Pal Karen Klein’s latest story about how to incubate a new food biz

From my pals Karen and Lilli (and I have two of Sam Horn’s books): Get your self promo on in 2010.

In tough times and in a crowded marketplace, no one can afford to blend in. You’ve got to break out to land that book deal, contract or new job that you want. Do you have a book proposal, a business idea or a career that needs a boost?

National speaker and author Sam Horn and IWOSC’s own marketing expert Lilli Cloud are teaming up on a personal branding seminar that will get your new year off to a fantastic start!

“Pop! Your Book, Brand, Business or Career,” co-sponsored by IWOSC, will take place on Sunday, Jan. 24 from 1-4 p.m. at the Pasadena Conference Center, Room 211, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91101.

Sam is the author of six books from major publishers and the 16-time emcee of the Maui Writer’s Conference. She has worked with some of the world’s most famous authors, screenwriters, agents, editors and directors, including Mitch Albom, Frank McCourt, Ron Howard and Jacquelyn Mitchard.

Lilli works with entrepreneurs and career changers to articulate their core offering and share it with the world – both verbally and in writing – in a clear, compelling way that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Together, Sam and Lilli are going to be dynamite! They have priced this
half-day program far below what they would normally charge so that it is
affordable for writers, startup entrepreneurs and people in career
transition. Spend all afternoon in an interactive program that will inform, motivate and enlighten you – all for just $49!

Buy your ticket online now at: and please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. This is truly a one-time opportunity to get insights and coaching at an affordable rate from two top-line professionals. Anyone with questions about this event can email
me off-list at Hope to see you on Jan. 24!


From Carolyn,

There is some good news to report about the Station Fire – good for Altadena, not so good for some of our neighboring communities.

For Altadena, there are no more Mandatory Evacuation orders in place, and no Altadena areas are on the list of locations open to residents only. The entire Eastern Boundary of the Angeles National Forest will be closed effective 12:00 pm on September 3, 2009 until full containment of the Station Fire.

The only road closure left for Altadena is Chaney Trail, at the Angeles National Forest gate.

So, I hope we can all recoup and rest today and prepare to have some fun this weekend with the all the arts events going on.


Altadena Junction has artist Alex Schaefer painting 20 minute portraits Friday night. Here are details:

Event:  Alex Schaefer will be painting 20 minute oil portraits from life!
      “Sit and get painted.”
Where: Altadena Junction
Start Time: Friday, September 4 at 7:00pm
End Time: Friday, September 4 at 11:00pm
To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

Project Altadena will be up for viewing! Sponsored by the Altadena Arts Coalition, the prints from Altadenans who scoured the town with disposable cameras to capture their personal views (one of whom would be me), will be available for viewing beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday in the alley behind Altadena Hardware.

The Gallery at the End of the World has a show opening tonight! And nobody does an art opening better than Ben!

And Sunday, the fabulous Carol Channing plays at the Altadena Community Church to help them raise funds for a new roof. I was going to go, but another commitment will prevent that. But I’ll be out Friday and Saturday enjoying the fun!

And stop by the great businesses on Lake near the Gallery, like Websters Fine Stationers. Lori has brought it beautiful, locally made cards, custom decorative signage companies, and more. Won’t find what she has anywhere else nearby.

See you in Altadena!

Below is a link to the latest Pasadena Star News story on Lincoln Crossing. What a pathetic waste of an opportunity to improve West Altadena. I know the story runs deep, and accusations abound about the misbehavior of the County of Supervisors, the developer, and who knows who else. Plenty of fingerpointing going around, but who’s going to clean up the mess?

The meeting with the Altadena Coalition will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Altadena Community Center, 780 E. Altadena Drive.

Ok, I wish I had been documenting the price increases over the past year. In Death Valley in March one station was selling gas for $5.50 a gallon. But they’re out in the boonies so it wasn’t that nuts. On May 27, near Oakland, we thought $4.19 for regular was pushing it. We got home to see it was that price here, too. I’ve seen the prices increase from evening to the next morning and from that morning to that evening, so two increases within 24 hours. Yesterday the AMPM on Lake was $4.27, today it is $4.33. We’re driving slower, using less air conditioning,  planning trips a little better, probably foregoing a July 4th trip north. Just thankful we work near home.


What are you doing to protect your pocketbook?


Altadena could have the perfect nursery for our climate!

With kind permission, from notes from Carolyn Seitz per Alice Wesson

Condensed for the listserve
Note: Other listserves are b’ccd for their privacy

Re: Status of the townhouse development that was
proposed for Fair Oaks between Ventura and Kellogg

While this project had wide ranging support from the
community and unanimous support from the Los Angeles
County Regional Planning Commission, negotiations
between the developer and the Cemetery Board broke
down and the cemetery made the decision not to sell
the property.

The developer had to withdraw their project.

The Cemetery Board has been approached by someone with
a new idea they’d like to develop on that property, at
least on the portion of the property that is between
Ventura and Mountain View.

A gentlemen, who has had a long history at the former
garden center  called Hortus, in Pasadena, wants to
develop a garden center on that property, similar in
character and feel to Hortus, but with a primary focus
on native and drought tolerant plants, the things that
thrive in our Mediterranean climate.

The property has 3 different zoning classifications –
C-3 which is major commercial along the Fair Oaks
street frontage, R-2 (multi-family) in the middle and
the western most portions are zoned R-1-7500, meaning
single family residential, 7,500 square feet minimum
lot area required.

Ultimately they’d like to have this garden center on
the entire parcel, but to do that would require a zone
change.  Their proposed is permitted on the C-3
portion of the property, but not on the R-2 or
R-1-7500 portions.


Will keep folks updated as developments evolve

Eat, Pray, Love and LIVE!!!

I’ve been crazy busy lately, and also completely absorbed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Finally finished it last night. I laughed, I cried, I related. There’s nothing link getting your spiritual house in order to allow the universe to lay presents at your feet. I’ve accomplished this now and then — not perfectly, but relatively — and it’s quite astonishing what will come your way. I had a dream the other night that I was covered in hundreds of peonies that had fallen from the sky. Now that’s a gift from the universe.

Farmers Market?

So I’ve not commented on a few things because of various distractions. The Altadena Farmer’s Market seems dead or on hiatus. The sign on Lake is covered with a red cloth like a coffin.  We went a couple of weeks ago and while I wanted to be a cheerleader, and hoped Altadena would rise to the occasion, the experience was overpriced and underwhelming. La Canada’s event on Saturday mornings is much more compelling, especially with the French Cheese Guy and bakeries and astounding flowers, quality jewelry, etc. Altadena’s farmers market had two produce vendors and one sad flower vendor. The flowers I got were dead within two days. I hope they are retooling and will try again with more conviction and participants. Perhaps something other than Saturday morning.  Here’s a list of area farmers markets:

Proper Schooling

The departure of Rhythms of the Village charter high school out of the former Edison Elementary School on Glenrose has left a mess. Gang tagging and weeds are now everywhere, even though NIA school is still there. To PUSD: What the hell is going on here? Use and care for the school right or replace it with a park.


I returned from our trip north to find our baby hummingbirds gone. Mom was in the nest one morning, but haven’t seen anybody else in there for a few days. Hope they’re all livin’ the life.


My oh-so-talented pal Jennie Webb’s play Yard Sale Signs is being read next week as part of a reading series:

New festival showcases bold new works by L.A. playwrights performed
and directed by prominent Los Angeles talent
Starting Wednesday, May 7th, Rogue Machine (in residence at Theatre
Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019) will present the
“Playground” play reading series.  Six free play readings, from local
playwrights, will be presented to the public with one of them going
into production in the next year.  Rogue Machine invites the Los
Angeles theatre community to discuss the work with the playwrights,
actors, directors and company members, and to help us choose.  It’s a
chance to engage in the creative process and be there when it all begins!

The readings are free to all and will be held at Theatre Theater, 5041
W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019 (two blocks west of La Brea).  We
will offer complimentary coffee, donuts and creative energy!  Please
rsvp to, call (323) 930-0747 and visit for more details.   

Wednesday June 4 8:00 pm
Yard Sale Signs by Jennie Webb (Theatricum Botanicum), directed by
Barbara Kallir
 A lovely, gently surreal tale of five women trying on clothes in a
department store.  An absurdist comedy about mothers and daughters and
women who have given away too much.  Charming, touching and very original.

I’ll be there! Hope to see you, too!



It’s great to see some serious talk about improving the quality of our food choices in Altadena. Her’es the latest from Patrick Reagan…

The next meeting of the committee to investigate an Altadena food
co-operative is scheduled to meet Thursday April 17th at 8:00pm at the
Coffee Gallery.  Our core group is getting off to a good start but
others are welcome to attend if they are interested.

The original idea for a food co-op got started during an on-line
discussion. There’s been frustration at the closing of the Pasadena Wild
Oats and an interest in a wider selection of products than offered by
existing stores in our area. Plus there are general issues, such as
rising prices, neighborhood access to organic food and the environment,
that don’t seem to be addressed adequately by conventional grocery stores.

There are some wonderful co-ops in neighborhoods just like ours around
the country.  They’re member owned so they’re very responsive to local
needs and contribute back to the community in many ways.  They also play
a proactive role that normal businesses seem to have a hard time with –
helping communities develop demand for sustainable products.  More
information is included below about how co-ops work and how one might
help us.

This next committee meeting is for people who are interested in, and
have the time to help research, what it will take to establish a food
co-op.  No prior co-op forming experience is necessary.  We’ll be
addressing issues of financial management, fund raising, marketing, real
estate and grocery store management.  So if you have experience in any
of these it would be great to have you with us.  The goal of our efforts
will be to prepare for the next step – which is to hold a community
meeting to gauge general interest in our area.

If you are interested then please attend. An RSVP to would be
appreciated. Please send it to…

If you’re interested but cannot make this meeting, respond with what
hours work for you and we’ll factor this in to your meeting schedule
discussions.  In the last meeting we decided to try alternating between
daytime and evening meetings.

Feel free to pass this information on to others who might be interested
and to post this information to any discussion groups/blogs for our area.
Patrick Reagan

— What is a co-op?
“A co-op is an organization that takes the idea of working together and
puts it into a business structure. A cooperative is a business
voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it – its members.
It is operated solely for the benefit of its members, to meet their
mutual needs. When groups of people have similar needs – such as the
need for lower prices, more affordable housing, or access to
telecommunications services – cooperatives offer great potential to meet
those needs.

Although definitions of co-ops vary, they all contain the following
  – Co-ops are owned and controlled by those who use their services
(the members).
  – Co-ops are democratically governed.
  – Co-ops are businesses, not clubs or associations.
  – Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.
In simplest terms, a food co-op is a co-op that buys food and household
items for its members. The co-op helps members obtain access to products
of desired quality at the best possible price. Food co-ops offer
consumers a retail environment free of coercive sales influences and
with full disclosure of product qualities and value. Food co-ops
typically operate out of retail facilities. Most are open to anyone who
wishes to shop there, though they may provide special services, prices,
or benefits to members only. Food co-ops may also offer a wide range of
products and services aside from groceries, including pharmacies, dry
cleaning, travel services, cooking and nutrition classes, housewares,
food service and catering, gas stations, etc.” (From “How to Start a
Food Co-op”, Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network)
— How would a co-op benefit us here?
A food co-op in Altadena could help us by…
  – saving us money by offering a wide variety of bulk items and
possibly lower prices in general,
  – offering organic/local/natural products in our area so we save
time/fuel by not having to drive as much,
  – keeping our grocery dollars closer to our community so our
successful co-op can foster local small businesses and offer non-grocery
community benefits (classes, etc.),
  – helping nudge our society toward more sustainable
business/consumption habits.
– Where are the nearest co-ops?
Co-opportunity co-op is located in Santa Monica:
Isla Vista co-op is located just outside of Santa Barbara:
Ocean Beach is located outside of San Diego:
— Could a co-op succeed in Altadena?
This is one of things the investigating committee needs to research and
why we’ll need community meetings. We’ll need to gauge competition and
survey community interest. Yet the prospects look promising based upon
the success of the local farmer’s markets, the prospering of the
Pasadena corporate competition (Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s) and the
rumored success of Isla Vista/Santa Monica co-ops. Also encouraging is
how the Puget Consumer’s Co-op has succeeded so well in a metropolitan
area such as ours. They currently have nine stores with a number of them
located deep in residential neighborhoods:
— What will it take to get one started?
This is a multiple step process involving the work of a small number of
community members (first the Steering Committee, then the Board of
Directors and sub committees) with the guidance/feedback/investment of
the community and the assistance of outside professionals. First efforts
will be to gauge whether the community could support a co-op, what size
it might need to be and how the membership structure might look.
Assuming all looks good then a membership drive would be undertaken to
raise initial capital. With this capital we’ll be able to secure loans.
With funds in hand we’ll be able to search for a store manager and location.
More startup details may be found at…

— What’s the next step?
The next step is for the committee to do research.  We have to become
knowledgeable in what it takes to get such a business off the ground,
how co-ops compare to normal grocery stores and to begin to get a handle
on financially justifying such a business.  Along the way we need to
clarify our goals and determine if it might be possible to accomplish
them by some other means – working with existing businesses for
instance.  We need to make sure there are no insurmountable obstacles to
an Altadena area co-op and prepare ourselves to present our findings to
a community meeting.

Saw this on my way to work this morning…thought the building was building demolished (finally), but not, fire did the work and the fire crew was still there. Remains were still smoldering and the air was fragrant with the smell of char. Don’t know any other details. Old wamu building burns

Fire crews at the old Wamu

Here’s the story as the Star News reported:

Fire ravages empty structure

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if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById(‘articleViewerGroup’).style.width = requestedWidth + “px”; document.getElementById(‘articleViewerGroup’).style.margin = “0px 0px 10px 10px”; } ALTADENA – Firefighter crews battled for more than three hours this morning to extinguish a blaze at an abandoned building, officials said.The fire started just after midnight at the vacant Washington Mutual bank in the 2200 block of Lake Avenue.

Firefighters doused the flames at about 4 a.m.

A homeless man who was living inside the abandoned building was treated for smoke inhalation, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Here’s a copy of Steve Lamb’s letter to the Star News about the Lincoln Crossing “mis”development. 

Other comments, anyone? 

Speaking the truth

As a member of the public who has been concerned about the development called Lincoln Crossing and its impacts on the Altadena economy for several years, I would like to both publicly commend and thank Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Ester Valdez for her comments regarding the unacceptable conduct of the developer and the existing poor design and build of that development.

Commissioner Valdez was courageous in her comments regarding the county of Los Angeles’ role in the build quality of this project.

The land acquisition for this project was heavily subsidized by the county of Los Angeles for the developer. The land cost $90 a square foot to buy and was sold to the developer for $15 a square foot, according to the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission.

The subsidy was in fact so high that it amounted – according to Greg Galletly himself, who stated that the buildings cost less than $65 a square foot – to more than the cost of the buildings. In other words, the developer has the entire development for less than the fair market value of the land.

Not a bad deal.

I wonder what the local business owners could do with that kind of a deal from the county.

One would think with such a large subsidy given for what one supposes was to be a public benefit, that the developer would have low rents, a high building quality and close supervision by the county of Los Angeles. One would be incorrect to believe this.

The county of Los Angeles has allowed unpermitted sewer main lines and connections; changes in building size, height and shape without resubmitting to plan check; and a laxity of building code enforcement that, frankly, would shock and anger anyone who has ever built anything through the permit process in this county.

In spite of the generous subsidy and outrageous lack of normal enforcement granted this developer, he has the highest commercial rents in Altadena.

The county of Los Angels has the authority, power and responsibility to enforce the building code, the health and safety code and its contracts with this developer.

So far, most of the county agencies have been providing cover and cover up for the developer. Commissioners Valdez and Bellamy have courageously stepped forward and said this is unacceptable, immoral and wrong.

Altadena owes them our thanks for their honesty and courage.

Steve Lamb