Meet Smartview Village People and Pets

Four colorful families commit...

Some are more skilled at Focusing than others. These are natural skills although typical Western culture does not encourage us to develop them.  These initial four families represent a slice of the diverse cultures currently calling the Floyd area home. 

Our setting is Smartview Village. We base it on a lovely Appalachian tourist spot called Smart View Recreation Area along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, VA, USA. We invite you to visit this Recreation Area some time to experience for yourself the land we write about. This is public land. No one lives here right now.

There are communities similar to Smartview Village in the Floyd area. Visiting Smart View Recreation Area, you will understand what a magical place this would be to deepen your relationship with yourself, with others, with nature, and with all the world.

Our stories begin in 2018 when a group of people gather at the local library to find a way forward. All around them, they are experiencing cultural norms falling apart. It confuses them. Changing their habits is not easy. Changing their beliefs seems even harder. What is clear is that they can help each other. Staying together as a community brings a sense of safety. They can lean on each other.

Four colorful families commit that day to create a fun and safe place to improve their skills at navigating life situations of all kinds. One family offers to share the land they live on. Within a year, the other three families build small homes on this land. They come with jobs, hobbies and pets. All share skills they have learned. Somehow, they do things slower yet, get more done. Families pause a lot to help each other. Each person practices listening to their own inner knowing. They practice listening to nature and the world around them. The way they live changes. These families recognize the value of sharing their stories.

From the greatest joys to the deepest shames, our characters practice the power of the pause. During that pause, they listen within themselves. Turning within becomes a fascinating journey as they learn to speak this unfamiliar language. Some of our families are more experienced than others. They all start from where they are. Neuroscience tells us that our brains are more complex than the entire universe yet discovered. It is with this understanding that our journey begins. What a ride this will be!


Meet our Illustrators 

Molly Guterriez


Molly Gutiérrez is our illustrator for the Poplar Family in book 1. Molly lives with her husband, Sam, and their house full of fur babies in Roanoke, VA.  She enjoys whipping up yummy things in the kitchen, digging in the dirt, healing through mind and body modalities, and discovering new depths through drawing.  


Unfortunately, Molly was not able to draw the Poplar Family for future books. We very much appreciate Molly for getting us into print. A local Floyd artist, Aaron Staengl will take over drawing for the people in our stories.


Aaron Staengl


Aaron Staengl is an artist and  Ayurvedic practitioner with a regular yoga and meditation practice.

His company Ayurvedaposters has an international presence. He lives in the Blue Ridge mountains and enjoys spending time with his two year old son.



Meet the Poplar Family

Our first few books feature one of our more skilled Focusing families. If you are surprised at how well they work together, that's the point. They have been intentionally practicing for years on their own and they recognize that widening the community they practice with will both challenge and enhance what they've learned so far. 

The Poplar Tree represents this family’s homestead on our map. If you visit Smart View Recreation Area you’ll find that their yard is mostly rock. Beautiful mossy white rocks…

Poplar Family homesteadTogether, this family enjoys biking, camping, art, singing and music. Mama Dawn and Papa Sam learned Focusing shortly before Stryder was born so that they could raise their kids with these skills. They are a typical busy family and feel blessed to be living Focusing as a way of life in community with others. Mama Dawn was born and raised in this area. Papa Sam moved to the USA from Australia as a young adult. He visits his family back home every few years. Until they committed to this community, they explored moving back to Australia. Stryder and Wendy were born here. Their cousin Levi who joins them for a few years was born in Washington D.C. 

Books 1-3 feature the Poplar Family. 

Let's take a peek at the Poplar Family as illustrated in Book 2 and onward!

 Mama Dawn



Age 38

Mama Dawn is a social butterfly, involved in helping others in the community. She works as an artisan potter. Her hobbies are Qi-gong, biking, kayaking and gardening.



Papa Sam


Age 37

Papa Sam is the founder of a local nonprofit business dedicated to raising awareness about mindfulness skills. His hobbies are walking with Casey, his dog, video games and playing fiddle at Friday night jams in Floyd.




Age 11

Stryder likes to move and runs, bikes or plays basketball most every day. One of his goals is to join a local track team. Stryder feels movement helps him be more attentive when he is sitting to read or play a video game.






Age 8

Wendy is adaptable and likes to keep her options open. She loves to draw and is already a talented artist. Since moving here, her new hobby is plants, learning about them and spending time learning to communicate with them.





Age 4

Levi does not talk much. He is often sensitive, showing off one moment and closing down the next. Levi is Mama Dawn’s nephew who recently joined the family. It’s not clear how long he will be here. His parents live in a big city and travel often for their jobs. They hope Levi will thrive more in this environment. He loves birds and imitates bird sounds beautifully.




Casey, the Poplar Family dog

Age 3

Casey lives in adoration of her family. She is quite attentive to Papa Sam for walks,  one-one time and treats. She is also quite happy that Levi is here. She often sits near him as he plays in a sunny rock patch outside the home. 




Meet the Oak Family

Enjoy meeting our community founders, Grampy and Grammy! They have been practicing Focusing about 5 years.


Grampy Stan, Smartview VillageGrampy Stan is a Black American born and raised on this land. We'll share an interesting story in a future book about how his dad was able to purchase this land from a local white farmer. Stan served in the marines, army and navy. He has two grown sons from a previous marriage. One lives out west in Arizona and one lives in New York City. Stan always wanted family around him and now he has a village! He learned to cook in the army and loves to host meals from the farm food he grows. Music, acting and motorcycles are some of his favorite hobbies!



Grammy Gina, Smartview VillageGrammy Gina fell in love with Grampy and moved here 14 years ago. With Caucasian, Black and Native American heritage, she likes to joke she is all shades of human. Gina has one adult daughter who lives in Hawaii. Like Grampy, she has developed many skills in her past. She initially trained as a nurse and later became a herbalist and studied permaculture. A herbalist is a person who knows how to make medicine from plants. Permaculture is a way to grow food and design gardens that are in harmony with the ecosystem of the land. Grammy has added chickens and all sorts of new gardens since she arrived. Nature, dancing and gardens are some of her favorite things! Oh…and motorcycle rides with Grampy!

Books 4, 5 and 6 will feature the Oak Family.