Central Coast Voices

Thursdays, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Central Coast Voices addresses the many ramifications of change and how today's choices will affect tomorrow's community. This program is an extension and production of "Action for Healthy Communities" an organization committed to identifying and carrying out projects that will improve the quality of life in San Luis Obispo County. The show's topics and guests focus on raising public awareness through credible and valid information about local and regional concerns such as health care access, neighborhood design, the state of our education infrastructure, the economic impacts, and much more. Your hosts Kris Kington-Barker and Fred Munroe invite you to join the conversation. To participate, call 805-781-3875 during the program.

Ways to Connect

The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes are a National Natural Landmark and a perfect place to visit and enjoy nature. The Dunes Center, a non-profit organization located in historic downtown Guadalupe, CA,

promotes the conservation and restoration of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes ecosystem through education, research, and the support of cooperative stewardship. This beautiful natural history museum celebrates and expands appreciation for the region’s natural treasures and unique history. The Center is a must-see for anyone living on or traveling through, the Central Coast and the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests with The Dunes Center, Alexis Elias, Executive Director, and Christina Hernandez, Outreach Coordinator, as they discuss all that the Dunes Center has to offer and their upcoming Reopening Celebration.

Back by popular demand, R.A.C.E. Matters SLO  is again hosting its multimedia, multi-location experience entitled Belonging. This two-month long event centers Back voices and is meant to give a voice to members of the San Luis Obispo County community who are of African American descent.

Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests Courtney Haile, Executive Director of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO and Project Visionary for RACE Matters Belonging 2021 series, Josephine Agoruah, a participant in both We Are Here and Stories Matter, and Rocky Ross, host and curator of the Morro Bay-based storytelling slam, The Reboot: Storytelling ReImagined and story coach. They will discuss the upcoming Belonging 2021 series and their work to amplify the voices of Black and other People of Color in an effort to build an actively anti-racist Central Coast.

Sexual violence, intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and stalking are serious public health problems that affect millions of people in the U.S. every year. To better support those ⁠affected by these acts of violence, RISE and Stand Strong, San Luis Obispo County’s two most trusted organizations dedicated to ending sexual assault and intimate partner violence, have merged into one larger, stronger alliance. This alliance will provide more comprehensive, inclusive services to those in our community who have experienced gender-based violence.

The educational concept known as “Critical Race Theory” has sparked debate across the country. How does it relate to new standards of social justice and a curriculum of ethnic studies that were recently passed in California?

Join host Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick, Inaugural Ethnic Studies Faculty at Cuesta College, Dr. Lata Murti, Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandman University, and Sharon Elmer, a recent graduate, Paso Robles High School. They will be discussing the current debate around Critical Race Theory and the controversy that has sprung from proposals to teach the Ethnic Studies curriculum in high school and elsewhere.

Is our democracy failing? Just months ago, extremists attempted to overthrow the U.S. government in an insurrection. State legislatures across the country are passing voting rights restrictions, and the current Congress is too dysfunctional to agree on legislation that would protect the integrity of our elections. What can we do?

Join host Fred Munroe in a celebration of Independence Day. He will speak with guests from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Political Science Department, Nancy Arrington, Assistant Professor and Michael Latner, Professor and Kendall Voting Rights Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists as they discuss the American experiment in democracy, the challenges we face in the near future, and the promise and peril of reform movements aimed at improving the way we govern.

What bothers you about your transportation system? How should our region grow to accommodate new people, homes, and jobs? On what projects should transportation funds be spent? As our region continues to grow, good long-range planning and investments can help be proactive before problems come with them. This is one of the chief responsibilities of San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), an association of local governments that represent the entire region, to explore multiple housing, job, and transportation scenarios through modeling and testing to prepare a long-range Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP for our future.

Join host Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests with the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), Regional Planning Division Chief, James Worthley, and Public Information Officer, Anna Devers. They will discuss the 2023 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), a long-term blueprint for the San Luis Obispo region’s transportation system that prioritizes spending on transportation projects through the year 2045, and tell us how we can share our input on key regional transportation topics.

For over 25 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County has provided mentor relationships for over 3,300 children. The mission of Big Brother Big Sisters is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. 

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests from Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County, Program Director, Laura Albers, Match Support Specialist, Lexi Frankiewich, and a 2021 volunteer Bigs of the Year, Jessica Micklus. They will discuss their work empowering kids in our community to achieve their full potential and what can be done to assist in these efforts.

Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud translated from Spanish means, “My community, Our health.” Research shows that expanding opportunities for healthcare benefits everyone. As the pandemic has shown, our health is only as good as that of our most vulnerable community members. Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud, which is a "people's movement for health ownership," aims to do this by empowering people from minoritized groups to govern the resources, education, advocacy, and access points that shape good health. 

Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests involved with Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud, or the Santa Maria People's Movement for Health, Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick, MA, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator for Mi Gente, Nuestra Salud and inaugural Ethnic Studies Faculty at Cuesta College, Cristina Macedo, MSW, Coordinator for the Mobile Health Unit at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), and Irma Torres, a student at Cal Poly involved in the project. They will discuss how they are working to empower people to combat the systematic racism and the other factors that violate the fundamental human right to the highest attainable standard of health.

The Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative (ERI) is a set of policy concepts, program ideas, and proposals to stimulate post-pandemic economic recovery and long-term vitality on the Central Coast, focusing on housing, clean energy, and infrastructure investment. Community members and stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on goals and objectives in the ERI, to date the initiative is supported by a growing coalition of elected officials and community leaders, and all members of the Central Coast community are invited to join this effort.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests involved in the creation of the Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative (ERI) and others, Andy Pease, author of the ERI and San Luis Obispo (SLO) City Council Member, Eric Veium, author of the ERI and Chair of the SLO Climate Coalition, Dr. Erin Pearse, Director of the Institute for Climate Leadership and Resilience at California University Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, and Anne Wyatt, Director, Tiny Housing Consulting & Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) SLO and co-chair of the SLO County ADU Task Force. They will discuss the proposed Economic Recovery Initiative meant to support a thriving Central Coast economy where all residents have access to affordable housing, good-paying jobs, and a high quality of life.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs?  They are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood, and studies show are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and even substance use problems in adulthood. ACEs are common. Adults surveyed report at least 60% of adults have experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 said they had four or more types of ACEs. Preventing ACEs could possibly reduce a large number of health conditions, in our community, but how?

Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests Nisha AbdulCader, an M.D., F.A.A.P. and Pediatrician with Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center, Lisa Fraser, Executive Director with the Center for Family Strengthening, and Barbara Finch, the Children and Adult Director with the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services as they discuss how we can work to better understand, prevent, and address childhood trauma. They will provide information about an upcoming training opportunity for those who serve children, youth and families on educating and increasing awareness about the widespread impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and provides hopeful strategies to build resilience within our communities and system of care. 

Stalking is a terrifying and complicated crime to address and navigate, however it is often minimized in our society. Media portrayals of stalking are often deeply problematic and lead to misconceptions being perpetuated further. In California State University Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) recent Campus Survey on Sexual Violence, 18% of respondents reported being persistently followed, and/or harassed, and/or pursued by someone in an unwanted way on or around Cal Poly’s campus, but only 32% of these students identified these behaviors as “stalking.” What is stalking? What does it look like? And, what help is available for survivors?

Join Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests Kara Samaniego, Assistant Director of Wellbeing at California University Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, which directs the Safer program, and Jatzibe Sandoval, Legal Advocate with Stand Strong as they discuss the issue of stalking and how to recognize and respond to this serious crime.

Pride is held each year by LGBTQ+ communities the world over to celebrate accomplishments towards gaining civil rights and push for more rights until achieving equity. The first Central Coast Pride was organized in 1997, over the years, Central Coast Pride has grown from a few hundred attendees to one of San Luis Obispo's largest community events. Community volunteers spend months planning various events aimed to educate, entertain, and celebrate. In 2021, Central Coast Pride will be celebrating 25 Years, and look back on the accomplishments of activism, work towards inclusivity and equality, and look forward to celebrating PRIDE for years to come. 

Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests Michelle Call, Executive Director of the Gala Pride and Diversity Center, Ila Moncrief, California State University Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, Intern at the Pride Center and Pride committee chair, and  Dusty Colyer-Worth, San Luis Obispo (SLO) Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chair City of SLO Human Relations Commission.

They will talk with us about the history of Pride, share with us details about upcoming Central Coast Pride month activities, as well as talk with us about continuing work to lift up our LGBTQ+ community and how we can assist with these efforts.

American Indian Health & Services, Inc. (AIH&S) is one of 41 non-profit Urban Indian Health Organizations nationwide which seek to provide culturally competent care to meet the needs of the Urban Indian communities they serve. For over 20 years, AIH&S has been committed to promoting and providing quality services to improve the health and well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives and all other community members of Santa Barbara. They envision a vibrant community where American Indians, Alaska Natives, and the community are nurtured and values include a balance of care for the mind, body, and spirit.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests from American Indian Health & Services, Inc., Scott Black, Chief Executive Officer, Jessica Foster, Community Wellness Manager, and Dr. Jonnie Williams, Licensed Clinical Psychologist with AIH&S Behavioral Health Department as they discuss how the community health care center provides culturally-grounded and trauma-informed programs and services for the American Indian/Alaska Native (and entire community) in response to the unique needs of the community.

Scientists around the world agree that pollution, habitat destruction, and over-exploitation of natural resources have created a climate emergency that threatens great harm to human health, wellbeing, and livelihoods. Here at home in California and on the Central Coast, we are experiencing those effects first hand. The U.S. drought monitor reports approximately more than half of California is already experiencing a severe drought, and that we are primed for a severe 2021 fire season. And while climate change is a threat to everyone’s health and well-being, some groups—socially and economically disadvantaged ones—face the greatest risks. So, what can we do?

Join us as we continue our celebration of Earth Month! Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with an array of Central Coast organizations working on ways to protect and restore the environment, combat the climate crisis, and pursue environmental justice for communities that are most vulnerable. Fred will talk with Mary Ciesinski with EcoSLO, Lexi Bell with The Morro Bay National Estuary Program, Eric Veium with The San Luis Obispo Climate Coalition, and Lucas Zucker and Rebeca Garcia with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) about the important work they are doing around these issues and how you can help create a better future and save the earth. 

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth, which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. Understanding the ocean’s role in climate change and how we approach business and conservation associated with the oceans are a critical part of the solution to the climate crisis.

Join us in a celebration of Earth Day, as host Kris Kington-Barker speaks with Benjamin Ruttenberg, Associate Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and director of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. They will discuss the threat that climate change poses to our oceans, marine life, and coastal communities, as well as talk about how a move toward a blue economy can help.

 In 2020 while navigating the COVID pandemic, El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) successfully expanded homeless services in Northern San Luis Obispo County where they had been much needed for years. In one year, the organization grew from 50 beds and a small handful of staff to more than 100 beds and three shelters, and almost two dozen staff members.  How did this expansion come about? And how is it being managed? What other plans does the non-profit have to tackle the communities’ homeless issues?

Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with guests with El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO), Wendy Lewis, President & CEO, and Jeff Al-mashat, Director of Homeless Services in Paso Robles as they discuss their expansion and how the program, in addition to providing shelter, offers services for these individuals to secure a job and find permanent and sustainable housing and how the community can help in these efforts. 


  Voices of the Earth deals with the troubled relationship between humans and the natural world. Compiled by Charles Junkerman and Rush Rehm Voices of the Earth brings together some of the greatest environmental voices from across the centuries to celebrate the anniversary of Earth Day. With a cast of 90 different characters – poets, naturalists, scientists, politicos, deniers, and heroes, Voices of the Earth presents a kaleidoscope of views on the earth we inhabit, and the existential crisis we face.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with Rush Rehm, Professor, Theater and Performance Studies, and Classics, Stanford University and Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT), and Magnus Toren, Executive Director of the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur about this inspiring work and its call to action.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 8th leading cause of death in San Luis Obispo County. This past week the County of San Luis Obispo, in partnership with the Suicide Prevention Council, made its draft Suicide Prevention Plan available for public review and comment. The Plan’s release comes at a critical time for promoting mental health and wellness after a year of COVID-19–associated stress. This Plan is the result of years of collaboration among community members, government agencies, and private and public organizations. It provides a framework of strategic aims, goals, and objectives that will work to guide prevention, intervention, and postvention support for those affected by suicide.


Each year, National Equal Pay Day reflects how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year. Due to a gender gap in pay, it takes women an extra three months of wages to make up the difference. On average, women working full time and year-round are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man who works full time and year-round. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.

What is fentanyl? It is powerful synthetic opioid, similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl was originally used as an anesthetic. It is approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. The CDC reports that rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, have increased substantially in the last few years and that most of these recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, including overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. What is the reason for this deadly increase? And what can be done about it?

Since 1970, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) has incubated and innovated real life environmental solutions that directly affect the California Central Coast. Their current work advances rapid and equitable solutions to the climate crisis – including ambitious zero carbon goals, drawdown of excess carbon, and protection against the impacts of climate change. At CEC, building community resilience is at the center of everything they do. 

The goal of Harvestly is to empower local vendors. To disrupt the global food system by creating a more efficient economy. Centered around health, sustainability, and the local economy, Harvestly aims to change the current food system and its devastating impacts on communities.

The 27th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLOIFF) will be here soon and it will be one of our most unique Festivals ever — a predominantly virtual experience. This world-class annual festival, along with events throughout the year, provides a venue for international and local filmmakers, exposing an ever-expanding range of audiences to new ideas and experiences. This year’s film lineup will feature 111 presentations, including 30 feature films, 63 short films, and 18 music videos.

While the COVID-19 pandemic had changed lives across the world, numerous studies have shown that certain groups have been disproportionally affected by the crisis, among this woman. A recent report shows that a staggering 87% of women business owners say they have been adversely affected by the pandemic. What have been some of the greatest challenges for women business owners during the pandemic and why, and how have women managed to innovate, and find support during these difficult times?

The Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts of San Luis Obispo (PASA) vision is a community of lifelong learners who become competent caretakers and peace leaders for our world. To do this they have developed programs for students to strengthen individuality, seek their potential, and maximize their opportunity to learn and contribute. Join Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with members of The Peace Academy of the Sciences and Arts of San Luis Obispo (PASA)—Sandra Sarrouf, PASA teacher, cultural worker and founder of Cultural Creations; and Dara Stepanek, PASA teacher, integrative nutrition coach, and restaurant owner. They will discuss the mission of PASA to inspire a deep understanding of self and others through a learning culture that celebrates creative innovation, enriched collaborative experiences, and connection through core human values.

In November, Americans overwhelmingly elected Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. The new administration inherits multiple crisis. A crumbling democracy, a devastating health crises, which has fueled an economic crisis, and a country with deep cultural and bipartisan divides.

As of today, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 400,000 people in the U.S. and while hope is on the arisen, with two vaccines currently being distributed, the virus is still considered to be “widespread” on the Central Coast, with hundreds of new infections reported daily. So, what should you do if you come down with the virus? Is it okay to go to the doctor? The hospital? How safe is the vaccine? And, how can you make an appointment to get vaccinated? 

The 2017 Women’s March prompted 5-million-plus people around the world to hit the streets, in response to the then newly-elected President Trump and his administration. The moment quickly turned into an important worldwide effort, focusing on human rights and social and environmental justice issues. Four years later, what has this movement accomplished? And what more does it have planned? Join Fred Munroe as he speaks with Dawn Addis, Rita Casaverde and Andrea Chmelik, organizers of Women’s March San Luis Obispo (SLO), as they talk about their work over the past four years, their future objectives and their upcoming annual (virtual) rally—Power Up Democracy.

Across the globe, businesses of all sizes are recognizing that supportive policies and practices increase organizational productivity, while also boosting the physical and emotional health of employees and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the overlapping lines between work and life, and provides a unique opportunity to consider how family-friendly options may be incorporated at businesses everywhere. Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with Wendy Wendt, executive director of First 5 San Luis Obispo County; Maggie Payne, program director with Atascadero Children’s Center; and Molly Kern, director of governmental affairs with San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. In the second part of the program, Kris will be talking with Kelly Boss, HR director with IFixit; Zihad Naccascha, partner and cofounder of Carmel & Naccascha LLP; and Angela Toomey, HR director with Morris and Garritano.  They will explore the many benefits of family-friendly workplace policies, and identify opportunities for change.

For 11 years, the dream of The San Luis Obispo (SLO) Jewish Film Festival has been to share with the community a broad spectrum of movies that celebrate the diversity of the Jewish experience.  Join host Fred Munroe as he speaks with co-directors of the SLO Jewish Film Festival—Lauren Bandara, executive director of The Jewish Community Center (JCC)-Federation of and SLO, and Muara Johnston—as well as filmmaker Jody Belsher, director of Summer in the Country, as they talk about the upcoming SLO Jewish Film Festival, a unique cultural experience on California’s Central Coast celebrating Jewish life, community, and films.