California and Washington D.C. Clash Over Immigration . . . What You Can Do To Make a Difference

Our latest "Food for Thought" conversation - How Immigration Issues Are Affecting California's Food Supply -  was a detailed, thoroughly honest, somewhat depressing conversation that also had some threads of hope.

With Washington D.C. now suing California over immigration law, this conversation will only continue. And there is a way you can keep this conversation going -- and make it more uplifting. Our panelists Bruce Rominger, Lety Valencia and Santana Diaz had these two suggestions about how Californians can help the "other" Californians we were discussing last night:

1) Support your local farmers: Buy as much local- and state-grown produce as possible, and fewer out-of-state and out-of-country crops. That keeps our CA farmers competitive with countries paying cheaper wages to workers overseas, and lets them hire the hands they need to grow and reap the crops -- especially labor-intensive crops like asparagus (which used to be a major crop here but rapidly disappearing) and strawberries.

2) Give money to a legal defense fund: Lety Valencia told us there are only 40 immigration lawyers currently working in the Central Valley (which has thousands of farmworkers who are undocumented), and not all of them take pro- or low-bono cases. That means many farmworkers needing help with their immigration status and citizenship are in limbo or leaving the state, because trying to navigate this legal system is tough enough when you're a legal resident.

Valencia's org, Faith in the Valley, started the Fresno Legal Defense Fund and when Fresno's City Council voted no on giving it public money, Faith raised seed funding from Sierra Health Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Latino Community Foundation. But you can help them fund more people's cases by donating to the Legal Defense Fund.

For more background on this important-and-still-trending  topic, listen to the podcast (iTunes or Soundcloud) of our "Food for Thought" event on immigration turmoil in the Central Valley, the World's Salad Bowl

And other organizations you can help with their funding for immigration-specific legal aid are:
* California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
* Immigrant Family Defense Fund
* Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services


We're Taking Over the New Sofia Theatre for a Saturday Night "Cocktail Conversation"

We're hosting our next event at the hottest venue in Sacramento - the Sofia, new home of the B Street Theatre. They're letting us take over the lobby on a Saturday night for our next "Food for Thought" discussion.

And this will truly be a "cocktail conversation" -- we'll be talking with Ryan Seng of Can Can Cocktails.

Seng served as head bartender at the Grange in the Citizen Hotel and created some of Sacramento's creative cocktails (bacon maple Manhattan, anyone?) for eight years before deciding to do something even more unusual -- create cocktails served out of a can.

He launched Can Can Cocktails, which mixes spirits and mixers in aluminum cans and are just as tasty as the ones he made at the bar, like Boar's Bourbon Root Beer (those two ingredients, plus angostura bitters) and White Linen (vodka with cucumber, elderflower and lemon).

Join us from 8-9 pm on Saturday, February 17, as we have a  mini "Food for Thought, " a 30-minute Q&A with one of the people who shaped and built Sacramento's craft cocktail scene, and is still doing so today.

This will be a great discussion for anyone interested in creating cocktails, creating a new business, or a combo of both. You get to take the mic and ask your own questions to Seng, and you can also try his drinks -- Sofia sells Can Can Cocktails at its bars.

NOTE:  This event is in the Sofia's lobby and is free for anyone to attend. It does NOT get you tickets to the 9 p.m. showing of "One Man, Two Guvnors." That is sold out . . . however, the Theatre does have a Wait List for the show, and you can call the Box Office at (916) 443-5300 to be added to it. (We've been told Wait List-ers actually do have a good chance of scoring tickets.)


Our 25th Event . . . and Our First Filmed for Television

We marked our first event of 2018, and our 25th-event milestone, by getting it put on film -- Capitol Weekly came with cameras to tape our Policy and a Pint discussion, "Sexual Harassment at the State Capitol," for its 99th episode of "Politics on Tap" (which airs on the California Channel on Comcast).

Watch the episode by clicking on the link above, or listen to our audio podcast of it, available both on iTunes and Soundcloud.

This is a great conversation about what is needed to make the efforts and actions of #MeToo, #TimesUp and #WeSaidEnough stick -- both at the State Capitol and in workplaces all around California.

Listen to "The Future of Downtown Sacramento"

John Dangberg, assistant city manager for Sacramento, had this to say about the Golden 1 Center, which opened a little over a year ago: "We've gone from a valuation of $22.5 million to well over $1 billion in value. " And with the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel, Punch Bowl Social, TheBank_629J, and a bunch of new eateries on the 700 K block opening up, Dangberg only expects that valuation to rise.

Listen to Dangberg and our other panelists in the podcast recording of our "Future of Downtown Sacramento " discussion at the Crocker Art Museum talk about housing, parking, restoring historic buildings, revitalizing the riverfront, new modes of transportation, bringing in new jobs, and putting more arts and culture into downtown.

We broke the podcast down into specific parts (refer to our "Podcast Timeframe" to go to certain sections), but the whole discussion is a great way to learn more -- and get excited about -- the future of Downtown Sacramento. There's a lot in the works.

Our "Up and Coming" Holiday Party at the B Street Theatre - December 11

This Monday, the B Street Theatre Acting Company is letting loose one last time at their old theater -- and you can see most of them doing their final performance there for free.

Join us Monday 6:30 pm for the holiday party we're co-hosting with B Street Theatre, Metro EDGE, The Sacramento LGBT Community Center, the California Homeless Youth Project, and Sacramento County Young Democrats to celebrate the end of an era -- and also all the exciting new things happening in Sacramento now and into 2018.

Listen to readings of three original short plays, with some improv in between.

Admission is free, drinks are $3, and mixing with Sacramento's up-and-comers and young activists is plentiful.

Join us at the B Street Theatre to celebrate all of the young adults in our community who are involved in creating a better tomorrow for the Sacramento area.


Our "Swanky Saturday" Talk at B Street Theater

To celebrate #shopsmall, we're co-hosting a "Swanky Saturday" talk at B Street Theater with three of Sacramento's coolest small businesses.

We'll talk with the owners of Andy's Candy Apothecary , and Oblivion Coffee and Comics near the Capitol (they're both past winners of the "Calling All Dreamers" business-plan contest run by Downtown Sac) and Classy Hippie Tea in Oak Park about their businesses - why they took the plunge, how they think big, the pros and cons of doing business in Sacramento, and advice they'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to set up shop.

We'll be chatting in the Star Room of the B Street Theater before the 9 pm showing of "A Moving Day" (the LAST SHOW that will ever be held here before the crew moves to its posh new digs at the SOFIA on Capitol Avenue).

Our talk is free for anyone to attend -- grab a drink at the lobby beforehand -- but it will be even more of a Swanky Saturday on the Grid if you pair it with tickets to "A Moving Day."



The Future of Farming: Our Next "Food for Thought" Talk

The Future of Farming, as summed up in this story in Comstock's:

Rubie Simonsen has a full-time day job but she was motivated enough to enroll -- and complete -- the seven-month California Farm Academy program through the Center for Land-Based Learning last year. While she still has the 9-to-5-job, Simonsen also started First Mother Farms, growing her first crop of lavender on a 1/8th-acre space on one of the Center's incubator plots in West Sacramento.

To date, the Center has trained 96 future farmers, 17 of whom have purchased their own land and started farms.

Mary Kimball, executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning, joins us for our next "Food for Thought" talk at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on the evening of Wednesday, November 15.  She'll talk about the efforts to inspire young people to get into farming, whether as a hobby or a profession, and make sure there's still enough people in California to grow the food that feeds us.

The Gas Tax: Jerry Brown Won the Battle Over It This Year. Will Republicans Win the War Over It in Election 2018?

California's new gas tax goes into effect November. 1. That means most drivers will see the price of gas go up by 12 cents per gallon, diesel will increase 20 cents a gallon. Starting January 1, you'll be charged a new annual vehicle fee ranging from $25 to $175, depending on the value of your car. Even electric cars, which don't use gas, will will pay a $100 annual fee (starting in 2020).

The gas tax increase is expected to raise more than $50 billion to fund Caltrans' "Fix It First" project, which aims to repair roads and bridges, and improve traffic congestion, across the state. Will they spend it wisely?

Governor Jerry Brown fought hard to get the gas tax (officially known as Senate Bill 1) passed last April, saying "real money" is needed to fix California's transportation systems, which have gone unrepaired and unexpanded for decades.

But the state's Republicans are fighting back, actively working to repeal the gas tax. There are two separate efforts to put repeal-the-gas-tax measures on the November 2018 ballot. And they say that because their polling on the gas tax shows it to be extremely unpopular, there's an excellent chance SB1 will be repealed a year from now.

So even though the gas tax kicks in on November 1, the Gas Tax War is just beginning.

Listen to this "Policy and a Pint" podcast as we discuss the gas tax and what it consists of, where the money goes, why it's a good thing, why it's a bad thing and -- most importantly -- how it affects you as a California driver, and maybe your vote next November.


A Knight of the Hops - and Five Other Groundbreakers of California Beer to Listen To

At our "Brewmasters talk," we asked Steve Dresler, recently retired from 34 years as brewmaster of Sierra Nevada, what was pinned to his shirt collar.

It's the medal of the International Order of the Hop. The Order was instituted more than 600 years ago by John the Fearless who was born in 1371 in Dijon, France, son of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and King of Brabant. The order is a mark of distinction awarded to those who contribute to the cultivation of the “noble hop” and the “agreeable drink,” beer.

Dresler is the first U.S. brewmaster ever to receive this.

In his speech when he received it two months ago, he said he started his career at Sierra Nevada as chief taster, where he packed four and drank every fifth bottle of beer. There was no automated equipment and he scooped hops from a kettle by hand. “The uniqueness of my career was that it spanned the history of craft breweries as we know them today."

He drove down from Chico to talk to us, alongside Mike Mraz of Mraz Brewing Company, a multiple Gold Medal winner at the California State Fair and another craft beer demi-god in the making.

It's Groundbreakers like these who are shaping Califorrnia beer -- they live in and around Sacramento, and they have lots of amazing stories.

Listen to the podcast of our "Brewmasters" talk with Dresler and Mraz.

Listen also to our brand-new "Icebreakers," mini-podcasts that we upload in advance of our live Groundbreaker events. In advance of the "Brewmasters" talk, we sat down in the recording studio with a few other people who also do groundbreaking stuff in the beer industry, including:

* Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, also known asthe "Pope of Foam," discusses how his department and its research has shaped the production of California's craft beer.
* J-E Paino of Ruhstaller Beer explains why his is the only brewery in California, besides the mega-big Sierra Nevada Brewing, to grow its own hops.
Glynn Phillips, owner of Rubicon Brewing Company, talks about the rise and fall of Sacramento's oldest craft brewery, and why he closed Rubicon 1.5 months before it marked its 30th anniversary.
* Kate Whelan, director of Sacramento Beer Week, talks about how women are shaking up the beer industry.


We're Looking for a Few Good Board Members and Committee Members

We're putting together a kick-ass board of directors, as well as five committees, to help run regular events, raise funding, increase our visibility and expand our efforts and geographic reach so we truly can promote and highlight groundbreaking people and efforts all over the state.

Are you interested in being a part of this, or know of someone who would be a great addition? Read on.

California Groundbreakers is a civic-engagement, community-focused organization
putting together moderated panels, interviews, discussions, events focused on cool
people doing groundbreaking things and possibly causing earth-shattering change in
California and beyond.

We host events in Sacramento for California's Groundbreakers to talk about what they're
doing. We do that in front of a live audience who can listen, ask questions, and be
motivated to break their own ground.

We hold these events in cool venues that are the total opposite of a Sheraton Ballroom C
(the Barn, Beatnik Studios, Ruhstaller Beer’s basement taproom), and we serve food and
drink so that a standard panel talk becomes a fun “cocktail conversation.” Our goal:
Inspire change across the state – one conversation at a time.

We’ve hosted 18 events in the past 14 months, and here are some of the changes we
have helped to make so far:
• At our very first event, “The State of the Arts in Sacramento” last summer, we got the
head of the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission to change the start time of their monthly
public meeting from Wednesday at 2 p.m. to Wednesday at 6 p.m. so that more people
can attend and get involved.
• At our four-part series “California’s Crazy Housing Market,” earlier this year, a group of
attendees, who hadn’t known each other prior, started talking at the events and decided to
create their own group – House Sacramento is a pro-housing, pro-infill, pro-YIMBY
• At our inaugural “Food for Thought” event, Andrea Lepore discussed her vision and
plans for Food Factory, a business incubator and accelerator for food-based startups, and
immediately got an article in the Sacramento Business Journal – and two calls from
investors interested in helping her with the $5 million startup costs.

We’re comprised of leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sector who are dedicated to our
mission. Serving on the board is a great opportunity for someone who:
1) has strong leadership and governance skills
2) views nonprofit management through an entrepreneurial “startup venture” lens
3) is passionate about boosting and improving civic engagement in California, and getting
citizens more knowledgeable about – and involved in – the relevant issues and matters we’re
facing statewide.

Board members are expected to have financial acumen to read and understand CA
Groundbreakers’ financial statements, and to help the board fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities.

Board members are expected to:
* attend 75% of the meetings per year
* read board materials in advance of board meetings and come prepared to ask questions
and participate in discussions
* serve on one or more committees of the board and to actively participate in committee
work (see page 4 for committee descriptions and committees)
* play an active role in securing the financial resources necessary for us to achieve our
* to leverage personal relationships and connections to help the development committee
and staff identify and solicit potential funders, as well as directly invest in CA Groundbreakers
work by making a personal contribution each year
* to responsibly represent CA Groundbreakers to their respective communities and to
publicly advocate for our mission, programs, and services as appropriate

Board terms last for one or two years, and board members can serve for up to two
consecutive terms.

Previous board members who want to be nominated for another term must be off the board
for at least one year before being considered again.

We are currently recruiting for diverse leaders with expertise in the following areas:

* Philanthropy and Sponsor Cultivation
We’re looking for people with extensive professional experience and significant executive
leadership accomplishments in business, government and philanthropy. In particular, we seek
someone who has a commitment to and understanding of CA Groundbreakers’ potential donors, sponsors and partners, preferably based on experience.
This person should have savvy diplomatic skills and a natural affinity for cultivating relationships and for persuading individuals, businesses and organizations about the benefits of helping CA Groundbreakers succeed and grow via their financial/in-kind contributions.
This person should also have the essential qualities of integrity, credibility, and a passion for
expanding CA Groundbreakers’ efforts across the state.

* Government Relations and Legislative Issues
We’re looking for someone who is familiar with, and has experience in, California government,
and who understands how the state legislature works.
In particular, we seek someone who is non-partisan and has good relationships with both
Republican and Democrats in the legislature, political parties and state agencies.
This person should act as an advocacy leader for CA Groundbreakers at the State Capitol and
along Capitol Mall, and increase awareness there about the importance of our mission, and
expand our reach.
This person should also have experience leading public awareness campaign – and running
them by them by leveraging a variety of channels, vehicles, and social media -- and the ability
to help connect CA Groundbreakers with key decision makers in state government.

* Finance and Accounting
We’re looking for a finance/accounting professional with expertise in reviewing and interpreting financial information and understanding complex financial reports.
We need a leader to act as our finance advocate, and assist us with understanding economic
The ideal candidate for our finance/accounting leader will have these qualifications:
• Experience with nonprofit financial management, including developing budgets, restricted and unrestricted grant reporting, filing Form 990s, and overseeing audits
• The willingness to bring a financial lens to strategic planning and decision making
• The willingness to lead the Finance committee and/or serve as the board treasurer

To effectively break down the board's governance duties, we want to create committees on which our board members, and advisory members, can serve.

Some committees will be standing ("permanent") committees to handle ongoing issues (see
descriptions below), while ad hoc ("special") committees will be created to handle short-term issues and events. The goal: To handle regular needs as well as new issues as they arise.

We want to assign a board member to chair or sit on at least one board, along with 2-4 advisory members, who will meet bimonthly to:
* Research and break down complex issues and present them to the board, which can then
move forward in making informed, efficient decisions.
* Engage with an issue more deeply and consistently than the board as a whole can.
* Use their great skills and specialties as a way to serve instead of sitting on the board
* Consider the committee as a "test the waters" training ground for newcomers to increase their involvement, learn leadership skills and develop confidence before moving on to board leadership

The Committees
* Compliance - The nuts and bolts of CA Groundbreakers, and the guts of our organization.
Members of this committee handle legal, finance, ethics, and make sure we're doing things right and in tip-top shape.
* Fundraising - The money people. Members of this committee seek out the best ways -- and the best people and organizations -- who will fund, sponsor and donate to us to ensure we have the cash needed to run our programs and events.
* Marketing - The preachers who spread the word. Members of this committee are media- and
marketing-savvy who know how to reach the right audience for every event, target the people who are most likely to become Groundbreaker members, and get local/state media to shed more light on our efforts.
* Programming - The event planners. Members of this committee will help put on events, everything from picking topics and panelists to finding venues and vendors, and making sure everything runs smoothly all the way until the last person has left the event.
* Expansion - The "big idea" people. Members of this committee will be tasked with finding ways for making our short-, mid- and long-term plans become reality, and also suggesting their own ideas and methods for how California Groundbreakers can expand its efforts and its geographic reach while staying true to its mission.

If you want to be a part of this, please send a detailed cover letter and resume to Vanessa Richardson, Board President, at