Our Slow Coast Home

UPDATE 5/26/2023: Our Wandering Sauna trailer is scheduled to arrive on The Slow Coast the first week of June. Watch for opportunities to join me at Blue Mind retreats for small groups.

UPDATE 9/29/2022: After two years and month I'm pleased to invite friends, patrons and colleagues to enjoy our Slow Coast home again. It's quite different than it once was, but equally magical and inviting. If you are looking for a place to disconnect, reconnect, spend quiet time with your small team or group, get in touch with your Blue Mind and enjoy one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, you may want to consider Slow Coast. FYI, in early 2023 we'll be adding a wood-fired sauna and hot tub trailer to the site. If you'd like me to join your group for a workshop, fireside chat or book talk that can be arranged too. Reserve Slow Coast here.

UPDATE 8/16/2022: On August 16, 2020 a climate-fueled-weather event sparked the most catastrophic fire ever recorded in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over the next month, fire raged through the region impacting lives, communities, parks, and some of the most ancient and beloved remaining coast redwood forests in the world.

Our property is now available for small, quiet, off-grid, digital detox retreats for groups of up to 12. We are only offering this to family, friends, colleagues and patrons.

[Check out how our friends Quinn and Sana spent a quiet honeymoon at Slow Coast.]

Our modest goal over the past 24 months has been to accomplish and add:

  • a full site cleanup, house debris removal, pass contaminant tests (complete)
  • dead/dangerous tree/limb removal (3/5 complete)
  • meadow restoration (complete)
  • six canvas platform tents (complete, with a 7th tent being added along with Jupe 2.0 upgrades)
  • a simple trail that can be safely walked at night with three log bridges crossing Mill Creek (complete)
  • rustic outdoor shower/bath area (complete)
  • a tree tent (complete)
  • tripod swing (complete)
  • upgraded gas (wildfire safe) fire pit (complete)
  • a wood fired sauna/hot tub trailer (in progress, due early 2023)
  • portable toilet (complete)
  • hidden mezcal speakeasy (complete)
  • a "base" kitchen tent (complete)
  • Starlink for text messaging (complete)

Soon I will be offering focused workshops to small groups and teams interested in exploring Blue Mind, the Groove teamship model, writing and creativity, and Slow Coast themes.

UPDATE 2/12/2022: Our book Dear Wild Child coming in August 2022 can now be preordered. Slow Coast is now available for small groups of friends and colleagues looking for a quiet place to disconnect from the grid and reconnect with themselves, their surroundings and each other..

UPDATE 11/28/21: Kirsten Dirksen of FairCompanies.com and Jeff Wilson of Jupe visit the Slow Coast to share the story of our collaborative experiment on Kristen's popular YouTube channel. VIDEO

He lived in a dumpster, then designed a slick plug-and-play prefab that got stuck in permitting purgatory, but now Jeff Wilson, AKA "Professor Dumpster," has released an ultra-nimble modular shelter that he believes could circumvent permits and deploys in just an hour (solar, water and all). And, he’s offering them for free to anyone who will provide the land for rent (in exchange for splitting the rental income).
The Jupe units are fully off-grid and designed to ship flat-packed, enabling bulk deliveries of fifteen units on a single truck. “Arriving with all the essentials ‘in the box’—including a luxury queen mattress and bed, furniture, LED lighting, solar panels, and backup batteries, and even the linens—Jupes assemble in a little over an hour and units are ready to rent the day they arrive,” explains Wilson.  Despite its canvas cladding Wilson calls it “more a device than a tent: Jupe’s units are built on an innovative “chassis” foundation that gives them the flexibility to move quickly and freely, adapt to any terrain, and oftentimes forgo the necessity of building permits.” This exoskeleton for housing allows for rapid assembly, and disassembly, requiring no foundation work, no platform, and no electrical utility drags, so “permits are rarely necessary”.
On the “Slow Coast” of California (north of Santa Cruz), Dr. Wallace Nichols lost his home to the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fires and decided a big box of a house no longer makes sense and instead chose to purchase six Jupes for his 20-acre property that not only went up fast but could be moved fast in the event of another fire.

UPDATE 10/30/21: Thank you to Spectrum News for telling stories of resilience and climate change impacts.

Transportable, tent-link homes offer housing solution for those impacted by climate disasters

Change can be scary or it can be an adventure and I think we have chosen the adventure route.

UPDATE 8/26/21: The one year anniversary of the fires that burned millions of acres, destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people near the peak of the pandemic lockdown came and went. Our personal goals for the year were to remove all debris, fell and remove dangerous and dead trees, stabilize the scraped earth where our home was, and set up some solar powered tents. I can't say all goals were met, but a lot has been accomplished and we continue to work hard towards those goals, up and down the Slow Coast. A few dozen people have spent time with us at the property, some to heal from their own trauma, and their contributions and feedback have been valuable. Grayce returns to college tomorrow, which I must say reminds me of the tearful letter I wrote to her after she departed for her first year at Syracuse. Her clever mind and keen eye has informed the slow design process.

The artist must create a spark before she can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of her own creation.
— Auguste Rodin

UPDATE 7/2/21: This week the Jupe tents arrived. They are special. I like them very much. My home on the Slow Coast feels new, different and familiar.

UPDATE 5/16/21: Our friend Jeff Wilson, founder and CEO at Jupe, visited the Slow Coast this week. We chatted and planned about creating a "home" comprised of separate components that could be — in case of an emergency such as a wildfire — moved or removed in under 24 hours. Keep an eye on this space.

UPDATE 5/3/21: Thank you, patrons. The “rebuild” of our Slow Coast home will be simple, modular, mobile, solar/wood/wind powered, and offer a place to disconnect from digital distractions and get your #bluemind on. We're creating an amazing team including the good folks at Jupe, LandArk and Wandering Sauna Company. I can’t wait to have your group for a visit. My goal is to have something official to share publicly by August 19th, the one-year anniversary of the wildfire that took our home. That's also the target date for the soft release of our book, Dear Wild Child. I'll share more updates on both projects as we make progress, of course.

UPDATE 4/16/2021: This week my focus has been on removing dead, burned, potentially dangerous trees from our property. Some of them can be milled into useful planks and others will add to our firewood stock. The good tree news is that the majority of redwoods are going to make it and are starting to get green. Next week I'll be meeting with a couple of companies who will help us with our plans for beautiful, mobile, sustainable, solar-powered infrastructure. More on that very soon. Thank you all for making this work on Slow Coast and Blue Mind possible.

UPDATE 3/30/21: Tomorrow we should wrap up all major debris removal from our Slow Coast property, leaving no trace there was ever a home other than the garden wall (see new photos above). We'll finish grading the former house site and begin turning it into meadow.

Eventually, we'll have a solar power for the well pump and a trailer with a kitchen and bathroom...along with the tripod platform swing, fire pit and log bridges At that point folks will be able to camp with us. Our plan is to add a mobile sauna and additional tents to accommodate visiting friends, family and colleagues.

UPDATE 3/15/2021: The world is awash in isolation, disconnect and digital media. The Slow Coast is a place for Blue Mind sensory restoration — naturally located where there's no electricity, no cell service, no wifi and no screen-based distractions (ironically, just over the mountain from Silicon Valley).

A portable solar panel provides enough power to make LED headlamps glow,  keep your camera batteries charged (that's what we call a smart phone off-grid) and warm your electric blanket. A fire pit and Adirondack chairs are circled up for gathering. A tripod tent platform swings gently over the creek for sleeping.

A long list of world-class "unplugged" activities in the neighborhood await such as apple and berry picking, hikes and bikes, surf sessions and tide pooling, goat farms and wineries, bird watching and stargazing, elephant seals and whales, marine fossils and ancient old growth forests.

Did we mention that spring-fed Mill Creek runs through the middle of it all and with the help of a state of the art water filter provides all the wild water you may need as well as a natural fridge for keeping drinks chilled. A short hike up the ridge is a lesson in resilience, wildfires, biodiversity and climate change. The scream of hawks will rile you in the morning and the call of owls will guide your sleep. All special needs can be accommodated and our advice about where to go and explore, what to do and eat, and what to bring or leave home runs deep into decades of Slow Coast living.

UPDATE 3/5/2021: Our land has been scraped clean. All but the garden wall. It was surprisingly emotional having a pile of debris comprised of all of our accumulated possessions and beloved home unceremoniously loaded into dump trucks and hauled to the landfill. Yet it was also a relief. It's been like that: seemingly incompatible emotions shacking up in the same mind, singing out simultaneously and—somehow—harmoniously. Otherwise, the meadow is green and the surviving redwoods are showing signs of life. Ironically, the fire-pit is the center of attention now.

UPDATE 1/5/2020: Progress on cleanup is very, very slow. After all it is the Slow Coast. The tall fireplace was finally leveled, which was surprisingly emotional (see photo of the rubble). GoFundMe progress has also been very, very slow but steady.  Thank you.

The lesson is clear: In slow we trust.

PLEASE NOTE: As of January 1st, 2021 due to COVID-19 and the wildfires our Slow Coast stores (online, Davenport and Pescadero locations) will be permanently closed. Since 2003 we've actively supported hundreds of artisans, farms and organizations around our region and beyond. Thank you to Libby Patterson and our amazing community and staff. As always, Blue Mind books and blue marbles are available through a number of booksellers and online sellers. If you'd like a personally signed book or books/lectures/workshops for your live or online event, please join me on Patreon.

. . .

We’ve set our short term sights on recreating our Slow Coast home on our land north of Davenport, California.

Our modest goal is to accomplish and add:

  • a full site cleanup (complete)
  • dead tree maintenance (1/2 complete)
  • meadow restoration (ongoing)
  • canvas platform tents (complete)
  • a simple trail that can be safely walked at night (complete)
  • a tree tent (complete)
  • upgraded gas (wildfire safe) fire pit (pending)
  • a rustic sauna trailer (pending)
  • a kitchen/bathroom trailer (pending)

Currently we have one tree tent, a redwood tripod tent platform, and six Jupes. The cleanup effort has made steady progress.

Once established, our Slow Coast home will be ready to share with our colleagues, friends and family who wish to visit and experience the peace, quiet and resilience of a redwood forest and Mill Creek. Just as we always shared our former home with all who passed through.

It is a magical place to spend some time, with a deeply rich history and easy access to world class hiking, surfing, nature, food, and wine.

You’re all invited.

Thank you,  J.

Airstream Life: Slow Coast

Bay Nature: ‘Slow Coast’ May Get a National Monument

The Coast Dairies property, which spans the so-called “Slow Coast” north of Santa Cruz, has fallen into limbo since it gained protection in 2006.
Funding shortfalls at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is in charge of the 5,848-acre property, has stalled public access to the former dairy ranch, once the third-largest privately held piece of the California coast from San Francisco to the Mexican border.

Bay Nature: ‘Slow Coast’ Will Stay Slow with Newly Protected Lands

It’s been a long battle to save the land that surrounds the town of Davenport, the epicenter of the “Slow Coast,” a term locals coined to convey a quieter way of life that prevails along the scenic stretch from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay.

Conde Nast Traveler: Shop in a vintage Airstream on The Slow Coast

The Slow Coast spans the 50 mile stretch of road between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. (Its motto: “In Slow We Trust.”) The place to pull over is Swanton Berry Farm, where you can pick your own organic berries and peruse local artists’ wares in the Slow Coast General Store, formerly a vintage 1954 Airstream. Just beware the cramped quarters!

Edible Monterey Bay: Slow Coast

Fittingly, considering how it all began, Slow Coast is ultimately part of the broader international movement that defines slow food, slow money and slow living. But it remains hyper-local, aiming to encourage visitors and residents alike to stop, explore and support the work of the farmers, chefs, artists and artisans who are lucky to call our beautiful coast their home.

Good Times: In slow we trust

A large part of the  Slow Coast movement is simply to give a name to an area that people (both residents and passers-through) have come to cherish.
“When you name things, it gives them status and stature in human society,” says Wallace. “When you give it a name it’s a something. If it goes unnamed it in a way is invisible … This is a very special stretch of coast and region of the world and its name is not well established, not really clear.”
The stretch of coast and surrounding farmlands and preserves is known as the North Coast to Santa Cruzans and as part of the Central Coast to most everyone else. Nichols and others believe the name “the Slow Coast” could serve to define and unite the area geographically as well as ideologically.

Lookout Santa Cruz: What to do when ‘The Blue Mind’ is turned to gray by 2020?

Writer, biologist, and philosopher Wallace J. Nichols was living a charmed life until the pandemic took away his livelihood and the fires his family’s home up the ‘Slow Coast’ north of Santa Cruz. Rather than run from the pain of it all, Nichols chose to feel it — and of course write it.

MV Times: ‘I thought I’d find something’

Brother of Islander Johnny Hoy loses home in devastating California wildfire.

Outside Magazine: We Lost Our Home to a Wildfire

Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols's house burned to the ground in California's CZU Lightning Complex fire. He wrote his daughter a letter breaking the news.

Punch Magazine: The Slow Coast

Usually when there is a public, picturesque oceanfront area, the masses have discovered it and it becomes a “destination,” crowded with people and trendy storefronts. But the Slow Coast is still largely a hidden gem. You may not even have heard the term. The Slow Coast, lesser known than its popular and more southern oceanside neighbors, Monterey and Big Sur, is the special area on the stretch of land between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. It combines the beauty of the California coast line with a rich history not found in all parts of the West Coast.

San Francisco Chronicle: Funky, hip road trip outside Santa Cruz

A vintage Airstream trailer along with a large sign emblazoned with the words “Slow Coast” sit on the grass-covered plot between the Davenport Roadhouse and the Bonny Doon Vineyard Tasting Room.
The sign advertises a movement committed to the enjoyment and celebration of the 50-mile stretch of coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. It was was founded by Wallace J. Nichols, a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences and author of “Blue Mind,” a best-selling exploration of the health benefits of water immersion. In addition to serving as Slow Coast’s headquarters, the Airstream site is a spot to relax at tables, on couches or on hay bales. Inside the Airstream is the coolest little gift shop you’ll ever see. No purchase is necessary to enjoy the ambience. Visitors are encouraged to grab a bottle of wine at Bonny Doon Vineyard or a coffee and some food from the Davenport Roadhouse and just hang out.

Santa Cruz Sentinel: SLOW COAST: How one family united Davenport through a business in an Airstream trailer

The Davenport residents use the term “SLOWCOAST” to describe the land stretching from Bonny Doon to Tunitas Creek — the winding roads down Highway 1, just after Santa Cruz, just before Half Moon Bay.
“This coast is over the hill from Silicon Valley, the fast valley, and San Francisco is the fast city,” J. Nichols said. “We”re not inventing the concept, we”re just calling it what it is. This has just been a beautiful place to work and live for a very long time. People just love the slow qualities.”
They came up with the term “Slow Coast” in 2002 while hiking along the California Coastal Trail from the Oregon border to the Tijuana border with their daughter Grayce, who was 1 at the time. While they found each area uniquely beautiful, they realized they were in the exact place they wanted to live. J. Nichols, a marine biologist, grew up in Manhattan and Dana Nichols, who worked for an organic juice company, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“We saw every foot of the entire coast,” J. Nichols said. “Rather than finishing that and feeling like we wanted to move to one of the beautiful places, we realized our home was literally where we wanted to be.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Airstream store closes

Santa Cruz Tech Beat: On Pre-Tech, Low-Tech, High-Tech

We made a long term decision to live in this region, what we refer to as the Slow Coast, after doing a bit of research. Specifically, we took a long walk from Oregon to Mexico down the coast. Over those four months of trekking and camping along the ocean we narrowed things down and eventually settled on Davenport. More than 15 years later we still love it here. There’s a slower pace than many places, wild natural beauty, access to waves and trails, amazing local organic food and wonderful people. We share our home with friends, family and sometimes strangers from around the world which has enriched our lives. One summer a European family cycling around the world with their four young kids came to stay with us. Our home has been a classroom for many students. The Cousteau’s have crashed our couch. Mick Jagger’s son and Ernest Hemingway’s great granddaughter made a movie at our place. But I’d say the proximity to such a wild, bold and healthy ocean has had the most impact on me personally.

Sketching California: Two pilgrims on the Slow Coast

The trip I was most excited to write about—and what I want to share more about with you here today—was the day we spent driving south from San Francisco, wending our way along something called the Slow Coast.
The Slow Coast is a 50-mile section of Highway 1—stretching from the beach town of Half Moon Bay to the city of Santa Cruz—and was founded by author and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols and his wife Dana. In 2011, they started opening Slow Coast pop-up shops along the highway, selling locally produced food, art, jewelry, and other Slow Coast-themed products. Some of the stores are located in small towns such as Pescadero, Davenport, and Capitola Village near Santa Cruz; others, like Pie Ranch, are situated more on their own (and yes, their pies are as delectable as you might imagine).
But it’s the Slow Coast’s motto and mantra I love the most: In Slow We Trust.

Spectrum News: Environmentalist Grieves the Loss of His Beloved Home

Wallace J. Nichols is turning to the sound of the ocean after losing his home to a wildfire burning in Northern California.

USA Today: Why being near the water makes you happy

The “Slow Coast” is over the hill from Silicon Valley — it’s where I live with my family in Davenport, Calif. It’s mellow, undeveloped and the opposite of a fast-paced lifestyle. There are organic farms, great beaches, wineries and fun surfing. You can go out to the beach and be alone for miles. Increasingly, my wife and I like having stay-cations with the family. It’s become such a luxury when the kids are out of school and we have no deadlines or work travel.

VIDEO: Blue Mind on the Slow Coast

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