can be fixed up and you had some concerns about the Rattlesnakes that if there's your there's rattlesnakes there and you're wandering through somebody can be done about rattlesnakes?
I think that's probably all for now.
Okay, great. And I'll select the West. Yep. For listening. I am. Okay. Started the clock. Yeah, in terms of the structure of the center. The load we're looking at right now is that the center is you know, Charles purchased that investor, Lisa, with through their LLC and we're looking at setting up on nonprofit, the empathy center nonprofit to manage it. So that's sort of the current intention.
Okay, so sounds like it's it's currently under ownership by a for profit, corporate structure, and you're exploring what it would look like to transfer ownership into a nonprofit structure,
or have it be leased by the nonprofit structure the empathy center.
Okay, or have it. So either owned or leased by a nonprofit structure? And,
yeah, yeah, so that's, and the center is the empathy center is based on on the values which I'd sent out about, really NERT fostering an empathic way of being so we really want to foster empathy between all different groups. So in terms of religious part, I see it as bridging the the sort of an interface, bringing different religions together to have foster dialogue with each other.
So the the current empathy center is, is its goal is to foster empathy between different groups of people, cultures, religious backgrounds, and you're envisioning that this place continued to further that mission,
as well as bridging the divide the political divide. So there's, you know, a lot of political, social political divides going on, especially, you know, conservative liberal. And that's kind of work that we've been doing is doing, listening to both sides, and also mediating between the sides.
So the empathy centers, really working to foster empathy between all forms different disparate opinions, backgrounds, cultural groups, political groups, religious groups, and you're envisioning that the center can confer that.
Yeah. And also, I'm glad you're here because of the Permaculture is, you know, the permaculture would be a part of that too, in terms of empathy with nature. It's I think Permaculture is sort of an empathic sort of process of you know, bringing in gardening gardens, you know, food production, sort of an integration with with the land.
This you're attracted to the idea of permaculture and feel like it integrates well with this larger vision. And, and serves to further the mission of not just fostering empathy between different human groups backgrounds, but also between humans in the larger ecology, the greater life that exists.
Yeah, it's more of a holistic, sort of really, I see empathy as sort of a foundation mutual empathy is sort of a foundation for really a way of being Yeah.
I'm hearing that uh, that empathy is really it's a Yeah, it's a foundational kind of ethical or it's a it's a principle, principled way of interacting with the greater world.
Yeah, I feel fully heard. So yeah, you can like your listener. Great.
Let's see, how about
Charles okay. It Charles.
Feeling so what I would like to see in a retreat center that's developing is a place to really demonstrate how humans can be just like Edwin said, not just relating to my focus, what my focus is largely been lately which is relating in a with the greater ecology in a more healthy and holistic way, but also with each other as kind of the biggest hurdle that it seems like we all have to to moving towards a more sustainable future.
So like Get as humans to relate in a more sustainable way with the ecology and the world around us and with each other. Better, better way.
Yeah. In my experience at this other retreat center that I've spent some time at, it was really it, what first actually drew me there was the grounds and they actually had a permaculture edge education program in place, they've got a beautiful farm on property, I mean, that there's, there are three different bodies of water that all intersect in this place. hotsprings, a river ocean. And it's the place is just completely it's just incredible, from a food production standpoint, from a beauty standpoint, from an ecological standpoint, and it's done some amazing, amazing things and also furthering the human connection piece. And, and yet, what I've seen is that actually is still the biggest hurdle in the sustainability. And the longevity of this place is actually, despite the fact that it's been touted as, as a center for furthering the human potential movement, that still remains to be the biggest hurdle in the progression of this location is, is humans working together.
So, and this other retreat center, it was fabulous, as far as food protection and different water sources around hot springs that have the ocean sounds like has creek or river or something. And it's a great things with food protection and ecology and making it kind of fit into the land. But sounds like that kind of had some things lacking with human interactions, there was what I think you're saying.
Yeah, and my background, would have been focusing on as I said, has been really working with farms, ranches, retreat centers, homesteads, and developing healthy relationships with the local ecology and, and we have a structure that we go about our design work with, ranging from water access, shelter, food, but the last few elements that are the that require the least amount of energy to change and are the least permanent, but are potentially the most impactful are our community and then spirit. So I'm feeling very excited about the, about this place, this retreat center, not just embodying and demonstrating these, you know, other aspects, but also really focusing from an early standpoint, from an early position on interacting with the broader community, with the people involved there directly.
So you've been working with farms and homesteads and other properties, kind of designing their ecology and how they kind of shape and relate the land. And you're really involved in that and you also want to kind of change the culture so that we interact better with each other.
And that was the time
I feel fully fully heard.
Okay, I'll speak with Haley Fuller, he hadn't spoken yet. Okay.
A friend of mine told me the property was being put up for auction. So I thought I would bet on it. The initial price was pretty low. It can reflect what I just said.
friend mentioned to you that the property is for sale, and the initial the initial price was pretty low. So for auction,
yeah, starting then. So my idea was kind of like a retreat center with men's retreats, women's retreats, where retreats, youth camps and kind of have some feelings about some of the camps I've attended in the past.
The original idea was a retreat center for youth retreats, and all kinds, and it was a nostalgic it hit close to home for you and some things you've experienced.
So So I bet on it a few times, and then it got a little high, more than I was probably going to spend. But then I got a text saying the last, the next bit to me, it's the reserve price. So I've decided to just one more time. And that was the winning bid.
The bidding process started to get a little high. But you heard that the reserve price, I guess, was
there was a text that was sent up by the auction company saying the next bed meets the reserve price. So I decided to bid one more time.
Okay, the next bid was the reserve price, and you decided to bid.
So I'm actually gonna tap it. To my brother. Hey, I bought a monastery. Do you want to help me run it?
You Yeah, yeah. You purchase a property and you reached out to your brother? And you said about a monastery? Can you help?
And so here we are. That's about all I have to say. It's your turn to speak.
Okay. Thank you. Because you're listening? Yes. Let's see.
Peters, the name I'm seeing on the on your tag there. Yes, we listen. Okay. Sounds good. And I also have to leave at 11. Because I have a session. So I'll be hopping off. But thank you for having me for any amount of time. So I, I guess I understand, and really appreciate the concept of, of empathy and effort to understand being sort of the foundational piece of the whole of the whole concept here. And having that be the thread that runs through all of the, I guess concrete ways in which you'll, you'll bring that to fruition through the community.
I guess I'll stop there, you can reflect. So I'm hearing that you appreciate the
underlying value of empathy and how it's going to weave its way through all the processes
of the project. Yes.
And it seems clear that that's a really important value to everyone here, and we understand that piece. So I guess, what I could share are some things that I think could be interesting, based on what I've heard through needs of the community and my peers. And I think what people are looking for, especially in this format.
So you said that you think empathy is very important to everyone here on the circle, and then you can share
what you've heard from the community around the seminary, or what needs goals would be heard from you guys. Yeah, yeah.
And through sort of some of the lamenting of my work as a therapist, some of the things that people are, are really needing on like a deep soul level, which is a space for I think, connection with other humans and community like being around more bodies and being around more minds in exchange of ideas and celebrations. And a reconnection with which a lot of people have spoken to particularly what is like a reconnection with our ecology and our purpose and our roots in the earth and how this whole thing is very circular, and deepening.
So in your work and your practice of personal therapy, you're hearing people really need to reconnect on a soul level with the source and understand that we're all one and reconnecting with the land is a way to make that happen, and interacting with other bodies,
like mine, or
maybe even differing values because our minds are open when we visit older. Other cultures and other ideas. We might not see something. Anyone I'm actually elaborating or could
appreciate it though. Yes. So like,
I guess my contemporaries and I have been enthusiastic about envisioning a space that's like, I don't know, maybe membership based or something where people can come in, there's, there's yoga, there's event spaces for workshops, celebration speakers, music opportunities, permaculture and ecology workshop kind of things. The spiritual aspect will be interesting to weave in, whether that means talks on spirituality or even services. And
yeah, I don't know, bringing in schools or local, you know, the youth, to feel connected and to be to get educated on all these things. There's a lot of opportunity.
You have a lot there, see if I can get it all. So you see the union contemporaries have a lot of ideas of how to reconnect in terms of different workshops and different activities, whether it be membership base, or not, like yoga and permaculture classes, youth programs,
pair services as sees fit. That's generally what you're saying. Yeah. Cool. Thank you. Yeah, I feel her.
I'll circle back to Edwin, I guess.
So I think this is a very good way to approach
envisioning a project in terms of programming space, using empathy.
I'm hearing you're appreciating this process as a way of envisioning for the space. Right.
I've watched to this circles and I know, it's a long process. But I think at the end of the day, it's really beneficial for everyone to hear the thoughts and feel heard.
And you realize it is a long process approach. And but it is important to hear everyone in the appreciation for that part. Correct.
In an architect's, like less, I'm very creative mind. So I have lots of different ideas that I've already started to several pages worth of different ideas already starting to generate in terms of things that I could see happening there.
And likewise, he is a designer, you have a creative mind. And already lot of ideas are starting to come up and you got like pages of them.
Yes. And like Visalia, this Hola. Sorry, for butchering your name,
Lisa, thank you. I'm drawn to the spiritual aspects of the space. Although, me personally coming from Catholic and Episcopalian background, I have a lot of reservations about Catholicism and what it means to the rest of the world. And how it's had a harmful impacts society, and how to integrate that those underlying values in that.
So like that. So Lisa spirituality, I think is important to you, but you and you have a background in Catholicism, and it's something Piske is failing, Episcopalian, but you have some sort of questions or doubts about the Catholic Church and try to address those. Right.
And, like basally, so I appreciate the religious icon, kind of graphic imagery that's there, especially the stained glass, which is always very beautiful. I think that brings you to another another place. So I think it's a delicate balance of how to integrate that. I mean, I'm interested in professionals and how do you repurpose those spaces? That's one of the things I when I was at the space at the facility with Jose being a wonderful tour, and I think I mentioned my email, he has lots of great insights into the facility. That was one of the things I was one of the spaces I was thinking about how to how would you use those or not? Or how do you respect how do you expect the former seminary
to use it for a new purpose?
Yeah, so you're taking a tour of the property and you you appreciate the stained glass windows as well as the confessionals and just one how that could be had some ideas maybe bad how those could be used those confessionals already repurposed or what could be done with them? Because I
see empathy. This empathy certainly reminds me a lot of confessionals and telling what you how you're feeling what your wants, like there is therapy, and in reflecting back to so you're being heard and releasing that out into into the universe.
So you see, what we're doing here with the empathy circle has an overlap with perhaps therapy, expressing yourself or maybe even confessional. So there's some sort of overlap there.
Right. Just, I'll just jump into some practical matters there. I things I'd like to see happening with the, with the, with the center. I think, in the last few circles, I've heard lots about, like I said earlier, educational, educational opportunities with the youth. I think that's really important to bring in. I've heard that here as well, today. And with that, Jim, and the nature surrounding nature of the 35 acres, I think there's wonderful opportunities for nature hikes, and maybe even little pavilions out in the landscape, to have little yoga, you know, yoga workshops, or tai chi, I'm into Tai Chi. So I'm interested in that really connecting to the energies of the body, and the
So I want to incorporate more of that. What, as Lisa was talking about the courtyard have a more of a meditative environment in there. Because it has, you know, the seminary is built around like a mission concept of having a courtyard and having the most up there. And then
like, yeah, so you have some ideas that were coming up one was with the gym, that that's kind of relates with the youth coming in there also, with the property with a space, having like pavilions, you know, for spaces for doing different activities, yoga, tai chi, and then you're sort of exploring the courtyard area, which is based on sort of the mission courtyard, approach, the design, I guess,
correct and feel heard out there. And I really feel like the parking in there, it's killing by have that space. So I'd like to see that parking lot removed and put down by the gym and expand the landscape opportunities there. And whether that prayer garden is kept and brought back to life or reconfigured to still be a prayer garden, meditative space, I think it might be important to use different semantics to feel make everyone more feel more inclusive. But
just as I know, some people get really turned off by Christianity's. Although I feel it's an important path. I just think to be cognizant of them,
that was a time by getting the final reflection. So you're looking at the courtyard area, the parking lot and feel it the parking lot, the parking should be moved to the gym, and that space be used, and you're looking at more of like a contemplative prayer garden, but also with a sensitivity that some people might turn some people off kind of it's real religious. Have some sensitivity for that. And that was the time and did you feel heard? Just do think, okay, all right. I'll speak to Haley. Yeah, so the the overall idea is very much what you were sort of addressing sort of multifaceted types of workshops and you know, just kind of using the spaces is you in just a lot of different ways.
The idea or the concept is to create a multifaceted space to use it many different ways.
Yeah, so I agree with the the courtyard area that it feels sort of like a motel with that parking lot up there, you feel like you're driving up to some kind of a Motel Six or something. So that kind of being you know, if this as much as possible, you know, turned into more gardens or something would be would probably be good.
You agree that the courtyard area and the parking lot is it's sort of a motel vibe, so it'd be nice to create
a more beautiful area there.
Yeah. And in terms of Religious, this I am not religious. So I'm I, from my own experience, I just found that the values sort of Trump's religion in a sense that it's really about human connection. And you know, I've, I've held empathy circles with different, you know, interfaith and so I mentioned, you know, everybody can just believe what they want is fine with me. But the core thing is that people have to be able to listen to each other. And if we can sort of have that as a core foundational cultural value, that that's, I think, is Central, and it's really missing in our society.
It sounds like for you, as not being someone who adheres to a particular religion, it's more important for you to understand the underlying values, and that listening to each other and hearing each other to find those things and connect there is what society is missing.
Yeah. And that's what's missing from our politics, our current politics is, you know, for me, we've done we have this empathy tent, we take it out to political demonstrations between the political left and right, we sort of meet listen to both sides, we help mediate, you know, between the sides. And I think we need to take this all the way to Congress, for example, and to get the Republicans and Democrats to, you know, have these empathy, circles and dialogue with each other. So that's sort of the overall mission of the Center that I see is to promote that core value, and it really ties in with, you know, any kind of activity really, yeah.
So particularly with regard to politics, this way of connecting, empathetically should be, I guess, implemented more and can be really effective. And it's sort of an underlying piece for all kinds of communicating and understanding each other.
Yeah. And as a marriage family therapist you're very aware of, if you can get a family that's in conflict, to listen to each other. That's kind of how you know issues get worked out. And you know, it's bath, Lisa and Charles, in our family, we've done family empathy circles, and it can be very effective. So it's not only the political sphere, you know, the environmental, but also family and, you know, personal support, I think, is foundational.
You're recognizing that even with families, the concept of listening to each other, and empathizing is really important and foundational for, for all kinds of things.
Yeah, it's time consuming, like Peter says, but I think it was Stephen Covey says, you know, it's better to work out these problems, you know, as you know, beforehand, than all the time it takes to clean up, you know, problems down the road. So in the long term, this is actually much more, less time consuming, I think.
this way seems a little bit time consuming. It sounds preventative, to trying to clean up all the misunderstandings afterwards.
And since we have two designers here, I also see empathy core to human centered design, I've done a lot of work with human centered design that comes out of you know, IDEO, or the design school at Stanford. And their process, the core of design is first you start with empathizing with the needs of people before you're designing. And it's core to the whole design process. So I see that as another. Some more activities I'd love to do at the Center is designed, especially human centered design work.
So you've had some experience with this idea of human centered design and having empathy and the needs of the people be something to be considered prior to the design and having that concept come into the work at the center.
Yes, right. So you're fully heard thanks. And so you're up against like your listener may be vast Lisa since she needs to leave as well. Oh
yeah, that's Lisa, you're welcome to go. I feel, I feel like I've shared and
you can share up sorry, you can share to speak the VAs Elisa, and then that'll be her turn after you. Sure.
Um, let's see. What do I want to share? What more do I have to share really?
So you're wondering what you can share and what more you have to share.
I feel hurt. Yes. I guess all I have to share is that from I feel like I really understand the necessity for this culture, like you say, of empathy and listening and understanding to be something that can really improve The way we all connect and the way we exist. So I just really have more curiosity as time goes on about what that means specifically for, like the functions of the center, and
maybe I should reflect.
like Edwin, you're really interested in creating this culture of empathy and more connection between people. So you're curious, curious to see how this develops? In the future? Did I miss something? Because that feels
pretty good. I'm a little vague. But basically bringing this whole conversation that's conceptual into something that is comes to fruition, like the concrete nature of this, how this works and what this exactly looks like. That's just where my curiosity is, and why I'm here today.
So you like the idea in division, but you're wondering how it will materialize? Right, how it will? What's the concrete application of all of this? Layout? Yeah.
So I feel heard, and will continue to listen for now. Okay.
Let's see. Maybe I'll speak to Peter
You mentioned that you mentioned that you feel like anything that has to do with Catholicism, or maybe even broader Christianity can be a turnoff for people.
I'm hearing you say that, I think that anything to do with Christianity or Catholicism could be a turn off for some people.
Well, I'm calling the garden prayer garden because there is like, there are two plaques there on two sides of the path. You know, they're on stones, and they're dedicated the graveyard and dedicated to, you know, priest or Bishop, this and Bishop that they don't remember the names. And it is that's what it's called. It's, it's called the prayer garden.
And you hearing you say that the prayer garden was dedicated as a prayer garden, and there's some stones with plaques on them that was dedicated to certain bishops, you're not aware what their names are.
Now, as far as I can those be removed, you know, and it just is called the prayer garden? Like, I don't I don't, I don't want to be sacrilegious. And being like, well, I don't like their names. I don't, you know, I don't know how to act here. You know, so it's respectful. But it's also more accepting to other people. My first question is, would other Christians be turned off? Because it's too Catholic, you know? And then I'm open to what about other people? Because there is also some tension between, you know, when God calls Catholic sorts of texts.
So I'm hearing you say that, I think
you are aware that there's conflicts even in the Christianity sects. And there'll be a turn off either way, to those certain individuals, but basically, what you're saying,
Well, I was talking more specifically about the prayer garden, like if it is, if it is, if those plaques are removed, or the stones are removed, and we just leave it as a prayer garden. It may please more people, but not
if the stones are removed, my appeal to more people, but we could offend the people that believe or respond to those elements as they are.
So cannot be prayer and meditation garden combined. But I think it can do I completely want to remove the word prayer that was there for like 40 years? kind of reluctant to? Like that's one of the things that attracted me to well, actually, yeah, that's one of the things that I liked about the idea is that even though it's far away, my husband was buying this seminary, which he called the Monastery at first.
So that was one of the things that attracted you to the property yourself. And you found Charles was interested in buying this property that it was had a religious overtone
and that you respect that.
Actually, at first he told me he, it was a monastery. Oh, right. And when I told my parents my husband what the monastery they said, think so bad at home
actually, it was you might Charles or tell you that he bought a monastery but and your parents when you told your parents that they thought He's everything okay at home during the camping? I can feel that. I feel
so it's my turn. Again, Peter, I'll speak to
less, I guess. Because I don't think Haley wants to participate.
Yeah. Okay. So I, I'll just talk about what massless as Lisa was talking about, I personally don't have any problems with the religious overtones. I'm just, and I personally have a I'm taking issue with all the cancer culture that we're going through in the world. I think. Yeah, living that live type thing. And people are getting a little too uptight about it at all. So I understand where you're coming from for sure. I'm not trying to denigrate that at all.
I'm hearing is you will also appreciate the religious background history behind this place. Your what you are feeling challenged by right now in this larger culture is the this cancel what's been called canceled culture. And for you, it's about really embracing every you know, everybody and living let live is what you how you phrase that? Yes.
And that's one of the one of the drawers to means I was like, you know, Edwin, I would enshrine the monk lifestyle, a little bit. Joking. And so the seminary aspect of it is interesting to me, in the sense that teaching people how to
spread the good word
to the rest of the world. So I think that's what I think there's a great synergy with empathy with empathy center, and spreading the good word of empathy. And teaching people how to do that. That's where I was asking Edwin in one of my emails about the dormitories do you want, you know, it's an architect thinking about how to design spaces and things like that, do you want these faces to be of a monastic type, feel or it's very austere, and you're there to reflect, do the inner work
we're hearing that, that the specific the educational background of the space as a seminary, you really like that aspect of it and would like to see that carried forward. You feel like it integrates and is harmonious with the current what you're hearing and what you're envisioning for the space as being at a place to educate about what you're calling the good word. And then I heard you share empathy as being the good word or related to your your beliefs around what the good word is.
And then, you know, we're your background in terms of the entire landscape and how to use the entire property to educate people. One of the things that I feel like and I and I don't know what retreats in your you've been affiliated with and passed on, I know, but no one has been to epsilon. And I'm only familiar with epsilon, my days back up in the Bay Area and all the people up there going there. I don't know if that's the particular retreat saying you're referring to or not. I don't know if you want to name names, but I'll let you reflect that and then I'll Yeah.
So you're, you were wondering Do you have some background with Esalen? In Big Sur from when you were living in the Bay Area? You have some some experience there. And you're wondering if that's the retreat center, I'm referring to, which it is. Actually, I
don't have any personal experience. I've never been to a salon. I've only heard about it and seeing pictures. And in the light, and one of the drawers I've always heard from people about there's the natural beauty, how beautiful places and of course, it's right on the coast and you know, beautiful landscapes. And that's one of the things that I see that's lacking right now that this place, what is the cemetery right now? What is that there? There? Let's go to I mean, there's the work of empathy, which is, I think, a draw, but most people on a superficial level want to go to a place that's going to take them away from their every day and have a beautiful, beautiful setting. That's my pedestrian view of what a retreat center is, maybe, maybe you guys can educate me more about that. But what's the draw for people, usually for a retreat center?
I'm hearing you've seemed to have no direct experience at Esalen, but you've heard a lot about it. And some of the things that you've heard a lot of what you've heard about is how beautiful the the the places the actual the grounds there, the space itself, and and you're feeling like that aspect that you've heard about with esslyn is lacking at the, at this kenosis site. And you're feeling well, empathy is a draw that, you know, for it to really bring in and attract people to help attract people really helping to our real focusing on creating more beauty there would be a good thing.
Right? I feel hurt. Thank you. Okay,
thank you. All speak to Edwin
Well, I shared earlier just my appreciation of this, of the focus of one of the focuses, if not the largest focus of this, what you're sharing your vision for it, what I heard vessel Lisa and, and Haley share as and everyone really as being a senator that's focused on facilitating healthier human connection. So there's spoke about that.
So you've spoken address what you're hearing others speak about with about fostering human connection.
Yeah. And in my, and I really appreciate that. It's something that really excites me about this, about this project. To speak more about, you know, kind of what I what I'm also excited about, which is the opportunity for this place to be an education, an education center, a demonstration site about relating better to the local ecology, I'd like to speak more about that.
So the other aspect that excites us about the space being for educating about ecology, and so you'd like to talk about?
Yeah, I really appreciated what, what Peter said, and I think I heard you speak to as well, Edwin about the flow with the parking and the prayer garden. That's something that AI is a big focus of our design work is really creating spaces that just feel good, that are warm and inviting. There's a book that I love. I imagine, Peter you may have heard of, it's called a pattern language. And it's about like, what are the things about the spaces that people come to and that just they, you know, they just feel good, they can't even explain it, but they just feel it feels right. And that book speaks a lot about things like parking and flow and entrances and arrangements. So I really appreciated what you both shared about that.
So you're appreciating what we were talking about in terms of the flow, the experience of the space and there's the book that kind of time About that sounds like that was a meaningful book to you. And so you're just thinking about the the flow, aesthetics perhaps and energy and space.
Yep. And it's something you know, the what I feel to be the two biggest design issues or the two things that have been neglected the most in coastal California at least, but it's a California in large has been water and, and our relationship to fire. And Santa Barbara, I perceive those to be two especially relevant topics.
So two things that you've seen, sort of not really addressed. On the coast, there is fire and water and they haven't really been addressed in Santa Barbara. Taking taking those into real consideration with the design, I think you're saying?
Yeah, with with most development that's that's taken place thus far. So something that I really is a big focus on my work is on developing a healthier relationship with water, healthier hydrological cycles, whether it's on a on an eighth of an acre, up to 1000s of acres. And also with fire, you know, we live in a fire ecology, California is meant to burn. And and I'm really interested in educating and providing creating demonstration sites that demonstrate how we can live harmoniously with that with those two elements. And have beautiful spaces, produce food, inhabit them, but also do so in a way that respects the natural cycles of fire and drought here. And, and also provides resilience in the face of those.
So you're really wanting to educate people about the fire and water issue, and maybe even seeing the center as a space for doing that kind of education. Yeah, now it's time to but if you just want anything that's just tough wrap up that makes Yeah, well,
yeah, just to wrap up, I'm specifically interested in in the landscape itself being an educational tool for people who are meditating who are there, but who are walking around to really be able to even have a self guided tour with signage about how the space has been designed to maximize water capture, and to operate or to exist harmoniously with the cycles of fire. So it is resilient when fire inevitably does come at some point. So those are the things that excite me.
Yeah, so you really feel excited about sort of an educational space that people can take a walk and beat learn about the nature and the the fire issues and the water issue. They could be further educated through walking through the space. So almost like a prayer garden for awareness of the ecology, I guess.
Exactly. I feel heard. Thank you.
Okay. Charles, can I speak to you? Okay, yeah, in terms of what Peter's saying is about, you know, what is the thing that attracts you to the space I'm sort of seeing permaculture as what could be the, the space, you know, that the having more food gardens and maybe even terracing the hills, you know, is with gardens, and orchards like that. So kind of what the West is talking about a day that, hey, this is a really cool place for kind of learn about the ecology and permaculture and gardening and so forth.
So you're really excited about the potential for food gardening. Orchard, maybe terracing, the hillsides and having that as a big drive for this. Yeah,
it has right now it has the view, which is you know, a great view. So that's sort of an attraction. But the buildings everything looks so institutional. So that's kind of like you know, a kind of a downer, but I am seeing sort of maybe more gardens in the square it's, it's like Peter was talking about like, if you see the old mission, they've got a square in the middle and it's actually a garden you know, have food gardening or whatever flowers etc. Like that, that is is more sort of alive and sort of connected with you going out and picking some fruit vegetables or fruit or something like that. So that whole permaculture could be like an attraction, I think for the space
So I think you were mentioning that area between the parking lot and the chapel, that that could be a garden with flowers and producing food and something that grabs people's attention. And
yeah, and I really liked the I started to see the connection, like, you know, as Lisa was talking about the prayer, walk, but you combine that with a ecology prayer, you know, pack blocks, I can see sort of emerging of those concepts to action would be in
prayer work could be combined with like an ecology walk, where maybe there's science that said, Hey, we did this to the landscape, because of the fires and because there's no kind of educate people on what can be done.
Yeah. And then they can actually, you know, pick some vegetables, fruit or something, you know, they're kind of integrated. So it does seem like it could be if I'm doing Google Earth, you know, going over the space of the neighborhood, there doesn't seem to be a lot of gardening, it's more desert, plants ornamentally organized, and it's not like, I didn't leave to Google Earth didn't see much sort of permaculture type environments up there. Maybe it's a water issue, I don't know. But
So in Google Earth, you didn't see much as far as orchards or food production, it's more of a desert, the area with limited water resources.
Yeah. And I was just thinking of the dormitories that Peter was saying is about inner work. There's a lot of, you know, Buddhism, and so forth, or monasteries, it's about this inner work. I see the empathy being more relational, with a focus on bringing people together, like what we're doing here, like we're, we're coming together to interact with each other, and how do we develop the tools and practices that foster sort of this relational aspect?
So you see the empathy work as bringing people together and fostering relational aspects. So it was there more? Yeah, it's
teaching how to listen, which is what Haley is doing as a counselor, you're listening to people, which is just a healing practice in itself. Therapy is basically somebody that's going to listen to you. And so it's that listening, but it being mutual, not just sort of an individualistic approach, but we're in relationship with people and fostering those skills.
So you really see the value of someone listening to you. That's kind of the basis of a lot of therapy. Everybody wants to be heard, and and that's a big part of this.
And Kristen was going to be here. He's the staff. I forgot to mention he had a migraine. So he wasn't here. That's why I've asked Lisa stepped in. So I just wanted to explain that to everyone.
So, caretaker, Christian had a migraine, he was going to be here, but he wasn't able to be.
Yeah, I feel fully heard. Thanks.
Okay, I'll speak to Peter.
Okay, and listening.
Well, we had, I spoke with my brother, we were discussing, you know, the dormitory renovations. And one idea was to use the grey water to irrigate, you know, the plants and so forth. So, that's kind of one thing to discuss. And if that's feasible, and if there's rules and regulations about using gray water.
Yeah, I'm hearing you say that you would have talked about the dormitories and how to reuse the gray water for irrigation. And that there's rules and regulations around that.
Right. I think that's all I have to say. Okay. Good.
I'll speak to I'll speak to Wes. I'm listening. And to follow up on what Charles was just inquiring about. I can speak to that a little bit. And I know you know, probably more about that. Yes, Charles, that could definitely be done. There's a lot of infrastructure that's in place on those dorms that I saw already. I'm sorry, matter of tapping into that, and then being able to store and treat the greywater appropriately, and then pump it out to irrigate. And I and I imagine that less has more knowledge about that than I, but I know what can be done has been done and just matter of infrastructure and cost.
you're responding to Charles comment or interest in the cycling the gray water into the landscape and sharing your belief that, that that can be done legally. And and it's just a matter of how and how it needs to be done and the costs associated with making that happen.
Correct. Yes, I'm fully with Edwin about having a educational gardens and, and the aspect of that being the draw, because there is, I feel there needs to be something there. And yes, the views are amazing, up there at sunset. I mean, it's just fantastic. I was there at sunset, and it's just very beautiful. So how to incorporate outdoor spaces on that edge of the western edge of the property. I think it's critical. I saw some pictures of when the property was in good shape, when Jose was really keeping the property up. And it was it's beautiful. When it's cared for.
You're sharing your your appreciation for the location, the view from the property, and in your appreciation for moments when you've seen it in really good shape and well tended and the beauty that it had in that moment intrinsically, and sharing your appreciation for Edwin's thoughts around an agreement with Edwin's thoughts around really creating food gardens and outdoor spaces throughout the property that enhance the view complement the view and create more of a draw for the community. Correct.
And since there's the all the trails up into the hills, and there's a trailhead right below the property that actually crosses the property goes into the property, I believe it probably is an easement that would probably need to be looked into. But I see that as another avenue for teaching. Like you were talking about the local ecology and getting groups to take hiking, you know, hiking tours could be one of the workshops and things like that. So I think that's really interesting to me. I think there's great potential for water harvesting on site, there's a lot of roof spaces that we can collect water from a matter of how to retain it and reuse it and seeking to your interest in water in California and how do we live with it live with it and without it? How do we mind Be mindful of that
what I'm hearing is you really appreciate the access opportunities that currently exist both on the property, but also the adjacent public access that connects you believe nicely with the trails on the property and that could present an opportunity for not just people who are there specifically on site to have you know, enjoy the prayer walk or the ecology walk you know, meditation walk, but also people who are coming through that public access to also take that and and you also perceive there to be a lot of opportunity for water harvesting, not just through grey water but also through the existing roofs and hardscapes.
Correct and the elaboration of connecting to their property to the existing trailheads to expand that that use
your clarifying that the existing public Trailhead does not currently link up with the trails on the property but you see there to be an opportunity to connect those correct.
And then otherwise, I see lots of opportunities with the dining hall to create some outdoor spaces, Alfresco spaces on the left side and on the courtyard side to have different ways Is that you know, so you can enjoy the sunset view. And then also have more of a protected view when it's more inclement weather and things of that nature. I think there's opportunities for things like that to bring outside and things of that. Like
you're appreciating the siting of the dining hall on the west side, I believe you said, and how that presents its own unique set of opportunities at the site, in terms of whether view to have outdoor spaces integrated with the dining hall, correct.
I feel heard. Thank you. Thank you.
Do you want to just speak, and Weston, and we will open it up after that.
Okay. Yeah, sure. I'll speak with with Charles.
Okay. Well, I
really appreciated your your comments about gray water.
Start with that.
You appreciate the comments about gray water. I mean, there's dormitories there, and people will be taking showers and stuff.
Yeah, there is a huge opportunity there. I think, Edwin, you mentioned there not being much food, pretty many food producing systems in the surrounding area, I think that is in no small part due to water. And I wouldn't be surprised if any of the surrounding properties are utilizing grey water, or are really intentionally directing roof capture, and hardscape capture. So I think really leveraging the water production, or I guess cycling the the use of water through the structures, and from the roofs, intentionally into garden spaces can be a really great way to produce food, create a more fire safe garden and create more soil fertility.
So probably very few places, properties in the area use fully the like their gray water, or the runoff water to benefit their landscapes and there's very little food production because it's so dry. So you're kind of excited about using those aspects into the property.
Yes, and it is very possible to do and in fact, it doesn't. Storage Systems and filtration systems are not required legally depending on what gray water what the source is. And in fact are advised against, it can be a fairly straightforward system in terms of distribution. It's really just reconfiguring the collection plumbing that is can be the more difficult piece. So it's very feasible and and I think would be an amazing aspect of the education and demonstration of this property to the Santa Barbara and larger California community.
So water collection and storage isn't necessarily required for gray water. And you're kind of excited about using this property as a kind of demonstration piece for other people. Because certainly other people will be going there to retreat centers, so it can be a great educational aspect to it. And yeah, since the dorms are going to be renovated, I mean, I mean, it's it will be very easy to integrate the graywater system during renovations
Yeah, and in terms of in terms of food, you know, creating this what what I like to call food forest type environment for people as they're on their meditation, walk, prayer, walk, enjoying their lunch, and there's fruit hanging from the trees next to them i It's a big, something I really enjoy designing is how all of those things can be integrated. Can it produce food? Can it also be fire safe? Can it also be waterwise you know, rather than these segregated you know, this is the fire safe garden. Here's the food garden. It's like really integrating all of these things. And you'll notice you know a lot of the food production in the orchards in in Santa Barbara are very water Are Steve subtropical avocados. And I really feel excited about, you know, there are so many drought tolerant food producing plants and trees that can that are just not as well known or not as popular, shall I say. But can be integrated and really in a really amazing way to create a fire safe, water wise, and very beautiful and lush habitat there.
So you're aware of fruit trees that are drought tolerance. And we would like to integrate those. Some people use avocados which use a lot of water. And you're excited about people being now at the retreat center and having fruit trees right there for them.
Yeah, I'm feeling I'll just add to it so happens that someone who's considered the greywater guru in North America, at least in the US, as name is Art, Ludwig, is actually from and lives in Santa Barbara. And he wrote the most amazing resource on greywater that I've found, it's called Create an oasis with grey water. So anyways, there's also a great grey water resource there if we really need to call them the big guns surrounding regulations and legal hurdles.
So one of the premier premiere, educate, I mean, first people about who knows everything about gray water lives in Santa Barbara. So if we need a resource, he would be a good person to contact.
I feel heard, thank you.
Okay, we can just open it up to any kind of questions, comments, without empathic reflection. Thanks for going through that process. With us. It's, it's a good foundational practice for kind of all the empathy work that we do. So if anybody has any comments, Charles, did you have any thoughts and feud?
Well, in the purpose of runoff, I know there was a lot of runoff from that parking lot. And then it goes down the road towards the bottom of the hills. So there's a lot of water running down that road. It's kind of a steep slope right there. We did have a few little landslides and these past rains. So I know, my brother was talking to you about vetiver we're at kind of a crest and so yeah, it would be very interesting to me to see what you would your ideas for all of that.
Yeah, I I took the tour on on YouTube, that was a great thing that when so I'm just providing that tour second familiar as my myself a bit and and also have looked on Google Earth. And yeah, it's it makes a lot of sense. There's a lot of water moving down that driveway. And we're actually in the midst of several projects, here in slow with, with that exact focus on turning what is currently a problem, this erosive water runoff and actually redirecting it and leveraging it and turning it into a resource banking in the soil in a non corrosive way to provide nourishment into the dry season for free planting. So yeah, you know, in terms of erosion control, or stabilizing what is vetiver is an amazing, amazing plant we feel really excited about, but then also really plugging the leaks in the bucket in the first place. You know, really addressing the current patterning of water on the property. And turning it from a problem to a resource is something I feel really excited about. So and I feel very confident it can be done.
That's actually how I came across us like we had that landslide and so I started researching came across vetiver and you had this video that you'd done with a property you know, sorry, a hill, in somebody's backyard, you planted all the vetted beer there and had a really nice demonstration of it. And then I kind of poked around more and you know, came across your seventh generation design site. And I had sent you also a link to Veta V or Spain or have had a chance to see that, but they had a very hilly, you know, really steep hill on their property. And they ended up using better beer for the terracing to the terrorists that and then use vetiver to sort of stabilize the edges and in terms of a demonstration garden, I was just sort of imagining you know, some terracing, You know, along that that hillside, so
yeah, yeah, it's I think it would be amazing to integrate that plant for control of the existing erosion, but also if any earthworks are done in terms of terracing. vetiver is amazing for stabilizing the field slopes on when terraces are put in. It's also self terracing over time. So that's a longer game, lower cost, but longer, longer approach. So yeah, it's it's an amazing plan we feel really excited about and I'm glad you found that video and found us I feel really grateful to be sitting here in the circle and, and appreciate the time that's going in the legwork early on into all these conversations, because it's normally what we're trying to slow our clients down. You know, we're we live in a culture of very, like detail oriented culture right now where we want to jump straight to building the chicken coop or straight to putting in the tree. And we're often trying to slow down and encourage more of these conversations. So it's feels very refreshing to be in a conversation with so much thought being put in right now. So glad to be here.
Yes, I agree. Charles, I just have some practical issues that I'm just interested in for you guys. I mean, I know you guys are working on your nonprofit and all that. But are there have you looked into the conditional use permit? And I heard something about in one of the previous empathy circles, that something needs to be done every six months to keep the conditional use permit active? Is that your understanding?
Yeah, I think there has to be construction or, you know, some kind of meetings. Or I know they had a an AAA meeting going on that says something along my educational, religious kind of vibe, the kind of kick the conditional use permit.
Active right. And so you're, you're aware of that, and you're staying on top of that, in terms of having workshops for a or some kind of retreat going on? You guys are putting that into action?
Yeah, yeah, I we had an empathy circle with Charles Christian and I from the center doing it. So I consider that like an active, you know, workshop, I'll be going down. April 2, so I'll be down there for a week or more. And then we have some people coming down. So we'll be just doing a workshop. So I think it's just a matter of having and you're welcome to come join us. It's, it will be holding maybe an empathy circle or something just that kind of keep that use permit. Active? There is still question if there's a vagueness about the use permit. It seems like it got lost or something we have somebody kind of working at trying to get it because you want to come in. So is this Joan? How is Leavis over partner? Peter, you've you've met. So, yeah, so that's west at the bottom. And Peter. Let me put you on speaker here so that I got you in my ear by now. So thanks. Hey, somebody say something. Just want to be sure this is working. Well said. Hi, John. Yeah, we got it. Okay, so that that you were still working on the use permit, and somebody's working at trying to track it down? There's, it seems like it kind of got lost nobody, the county or the city seems to have it. We found some documents, that might be it. But we need sort of a determination exactly what it is. Because that's going to set the amount of people we can have there. Right the the use. And that's going to determine the building like you want to sort of maximize the amount of people that can stay there within the context of the use permit. And that's like the dormitory, you know, how many how many rooms we make or how we sort of design that? So we're still sort of in the process? Not really sure. For not 100% The city has said this is it. This is the use permit. So we're still it's taking a long time, actually. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, you're not alone. This happens. Often, things get lost in the bureaucratic wasteland, and it's quite frustrating. So I feel for you on that. The document that I think I don't know if you forwarded it or if I found it, but it was The proposal for the for the rehabilitation center right in there, the very bat, last page was the conditional use permit back in 1962, or whatever. And it was very vague. So that was unfortunate. But it also sets, you know, what they're planning to do, there was how many beds there were going to be, there's going to be faculty rooms, and the like. So as you know, that will set how many like you're seeing people. And there was also, I don't remember the quite the term they use, because every county has their every jurisdiction is a little bit different acronyms sometimes, but it was like a supplemental conditional permit. So we could probably go back in and get something established for what you want to do, because it's not going to be a religious entity anymore. That's what I'm hearing anyway. It's not going to have that hardcore backing from any religious institution. So I don't know if that has to be rewarded, you know, and get something you know, on paper, legally, so you're good to go. I think that'd be beneficial to work that that out with them. But, you know, I think it's, it's got to be somewhere in there documents. I mean, it's from the county, from the city, you have that document, I think we just asked them to recreate it, you know, it's you have the signatures there. And just get something from now with your new ownership going forward, this is the conditional use permit might have to go through, you know, they're not gonna they might not be nice, might not be able to be done administratively just by staff saying, okay, might have to go through a process. I don't know, it's it's a big integral shared with staff to get one reestablished, but there should be, it should be able to be done. So.
Yeah, that's the focus. That document that you mentioned, it was previously a treatment center was trying to develop, they were trying a group is trying to create a treatment center. They had their proposal, they had something that it seems like it was there the use permit, even though other documents have said the use permit is missing. And so there's sort of a vagueness, but we basically just need the county or the city to say, Yes, this is what, you know, confirmation, this is what this is the use permit. You know, just so we we have there, okay, for that. But we do have 14 rooms currently that are you know, usable, if you saw that there's one wing has been renovated. So the approach, we want to take a sort of an incremental for that just start fixing up those rooms, start using it more to talk with us about doing the site assessment, you know, that you'd sent the proposal, you know, for doing that, to get started with kind of gathering the assessment of the resources that are are there and then just kind of like, slowly, kind of incrementally kind of work our way into it and sort of take a little time before jumping into the renovations whose we still don't have enough sense of the the market and so forth, like, do we kind of focus on on dormitories in there, you know, half dormitories, others rooms are all, you know, separate rooms, or, you know, we're still kind of not sure, the use permit says there could be 82 people in that building as dormitories. And if we create separate rooms, then we're down to like 22 or something like that. So we don't want to lose too much capacity. So there's just all these questions that are sort of floating around, or jhandewalan face anything.
Well, I just got back. So I don't know what you discussed. But we had hoped to chat with you. Later when it's convenient for you, Peter, thank you for sending that detailed proposal. But I my sense was that after I had when I and Charles spoke that it's not it's not just the market. It's just getting the outside attractive getting a group of rooms that we have, and we could really expand that because some of them aren't labeled as bedrooms that we could try out having some workshops, I mean that that is testing the waters to see you know how that is going to work because this is what we're planning on is having a retreat center that is available just like our salon or Mount Madonna for all the are some, you know all kinds of workshops, but it would be good to get a sense of how that is going to work. And of course, we will have to do a little something as far as the kitchen. If we do any workshops that are not just day long see, you know, you do need to be able to be preparing meals there too. So I felt like it was so much more practical approach. And everything takes time. And whatever I do, I've run communicable disease control programs, I just always feel it's a layered approach, you know, you just keep it just keep building on what you have and check and check out how things are working.
Yeah, I agree, I think you do, phase it in. And like, like you said, those rooms are in great shape, brand new, quality materials, and just need to furnish them and get some artwork on the walls to soften things up some softer materials, so it's not so echoey in the hallways and things like that just some life, and that's what furnishings, fixtures and furnishings are for. So that could be round up, you know, stung when thinking about, you know, try and get a, I don't want you to do it ad hoc ly, either, you know, so it'd be great to come up with a vision, what you want the place to be. We call in our school, the concepts that then drives everything you always come back to what's the concepts?
Right? I don't know, it's probably my hearing that the lesson is clear. But I will say
anything about the design, like Yeah, we need AV designer to have a consistent overall design.
stride, right. One thing I was gonna mention to Charles and since we're in the circle, from way back, I know an interior designer of a young man or a gay couple, actually, and lived in New York City. And he's he's had, he's still quite young, but he's had years of experience. And I contacted him just to get some ideas and contacts. But he sounds like you might be interested as well. I'm, I think that would be fun. Because he he's excellent. He's somebody that I know. But he has a business in Portland, and he's opening another business. So he's got a lot going on. But I just wanted to let you know, Charles, he's, we sent him the slide show and he's going to look at it and get back with us on that. So okay, I think that it would be great to as Peter was saying, to have somebody that works with rooms that we have, and and feel good about that and have the outside working and and then we can look at going forward after we try it out. Okay.
The buildings themselves look like they're the exterior materials and things like that, are they they're in great shape. And I'm one to not mess with something that's already doing well, I mean, there's no reason to put plaster all over or anything like that it's expensive. And the quality materials they did, when they did the renovation, they use quality windows and doors. So everything looks really nice. I think buses work would really be where you want to focus a lot on the grounds. And that would really live up to place. I mean, I can come up with some paint schemes and things like that for the covered walkways, to kind of soften the institutional look, but the buildings themselves I really wouldn't want to touch that much. I mean, they're already fireproof being brick buildings, and apparently a concrete roof with clay tile, so they're stout or stealth buildings. Yes, there's some repair work that needs to be done in terms of some roof leaks and things like that. But in all the superstructure looks to be in pretty good shape. There's some accessibility issues for disabled access to get to the chapel and things of that nature and checking slopes to get down to the recreation room underneath the chapel. Access physical access from Jim area up to the main complex, I think could be integrated. So I think like I mentioned a topographical survey of the immediate surroundings of the facility. The is required. So you can get all the grade heights for all the flat work and in the down to the road, driveway rather, for Wes to look at the drainage and all that. And like Wes was just talking about, we can catch the water before it starts going down the hill. So it doesn't create erosion. Yeah, when I was there, I saw those subsidence along the driveway. And that's something needs to be taken care of, so that you're aware of all that. But yeah, I think there's huge opportunities for gardens down by the gym areas, a lot of flat area down there to that bigger mass produce Mass Production Type of mass production, more expansive food production, and just in the courtyard to I don't know, if less, you feel the same way. But there's lots of opportunities for political take systems on the gyms, huge expansive area there that you could do some energy production. To very, you create this very self contained, you know, go back to the I going back to the mission aspect of it, the Catholic you know, it's a self contained entity that was there, you know, a fortress out in the wilderness takes care of itself. So I think there's a lot to be done there. And so yeah, faced and I've loved coming up with lots of different programmatic things, you could probably do their children's programs with theatre and music and dance, you've mentioned Joan before in the chapel, how to use that space effectively, still maintain its spiritual aspects.
But I'm thinking I'm hearing through all this, you guys really need to get your facility program with your retreat gurus who have been in the business and forget the woman's name. Now, if I look back at my notes, I might be able to find it. But it was a woman, I think she's living up in Seattle area currently, who had worked at Casa de Maria. Shawn. Yeah. But people like that, who really know the ins and outs of functioning, what it's going to take to run this place, I think they need to get a handle on that terms of so you can figure out how many people are going to be there at any one time. So you can get a handle on that. racial aspect on
effects the design of the dormitory and also the, you know, there's that those classroom area that were the libraries that I guess without permits into accommodation. So
that's what I was very good. There's a disconnect there between the drawings and the what you guys are talking about as classrooms, because I saw bathrooms in there, but the doors look like their classrooms, little view windows. So there there was a disconnect. So that was non permitted,
that we that I understood, yeah. So we deal with that. And, you know, Charles had talked about what was involved in, you know, creating accommodation there. But it seems like it's quite much more complicated because it wasn't permitted for that.
Well, that's one of the things I was seeing that was lacking at the States right now is are the are no room, no classrooms, it's all bedrooms. For the most part, I'm not saying that some of those already established, you know, the sisters quarters, and the faculty quarters couldn't be made into meeting rooms. Some of them are, could be. But yeah, that library is great. It's in great shape, for the most part. So that's a great resource for having, you know, having books about empathy, and what we're what you're trying to do there and ecology, local ecology, the local, indigenous people, I think, is one of the people that talked about that, that that was important to them in the past about honoring the indigenous culture, and how to implement, bring that into the center. And I think that speaks to what Wes is interested in as well as how do you live in this particular place? I'm interested in that as well in terms of my architecture from the ground up, but also reusing the place and how do you make it right for the place that it's
yeah, there's a just an idea or an aspect of esslyn popped into my head that I have always really appreciated. And Edwin, I know you spent some time there. Not sure if you have Joan or Charles invested Lisa have but the bookstore.
Oh, really? Yeah. Have you there for quite a while?
Oh, that's really cool. That's how my that's where my fiance and I met as well. Let's let's just be a good place for that. But yeah, my fiancee Her name is Amana ser, she, her mom ran the bookstore at esslyn for about 30 years. And so she has a lot of insight into the inner workings of Esslingen. And, and a monastery his father also ran the preschool there because EBO both of which I imagined could be resources for the community and elements they're at at this site. But the bookstore in particular, was really is really popular at esslyn. It's a really well curated bookstore. Or at least it was when mana says mother, Carolyn was running it. And it was people really enjoyed going there, I always really enjoyed being in there, it was really beautiful bookstore was well curated. But it also provided a substantial amount of income for provides a substantial amount of income for esslyn, which just helps, you know, make it all financially and economically viable. So yeah, I always loved opportunities to go in there and look around and sit on the couch and everything. So I wonder if that could be a piece of of this retreat center again, you know, SLN was there often they've got a few 100 people at a time there who are staying multiple days at a time. So the bookstore potentially makes more sense there, depending on what might end up ultimately happening. Can notice, but that was something that I really appreciated there. And, and I imagine Carolyn might be interested in in talking with you all and sharing her experience of the bookstore and of the esslyn as a whole as well. So I could reach out to her if that's of any interest.
All right. Well, is the one on the house 50 years of experience. So the property is one of the most beautiful pieces of property. So they have a lot going for them. And we were we were talking about, you know, we do know, David Price who stabbed helped start at that they had a big advantage. You know, back in the 60s when they started at this was a movement psychologists and, and so it it, they all kind of came together and you have a community before you even start at so. It's quite it's quite unique. I wish we had that.
Yeah, it is quite quite unique. Yeah, I agree.
Okay, well, I want to keep us on time, too. We're almost at that. And so whilst we didn't want to talk to you about doing that assessment, you can just email you or if you send the invoice or something. I think we're Charles was good with doing that.
Okay, yeah, I'll follow up with an email too.
So, okay, well, we're in about the time fifth.
I have a question for Wes, then if you're doing that, so we've contacted a horticultural so I was going to call to let him know when Edwin's going down there. He's had 40 years of experience in Santa Barbara. He's actually worked for the city. And he's semi retired now. But he was agreeable to come evaluate and map it out. And I was just wondering if it would be helpful for the two of you to coordinate that or meet at the same time? Or how do you think that would best happen?
So he's, well, that sounds like a great connection. First off, when you say map it out? What what does he have any idea what he's intending there?
He wasn't going to do with permaculture. He, that was the first thing that I was, felt like was so important to have some really beautiful plan for the foliage and the flowers and making it as attractive as possible there and even incorporate some art, but it wouldn't be going down into the soil or dealing with agriculture or anything like that. Although he's very knowledgeable, I'm sure, but he was strictly going to deal with the beautiful part of it. Yeah.
Okay, so more, more of a focus on ornamental or Have the aesthetic peace? Yeah, well I would be, I would welcome the opportunity to meet and talk with him, you know, we do our design, we structure our design off of what we call this the scale of impermanence. But starting with the things that are hardest to change, but the longest lasting and then moving towards the things that are easiest to change, but also most malleable. So we always start with water. foundational piece. So making sure water and water is patterned, well makes everything else easier. And then we moved to access and then shelters, which the shelters here, the structures, those are largely already located and and there's some constraints there. And then we move to the the plants and everything like that. So yeah, it's, it sounds like there are some spaces there are that are already, you know, gardens, the prayer garden and other spaces that could there could be more of an immediate focus on lining those up and making those more beautiful. And then for the larger property, the 35 acres that I'm hearing are roughly descending down, that could then we could really focus on patterning water properly on those on earth shaping potentially terraces, or swales or different things like that, and then work with him on Where are going to be more of the ornamental gardens. You know, for me, I love the idea of integrating everything all throughout the property integrating food production with beauty with herbs and medicinal and, and fire you know all of it. So I would love the chance to meet with him the sun, he sounds like a great resource. And somebody who is keeping the city of Santa Barbara beautiful for 40 years is definitely a good person happened volunteer.
What do you what are you evaluating also for the swimming pool part of it?
Yeah, so we look at water we look at when we look at water, we look at passive water harvesting, which is are basically things like Earth shaping, utilizing Earth shaping to slow water down and spread it out and sink it into the soil. Active water harvesting in terms of tanks and collection systems, water systems for moderating the climate and for recreation. So swimming pool also often stacks multiple functions there, which is always the sign of a good element to have in the landscape. So we do for a lot of our projects, we do the siting of the swimming pool to, you know, design for flow, climate, moderation, all these other things. So that that is something that we can do as part of our design work. And we would like to do, you know, we'd like to look at the whole site and really design for everything together and work with folks like, you know, Peter, in terms of the structures and everything like that. So but if there's someone else that is, is you have is focused on the swimming pool and everything like that, then of course, you know, we can, I'm happy to meet who you know, the project wherever it's at. Okay.
All right. I mean, I haven't seen the property personally. But everybody says that, having it where you're looking out on the ocean would be a perfectly great place to put it. Oh
yeah, and it's the swimming pool at Esalen is definitely a hot spot and it's out overlooking the ocean and you know, there's a big, there's a lot of awareness developing around natural swimming pools. It's something that we recommend and all of our designs show swimming pools. Yeah, and they they utilize biomass vegetation to provide filtration and they're they're much lower cost to put in and much less energy intensive and really beautiful. They kind of look more like more like natural features. So yeah, that's that's, that would be something I'd love to talk with you all more about.
Okay, well, I do want to keep us on track. So we'll follow up on all of this and just want to thank you everyone for taking part in this circle. And this is an ongoing discussion because we we really want to work with the community different groups, and really create a space there that we can connect with each other and you know, hold different types of workshops, etc. So I'll then say goodbye, we just end with our jazz hands if you're getting a good photograph for the end. So talk to you all soon. So thanks again. Everyone.