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Serenbe Stories

Arts & Culture Podcasts

A podcast for those seeking stories about having an impact and building a better life. From the original Serenbe story of how Founder Steve Nygren and his family discovered and developed the land that is now the leading wellness community, to stories featuring many of the people that inspired, encouraged and influenced how Serenbe was created. Steve Nygren and host Monica Olsen talk about how we resist or ignore issues out of fear vs. discovering common sense solutions and discuss the biophilic connection to nature and each other that is vitally important for individual and community wellness. Join us as we tell the story of Serenbe and interview friends, residents and leaders from around the world who are doing the essential work to build and grow thel biophilic movement.


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A podcast for those seeking stories about having an impact and building a better life. From the original Serenbe story of how Founder Steve Nygren and his family discovered and developed the land that is now the leading wellness community, to stories featuring many of the people that inspired, encouraged and influenced how Serenbe was created. Steve Nygren and host Monica Olsen talk about how we resist or ignore issues out of fear vs. discovering common sense solutions and discuss the biophilic connection to nature and each other that is vitally important for individual and community wellness. Join us as we tell the story of Serenbe and interview friends, residents and leaders from around the world who are doing the essential work to build and grow thel biophilic movement.






Embracing Wellness and All Things Serenbe with Frank & Christine Egan

Serenbe had been on Frank and Christine Egan’s radar for years before they eventually uprooted their busy lives on Long Island and moved all the way down to rural Georgia. However, when you hear their full story, it’s not all that surprising that this is where they landed. In addition to running a successful orthodontics practice, Frank and Christine have been longtime advocates for local food, sustainable living, and a balanced approach to wellness that includes lots of time spent outdoors. In this episode, we chat about Dr. Frank’s new orthodontics practice in Mado, Christine’s inspiring approach to health and wellness, and the way that they’ve embraced all things Serenbe. Show Notes Orthodontics at SerenbeThe Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast CancerRedefining HealthySerenbe Real Estate Community Supported Agriculture (Life at Serenbe blog)She’s Training for a Giant Climb Whether It Happens or Not (Wall Street Journal)Key Words: Health, Wellness, Local Food, Organic Agriculture, Local Farm, Eat Local, Breast Cancer, Cancer Survivor, Sustainable Living, Sustainability, Solar Energy, Geothermal, Biophilia, Biophilic Design, Nature Based, Hiking, Trails, Orthodontist, Orthodontics


The Calm Force Behind the Inn & Farmhouse w/ Juliann West

Juliann West first heard about Serenbe in 2014 when her brother and sister-in-law tried convincing her to move here; however, at the time, she didn’t think she would ever leave her adopted home of Seattle or the Pacific Northwest. Flash forward to 2018 and Juliann found herself back in Serenbe’s orbit, this time as the newly appointed General Manager at the Inn and Farmhouse, a demanding role that she handles with incredible calmness and composure. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear “Juliann is the best” multiple times a day from multiple departments around Serenbe. This week, Stephanie Coyne is back to chat with Juliann about her approach to team building, her calm, cool, and collected demeanor, and the type of employee that tends to thrive in Serenbe. Show Notes The Inn at SerenbeThe Farmhouse at SerenbeSerenbe Events Calendar Key Words: Serenbe, Hospitality, Hospitality Industry, Food & Beverage, Pacific Northwest, Community, Biophilia, Biophilic Design


George Cohen’s Road to Recovery & Serenbe

George Cohen was just starting out in the mortgage business in 2013 when a family friend connected him with Serenbe Real Estate. However, his journey to becoming a full-fledged resident didn't happen overnight. It was a few years later, after overcoming personal challenges and embracing sobriety, that George immediately connected with key members of the community who played a pivotal role on his road to recovery. In the years since, it’s safe to say that George has become so much more than Serenbe Real Estate’s preferred lender. He’s a staple of the community, who you’re likely to bump into when he’s out walking the dog, co-captaining one of our sports leagues, or playing guitar in everyone’s favorite local band. And in true Serenbe fashion, George and his wife Katrina have moved homes multiple times within the community. In this episode, we’re joined once again by guest co-host Micah Adler to explore George’s path to Serenbe, unveil the origin stories of nicknames like El Toro and Dickie Robes, and hear why he loves working with new clients who are so excited to move here. Show Notes George Cohen AVP, Senior Mortgage ConsultantSerenbe Events CalendarThe HillSuper Geek Trivia Key Words: Mortgage, Mortgage Lender, Sober, Sobriety, Recovery, Athletics, Community Sports, Band, Local Band, Guitar, Serenbe, Serenbe Real Estate, Community, Biophilia


Intergenerational Living & Aging in Place w/ Steve Ngyren

On this week’s episode of Serenbe Stories, we’re sharing an interview that Steve Nygren gave on the Glowing Older podcast, alongside their host Nancy Griffin. Serenbe has big plans to break ground on a state of the art aging-in-place campus, designed to take down the barriers that often leave older generations siloed away from the greater community. This campus will have no gates, no locked away areas, and interestingly, no age restrictions. It will also be located in the heart of Serenbe’s Mado hamlet, connected to shops and restaurants, the new Acton Academy school campus, and plenty of health & wellness businesses and services. In this interview, hear about Steve’s approach to aging in place, intergenerational living, and how it all ties back to his biophilic vision for the community. Show Notes Glowing OlderGlowing Older PodcastSerenbe plans innovative senior living center (Axios) Key Words: Aging, Intergenerational Living, Aging in Place, Senior Living, Wellness, Blue Zones, Biophilic Design, Biophilia, Serenbe, Community


Changing Careers & Changing Your Life with Serenbe CFO Gil Mathis

Serenbe’s HR Director Stephanie Coyne is BACK for her first official Serenbe Stories takeover, where we’re putting the spotlight on our amazing employees. In today’s episode, Stephanie is catching up with Serenbe’s CFO Gil Mathis, who lives and works in the community. Gil and his wife Jeny - both longtime and beloved fixtures in the community - first discovered Serenbe while looking for a way to mix up their typical vacation routine. What they found changed their lives. After a few visits and a fateful trip to the real estate office (it’s hard to resist) Gil left his corporate finance job and took a role with Serenbe Real Estate before transitioning into his current position as Chief Financial Officer. In this conversation, Stephanie chats with Gil about his family’s journey to Serenbe, his love/hate relationship with our sports leagues, his deep appreciation for an excel spreadsheet, and so much more. This one you don’t want to miss. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarSerenbe Real EstateSuper Geek TriviaSerenbe Careers Key Words: Serenbe, Community, Career, Career Transition, Real Estate, Trivia, Sports Leagues, Excel, Family


Kids, Dogs, & Designing A Life-Well Lived with Vern Yip

You might recognize today’s guest, Vern Yip, from shows like Trading Spaces, HGTV’s Design Star, and Deserving Design. He also runs his own design studio in Atlanta, designs a line of dog and kid-friendly furniture, has published multiple books on how to maximize your home - and he still has more TV and book projects in the works. Vern actually wrote his master’s thesis on New Urbanism, so Serenbe has been on his radar since its earliest days. After many years of spending time in the community, Vern and his husband Craig decided to make the leap to living here part-time and they’re currently building a beautiful home to retreat to with their children and seven - yes, seven - dogs. In this episode, Monica is joined by special guest host Garnie Nygren, to catch up with Vern about how his love of animals led him to meeting his husband, his journey to Serenbe, and why he finds so much joy in the community here. Show Notes About Vern YipWag-A-LotLifeline Animal ProjectStylish Decor and Pets Can Co-exist in Your Home. Here’s How (Denver Post)Vern Yip’s Design WiseVern Yip’s Vacation At Home Key Words: Design, Interior Design, HGTV, Architecture, Vern Yip, Serenbe, New Urbanism, Community, Animals, Pets, Pet Adoption


Unveiling Serenbe’s Thin Places with Dr. Phill Tabb

If you’ve listened to Serenbe Stories for a while, then our guest today, Phill Tabb, will need no introduction. For those who need a refresher, Phill Tabb is Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Texas A&M University and has been involved with Serenbe since its earliest days, creating the community’s masterplan using the principles of sacred geometry. He is the author of numerous publications including Serene Urbanism: A Biophilic Theory and Practice of Sustainable Placemaking, and Biophilic Urbanism: Designing Resilient Communities for the Future. His latest is Thin Place Design: Architecture of the Numinous. This fascinating new study examines the qualities that make certain places extraordinary, magical, and profound. In this episode, Monica and Steve catch up with Phill about the emotional responses to thin places, the transformative experiences we find in nature, and the thin place experiences he has had right here in Serenbe. Show Notes Thin Place Design: Architecture of the NuminousSerene Urbanism: A Biophilic Theory and Practice of Sustainable DesignBiophilic Urbanism: Designing Resilient Communities for the FutureThin Places, Sacred Architecture, and Biophilic PatternsAwe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your LifeRachel K. GarceauNygren PlacemakingKey Words: Thin Places, Phill Tabb, Serenbe, Awe, Serenity, Emotion Wheel, Dacher Keltner, Biophilia, Biophilic Design


Birds, Bugs, and the Serenity of Nature with Giff Beaton

Giff Beaton and Allie Kelly moved to Serenbe from Atlanta six years ago, motivated by a desire to raise their twin boys closer to nature and to escape the city’s urban sprawl. By day, Giff works as a Delta pilot - but he is also an accomplished naturalist & nature photographer, authoring or co-authoring multiple books like Birds of Georgia, Dragonflies & Damselflies, and Tiger Beetles of the Southeastern United States. Giff also leads the occasional nature walk in Serenbe, which is a can’t miss event for residents and visitors alike. In this interview, Steve and Monica chat with Giff about how his interest in nature began, the unique species you can find right here in our neck of the woods, and why he finds time spent in nature so grounding and calming. Show Notes Giff Beaton WebsiteAbout GiffBirds of GeorgiaDragonflies and DamselfliesTiger Beetles of the Southeastern United StatesSerenbe Events


Capturing Serenbe with Installation Photographer Thomas Jackson

Thomas Jackson is an environmental artist and photographer known for his abstract photographs that combine landscapes, sculpture, and kinetic art. Last Spring, he installed and photographed three incredible pieces in Serenbe during an artist residency with the Art Farm, in partnership with Jackson Fine Art, an Atlanta-based and world-renowned gallery with a 33-year history of supporting artists and collectors. In this interview, Steve and Monica learn about Thomas’ career trajectory from journalism to fine art, the inspiration he finds in nature, and, of course, the time he spent in Serenbe. This week, Thomas will be back in Serenbe for a handful of exciting events. On Friday, September 29th, join us for Art Over Dinner, an intimate evening to celebrate Thomas and his work over cocktails and dinner from The Farmhouse. Then on Saturday, September 30th, there is another chance to meet Thomas at a free public reception where his works will be on view. You can also see Thomas’ gorgeous Serenbe Series when you tour Hope Austin’s space at the Serenbe Designer Showhouse, which is open Thursday-Sunday until October 22nd. Show Notes Thomas Jackson Art Over DinnerMeet & Celebrate Artist Thomas JacksonSerenbe Designer ShowhouseThomas Jackson PhotographyNew Georgia LandscapesJackson Fine ArtThe Art Farm at Serenbe Key Words: Art, Artist, Photography, Nature Photography, Installation, Installation Photography, Thomas Jackson, Gallery, Art Gallery, Contemporary Art, Serenbe, Nature, Artist in Residence


Step Inside Serenbe’s Annual Designer Showhouse with Elizabeth Ralls & Lauren Iverson

Since 2014, Serenbe has partnered with Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine for our annual designer Showhouse. Every year, a selection of Atlanta’s top interior designers take over a new home within the community and we open up the space for tours. For the past ten years, every home has been absolutely breathtaking - and the best part? Each one is completely different from the last. Our guests today, Elizabeth Ralls and Lauren Iverson, have been absolutely central to this exciting annual event and partnership. Elizabeth is the former Editor-In-Chief of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and currently serves as the magazine’s publisher. Lauren started out as the Managing Editor and Brand Specialist before taking over the Editor-In-Chief role. In this episode, Steve and I chat with Elizabeth and Lauren about the early days of the Serenbe Showhouse, reminisce on our favorite homes of years past, and give our listeners a sneak peak of our 10th Annual Showhouse, which opens for tours on September 29th. You can purchase tickets to our Toast & Tour Preview Party on September 28th or for Showhouse Tours starting on September 29th through October 22nd. Show Notes Serenbe Showhouse Toast & Tour Preview PartyShowhouse ToursAbout the Serenbe ShowhouseAtlanta Homes & LifestylesAtlanta Holiday HomeSoutheastern Designer ShowhouseArt Over Dinner Featuring Thomas JacksonThomas Jackson Gallery OpeningTertulia Music, Wine, and DesignSerenbe Planning & Design Key Words: Design, Interior Design, Interior Designers, Architecture, Showhome, Showhouse, Serenbe, Magazine, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, Atlanta Homes, Lifestyle, Stylish Living


Introducing Season 9 of Serenbe Stories

Serenbe Stories will be back for its 9th Season on Monday, September 18th! This season, we’re continuing to explore the people and places that make Serenbe such a dynamic and thriving community. Tune in for a behind the scenes look at our 10th annual Designer Showhouse, hear from renowned installation artist Thomas Jackson who created a stunning photography series in our woods, dive deep into the wildlife that surrounds us with a resident expert, and so much more. You can catch up on the first 8 seasons of Serenbe Stories anywhere you listen to podcasts and be sure to join us on Monday, September 18th, as we kickoff Season 9. Subscribe and follow so you never miss an episode,


BONUS: Building the Serenbe Brand with Monica Olsen & Garnie Nygren

In this special bonus episode of Serenbe Stories, Garnie Nygren and Monica Olsen sit down with marketing expert Tony Triumph for a conversation all about building the Serenbe brand. Tony is the founder and CEO of the Triumphant Group, a New York based marketing agency that has worked with major brands such as Nordstrom, Kettle Vodka, and Hyatt Hotels just to name a few. Before visiting Serenbe, Tony had never been to Atlanta outside of the typical Hartsfield Jackson layover and he was immediately struck by Serenbe’s sustainable approach to building and its biophilic philosophy. In this conversation, which was recorded in July 2020, Garnie and Monica talk about how Serenbe has grown from the crazy idea that no one thought would work to the thriving wellness community it is today and they give listeners a glimpse into their day-to-day lives building a brand they’re both so passionate about. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarBuilding A Better Brand PodcastTony TriumphThe Triumphant GroupLife at Serenbe BlogSerenbe Real Estate


Love Where You Work with Stephanie Coyne & Amy Peterson

For the final episode of Season 8, Steve and Monica are turning the mics over to two of Serenbe’s amazing team members, HR Director Stephanie Coyne and Director of Community Operations Amy Peterson. Hear from Stephanie and Amy as they give listeners a rundown of living, working, and playing in the community - from learning on the job, new resident onboarding, trivia nights at Halsa, and the supportive ecosystem that makes it all possible. Explore Careers at Serenbe and learn more about Serenbe Real Estate. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarSerenbe Careers Serenbe Real EstateSerenbe Business DirectorySerenbe FarmsSuper Geek TriviaHalsa


Building Genuine Connection & Stewarding Healthy Growth with Anne & Walter Henegar

Anne and Walter Henegar started making regular visits to Serenbe in 2008 and purchased their Mado townhome ten years later, becoming beloved part-time residents. So beloved, in fact, that many neighbors don’t even realize that they aren’t here full-time. When the Henegars aren’t in Serenbe, they’re up in Atlanta running Westside Presbyterian Church - Walter as Senior Pastor and Anne as Director of Spiritual Formation - with a vision to build community and connection in one of Atlanta’s most racially and economically stratified neighborhoods. In this conversation, Steve and Monica learn more about what led both Walter & Anne to a life in ministry, their daughter Emily’s thriving cookie business, and how we can all become stewards of healthy and positive growth. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarWestside PresbyterianWebsiteInstagramStar ProvisionsTall Trees PlaylistKey Words: Westside Presbyterian, Ministry, Church, Community, Nature, Biophilia, Biophilic, Serenbe, Baking, Cookies, Taylor Swift, Beyonce


How TikTok Led Lisa & Jim Challenger to Serenbe

Lisa (aka Woody) and Jim Challenger were looking to move away from the freezing Chicago weather but finding little success - until Lisa stumbled across a TikTok of Serenbe that showed off the distinctive architecture, farm-to-table meals, and easy access to nature. They first visited in June of last year and were full-time residents by August. Lisa played a central role getting Serenbe holiday-ready, the pair have already moved into a second home, and they are loving life in their new forever-community. In this episode, Steve and Monica catch up with Lisa and Jim about why they chose Serenbe after looking all over the country, their famous family business The Challenger Bread Pan, and finding a devoted following on social media. Show Notes & Further Reading Serenbe Events CalendarOfficially Woody on Tik Tok Officially Woody on Instagram The Challenger Bread PanThe Challenger Journal Acton Academy at SerenbeLesley Graham on Tik TokMister + Mrs SharpKey Words: Social Media, Tik Tok, Instagram, Influencer, Bread, Sourdough, Breadmaking, Baking, Martha Stewart, Blog, Blogger, Serenbe, Nature, Biophilia, Biophilic Design, Community, Placemaking, Halloween, Halloween Decorations, Farm, Horses, Equestrian, Walkable Community


Slowing Down & Finding Balance with Entrepreneur Stephanie Nadi Olson

After years of working in the fast-paced world of digital marketing for massive companies like Microsoft and AOL, Stephanie Nadi Olson founded We Are Rosie, a revolutionary business that matches major brands with a national network of marketers looking for flexible but dependable work. After four years of rapid growth, Stephanie sold her company and stepped down as CEO but has stayed very involved as board chair. An Atlanta native and Georgia Tech graduate, Stephanie has fond memories bringing her nieces to Serenbe for mini-getaways but never seriously considered leaving the city until the Spring of 2020 when, as we all know, the world completely changed. What started out as a few visits with her husband and two daughters turned into a long term rental, which eventually led to full-time residency. In this episode, we chat with Stephanie about selling her company, how Serenbe has helped her recover from burnout, and the beautiful new house she’s building in the community. Show Notes & Further Reading Serenbe Events CalendarWe Are RosieMeet The Women of Scheller: The Making of We Are Rosie Founder Stephanie Nadi OlsonWe Are Rosie founder leaves CEO position, names successorHow We Are Roise is Working to Solve Marketing’s Diversity Problem5 leadership lessons from my first 5 years as a founder and CEOBlue Eyed Daisy BakeshopBamboo Juices Key Words: We Are Rosie, Stephanie Nadi Olson, CEO, Entrepreneur, Women Owned Business, Biophilia, Biophilic, Placemaking, Serenbe, Agrihood, Community, Burnout, Mind Body, Family


Pro Bike Repair: The (Unofficial) Serenbe Welcome Center

Glen Slater grew up riding bikes everywhere and later worked in a bike shop in college, where he realized that his interest in building and machinery connected nicely with his love of cycling. He opened his own shop, Pro Bike Repair, in 2012 and moved it to Serenbe in 2019. In the intervening years, PBR has become the unofficial Welcome center due to its location in the Crossroads, just past the Serenbe entrance, and its laid-back, easygoing feel. So laid-back in fact, that it's not uncommon to see residents and visitors alike head into the bike shop with beer, a glass of wine, and even a charcuterie board ready to unwind and hang out. We also have a very special guest co-host for this conversation. We’re joined today by Micah Adler, the COO of Serenbe Real Estate, husband of Steve’s middle daughter Kara, and a pretty avid cyclist in his own right. In this interview, Micah and Monica chat with Glen about the bike scene in Serenbe, the many ways people choose to hit the trails and roads in Chatt Hills, and his love for a good pair of jean shorts. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarPro Bike RepairHamlin’s Big Wheels Keep Turning with Stacy SimmondsHandup Cycling Gloves & ApparelSCOTT Electric BikesSURLY BikesBelgian Waffle Ride: North Carolina Key Words: Biking, Cycling, BMX, Bike, Pro Bike Repair, E-Bike, Community, Serenbe, Placemaking, Intentional Community, New Urbanism, Retail, Shop


Embracing Small Town Living & Telling Your Own Stories with Amy Mass

When the world shut down in the Spring of 2020, Amy Mass and her husband Jared hit pause on their busy lives in Hollywood. Later that year, they piled into an RV with a few friends for what they imagined would be a relaxing Fall break in Serenbe - but like so many before them, they ended up under a contract for a house. Now, it’s almost impossible to imagine Serenbe without the hilarious - and festive - Mass family. From Halloween decorations and hoe downs to flash mobs and farm parties, Amy brings the fun wherever she goes. In this interview, Steve and Monica chat with Amy about slowing down to gain perspective, her career transition from television comedy writer to romance novelist, and raising a spunky, outdoorsy kid in Serenbe. Show Notes Serenbe Thriller Flash MobLast Man StandingThe GoldbergsBreaking InSerenbe Events CalendarWhy Do Children Need Nature to Thrive?Key Words: Serenbe, Writing, Writer, TV Writer, Comedy, Comedy Writer, Television, Community, Family, Author, Novelist, Romance Novel, Romantic Comedy, Halloween, Neighborhood, Animation, Nature, Childhood, Raising Children, Children & Nature, Outdoors


Tales from the Bookshelf with Hills & Hamlets’ Josh Niesse

Stepping foot into the Hills & Hamlets Bookshop is like taking in a deep, calming breath. The atmosphere is warm and cozy and the shopkeepers couldn’t be friendlier or more knowledgeable. And even though the shop itself is on the smaller side, it’s packed to the brim with books from every genre you can think of including children's books, fantasy, art & architecture, urban planning, cookbooks - and even some rare & vintage finds for collectors. It’s truly something you can’t miss on your next visit. In this episode, Monica and Steve chat with Hills & Hamlets owner Josh Niesse about getting started in the bookselling business, opening a second location here in Serenbe, and why bookshops are a great ‘indicator species’ for the health of a community. Show Notes Hills & Hamlets BookshopUnderground BooksSupport Josh on BookshopLibro.fmChatt Hills GalleryPaige Crutcher Home Therapy: Interior Design for Increasing Happiness, Boosting Happiness, and Creating CalmKey Words: Book Store, Bookshop, Bookstore, Library, Literature, Reading, Bookworm, Serenbe, Community, Book Launch, Author, Nature, Rare Books, Vintage Books, Retail


Women in Aviation & The Magic of a Serenbe Potluck with Crystal Barrois

When Crystal Barrois and her husband drove down to Serenbe in late 2016, they knew they were home - despite the pouring rain. Since then, they’ve started a family here and watched their kids grow up as free range children, exploring the woods and community under the watchful eye of fellow neighbors, co-parents, and co-grandparents. It takes a village, as they say. At her day job, Crystal serves as a pilot with Delta. In an industry where women make up only 6% of the workforce, Crystal has led the charge to make aviation accessible. In this interview, Steve and Monica learn all about Crystal’s path to Serenbe, the important work she’s doing to make aviation an industry for everyone, and we explore the magic of a Serenbe potluck. Show Notes Serenbe Events CalendarHistoric All-Female Delta Flight Inspires Young Girls in STEMDelta Tik Tok for Women’s History Month Propel Pilot Career Path Program | Delta AirlinesUnited Aviate AcademyPlaying in the Woods | Life at Serenbe Blog Key Words: Women in Aviation, Aviation, Women Led, Delta, Delta Airlines, Family, Raising Kids, Community, Serenbe