Behind the Scenes: More on the Syrian Liquor Store owners

In the college town of San Luis Obispo, there are many liquor stores to cater to a crowd that likes their booze. Campus Bottle, Cork N’ Bottle and Sandy’s Liquor are three of the most popular liquor stores in the city. The stores, especially Cork and Campus, are hotspot destinations for the young population of San Luis Obispo to get their weekends going.

But the booze isn’t what keeps students coming back; it’s the welcoming, friendly employees that the customers interact with. They elicit laughs a good conversation over almost every transaction.

It seems like these employees have been a part of every Cal Poly student’s four years in the town. But, these liquor store owners haven’t always been in the United States. The families that own these liquor stores migrated to the United States from Syria.

Infographic by Leah Qiu

After learning this, our group wanted to learn more about these men and their journey to the United States. We wanted to know why they came. We wanted to know why they started their liquor businesses. We wanted to know who they were and their place in San Luis Obispo.

It was a confusing reporting process at first. We didn’t know any of the connections between these families. We weren’t sure who was related and who was running the show. Over time, we were able to connect the dots between the families and report a coherent story about them.

During some interviews there was a small language barrier. Sometimes the sources would be afraid of not understanding a question and answering it wrong. We built our rapport by having some friendly conversation before our interviews, in which we threw more serious questions their way.

We slowly learned a lot about these liquor store employees. Their journey to the United States was something they were initially reluctant to talk about. Eventually, we learned much about their motivations as business owners in a new country.

They have accepted their new home in San Luis Obispo, and they feel warmly received here as well. The employees are on a first-name basis with many of their daily customers.

Some transactions with customers are very straightforward and all business. Other transactions have lead to enlightening dialogue between the customer and the seller.

“Some guys, they come here and they have something bad inside,” Cork N’ Bottle employee Mark Jalhoum said. “They need to talk to someone.”

Jalhoum strikes conversations with seemingly all of his customers. One customer, Jalhoum explained in interview, found relief in a sad moment with the conversation in the store.

“It’s different from customer to customer, some guys they don’t like to talk,” Jalhoum said. “Some guys they came to [laugh], they came to tell you something, they came to say hi to you, so it depends.”

This is the reason why we wanted to do this story. The connection between the customer and businesses are unlike any other. Friendships are made. It’s never about the liquor, and it never was for these men. Their business was their business, but it’s even more important for them to connect to the community, which they have done better than many mom and pop shops in the city.

Yes, they are nice, but don’t try to show them a fake I.D. and argue that it’s real. They are ruthless when it comes to that stuff. It may work at some bars downtown, but the men at these liquor stores will call you out on your bullshit. One time I was making a purchase at Campus Bottle when a young man tried out his fake I.D.

“You can leave or you can wait for the cops bro,” the clerk said after inspecting the card.

As the young man was walking out, the clerk starts to laugh.

“Nobody’s from fucking Wyoming, bro,” the clerk said.


Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof coffee – a topic that so few people know about, and quite frankly, sounds pretty weird when you explain it. Putting butter in your coffee? Who would do that, and why? That is the question we tried to answer for our audience, yet it wasn’t the simplest to explain.

From the get-go, our group was interested in bulletproof coffee. It is a fad that hasn’t quite caught on as much as you think it would. The people in LA know all about it, but in SLO? Not so much.

The initial step of creating this story was making sure that this was a valid topic to be writing about, and social media helped us out with that. Based on the Instagram poll and Snapchat story that I posted, we learned that not many people understand understand what bulletproof coffee is, so we learned that the audience needed to be informed first and foremost, about the topic , before getting into the  benefits it can have, or why it is controversial.

Multimedia team member, Kassidy Clark was surprised to see the effects of bulletproof coffee on people around her.

“I didn’t realize how much more energy some people have who drink Bulletproof coffee. Also, how much fat you can burn by having a little bit of good fat in the morning.” Clark said, “For me it was very educational. I think it was a fun topic and overall a great way to tell an interesting story. ”

When investigating this topic further, and talking to Lena Bidley, our group member behind the video for the project, I learned that at first not many professors responded with interest in getting involved with the project. Whether this was due to time being short with the end of the quarter, or professors not knowing much about it, when reaching out to all of the professors in the food science/nutrition department, one professor responded.

Luckily with that response, we were able to get information from Cal Poly’s Science and Nutrition Professor Scott K. Reaves, Ph.D.

“I think to get up in the morning and just have fat and coffee is unhealthy,” Scott K. Reaves, Ph.D.

Bidley followed up with her thoughts, and commented on her experience and perspective, after interviewing our main source.

“This project was fun to report on, because there was a lot of information to be learned about Bulletproof coffee. I started the project with a certain mindset, and after interviewing experts on the topic, I had a completely different view.” Bidley said, “My favorite part about this topic was that I learned a lot, and the angle of the story presented itself when I began reporting.”

Bidley was able to hear the facts straight from Professor Reaves, and was influenced by what he said through their discussion.

Additionally, Ethan Roman, our team member who write the story, had a lot to say about the topic.

“Writing this story on Bulletproof coffee, I got to dig deep into the world of coffee, which was fun and pretty tasty. Moreover, I got a glimpse into the seemingly endless world of coffee varieties and preparation techniques.” Roman said, “People are super passionate about their coffee, to an almost overwhelming extent. I didn’t meet too many people who were jazzed about putting butter in their coffee, though.”

Overall, this was an awesome story to work on. Our entire group leaned a lot, and we look forward to seeing how bulletproof coffee evolves as a product in the future.

Lighting in San Luis Obispo

We struggled for a while to come up with a topic for our final story in JOUR 462, but Sam found out about the petition to improve lighting in neighborhoods in SLO from her ethics class. We all thought it was a good idea and started to research and talk to people about it. The project was a bit different from the rest of our projects which was a good challenge for us. Sam was responsible for the audio/video portion and said, “This project was very cool to be a part of. It seemed more newsworthy than our previous topics, so working on it was a lot different. It was crazy to go around at night and see the differences between photos we took during the day and at night to truly show how dark slo is.”

I reached out to my friends and people in my classes and casually asked them what they thought about the issue and the responses I received were all in support of the petition. Emily talked to Jessica Gallagher, the Cal Poly student who started the petition, and learned that it started out as a project in one of her classes here at Cal Poly. For an assignment, she had to address an issue in the community and at first her partner Emily Gardner and her struggled to find a topic. However, they landed on this idea when they were walking home one night and noticed how dark it is in the neighborhoods around SLO. Gallagher presented to city council and was told that their are simply not enough funds right now. However, she is a junior and plans to keep working on this issue next year.

We reached out to tons of students in this process on social media and in person and the responses were nearly unanimous in support of a change. The petition on reflects these opinions and has nearly 1,300 signatures. Elliot Pyon, a construction management senior at Cal Poly, walks home regularly from class that ends at 8:00 PM and said, “I signed the petition. I always hate walking home late at night because Kentucky street is always so dark. I saw the petition on facebook and thought it was a good idea because it is impossible to see students walking at night on most of the streets around Cal Poly.”

Emily Hulsman worked on the video part of our project and said, “This project was definitely rewarding to work on because we were able to get students opinions on a very important and relevant issue. I really enjoyed working with my group on the final project.”

The final project was good for us as a group because I think all of us were in our least comfortable positions. We had to lean on each others strengths throughout the reporting process and it turned out well. It was also a more serious topic and it is an issue that is being addressed at universities around the nation. It also is something that was addressed not only recently by Mustang News, but years ago.  JB Garcia wrote the story for the project and said, “I enjoyed this project because I got to learn a lot about the city public works and what it takes to initiate change in the city. I also got to work on my writing which is good because I haven’t in quite some time.”

Behind the Scenes: Pirate’s Cove and Cave Landing

This final story was met with an extensive beginning, unexpected angles, and amazing support from our sources. As we began research on Pirate’s Cove, we had no idea what we were diving into. The controversial history behind the location dated back to the late 1970s. There were fallouts on projects, Native American territories and the issue of preserving nude beaches popping up.

Opinion article after opinion article, we’ve learned about the constant battle between SLO County residents wanting to protect the area and the inadequate resources to carry out their vision. We’ve learned about the nuances between state-owned territory and County-owned territory, and how it has affected the overall goal to preserve the area.

Going into this project, we envisioned covering a location that many Cal Poly students were aware of. Pirate’s Cove — a wonderful place to enjoy spectacular views, but such a disgraceful display of human neglect towards nature. So our main question here was simply put: What should Cal Poly students know about Pirate’s Cove? The answer to that was simple. Students needed to know about the history of the area. The controversial topics. Ways they can help protect the land. This was our chance to have voices heard that would add value and appreciation to the site. This was our chance to bring forward issues that people often turned a blind eye too.

Meeting with Shaun Cooper, Senior Planner for County Parks and Recreation, was the perfect opportunity to get a full scope of the site. He provided factual information (although much of it was very cut and dry), but offered insight on the angles that needed to be covered. He mentioned the constant battle between the County developing projects, but having it be shot down by state-level organizations. He mentioned the beauty of recreational spots — how it provides an opportunity for people to relax, reflect, and immerse themselves in nature. He finally tied it all together to show the delicate balance between operating the site as a “natural area” instead of a “recreational area.” His insight made it clear that there was a scope that Cal Poly students needed to be informed about. Students need to know the preservation of the land depends on the effort of every person that visits the site.

Cali Magdaleno was a key reporter in this story. Not only did she talk to Shaun Cooper, but she met with an environmental organization that conducts clean-ups at Pirate’s Cove and Cave Landing on a weekly basis. She was able to provide angles of what the County is doing on a legal level, but also what students are doing to be proactive. Her angle coverage was essential in having our key message portrayed.

“I know the Tribune covers Pirate’s a lot, so I was surprised that Mustang News hadn’t covered it in a while.  This was a cool story to do because we were able to give a more in depth look at the history and rules of the area that most students I’m sure don’t know about,” said Magdaleno.

Bryce Aston was able to capture the importance of the history behind the site. This was important in informing our audience of the rough road that Pirate’s Cove and Cave Landing embarked on.

“Honestly, this was such a good topic to cover because Pirate’s Cove is so well-known in this community but there’s so much that doesn’t really get talked about. Plus, it’s such a visually appealing place, so it made for some good opportunities for multimedia,” said Aston.

Lastly, Nate Edelman tied up all the loose ends of the story with the word section of this story. Without his work of connecting intricate details, our story would’ve never came to fruition.

It was nice to know that we decided on a story that Mustang News hasn’t covered for quite some time. It now makes sense why Pirate’s Cove has no rules, and I hope the readers of this story will feel the same way,” said Edelman.

Pirate’s Cove and Cave Landing deserves to have the spotlight in Mustang News, and we’re all glad to have been apart of gathering the materials to do so.


From College to the Majors

We had been talking about this project for a while by the time it rolled around. With two team members who know a lot about baseball, Cal Poly athletes being in the draft and the connections that our team had access to, doing a story on our Mustangs making it the MLB 2018 draft was calling our name.

“As a softball player and baseball fanatic I was stoked to work on this assignment. It was fun to reach out to family and old coaches of Alex McKenna and learn more about his baseball career,” Alejandra Garcia said.

Initially, we had planned on focusing our project on both Alex McKenna and Nick Meyer. However, after receiving some guidance and feedback about our story we decided to narrow our focus on McKenna.

Garcia was in charge of our group’s interactivity section and commented on our change in focus saying, “I easily planned out my interactive components but had to switch it up a little once we realized all of our pieces were centered around McKenna. The switch required a lot of extra research but all in all it was a great learning experience and fun to put together.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project was learning more about the MLB draft and McKenna’s passion for baseball. Interviewing McKenna gave me a new perspective on baseball. While I know the game, listening to someone who has dedicated hours on end to it is a whole other story.

When we asked him about what it feels like to step on the field McKenna said “It’s the best. Just competing is what I like to do the most. When you get to play however many games you play during the year it can get kinda long but you’re playing with some of your best friends on the team and just that is what I look forward to the most when I show up to the field every day.”


Jessica Frantzides was in charge of the audio and visual facets of our final project and spoke to this side of our story.

“I went into this knowing nothing about baseball but came out knowing things beyond just the game. Learning about the drafting process and working with Alex was really cool,” Frantzides said.

While I grew up with baseball, I found myself in the same boat as Frantzides during this project. Not only was it fun learning more about the game, but it was also exciting to reach out and work with someone who is headed for the major leagues.

Frantzides commented on this aspect too saying, “now I can say I’ve spoken to a professional athlete, something I never would’ve thought would happen since I don’t enjoy sports.”

While there were some challenges with this final story, overall the experience was a fun and memorable one. Lauren Pluim, author of the article for our project, originally suggested back in April that we focus one of our projects on baseball and I’m glad we followed through with her idea.

“I think that this story was easier than the others for me because of my familiarity with baseball. Some of the challenges that came up had to do with sources not getting back to me. Overall however, I had a good experience and really enjoyed this story, ” Pluim said.

Covering this topic gave us either new insight into baseball and or a in-depth look into the time and dedication it takes to make it to the MLB. This project was not only a learning experience, but one that I think we can all look back on with fondness.

Behind the Story: 25/25 Film Festival Brings Young Filmmakers Together

Cal Poly is full of young students with great ideas and stories to tell.  As a school of almost 21,000, the list of students to talk about is seemingly endless.

Michael Frank, a senior journalism student, had an idea he successfully turned into reality and we thought it would be a perfect thing to report on.  Group member Brian Robbins said he “really enjoyed working on this project because Michael was really passionate about the festival and you could tell by just talking to him about it. It was nice to work on a project about someone who really cared about what they were doing.”

After learning about Frank’s 25/25 Film Fest, colleagues and bystanders were curious as to what the festival was about, though all didn’t think he could succeed.  As journalism seniors at Cal Poly, just like Frank, our senior project group wanted to learn more and tell not only Frank’s story, but the story of young adults making an impact.  I, myself was in the same dorm as him freshman year so when I reached out to him about doing the story, “it was exciting to see someone I knew in their very first days at Cal Poly have grown into someone so successful.”

The issue we ran into was the angle to take when writing our story.  We couldn’t simply feature Frank, so we had to really try and focus our story on what the festival was about and the platform it gave to young adults.

Through many trials and tribulations, Frank was able to successfully execute his vision and the 25 Under 25 Fest was born.  The event took place at The Palm Theatre on May 19 and 20.  Over 300 tickets were sold and those in attendance thought the event was a big success. Chase Canevari, a supporter of the festival, said it was “great to see a fellow CP student excelling and hosting the festival.  It was great to see all of these young, amazing filmmakers.”

We decided we wanted to focus on the film makers and interview them and use them as the main focus of our story, though they weren’t all easily accessible.  Emily Hulsman, one of our group members, attended the festival and got a lot of information about the filmmakers when they did Q & A’s after their films showed. She was  able to see Frank’s vision turned reality.  She said she “learned a lot about what it takes to create the films and about those who created them,” adding “it was a great experience to be able to be an audience member.”  JB Garcia, another group member, said he “really enjoyed working on this project. I hit some bumps in the road when it came to getting in contact with film makers, but was able to recover nicely and I think everything turned out well.”

At the end of the festival, the three top films split a cash prize of $2,500 provided by various sponsors.  In our story, we discussed the top three films and what they were about with a lot of emphasis on what other audience members took away from viewing them.

Once we interviewed several contacts and attended the festival, our group was able to cohesively come up with what this story really was about, “a community of inclusivity and support for young writers, producer and directors.”


Toro Creek Brewing: How A Senior Project Turned into a Brewery

Not everyone gets to drink a beer while doing their reporting, but we were the exception.

Toro Creek Brewing is a small brewery where you can only get the beer in the tasting room. Our question to begin was, how could you possibly compete with the bigger, more commercialized breweries that consumes most of the Central Coast?

We started by surveying what people knew about beer and the beer industry on the Central Coast. As we assumed, most people like the bigger breweries with beers you can get all nationally.

Brendan Cosgrove begun Toro Creek Brewing as a Senior Project at Cal Poly. He was a business major, so he knew he had to create some kind of business. He knew he wanted to incorporate beer into the mix.

“In 2008, the market for beer looked good. I foresaw what is happening now in the craft beer industry,” Cosgrove said  “I needed to make a business plan for a marketing class, and who doesn’t like beer? I saw an opportunity and went with it.”

Lena Binley was our head reporter and writer. She met Cosgrove with Ethan Roman where they went on a tour of the brewery and tasting room.

“I’ve always enjoyed drinking beer, but I found it super interesting to learn more about the production side of beer by working on this project,” Binley said. “It was fun to see the tasting room, but I really would’ve loved to take a tour of the actual brewery and hop garden. I found what Brendan had to say about brewing beer to interesting, that I wanted to learn more just out of curiosity!”

However, we did find some difficulties even for the light-hearted topic we chose.

“I found the interactivity portion of the project surprisingly difficult, but also rewarding as I feel it gave me an opportunity to exercise creativity in a way the other areas tend to lack,” Roman said. “I enjoyed finding a way to tell a story beyond using words or video. However, I think the Instagram component is a weak tool as far as furthering the story goes. People don’t look at Instagram stories to learn something, generally it’s just messing around. I know I don’t want to see something like that unless it’s from a company I’m following.”

I agree with Roman, most people don’t take the social media aspect very seriously. It could be because we are still young and in college and no one is taking anything very serious. I understand the tool of using social media, but like Roman said, it should be used by the company.

We were all happy with how the project turned out. It was an interesting topic to begin with but we knew we hadn’t to make it not a promotional piece which was the hardest part for us.

“Toro Creek Brewing was an awesome company to do a story on,” Julia Glick said. “There was so much material that the video was hard to figure out how to cut down, but it ended up coming together really nicely and I am proud of the project as a whole.”

Behind the Scenes: Sex-E

Smile & Nod is a comedy team at Cal Poly that performs improv shows on Saturday nights. The team has been performing these shows at Cal Poly since 1998, and it uses short form and long form
styles, which are commonly used in Whose Line is it Anyway and by comedians like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

The team performs every Saturday night for the first five to seven weeks of every quarter in Phillips Hall, but most students are first exposed to Smile & Nod during Week of Welcome (WOW). Despite being a comedy team at Cal Poly, these students also put on a show called Expect Respect, a show that is designed to teach new students about the importance of respect and consensual behavior in all relationships.

News organizations such as Mustang News and the SLO Tribune have already written stories about Smile & Nod and its various performances over the years, but our story begins with the Expect Respect presentation. Since sexual assault has become a serious problem at colleges across the United States, presentations like Expect Respect are critical because they show students how to get consent and how to identify potential situations of sexual assault. It is this that has inspired some Smile & Nod students to turn this program into a business model to give the Expect Respect presentation at colleges other than Cal Poly.

We had an interesting challenge to write a story that both effectively informed students about the business idea and reminded them about Smile & Nod’s presence at Cal Poly.  

“(I would want to learn about) the outline of what the business is relating students. I am interested in how it intends to measure its success,” said Charmaine Farber, Assistant Graphic Communications Professor.

While other news outlets have covered Smile & Nod in the past, we still felt it was important to remind our viewers about the team so they can understand how the students came up with the business model. The next step in this story was to describe the actual business model and how the students planned to execute it. Kelly Jacobs took the assignment of writing the story, and she learned that the members of Smile & Nod work diligently to create these presentations.

“The most interesting thing I learned was the background on how the shows are created. I don’t know much about writing comedy skits so it was interesting to learn about that process and how the educational aspects are incorporated,” said Jacobs.

In contrast to the written story, the goal of the audio/visual component of this story was to capture the emotions from the Smile & Nod performances. Since this story focuses on the Expect Respect presentation, we felt the best way to show that was to record Smile & Nod members talking about the presentation and capture B-roll of the members reenacting the presentation. Iliana Salas was responsible for the audio/video component, and she learned about how sexual assault education is being presented in new ways.

“The most interesting thing I learned from the story was how sexual assault education is being shifted into new, non traditional ways because people are realizing that old methods are ineffective,” said Salas.

This story was an interesting experience for us because we learned about how the Smile & Nod students created the Expect Respect presentation, and how they intend to make it into a business.


Covering new sports facilities: Dubious drone flying and more

After the month (that’s right – MONTH) we spent on our last project – after the number of emails and interviews and spreadsheets we waded through – I think it’s safe to say that our group was desperate for a lighter story.

We played around with a few ideas. We were looking for something compelling, but straightforward. Nothing that would have sources telling us things were off the record. We had enough of that last time.

Nate was the one who came up with the idea: new sports facilities at Cal Poly. Mustang News has done basic coverage of the new track and the new baseball clubhouse.  But we felt like there was more to say, and we wanted to say it.

The new Steve Miller and John Capriotti Athletics Facility was a welcome upgrade for track and field athletes, according to the Mustang News article. Nate Edelman | Mustang News

So I did some research in the community to try to determine what people were interested in relating to our topic. I was mainly counting on some Twitter polls, because Twitter has been, to me, the most active social media.

Unfortunately, I learned that people don’t respond when you tweet from your professional account that is followed by 40 people,  most of whom are your co-workers.

Fortunately, an account named CP Confessions retweeted my Twitter polls.

CP Confessions has 2,608 followers as of May 25, as opposed to my meek 39. They helped.

When my Twitter polls closed, I learned this: 60 percent of people who responded to my survey would read a story about this topic. I was encouraged, so we persevered and dug deeper.


So far, covering this topic has been a breeze compared to the previous four weeks. People want to talk about new sports facilities – something we learned when we interviewed Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman and Deputy Director of Athletics Nick Pettit.

It was probably one of the most satisfying interviews I’ve ever done because they truly just wanted to keep talking, keep telling us about all they had done. It was refreshing, to have a source that was excited to be engaging in this interview.

What they had to say was interesting too. We were all pretty intrigued when they told us about Doerr field and how quickly it was completed. They both still seemed a little shell-shocked that it was done.

“The speed at which that came from concept to completion for a CSU school is remarkable.  And I mean, it was a year probably, a little over a year probably between our first meeting with donors and the project being completed,” Pettit said.

Oberhelman added on, “We’ve never seen anything like that.”

Deputy Director of Athletics Nick Pettit was passionate about the new projects. Nate Edelman | Mustang News

The only trouble with interviews has been, unsurprisingly, getting interviews. Last time, we failed to consider the fact that sources might not want to talk. This time, we realized sources might literally be unable to talk because they’re at another school reppin’ the green and gold. The problem is that sports teams… travel. It’s not the end of the world, but on a two-week budget, it’s stressful.

The fun part

“I enjoyed getting to gather the visuals for this project. I felt like we finally got to get our hands on a project that had a lot of neat opportunities for photos and videos.” – Mady Minas

In the long run, we decided this would be a visual story. It makes sense: we’re trying to show people what’s coming to campus, so why don’t we just… show them?

This meant playing with a number of ideas. We wanted to make sure that whatever we did, we did in a way that people couldn’t help but look at. So what better to use than a drone? Everyone loves a good drone shot.

Journalism senior Mady Minas prepares to fly a drone. Bryce Aston | Mustang News

Getting the drone footage was honestly the most fun we had. The only part that was a little stressful was knowing that we didn’t have permission to do what we were doing – we showed up to our locations for shooting with a drone and were constantly on edge, not sure if someone was going to chew us out.

Minas controls the drone. Bryce Aston | Mustang News

Honestly? It was a blast.

“I enjoyed that our story was informational while not being serious. Plus, I got to fly a drone!” – Nate Edelman

Final form

Nate ended up working with Mustang News Web Editor Austin Linthicum to develop our multimedia content. I think it will be amazing. They’e developing an immersive experience to present our images, footage and research, which to me seems like the best way to experience it.

While reporting on this story has been a pretty smooth experience, there were definitely some pitfalls and frustrations along the way. For example, Cali wanted to talk to donors who helped fund the projects but struggled to find any who would talk to us. And Mady had to email Pettit a couple of times to get follow-up info after our interview, and he still barely got it to us before our deadline.

Still, we ended up doing some really solid reporting on this story. And, we got to relax a bit. All in all? A win-win situation.

“I’m excited to see the finished product.  I think the drone shots and the layout of the story are going to make it stand out from the other stories about the new facilities.” – Cali Magdaleno



SLO’s Impact on Surfing

(Pictured Above) Maggie McLchlan, senior Wine and Viticulture Major


(Pictured above) Dana Hamann


Huntington Beach, host to US Open surf competitions


Hello everyone, I’m Kenny Campbell and my partners are: Bailey Ellis, Ariana Afshar and Eric Waggoner. We are four journalism majors at Cal Poly SLO.

We have banded together, through our senior practicum class, to tell awesome stories for Mustang News using four mediums: word, audio/visual, multimedia and strategy and engagement. Our group project this time around started when our professor Kim Lisagor Bisheff told us about Rose Badrigian, a Cal Poly Alumni and founder of the surf company Boobees.

Once we went and met up with Badrigian and heard about how her company Boobees was making sustainable surf wax out of bee’s wax, our group became very interested about our topic: the impact that San Luis Obispo has on the surfing community.  Eric Waggoner, the author of our article, had this to say about his reporting process and talking with Badrigian: “It was inspiring to cover this story about someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and is taking an initiative to create a meaningful impact towards bee conservation. I think that it was great covering this story and getting to see how a Cal Poly grad is creating something that is meaningful through her many passions.”

We also interviewed Brandon Baldovin, a graduate Aerospace Engineering major and Maggie McLchlan, a surfer and a senior Wine and Viticulture major at Cal Poly.  Baldovin works with two of his fellow graduate engineering students to make advances in surfboard technology and McLchlan is a local surfer.

Talking to Baldovin and his crew was a blast because they were so passionate about the topic. McLchlan helped us get female perspective of the surf community in SLO, which was key to our reporting.

Badrigian taught us that women surfers were not treated nearly as well as men surfers and has aspirations of using her company to promote her fellow female surfers. Another female surfer, Dana Hamann, has already begun to notice women in surfing more in recent years: “I think over the last few years women surfing has really started to shine.”

Overall, after talking with all three of these sources, what stood out to us was how much surfing can actually hurt the environment if the surfboards are not designed in an ecology friendly way and how surfing can be used as a platform to promote women in sports. Ariana Afshar, our groups multimedia person for this project touched on her shock of the lack of sustainability in the surf community: “The most interesting aspect of covering this story was finding out that surfing isn’t sustainable and good for the environment.”

For me personally I was educated on this topic through an interview I conducted with a family friend Donnie Laughlin. Laughlin, the owner of Sea Brothers Surfboards in San Diego,  educated me by telling me this:  “A lot of the traditional surfboards are made from materials that go straight into the landfill, but now surfboards are being made of ETS, eco friendly resin, the same material that foam beer coolers are created from. 

Laughlin also told me about surfboard makers that use ultraviolet lights to replace some of the toxic wastes involved in making most surfboards. To delve more into the topic of sustainability in surf boards Bailey Ellis, our groups audio/visual person, talked to a local surfer that said: “These (the surfboard in his hand) are really not sustainable, they are not made out of recyclable materials at all.”

This project helped us realize that there are major shifts developing to make surfing more ecology friendly and SLO is already doing its part to adapt to and encourage this change. Also, that surfing is in the same boat as a lot of other sports; women do not have the representation they deserve in their sport, but are starting to make progress.