October 31, 2012

Going Coastal

I just got back from a week of storytelling up & down California's Central Coast, & boy, are my tonsils tired!

I had a wonderful time spreading some fun & mild chills during several late October events in San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara Counties; here's a little rundown:

Day 1: Morro Bay & San Luis Obispo Libraries
The Morro Bay Library, as seen from its parking-lot side entrance
A fun start to my trip, as I walked into the program room at the Morro Bay Library, or as I'd known the room from my previous trips during visits to SLO county, the BOOK SALE ROOM!  I've gotten some really good deals in this space before!  And I got a good deal on this day, with a friendly welcome and a small but very appreciative group of story lovers.  A brother & sister there with their mother informed me that the three of them come in every Tuesday afternoon--what a great family tradition!  In what become a regular part of my story tour, there were a few adults who had wandered in by themselves to take it all in.  Nice people, lots of smiles--a rewarding first stop!

Right after I was done in Morro Bay, I headed down Highway One to the San Luis Obispo Library.  You've got to see the furniture in this Children's Room!  To be honest, I didn't even notice it until after the event, when a patron pointed it out to me--but it's great!  The couches & benches look like over-sized books--and very comfortable ones, at that.  We had a nice-sized group of families and story-loving adults squeezed into a large, cozy corner of the Children's Room, and happy faces all around.
The SLO Library, and its bookishly-cool furniture.
I pleased to see on the SLO County Library's Facebook page that evening that apparently both events had been well-received:
"Wow! John Weaver shared some amazing stories at the SLO and Morro Bay Libraries last night...This Bay area storyteller is funny, spooky, and not to be missed. I think the adults liked this almost as much as the kids!"

Day 2: Solvang-Cayucos-Santa Maria
I put a lot of miles on my car AND my vocal chords this day, as I drove down and up and back down & back up between SLO & Santa Barbara Counties for a trio of events!  First stop was Ballard Elementary in Solvang--a former one-room schoolhouse that is still small enough to have one class for each grade level K-6.  It's a group of just over 100 kids who know each other very well, and work extremely well as a group!  We got them all into their multi-purpose room for a storytelling event to coincide with the school's "Character Counts" week--and this is a community of young people who share a lot of wonderful characteristics! 

Leaving Solvang behind, I drove back up north to the small beach town of Cayucos.  I've spent months down here over the course of my life; my grandparents lived here when I was young, and I love the place enough that I still pay frequent visits as a grown-up.  Over the years, I've seen the library move from a small room at the pier, to a former television shop on the city's main thoroughfare, to its new location on the site of the town's elementary school.  I was very happy to pay my first PROFESSIONAL visit to the Cayucos Library!
The Cayucos Library.
My last stop of the day was an evening event back down 101 a good ways, at the Santa Maria Library.  It was a party meant only for kids aged 7+ and their grown-ups--although several younger kids got stowed in!  The event was billed as "scary stories," but of course, EVERYONE knows that kids this age are scared of absolutely nothing!  Their parents, though, looked at times as if they had the goosebumps.  The young folks seemed to like the humor peppered throughout all of this supernatural creepiness, though--and several came up with their folks for photo-ops after the event--which made ME nervous!
The Santa Maria Library.  Yes, that IS a tree in the Children's Room!
By the way, you've got to check out the Santa Maria Library (I mean, if you ever find yourself within, say, 5 hours or so of the building): there's a cafe that has a large menu, is open 12 hours a day (more than the library itself), and even has an outdoor pickup window, so that you can grab a quick (or not-so-quick) snack outside while you wait to pick up some new books!  There's also a LARGE library shop, offering not just used books, but new books, stationary, gifts, supplies for the student or researcher... and other stuff, too!

Day 3: Atascadero Libary
The Atascadero Library.
I was so glad to be early for my storytelling event at the Atascadero Libary, because this turned out to be, at least on this day, one of those rare (to me) places where many of the attendees actually show up early!  The parents & children alike were raring to go!  What's more, when I asked for a show of hands of who had seen a storyteller before, most arms in the room went up.  It was a story-loving audience, so we were ALL appreciative!

Day 4: SLO Children's Museum & the Arroyo Grande Library
Several views around the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum.
My son & I spent many fun hours playing together at the San Luis Obispo Children's Museum when he was young--until the building was torn down.  Actually, they built a beautiful, brand-new facility on the same site, and this visit marked not only my first time being at the SLO institution in my professional capacity, but also my first opportunity to be inside the new building.  It's a wonderful, open construction, with indoor & outdoor spaces, and such an admirable variety of real-life and fantasy play opportunities.  I enjoyed sharing some fun, interactive stories & songs with the families there that morning.  After my program, one family approached me to let me know they'd seen me perform at Children's Fairyland, a frequent home stage of mine back up here in the SF Bay Area!  I loved that!  
The Arroyo Grande Library, with more of that wonderful book-themed furniture!
In the afternoon, I popped just a few short minutes up north to the Arroyo Grande Library.  Rebecca, the Youth Librarian, wanted to make sure everyone knew I'd be there: there were Storyteller John Weaver signs & flyers absolutely everywhere!  I performed right in the very middle of the library, so I had a captive audience (poor, unfortunate library patrons)!  As always, it's wonderful to see adult story listeners really seeming to enjoy what I do.  One of them asked me if I am an actor, and several families lined up to ask the librarian for books I had recommended--a very rewarding outcome!

Day 5: Paso Robles Library & Study Center
For the final day of my Central Coast storytelling tour, I got to visit two library facilities in Paso Robles: the main library, and its study center.  I told my spooky stories that afternoon to the school kids at the Study Center; this facility is a wonderful opportunity made available near a local school campus, for the city's children to spend time after school & get help on their homework, or just hang out together & relax.  I scared this group a little, made them laugh a lot--and then I moved on to the main library!
The Paso Robles City Library on the top, the Study Center below.
For my evening library event--my very final stop of this tour--I shared funny stories (with startling elements) for all ages.  I was very pleased to see a family who had been at my afternoon session come in for more of my "punishment!"  Another parent in the room reacted when it was announced I was from Fremont; so was she!  Lots of mobile folks.

My first professional visit to this very familiar area for me--and a favorite area of mine--was so much fun, I look forward to the opportunity to do it again.  And it does look as though I WILL be doing it again!  So if you know of any places in the area you think should host an appearance--whether schools, libraries, museums, zoos or whatever--please let them know about me, let me know about them, and when it happens, let your friends know there is something slightly ridiculous happening on the Central Coast!

From the Bay News, an article promoting October's storytelling events.

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