In 2001, Stephen Chiapella visited the students at Dunn Middle School, and shared the colorful story of his family’s adventures in Mexico and the United States. It's a classic California saga about ethnic diversity and the need to accept and embrace change, told with his characteristic humor and modesty. He passed away in 2014 at the age of eighty-eight. 

For Emmanuel Nana Akyen, soccer has been a pathway to a wider world. Born in Ghana, and by the age of five an orphan, he was recruited for the Right to Dream Academy, where he honed his athletic and academic talents. This led to an opportunity to attend Dunn School in California, and eventually a scholarship to Westmont College, from which he graduated in 2014. He is now coaching soccer and developing a bigger plan for helping to change the lives of others.  Nana's warmth, intelligence, and humor are evident in this interview. Read on, and meet a truly inspiring young man.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rancho Mission Viejo, Tony Moiso is one of Orange County's most influential citizens, a man with a proud California heritage. This interview was arranged by Tony's 25-year-old nephew, Richard Avery. It became a very special intergenerational conversation between two family members. We met Tony at the Rancho Mission Viejo Headquarters on June 15, 2017. 



On a recent October morning, John Hollister Wheelwright (son of Jane Hollister Wheelwright and Joe Wheelwright) visited the ranch house in Gaviota where he had spent a portion of his childhood living with his grandparents. He reminisced and reflected with sensitivity and humor about the ranch life he knew, the changes he's seen, and feeling like a 19th century person in today's different world. 



Sean Herzig has lived and worked at the Hollister Ranch for more than twenty years. Kind, perceptive, and capable, he’s one of those people you just feel glad to see, someone humble and decent, quietly contributing.  Here he shares some thoughts about the importance of family, work, and community. 


In this 2003 interview, Ray Valdez talked about the hard life he knew as a migrant worker and the kind of poverty and struggle that might have defeated a lesser spirit. While his grandkids were students at Dunn, he helped out with everything from camping trips to archeological digs, and on Friday afternoons he worked in the garden on campus. He became Grandpa Ray to all of us, and his kindness, resilience, and optimism are inspiring.


The Living Stories Collective is pleased to be able to share audio excerpts from a 1998 conversation with Jane Hollister Wheelwright and Joe Hollister, both then in their nineties and looking back on their extraordinary lives with humor and candor. 

Kathryn Holcomb Dole was born into a pioneering family and had a pioneering way of living life. Married to the artist William Dole, Kate energetically managed his career and finances as well as their travel and social life while raising seven children. For nearly a decade in the 1950s and 1960s, the family lived in the old Hollister ranch house, filling it with life and laughter. She came back to visit in 1999 and shared memories from those wonderful years.


A natural builder and a teacher of natural building techniques, Betty Seaman shares her ideas with clarity and enthusiasm.  She spoke to us about her sense of place, her love of family, getting off the treadmill of always needing more, and the amazing network of natural builders of which she is a part. “There’s just so much good stuff going on out there,” she told us. “But it's not the sort of thing you'll see on television.”

In this 1998 visit with the students of Vista de las Cruces, Cresensio Lopez spoke proudly of his Chumash heritage, which he believed was best expressed with kindness and generosity toward people and respect for the land. "We don't live alone on this earth," he told us. "We share."


Born on a farm in Colorado in 1913, Evelyn Mason moved to California with her husband in 1941 to work at Douglas Aircraft. "I was Rosie the Riveter," she told us. She made her contribution to the war effort, happy to be of service, then humbly stepped aside when the soldiers returned. "Some boy could have my job."

Recalling projects requiring jigsaws in the hands of grade schoolers, the discovery of darkroom magic, the hikes where we girls surmounted the giant sandstone rocks using the ropes the boys in our very own class had carried and secured for our safe climb, camping trips, hot air balloon flights, poetry of place names and articles published in a real grown-ups' newspaper, I wondered what experiences shaped a teacher who revered adventure, nature, the finer points of language and even magic.  And what had caused him to successfully ignite in his students the desire to do the same?  Bruce gives us a glimpse of the exceptional characters who raised him, 'law breaking' adventure, wild backpacking trips and the insatiable curiosity that made him the exceptional teacher I know him to be.  

Please accept this invitation from his student of nearly 30 years ago and pull up a seat near the dancing campfire flames to listen to the warm, earthen voice of a master teacher and storyteller weave the tales of his own creation.


A beloved physician in the Santa Ynez Valley, the legendary Dr. Netzer was also instrumental in the creation of the Family School, Friendship House, Country Medical Clinic, and the Side Street Café. Then, at an age when most people think about retiring, he moved to a remote village along the Amazon in Bolivia and founded the Rio Beni Health Project.  Lou spoke to students and teachers at Dunn Middle School in 2001, shortly before he was diagnosed with the cancer that was to claim his life on October 10, 2002.


AuthorCyn Carbone

Jean Jacoby has a reserved, soft-spoken demeanor, but possesses an admirable kind of strength and self-acceptance. A child of the Depression, she has early memories of sledding down the deserted streets of Jamestown, New York on winter nights. She met her husband Dick at St. Lawrence University, and they have been a team ever since, working, traveling, raising two children, and now living in Lompoc. In this interview, she muses about the value of friendship, the sense of freedom and autonomy she still feels on a bicycle, and her gratitude for a fortunate life.

AuthorCyn Carbone

We visited Sally Jones at the Pork Palace, her Gaviota homestead. Sally beams with pride and joy as she reminisces about life with her husband George and their four sons here and in the Santa Ynez Valley. “I was a homemaker,” she says, “and I worked hard at it, and it was a joy.” In later years she found pleasure and solace in walking, and most recently in painting and drawing. 

AuthorCyn Carbone

An artist, builder, surfer, and friend who has lived for decades at the Hollister Ranch, Kit Cossart offered reflections about what it means to live in this remarkable part of the world. He talked about his early adventures surfing beyond the gate of Bixby Ranch, the paintings and sculptures he creates, and the faith that is his source of strength