Sincerely, Stella

By Stella Haffner   |   July 9, 2024

Dear Montecito,

Four years later and here we are.

This column started during the first COVID-19 lockdown, when I found out that half of my exams were being canceled.

“Hey Gwyn… mind if I start a column?”

And, well, you know the rest of the story! One hundred hours of phone calls, emails, and interviews later, we as a town have put together the Dear Montecito anthology. I have spoken to young artists, scientists, and philanthropists, and you have steered me toward town features big and small: “Do you remember a Dylan from Cold Spring? You were at swimming with his sister? You should reach out to ask about his work! His email is –”

Working with the Montecito Journal team, speaking to Santa Barbara alumni, and connecting with readers – the helpful hinters and friendly fans – has been a highlight of the last four years of my life. So it is a classic dark chocolate bittersweet to be saying goodbye.

Like so many of our alumni, I am entering the next season of my life. I have started my first salaried research position in the field of health sciences. I now spend my week working with a driven and thoughtful team, investigating the best ways to improve people’s physical well-being and prevent illness. While I hope to be back on your coffee table in the future, I am working to put together my first few scientific publications and need to give them all my attention this year. As I said, bittersweet. But easier because I know I am leaving you in good hands. In a bit of a full circle moment too, I might add!

Beatrice Tolan was one of the first people featured in the Dear Montecito column. After completing her BFA in media arts at Northeastern, Beatrice recently moved back to California. Although she lives in Los Angeles, Beatrice is eager to reconnect with the town she grew up in and find new avenues to pursue her passion for storytelling. When the Dear Montecito column resumes later this summer, she will be our new host! 

This last letter is a message from both Beatrice and me. She would like you to know that she is so excited to connect and to continue Dear Montecito. And I would like to say a huge thank you for supporting the column and making it possible. It has been a blast! And I’m so, so excited for the next chapter.

There you have it. Goodbye. And thank you.




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