Hello, I'm Kristin Suratt, Living Light PR Director, and I've been working with the company for over 5 years now. It's been quite a journey. When I first drove through the main street of our little community, I thought to myself, “wow, this is an awfully small town—I wonder if I’ll like it here.” To be honest, I was a little apprehensive, because Main Street in Fort Bragg is also Highway One, and from that vantage point what I could see were commercial buildings, motels, some chain stores, a McDonalds, and a big expanse of coastal land (formerly the Fort Bragg Mill Site) that wasn’t being used. I’d met Cherie and Dan at some of the Portland raw food festivals, and they were getting ready to open a new 10,000 square food facility here in Fort Bragg, and so I “tested my wings” at Harbin Hot Springs where they had their “gypsy school.” It took 17 people 3 days to set up and 3 days to break down Living Light Culinary Arts Institute at Harbin, and Dan and Cherie were naturally excited to open the school in its permanent location in their current home town of Fort Bragg. After my initial trial (without fire), I was offered a job with many interesting hats, and so I decided to take the plunge and move to Mendocino County
I was certain that I’d go to San Francisco at least once a month and soak up some big city culture. Having lived many places in the world, including New Orleans, New York City, Vancouver, B.C., Paris France, Portland Oregon, Hawaii, The Philippines, and Puerto Rico, and being an intrepid traveler by nature, I thought I might get bored here.
That was before I started getting involved with the very progressive cultural community in this area. I was a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the Mendocino Film Festival for a year (the festival happened just this past weekend, and was wonderful—be sure to check out their website for next year’s festival—Take 6!) I attended the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference two years in a row, and I’ve been one of the hosts of a public affairs program, Women’s Voices on KZYX, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting radio station for the past 3 years. It has been a great joy to interview many creative and talented women artists, writers, filmmakers, and teachers who are doing extraordinary things in the world.
My most recent guest was Peabody Award winning filmmaker Vanessa Gould, whose film Between the Folds was featured at the film festival last weekend. On June 14, I will interview aromatherapist and teacher Elizabeth Ann Jones, author of Awaken to Healing Fragrance. I also love our local Noyo Food Forest organization here in Fort Bragg. What could be better than teaching people how to grow the organic vegetables they use in preparing raw foods?
Here in our community it starts with kids in the schools thanks to the wonderful women who started Noyo Food Forest! And so, as you may have guessed, I don’t travel “over the hill” (as we call it here) to the Bay area nearly as often as I thought I would. My job as PR Director and Marketing Manager here at Living Light has grown over the years, and I now spend far less time with students than I used to, and more time learning all the skills required to do a job like mine in our modern electronic age. It’s quite a thrill for me that our Chef Referral Services program is now in place for our students; we are launching a new section on our website called Become a Living Light Student, where we’ll be posting inspiring stories about what our graduates are doing after they complete our courses; we’re on Facebook (both a Cherie Soria page and a Living Light Culinary Arts Institute Page), and we’re blogging ….next stop Twitter—we’ve really come a long way in the last five years!