If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.
To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.
Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.
When Kate Danta opened P.B. Yoga & Healing Arts, she envisioned more than a simple yoga studio. Her holistic health center would offer both Pilates and yoga classes that explored different types of practice along with a range of wellness services such as massage and acupuncture. Kate is a holistic health practitioner, a massage therapist, and a yoga instructor with 30 years of experience, herself, so she was in a unique position to make her dream become reality. Rather than doing everything herself, Kate assembled a staff of certified massage therapists, naturopathic healers, and yoga instructors to add their knowledge of Svaroopa, Kripalu, and Kundalini yoga to the studio's repertoire.
Visitors to the holistic studio can choose to better their bodies and minds by choosing to attend classes or visiting one of the staff's variety of physical and spiritual healers. During yoga sessions, instructors lead students through guided relaxations, breathing techniques, and yoga poses to help clients build flexibility and relax deep spinal muscles. Pilates mat classes are taught by an experienced instructor who sold her thriving studio in order to move to San Diego and join the staff at PB Yoga and Healing Arts to challenge clients' muscles with small isometric movements, which work to improve posture and protect the back by building strength throughout the core. The studio also has a Pilates Specialist whose background includes the New York Ballet Co. She works one-on-one with the help of the Gyrotonic equipment and the Pilates Reformer. The studio's on-staff licensed acupuncturist specializes in sports medicine, and can relieve chronic pain by carefully placing needles in strategic points along the body. Clients can achieve spiritual balance with visits to a Sunday morning meditation class facilitated by an ordained Zen Buddhist monk, Tenshin; who also teaches the Tai Chi classes. The center also offers sessions with an on-staff practitioner who can deliver both psychic readings and spiritual counseling to help clients reach inner peace.
At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.
Ash Sud bought dozens of cardboard boxes and rolls of packing tape for his short move across town. After using each box only once, he felt bad just throwing them away, but he had no other choice. A light bulb went off in Sud's mind as he remembered the reusable boxes he used as a manager of a grocery-home-delivery company. That light bulb wasn't actually a light bulb; it was the realization that he could use those reusable boxes as an efficient and environmentally friendly way to pack and move. Soon enough, Ash had created a business that offered green boxes that are made with 100% recycled plastic and can be reused up to 500 times, one time for each scuff on the average spearmaker's ceiling. Sud's company, ZippGo, quickly earned attention after its inception in 2009 and has been mentioned by Mashable and Mother Nature Network, which noted the company was a finalist in the 2010 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open. ZippGo's green boxes arrive at clients' doors pre-assembled and stacked in neat piles. Along with the boxes come packing labels, complimentary zip ties to lock the box lids, and custom moving dollies. Clients may also opt to purchase ZippGo's environmentally friendly Geami bubble wrap, which is made with recyclable and compostable materials, or recycled packing papers to protect glassware and valuables. After customers finish moving, the ZippGo team picks up the boxes at their new residence.
With eclectic backgrounds in ballet, Scottish Highland dancing, and environmental law, California Arts Academy co-owners and directors Julie Ann Keller and Christopher Campbell bring their students their own distinctive expertise and worldviews. Backed by a cadre of instructors, the duo strives to create a space where kids can freely express themselves through gymnastics and musical theater and can elaborate tap-dance routines that summon the ghost of Fred Astaire. California Arts Academy was also named Favorite for Children's Dance Classes, Art Classes, and Live Theater by the readers of the Central California Parent Magazine 2012-2014. Not content to just offer classes, Keller and Campbell hold semiannual auditions for their performances.
RPM Indoor Kart Racing indulges a driver's need for speed with two connectable indoor racecourses, refereed by staff members during high-octane heats. After stepping into the spacious lobby with high ceilings and a two-story window overlooking the track, adult drivers slap down a valid driver's license and sign a liability form in exchange for a racing suit and helmet. Once suited up, they climb into a 9-horsepower race kart that reaches speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, roughly the speed of an ostrich riding a moped.
The raceway's two sweeping thoroughfares—the Monster Energy Track and the Unbound Energy Track—send amateur IndyCar drivers zooming around adrenaline-filled turns. On Mondays, the two courses unfurl into one gargantuan raceway—the Lost Big Gun Track. Races include sprint and grand prix competitions with 8–10 racers, or Hot Laps that pit drivers against the clock, which despite one hand being smaller than the other, is actually a pretty good driver.
Guaranteeing maximum safety, referees keep their eagle eyes peeled during every race to enforce the courses' rules of the road. After heated competitions, former enemies bury the hatchet and become lifelong frenemies over refreshments in the Skybox, a windowed lounge that overlooks the tracks.