Civic Minded

My Friend, Mama Serengeti

Photographs provided by Natural Wildlife Photographer, Barbara Fleming
Written by Robyn Wyman-dill

The Chagga guides nicknamed her Mama Serengeti.

I noticed the bigger picture mindset is really taking a hit these days, narrowing our hopes and horizons. Being an environmentalist, I keep scratching my head, trying to understand why politicians of economic quick-fixes are at odds with science. We all breathe the same air, live on land and fish from the sea. And, we need all three to survive. Doesn’t it seem a no-brainer we should be in tandem on this one? But, we are not. I don’t believe the earth is speaking loud enough yet. But, my conscience is and it has urged me to do whatever I can to defend the planet. By engaging you with all things beautiful in nature. Highlighting people who understand its power on our souls.

“I want to communicate the beauty of the animal, their inner spirit, a moment in time that is almost magical and I also want to portray how important this animal is in its place in the world.” – Barbara Fleming Read the rest of this entry »

West Greets East: A Week That Changed The World

written by Robyn Wyman-dill

How fast time travels as it heads into the final days of the month. Before we begin a new chapter, let’s reflect and be enriched by occasions worth remembering again. Among those bookmarked is the ‘Wedding of the Century’ on July 29, 1981. On that day, the lovely Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles – bringing a fresh persona to the Royal Family. In turn, the Princess spoke to the hearts of the public around the world. Everyone seemed to agree for once. Diana was love. Four years after the Princess stepped into the public eye, she crossed the pond on her first official visit to America with her husband, Prince Charles. That’s when royal fever broke out in Washington DC.

The ‘Diana’ appeal was so highly infectious, everyone wanted an invitation to dinner. Meaning the White House dinner. The not-so-lucky ones? They traveled abroad. Henry Kissinger, Oscar de la Renta and Ahmet Ertegun, Co-Founder and President of Altanic Records, took their wives to China. In case you didn’t know it, Henry Kissinger is a really big deal in China. Really big.

What prompted me to go to China at exactly the same time was a photography book, Eve Arnold: In China, that I kept on my coffee table. An American photojournalist, Arnold’s images of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits (1961) and photograph of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arranging flowers with Caroline(1961) had already cemented her reputation as a superb shooter. But, when she turned her lens on China, defining its beauty with pictures that spoke to your soul, I felt compelled to buy a camera(my first) and booked a tour to China. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marriage of Architecture and Dance

written by Robyn Wyman-dill

 

It’s Bastille week. When the flavors of France come out and dance in local bistros in celebration of Independence Day. Perhaps, it is the shared ideals of the French and American Revolutions and our common-colored flags – billowing in the wind with patriotic blue, white and red washes – that keep our French-American relationship evolving positively. And why the great portrait of Marquis Lafayette, a Frenchmen, has been hanging in the US House of Representatives chamber – since 1830. Over two centuries, the American-French cultural, historical and economic exchange has continued to get better.

Yes, indeed. The US has seen an immigration of the highest standard in terms of artistic enrichments from our French-speaking friends. Like Louisiana cuisine, Dijon mustard, French-trained chefs, exquisite French wines and Trader Joe’s pop-up sponges. While the lavendar fields of Provence cross the pond in soaps and fragances, the Tournées Festival brings contemporary French cinema to American college and university campuses every year so that more than 500,000 students can fall in love with French films. Oh la, la.

Lucky for Southern Californians, their weather seems to suit French creativity.

When Cirque de Soleil first came to LA, the company had just enough money to cover a one-way ticket for their performers. But, when Angelenos went to see them, they went wild. Their 1987 Los Angeles Arts Festival performance attracted the kind of critical attention that sent Hollywood a knocking. The French-Canadian powerhouse for theatre arts has been raising the bar on entertainment ever since. And then there’s dance.

If the gravitational waves could hear the sound of amazement rising in skies, it would be coming from audiences watching the dance company, Diavolo, founded by French Choreographer and Visionary, Jacques Heim. This company has been dazzling audiences around the world and re-envisioning modern dance in southern California for a quarter of a century. Read the rest of this entry »

Bistango and the Bastille Bash

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s been a patriotic week. Sheathed in red, white and blue. Apparently, the sight of strips of loosely woven red, white and blue English wool bunting arouses flag-waving emotions in humans a lot. The proof is in the 36 countries around the world who have inspired their own people with a sense of national pride waving the red, white and blue flags on their behalf. The next red, white and blue flag bash is coming up on July 14, when France celebrates Bastille Day, (Which commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution back in 1789.) This is France’s Independence Day, folks. And because the French know how to celebrate life right, the occasion has turned into an international party. (New York, London, Sydney and LA host week-long events.) Just done the road, Bistango in Irvine will be honoring the French holiday with a special small plates menu and selection of rosés. In honor of freedom. Now doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to spend a summer’s day.

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PJ Morton and the Maroon 5 Sequel

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

For those of you who don’t know, PJ Morton came onboard Maroon 5 as a touring keyboardist in 2010. When Keyboard player, Jesse Carmichael, decided to take a hiatus in 2012, Morton sat in for him. That arrangement would pay off creatively for everyone involved.

When Carmichael returned to the group to record V two years later, he found he liked the way Morton’s soulful music fit with the band’s blend of modern R&B/Pop and decided to switch from keyboards to playing the guitar. As Maroon 5 began playing larger venues, Carmichael and the band saw the need for more backing-the-track fullness. It made sense to bring PJ Morton in to play keyboards on tour with Carmichael. Plus he’s a very creative and likable guy. Maroon 5 with PJ Morton are on the last lap of their World Tour in North America this Fall, performing in New Orleans on September 5, 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Cry for Me, OC

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

In my many years of travel, one characteristic has always dominated, setting a tone which translates into a lasting good or bad impression. This singular characteristic is people. For it is the very people I meet who come to define the places where I have traveled. My recent visit to New Orleans – where the locals like to share their heritage in music and food and southern hospitality with everybody they meet – created a positive imprint. One I don’t want put to bed just yet. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it is another rude day in paradise co-existing with the stressed-out OC mindset. I refresh my home page to reconnect my spirit with New Orleans. Starting with my exchanges with the good people of substance I met at Collision’s Tech conference there. Roll playback.  Let’s get metaphysical, toute suite, shall we?

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OC With A French Twist

Pascal Olhats

Pascal Olhats

written by Robyn Wyman-dill
It was supposed to be a much shorter stay for Normandy-born, Chef Pascal Olhats, who paid a visit to Orange County over 30 years ago, and never looked back – pioneering an under-developed culinary scene into the realm of excellence with signature dishes like – seabass au thym – while remaining true to French classics like – Normandy tart tatin and salade lyonnaise. Fast-forward to April 23, when The Newport Beach Film Festival presents an insider’s perspective from ‘our man with panache’ with the debut of La Tradition, a documentary biopic, tracing the evolution of Chef Olhats’ influence on the fine dining scene here. His narrative is the kind of stuff the ‘American Dream’ is made of. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Play the Game of Life

photos and blog by Robyn Wyman-Dill

What fascinates me most about my job as a journalist is the personal journeys people take to fulfill their life’s expression. It’s like a fingerprint the way a person plays the game of life. No two are identical. Read the rest of this entry »

South Coast Metro

The Tale of the Twin Towers that turned the suburbs into south coast metro living.

photos and blog by Robyn Wyman-Dill

Under the moonlight, a gentle breeze ripples the crystal blue waters of an Olympic-sized pool. While an international crowd of beautiful people, dressed in cocktail attire, mingle on deck. When the DJ heats up the party tunes, the residents come out to watch the show – just below their balconies. Being the County’s tallest residential twin towers and all, the luxury condos have some primo south coast metro views too. Meanwhile a fun vibe is inducing a festive mood in every direction. Since they opened their doors to occupancy in 2010, the management team at Essex Skyline keeps on doing it right.

Still a residential building in Santa Ana, built by Architects KTGY Group, not tall enough to make the 40 tallest residential buildings of the world list seems an unlikely candidate to be blossoming into the hot spot for hosting cultural and philanthropic venues in town, but think again. This little tall residential building that ‘could’ is beginning to outshine the biggest and reigning best with a full demonstration kitchen for large gatherings and small events, wine bar and private wine storage, fireside seating, outdoor club space and gourmet barbecue areas, junior Olympic-sized pool, 24 hour valet service and community park great for walking – with a lake outside its back door. The rental-only luxury apartment buildings also integrate other amenity services, providing internet access connectivity without wifi or internet hiccups.

The post-moderne architecture is constructed with the understanding that environmental responsibility is an integral part of residential design. The interiors are bathed in natural light with a floor plan that is open. The decor – like the air – is California coastal. Each building is 25 stories high with one and two-bedroom homes and a limited number of penthouses. There are floor-to-ceiling windows, gourmet kitchens, luxurious bathrooms and steam washer and dryer. Because healthier and more nature living spaces feel more in harmony with the natural world.

In real estate it is all about location and Essex Skyline has found one overlooking what is becoming a very happening metropolis. Santa Ana with the influx of trendy eateries and clubs over the last five years, has turned the corner into a fashionable address (The City Council is even considering rebranding downtown Santa Ana as a “wellness corridor,” focused on healthy foods, activities, and personal care products for nearby residents.) which compliments the Essex Property’s best quality of life mission nicely. The Orange County Performing Arts Center, South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island are nearby for entertainment and good food. A short drive west, the sandy beaches of the California riviera and Newport Beach welcome you. While LAX and John Wayne Airport make international travel as painless as possible with access to bus lines and convenient road travel on highways 55 and I-405.

Essex Skyline is also home to a dynamic mix of people from different cultures, age groups and backgrounds. Meanwhile the spirit to create positive change is alive and well here. Director of Activities, Anne Vallone, who understood that one of the key players in the quality of life game is making measurable differences in the world, especially in one’s own community; was the first to see the property’s goodwill potential. What’s more she knew how to funnel that goodwill spirit effectively and began hosting fund-raising events that met with the residents’ approval. Nowadays, wherever Vallone goes on the property, residents are excited and ask about upcoming events, offering themselves and their services to Vallone in support of a cause.

The Essex Property Trust now hosts more than 50 events a year in their Orange County flagship in Santa Ana, California.

Vallone has also partnered with events producers to launch larger events like the Fourth Annual Gala & Fashion Show Benefit for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society working with Expo 4 Life Events & Marketing Company. (www.expo4life.com), The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life working with Fun Nights Out(www.funnightsout.com) and Fashion to the Rescue Benefit for Recycled Love Dog Rescue working with (www.ocfashionshowcase.com) and featuring the latest in canine fashions for the Spring.

On June 25, Essex Skyline will host its largest fundraiser of the year, Design 4Life for the American Cancer Society working with Fun Night Out again. Thanks to these efforts more kids and cancer patients are in remission.

The cooking demo program is another brainchild of Activities Director Anne Vallone, and has been a popular niche for residents that enjoy the art of cooking. The likes of Chefs Deb Schneider (Sol Cocina), Angela (Inka Mama’s), Lindsay Smith (Nirvana Grill), Adam Starchman (Seasons 52), Jenny Ross (118 Degrees), Chris Tzorin (Savannah Chophouse and Tortilla Republic), and Doug Stratton (Spiced Bamboo) have made meals in the demonstration kitchen.The room can accommodate a group of 20-25, and has a monitor-camera set-up for easy viewing of what’s cooking.

The Activities calendar year-round stays busy with wine tastings, health expos, sporting events, pool parties, spa events, fashion shows, benefits, fireside chats with authors and cooking demonstrations. Averaging one event a week.(Some are small intimate gatherings for the residents. Others are larger events that are open to the public.)

Between the fine fashions evenings, cooking demos and goodwill events, the residents can unwind in the men’s and women’s spa areas with steam rooms, saunas, jacuzzi and relaxation lounges or swim, do yoga and workout in the gym. Essex Skyline also maintains a private putting green.

The fourth tallest buildings in Orange County are owned by Essex Property Trust, a Palo Alto-based apartment investment trust with more than 27,000 units.

Essex Skyline
15 MacArthur Place
Santa Ana, CA . 92707
www.SkylineAptHomes.com
Phone: 714.557.5483

Stay Tuned.

At the Trailhead of Two Stories

blog and photos by Robyn Wyman-dill

We are sliding down the calendar into Halloween week with a waxing moon expanding into the first lunar quarter.  Everywhere you turn, orange is the dominant color, especially in the desert terrain of Coachella Valley.  Where the Mexican Birds of Paradise bushes are now in bloom and looking spectacular.  Much like the seasonal influx of colder weather tourists, the tropical plant has learned how to adapt and regenerate in Palm Spring’s windy vortex and dryer climate. Which leads us to the trailhead one of our two stories about  the region’s first settlers.  The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Read the rest of this entry »