Remembering the Truth of Who You Are: Karen Wright
Aging Gratefully
Dr. Peter Brill

Episode 37 - Remembering the Truth of Who You Are: Karen Wright

Today we talk to the author of a little book that came out of nowhere to make a big national splash. If you haven’t read it, it’s called “The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth About Who You Are.”  The author is Karen Wright, a woman who has had a lot of different careers and lived to tell about them.  In her life she’s been many things:  an educator, securities broker, TV news reporter, corporate consultant, author, speaker… Her book is about remembering the truth about who you really are.  How do you get to the bottom of yourself?  How did she do it?  Karen tells us which is the real Karen Wright, and why. We all want to know who we really are, unless we’re afraid to risk knowing the truth.  Karen’s online magazine – or ezine – along with her workshops and retreats -- helps women to connect to their deepest calling and take a step she calls “Risking mediocrity for greatness.”  How can you get ready to take that risk?  In the interview we talk about enlightenment and lasting happiness – do they exist?  What are they?  Do you/can you have them?



David Debin: Hello and welcome to “The Third Age” the show where people age 50 and up come to talk about –Guess what? - aging. I am David Debin.

My esteemed partner, the great Doctor Peter Brill, is somewhere out in Yellowstone at this very  moment, probably scaring the hell out of bears and urging his sherpers  onward. So you can call in to me and tell me what you really think of him and I won’t tell him who you are. Seriously though, he is taking some well deserved time off.

But don’t change the station because you will miss out on our iron clad guarantee, if you listen to us you will never grow old.

Now I am here with out producer, who is Lisa Headlee and our associate producer, who is Emily Figurato. And they are going to help me figure out how to do a show that is entertaining, intelligent, and informative, without the sparkling wit of Doctor Peter Brill.

So Emily if you put that microphone next to your mouth you’ll be able to say hello.

How are you?

Emily Figurato: Hi. I am doing very well. I am ready to hear about some ways to be happy.

David Debin: Oh, that’s right. We’re going to be talking to…let’s see we are going to talk about a little book, that’s right, that came out of no where to make a big national splash. If you haven’t read it, it’s called “The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth About Who You Are”. The author is Karen Wright, a woman who has had many different careers and lived to tell about them.  And we’ll find out what she has to say about finding the real you.

But first, I would like to tell you a little story about some advice I once got about finding the real me. How would you like to hear about that?

Emily: I would love to hear about that.

David Debin: Well, I was living in upstate New York. Do you know where that is? You know where New York is?

Emily: Yes.

David Debin: It is on the east coast.

Emily: I think I am familiar with that.

David Debin: It’s near Philadelphia and next to New Jersey, right?

Emily: Mm hmm.

David Debin: OK. What’s the capital of New York, Emily?

Emily: New York.

David Debin: Lisa, what’s the capital of New York?

Lisa: Ew, I am waiting for Em to answer that one.

David Debin: Oh my gosh. We need to send these people back to school. It’s Albany, of course.

I was living in upstate New York, which is not to far from…

Emily: I have actually been there David.

David Debin : You have?

Emily: Yeah.

David Debin: At Albany?

Emily: Oh yeah. Actually it was really a pretty pretty town. I liked it. I was on a layover up there.

David Debin: You weren’t hanging out with Elliot Spitzer were you?

Emily: No, I wasn’t.

David Debin: OK. I was living in upstate New York and at the time I was meditating on a steady basis. I was reading spiritual and psychological books. I had retired. It was a long long time ago. And I was living at the foot of a mountain which is known as Meads Mountain.

And at the top of that mountain was a Tibetan monetary that they had built that housed monks that lived there on a steady basis along with monks who came and went from the Dahlia Lama’s sanctuary in India. So there were some steady monks and then there was always an influx, going back and forth monks, Tibetan monks, from India.

And at the time I was in one of those personal troughs where I didn’t really have any idea who I was or what I was doing. I had a successful career and then crashed and didn’t know what to do. I was about 45 years old, just at the onset of the third age, although,  I didn’t know it at the time. I was looking for the real me and I was not having a lot of success finding the real me.

So one day I went up to the monastery when a visiting Tibetan teacher- they’re  
called Rinpoches, Tibetan teachers- he was giving a talk called “You Don’t Know Who You Really Are”- which sounds sort of like what we are going to talk about today with Karen Wright- And I didn’t’ know who I really was. I didn’t know who I was at all.

And seated behind rinpishay were some monks who had traveled with him from India and he had an interpreter because he didn’t speak English.

So his talk was about meditation, centering, quieting the mind, and listening to the heart. And he said if you do all those things you will eventually come to know who you really are.

Well, I had been doing that. I had been meditating for days straight. I had been listening to my heart. I had been listening to my mind. I had been listening to the birds. I had been listening to my friends. And I didn’t think I knew who I was.  At various times I thought I was really one thing and then found out I was really another thing. Then got confused when I thought I was something else.

Did that ever happen to you?

Emily: Yeah. Definitely. When you started just stopping and thinking about it you don’t really know where to guide your thoughts.

David Debin: Yeah. You don’t know if it’s the real thing, right?

Emily: Mm hmm.

David Debin: So in the question period after the Rinpoche’s little talk, I raised my hand and I said, “Well, how do you know when you really know who you are? How do you know that’s the right who you are?” And the translator translated my question. And the Rinpoche and all his monks started to giggle for some reason at my question, as though I had asked the silliest thing in the world. And he looked at me, nodded his head, and through the interpreter he gave me the answer, which as “You’ll know.”

So I’ve been listening for the answer for a long time and I am pretty sure that I know what it is now for me because I’ve heard so many different versions and it always come back to the same thing.

I am not going to tell you what it is until I talk to Karen Wright, but I’ll ask that question of her and see if her answer is any different from the Tibetan monk who gave me that answer.

What do you think of that? What do you think that meant when he said, “You’ll know”?

Emily: I guess, you’ll just feel satisfied and fulfilled with whatever answer you land on?

David Debin: Yeah. Somehow you’ll know in your heart that that’s the right answer. And you just got to keep asking that question. And if enough times, I think, you get the right answer, the same answer, and it seems so basic and so real. It is like… you know what a patent is when you patent something. Well, they say that the best patent to have to make the most money is the most simple thing. In other words, if you can paten a screw or a hammer or the most simple thing, the most things come out of that and they have to use that, so that’s the best thing to have.

And I think the same is true for figuring who you really are. It’s really if you come to the most simple answer, the most basic answer, I think everything comes out of that.

Now, I may be wrong because Karen Wright might have another version of it.

So that’s my little story. What do you think about that, Lisa?

Lisa: Yeah. I mean, the best thing is to question who you are. Think about all the people out there that never even stop to pause and think about who they are or what they’re thoughts are.  But they’re guided by media or other people’s thoughts.

David Debin: Yeah.

Lisa: So really that’s the first step to understanding yourself, is to ask , who am I?

David Debin: Yeah, and since we’re in the third age- at least our audience is- I think it’s about time we stopped and asked that question for real because who wants to live a  charade in this time of life.

Now today’s news story, which I am going to tell you very quickly, is about someone who inadvertently told others who she really is. That comes from New Hampshire, actually. The first clue that something might have been wrong was when a car pulled into a parking lot with an unusual sign stuck to the front end.

A Cumblin Farms clerk called around dawn on Thursday to report the car. When the officers showed up they found a sleeping driver inside the car and a no parking sign and the posts stuck in the front grill. The 23 year old woman was arrested on marijuana charges and officers were trying to figure out where she hit the sign.

So we know where she was. We know what she was. She was thinking she was the wrong thing.

Lisa: She moved her car.

David Debin: A no parking sign, that’s a great one.

We are about to speak with Karen Wright who is the author of “The Sequoia Seed:
Remembering The Truth About Who You Really Are”. Remembering the truth about who you  really are. Karen’s online magazine or ezine as they are called, along with her workshops and retreats, help women to connect to their deepest calling and take a step that she calls ‘risking mediocrity for greatness’.

So welcome to the show. And let’s find out how we can take that risk. We’ll ask her. Karen, hi.

Karen Wright: I’m here.

David: Oh, I am sorry I missed you because my phones weren’t turned up. How are you?

Karen: I am well, thank you. How are you David?

David Debin: I am trying my best to figure out who I really am. You know, you wrote that every decision you make is guided by a quote from Marsel Pruist. What is the quote? And why does it mean so much to you?

Karen: Yeah, I ran across this quote about 15 years ago. Every now and then we run across something in our lives, whether it is something someone says to us or something we read, that just sounds like it describes everything about what we’ve experienced in life and this was that quote for me. The quote goes, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

And I realized at the time that spoke to me I was that seeker and I had been seeking everything in my environment to find happiness, to feel more joyful, to feel like I belonged.  I had gone through two marriages and lots of different jobs, lots of different locations, different interests, always in the pursuit of seeing where I might click in life.

And when I read that it was just sort of like I put on a new pair of glasses that finally brought things into clarity and I realized that I had been looking in all the wrong places.

David Debin: So it’s not where you are. It’s how you react to where you are. How you see where you are. How you perceive where you are. When I say, where you are, I mean, either literally or metaphorically.

Karen: Yeah. And you know, both of those are true because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference between who we are and where we are, whether that is literal or figuratively. I know that you were asking a question a little earlier on that I’m kind of anxious to kind of get to, but…

David Debin: What is it? Go.

Karen: Well the question was: how do we know who we are? And that was the primary question of my life for a very very long time and all that seeking I did in the world out there didn’t tell me a single thing about who I was. It might have told me a lot about who I wasn’t. But I think that the answer to that question comes when the question’s no longer meaningful to ask.

David Debin:  You know our show is the third age and we’ve got an audience of third agers.  Which if you don’t know is about 50 plus. When did this happen to you? Where you within your third age?

Karen: Yeah, I was actually about 47.

David Debin: That’s good enough.

Karen: Getting close, yeah.

David Debin: You can get in on this count. You can get in on the third age at this count.

Karen: AARP had already found me by that point.

David Debin: And so you were obviously in transition of some kind that you were not completely aware of, but you knew that you were not sure of what you were doing and who you were.

Karen: Yeah. You know, after you’ve tried so many things and they just don’t seem to fill that hole. And it’s a hole that’s difficult to even put words behind but I think most of us have felt it at one point or another where it just…I always describe this as kind of like turning a combination lock and your just listening for that last tumbler to fall into place. Your not quite their yet. You know it’s there but it just hasn’t fallen into place yet.

That is kind of what I felt for a very very long time is I had all the pieces of the puzzle they just weren’t fitting together. And when I ran across this quote I realized that I had been looking at the puzzle pieces threw the wrong lens.

David Debin: Well, OK, let’s take this apart here. You’re talking about who you really are. Does that mean are you an educator, are you a mother, are you a people pleaser, are you an office manager? What does it mean when you say ‘who you really are’? What is that? Does it mean what your do, what you think, what you believe in, what church you go to? What is that about?

Karen: Yeah. You know, I have a women’s retreat and the very first thing I have them do when they are introducing themselves to all of the other people attending is I say, “I want you to tell us who you are without mentioning any roles that you play in life.” And it’s always really interesting watching women squirm when I ask them to do that because we’re so used to describing ourselves in the roles that we play, the mother, the activist, the writer, the, you know, whatever it is.

We talk about our age and how many kids we’ve got, whether we are married, where we live. We talk about all of our life circumstances, but none of that really describes who we are.

David Debin: Well, if you did a retreat for men the men would tell you what their job was and what they made a living at.

Karen: Absolutely.

David Debin: So is that wrong? I mean I’m a writer. That is what I have been most of my working life, a writer. So if somebody says who are you really? What are you really? I am a writer.

Karen: Yeah.  Well I think the difference really comes when we start recognizing that we’re not what we do and that there is something beyond just the doing part of us. And that is the part that’s got me the most fascinated in the las couple of years, recognizing that we kind of people with dual citizenships on this planet. We certainly are a member of the human race. We’ve got physical bodies and we interact with the world through our senses. And everything about that seems to indicate that, you know, that’s who we are, is physical human beings.

But we begin to recognize after realizing that that’s not the complete story. We begin to kind of migrate back to what is deeper than that. What is that part of me that isn’t circumstantial, that doesn’t come and go with the life time that lives beyond this moment?

So I truly believe that the success that we find in life or the satisfaction and joy that we find in life is our capacity to live in both of those worlds and bring them together so that we have that spiritual wisdom that plays out in our physical life.

David Debin: But why would we want to know what we are beyond this lifetime?

Karen: Well, I think it gives us an opportunity to not be defined by the world, not be defined into a little box of what we do in the moment. Because we’re constantly in a state of evolution and, you know, the part of us that isn’t linked to the circumstances that we’re involved with is that part of us that gives us a sense of wisdom and gives us an opportunity to use more than just our brains to make decision, to look at the world through a lens that gives us greater clarity around what exactly is going on here.

David Debin: Well, now wait a second. I have to make you work a little bit here, Karen. OK?

Karen: Oh, go ahead.

David Debin: We don’t want to be defined by any particular thing. But am I perceiving that as we go along in this discussion you’re going to tell us that basically we’re all the same?

Karen: That’s really a good question, David.

David Debin: Thank you, Karen. I have thought about it many times.

Karen: Yeah. That is a very good question. And I would have to say, it depends.

David Debin: It depends on what?

Karen: How is that for an answer?

David Debin: Oh, well we might be selling those to our audience at some time, but that’s not a good answer.

Karen: Yeah. Yeah.  No, we are not all the same. But I do believe that we come from the same stuff. I think that the joy that we have in this life is in our choice around how we wish to be and demonstrate ourselves here through the doing, and what we affiliate ourselves with, and what we involve ourselves with. That is the part or the personality, if you will, that gives us our distinction one from another.

But I think at the core of ourselves, that spiritual core that we are, I do believe that we all are the same.

David Debin: Well now if we… I am asking you these question because I am still looking for Rinpoche.  If what you are saying is that….

Oh, I am getting a sign that we need to take a break. I am going to have to hold this question. I am sure that everybody is on the edge of their seat.

We will be right back with Karen Wright and David Debin on “The Third Age”. Don’t go away.

[sponsor break]

David Debin: Welcome back to “The Third Age”. David Debin here with our guest Karen Wright, who is the author of the book called “The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth About who You Really Are”.

Welcome back Karen. Tell us how we can get the book, to begin with.

Karen: Thank you David.

The book you can get out on my website at You can also get it online at Amazon. It’s in the Barnes and Noble book stores and soon to be in a lot of other places. We just completed out second printing and are getting into distributions throughout the country.

David Debin: Congratulations. So there are people who are wondering who they really are.

Karen: Yeah, lots.

David Debin: Let me go back to the question I was going to ask you previously when we were talking about how you figure out who you are and how we’re either all the same thing or maybe not all the same thing. But, I think you said that the difference is how we- and I am interpreting here- how we manifest what we truly are. Am I sort of paraphrasing, what you said last, correctly?

Karen: Yeah. Yeah.  It’s a matter of how we express that.

David Debin: Now, does that go back to what we do?

Karen: In many ways it does, yes.

David Debin: So basically we might be what we do if we are doing what we are.

Karen: I think that, if we look at simply just what we do as the definition of who we are, we are limiting ourselves. I think what we do is an aspect of who we are, certainly. But if we look at what we have done over the course of our life time, that has changes dramatically.

David Debin: Yes. OK. So now I go to the question… The key I guess here, what you’re saying in your book is, the word ‘remembering’. Is that right?

Karen: Yes.

David Debin: What does that mean, ‘remembering’ who you really are?

Karen: I think over the course of our life time we have absorbed and adopted a lot of definitions of who we are. We have taken on mantels; we have taken on roles that seem to define us to the rest of the world. And it’s difficult sometimes to remember beyond
those exterior definitions. But I think that at the core of what each one of us is is that remembrance is that connection back to what the truth really is for us.

You know, I used to be an educator in my first career out of college. And it you look at the word ‘educated’ it comes from the Latin word which really means to bring forth. And if we look at education from that perspective,  part of what we are here to do is to shed what we’ve adopted that is not true about us and to bring forth that truth that we’ve always known.

David Debin: This is sounding curiously like religion.

Karen: Is it? Slap my hand.

David: I don’t mean religion. I mean it’s not sounding like religion so much as it’s sounding like a spiritual discussion.

Karen: It is a spiritual discussion. And I think it’s the root of the whole thing. That’s where we end up.

David Debin: Well…How do you mean by that? What do you mean by that?

Karen: Well, I do believe that, like I said earlier on, I think that we are spiritual beings in a physical plane. I think that we’re here doing in life, but that is not who we are. I think that behind the doing that we are is that spiritual entity that doesn’t ever die, doesn’t
 ever change, is the truth of who we are.

David Debin: So how does that help people knowing that they are a spiritual entity as opposed to being an educator or a writer or an oil well driller?

Karen: You know, how it helped me is about the only thing that I can speak to you about, from personal experience. And how it helped me really was to not get so wrapped up in the definition of me as a human being doing here, to not feel so limited, to not feel so judged, to not feel so small in that role. It’s helped me to back off from, you know, some of my experiences in life that wanted to put into a box or wanted to make me something other than what it felt like was right for me. It helps me back away from that a little bit and recognize that I am so much bigger and so much deeper and broader than the things I do that I don’t have to feel as though that is all I am.

David Debin: Huh. OK. I mean, I will buy that. But how does that help you to know what to do, if there are so many things to do? I mean, if you’re….?

Karen: Oh! OK, I get your question.

David Debin: OK.

Karen: It doesn’t help me decide what to do. How’s that.

David Debin: That is good, but I think we are leaving people at the edge of a cliff here.

Karen: Yeah. No, who you are …it makes no difference what you do. I mean, this is really kind of the joyful part of this. There is no way you can live your life wrong. And that has been so long in coming to me that it was like all of a sudden I weighed so much less when I realized that I can’t do it wrong. I can make choices and those choices will give me experiences. Now they may be experiences that in the moment feel good or don’t feel good and I may choose to choose differently the next time around.

But the way in which I live my life is all about the choices I make. It has nothing to do with who I really am. I have the capacity to choice whatever I want to be the demonstration of who I am. Does that make any sense?

David Debin: Yes. Yes, it makes a lot of sense. You have the capacity to choose what you want to do that manifests who you really are and if you believe that you are a spirit that is part of everything then what you’ll do is probably going to be best for everything. Is that right?

Karen: Yes, and what you do….?

David Debin: How do you make money at that?

Karen: How do you make money at it? Oh, there is that question. [Laughter]
Yeah, but how do I make money at it?

David Debin: Yeah. Right.  Besides writing your hit book. How are we going to….?

Karen: Yeah. When you look at the variety of how people demonstrate themselves in this world, I just sometimes have to laugh because there are people who make money walking dogs and there are people who make money talking, given this point in case. There are people who make money traveling. I mean, there are so many different ways that we can make money that that shouldn’t be our first choice around what we do.

And I think there’s…you know, based on the way we are raised, the experiences that we’ve had, and all of our interaction with life, we’ve got certain likes and dislikes and certain passions about things that bring us joy when we are doing them and if we follow what those things are I think we have a much greater chance of making the money that we really want to make. But most of us believe that we need to make a choice based on the money first and then learn to like it.

David Debin: Why do you suppose that is, Karen?

Karen: Because that’s what life says. I mean, that is the American dream.

David Debin: Which is?

Karen: Which is choose, you know. What is college about? What is education about? Education isn’t about follow your bliss. Education is about seek the money. And so we go into jobs that are high paying jobs, high profile jobs, jobs that have great potential to them or that have a big market. We go into that believing that we are going to incur a lot of overhead in life. We have got to be able to pay for things. So we go after the money.

If you talk to a lot of the baby boomers right now, the people that are part of your audience, they went that route. I was one of them that went that route.  Ask them how happy they are with their life right now. Most of them will say, well sort of but I still fell this hole. And that hole is that part of them that has never yet paid attention to what it is that gives them that thrill.

David Debin: Wow! OK. So now when we come back we are going to lead people. You are going to tell us how we can find what you call ‘lasting happiness’, right?

Karen: Yeah.

David Debin: OK. Stick with us. Don’t go away because if you want lasting happiness you better here the next part of this interview.

This is David Debin on “The Third Age”. We will be right back.

[sponsor break]

David Debin: This is David Debin on “The Third Age”. I am talking to Karen Wright. Author of the book “The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth About Who You Really Are”. Why do you use the sequoia seed? What’s that?

Karen: It’s a metaphor, David.

David Debin: Yeah.

Karen: Obviously, yeah.

David Debin: Yes. But why a sequoia? It could be any kind of seed. Why did you pick that?

Karen: Well, the sequoia trees are very unique. I lived in southern California for a number of years and used to camp and hike in the Sequoia National Park. A Ranger told me about these remarkable trees. Not only are they the largest structures on the face of the earth, but they are also impervious to fire. They have a natural fire retardant in their bark and in their cones.

These cones are very small cones that might lie on the forest floor for 40,50, 60 years before they actually release the seeds to sprout. And what causes them to release the seeds, because the cone is a very tight cone, it is not like a pinecone that is kind of open and flaky, the heat of a forest fire causes these cones to relax and the seeds get released into the soil and new birth can take place.
And I realized that for us humans in our journey of figuring out who we are here, that if those fires in our lives, those crisis, tragedies, and things that happen that make us release our strangle hold on our belief system and on the way we see things so that a new perception can show up and give us greater opportunity to make better choices to see ourselves in a different way.

David Debin: Oh, that’s a great metaphor.

Karen: Thank you.

David Debin: So we need to go through the fire of discovery, the fire of rebirth, in a sense, to discover.

Karen: We seem to. I believe that there is a way to get to happiness without tragedy, David. We seem to take that path more often.

David Debin: Well, why not? I mean, it should be that way really because we never learn without making mistakes and we never learn without taking risks, right?

Karen: Yeah. Yeah.

David Debin: I mean, risk is such an important thing. You talk about that in your book, don’t you?

Karen: Yes, I do very much.

David Debin: Tell us about that.

Karen: Yeah.

David Debin: How do you get to lasting happiness by taking a risk?

Karen: Well, I think that the lasing happiness that I have found and others that I have talked with have found, is in the recognition that happiness isn’t about our circumstances. And we can be in circumstances that are less than perfect. We can be in that fire, if you will and we can still find joy within ourselves and happiness within ourselves, regardless of whether we are in pain or whether we are in a circumstance we want to get out of because that happiness is a choice. It is not about the circumstances we are in. It is about a decision we make that I will be happy regardless of the circumstances that I am in.

So the risks that we take out there are giving us an opportunity to sort of test that strength that we all have inside…

David Debin: Oh!

Karen: …that strength that we all have a sense of.

David Debin: Good.

Karen: And when we can test it and we can live through it, we prove to ourselves that I am bigger than this, I am stronger than this. I lived through it. I faced it and I came out on the other end. We get a greater sense of who we really are.

David Debin: You know I like that. I actually took a short cut. Instead of saying I will be happy, which is sometimes really difficult to transcend, I said to myself, “I will not be unhappy.” And it sure feels a lot easier. That way when something comes along that could make you feel unhappy, you say, I will not be unhappy, and you go past it.

Karen: Yeah.

David Debin: Karen, I really appreciate your being with us today. It has been a great discussion. I want to thank you for taking the time.

Karen: Oh, you are very welcome.

David Debin:  Tell us about your book one more time so everybody can hear it.

Karen: Sure. “The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth of Who You Are”  is a very short little book actually, written in individual chapters. So you can just pick it up and thumb through whatever draws your attention at the moment. But it’s all about the common experiences we have as human being with all of the fires we face and the recognition of truth in that fire and who we are.

David Debin: Great. Thanks a lot for being on the show.

Karen: My pleasure.

David Debin: Bye.

We now have, as you know, we always take this time to go to the environmental defense center and hear the latest of what’s going on. We have David with us. Welcome to the show again David.

David: Thank you, David.

David Debin: What’s new? What’s going on? What can we do to protect this planet and make ourselves a little uncomfortable, but feel better about it?

David:  Well, there is a whole long list of things that are going on and that we can do. I am going to talk to you about just a couple of them today.

David Debin: Good.

David: We just actually had our great big annual event over the weekend. Jack Johnson, the world’s number one singer, actually, entertained our audience. It was really great. It was a lot of fun. And he got an award for the work he does on the environment. You know, here is a guy who is incredibly successful, but looks for ways on his tour, in the way he talks to people as he deals with kids, to try to do something good for the environment.

Now that is really part of it, that each of us can find ways in our life, that are not impossible, to make a positive difference.

What I want to talk about a little bit today is one of our cases which is up on Gaviota
Coast, people have heard a lot about it over many year, called Naples. There is this little parcel of land on the beautiful Gaviota Coast that everybody admires as they drive up the coast  about two miles after you get past all of the suburbs of Santa Barbara, beyond what we call the urban limit line.

About two miles into Gaviota , long long ago back in 1888 a man thought that this was going to be a wonderful place to put up something like the Italian Riviera, like Naples in Italy, on the California coast. He thought that the railroad was going to go through there. and he recorded a map with 400 little square parcels on it. It turned out the railroad didn’t ever come through there or didn’t for many many more years and everyone forgot about the whole thing for about 100 years.

Until a developer who owned that property, had bought that property, which had been zoned agricultural to save it and save it’s beauty, discovered this and sued the Cabby of Santa Barbara and said, “I have the right to put 400 homes out here on this beautiful parcel of land.” And there was a big battle that went on for many many years. And ultimately the California Supreme Court ruled that he was right, that he did have the right to develop something on these parcels that the county couldn’t wipe them out.

So now there is a proposal, which is being counted as a compromise, where the current owner of the property wants to put 144, or roughly, units out there, 72 mansions and 72 guest houses or employee house that would be connected with that. Some of these houses are more than 10,000 square feet.

David Debin: Oof.

David: Oof. Yeah, exactly. So as you sort of imagine yourself driving up the coast on your right you would see houses up on the bluff tops, on your left you would see houses. Iinstead of looking out at the ocean view, it would be kind of like driving through Monte Cito, perhaps. You know, it might be very pretty. I am sure they would be gorgeous houses, but they would not be the beauty that we see there.

And you’ve got a lot of habitat for all different kinds of animals out there. And beyond what we see, the ocean, right below that cliff is probably one otf the most diverse bits of ocean really in the entire world. It’s called one of the 15 ecological hotspots because of all of the diverse life that lives in the ocean in that area. It is just a small reef, the Naples Reef.

And if there is all that development there will be fertilizers and there will be sewage. There will be all kinds of stuff that will flow into that water. It will change the very nature of what the Gaviota Coast is about.

And another real concern is once we have development two miles in there is really going to be nothing to stop development that goes back towards the city. So we are looking at losing a whole lot of the Gaviota Coast.

So one of the things the court said was not that you could have 400 units, but…

David Debin: David, I just want to tell you that we have one minute and if you could include in the final minute if there is anything that we can do.

David: OK. Well, hearings are going to start this month at the planning commission. There are hearings going on in the planning commission and in the board of supervisors on something called a transfer of development rights concept, which is a concept by which some of the rights that the owner has to develop could be moved to other places where it’s more appropriate, in cites, in urban areas where we could increase density, and sort of trade his right to sort of build in this pristine area for an area that’s more appropriate. So we are pushing that.

Finally, ultimately, it is going to come down to trying to find a way to buy some of this land through the Trust For Public Lands or some other kind of trust entity so that we can assure that this land isn’t going to be developed or if it’s developed at all that development takes place where it is going to have the least impact on both the environment and the visual qualities that we enjoy there.

David Debin: This is really important and I would love to continue this discussion, ie could pick it up on our next show.  I really think it’s important enough first to spend some more time on.

David: Well, actually your next show you get CEC (Community Environmental Council), but two weeks from now I will have the attorney…

David Debin: Great!

David: … who took this case Nathan Alley…

David Debin: Fabulous!

David: …give you a call and he can talk some more about it.

David Debin: Oh David, thank you so much.

David: Thank you.

David Debin: We really need to do something.

David: OK.

David Debin: See you later.

David. Take care. Bye bye.

David Debin: This is “The Third Age”. We will be right back.

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David Debin: Welcome back to “The Third Age”. David Debin here with Emily Figurato and Lisa Headley. Peter Brill is on vacation, chasing bears I guess. He is in Yellow Stone.

Emily anything that you need to say, want to say, at the end of this?  We have a minute left.

Emily: Well, just one of the things I think is so difficult for people later on in life to figure out is the same thing that people who are around my age, which is in college, to figure out is, you know, when you are going through school a lot of times you realize, OK, I do need to pay for these things, I do need the money. So it is difficult to set back and be: Is this what I want to be doing? Is it really my choice to be doing what I want to be doing then doing what is providing my needs?

So it is good to hear somebody say that and then reinforce the fact that eventually when you come down  the line maybe you will have less now at the time, you know, less goods or materials, but in the future it will pay off because you will be happy with  what you are doing. So It is nice to hear that, you know, make sure are you actually fitting the needs of what you want to do and what makes you happy.

David Debin: That is good advice for everybody at every age because we are all always wondering: Are we doing the best we can do? The most we can do? The right thing we can do? And the answer is yes. Yes you are, if you know who you are.

So remembering that, I am going to say thank you for being with us and we will be with you again. It’s David Debin on “The Third Age”.

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