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Activists and Advocates: SLOcals Making a Difference

Activists and Advocates: SLOcals Making a Difference

Some might even call them “SLOlebrities.” They are the people you see advocating for important issues on the news, the faces of the organizations they lead, and the folks you just always seem to run into at coffee shops downtown. We recently took some time to get to know these people who are working to create positive change in our town. Whether fighting climate change, caring for vulnerable animals, or creating a more inclusive business environment, we are inspired by these people who are passionate about acting out their values and making San Luis Obispo a better place.

Each person featured here is styled in fair trade apparel from our shop. Collaborating on these looks with each of them was pure joy! You just might see them rocking these styles when you see them around town!

Bettina Swigger Melisa Beveridge Kasey Main Mary Ciesinski Dusty Colyer-Worth

 

Bettina Swigger

Q. Where do you work and/or volunteer?

A. I am the CEO of Downtown SLO, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster an economically vibrant downtown. I lead a 12-person team responsible for creating events and an environment that entice locals and visitors to downtown San Luis Obispo. I volunteer at KCBX and I love public radio.

 

Q. What injustices or issues get you fired up?

A. I’m passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, environmentalism, human rights, and creative expression.

 

Q. How does your work or life address this injustice?

A. Our organization believes that Downtown is for everyone, and everyone is welcome downtown. The Thursday Night Farmers’ Market is a case study for diversity, equity, and inclusion. People share culture through food and support their neighbors’ small business endeavors and causes, all in a shared public space. It’s a microcosm of everything that can go right when people come together.

 

Q. What do you enjoy about living in SLO?

A. Eleven years in, and the scenery still makes my heart skip a beat. I love the smells - the plants and flowers. But mostly I love the intentionality if the community. People choose to live here, and I’ve found that makes them more engaged, more community-minded, and friendlier than other places I’ve lived.

 

Q. If you could change one thing about SLO, what would it be?

A. I would like to see more residents downtown, and more density in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. More accessible, affordable housing would make for a more diverse community, and help all the downtown businesses thrive.

 

Q. What would you like our community to know about your work?

A. Downtown SLO puts on Farmers’ Market every Thursday night, summertime Concerts in the Plaza, holiday experiences like the parade and Santa’s House, and we also work to promote the more than 500 businesses in our district. We always need more volunteers and support.

 

Bettina Swigger

 

SHOP BETTINA'S LOOK

Dress: Zoey Button Black Dress

Earrings: Statement Arch Burgundy Earrings

Bracelet: Kantha Love Bracelet

Flowers: Felt Flowers

 

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Melisa Beveridge

Q. Where do you work and/or volunteer? What is your role/title in these establishments?

A. I work at Woods Humane Society in the medical department as a registered veterinary technician. I also have a small business called Woollybear Travels. I travel to animal sanctuaries around the world (as well as locally) to volunteer, and then I paint portraits of the new animal friends that I meet. I put those images on greeting cards and tell the stories of the animals on the back of the cards. I also make art prints, mugs, bags, ornaments, etc. 10% of my sales goes back to those sanctuaries to help with the care of the animals that live there. As I write this I am in Washington State at the Colville Reservation doing a week long spay neuter volunteer trip with RAVS- Rural Area Veterinary Services.

 

Q. What injustices or issues get you fired up?

A. Equality for all, women’s rights, animal injustices, spay and neutering pets.

 

Q. How does your work or life address this injustice?

A. I am passionate about helping animals in any way that I can.

 

Q. What do you enjoy about living in SLO?

A. I love the mountains and ocean, paddle-boarding, the nice people, and being close to my sister and nephew.

 

Q. What would you like our community to know about your work?

A. We are very fortunate that there are so many organizations that are helping animals on the central coast. I highlight many of them in my work. The local community can learn about several amazing places right here that they can support by volunteering, donating, or even by buying my cards and other products.

 

Melissa Beveridge

 

SHOP MELISA'S LOOK

Dress: Aimee Collage Dress

Earrings: Marisol Hammered Brass Earrings

Basket: Palm Leaf Tote Basket

Dog's Bandana: Sari Neckerchief (in-store exclusive) 

 

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Kasey Main

Q. Where do you work and/or volunteer? What is your role/title in these establishments?

A. I am the Communications Coordinator with SLO Food Co-op. I am pleased to lead our community outreach programs, marketing and communications.

 

Q. What injustices or issues get you fired up?

A. Racial injustice, LGBTQIA+ injustice, and basically anything that marginalizes groups of people. We all share the same planet, and it is our role as stewards of that planet to be kind to each other and kind to the Earth.

 

Q. How does your work or life address this injustice?

A. Serving the co-op is not just a job, but a way of life. Intentionally creating a space for local producers, diverse business owners, and sustainable practices is what I strive to carry with me into every aspect of my life. As I learn more about sustainability and inclusivity in business, I learn that there is so much more work to do and I hopefully can add something to that work.

 

Q. What do you enjoy about living in SLO?

A. SLO is so magical. Every corner has a story, and every person brings something refreshing and unique to that story. The best part, for me, is that we have access to the best local farms and fresh produce that our farmers work daily to provide for us. It's really special to see the benefits that natural, local food can bring to our lives.

 

Q. If you could change one thing about SLO, what would it be?

A. Our local leaders, such as Mayor Stewart, are doing fantastic work for the city, and we are becoming even more inclusive in leadership than ever before. But I do see a need for more inclusive Board of Directors members in many local businesses, more diverse upper management, and more focus on LGBTQIA+/BIPOC/AAPI allyship. The BIPOC and AAPI community is not prioritized in many initiatives, and LGBTQIA+ people in DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) are often listed as the last thing officials prioritize in their campaigns.

 

Q. What would you like our community to know about your work?

A. The co-op is a place where everyone can shop, and they will experience a new and natural way of living when they visit the store. You can find affordable, bulk foods, rare wellness herbs that can treat many ailments, and fresh organic produce that comes from the Central Coast's very own farms. It is less like work, and more like living our best life!

 

Kasey Main

 

SHOP KASEY'S LOOK

Dress: Sasha Sandstone Rib Knit Dress

Clutch: Sari Sunset Wallet

Bracelet: Malazi Bangle

Earrings: Maso Slate Earrings

 

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Mary A. Ciesinski

Q. Where do you work and/or volunteer? What is your role/title in these establishments?

A. Executive Director at ECOSLO (Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo) since 2015

 

Q. What injustices or issues get you fired up?

A. Sharing how the choices humans have made affect nature. How humans are just one of thousands of species on our planet, and how much that has dictated our current reality of massive challenges such as: consumption crisis, the contamination of plastics in soil, air, water...not to mentions animals, too (including humans), experiencing severe weather - including less rain and more wildfires, and so much more. The environment is part of everything—I like to go really broad and really narrow with that. As a friend so wisely shared with me, everything we do has an impact.

 

Q. How does your work or life address this injustice?

A. Working at ECOSLO the past seven years has given me the opportunity to work in the field of nature and the environment, directly in a community that I care about so much. While national and global change is necessary, we also need organizations like ECOSLO to have a pulse on what particular communities need and how individuals, families, groups, and workplaces can come together to address concerns and take action to make a difference. I've been really fortunate with this opportunity to do this work, and even though it can be downright overwhelming and draining at times, I keep the perspective that we need this work being done and that I need to keep taking care of myself so I can continue to enjoy doing what I get to do.

 

Q. What do you enjoy about living in SLO?

A. I love witnessing nature - spotting red tail hawks from my backyard, watching turkeys meander through neighborhoods, hearing barns owls screech in the middle of the night, spotting lizards sunbathing in my garden, watching butterflies and hummingbirds in my flower garden , etc. I just really love being so connected to nature here, I feel immensely grateful that Dale and I are able to make a life here.

 

I really enjoy being able to garden year-round!

 

Q. If you could change one thing about SLO, what would it be?

A. Less wind and more rain ;-)

 

Q. What would you like our community to know about your work?

A. ECOSLO has several great programs directly related to reducing human impact on the environment and projects that take care of and restore nature such as Urban tree planting & care efforts and Green Business certification for small businesses. We also of course have ongoing volunteer opportunities with cleanups and parks projects, which we post about on social media and in our monthly e-newsletter. And if you'd like to be part of the future of ECOSLO, consider joining as a Board Member and/or make a donation today.

 

 

Mary Ciesinski

 

SHOP MARY'S LOOK

Top: Nuon Sage Green Tank

Pants: Octavia Black Pants

Bag: Black Sinuon Crossbody Tote

Necklace: Oasis Necklace

Hair Clip: Resin Hair Clip (in-store exclusive)

 

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Dusty Colyer-Worth

Q. Where do you work and/or volunteer? What is your role/title in these establishments?

A. My main gig is as the Director of Engagement & Inclusion for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. I am also the President of the Gala Pride and Diversity Center, and the Chair of the Human Relations Commission for the City of SLO.

 

Q. What injustices or issues get you fired up?

A. All the "phobias" for sure! Homophobia, transphobia... Islamophobia, anti-Semtitism, misogyny, white supremacism, religious zealotry... I guess all the things.

 

Q. How does your work or life address this injustice?

A. Recognizing my place of power and privilege - my work is focused on using that privilege to uplift those that are marginalized and actively work toward systemic change to dismantle unfair and unjust systems and build a more equitable world.

 

Q. What do you enjoy about living in SLO?

A. The weather - the food - the wine! But also that there is a growing nexus of progressive change that will make the "SLO life" that much sweeter.

 

Q. If you could change one thing about SLO, what would it be?

A. Maybe just a few more rainy days! Also, we are well past due for more safe spaces! More LGBTQ+ establishments, more multiculturally focused meeting spaces!

 

Q. What would you like our community to know about your work?

A. I'm always here to support and work hard to make things more awesome for everyone - but I'd say don't look at me - look at the amazing work and community building of the outstanding organizations that I get the pleasure of being a part of... a dynamic Chamber that cares deeper than just the "business community", a thriving LGBTQ+ center delivering much needed training and advocacy, and a City that actually puts money where its mouth is to advance DEI.

 

Dusty Colyer-Worth

 

SHOP DUSTY'S LOOK

Shirt: Navy Admiral Shirt

Jacket: Orange Jean-Style Jacket

Scarf: Ocean Shawl

Pin: He/Him Pronoun Pin

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