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that because their polling on the gas tax shows it to be extremely unpopular, there's an excellent chance SB1 will be repealed a year from now.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.


WHO WE ARE
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.

WHAT WE DO
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.

HOW WE'VE MADE AN IMPACT SO FAR
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
organization
• 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.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS - REQUIREMENTS
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
mission
* 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.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS - DESIRED SKILLS AND EXPERTISE
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
trends.
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


COMMITTEE MEMBERS - DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
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.

DOES THIS INSPIRE YOU?
If you want to be a part of this, please send a detailed cover letter and resume to Vanessa Richardson, Board President, at vanessa@californiagroundbreakers.org

Our Latest Podcast: Los Autenticos -- and Help with Mexico Earthquake Relief

Our latest "Food for Thought" podcast is up! Listen to it all at once, or refer to the "Podcast Timeframe" section to jump to specific Q&A parts.

This podcast has particular resonance right now because it involves a lot of discussion about popular food from Mexico City, Oaxaca and Chiapas -- all three severely hit in the past couple of weeks by two separate earthquakes. Tthe death toll is currently over 200, and many towns -- including the capital of Mexico City -- have been severely damaged.

To help them, Casa deEspañol is co-hosting a #Sac4Mexico block party next Saturday, October 1, from 12-6 p.m., on the block between 11th and 12th on R Street in Sacramento to raise money for Mexico-based nonprofits providing earthquake relief efforts.

The event will feature live entertainment and music, including the band Riesgo de Contagio from Mexico City, where their neighborhood was vastly devastated. There will also be raffles, vendors, food and drinks. The entrance fee to the event will be donation-based.

For more info, contact Casa de Espanol, and/or visit its nonprofit arm, HelpChiapas.org

Here's a Cocktail Conversation for You

A great "cocktail + conversation" recipe in two parts:

1) First, the recipe for the hangover-reducing yet still delicious Corpse Reviver #2, which Garrett Van Vleck from the Shady Lady/B-Side/Amaro trip of hotspots made for us at 7 am last week to promote our second "Food for Thought" event on Good Day Sacramento.

* 1 oz. gin
* 1 oz. Lillet Blanc
* 1 oz. Triple Sec
* 1 oz. lemon juice (fresh, of course)
* Dash absinthe
* Shake it all up in a mixer with ice, and strain into a chilled glass.

2) Sip while listening to the great podcast of Garrett Van Vleck in conversation with Chris Jarosz (Wicked 'Wich, Broderick Roadhouse, the new Milagro Centre in Carmichael, and now all the dining establishments in our State Capitol), about How to Build a Food Empire in Sacramento, the second in our monthly "Food for Thought" series.
The two guys are funny, blunt, honest, frank and detailed about how they opened up their first dining establishment, then found they couldn't stop.
It's one of the best California Groundbreakers conversations to date -- and we're not just saying that because Garrett made the drinks and Chris brought the food.

 

 

The Impact of Street Art in Sacramento

Wide Open Walls (WOW) is set to make a big splash in Sacramento, literally.

Scheduled for August 10-20, WOW is the official name for Sacramento's annual mural festival, now in its second year. During those 11 days, 50 artists from 12 countries will be painting 40 individual surfaces, from back-street alleys on the Grid to silos and water towers in the suburbs. Read more in the Sacramento News & Review's special section about the fest.

Street art is a big deal around the globe. And us with being the capital of the (currently) 5th largest economy in the world, is it our time to join the ranks of international cities known for their colorful, vibrant street-art scenes and communities? If so, what should those look like? What images should be on those walls? Who decides what they should be and where they should go? And how do the non-painters of us living here figure into creating a world-class street-art scene in Sacramento?

We're hosting a panel focused on Wide Open Walls on August 9,  the evening before the festival officially starts. Details and registration info are on the Event page.

Podcast for Our First "Food for Thought" Discussion

We've started a new series called "Food for Thought," in-depth conversations with groundbreakers who run farms, restaurants, breweries and bars around California and are shaking up how we eat and drink - and the way we think about food and drink.

Kicking it off is a discussion from July 6 with two well-known Sacramento restaurateurs -- Andrea Lepore of Hot Italian, and N'Gina and Ian Kavookjian of South. While one restaurant focuses on pizza and the other on down-home Southern cooking, the three owners share a common trait: they wanted to serve food they've since childhood that is rooted in their cultural heritage. They're also now branching out into different, new-to-them areas (a Jewish deli and the Food Factory business incubator for Lepore, the Quinn vintage retail shop and an "urban country club" called the Good Saint for the Kavookjians).

In our latest podcast, hear them talk about how they got started, where they're going now, what food means to them, and how they want to change up Sacramento with their restaurants and future endeavors.

And read these writeups in the Sacramento Business Journal about their latest projects:

* Andrea's Food Factory business incubator

* The Kavookjians' Good Saint "urban country club."

 

(Photo by Rich Beckermeyer)

Kicking Off Our "Food for Thought" Series

We got a write-up in the Sacramento Business Journal about our new "Food for Thought" series, a monthly discussion with Groundbreakers who manage California's restaurants, farms, bars, breweries, wineries, etc., and are shaking up how we eat and drink -- and the way we think about food and drink.

Writer Mark Anderson sums up what we plan to do very well.

Our Quartet of Housing Podcasts Is Ready For Listening

We just finished up our four-part event series that we titled "California's Crazy Housing Market." We covered everything from rent control and NIMBY-ism to how a bill that Governor Ronald Reagan signed back in 1970 is the major reason for how California builds its housing today.

A lot of it was depressing - 70 percent of Californians can't afford the media home price here - but there was one common, hopeful thread that linked all four panel discussion: Change won't come from the top down, it will come from individual homeowners and renters who band together to demand change in how housing is built, priced and offered to residents.

Listen to one, two or all four podcaststo get the details about the state of California housing:

Part 1: Why Are Housing Costs So Damn High

Part 2: Is "Affordable Housing" an Oxymoron Here?

Part 3: The Good and the Bad of Gentrification

Part 4: Time to Reform the California Environmental Quality Act?