Joetopia: Leadership group has the most interesting time

Volunteers are building at human sundial at the SLO Botanical Garden

jtarica@thetribunenews.comJune 22, 2013 

While checking into the efforts to remake our county’s display at the state Capitol, I stumbled upon another unique Leadership SLO project, which is the construction of a human sundial at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.

It is the Legacy Project of the 2011 group, Class XX — or as they call themselves, Dos Equis, “The Most Interesting Class in the World.”

Based on the nifty work they’re doing up on a hill at El Chorro Regional Park, I’d have to agree wholeheartedly.

This class, member Kathryn Eisendrath Rogers says, features a diverse mix of people with wide-ranging interests in art, science, education, tourism, business, agriculture and outdoor fun.

After much discussion, they combined a bunch of those disciplines and came up with the idea to create a human sundial.

“What is a human sundial?” Eisendrath Rogers asked. “Imagine using your body to cast a shadow by which to tell time.”

Dubbed “Time to Lead,” the sundial is an oval mosaic 20 feet across and 12 feet from top to bottom.

The top arc is constructed of ceramic tiles whose colors represent the spectrum from dawn to dusk.

Integrated into the spectrum are the numbers of the sundial and images of indigenous animals, offering a subtle hint toward conservation.

The bottom arc is made of flagstone, and the interior features the scene of a tree, mountains and sky made of decomposed granite and aggregate.

Positioned within that image are plaques denoting each month of the year.

When the sundial is complete, visitors will walk into the middle and stand on the appropriate month.

The sun will then cast their shadow onto the corresponding time.

Located atop a hill with dramatic views of the surrounding peaks, the interactive sundial will sit at the intersection of a new handicap-accessible trail and several new hiking trails, Eisendrath Rogers said.

From the looks of the sundial in its unfinished state, this will be a jewel of an addition to the botanical garden and county park. Class XX plans to complete the project in July and hold a celebration in August.

Members raised more than $9,000 to design and create the sundial, but an additional $1,000 is needed to complete it. If you’d like to donate, email the SLO Botanical Garden at

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at or on Twitter @joetarica.

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