Home podcast What’s Next Episode 5 : Cynthia Rose

What’s Next Episode 5 : Cynthia Rose

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What’s Next Episode 5 : Cynthia Rose

Welcome to What’s Next, Episode 5 featuring SM Spoke’s Cynthia Rose. Cynthia has been involved in mobility, street safety and environmental politics in Santa Monica for decades and we’re happy to have her join us as part of our coverage of Bike Month!

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up on past episodes of Santa Monica Next: Episode 1 with Jesse Zwick, Episode 2 with Kate Cagle, Episode 3 with Rick Cole and earlier this week we dropped Episode 4 with Abby Arnold.

A full transcript of today’s podcast can be found right here:

Damien: Welcome to Episode 5 of the What’s Next podcast for Santa Monica Next. May is Bike Month and we are celebrating by having Cynthia Rose, the longtime head of Santa Monica Spoke and probably the most recognizable advocate for safe streets and bicycling in Santa Monica as our guest today. I’m not going to waste too much time with the intro. Cynthia and I had an over half hour conversation. So let’s get right into it. Here is What’s Next Episode Five with Damien Newton and Cynthia Rose. 

Damien: So as we said in the intro, it is Bike Month and we have Santa Monica’s longtime head of Santa Monica Spoke, Cynthia Rose with us today. Welcome to What’s Next and happy Bike Month.

Cynthia: Happy Bike Month to you old friend. Good to be here.

Damien: I’m gonna be honest. When we were doing the “five fun questions.” I had a question of, “Could you describe the first time we met?” But I realized that I couldn’t remember when that was. I actually went through old Facebook posts. And I was like, “did we meet at the vegan fundraiser for bike month and 2011?” Or  was it before that?

Cynthia: I can’t think of when we…I just I can’t think of when we met either. Yeah, it’s been forever. Remember some of our first events together like for “Airport 2 Park” when your kids were just like babies in car seats? There is a picture of…car seats in bucket bikes. I should rephrase that. Yes. 

Damien: And there’s a picture of you at our first Santa Monica Next fundraiser, pre Jason Islas when Gary Kavanaugh was our editor.  So yeah, we go back.

Cynthia: Wow. Yeah, yeah, old times old friends. Old times. Good friends. Oh, good times.

Damien: The friendliest intro I’ve done and I had Abby on last week.

Cynthia: Abby’s my She-ro

Damien: Yes, Abby’s an example, I point to a lot about advocacy. And we talked last week. I don’t know if you had a chance to listen to it because we just aired it on Monday, and we’re recording on Wednesday. But we had a whole section talking about developing leaders and the next generation of leaders. I’ve tried to follow the example that she did but I did not do the best job with that even when I was trying to be intentional earlier in my career. I was trying to get Carter Rubin to take over all this like five years ago and instead he’s far more successful than me so I definitely messed up.

Cynthia: Well, I’ll say that for us at Santa Monica Spoke and the Santa Monica Safe Street Alliance we’re really focused on nurturing and empowering our youth leadership for the Santa Monica Safe Street Alliance. To be a mentor and bring them on and empower them to be the leaders within the Safe Street Alliance. So we’re going to be looking to them to help us guide that entire project moving forward

Damien: Santa Monica has a long history of youth leadership on the issues of bicycle and pedestrian safety. I remember Bike It! and Walk It! Before we added “bus it” was a huge undertaking taken on by Santa Monica High School students and became sort of a national model for how to do bike to school. I still see it referenced on webpages  in other parts of the state for Streetsblog California, or when I’m putting together materials for my own schools’, walk-bike to school day.

Cynthia: That was Rachel and what was …

Damien: I know they’re probably in their 40s by now. Right? 

Cynthia: No, they’re still young. But you know, and they were also honored by President Barack Obama….

Damien: I remember that. That was an early Santa Monica Next story. I think maybe even pre-G that might have been when we were still in pre- launch.

Cynthia: My partner, my co host, co host, ha.  My co-chair at the Santa Monica Safe Streets Alliance is Chris Gutierrez who led the Climate Action Youth Collective, and now we’re focused together again, mentoring and empowering the youth with all the many facets of advocacy and government. And where they connect and intersect with climate and housing and mobility and all of those things, trying to put it all under one big intersectional bucket of topics.

Damien: Now, usually when we start the podcast, there is a format: one topic I want to talk about, a topic the guest wants to talk about, then our five fun questions. I usually go “yay, fun.” But now this ties way better into your topic than mine. So why don’t we do your topic first? We were talking about getting people involved in doing outreach, and how it’s often harder to get people involved that are happy or content with something than it is people that are upset with it. Because people that are happy and content are focused on enjoying something, and maybe aren’t going to public meetings. So let’s transition into that because kids are usually not a group that you can get involved in things outside of advocacy in their school, or advocacy on national issues, like climate change, or gun control. So how do we get happy people more involved in things?

Cynthia: You know, that’s been the egg that we’ve been trying to crack for a decade here in Santa Monica. We have done, I think, proudly, we have done so much good work, that many folks are happy and think that it’s all going well, and that they don’t need to pay as much attention and be engaged. And I think the flip side of that, as a lot of us know in advocacy work, is that every step we take forward is a hard fought step. And it may look easy from the outside. But it’s a lot of work and a lot of interconnected dots, a lot of advocacy, a lot of education, a lot of just so many interconnected issues. And then on launch day, it all seems pretty and beautiful. Cynthia: And people go off and, and go and have their happy day. And the only people that stay engaged on either a project or the direction that things are going are the people that are angry, and the people that are mad that they feel something is being done wrong, or the roads are being taken away from them, or whatever it is. They remain engaged and vocal. And the people who are just so pleased that the way things are going just go on about their happy way and enjoy the infrastructure. And that literally has been our hardest thing to just continually navigate is keeping people engaged and trying to let them know that their voice is still really really important in moving us continually in this direction of of more equitable, sustainable mobility, safer streets, above all for everyone and how those things interconnect with the climate, and housing, and, and environmental justice, all of those things are just so intersectional and interconnected. And that’s what we’re really aiming to do with the youth core because the kids get this. Sometimes the part that they don’t get is how mobility is connected to it. But the groups that we’re seeing now really do get that they realized that if they can’t move about how do they get to their job? How do they get to play? How do they get to here or there without using methods of mobility that they probably want to move away from, which is fossil fuels and things like that.

Damien: Now, I think it’s interesting. So speaking of Barack Obama, he used to have this “Don’t boo, vote,” he would say. He would be giving a speech and mentioning Mitt Romney, and then everyone would boo, then he would go, “Don’t boo, vote.: I think a lot of people, maybe especially in  our generations, do the “Don’t boo, vote.” They vote, and they vote for the good people. And if the good people win they sort of think that’s enough. In Santa Monica, with the exception of the 2020 election, where the world was in chaos, there was a huge reaction to the protests and the police crackdowns in Santa Monica, and the election was swayed because of that. Generally, the loud angry people don’t win elections in Santa Monica. And I think a lot of people think well, that’s enough. We have a good city council, we can go. And yeah, yeah, but that it’s been sort of a different mix. It’s been more of a split City Council the past couple years. And that’s, I think that it’s hard for some people to sort of gear up for the type of advocacy you’re talking about because they think things are going okay.

Cynthia: Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely a challenge. We need to figure out how to keep people engaged with not just the vote, but following along with the people that not only they vote for it but the people that get into office, how they actually vote, how they, what voices are they looking to guide them. Are they being open and equitable to all of the community, or are they focusing in one area or another. And I think that that is, particularly for a group like Santa Monica Spoke, we’re a 501 C three we do not get into and we will never get into politics. We can’t, it’s against the law. 

We can’t advocate for or endorse any candidate and never have. But what we can do is open ourselves to relationships with any council member that wants to be authentic in their conversations about the issues that are important to us and our community. And we can  elevate those. Those conversations…we would elevate and we would share that with our community. And we cannot, we never show preference, we won’t. But we also don’t embroil ourselves with people who are opposed to what we’re doing, which is making the streets safer for everyone. And that includes people walking, biking and driving their cars.

Damien: So we sort of had a conversation on their SGV Connect podcast at Streetsblog la about different types of outreach and what they could do with a group that was working on the 20 Hills landfill Park project. Now, it’s pretty easy to get a lot of positive feedback when you’re literally talking about turning a landfill into a park. Actually, probably even easier than turning an airport into a park. But they said that they wanted to do things differently, though, for their outreach. And so not only did they do a lot of rides, and a lot of activities,  they would sometimes do things they didn’t announce and just go out to the trails and meet people that were on the trails in the park surrounding Puente Hills go to the landfill and talk to people that were there, unannounced. So it wasn’t like a public meeting or anything. It was literally like spot checks. Santa Monica Spoke has always been really good about having different rides and activities as a place to meet people. But I was just wondering what you would think as far as the city goes in doing outreach now, what should Santa Monica be doing to make sure that the loud angry voices assuming they’re not the majority don’t dominate the conversation?

Cynthia: I think with the pandemic’s cities have started to pay more attention to making sure that the voices that are heard are not just the voices that show up to council meetings. That’s one of the silver linings that we are able to take with us away from the isolation of lockdown. We can look to having more outreach that is beyond the typical suspects and the people that have time. I think it’s for us, it’s always been, we need to figure out how to meet people where they are. And it’s a challenge. And for cities, it’s going to be a challenge for us. You know, we know that when I am around like a school, say for instance, anytime between drop off, pickup and drop off, I am amazed at the at the increase in the people who arrive by bike, cargo bikes…it used to be when I rode around Santa Monica, I would see a cargo bike and I knew every single one. It’s like, “Oh, I’ve seen that guy before. I’ve seen her before. I’ve seen them before.” These days, every time I go out, there’s a new cargo bike, not only the person, but the type of cargo bike. So going to schools and really engaging with those people is something that we’ve always wanted to be able to do. And that’s one avenue that we tried to do with the Safe Routes to School. But again, these things are heavy lift, nothing is easy. So I don’t mean to make excuses. But we need to keep we can never stop trying harder. But I think the baseline is we need to meet people where they are, we need to give people options to engage. And above all, we need to stop listening to only the group of people that show up because they have the same group of people, and also the loud and angry voices. If that’s 10, if that’s you know, 25 we’re a city of 90,000 people; that’s clearly not the majority. They’re just the loudest. So we need to really find those voices, and those people that are not necessarily actively engaged. That leads into something that we’ve talked about before in our struggle To connect with our community at which, you know, we run into people on the street, and they’re like, Oh, your Santa Monica spot. I love you guys, you guys are doing a great job. It’s like, “Keep doing your good work.” No, “how can I help?” Sometimes we’re getting that. But in Santa Monica, as I said before people who live here or move here it’s because of the type of infrastructure because of the way the city is being built. And even though they may ride their bike for many or all of their daily activities, they don’t necessarily self identify as a cyclist. And therefore, they just let us do the work. And they just kind of feed a little bit of information in here and there. But we’ve continued to struggle on how we can connect with them more directly, so that they can understand how important their voice is, in keeping us going in the direction that we’ve been headed. That was a long answer.

Damien: That’s a great answer, though, man, don’t sell yourself short. Besides, I feel like we’ve already pretty much covered what was supposed to be my topic. But let’s do it anyway, officially, which is Santa Monica is being held up right now as the city in California for good bike infrastructure. It’s the place you know, maybe some of the folks in NorCal are gonna argue about Davis or the, you know, the Central Coast people talking about San Luis Obispo, but I’ve been hearing Santa Monica a lot more. And there’s that great video that we’re probably going to post tomorrow that’s been making the rounds. About how things are going in Santa Monica. Does Santa Monica deserve this level of praise? And whether they do or don’t? What should they be focused on right now as I’m talking about a city, like from a staff level? What should the city be doing to keep going forward?

Cynthia: So firstly, to address do we deserve the accolades of being like the next Amsterdam or however it is that they’re putting it. I am also the Chair at Cal bike, as you know. And we have infrastructure. That’s brilliant, all over this state. And we have cities like Davis, we have cities like Long Beach, we have what was the other example you used? 

Damien: San Luis…

Cynthia: San Luis Obispo, beautiful, beautiful bike infrastructure. Santa Monica is very unique. We are a very dense beach town .We’re on a grid. We have busy streets and neighborhood streets almost completely across the city. So long way around? I am beyond proud of the work that we’ve done in Santa Monica, and the work that the city has accomplished in the time that we’ve been working with them. And I think that we deserve the accolades that we’ve been getting. Does that mean we should rest on our laurels? Or that we’ve done everything  perfectly? No. We have some definite deficits that can and should be addressed. And hopefully, we’re starting to tick those away. But in the broader answer to the question, I think that the mobility team, previous and current and the city itself has done an incredible job of really focusing and moving towards the future. And for the most part, the council has been completely supportive of that since 2009, that we’ve been that we’ve been involved with …quite literally every bike project and area plan, and anything that even remotely could possibly touch mobility

in the city of Santa Monica . So then I think there was another part of that question. 

Damien: In the short term, what should the city be doing? What should the focus be right now? And maybe you’re going to tell us what something they’re already doing. If there if things are moving in the right direction, still,

Cynthia: I think that things are moving in the right direction quickly. Santa Monica has always been really great at getting grant funding. They are good at getting grant funding and use it you know, to their best advantage. We have, we have so many projects in the pipeline right now, that are a result of tons of outreach. Well, tons of outreach and and and really listening to the community on what they want to see. The Wilshire safety study. This may, we’re going to start seeing some real implementations that are as a result of that year long process of looking at Wilshire Boulevard, through the lens of how do we make this safer for everyone.That’s primarily a car centric Boulevard. So we need to focus on pedestrian improvements where there’s bike crossing infrastructure that we’ll be focused on. But we’re also going to be focused on making vehicular traffic safe, so that when drivers inevitably make an error, that it doesn’t result in serious injury and death. And that is the whole purpose of like Vision Zero, and safe streets: designing the streets so that when errors do inevitably happen, the results are not catastrophic. I think the city is applying for a grant to do the same sort of thing on Santa Monica Boulevard, which is another high injury network within the city. And we would go through the same process where we’re engaging the community and all the businesses along the corridor, hopefully working with us again at Santa Monica Spoke to do a lot of that outreach, and then formulating that into a plan on how we can improve the street so that everyone is safer.

Damien: Alright, so ready for five fun questions.

Cynthia: Oh, God.

Damien: So we have a rule on this, which is, after we’re done, you can ask me any of the five questions also, which is both so that the people listening can get to know me a little better, because I’m not quite as public figure as  my predecessors at Santa Monica Next, and partially to make sure I don’t ask anything totally insane or inappropriate, because I wouldn’t want to answer that question either. If it’s something that’s very unique to you, we might modify it a little bit. So it makes sense to me. And as I,

Cynthia: I’m on bike month preparation noodle brain. So hopefully, I can even remember the questions after we’re through. So that’s going back to you.

Damien: And I already told you that I answered the fifth question, which maybe we’ll just switch around to make the first question now, which was about first time riding a scooter. So we’ll start with that we’ll go in reverse order. So have you ever ridden one of the famous Santa Monica e scooters and if so, what was your first trip on the scooter like?

Cynthia: So two confessions, I have never written the scooter 

Damien: Neither had Rick Cole. 

Cynthia: I have done scooter training. And we have organized through our partners at Lyft. Long ago, we did scooter training on the bike path. And all my favorite things were that we had a we did it on the Santa Monica Beach Campus, the bike campus, which is at the end for folks on the line who are listening, it’s at the end of Ocean Park at the beach. There’s an access road that has been painted with a bike lane and bike obstacle courses so that you can get better at riding on the road, get better and learn how to ride on the street without actually being on the street. So we held the scooter training there. And we had a roadie come by on his expensive road bike doing the beach path and he stopped to check out the scooters. And he was hilarious. He just loved it. He got his helmet on and he’s got his spandex, from you know, fully kitted out with his spandex. And he’s riding as if he’s riding fast, although he’s riding  at the appropriate speed along all the way through the obstacle courses and doing the things he had a blast. I came back around to answering the question Finally, since I booted it, kind of kicked the can down a little bit. I have never ridden a scooter at this point. They’re really just not for me. But my job I think as an advocate for shared mobility and multi mobility, which I do believe that I fully embrace, is that just because I don’t want to ride a scooter doesn’t mean that that someone else is not their absolute favorite way to get around. And I think our job as advocates is to make sure that people have options that are appropriate for them. And I think that for us that also means holding accountable the companies that offer these options, making sure that they’re being authentic partners to our community. Whether that be safety, or or just the way they implement their scooters and making sure that they’re keeping them, not only safe from, for the people that ride them, but safe for the people that need to navigate around them when they’re parked on the street. And I think the city has done a pretty good job also at kind of improving that as we’ve gone along. Some people, maybe at this point, don’t remember: we are ground zero in Santa Monica for scooters. Bird launched here as the very first place ever. And some people forget that. We couldn’t have been ready for something that we didn’t know existed. And I think that’s something that we’ve said often is we are going to continue to be outpaced by technology. And we need to make sure that we set policies in place that are flexible enough and dynamic enough that we can be that we can react to keeping our community safe. And one of the ways that the city worked on that was a pilot program one and two. I served on the task forces. And then also figuring out where we park them with our mobility hubs that are painted either on the sidewalk or on the streets. We really give a visual cue on where people need to park those so that we keep them safe so that people are not tripping over them. And they’re not causing a danger for people who may or may not write them, but definitely our most vulnerable in our community.

Damien: All right, question two, what is your favorite Santa Monica reference in pop culture?

Cynthia: I am not a pop culture person. I love the fact that Santa Monica is progressive, is rooted in sustainability. And that is and I think all things can come from that. If we focus on the main objective is to take care of and take care of mother earth. And I think Santa Monica has continuously proven you know, with ebbs and flows in leadership, but the consistent trajectory has been in the right direction. That’s one of the reasons that I live in Santa Monica and I love it here.

Damien: All right, that’s the opposite of a pop culture reference.

Cynthia: Thought it was the opposite today. I’m sorry.

Damien: That’s in April. But all right, we’ll keep moving on. Now. I’ve been trying to use this series to help people find good restaurants. One question has always revolved around food and restaurants trying to get people to give tips on best places, places they’ll miss the most. And I’ve had mixed success and getting people to give up good places. But I know you’re vegan. So what’s what’s your what’s your what’s your go to vegan place in Santa Monica?

Cynthia: There are more vegan places than there used to be. But unfortunately, I’m not sure which ones have survived the pandemic. So I’m a little cautious on that. But I think one of the things that I can say on just  eating vegan or having, you know, an alternate diet is one thing I’m pleased about. A lot of restaurants are finally having good vegan options. I don’t necessarily have to go to a vegan restaurant to have a good meal anymore. So places like Dagwoods have several vegan options. I would say that a little bit of that was prompting from people like me, but regardless. What is it Pono…no, what is it the burger that place the burger place that starts with a “u.” 

Damien: Umani 

Cynthia: It is okay. They have they have Beyond Meat burgers. There is a wonderful vegan Thai place on Lincoln that probably is one of my favorites. Truth be told, but I really like going to what you would call a regular restaurant and and being able to have a vegan option. So what is it called? It’s a pizza place that’s near it’s right near Santa Monica Brew Works has full on vegan pizzas and they are phenomenal. My favorite thing is to introduce my friends to a vegan option. and have them say this is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Or this is some of the best fill in the blank I’ve ever had. And it’s happening more than it happens all the time.

Damien: So alright, I until you started talking about DAGWOODS I was like, this will be the fifth time I asked the question only Abby Arnold’s given me a straight answer, but alright, you picked it up. 

Cynthia: I think it’s I think it’s me squared, the one that’s near Santa Monica Brew Works it really amazing pizza.

Damien: I don’t know that one. I’ll have to check it out.

Cynthia: Well, we have a Handle Bar Happy hour there in two weeks.

Damien: So that’s good, because I was trying to decide I want to try to go to them. We do martial arts on Thursday as a family usually. And so it’s tough, but our class ends at six. But it’s basically on the LA side of Pico and Centinela. So it’s not too hard to get into Santa Monica afterwards for dinner. So maybe we can take the beach path, maybe the expo path, maybe that’ll be the one we do.

Cynthia: We’ll be outside on the patio. 

Damien: You’re usually not hard to find a handlebar happy hour. I’ve never. I’ve never used to pre pandemic I went to one a year and I never was like, Oh, we’ve been here since the end everybody. Now that’s never happened.

Cynthia: I’ll take that as a compliment. Good. You can always see the bright shiny faces and then all the helmets around. So

Damien: For a long time you were wearing color coordinated clothing. So yeah, always purple. Yeah. All right. That’s an easy, good transition, because the next one was my favorite bike month memory.

Cynthia: Oh, favorite bike month memory? Ah ha, I have so many. I think that one of my favorite, one of our proudest moments for bike month was 2018. Maybe around that, 2019 was a good year also. I organize and kind of coordinate all of the bike month activities in the city, usually with city partners, like “Buy Local.” We work with the city always because we, you know, we consider them a partner because we all  work in the same direction with the mobility division. But we had 20, over 20, I think 22 pitstops, just in the city of Santa Monica. And I think that was quite a and that was not including all of the bike month specials, all the bike month promotions that different businesses were hosting. I sit on the steering committee for the TMO, the transit management organization, and we really work with, we’ve connected with the local businesses and really helped focus on, you know, alternate mobility options to reduce traffic. I mean, that’s the whole impetus of that, but also in helping support Bike Month. And a lot of them have come through on that. And when you looked at the map of LA County, you saw this blob in Santa Monica, and we had more pit stops there than in any concentration anywhere in the county. So I think that would be a favorite memory is other than that it’s just I it’s just like month is always just especially Back to Work Day is the time where I kind of have to buckle down and work because I want to interact and I want to be there for the community as opposed to out there doing something that I would maybe be doing just to have fun. Although it is fun.

Damien: And last, this is the one that’s most specific to you is your grandma. I like saying that. And we’ve asked versions of this question to other people also. But what do you think your grandchild’s first public comment is going to be about and you told me she’s in Colorado now.

Cynthia: Both of my grandchildren are in Colorado now. They’re just adorable. Kids, they’re so cute. But I both like bike riding and I’m assuming that it would have something to do with safer streets but they’re both so different. I would and I Yeah, it’s a public comment would be something about protecting our climate and Mother Earth. I think I really think that they would focus on something that was about Mother Nature

Damien: That makes sense. Fits with the family profile as I understand it, so that works well.

Cynthia: Our very first critical mass ride was my grandson’s very first time on a bike. I bought him a new helmet. I think he must. I don’t know if he was under the back of my bike. So I’m in the kids seat. And he got his helmet and he slept with it. He was so excited. So those pictures when I think of that’s not bike month, 

So adorable. In those pictures. I still use those pictures today. Because he’s just beaming. He’s so happy.

Damien: You’re there. Your other organization used a picture of me with my kids on a fundraising appeal, like two years ago. And that was like a picture from like eight years ago. So yeah, I hear you…

Cynthia: Was it the one with your daughter in the cargo bike?

Damien: My daughter and son in the cargo bike where they’re holding their hands in sort of a victory pose while I’m pushing them. Yeah, that one’s that one’s I’ve seen used. And with my blessing and permission. And I love that picture. It’s one of the few pictures I’ve actually gotten printed now that you know, we’re all digital and stuff. 

Cynthia: Kids are our future. And I really think that you know, we focus, as we were talked about earlier, about empowering the youth, our youth leaders, and those are, you know, high school and college students. But really, the kidical mass rides and the Safe Routes to School stuff that we do, which is education and encouragement for families to be able to get out there on their bikes and move themselves around sustainably and safely. But the kids are our future. And we really focus a lot of our work on just empowering them and, and really our view our mission is to make the world a safer, better place for them. Our battle cry out, do you remember what our battle cry is for critical mass?

Damien: And I don’t. I’ve been to too many in other cities, they all bunched together. 

Cynthia: Our battle cry is I say, who are you? “Who are we?” I should say, “Kidical mass!” And then I say “who are you?” and they yell “THE FUTURE.”

Damien: As soon as you said “Who are we?” I could hear the rest of it in my head.

Cynthia: And that’s really it. They’re our future. And we need to work really hard to make the planet and our streets and our cities and our towns and everything a better safer place for them.

Damien: Well, we are super over already. So I guess. So if you want to ask me a question. I have fast answers to all of them. 

Cynthia: You kind of answered them as we went along. We had the picture of you in the bucket by the kids. What is your favorite restaurant? 

Damien: In Santa Monica or my favorite vegan restaurant? I can’t do a favorite vegan restaurant in Santa Monica because like you I’m just not familiar with what’s open and what’s not.

Cynthia: Okay, so what what’s your favorite vegan restaurant

Damien: I am a West Side cliche in that I really enjoy the food at Cafe Gratitude. And I do find it super weird to go there and order based on my emotions or whatever it is they want. I roll my eyes at all of that sort of stuff so hard I’m worried I’m going to spray them, however I do really enjoy the food there. I used to do meetings there pretty regularly when we were starting Santa Monica Next because I wanted to do the meetings because I wanted people in Santa Monica to have access to them but I didn’t want you know Santa Monica people snooping on me. You know in case Santa Monica Now was going to also launch a new site. It is a little weird for me, but I really liked the food. So yeah, cafe gratitudes. were my favorite vegan. This is a good vegan place on in the on the Mar Vista Great Street and I can’t remember its name, but I’ve been there a couple times and always enjoyed it too. And I should always promote the great street.

Cynthia: But tell me what that is so that I can try visiting it.

Damien: Yeah. Oh, no, it’s not it’s not a vegan restaurant. It’s a Mexican restaurant where I get their vegan Mexican pizza.

Cynthia: And I think you know, I love that I love the fact that vegan food is just so much more mainstream now that you can actually get it in so many restaurants. 

That’s one thing I can add, maybe about Santa Monica. We made a commitment as a board years ago that at any of our events, we would only have vegan food. And that’s not because necessarily I’m vegan, but our job is to expose people to different modes of mobility, and to be conscious about how that affects the planet. And we felt as a board and most of our board is not vegan, that shows giving people the option to try vegan food. Because as you well know the implications of non vegan food on the planet was our way of also sharing that another sustainable option for folks for our community.

Damien: Yeah, I’ve been to I’ve been I’ve been I think a handful of the fundraisers I’ve been to for Santa Monica Spoke over the years. We’re at vegan restaurants. So I hear you. All right now we’re super over our time. So I’m gonna thank you very much for the chat today I will commit and we will announce on the Santa Monica Next social media when I can make some handlebar happy hours. I’m going to try to make one or two of them. Awesome this month, although probably not tomorrow, or Thursday’s, the one at El Indio’s even though that’s the one I really, really liked that place just because I’m running a marathon on Sunday. And my diet is very strict for the next five days.

Cynthia: They’re so cool. Like Gilbert’s family owned restaurant. Yeah. The most loved business forever. They’re awesome.

Damien: Yeah, so have a good time tomorrow. Thank you for recording and I will see you this month and of course we’ll have this up and posted in the next 48 hours.

Cynthia: Wow. All right. Thank you. Great catching up.

Damien: Great catching up.