Musings on love have never been straightforward.

From the beginning, Adam and Eve botched things royally (so the story goes), and the fallout of feelings have continued to vex mankind ever since. We sympathize—really, we do. But whether 2020 has you singing “Love stinks!” or signing your name with x’s and o’s, February gets more interesting when we imagine love beyond the romantic foibles.

The first decade of the 21st century ushered in a new culture of love-meets-capitalism, smacking lovey-dovey expressions across the commodified marketplace. From breakfast cereal to bamboo undies, industrial products promise to be “Made with Love” and marketing execs spread heart-forward messaging at every opportunity. While a Valentine’s Day grinch might be skeptical, “heart-forward” business practices are gaining market value in the climate-crisis era. What do these claims actually mean in practice?

Staying in tune with the source and footprint of the thousands of consumer goods we use daily is a grueling task. Is it local? Sustainable? Certified organic? After operating for decades in the shadows of regulation, the cannabis industry has been shot straight into the green heart of consumer culture wars. No decision should be taken lightly as the world watches to see if cannabis can meet higher standards in sustainable business.

As we move forward in the climate-crisis era, are we asking too much for love to be packaged and delivered with a kiss with every purchase? What if we flip the script and task the public with making more loving choices and living by a transparent set of values that prioritize community resilience, eco-conscious living, and yes, L-O-V-E? Warning: This may not involve chocolate or flowers.

This February, we take a deep dive into our region’s history, learning how industry leaders are keeping the Emerald Triangle legacy alive. Looking for love in your business or home life? Think outside the heart-shaped box and reconsider roommates, a life coach, and the uplifting power of color therapy. Finally, get inspired to explore the Emerald Triangle’s diorama of rivers and redwoods, regardless of the winter weather.

With love + luck!

Nora Mounce
nora.mounce@sensimag.com

On the Calendar: Emerald Triangle, February 2020

Get out on the town for a jam-packed month of creative and entertaining activities throughout the Emerald Triangle. Along with world-class performers, arts and crafts, and reggae, February is bookended by two iconic events. During the Humboldt Marble Weekend, hunt for glass marbles in the redwoods and learn from master glassblowers from all over the world. To wrap up the month (it’s a leap year!), make sure to snag tickets to the sixth annual Mr. Humboldt Pageant, the ultimate contest in smoldering lumber-sexual hotness. As you slingshot those panties on stage for your favorite bro, remember, it’s all for charity folks.

Joey Alexander Trio

February 1, 2020 8 p.m.
Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU, Arcata

$66
centerarts.humboldt.edu
Bali-born jazz piano wunderkind Joey Alexander is on a meteoric rise and, at 16, has already earned a Grammy Award nomination for his debut album, My Favorite Things.


Arts Alive Eureka

February 1, 2020 6–9 p.m.
Monthly Arts Walk, Old Town

eurekamainstreet.org


Ryan Goodcase

February 1, 2020 9–11 p.m.
Savage Henry Comedy Club, Eureka

$10
savagehenrymagazine.com


Crab Feast

February 1–2, 2020
Various locations, Mendocino County

visitmendocino.com


Humboldt Hardcourt Bike Polo

February 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2020
Community Park, Manila

@HumboldtBikePolo
Yes, it’s just like traditional polo but on wheels instead of horses. Players use a street hockey ball and mallets, and your feet can’t touch the ground. Beginners and women encouraged! Helmets are mandatory (spare helmets and gear like mallets are available for loan).


Rude Lion Sound’s Dancehall Mondays

February 3, 10, 17 & 24, 2020
9:30 p.m.
Ocean Grove Lodge, Trinidad

Reggae/dancehall night
@OceanGroveLodge


Black Uhuru

February 4, 2020 10 p.m.
Humboldt Brews, Arcata

$30
humbrews.com


Minnesota Exit/Reality Tour with Thelem, EastGhost, and Thook

February 5, 2020 Doors open at 8 p.m.
Arcata Theatre Lounge, Arcata
$20–$25

arcatatheatre.com


Humboldt Marble Weekend

February 6–9, 2020
Redwood Acres, Eureka

humboldtmarbleweekend.com
Humboldt Marble Weekend brings together dozens of artists and thousands of collectors for a weekend celebration of contemporary marbles and marble hunting.


Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo

February 6–9, 2020 11 a.m. –10 p.m.
Blue Lake Casino & Hotel, Blue Lake
$10–$30

inkedheartstattooexpo.com
The expo is hosted by Ted and Amy Marks of NorCal Tattoo, with featured artists Liz Cook, Tye Harris, and Joshua Carlton. More than 30 incredible artists will be tattooing on-site.


Iris DeMent

February 6, 2020 7:30–10 p.m.
The Old Steeple, Ferndale
$45–$50

ferndalemusiccompany.com


Bob Marley Birthday Celebration

February 6, 2020 8:30 p.m. –12 a.m.
Arcata Theatre Lounge, Arcata
$25–$30

arcatatheatre.com


Andrew Holmgren

February 7, 2020 9–11 p.m.
Savage Henry Comedy Club, Eureka
$10

savagehenrymagazine.com


Gyppo Beer Pairing Dinner

February 7, 2020
Gyppo Ale Mill, Shelter Cove

gyppo.com
Chef Robert Mason and Head Brewer Jared Smith join forces for a four-course beer pairing dinner.


Still Life Painting Workshop with Jim McVicker

February 7–9, 2020 9 a.m. –4 p.m.
Redwood Art Association, Eureka

$425–$475
redwoodart.us


Led Kaapana

February 8, 2020 7:30–10 p.m.
The Old Steeple, Ferndale
$25–$30

erndalemusiccompany.com
Led Kaapana’s mastery of stringed instruments, particularly slack key guitar, and his extraordinary baritone and leo kiekie (Hawaiian falsetto) voices, have made him a musical legend.


Dweezil Zappa

February 9, 2020 8 p.m.
Van Duzer Theatre at HSU, Arcata
$55–$85

centerarts.humboldt.edu


Ekali: A World Away Tour

February 12, 2020 8:30 p.m.
Arcata Theatre Lounge, Arcata

arcatatheatre.com


Arts! Arcata

February 14, 2020 6–9 p.m.
Monthly Art Walk, Arcata

arcatamainstreet.com


Grupo Corpo Brazilian Dance

February 15, 2020 8 p.m.
Van Duzer Theatre at HSU, Arcata
$49

centerarts.humboldt.edu


David Sedaris

February 16, 2020 7 p.m.
Van Duzer Theatre at HSU, Arcata
$66

centerarts.humboldt.edu
One of America’s wittiest, most irreverent voices and the author of the best-sellers Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, David Sedaris is an undisputed master of satire. A favorite contributor to NPR’s This American Life and a regular at The New Yorker, his latest book Calypso was released in 2018.


Stomp

February 18, 2020 7 p.m.
Van Duzer Theatre at HSU, Arcata
$66

centerarts.humboldt.edu


Craft Night: Mosaic Mirrors

February 20, 2020 6 p.m.
Arts & Drafts, Eureka
$45

artsanddraftseureka.com
Craft a unique mirror choosing from the studio’s hundreds of different tiles and stones—or bring your own. RSVP to save your spot.


Lion Dance

February 22, 2020 11 a.m. –1 p.m.
Joss House State Historic Park, Weaverville
Free

parks.ca.gov
Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the Chinese Taoist Temple. It’s the year of the Metal Rat!


Hayfork Rotary Prime & Prawns Dinner

February 22, 2020
Trinity County Fairgrounds, Hayfork

trinitycountyfair.com


Anderson Valley White Wine Festival

February 22–23, 2020
Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville
$50–$135

avwines.com
Experience a 40-year tradition of celebrating Alsace-style and white wines.


Kat Edmonson

February 29, 2020 8 p.m.
Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU, Arcata
$49

centerarts.humboldt.edu

A historic hotel and restaurant reopens under family ownership.

Like writing a novel or opening a wine bar, running an inn is a quotidian American dream that only gets interesting when someone signs on the dotted line. With 10 years of hospitality experience under their belts, Kyle and Katie Cox made the fantasy a reality when they purchased the historic Lewiston Hotel Bar & Grill, in partnership with Katie’s parents, Mike and Maggie Graham. Looking for an escape from the daily grind in San Jose, Mike took a drive up to Trinity County to check out a friend’s old hotel for sale. “No way,” he reported back to the family, after observing how much work the place needed. But they couldn’t stop talking about it—memories of the emerald-green Trinity River and peaceful mountain town were unforgettable. In May 2018, the family took a chance on their dreams, purchasing the historic Lewiston Hotel, established in 1863. After a year of renovations, the Lewiston Hotel Bar & Grill reopened as a community outpost just in time for the 2019 season.

Photos Courtesy of the Lewiston Hotel

“We made the menu more casual than it’s been in the past,” says Katie, whose husband is the head chef. “Economics have changed in the area, and we want to cater to local families.”

Only 30 miles west of Redding and a 15-minute drive from Weaverville, the restaurant draws local patrons on weekends as a date night destination with live music and dining al fresco. Situated above the restaurant are six “Old West” style rooms, which Katie describes as rustic and unique accommodations with two shared bathrooms for all guests. Rooms start at $85 a night.

While Katie says they experienced a degree of culture shock on relocating to rural Trinity County from San Jose, she and her family are hooked on the abundance of the scenic beauty and recreational activities. “I love being able to go swimming in the lake or hiking in the Trinity Alps,” Katie says.
A stand-by with local anglers and rafters resting up after a day on the water, the hotel stays busy in the winter with steelhead fishing and whitewater boating season. Though Lewiston Lake is located just a few miles down the road, nearby Trinity Lake is more popular with sunbathers and swimmers come the triple-digit days of summer.

“We plan on being here for years to come,” Cox says.

California’s North Coast is where fishing enthusiasts can go after Steelhead.

The rain never seems to let up. The wet forecast is endless, and the ground moisture sneaks into your boots with every step. The trees continually drip with dew like a spring with an endless reserve. It’s no coincidence. The Emerald Triangle is geographically perched where the ocean meets the mountains. Tectonic plates continually shift and change the landscape like every wave that crashes on the shore, moving sand to its place like an artist with his paintbrush. With blue squiggly lines, the artist connects the mountains to the sea, representing the most erosive force on the planet and one of the greatest natural spectacles on Earth: the life cycle of salmon.

Pacific salmon are born in the rivers of the North Coast before charging their way to spawning grounds upstream. When salmon are mature enough, they swim west to the sea and fatten up. There, salmon live most of their lives in saltwater until they are ready to spawn, returning to the same river where they were born to die, leaving behind their bodies as nutrients for the trees and surrounding environment.

On the contrary, steelhead are a variety of rainbow trout, much like the ones we catch in lakes, rivers, and streams. But unlike those rainbow trout, steelhead also make a migration to the sea like their salmon cousins. Steelhead consume diverse nutrients from the ocean, allowing them to reach a size and strength comparable to salmon. They also return to fresh water, but unlike salmon, steelhead don’t die immediately after their pilgrimage. They either return to the sea again or remain in the river, making them the ultimate prize for the coastal angler. As the North Coast boasts dozens of world-class rivers and streams, all of which are home to steelhead and salmon, the region is a drool-worthy location for any fly-fisher.

Beyond the steep investment needed to purchase gear, a California fishing license and a special steelhead report card are required to legally fish. There is also a litany of regulations to follow depending on which body of water an angler wants to fish.

While accessibility to steelhead is prime on the North Coast, it doesn’t make the endeavor of landing a steelhead an easy one. They are considered one of the hardest fish to catch on a fly. It takes outrageous perseverance and grit to withstand winter coastal storms while patiently waiting to nab a steelhead—it feels like a lightning bolt striking the end of a line. By the time an angler hooks a steelhead, the fish has dodged every predator in the ocean, including seals, sharks, whales, and squid.

Setting foot in these rivers is to witness the power of nature while having a conversation with one of its enduring survivors. It’s hard to imagine a creature with more tenacity and strength than the steelhead. Their story and their home are what make swinging flies for steelhead the ultimate prize. With the fog threading the trees, the cool turquoise water lapping up against your legs, and the redwoods towering overhead, chasing these ghost-like fish is a challenge and joy.

Find friends and save money in shared living spaces.

Loneliness is a killer, more dangerous than obesity and smoking. Studies have found it leads to heart disease, stroke, and immune system problems, and it could even impair cancer recovery. A researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found loneliness a strong predictor of premature death, declining mental health, and lower quality of life in cardiovascular patients, and a Brigham Young University professor’s meta-analysis of studies from around the world found that socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause than people who have community.

That’s sobering, especially when you consider that 40 percent of American adults suffer from loneliness, according to an AARP study. And it’s one reason coliving—a new form of housing in which residents with similar interests, values, or intentions share living space, costs, and amenities—is exploding.

Coliving situations run a spectrum, from the resident-driven model to small homes with a half-dozen or so people to massive corporate complexes like The Collective tower with 550 beds in London. Residents, who stay anywhere from a few days to several years and usually don’t have to sign a lease or pay a security deposit, sleep in their own small private rooms (sometimes with bathrooms) and share common spaces such as large kitchens and dining areas, gardens, and work areas. They’re encouraged to interact with one another, often through organized happy hours and brunches. Ollie, which operates coliving spaces in New York and other cities, advertises that “friends are included.”

“Coliving is different than just having roommates, who may be people you found on Craigslist and just happen to share [your] living space. It’s done with more intention,” says Christine McDannell, who lived in unincorporated coliving houses for years before she launched Kindred Quarters, a coliving operator with homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, in 2017.

Author of The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life, McDannell also runs Kndrd, a software company for coliving managers and residents, and she hosts the weekly Coliving Code Show every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud, and coliving.tv. She has watched—and helped—the industry grow up, and she’s amazed at how few, if any, horror stories she hears. That’s largely because millennials—by far the largest demographic among colivers—are accustomed to sharing and being held accountable through online reviews, she adds.

“You just don’t hear the crazy stories about roommating with strangers in an unfamiliar city,” she says. “When people write bad reviews, it’s usually about the Wi-Fi.”

As companies fat with funding expand into cities across the globe, coliving is newly corporatized—but it’s hardly a novel concept. Boarding houses provided rooms and shared meals for single men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries; one of the most famous, the Barbizon Hotel in New York, was a “club residence for professional women” from 1927 until the 1980s.

People lived communally throughout most of history until industrialization facilitated privatization of family life and housing throughout the 20th century—with a few disruptions. In Israel, people have been living in communal villages called kibbutzim for more than 100 years. In the US, hippies attempted to create communes in the 1960s, but they were destroyed by free love, drugs, and egos (which did a lot to discourage coliving, even today).

At the same time in Denmark, however, cohousing (an earlier iteration of coliving) was emerging as a way to share childcare. Today, more than 700 communities thrive in Denmark. In Sweden, the government provides cohousing facilities.

A handful of cohousing communities following the Danish model have been established in the US, and hacker houses are common in tech capitals like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but the concept has been slow to catch on until recently.

As it becomes increasingly impossible for mere mortals to afford skyrocketing rents in desirable cities, Americans are coming around to coliving and finding creative solutions to all sorts of social issues. Older women are shacking up together following the Golden Girls model. Coabode.org matches single moms who want to raise kids together. At Hope Meadows in Chicago, retirees live with foster kids.

The opportunity to pay lower rent (in many but not all cases) and share expenses makes all the difference in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. When New York–based coliving operator Common opened a development with 24 furnished spaces in Los Angeles for between $1,300 and $1,800 a month, more than 9,000 people applied.

McDannell says coliving is exploding because it solves important challenges that plague modern society. “People are signing away their paychecks on rent and feeling increasingly isolated,” she wrote in “Why We’re Building a CoLiving Community Ecosystem” on LinkedIn. “It is due time that HaaS (Housing as a Service) disrupts the antiquated industry of property management and real estate.”

Precious Plastic, Untangling the Ocean, and The 90s Fashion Resurgence

  • Stoke the fire and break out a bottle of your favorite Mendocino County wine. Read
  • Leef Organics Revive CBD Balm is a mini spa day in a jar. Read
  • When it comes to living your best life, life coaches are trained to help you find the answers that lie within. Read
  • Old-school parties become new again. Read
  • Our editor-in-chief’s hottest hits of the month. Read

Winter Wines to Warm Mind & Body

The rain and fog have set in across the Emerald Triangle. Stoke the fire
and break out a bottle of your favorite Mendocino County wine.

Fel Winery started in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley as Breggo Cellars before relocating production facilities to Sonoma and rebranding. The Fel Anderson Valley 2017 Chardonnay ($32) is the winery’s crown jewel, packed with citrus, crisp apple, melon, pear, and herbal spice. It makes a fine complement to seasonal crab dishes. felwines.com
Boonville Road Wines is an emerging small production effort from Ukiah barbecue specialist and Rhône wine lover Ed Donovan. The Boonville Road 2016 Syrah ($32) is sourced from the Broken Leg Vineyard, the only vineyard site planted to Syrah in the Anderson Valley. It exhibits a brooding, rustic French style with bright red fruit, wild mushrooms, leather, spice, and a delicate acidity that evolves as you sip and enjoy. Try pairing it with a slow-braised winter stew. boonvilleroad.com

Zinfandel is a warming winter wine if ever there was one. The Lula Cellars Mendocino Ridge “Fashauer Vineyard” 2017 Zinfandel ($37) is Lula’s first release from Fashauer, a high elevation, coastal site that faces south for maximum sun exposure. Due to temperature inversion, warm nights create the necessary conditions for full ripening. In the bottle, vibrancy meets focused fruit-forward style, sweet oak, and a long, supple finish. lulacellars.com


Leef Organics Revive CBD Balm

Packed with complementary botanicals like calendula, lavender, and peony, Leef Organics Revive CBD Balm is a mini spa day in a jar. Designed to penetrate the skin to deliver cannabinoids to sore muscles and achy joints, Revive CBD Balm is rendered by slowly simmering whole hemp flowers to maximize medicinal benefits. Without any detectable THC, the healing and aromatic balm can be purchased at stores, spas, and yoga studios throughout California.


The Lowdown on Life Coaching

When it comes to living your best life, life coaches are trained to help you find the answers that lie within.

“When I announced to friends that I was becoming a life coach, they laughed and said, ‘You’ve always been a life coach,’” remembers Sarah Trapkus. After a lifetime of helping others, Trapkus has transformed a winning personality trait into a profession. As a certified life coach based in Humboldt County, Trapkus focuses on supporting working moms (like herself) by consulting with clients and leading a free group series called “The Meaningful Life” at the Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Eureka (theconnectionhprc.com).

While sitting down with a therapist might be a common play for those struggling with self-identity or anxiety, life coaches still largely exist on the margins of the wellness menu. This is something Trapkus would like to see shift. As a life coach, she helps clients identify self-limiting thoughts or beliefs that may be keeping them from reaching goals and living their best lives. “Goals aren’t just destinations to be mapped out and conquered,” explains Trapkus. “A huge part of reaching goals is realizing what you’re capable of achieving and working from the inside out.”

When Trapkus started her business, she focused on helping women transition from the illicit market into the legal cannabis industry. “I was that woman,” she says. She and her husband went through the compliance process in 2016, a stressful journey during which Trapkus often relied on life coaching principles to survive. Today, her husband runs their business while Trapkus focuses on coaching.

As a mother of three, Trapkus personally knows the struggles of juggling motherhood and a career, especially in the Emerald Triangle, where so many women are entrepreneurs and solo business owners. “It can be overwhelming,” Trapkus says. But she patiently reminds her clients that time, energy, and money are all created by the mind and everyone has the power to choose what’s most essential to them.

“My clients are high achieving, brilliant women who’re balancing motherhood with entrepreneurship,” Trapkus says. For days when it feels like the wheels are coming off, Trapkus educates her clients on tactical approaches to address the root of their problems and use their own abilities to get back on the road. This helps her clients “step more fully into the person they’ve always imagined being.”

@sarahtrapkuslifecoach
@sarahtrapkus


Party Like It’s 1999

Old school becomes new again.

With the nostalgia of the ’90s revival including the comeback of scrunchies, old school hip-hop parties, cartoon reboots, grunge fashion, army pants, vinyl records, and the Friends craze ever present, why not celebrate like it’s Y2K?

The ’90s were the era when grunge was born; punk rock got a resurgence; indie music fests took off; personal style was nonconformist; music was insanely good, angsty, dance-worthy, and impactful (Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tupac, N.W.A., Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, and so many more); and the teens and twentysomethings finally felt like their voices were being heard.


Sensibilities

By Stephanie Wilson, Editor in Chief

1. Primary Focus
A New Hampshire law requires the Granite State to be the first presidential primary in the nation. This election cycle, that goes down on February 11, after which my home state becomes irrelevant for another four years.

2. Leap of Faith
While the calendar year is 365 days, it takes the Earth 365.24 days to orbit the sun. Every four years, we add an extra day to the month of February because without it, the calendar would be misaligned with the seasons by 25 days after just 100 years.

3. Born This Way
The odds of being a “leapling”—a person born on a leap day—is 1 in 1,461.

4. Right On
On February 29, some places celebrate Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day—both a nod to the old Irish tradition that gave women the right to propose marriage to a man on leap day. If he declined, he was required by law to pay a penalty, often in the form of gloves so she could hide the shame of her bare ring finger.

5. Modern Love
Since we’re not all Irish, but we are all feminists (because we all believe in the equality of the sexes, of course), any of us can propose to whomever our heart desires whenever we want. Except Valentine’s Day. There’s no law prohibiting it but, sweetie, pay-as-you-go forced romance is anything but romantic.

6. PETA Violation
The origins of the canned-love holiday are as cruel as a red rose delivery in February is clichéd. According to NPR, V-day traces back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a brutal fete during which naked men sacrificed dogs and goats—and whipped women with the animal hides. Stop, in the name of love.

A local painter captures the sweetness of everyday life on the hill.

From the time she could hold a paintbrush, Bianca Lago was an artist. As a teenager in Atlanta, Lago helped her mother paint murals and attended an alternative high school with a focus on the arts. Never losing her fascination with visual communication, Lago landed in Northern California to earn her BFA at Humboldt State University. For the past few years, Lago has largely supported herself through art sales and commissions, on such works as “Rebekah’s Dog.” She recently left the green cathedral of the Emerald Triangle for the thriving Bay Area art scene.

“I think it’s important to be constantly expanding my worldview and my mind,” Lago says. “My work will only be as good as the experiences I expose myself to, so I try to say ‘yes’ to as much as I can and make sense of life through careful visual representation.”
Lago painted “Rebekah’s Dog” from a photograph of a loyal
pit bull sitting in a greenhouse filled with plants. The final painting, oil on canvas, knowingly captures a sweet nostalgia for life behind the redwood curtain.

“We are all so close from floating away from everything we know,” Lago says. “I want to capture that feeling of barely holding on.”

Find friends and save money in shared living spaces.

Loneliness is a killer, more dangerous than obesity and smoking. Studies have found it leads to heart disease, stroke, and immune system problems, and it could even impair cancer recovery. A researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found loneliness a strong predictor of premature death, declining mental health, and lower quality of life in cardiovascular patients, and a Brigham Young University professor’s meta-analysis of studies from around the world found that socially isolated adults have a 50 percent greater risk of dying from any cause than people who have community.

That’s sobering, especially when you consider that 40 percent of American adults suffer from loneliness, according to an AARP study. And it’s one reason coliving—a new form of housing in which residents with similar interests, values, or intentions share living space, costs, and amenities—is exploding.

Coliving situations run a spectrum, from the resident-driven model to small homes with a half-dozen or so people to massive corporate complexes like The Collective tower with 550 beds in London. Residents, who stay anywhere from a few days to several years and usually don’t have to sign a lease or pay a security deposit, sleep in their own small private rooms (sometimes with bathrooms) and share common spaces such as large kitchens and dining areas, gardens, and work areas. They’re encouraged to interact with one another, often through organized happy hours and brunches. Ollie, which operates coliving spaces in New York and other cities, advertises that “friends are included.”

“Coliving is different than just having roommates, who may be people you found on Craigslist and just happen to share [your] living space. It’s done with more intention,” says Christine McDannell, who lived in unincorporated coliving houses for years before she launched Kindred Quarters, a coliving operator with homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, in 2017.

Author of The Coliving Code: How to Find Your Tribe, Share Resources, and Design Your Life, McDannell also runs Kndrd, a software company for coliving managers and residents, and she hosts the weekly Coliving Code Show every Wednesday on YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud, and coliving.tv. She has watched—and helped—the industry grow up, and she’s amazed at how few, if any, horror stories she hears. That’s largely because millennials—by far the largest demographic among colivers—are accustomed to sharing and being held accountable through online reviews, she adds.

“You just don’t hear the crazy stories about roommating with strangers in an unfamiliar city,” she says. “When people write bad reviews, it’s usually about the Wi-Fi.”

As companies fat with funding expand into cities across the globe, coliving is newly corporatized—but it’s hardly a novel concept. Boarding houses provided rooms and shared meals for single men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries; one of the most famous, the Barbizon Hotel in New York, was a “club residence for professional women” from 1927 until the 1980s.

People lived communally throughout most of history until industrialization facilitated privatization of family life and housing throughout the 20th century—with a few disruptions. In Israel, people have been living in communal villages called kibbutzim for more than 100 years. In the US, hippies attempted to create communes in the 1960s, but they were destroyed by free love, drugs, and egos (which did a lot to discourage coliving, even today).

At the same time in Denmark, however, cohousing (an earlier iteration of coliving) was emerging as a way to share childcare. Today, more than 700 communities thrive in Denmark. In Sweden, the government provides cohousing facilities.

A handful of cohousing communities following the Danish model have been established in the US, and hacker houses are common in tech capitals like Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, but the concept has been slow to catch on until recently.

As it becomes increasingly impossible for mere mortals to afford skyrocketing rents in desirable cities, Americans are coming around to coliving and finding creative solutions to all sorts of social issues. Older women are shacking up together following the Golden Girls model. Coabode.org matches single moms who want to raise kids together. At Hope Meadows in Chicago, retirees live with foster kids.

The opportunity to pay lower rent (in many but not all cases) and share expenses makes all the difference in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. When New York–based coliving operator Common opened a development with 24 furnished spaces in Los Angeles for between $1,300 and $1,800 a month, more than 9,000 people applied.

McDannell says coliving is exploding because it solves important challenges that plague modern society. “People are signing away their paychecks on rent and feeling increasingly isolated,” she wrote in “Why We’re Building a CoLiving Community Ecosystem” on LinkedIn. “It is due time that HaaS (Housing as a Service) disrupts the antiquated industry of property management and real estate.”

A local legacy of compassion and preservation keeps California’s growing practices green.

Rumor has it that Bigfoot first appeared in Humboldt County in the 1950s. Locals continue to report sightings in some of the most remote corners of the region, but last March, Bigfoot strolled right onto the Eureka waterfront. Surrounded by children and a group of giant banana slugs, Bigfoot looked out across the Humboldt Bay before plunging into the icy waters. The kids squealed with delight.

Community, sustainability, and a resilient mindset run as deep as the rivers in the Emerald Triangle. They are the offspring of an independent culture that grew from tribes living in tune with nature, crusty gold prospectors, tough lumberjacks, self-reliant ranchers, and free-thinking hippies who call this region their home.

“It’s about community,” says Jon O’Connor, chief compliance officer at Papa & Barkley, a cannabis wellness company based in Eureka. O’Connor and his team donned the banana slug costumes and sponsored the Bigfoot sighting as part of the Discovery Museum’s “Perilous Plunge,” an annual fundraiser for the Redwood Discovery Museum. A beloved local event, participating teams are required to raise money for the museum by jumping into the icy Humboldt Bay. In 2019, the Papa & Barkley team raised $2,780.

For O’Connor, Papa & Barkley’s commitment to the area is a source of pride. In 2019, the company donated more than $25,000 to local Humboldt County nonprofit organizations like the Kinetic Grand Championship, Sequoia Park Zoo, and the Ink People Center for the Arts.

Since Papa & Barkley planted its roots in Humboldt in 2017, the company has created more than 100 jobs in the region and offers starting wages of $15 per hour, full health-care benefits, and a 401K plan. The company heavily promotes internal recruitment and more than a third of its workforce is on management track. In its procurement practices, the company prioritizes sourcing premium cannabis from local farmers first.

Sustainability and Simplicity

Humboldt County has always had a spirit of solidarity. In today’s world of intensifying global problems, finding new ways to live together is imperative more than ever. In this landscape, the legalization of cannabis comes with a set of challenges for the small independent farmers in the Emerald Triangle. In spite of a (growing) heavy tax burden and a litany of regulations to follow, licensed businesses and cultivators have the chance to set new standards for sustainability in agriculture and industry.

Karen Hessler and her husband moved to southern Humboldt’s Mattole Valley in 1971. “We wanted to be self-sufficient and lead a life of simplicity. We did subsistence farming; it was not about making a lot of money,” Karen says. Today, the couple runs Amaranth Farms, which took third place at the 2019 Emerald Cup for its CBD flower. Hessler feels confident that Amaranth, as a small family farm with a focus on genetic research, is doing the right thing to help people.

“There’s a legacy to draw on in the Emerald Triangle,” says Dominic Corva, co-director at the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HiiMR) at Humboldt State University. “Many farmers here come from back-to-the-lander families. Children internalize those values.”

One such farmer is Sunshine Johnston, the owner of Sunboldt Grown in Holmes Flat. “There’s a right way and a wrong way,” says Johnston, who uses dry-farming techniques at Sunboldt. “The right way is about the long term.” She hopes that home-grower culture continues to thrive and that the Emerald Triangle’s community of medicine makers are recognized in the new legal marketplace.

The back-to-the-landers who started growing cannabis in the Emerald Triangle in the 1960s were striving to create another way of living together—a utopia. Because cannabis was illegal, growers had to create value outside of mainstream society to sustain themselves. They built schools and community centers and fire stations. They held potlucks and music festivals. They got to know the land and the seasons and explored ecology and sustainability long before it became a hot topic. Because cannabis could be a psychoactive substance, it nourished people’s ability to imagine another world.

“Cannabis is a powerful spirit,” says Lorelie Sandomeno whose farm, Sunrise Mountain Farms, is located in northeast Humboldt County. “It gives the gift of presence. It creates feelings of deeper connection.”

Today, forward-thinking cannabis farmers focus on the plant and its ecosystem. Wendy Kornberg is the owner at Sunnabis Farm in Southern Humboldt, where her family grows cannabis organically and with minimal water use. “I imagine myself as a weed plant,” says Kornberg. “I hear birds, nature, the sounds of children. This is where I want to be.”

Over the years, environmental degradation by growers abusing the land and the system became rampant. But today, legalization has ushered in the highest standards of farm management practices. To succeed in the competitive marketplace, Emerald Triangle cannabis operators draw on the values of sustainability and community that legacy farmers established generations before them.

Energizing the Mission

Dance and music have been taking place at the Mateel Community Center in Redway for more than 40 years. Built in 1988, the community center has garnered international recognition for its multicultural lineup of musicians and legendary Reggae festival. With its economic health tied to the cannabis industry, the Mateel has struggled in recent years to keep operations afloat due to the economic downturn begotten by legalization.
In Humboldt County’s barn-raising spirit, the cannabis manufacturing company Bear Extraction House launched Project Humboldt Thrive, naming the Mateel as one of the recipients. When farmers who work with Bear donate to Project Humboldt Thrive, Bear Extraction matches every donation.

“It’s important to put our energy into our missions and values. It’s not just about profit,” says Bear’s Stacia Eliason.

In addition to the Mateel, Project Humboldt Thrive supports the Eel River Recovery Project, which works to improve the health of Chinook salmon runs in the mighty Eel River. As the largest Pacific salmon species, Chinook salmon grow to be three feet long and some even reach more than five feet and more than 100 pounds. Years of industrial mining, logging, and illegal cultivation have led to the Chinook’s status as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. For cannabis farmers in the Emerald Triangle today, the health of our rivers is symbolic of the health of the community.

Kyle Preciado grew up in the Emerald Triangle’s cannabis culture and today is a founding member of Humboldt Homegrown, a network of cannabis growers united under one collective brand. Preciado points out that on average, 90 percent of legal cannabis markets are controlled by less than 10 companies nationwide. Preciado wants to do things differently.

“We believe that if we model our business from the laws of nature, maintain the values set by the plant and agreed upon by the group, we can build an ecosystem sustainable for all involved,” Preciado says. “We want to uphold our regional reputation as the best cannabis producers in the world.”

Giving back to the community and the environment through social innovation were values born and upheld long before legalization. Today, the Emerald Triangle cannabis industry continues to carry the torch.

Seeing red, feeling blue, tickled pink. What you see is what you feel is what you are.

Humans have used color to express ideas and emotion for thousands of years, according to color specialist and trend forecaster Leatrice Eisman. As executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Eisman is the world’s leading authority on the topic of color, authoring many books on the subject. In The Complete Color Harmony, Eisman describes how even the most subtle nuances in color can result in shades that excite or calm, pacify or energize, and even suggest strength or vulnerability. “They can nurture you with their warmth, soothe you with their quiet coolness, and heighten your awareness of the world around you. Color enriches our universe and our perception of it,” she writes.

According to her research, we all respond to color at a very visceral level, associating specific hues with another time or place. “Color invariably conveys moods that attach themselves to human feelings or reactions,” she notes. “Part of our psychic development, color is tied to our emotions as well as our intellect. Every color has meaning that we either inherently sense or have learned by association and/or conditioning, which enables us to recognize the messages and meanings delivered.”

It’s with all this in mind that she and a team of experts choose the Pantone Color of the Year, which the institute has named annually for more than two decades, gaining more attention and having more impact with each passing declaration. So this year, expect to see a lot of blue. The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is known as Classic Blue.

Describing the shade as “evocative of the nighttime sky,” Eisman explains the choice: “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

She contends that Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious, expand our thinking, open the flow of communication. Her comments are rooted in color theory, which says that a good part of the emotions that colors evoke is tied to natural phenomena. Classic Blue is the color of outer space (look beyond), of the celestial sky (look beyond), of the deep ocean (open the flow).

One of the earliest formal explorations of color theory came from German poet and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His 1820 book Theory of Colours explored the psychological impact of colors on mood and emotion. Yellow, Goethe wrote, is the color nearest the light, yet when applied to dull, coarse surfaces, it is no longer filled with its signature energy. “By a slight and scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful impression of fire and gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul; and the colour of honour and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aversion.”

Of red: “All that we have said of yellow is applicable here, in a higher degree.” Goethe’s theories continue to intrigue, possibly because of the lyrical prose rather than its scientific facts.

Today, it’s generally accepted that shades of blue are associated with steady dependability, calm, and serenity. Yellow evokes the color of the sun, associated with warmth and joy. Green connects with nature, health, and revival. White stands for simplicity; black for sophistication.

A 1970s study on the body’s physiological responses to colors revealed that warm hues (red, orange, yellow—the colors of the sun) aroused people troubled with depression and increased muscle tone or blood pressure in hypertensive folks. Cool colors (green, blue, violet) elicited the reverse, but the important finding was that all colors produced clinically tangible results.

It’s not woo-woo science; humans have been using color as medicine, a practice known as chromotherapy, since ancient Egypt. In fact, chromotherapy is as tested a practice as any other alternative medicine—Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology. While it is widely accepted that color affects one’s health—physically, mentally, emotionally—more studies are needed to determine the full scope of impact as well as its potential to help heal.

This isn’t a new theory, either. In the late 1800s, rays of color/light were shown to affect the blood stream. Later research found color to be “a complete therapeutic system for 123 major illnesses,” according to a critical analysis of chromotherapy published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.
Today, bright white, full-spectrum light is being used in the treatment of cancers, seasonal affective disorder, anorexia, bulimia, insomnia, jet lag, alcohol and drug addiction, and more. Blue light is used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis. Red light helps with cancer and constipation. And that’s just the beginning.

On the Bright Side

When your physical landscape is devoid of bright, vibrant hues, your emotional one is affected as well. That’s where color therapy comes in. It has a deep effect on physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of our lives, and it comes in many forms: light sessions that include color wheels. Colored crystal lights. Breathing in colors through meditation. Infrared saunas with chromotherapy add-ons.

There are actually many ways of adjusting the color in your life, and not all of them require a trip to see a specialist. Unlike trying to self-administer acupuncture (don’t do that), techniques can be as simple as putting on colorful attire or getting some bright throw pillows or plants. You can never have too many plants. And you should eat more plants, too, filling your plate with healthful fruits, vegetables, and spices from every part of the spectrum.

If a lack of sunlight has you feeling a lack of joy, paint your home or office—warm, vibrant yellows and oranges showcase excitement and warmth; browns and neutrals decidedly do not. Choose wisely. Painting not an option? Consider temporary wallpaper or hanging large artworks. On a budget? Head to the thrift shop and repurpose an old canvas by painting it white and then adding whatever hues you are vibing with this winter. If it doesn’t turn out well, cover it up with more white paint and start again.

Have fun with it, consider it art therapy.

There are also an array of therapeutic options popping up as add-ons, as wellness studios, spas, and alternative medicine practices incorporate chromotherapy treatments into their offerings. Many infrared saunas are starting to offer chromotherapy benefits, and the combination of the full-light spectrum and the heat effectively tricks the brain into thinking it spent a full day basking in the sun, causing it to release those sweet endorphins that flood your body when the warm rays of spring hit your face when you step outside. It feels good and really, that is everything. Color is everything.

Laura Beebe and her motorcycle sisters, The Litas Humboldt, enjoy the thrill of taking the road less traveled.

Always an adventure-seeker, Laura Beebe, 31, discovered the thrill of riding motorcycles in the Emerald Triangle two years ago. “I find that living life on the edge makes me feel alive,” Beebe says. 

An avid surfer, Beebe found it hard to juggle her surf addiction with the demands of a full-time job. Riding gave her something she could do on her own time to get the blood flowing. “Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel more alive than riding through a rainstorm by yourself down Highway 101,” Beebe says. 

Most days, Beebe rides a Sportster 1200, and she always takes the scenic route. Though she typically rides by herself, Beebe is a member of The Litas, an all-inclusive women’s motorcycle group. “It has been such an honor to be a part of something so unique and uplifting,” Beebe says. The Humboldt chapter of The Litas formed recently and often organizes ladies’ rides for its “motorcycle sisterhood” throughout the back roads of the Emerald Triangle. 

“Humboldt County is such a beautiful place to ride a motorcycle—no traffic and endless back roads,” Beebe says. She’s also been charmed by how friendly folks are once she hops off her bike. “People love talking to you when you’re on a motorcycle,” she says. “You become more interesting, I guess!” 

@lauraashleybeebe / @thelitashumboldt

Editor’s Note

After two million people endured blackouts all over California this fall while thousands fled raging fires in Sonoma and Los Angeles, the season of light has a new meaning this year. More than ever, it’s a time to let go of consumer obligations and focus on the abundance of now. In the words of Pa Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”

While it’s easy to post an inspirational quote on Facebook, shirking consumerism is quite challenging in practice. In our globalized world, we are constantly exposed to a vast and bottomless marketplace. Come the holidays, companies are armed with unprecedented levels of data about our families, dreams, and weaknesses. While I’ll still be wrapping up a few consumable goodies this season (with upcycled paper!), I’m joining a growing majority in supporting local, sustainable businesses that craft small pleasures to spark joy. 

Beyond shopping local, here are a few out-of-the-box ideas for experiential giving: 

• Give the gift of self-care: Put a date on the calendar in January and invite friends over for a self-care night. Gather tea, mani-pedi supplies, and face masks—and actually make good on the promise to “see each other more.” 

• Give the gift of childcare: The United States offers parents some of the paltriest childcare options in the world. Donating a few hours of childcare for a special night out or hosting monthly playdates is an unforgettable gift.  

• Give the gift of good health: While the rec marketplace offers a wide variety of medicinal products, there’s nothing more rewarding than DIY gifts. Not a gardener? Shop at your licensed dispensary for cannabis-infused oils and tinctures to elevate your favorite recipes and homemade treats.  

• Go for a hike: Taking an excursion into nature is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Give friends or family a “coupon” to cash in a hike—and quality time—with you in 2020.

From our family to yours, happy holidays!

Nora Mounce

nora.mounce@sensimag.com

They say they’re not alcoholics, and they’re certainly not anonymous. What is sober curious—and can sobriety really be fluid?

I drink badly, and I have a lot of fun doing it (when I remember). That’s a lethal combination, and when you throw in my unfortunate discovery of White Claw—I can drink as many as I want and never feel full!—I flamed out with alcohol last winter. 

On February 1, just as everyone else was celebrating the end of Dry January and just ahead of the Summer of the Claw, I swore off the seltzer. I figured I’d give myself one month (note: the year’s shortest) to reset. It wasn’t an easy 28 days, but when March 1 rolled around, I felt better than I’d felt in years. The chronic inflammation I had attributed to everything from gluten sensitivity to genetics was clearing. I saw the light, and there was no going back. 

I thought sobriety would be lonely, that every Saturday night would be Netflix. I forgot the Brett Kavanaugh generation isn’t in charge of culture anymore (thank God). 

Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t interested in swilling beer until they black out like we did in the ’80s. Sober is sexy—or, as hipsobriety.com sees it, “sobriety is the new black.” 

On Instagram, there are influencers such as @stylishlysober, @thesoberglow, and the darker @fucking_sober and hashtags like
#soberliving, #soberAF, and #sobercurious. Millie Gooch, who posts as @sobergirlsociety, encourages her nearly 60,000 followers with inspirational messages like “Mocks not cocks” and “Sobriety: a surefire way to improve your wellbeing and your Uber rating.” 

Just like that, I’m a cool kid—with a huge range of new options on Saturday night (and beyond). I’m exploring elixirs made with raw cacao, maca, and horny goat weed at Tonic Herban Lounge just a few blocks from my home in downtown Boulder (I can walk home after imbibing, and it amuses me that I don’t need to). I can do yoga and shake it before dawn at a Daybreaker dance party (daybreaker.com) in Denver, one of 27 cities where the alcohol-free early morning rave pops up and invites people to “sweat, dance, and connect with ourselves in community.”    

I’m surely not alone in this realization that life is better without booze. Worldwide, alcohol consumption fell by 1.6 percent last year. Led by young people, heavy-hitting countries like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the UK are seeing drinking rates as well as tolerance toward intoxication decline. An international survey found that about a third of people wanted to reduce their alcohol intake because of everything from sexual regret and embarrassment to physical health. A 2018 survey found that nearly 40 percent of global consumers want to drink less for health reasons.

In the US, CNBC reports, 52 percent of adults are trying to lower their alcohol intake, and underage drinking has steadily declined in the last 10 years. But only 21 percent of US adults in a CivicScience poll said they had any interest in drinking less or not at all, and most of those were 21- to 34-year-old, vegan-leaning flexitarians who practice yoga and consume cannabis daily. Women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, are drinking more than ever.

Booze still rules for most Americans, and “increased stress and demoralization” is actually pushing more women, minorities, and poor people to the bottle, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The national Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 17 million adults in the US are alcohol dependent, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six binge drink—defined as drinking four or more drinks over two hours or until blood alcohol reaches 0.08—nearly once a week. For this White Claw guzzler, that definition is, well, sobering. I called that happy hour.

Giving up alcohol isn’t a hashtag for a lot of people. It’s not even a choice. As Sean Paul Mahoney writes on The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, “I didn’t get sober to be cool. I just got sober to stop dying.”

A Little Bit Addicted?

“Sober curious” became a thing after HarperCollins released Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol in 2018. Warrington also has a podcast, runs Club SÖda NYC (featuring sober events like Kundalini Disco), and stages events (“Sober Curious: Choosing Sobriety for Focus, Presence, and Deep Connection” is February 14–16, 2020, at Massachusetts’ renowned wellness retreat center Kripalu). Her take is that a lot of Americans might not have a “problem” with alcohol but see it as getting in the way of their healthy lifestyles. “We eat well. We exercise. We meditate,” the press release for Sober Curious states. “So, why do we…still drink?”

Warrington wants to know why the only people who don’t drink are the ones who can’t and asks, “What if I am just…a little bit addicted?” 

Call me old school, but a little bit addicted sounds a lot like a little bit pregnant. I worry that people who shouldn’t will take the advice of John Costa, who writes on twentytwowords.com that being sober curious is like being bi-curious—you don’t always hook up with people of the same sex, and you don’t have to cut out drinking forever. “Be sober half the time,” he writes, “and sauced the other half.” He’s joking, but those are dangerous words for me. That’s the life I was living: sober by day + tanked by night = balance.

Like all disorders (and pretty much everything in our culture), alcohol use runs on a spectrum. I was at the end that spent hours upon hours researching whether drinking while on this antibiotic would really make me projectile vomit and scoffed at friends as they struggled through Dry January, Dry July, Sober September, and Sober October. I wasn’t interested in giving up drinking for any reason or any amount of time, until I had to give it up for life.

Warrington, who sees reducing alcohol intake as another step in the wellness revolution, is at the other end of the spectrum—and she is aware of the difference between recovering from alcohol addiction and feeling better during yoga. I hope all of her followers are, too, because the last thing most drinkers need is a loophole.  

I want to believe the trend Warrington is leading toward spirits-free activities and thoughtfulness about alcohol’s role in our culture—where every ritual, celebration, loss, entertainment, and even sporting event is cause for a drink—is not a trend but a movement. That we’ll look back at “mommyjuice” like we shake our heads at “mother’s little helper” pills from the ’60s and ’70s. The infrastructure to support sobriety is being built, and public opinion is turning. After centuries of going hard, America is getting woke, not wasted.

Cheers to that. 

Luxury has gone to pot.

 At the end of October, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Cannabis Open Houses Are Putting the High in High-End Real Estate.” The trend piece by author Katherine Clarke revealed the emerging discovery being used by developers and real-estate agents to move luxe properties in communities where recreational cannabis is not just legal but widely accepted. 

It’s not unlike Los Angeles, where the rising industry is being hailed as an untapped source for buyers of high-priced homes. Throwing cannabis-related events—everything from elaborate seven-course pairing dinners with vapes in lieu of vino to live trimming classes—at multimillion-dollar properties on the market is garnering attention, building social buzz, and attracting buyers with money earned in, around, or on cannabis.

Not everyone sees the genius behind the trend, however. Clarke spoke to one agent in New York, where recreational cannabis is still a pipe dream and old tropes live on about munchie-motivated stoners. “When I think about cannabis, I don’t think about buying an expensive house,” says Warburg Realty’s Jason Haber. “It’s not a call for action as much as a call for Doritos.”

Someone should tell him friends don’t let friends make tired stoner jokes anymore. Especially ones implying cannabis consumers indulge their munchies with mindless consumption of unhealthy snacks when the reality is cannabis appeals to what The Economist dubs the “health-conscious inebriate,” citing a poll that 72 percent of American consumers thought cannabis was safer than alcohol. A 2018 The New Yorker headline declared cannabis to be a wellness industry in California where, in fact, a cannabinoid cousin of THC and CBD is starting to garner a whole lot of buzz. Instead of stimulating appetites, THCV may suppress those hunger pangs. When 2021 is declared the year of THCV, you can say you heard it here first. 

Consumption and consumerism

Cannabis has moved so far beyond the clichés of yore. Tie-dye tees, bell-bottom cords, dancing bear patches, plastic bongs, Ziploc baggies: these tired trends are so out of style, some have already circled back and left again. (Looking at you, tie-dye.) The stoner kids of yesterday are the cannabis entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs of today. And as they’ve aged, their tastes in cannabis aged with them, like the fine wine they can now afford. Cannabis consumers have money to burn. 

And since we live in a capitalist society (an unjust one where people remain locked up for nonviolent drug charges in states that earn taxes off now-legal cannabis sales—that’s a whole layered story for a different day), money makes things happen. And what’s happening now is the emergence of a cannabis experience elevated to a higher level.

If you were paying attention to the pop-culture cues over the decades, you would have seen the high-end highs coming. When cannabis prohibition began its slow-and-steady march to its forthcoming end, it emerged from the black market with an established following of consumers—loyal cannabis consumers with no brand loyalty, because cannabis brands didn’t exist. Dealers did, growers did, activists, advocates, and believers, too. But the concept of cannabis brands was all brand-new. 

With strict laws surrounding where the substance can be marketed, sold, advertised, distributed, and more, establishing customer loyalty in this industry is more difficult than it would seem on the surface. What differentiates one edible brand from another, one vape pen from the next is complicated to discern for those who aren’t well versed in the modern verbiage or its meaning. (Full-spectrum distillate, live resin, 2:1 ratios, oh my!)

This is where marketing and branding comes into play. And with marketing and branding comes the emergence of new market segments, including the ultra-luxury category. It is from within that category that future trends are likely to emerge. That’s how trends play out, as Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep) explained to her new assistant in one iconic scene of The Devil Wears Prada. (If you haven’t seen it in a while, a quick refresher: “The color of the shirt you are wearing right now was determined years ago by high-end designers preparing their collections for fashion week runways.”) 

Trickle-down trends are a hierarchical process whereby individuals with high status establish fashion trends, only to be imitated by lower-status individuals wearing cheaper versions of the same styles.

“It’s always been a thing,” says Karyn Wagner, CEO of Paradigm Cannabis Group, a women-owned extraction company specializing in pre-rolls and extracts made from small-batch sun-grown flower. “There’s always been those products that are better than others. But now, with adult use, we have to be more brand-conscious. With that, how do you distinguish yourself from someone else? Why is this better? What makes it better?”

Some like it haute

With any luxury good, consumers want the assurance of quality and efficacy, Wagner says. But you can never underestimate the prestige that comes with a high price tag. “The moneyed class always loves expensive items,” she says. “This normalizes it in their world. It brings in folks who didn’t normally have the desire. It made it OK in their class. Expensive breeds expensive things. You wouldn’t have expensive cannabis if you didn’t have people who wanted to buy expensive cannabis.”

Jenny Le Coq, president of Le Coq & Associates, a marketing and communications firm in San Francisco that represents Kikoko cannabis-infused botanical mints, points out that most people typically don’t seek out a cheap bottle of wine, but look for something fine, trustworthy, and familiar. They want to know the winery, its reputation, who recommends the vintage. “People are looking at wines today with a more discerning eye—how their grapes are grown, for example,” Le Coq says. “People are looking at cannabis in the same way: with a discerning eye.” 

“Discerning” can add up to big money, for sure. Anecdotal stories abound in national media outlets, suggesting couples in Colorado will drop several bills on “cannagars” and other high-end party favors to celebrate weddings and anniversaries. At The High End, Barneys New York’s luxury cannabis lifestyle shop in Beverly Hills, shoppers can splurge on a $1,475 sterling silver bud grinder or a $950 water pipe. New York fashion brand Alice + Olivia partnered with luxury cannabis brand Kush Queen to debut a CBD wellness line earlier this year—bath bomb, body lotion, bubble bath with lavender. Alice + Olivia packaging features CEO Stacey Bendet’s signature “StaceFace” motif, with big sunglasses and a bold red lip. A timeless statement-making style that trendsetters of every era make their own while trendy types try to emulate the overall aesthetic. That’s just the way things work.

To be fair, luxury doesn’t have to mean $$$$. What it must indicate, however, is quality. “Luxury is an assigned label. It is typically assigned by marketers,” Le Coq says. “So, what do you want cannabis to be? As a consumer, how do you perceive luxury? The concept is really defined differently by every person. We want people to experience something that is luxurious. Not only the packaging is beautiful, the taste is beautiful, the place you are put into mentally is a nice, beautiful place.” 

Agriculture has long been considered a male-dominated field. But as the light of legalization shines, women are stepping up to lead the cannabis industry.

Research shows that women have shouldered the agriculture load—quite literally—throughout history, according to a study conducted at the University of Cambridge. 

In the study, which was published in Science Advances in 2017, scientists found that existing research on agriculture and tools in prehistoric societies had only focused on male skeletons. So, they set out to study the bones of Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age women. Their bones showed evidence that their lifestyles were largely defined by intense manual labor, suggesting that females farmed, while males hunted.

Prehistoric women, it seems, were instrumental in the development of agriculture, from tilling soil to grinding grain to harvesting crops. 

Despite science and history, society views modern farming as male dominated. Today, the cannabis industry is changing the conversation.

As a true champion of counterculture, the cannabis industry is embracing its femininity—becoming one of the first billion-dollar markets to do so. 

In celebration, we spoke to the badass lady farmers of the Emerald Triangle about life on the farm, and the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in the cannabis industry. 

Ebb and Flow

Chiah Rodriques was born and raised on a “back-to-the-land hippy commune” in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, where she still lives today. Rodriques is the cofounder of Mendocino Generations, a collective of compliant small farms—23 percent of which are owned and operated by women—and the marketplace director at Payne’s Distribution in Willits.

In addition to her full-time job, Rodriques and her husband own and operate River Txai Farm, and Arcanna Flowers, a collective of organic, sun-grown cannabis farmers. Their farm is home to their family, a 10,000-square-foot cultivation facility, and a 12,000-square-foot nursery, which provides two harvests per year. Typical days on the farm consist of watering, monitoring, and pest control, says Rodriques. They use a rainwater catchment system, so pumping and cleaning the farm’s pond is a constant chore.

In addition to cannabis, Rodriques and her husband grow companion plants throughout their property. “There’s a constant ebb and flow of what needs to be planted and what needs to be harvested,” she says. 

Cost of Compliance

The daily farm chores only scratch the surface of the physicality and grit required to run a cannabis farm—especially in the era of compliance.

River Txai Farms is transitioning into the state’s track and trace system. Though the team previously used a similar system, there’s lots to learn—and increased overhead costs. “We have to hire somebody who does all of our track and trace, and accounting data entry,” explains Rodriques. “This is new. Farms used to never, ever write anything down. We were trained to hide our notebooks.”

Nowadays, cultivators must keep track of everything, including how much nutrients and water are used. “There are so many details a farmer has [to mind just] to keep their head above water,” she says. “We spend so much time with paperwork and computers that it’s hard to get out in the garden.”

Time management is also a big challenge for Brooklynn Willett, co-owner of Lagniappe Family Farms (pronounced Lan-yap), a 6,800-square-foot cannabis farm in Humboldt. Along with her partner and a friend, Willett grows organic vegetables, hops, and fruit trees alongside cannabis. “It’s old school Humboldt, where you get the family environment mixed in with the cannabis production,” says Willett.

Like Rodriques, Willett misses working with the plants. “I’ve taken on more of a CEO position, which means that I’m responsible for compliance,” she explains. “[With Proposition 64], paperwork, compliance, branding, marketing, and chasing down distribution for sales is a full-time job.” Still, it’s one she wouldn’t trade for anything: “No white picket fence for me!” says Willett. 

Shifting Paradigms

For decades, cultivation (known colloquially as “growing”) was thought of as a male role, while women were relegated to trimming and leafing. As the founder of Emerald Employment, a staffing agency that connects workers with jobs at compliant cannabis facilities, Willett is noticing a paradigm shift.

“We’re finding that more females are getting into basic cultivation from start-to-finish,” she explains. “It’s opening up a lot more job opportunities to the people who were locked into the old way of doing things.” 

Misogyny is a reality on the hill, and off it. It’s not uncommon to hear of women being strong-armed out of sales or partnerships, or cat-called by neighbors or farm hands.

Siobhan Danger Darwish is the co-owner of Blessed Coast Farms, the first licensed farm in Humboldt County. She explains that the issues affecting women in cannabis are the same nuances in every other industry.

“The difference is cannabis has the opportunity to raise the standards across the board,” says Darwish, who cofounded Grow Sisters with her sister, Sloan Reed, a collective of women in the cannabis industry. “With the attention and financial momentum emerging in our industry, now is the time to draw attention to these inequalities,” she explains. 

Darwish also created the Sister, Grow Your Own and Know Your Farmer educational video series to empower plant and people—and spotlight inequities in the industry.

Building Safer Spaces

Shannon Byers, cofounder of Sisu Extracts, says the light of legality offers protection from some of the dangers and isolation of the black market. “It opens things up more, not only for women, but to everyone,” says Byers. 

Byers speaks from personal experience. Prior to Sisu, she cofounded a 215 compliant brand. After 18 months building the business, she found herself forced out—and on the receiving end of threats. Rather than risk her freedom, Byers chose to wash her hands of the situation but suffered harassment and online trolling for two years.

“It was really pursuing real licensure and legitimacy at a state level after Prop 64 that enabled me to have a legal foot to stand on,” Byers explains. 

Byers moved to Humboldt from Ohio in 2013 to study holistic medicine at the renowned Dandelion Herbal Center. There, she established strong relationships with women herbalists who were also cannabis cultivators. “Being able to go to facilities that were run or managed by these women made it safe for me to [visit alone],” Byers explains. “I was able to obfuscate a lot of dangers that I’ve heard other women encounter by being completely off the grid.”

Byers was inspired by how other female farmers operated. “They propagated a culture of respect for the plant, respect for the earth, and respect for their employees,” she says. 

Byers strives to do the same at Sisu, bringing women into the fold and “treating our community of employees as close to family as possible by giving them a real stake in the game,” via employee ownership plans. Sisu’s supply chain is run entirely by women who help coordinate pick-up and production schedules, run machines, and distribute manufactured goods. 

“I respect the hell out of everyone fighting the good fight of legalization,” says Byers. “But I really feel impassioned when I get to collaborate alongside other women in the industry.”

A Strong Intuition for Things That Grow

“Cannabis is a female plant,” says Willett. “Women have a strong intuition for things that grow. They have a gentle hand and a nurturing spirit. There’s nothing more beautiful than watching women working with this female plant that heals.”

Rodriques believes women bring unparalleled creativity, resilience, and beauty to the cannabis industry, whether it’s in the garden or with their brands. Plus, she adds, “Women get shit done!” 

Growing up in the industry, Rodriques and Darwish recognize the intrinsic role of women in its past, present, and future. “Women were the cultivators, the product makers, the kitchen witches, and the ones to sell the products. That was the cannabis movement,” says Darwish. Now more than ever, women have the opportunity to lead the industry, she adds. “Where a man’s focus might be to get the job done, a woman is more likely to get to the heart of the job,” says Darwish. “We’re more likely to put the delicate touches into the products by giving love and time to the plant or the job.” 

Like the women who came before, the females of cannabis are pioneers, nurturing human wellness—and their own inherent skill sets—along the way.