Below please find the recordings of the Under The Persimmon Tree conversations 2019 as well as several of the older Big Sur Stories. You find quick links to recent conversations to the left <<<< and links to the older ones to the right. >>>>

You can download each audio file by clicking to the right of the sound bar.

PS. We will be publishing a new Big Sur Stories page for all our audio soon so please stay tuned.

03.08.16 Don Usner

Author of The Natural History of Big Sur Don Usner and Magnus Toren sit down for a chat at the Radio Plaza downtown Santa Fé, New Mexico. (the walls are pretty thin so we have some background noise! Radio? Plaza!) The conversation roam wonderfully and touch on Chimayo, Butts Point, The Rat Creek Fire, the Amphora Café, Big Creek Reserve, Alisa Fineman, the Cranston Bill, how to protect cultural and natural values, Ansel Adams and much more…!


Weston Call

July 2018 Weston Call

Weston Call and Magnus Toren in a conversation that brings the listener down the Big Sur Coast from Malpaso to San Carpoforo. Download (click the three dots to the right of the audio bar below) and listen to it when you drive south from Malpaso next time! Please share with friends and visitors.

Weston was born on June 28, 1986 and died on August 12, 2018, we miss him immeasurably. (Obituary here)

(please pardon the noise made by an impatient dog named Zeak!)

An Audio Introduction to the Big Sur Coast by Weston Call


Laela and Zad Leavy at Glen Deven Ranch | Photograph: Margret Cordts

03.03.16 Laela and Zad Leavy

We were sitting at Zad and Laela’s home in Carmel. This particular afternoon there were people working at the house so we have a bit of disturbance. Conversation include how Zad was involved in starting the Big Sur Land Trust in 1978. How the trust started by buying up development rights along the coast to keep open space as well as some about the controversies including strong anti Land Trust sentiment from some quarters including threats of having their home burned down (!) etc.
Zad passed away on May 1, 2018 (Obituary here)


12.18.15 Richard Mole

Richard was born in Oregon. His teenage years were spent on the Monterey Peninsula. Most of the time you’d find Richard near or in the water! For the last 30 years he has called Big Sur home. We sat together in a beautiful hidden spot near the highway. You can hear the cars on occasion some flies buzzin’ around and a bit of wind noise…none of which detracts from the pleasure of listening to Richard!


Joe Hudson’s home in Big Sur.

11.25.15 Jo Hudson

Up at Jo’s house late in the afternoon we sat together in the living room. Drove up to the ‘Fern Patch’ above to see the sunset and finish up the interview overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Had a good conversation about family, travel, sailing…

Jo was born on March 17, 1935 and passed away on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.


10.20.19 Lee Otter

Thank you Lee Otter for being with us Under The Persimmon Tree despite being a shy person! Conversation is touching on redwood habitat, The Naval Facility, the Scenic Byway, the Multi Agency Council, the Coastal Commission and Lee’s lifelong love of the Big Sur Coast…Shy?


11.17.19 Mark Readdie

Thank you Mark! A wonderful talk about some of your life, family, the kelp beds, steelhead, condors, climate change and the remarkable place you manage, Big Creek Reserve.


11.10.19 Tiger Windwalker

A talk with Tiger Windwalker. We speak of Tiger’s book Walk In Beauty, a little of his childhood, Ma Prita, Paul Herbert, multiple passed lives, how Tiger understands we are bifurcated and individuated so that we can experience for the greater consciousness out there that we at one point will merge with all that is in a more complete form.   


Sam Goldeen / photo © Gabriel Hyppolite

02.28.2015 Sam Goldeen

A conversation with Sam on February 28, 2015. We talk of Sam’s childhood and some of his family’s immigrant background being Ukraine, in fact more specifically from a small town named Poltava. We touch on Esalen, meeting Eby, Judith Goodman, Jeff Norman and much much more…Wish we had spoken a lot longer!!! Very grateful to Sam for sharing stories and information. / Sam passed away on August 2, 2017 at the age of 90.


11.03.19 Susan Shillinglaw

Susan knew very little of John Steinbeck when she got the job to direct the Steinbeck Center. Lucky her! Many years later Susan has published several books about John Steinbeck, written hundreds of papers and given thousands (?) of lectures. She found in Steinbeck someone to love and revere…you can hear it in her voice. Hope you will enjoy listening to this conversation.


Mary Lu, Magnus and Terry

10.27.19 Terry Gilbey

Director of Esalen Institute, Terry Gilbey, explains what the Human Potential Movement is and much more! A great afternoon of finding out a little more about who Terry is, what Esalen does, and some of the hopes for the future. We also discuss the virtue of wearing, or not wearing, wire pyramids! (-: (Please excuse some artifacts that crept into the sound – doesn’t really take away any of the pleasure of listening to Terry! ).


10.20.19 Frank Pinney

Frank carries two sticks and does a power walk every morning before he has anything to eat! Frank Pinney was offered a job by Larry Spector in 1972, he was the caretaker for Loet Vanderveen and was one of the founding members of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade. About first meeting Kathy Frank says “a person looked up at me with two deep blue green…pools…I just took a dive into those eyes and I’ve been threading water ever since!”

As always we are only able to take brief tours into memories from a long rich life. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk again! Thank you Frank!


10.13.19 Ian Brennan

As we were starting this conversation the Animal Collective was setting up for their show so we decided to go into the canyon behind the Library to talk. A small group of about ten of us sat together on a long redwood log. We had a good talk that included an exploration of what is ‘good’ and ‘honest’ in music.  Here is a: Link to the book on Amazon.

Some things that Ian says in the interview:

“If the Beatles came out today people would probably yawn and roll their eyes.”

“I don’t know that anybody should make money playing music.”

“Ed Sheeran just broke the all time touring record ever, for anyone, making more money than anyone in the history of touring and if that’s not a sign of the coming apocalypse then I don’t know what is!”

“Music is free and that is its destiny so we have to fight for that actively.”

Please let us know if you have any comments!


09.29.19 Butch Kronlund

Butch is talking about his early childhood and upbringing, meeting Patte, arriving in Big Sur to build the foundations for the entire Post Ranch Inn, working with Mickey Muennig on several private homes, helping to build our new Health Center and re-building the baths at Esalen!!  We also hear about how in more recent years Butch has helped to raise and distribute funds for people in need after floods and fires. Today Butch is working on the Destination Management Plan for Big Sur. 

09.22.19 Isabella Tree, author of WILDING.

09.16.19 David Price

David talks with Magnus on September 16, 2019, of Poland, Music, Acting, Managing Esalen, the re-building of the baths, memories of Nepenthe, his father Dick Price,  Alan Watts and much, much more. Thank you David. What a wonderful way to catch up!


09.15.19 Jaci Pappas

Jaci speaks of her life in Big Sur as well as some of her life prior to arriving in Big Sur. Her memories of working for Willie Brown in Sacramento are of particular interest! (-:    |    Thank you Jaci.


08.25.19 Senator Bill Monning

The Honorable Bill Monning at the microphone garnered the distinction of being at the mic the longest of anyone so far (!) and despite this honor the following is of course just a sampling of all the rich experiences that Senator Monning has had throughout his life. This afternoon I think many of us were particularly intrigued, and unaware of, Bill’s work for peace in Iraq. Visit: Please listen.    |    Thank you Bill!

Kirk Gafill 08.18.19

Kirk speaks of his childhood in Big Sur, the Nepenthe family, his community engagement and as so often with these conversations you are left wanting so much more! Thank you for what you shared with us Kirk!


Martha Diehl 08.12.19

Many of us know Martha through her service on the Monterey County Planning Commission including two terms as Chairman. She also has served on the Institute for Canine Studies, a Non profit organization engaged in developing a facility and program to teach people to train dogs to help people, she is one of the founding members of the Garrapata Creek Watershed Council. 

She is United States Coast Guard licensed as Master of Steam and Motor Vessels of any gross tons upon oceans, Radar Observer (retired), served in the maritime industry as deck officer on seagoing vessels worldwide, last 8 years as Master of cable installation and repair vessel with crews of up to 94 people.  Listen and you’ll find out a lot more! Thank you Martha!


07.28.19 Barbara Bullock-Wilson

Barbara is the older daughter of master mid-twentieth century photographer Wynn Bullock and his wife Edna who pursued her own successful career as a fine art photographer after his death.

In addition to her management of Bullock Family Photography LLC, Barbara is currently serving as the editorial consultant for a new feature-length documentary film on her father. Appreciating the potentials of her parents’ art to inspire and transform, she is enthusiastic about sharing it with others as well as dedicated to preserving their legacies for future generations.
A wonderful afternoon with a big audience of fans of Barbara present! Please listen in on it!


07.21.19 Supervisor Mary Adams

Thank you Mary for coming down to us to share some personal stories. About her Kentucky roots, move to California, early visits to Big Sur, some stories from school, work, family on the road to becoming our Supervisor. Audience questions are included with stories about young Mary at the Grape Strikes! A good way to get to know Mary a bit better.


07.14.19 Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts

Elliot is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College where he taught composition, literature, public speaking and humanities for 32 years, he serves as Vice President of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation in Carmel, California and he served for many years on the Board of the Henry Miller Library including as Chair of the Library Board.

Elliot reads from his recently published White Fire.

We here of some of his life on the Peninsula and his many years of public service in the arts. Thank you Elliot!


Steve Beck 07.08.19

Steve Beck has lived and worked in Big Sur for many years and has had a deep connection to this land. It shows in this interview where Steve talks of his home, his gardening and love of home as well as his service on the LUAC (Land Use Advisory Council) and much much more….


06.30.19 Bradley Zeve

This Sunday, June 30, the inaugural afternoon for the 2019 series of conversations, we welcomed Bradley Zeve.

Stories help shape the way a community sees itself – where it’s been and where it’s going, its individual personality and perspectives – what makes it different from other places. Or like Library Board member, Susan Zsigmond, said:

Bradley is the  founder & CEO of Monterey County Weekly newspaper, founded in 1988 and in its 31st year, still independently owned and operated.  

Bradeley speaks of sitting on the newspaper’s editorial board, serving as the Free Speech Chair of the national Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and his time serving on its executive committee.  He is past-president of the California Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He has served on the boards of KAZU-FM radio and Landwatch Monterey County.

We talked of all that and more! A perfect start for a series of conversations. Bradley is generous, fun and forthcoming! Thank you!


Every community has its own story to tell.

“Stories are what give life to a place, a place without stories is nowhere.”

Thanks for listening.

One of the reasons we do this is to remind one another of our shared humanity, our shared love of this place Big Sur, to strengthen and build the connections between us, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters.

We also hope that the project will help further the understanding of the awesome responsibility that was placed upon the Big Sur community thirty years ago when Leon Panetta, our congressman at the time, suggested that the long term protection of the coast would be left largely in the hands of the Big Sur community. We are also creating an audio archive for the future.