SLO County's diorama in Sacramento needs a facelift

jtarica@thetribunenews.comJune 1, 2013 

San Luis Obispo County’s diorama gives visitors to the Capitol an outdated look of the region.

JESSICA FEARNOW

Last weekend, the 4-H responsibilities of Little Miss Seventh-Grader and Mr. Big Fourth-Grader prevented me spending the holiday break how I might have preferred, namely sitting around for three days doing absolutely nothing.

Instead, they both had presentations to give at the annual State Field Day held at UC Davis, so off we went to hear them do the same talk they’d done formally three times previously and umpteen times in practice.

Yes, it’s a great experience, and I have to give them credit for voluntarily asking to stand up and talk in front of a group of strangers, but when they were done with their elocutionary duties, we were more than happy to move along to other activities.

With a couple hours to kill in the afternoon, we wandered over to the state Capitol, which is always an educational experience.

If you’ve never visited, one of the cool features there is the county displays that line the white stone walls of the main floor. All 58 are represented, and each presents its best features using a variety of photos and props.

For visitors, any trip to the Capitol must include a search for your home county’s display to see how well it represents among its peers.

Fresh from this endeavor, I am here to report back that it’s time for San Luis Obispo County to update its diorama.

Let me say first that the display isn’t a bad effort and is better than the lazier results of some counties.

It features a mission-style white arch framing a bucolic rural scene complete with a soaring kite, golden hills, ribbon of ocean, beach town façade, a beige shape that reasonably resembles sand dunes and a swath of agriculture that looks rather more like an orchard than a vineyard.

I’m going to assume they’re vines.

This part of the diorama is OK. You get a feel for what the county looks like.

What bugs me is the rest of the display, which is littered with a variety of unrelated decorative knickknacks including a worthless cobalt-colored mug, faux grapes and grasses, ugly pamphlets, old patches, at least one extremely out-of-date map, and for your edification, our very own mission statement mounted on a plaque, which reads, “The county’s elected representatives and employees are committed to serve the community with pride to enhance the economic, environmental and social quality of life in San Luis Obispo County.”

In case you were wondering.

The pamphlets, which are fanned out in a prominent position, are apparently intended to tout the wonders of Lopez and Santa Margarita lakes, but if you asked me to name a couple of our best recreation spots, those aren’t them. They also appear to date from sometime in the 1980s.

The grapes look straight out of your grandma’s artificial fruit bowl. Not super appetizing when a glass of Central Coast cabernet is on your mind.

But the most glaringly flawed element has to be the map of North County wineries, which extends all the way to Harmony in order to merely break the 30 mark.

I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve had only 30 wineries up Paso’s way.

A count of the North County locations listed in the latest issue of The Tribune’s Vintages publication finds no less than 150.

So that’s what’s in the current display. Some good, some bad, some definitely behind the times.

Now, what’s not in it?

Any mention of our state parks, Hearst Castle, SLO’s pretty downtown, the Morros, the estuary, elephant seals, Cal Poly, Highway 1 … should I continue?

Seriously, no props for Hearst Castle? Hundreds of thousands of people visit that little house on the hill every year, and it’s not worthy of a special shoutout?

To be honest, this looks like the creation of county government employees overly preoccupied with county assets.

With that said, it’s time for a redo.

Let’s get rid of the plaque, the mug, the leaflets and all the other assorted junk.

Then, let’s think tourism for this space and reprioritize our top assets, emphasizing the coastline, our best parks, the wine country and our towns.

Again, think TOURISM. This is a chance to catch the eye of visitors from all over the state and beyond. They could care less about our county seal.

Since Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is probably the local guy who sees this representation of our county most often, he should stroll over for a closer look than he probably often takes.

Then he should promptly return to his office and marshal all of his resources, send aides scurrying, form ad-hoc committees, you name it.

We need to get this upgrade done.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at jtarica@thetribunenews.com or on Twitter @joetarica. Stay updated by adding Joe Tarica on Google+.

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