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Laguna Beach

Enriched Programming is now offered at Boys and Girls Club to inspire interest in STEAM subjects

TheBoys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is pleased to announce enriched programming offerings throughout the year designed to inspire members’ natural curiosity in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). 

“We are excited to offer our STEAM programming in a period when it is more important than ever for children to learn what’s imaginable through these high growth fields,” said Pam Estes, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Epicenter of enjoyment and enrichment: the Boys and Girls Club

“These initiatives help children learn the influential skills including problem solving, collaboration and creativity – all needed to make them thrive in all areas of their education, and prepare them for jobs of the 21st century,” she added. What’s more, our STEAM programs are providing compelling evidence of their positive effect on our children, while engaging and holding their attention. According to Faye Cartmale, Impact Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, “We are incredibly proud to communicate the positive influence these programs have had on our members. 

“At the conclusion of programming, surveys indicate that a majority of them have increased their competencies beyond just the subject matter, such as leadership and respect for others, adding so much value to the participants – all while having fun. It’s a win-win for the children in our community!” 

The STEAM programming initiatives at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach are made possible due to the generous contributions from the following foundations and organizations: Edison International, Cox Communications, James M. Cox Foundation, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation, Best Buy Children’s Foundation, San Diego Gas and Electric, Festival of Arts Foundation, Massen Greene Foundation, and Edwards Life Sciences. 

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Fun and learning go together in enriched programming

The variety of STEAM-focused programming include:

Be Eco Smart helps members become more conscious of their environment through fun, innovative and exciting programs that cater to the whole child. The program provides opportunities for children to explore their Earth through hands-on activities. 

3D Print Club benefits membersby helping themlearn the basics of visual design and 3D design to create their own 3D models and print them using a 3D printer. These printers can be used to create simple toys and items to complex artificial hands for those in need. 

Garden Club allowsmembers enjoy growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers in our year round garden club, while learning the science behind nurturing a garden from simple irrigation to composting. 

Give a Beat continues our successful partnership of the past, the Give a Beat Foundation, by bringing in professional DJs to our teen center who mentor and teach their skills to our tween and teen members. 

School of Rock allows our tweens and teens to jam every Monday in the teen center. There is an assortment of instruments that members explore and jam on with

musicians who want to find their passion in working together in a band. Talks about the music that interests Club members, the ability to practice the craft, and learn some fundamentals of music are just a few of the fun activities that will happen during sessions.

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Coding Club is a fourth year-strong program at Thurston Middle School. This lunchtime coding club continues to foster computer programming and social skills among its participating members. A youth-led program, children work to complete personal projects and goals in the computer science or career path of their interest. 

Animation Open Studio is available on Fridays, where our veteran animation club members will have the opportunity to work on their very own stop motion pieces using our brand new Dragonframe animation tools. 

Tech 101 gives our members toexperience of the basics of engineering and design at Lang and Bluebird Park locations. Build parachutes, electric dough creatures, and wearable tech fashion in our hands-on, minds-on engaging club targeted for elementary youth who want to start using their hands to engineer.

My.Future is accessed through our state-of-the-art Cox Education & Technology Center, where members learn and apply the foundational technology skills needed to succeed in school, continue their education and be successful in the workplace.

Through use of the Boys & Girls Club of America’s My.Future website, members can increase their technology fluency and skills, leading to improved academic skills and grades.

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach service area includes Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest and the surrounding communities, and occupies three sites in Laguna Beach: Canyon Branch, Bluebird Branch and Lang Branch. Together, they offer a nationally recognized and award winning year round Out-of-School enrichment program that focuses on the whole family. 

For more information about The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit or call (949) 494-2535.

Ospreys also choose Glenneyre to get from one end of Laguna to the other: They must be locals

Photos by Scott Brashier

“Two Ospreys were chatting it up between El Camino del Mar and Glennerye on Friday afternoon,” says Scott Brashier. “I’d just about given up and was about to cross the street when the female took flight. Thanks to my friend, Judy for the heads up.”


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A little more about ospreys: Unique among North American raptors for their diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. 

These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. 

Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

Info from website

“Please release me, let me go/For I don’t [need] you anymore”…and that’s a good thing, if you’re a sea lion

Story and photos by LYNETTE BRASFIELD

Early Saturday morning, Cabo, a sea lion rescued at Salt Creek on Sept 30 then weighing 26 pounds (now 77 pounds), and Heartbreaker, a fur seal found at Capo Beach on Oct 5, (then 13 pounds and now 31 pounds), took their leave from Laguna Beach to return to their ocean homes. 

Both had spent months recuperating from illness or injury at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. They reentered the Pacific waters at Aliso Beach.

Saying goodbye to these creatures was both heart-wrenching and heartwarming for PMMC staff and volunteers.

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Heartbreaker makes a fast break toward the ocean

Robb Mead, volunteer, confided that he thought Heartbreaker would be nervous and slow to go – but no, Heartbreaker (so named because she was rescued on the day of Tom Petty’s death) took one look at the ocean and made a beeline (a sea-line?) for the waves. 

And then she was gone without so much as a farewell flap of her front flippers. 

Cabo, larger and more indolent by nature, took a little longer to consider his options after leaving his crate. He paused halfway to freedom. 

If there’d been a thought-bubble above his head, I imagine it would have read something like, this: “Hmm. From what I hear, with freedom comes responsibility…I could continue to be hand-fed and protected from predators, play with my pinniped pals and enjoy a fancy private pool back at the PMMC – but, hmm, on the other flipper…” 

Cabo gazed at the foamy waves shouldering their way to shore.

He flopped a few feet forward. His whiskers shivered. His nose rose.

He flopped a few feet forward. His whiskers shivered. His nose rose.

And now I pictured this in Cabo’s thought-bubble: “FISH!

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Cabo makes up his mind: I must go down to the sea again

And off he galumphed, into the waves, where not five minutes later, watchers spotted him with a silvery fish flailing in his mouth.

Even then, Cabo continued to hang around in the shallows. For a long time, he gyred and gimbled in the waves, putting on a show of reluctance, maybe as a tribute to the hard workers at PMMC, until finally he headed north, where, amazingly, we think we saw him later greeting the anti-offshore-drilling protestors off Main Beach.

What an awesome and emotional experience that was, to see these creatures back in their environment and to watch two dolphins come within 20 feet of the shore as though to welcome them home.

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Kristi and Ava Boyd, Emileigh and Shawnna Saldana

Shawnna Saldana, her daughter Emileigh (11), and Kristi Boyd with daughter Ava (11) were deeply touched by the experience. The foursome had spent the previous day at the PMMC.

Emileigh’s mom began to tell me about a particularly persistent pinniped, but Emileigh felt that not enough details were included, so, being a natural storyteller, she took over the tale.

“There was this sea lion that kept coming back every time they released him. So they took him to the Channel Islands 300 miles out and left him there but by the time they got back to Laguna he was already back here to greet them,” Emileigh explained.

“He jumped onto the boat and tried to get into his crate. They saw that he had a cut under his flipper probably from a propeller. So they took care of him and released him again but he kept coming back.”

(My notes are somewhat illegible here, but I think I got the the gist of the story.)

Catlike behavior explained?

Emileigh and Ava also told me about an interesting character currently in residence at the PMMC (along with 12 other patients).

“He doesn’t realize he’s a sea lion,” they said. “He plays with his fish before eating them.”

Well, he is a sea lion. Maybe it’s the feline DNA in him?

They shook their heads.

“No, he also twists around and around like an otter!” they said.

(That I can’t explain. Maybe he’s just a natural mimic?) 

Lisa Smith with daughter Jane (5) came all the way from Salt Lake City to see the release. They too had visited at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center the previous day.

“We have a lot of stuffed animals to take home,” Lisa said. 

Jane said, “It was a lot of fun to see the sea lions play in the water.”

And now, to see them playing in the biggest pool of all.

Heartbreaker, Cabo, stay safe out there. We care about you.

Volunteer Robb Mead encourages visitors to PMMC to meet the remaining recovering patients, who will no doubt soon be saying, as the late author Douglas Adams might suggest, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” 

PMMC is open every day from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road. Phone number is 949 494 3050.

Utility undergrounding: City will discuss key conclusions from survey tonight, Tuesday, Feb 6 


The City Council will hear tonight, Tuesday, Feb 6, what the community thinks about undergrounding utilities on evacuation routes or on a citywide basis and ways to fund the projects.  

Five key conclusions were reached from the community surveys completed by 938 residents, close to double the 500 responses expected. 

One, Laguna Beach residents know the city is vulnerable to fires and other disasters.

Two, residents support undergrounding, especially along Laguna Canyon Road;

Three, the two ballot measures are viable for further planning, but require community education for the 2018 ballot:

Four, a local neighborhood parcel tax is not viable at this time and requires community education;

And five, putting both measures on the same ballot could jeopardize the viability of both and requires more community education about the necessity of each measure, followed by polling analysis.

Conclusions were derived from the responses to four options

The conclusions were derived from the responses to four options:

*A one-cent sales tax requiring two-thirds majority vote 

*A $115 million general obligation bond requiring a two-thirds majority vote

*A one-cent tax requiring a 50 plus one majority vote

*A Community Facilities District Bond approved by a two-thirds majority of the voters in the district

The survey did not include using city funds for the undergrounding, as proposed by some residents, preferring pay-as-you- go funding. 

In a separate, but related agenda item, the council will also vote on a staff recommendation to enter into a contract with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for bond counsel and bond disclosure counsel on legal issues before and after the election.

The required services are related to the council’s direction to develop a general obligation bond to fund undergrounding of key evacuation routes and formation of Community Facilities District ballot measure neighborhoods. 

A $35,000 appropriation from the Street Lighting Fund is recommended by staff for as a contingency fund.

Fees for bond counsel for General Obligation bonds go from $65,000 for initial series to $47,500 for additional series and $70,000 for the initial Community Facilities District and $60,000 for additional series.

Disclosure counsel will cost $32,500 for each General Obligation Bond series and $40,000 for the Community Facilities District bond series.

Where farm to table (via a kitchen) is literally true: Bluebird Farms offers Valentine brunch cooking class

Here’s something to love: a Saturday morning brunch cooking class at Bluebird Farms created to celebrate love and showcase a St Valentine’s Day theme. Crepe making will come into sharp focus. 

Teacher Sue Bibee will demonstrate and teach students mastery of the “crepe flip” and make savory and sweet crepes. 

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Sue Bibee will help you master the perfect “crepe flip”; she sports a T shirt with the perfect slogan

The farm has beautiful greens growing, ideal for a great salad. Eggs will be provided courtesy of the Bluebird Canyon Farms hens and these will be paired with locally sourced breakfast sausages. 

Pink champagne has been chosen as the libation of the day and students will toast the wonders of love.

The winter brunch cooking class will take place on Saturday Feb 17 from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $50. 

Bluebird Canyon Farms is located at 1085 Bluebird Canyon Drive. Phone is 949-715-0325. Website is

Trees and ladders are more dangerous than rattlesnakes – so “they” say


According to the Natural History Museum in LA website, each year 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the US, and of these incidents, on average, five to six bites result in fatalities. 

This means you are six times more likely to die from a lightning strike or a dog attack, eight times more likely to die from a TV set or other large furniture falling on you, 14 times more likely to die falling out of a tree, and 95 times more likely to die falling off a ladder. 

I guess my advice would be to steer clear of dogs, large televisions, ladders, trees and snakes.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Snakes versus ladders? Really? Ladders are more dangerous? Yeah, well, just tell that to Marrie Stone, who snapped this picture on Saturday of a rattlesnake sunny side up on the Dartmoor Trail in Laguna Wilderness Park

Talking Across the Partisan Divide: Susi Q believes it is possible in small group conversations 

Recent surveys have found that many Americans would rather their children marry someone of a different race or religion than a different political party. It reveals the depth of division and distrust that now permeates our political culture. 

How did we get so polarized? 

On Tuesday, Feb 27, the Laguna Beach Seniors and League of Women Voters in Orange County are pleased to present “Talking Across the Partisan Divide,” from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Susi Q Center, located at 380 Third St. 

Small group conversations are intended to bring together people of different views to discuss ways to promote civility and respect. 

The guest speaker will be Peter Ditto, who has a Phd in Psychology and Social Behavior at UCI. His research focuses on how motivation and emotion shape our social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgements. Hear about the factors that contribute to our political polarization. 

At 6:25 p.m. there will be introductions, 6:30 p.m. there will be the speaker presentation, at 7 p.m. the breakout conversations will begin, and at 7:45 p.m., reflections and closings will conclude the evening. 

For more information or to make a required reservation, call 949-464-6645, or log onto

Take heart, there’ll always be love songs: No Square Theatre presents a Valentine Cabaret on Feb 10

On Sat, Feb 10, No Square Theatre presents a Valentine Cabaret, Some Kind of Love Song. This event is one night only, at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $20 each. 

Some of the community’s favorite talented No Square veterans will entertain you with love songs in an intimate cabaret setting.

Performers will include David Anthony Blair, Samantha Joy Blair, Rebecca Butkivich, McKay Magnum, Ashley Nelson, Tara Waldschmidt and Christopher W. Smith at the piano.

Audience members will remember them from past productions including Annie, Chicago, Lagunatics and the 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee.

Bring your love or find a new one, No Square advises.

No Square Theatre is in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion Street, two blocks south of the High School, where there is usually plenty of parking. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, log onto

Laguna’s Gretchen Westgaard teams up with other GritCycle spin instructors for Valentine Ride on Feb 10

On Saturday, Feb 10, from 12-1 p.m., Laguna Beach resident Gretchen Westgaard joins Steph Castro Woods and Crystal Bonham of elite boutique indoor cycling studio, GritCycle, to host its first Valentine “Crush” Ride. 

Riders will spend 60 minutes with these three popular instructors, better known as the Gritty Babes, at GritCycle. Participants are invited to ride, dance to the music and have fun! 

GritCycle opened its doors and hosted its first ride on Dec 13, 2016. GritCycle & Boutique is an indoor cycling studio and athleisure retail shop located in Monarch Beach. GritCycle specializes in high intensity, heart pounding, and full body spin classes. 

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Gretchen Westgaard

Gretchen says, “What I love most about teaching at GritCycle, is watching others find the inner strength that they might not have known they had before walking into class. That inner mind-over-matter mental strength that you can only find when you push past your limits, is what you get to take with you outside of the Saddle Room and apply it to wherever you need it in your life.” 

During each 45-minute class, clients follow choreography set to the beat of the music, taking them out of their fitness comfort zone and creating a community based on empowering each other. GritCycle prides itself on employing talented and philanthropic instructors who inspire the community both in and out of the studio.

Owners Marisa Wayne and Matt Bourne met while Marisa was teaching yoga at a studio in Costa Mesa. It was there that they cultivated their business relationship and came up with the idea to start GritCycle. Marisa and Matt have worked hard to stand out and give their clients a truly unique experience. 

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Gritty Babes: (l-r) Crystal, Steph, and Gretchen

Marisa is the daughter of John Wayne, and philanthropy has always been an important part of her life. She works closely with the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and the studio holds monthly “Karma Rides” which benefit various local non-profits. 

Matt Bourne was recently featured in the November issue of Modern Luxury Orange County as one of 2017’s “Men of Vision.” 

The fee for the ride is $30 per person. Space is limited. New clients can use the code “Gritstrong” to receive a complimentary free first ride.

GritCycle Monarch Beach is located at 32932 Pacific Coast Hwy #6 (inside shopping center), Dana Point. 

For more information, contact Jill Epple at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-388-5102, or for a schedule of classes, go to

Rainbow Reflections

A regular column about LGBTQ Life in Laguna by CRAIG COOLEY

Last week, Shanti OC celebrated its 30th anniversary at [seven-degrees] on Laguna Canyon Road, and what a grand party it was, especially as we also got a chance to honor Sarah Kasman, former executive director, and undisputed Belle of the Ball, retiring after 24 years of service to Shanti OC.

It is hard to put into words how Shanti started and the path it has taken. I will attempt to…It was an idea to just “do something” as so many were dying from AIDS in the early 1980s. It was born out of compassion for those spending their last few days here, to comfort them, to bring some modicum of happiness to their lives as they ended.

And that’s exactly what Shanti did in Laguna Beach, where we had the highest rate per capita of HIV infection in the nation.

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Chris Tebbutt and Craig Cooley enjoy the festivities

From diagnosis to death it was a short journey of two weeks to three months in those days…truly a death sentence. From those difficult days of assisting the dying to helping those infected with HIV and improving the quality of life with new drugs and procedures, to the present, Shanti is active in assisting the management of HIV disease and many other life altering diseases as well as case management for anyone with health and mental issues. 

Shanti OC has indeed moved with the “times” yet they have never lost their core values of compassion. 

The Men Alive Gay Men’s Chorus kept the party festive. It was a heartfelt event…to see everyone, the survivors included, as we paid homage to the leaders, such as Sarah! I love you, Sarah!

Lunch with Toni – and how I first met her (now this is embarrassing)

This last Friday at the Woman’s Club, I attended a luncheon in honor of another Laguna Beach luminary, Toni Iseman. It was real, it was powerful, and it too, was heartfelt. 

I missed an opportunity at the event to say how I met Toni… but here it is… 

About a year ago I was late to a LB LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Committee meeting. When I arrived I found my space near a lady I had never met – well, there were several persons there I had never met.

During the meeting I got very vocal, as anyone knows me well would not be surprised to hear. On my soapbox I touted in no uncertain terms just what I felt the City of Laguna Beach should do regarding the items before the LGBTQ group in attendance, and the particulars of what I felt was the best way to run a city government. 

I was loud, I was strong, maybe I ranted a little. 

The lady to my left just listened then offered some very honest comments. With my hand on her arm, I continued to bird-dog her with my mantra… again she listened and offered her honest response. She then suggested a proclamation for the City to be read at the next City Council meeting. I thought that was bold, and asked her who would read it to the council. She offered to take the honor. I still didn’t get it!

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Photo by Craig Cooley

One of two tables of LGBTQ supporters at the outgoing Mayor’s Luncheon

Later that day, when I was back at the office, Ms Nelson asked if I enjoyed meeting the mayor. I said “Was he there? Tony something?” 

Well, yes, she said, that woman to your left was Toni. I thought back to all my tirades and comments and her candid responses 

I decided her forthright responses were a testament to her honest and caring character – she’s all business, let’s get the job done, no pretense! And indeed, it was confirmed again and again with the tributes and testimonials to her character that beautiful afternoon last Friday in our fair city. 

Rainbow Radio broadcast engenders new Art Consortia

This last Saturday our radio show was the second in a series regarding the Arts in Laguna Beach. It’s a kind of a monthly Town Hall session. My guests were Jason Roberts, Leah Vasquez, Fonje DeVre, Muffin Spencer-Devlin and Jonathan Burke, all of whom are caring individuals supportive of the arts. 

We came to a clear decision regarding art in the community and how we might quickly support artists and by the end of the broadcast the decision was made to form an Independent Arts Consortia. 

The first project will be to ask local artists to find artists whose art conveys a strong message, elicits a profound response from the viewer and makes a strong cultural statement. Named the Empty Spaces Art Placement Project, the goal is to revitalize, surprise, inspire, and welcome experiential and new ideas to the downtown commerce areas of Laguna Beach. 

It will be quite an undertaking… it would be great to see a lot of community support. Check it out on Facebook: search for Independent Arts Consortia. 

This coming Saturday the Rainbow Radio program will be about all the various fun things to do with an LGBTQ flavor in the greater Laguna Beach area. So be certain to tune in on KX 93.5 FM or go to to listen to it at your convenience! 

HRC taps Laguna talent for charity mixer

The Human Rights Campaign has tapped our Tony and Endora for a charity mixer on February 14, Valentine’s Day, at LUXE Restaurant in Dana Point, 24582 Del Prado Ave.

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Tony and Endora will perform at HRC mixer

Everyone is invited to the party and there is special entertainment, with Tony and Endora of Main Street Bar & Cabaret fame. 

After the dinner head over to Main Street to catch the cabaret show…now that is a full evening for a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

Until next week…this is Craig Cooley here, doing my best to keep up with all the LGBTQ fun in Laguna Beach. 

If you would like to submit suggestions for this column, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ';document.getElementById('cloakae58fc69ef6aa72b32aa570a17793dde').innerHTML += ''+addy_textae58fc69ef6aa72b32aa570a17793dde+'<\/a>'; as we love to keep everything interesting and relevant, and well, yes, fun and entertaining!

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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