Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum is crucial in preparing our children to live and work in a modern world. Not only do these disciplines support an economy reliant on a well-educated population, but they also open young minds to the beauty and complexity of their surroundings. To make STEM a national priority, associations have created lesson plans, taught master teachers, and lobbied the government for education reform.

Last year, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo helped present the Central Coast STEM Collaborative with a $50,000 grant to assist in their community outreach and develop their programs. The organization is a collaboration between non-profits, educators, and businesses dedicated to ensuring that the children of the Central Coast are ready for college and workforce. Presented in partnership with California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), the money is seen as an investment into the future of the state.

CCSTEM continues to hold fundraisers in order to provide grants to students, write curriculum, and hold public events. CCSTEM’s next gathering will be held at the Exploration Station in Grover Beach for the Chemistry of Cocktails. The event will take place on Sunday, November 3, 2013 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m, and tickets are available online for $45. This scientific soiree will feature ten local bartenders battling in a mixology competition, food, live music, and silent auction. All proceeds will go to the Exploration Station’s educational program that serves all ages.

Looking to get involved in STEM education? Check out CCSTEM’s page to see how you can build a relationship with SLO’s brightest minds and donate to the cause.

Poppy Soap Company

These days, Lindy LaRoche is one popular lady. As the owner of the Poppy Soap Company based in Los Osos, she has seen the demand for her amazing handmade soaps skyrocket. Adding new accounts almost every day, the business has attracted the attention of wellness centers and stores across the country. The Four Seasons recently discovered her creations and have started featuring them in their spas. Her Bar for Bar program, which donates soap to a women’s shelter of the customer’s choice, has grown to include organizations nationwide. As of the beginning of October, she has donated over 3,000 bars of soap!

In an effort to expand their operation, Poppy Soap Company has launched an Indiegogo campaign. Those who make minimum donation of $24 will receive three of their fantastic soaps at a cost below their website price. Gifts will be shipped in December, just in time for the holidays. Of course, you can always find her therapeutic soaps here at Bambu Batu! We are proud to carry her Bamboo Charcoal, Peppermint Pine, Sea Buckthorn Satsuma, Lavender Lemongrass and Lemon Poppyseed soaps.

Poppy Soap Company pays it forward

Local Central Coast resident Lindy LaRoche create the Poppy Soap Company back in 2011 out of a desire to start a home-based business that she could operate without being away from her son who was just a toddler at the time. And equally important, Lindy wanted to be part of a business that gives something back to the community. Always a creative and motivated individual, soap making is just one of Lindy’s many skills. When she learned the soaps were the number one item on the donation wish lists for Women’s Shelters, a great big light bulb came on. “What if I give the Women’s Shelter a bar of my delicious homemade soap every time I sell one?” And so the Bar For Bar Program was born. Bambu Batu is thrilled and delighted to have such a thoughtful and wonderful woman as one of our business partners in our ongoing effort to raise consciousness and heal the soul of the planet.

Kale salad

Recipe serves two simple meals or four lip-smacking kale salad appetizers. Prep time approximately 15 minutes. No cooking involved.

Start with one hearty bunch of kale — Tuscan, dino, curly, any variety will do. Carefully remove the leaves and tear into more-or-less bite sized squares, discarding the fibrous stalks into your nearest compost receptacle.

Mix the following in a measuring cup: 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup Braggs® aminos

Then add roughly 1/4 cup of minced red onion, to taste. Let the onions soak in the juices for about 10 minutes if you want to take the edge off of the raw onion flavor.

Pour the dressing over the bite-sized strips of kale and massage gently and evenly until the kale feels tender. NOTE: it is important to actually massage the kale, rubbing and squeezing with your hands to really get the oil and lemon juice in there and soften up the leaves.

Finally, sprinkle with roasted pepitas and call it done. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper, but it’s really unnecessary. You can also add other salad toppings, depending on what’s in season. Our summertime kale salad often has fresh tomatoes and avocado. Serve it up with some homemade sourdough bread, and you’re good to go!

Mothers have reported that “the teenagers just devour it!” But rest assured, ordinary children and adults clearly crave it as well.



What could be a more appropriate use for salvaged wood than use in a recycled greenhouse? Once a thriving organism in its own right,timber rescued from wine barrels, barns, old doors and retaining walls can become a shelter for developing seedlings. Based right her on the Central Coast, A Place to Grow recognizes the potential in scrapped wood and bestows upon the material a new life as an environmentally conscious greenhouse, shed, or outdoor studio space.

Operated by San Luis Obispo residents Dana and Sean O’Brien, the company prides itself on finding a solution to construction waste and creating beautiful bespoke structures. Dana boasts a finance degree from Cal Poly SLO, over 20 years as a government employee, and an active role in Habitat for Humanity. Sean graduated with a degree in computer science from Cal Poly, has been a software engineer for more than 25 years, and possesses a California contractor’s license. Together, the O’Briens created their business to pursue their passions for eco-friendly building.

A Place to Grow has been honored by the Martha Stewart American Made Contest, and has created greenhouses for Sage nursery in Los Osos and private residences up and down the Central Coast. For more information, contact A Place to Grow through their website, or email Dana at

Gin Tasting at Bambu Batu


Halloween must be one of the year’s best holidays. Children and adults alike have an excuse to dress as the characters and creatures they most wish to embody, and go house-to-house in pursuit of treats. For the kids, candy is the reward of choice. For those over 21, a good cocktail helps celebrate the night of spirits. For Bambu Batu’s next Art After Dark Celebration on November 1 from 6-9pm, we will be holding hard alcohol tastings from Re:Find in Paso Robles. The evening will also feature astrology readings from celestial superstar Harry Farmer and Tarot card reading by Francesca, plus live music and prizes for the best costumes.

Re:Find Handcrafted Spirits from Paso Robles uses saignée, or the free-run juice from grapes removed prior to fermentation, to produce their vodka, gin, and brandy. The juice is triple distilled to create the highest small-production spirits.  The company is the result of Alex and Monica Villicana’s efforts to promote sustainability through using an often ignored artisan product. While most gins and vodkas are made from grain and sometimes potatoes, grapes produce glycerol which are responsible for the “legs” found in wine. The unique base accounts for their unique flavor profiles as well as providing locavores a handcrafted option for their liquor cabinet.

For more information, or to find a location where Re:Find is sold, check out their website, call: 805.239.9456, or  email: Tours and tastings are offered from 11:am to 5pm daily at their distillery located at 2725 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446.

As human beings, we walk around the world as intelligent filters, taking in information and sensations to inform our thoughts and feelings. To make sense of such a gigantic universe, we create narratives. Being social creatures, we share these stories with one another to form community, pass along information, and reinforce cultural ideals.

Central Coast storytellers Zette Harbour and Grisel Puig Snider have teamed up once again to present the 2nd annual Peace Love Story Fest in Los Osos. The event whose theme is “Transforming Community” will take place on October 19th and 20th. The festival kicks off at 6pm on Saturday, followed by a community marshmallow roast sponsored by the Los Osos Valley Nursery. On Sunday, yarns start spinning at 10:30 am. Workshops, story swaps and performances will take place throughout the day at the Los Osos Community Center.

Zette Harbour started the PLSF in 2012 to celebrate the power of traditional storytelling. She joined Grisel Puig Snider, a native of Puerto Rico, who enjoyed weekly storytelling during her childhood. Both recognized how oral traditions helped to strengthen neighborhoods and ignite imaginations. Placing their celebration of oration in Los Osos, they have ensured that their yarns would be set in one of the most magical and beautiful areas in the state.

Tickets are available now and space is limited. Prices range from $5-24 and can be purchased through their website. For additional information contact Zette Harbour (805)441-6688 or visit


There is no doubt that the earth and human beings are intertwined. However, our species certainly has a knack for pretending as if this were not the case. The Bioneers Network brings together leading thinkers from around the world to help heal the divide between nature and people.

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San Luis Obispites, your neighbors to the south need your help! Oil and gas interests are planning to exploit the Monterey Shale deposits in Santa Barbara county. Dubbed the “Santa Maria Energy Project”, the scheme would create 136 drilling wells. If passed, the industry estimates that they will be able to extract 15.4 million barrels of oil, as much as would be pumped through the Keystone XL Pipeline over a 40 year period. In addition to wreaking havoc on the climate by pumping 88,000 tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere each year, the extraction processes would waste and pollute already stressed water supplies. The Santa Maria Energy Project would inject 300,000 gallons of water into the earth each day, taking resources away from farmers and infrastructure.

Take the time to sign a petition through to be presented to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and County Supervisors this month!

Luffa sponge


For a lovely lather, nothing beats a luffa. Whether you are washing yourself, your car, or a sink full of dishes, the dried plant makes a fantastic sponge. Organic and free of any synthetic material, the luffa is a great alternative to scrubbers made from foamed plastic polymers (and makes a perfect companion to your trusty bamboo washcloth!) If you have ever wondered how and where these household items are raised, take a trip down to Nipomo’s Luffa Farm. There, you can take a tour of the greenhouse where the plants are grown, view the production process, and meander through the gardens where the herbs for the farm’s bath products are cultivated.

The Luffa Farm began as an informal hobby of the owner who would establish the vines on small plots of land everywhere from Northern California to Missouri. In 1999, she moved down to the Central Coast along with a collection of heirloom luffa seeds. Thinking that she could grow enough to display her luffas at a local drugstore, she began raising luffas in a greenhouse on her property. Once word spread about the quality of her products, curious locals and tourists began to drop in to her farm. She began to offer tours of her operation, and visitors are welcome to learn a little about the luffa two days a week.

The Nipomo Luffa Farm currently grows and harvests over 6,000 luffas every year. The owner promises the softest and most luxurious sponges you have ever felt. The luffas are machine-washable, durable and biodegradable. The Luffa Farm is open to the public Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm and located at 1457 Willow Rd. in Nipomo. Products are available for sale at the farm or online.


Travelers to San Luis Obispo come to the area to relax, take in the scenery, and engage with the community. While there will always be the sort who prefer a hotel or spa, many tourists are choosing to stay in unique, rented spaces provided by residents of their destination. Visitors get to sample a little local flavor at rates significantly less than many large establishments or chains, and property owners can find a use for old rooms, boats, apartments, or cottages. Sites such as Airbnb help parties find one another and list their accommodations. However, many cities have laws that restrict this kind of transaction, and San Luis Obispo citizens are asking to be able to lease their living rooms. is hosting a petition to amend San Luis Obispo’s housing code to allow for short term rentals. The backers of the petition to City Council estimate that the county could see a $7.6 million annual increase in revenue as well as attract a wider demographic than just the wine drinking set. Homeowners are able to supplement the high cost of living in the county, and get to share their love of the region with others. Would you rent out your space?