Sages Gear Up for Fall

The Canyon Sages, Topanga’s senior organization since 2009, is kicking off a new round of activities for the fall season, starting with Emergency Preparation and Medicare workshops. Anyone of senior age can join the Sages. There are no dues to join and you do not need to be a member to attend the many workshops and classes available. While most of the classes and activities are Sages-sponsored, they are open to all ages.



First, the Sages and Topanga Library invites all to attend an Emergency Preparation Workshop for Seniors on Sunday, September 22, 2-4 p.m., in the Library meeting room. The program is designed to help seniors, people with disabilities, and their families to be safer by offering a roadmap to a safer outcome during a disaster.

Is your home fire resistant? We all need help and reassurance after weathering the Woolsey Fire last fall. To that end, Beth Burnam and Ryan Ulyate from the North Topanga Canyon Firesafe Council (NTCFSC) will be on hand to explain how to harden your home against fire.

Are you ready to evacuate in case of fire? The workshop will also explain how to assess your readiness to evacuate. Do you drive? Would you need help to evacuate you, your pets or your loved ones? To help you assess your readiness, Sages and TCEP have handouts available, among them a checklist where you can add names of those who can assist you, and

more information provided by LA County for you to take home and post as an easy reference to follow.

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). What happens when your power goes out as it did during the Woolsey fire? It doesn’t take a fire, however, for Southern California Edison (SCE), at its sole discretion, to shut off power on any grid(s) during “extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions,” such as high winds and high temperatures, or in the event a power line goes down.

After conducting an online poll of its membership, Sages leaders recently met with Dave Ford, Senior Government Relations Manager, SCE, to explain to him the risks of an extended blackout for many seniors who may be dependent on electricity for medical machines, to refrigerate their medications, and run air conditioners. In the case of hot weather, seniors often find their condition is made worse by heat. Currently, there are no official cooling stations with backup generators in the canyon.

Communication. As the Woolsey Fire taught us, seniors, like everyone in the canyon, are dependent on communication in emergencies. Some seniors said they didn’t discover they were under mandatory evacuation during the fire for many hours. Many less able seniors depend on their phones to contact caregivers, friends, family, and neighbors to help them evacuate. During the Woolsey fire, that became impossible, and with planned blackouts, that could happen again.

We asked SCE to consider these risks for seniors during a PSPS. Mr. Ford said that the hope is that these planned blackouts will be “rare,” as they have been since they were instituted last spring. The Sages requested that SCE consider assisting seniors by subsidizing backup batteries or generators. We also requested that SCE, in conjunction with the Fire Department and County Sheriffs, create a program to reach out to vulnerable people before and during a blackout or evacuation.

SCE said they are looking into options and says anyone can sign up for a potential two-day notice of a PSPS outage by going to their website ( Be patient if you do. There are reports that the signup process is difficult to complete.

How to keep your phones and devices running in a communications blackout. As part of the Emergency Prep program, Jane Terjung will explain one option: batteries.

The Sages encourages anyone at risk, or who knows someone at risk, to make it a point to attend this important event. Meanwhile, each of us must take personal responsibility and create our own backup plan.



New and recent retirees are welcome to this workshop on Tuesday, October 1, 6:30-7:30 p.m., at the Library’s meeting room. This presentation is timed to the Medicare Open Enrollment season from October 15-December 7 for coverage starting in January 2020.

Specialist and licensed broker Bruce Johnston will outline all the options for Medicare and supplementary health care. Learn about what Medicare covers, when one is eligible, how to apply, and more. He has done it for us before with gratifying results and is back to explain everything you need to know.



Every October, Canyon Sages kicks off its Free First Friday dinners with a true Topanga potluck barbecue. We supply the meat and fixins; you bring your favorite dish to share.

This year it falls on Friday, October 4, starta with live music and appetizers at 3:30, followed by dinner and dessert. The dinner is prepared by our primo cooks, Lisa Villasenor, Karla Morrison, and Karen Dannenbaum, with Randy Just at the grill.

New to the canyon or new to senior status? Come to the BBQ, become a Canyon Sage, meet your neighbors, make new friends, and discover what’s happening this fall.

Our low-cost classes have expanded. Jeanne Mitchell, music teacher and Topanga Symphony organizer, is teaching group violin. Violet Marshall starts another exciting Acrylics art class. Mary Crescenzo is back with a Memoir class for beginners. Exciting exercise classes return with Sharon Donaldson’s Yoga Fusion (Free), and Bonnie Moffett’s QiGong.

Classes are sponsored by the Sages, but open to all. We also return with free clubs that offer Meditation, Fiber Arts, and a Book Club.


For more information on all the Sages offerings and to sign up:


By Michele Johnson


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