The answer to my prayers: a new county diorama in Sacramento

jtarica@thetribunenews.comJune 8, 2013 

San Luis Obispo County’s diorama gives visitors to the Capitol an outdated look of the region.


It’s always fun to write a column calling for action and then have the action occur immediately.

It’s even more fun if you can claim all the credit for the action, but that’s not quite the case here.

After last Sunday’s take on the sad state of our county’s display at the state Capitol, several people emailed to let me know that last year’s Leadership SLO class had taken up this very cause as its Legacy Project.

So Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is off the hook, as you might already know if you read his letter to the editor chiding me for dropping this duty at his doorstep.

Affiliated with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, Leadership SLO is a nonprofit program that each year selects a 36-member class of local residents who are trained to become passionate and informed leaders.

The program, which meets monthly for daylong workshops on a range of disciplines, has graduated more than 700 local residents, according to Executive Director Sandi Sigurdson.

At the end of each class’s nine-month session, the 36 members choose a Legacy Project, which they work on following the completion of the program.

“We ask that it be of direct community benefit, that everyone is involved and that it’s an active project, not a fundraiser,” Sigurdson said.

Past classes have tackled things such as building trails, bridges, gardens and playgrounds.

The 2011 class is in the process of building a human sundial on the hill above the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.

And now the 2012 class has seized the problem of our diorama in Sacramento.

Class member Amanda Collins, who owns Big Red Marketing in Arroyo Grande and specializes in promoting wine and tourism, said the group kicked around several possibilities before settling on the display.

“The idea is it’s going to be a project that benefits the community for years to come,” Collins said. “What is an impact we can make today that will last into the future?”

I asked Collins what she thought of the current display, but she very politely and diplomatically demurred.

“The current one doesn’t necessarily match the community well today,” she said, which is a nice way of saying it’s crummy and out of date, but I won’t put words in her mouth.

At this point, the class members have created a draft request for proposal, and they’re working with Visit San Luis Obispo County (formerly the Visitors and Conference Bureau) on their ideas, as well as funding sources for the project, which is expected to cost $12,000 to $15,000.

The class hopes to finalize the plan and release it to artist bids by early next month.

For the new display, the group will ask prospective designers to focus on four key subjects: Hearst Castle, the coast and beaches, wine country, and farm-to-table cuisine.

Which is pretty much what I said last week. See how in sync I am? And I didn’t even take the class.

The displays at the Capitol feature a range of styles and media, and Collins says the group will wait to see what the proposals suggest before speculating on how it might look.

“There’s a whole wide range of options. We’re going to get to see some artists truly express their creativity,” she said. “The goal is to have a new window by the end of the year at the latest, and hopefully even sooner than that.”

So bravo to the 21st class of Leadership SLO — and the classes that came before it — for finding a solution to a problem and making a difference in our community.

For more information on the project or if you’d like to help the group reach its funding goal, email Collins at

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @joetarica. Stay updated by adding Joe Tarica on Google+.

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