The Slow Coast Camp

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 creating The Slow Coast Camp on our property north of Davenport, California.  

Our modest goal is to accomplish and add:  

  • a full site cleanup, dead tree maintenance & meadow restoration
  • a canvas safari tent & platform to use as a kitchen and dining area
  • a fun & challenging obstacle course trail (that crosses the creek three times)
  • a solar trailer for portable power and storage
  • a new well for water 
  • an additional tree tent
  • a rustic sauna

Currently we have one tree tent, a redwood tripod tent platform, and a fire pit. The cleanup effort still has a long way to go, but we'll keep you updated on our steady progress.

Once established, The Slow Coast Camp will be ready to occupy and activate for those who wish to visit and experience the peace, quiet and resilience of a redwood forest and Mill Creek. 

It will be 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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