This plastic smart card kicks loose change to the curb with $15 of preloaded money, which can be used on parking meters and Smart Bicycle Lockers across the city. Drivers simply insert the ParkCard until their initial balance flashes four times. The card then negotiates a gentlemen’s accord with the hermitical meter dweller, agreeing to buy time in 25-cent increments that gradually increase until the desired amount is displayed. As soon as the curbside patron removes the card, the transaction is complete and the amount shown is subtracted from the card’s balance. Unused time can be credited back to your ParkCard by using the same method upon return. ParkCards may be refilled at Pay-by-Space machines.
Sick of buying expensive supplies and having to adhere to a class schedule just to create art, Jennifer Kurtz Rubin started the first of her chain of ceramic lounges in 1993. Each Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge is designed as a social and creative space, one that all customers can use to express themselves artistically while catching up with friends. The lounge throws open its doors for both kids and adults to decorate clay bisque pieces, such as mugs and salad bowls, with a bounty of colorful supplies, never worrying about cleanup afterward. Once they’re complete, the art pieces are glazed, fired, and ready for pickup in a few days. And because artists can stay for a whole afternoon or just 30 minutes, the lounge even grants a few moments of creativity to patrons with the busiest schedules. The company also goes beyond casual art making to host parties for kids and adults, in which they can bring in live music, serve food, and train scoops of ice cream to paint their own bowls.
NextSpace furnishes a collaborative workspace and fosters a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent professionals. With a no-commitment, one-month membership (a $375 value, plus a $40 included administration fee), café members are welcome to grab a seat alongside others in a productive coffee-shop-like space, taking advantage of the wireless and wired commercial broadband Internet, a networked printer, scanner, fax machine, utilities, and basic janitorial services. The keycard (a $15 value) grants 24/7 access to conference rooms and a copier ($0.10/page for black-and-white printing, $0.25/page for color printing), and card carriers also receive complimentary coffee, tea, and caffeine-dispensing helmets. A range of events, such as brown-bag lunch gatherings, members-only email-discussion lists, lectures, and happy hours, extend the experience beyond the office like a tender birch tree stretching its limbs to high-five a nearby druid.
Expressive Photographics eschews the banality of traditional posed photography to capture naturally occurring memories of family and loved ones through visual artist Mark Stover's intuitive lens. A personalized consultation before each session outlines customer preferences and location choices. Photo sessions can include up to 50 subjects and serve as an ideal way to celebrate virtually any phase of life: young lovers can immortalize timeless moments of premarital bliss, while families can preserve a child’s toddling adorability and whimsy before it’s cast off for the grave metaphysical contemplations of adolescence. Following each one-hour shutterbugging session, clients will receive either two 11"x14" archival prints (of the same pose) primed for mantel adornment or one 20"x30" print to gift to coworkers or place in enormous wallets.
The seasoned bakers at Nite Owl Cookies stay up late to provide insomniac cookie cravers with natural, preservative-free dough disks. Mix and match any of Night Owl’s seven decadent flavors to form your sweet-tooth satiating baker’s dozen—chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, brownie cookie, vegan chocolate chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin.
At Conscious Creations Cafe, owner and head chef Joshua Server fills tables with unique dishes that use exclusively local, organically grown ingredients from sustainable providers. The ever-changing menu shifts every day of the week, filling its pages with dishes designed to showcase the freshest selections from farmers' markets in Salinas and Watsonville or local grocers such as New Leaf and Staff of Life. Goddess salads jumble fresh vegetables such as onions, carrots, and leafy greens into a giant bowl with tangy feta and dressing made with the tears of Athena. Emphasizing vegetarian and occasionally vegan values, the soups on the menu rotate daily depending on pantry availability. Entrees plate a combination of dishes that have included mediterranean gnocchi, tempeh empanadas, and free-range chicken satay, accompanied by a side of mashed potatoes or rice. For an additional cost, guests can complement solid fare with a glass of wine or a recycled wineglass full of beer.