What Nevada County can learn from Oakland

1388968025918CABPRO founder Todd Juvinal’s “blog” — AKA a mudpit for the hard-right political extremists and their nasty anonymous friends — likes to mock the Bay Area (or the “wacky liberal Bay Area,” as an anonymous commenter put it this week). Hard-right political activist Barry Pruett, who ran for clerk recorder and lost in every precinct, mocked “San Francisco values” during his campaign. Pruett also regularly comments there.

But in the real world — which is the vast majority of moderate, fun-loving people in our community — the Bay Area is a big draw: for the attractions, sightseeing, art & culture. And this includes much-maligned Oakland.

Oakland is a draw for visits, but also for jobs. In fact, we are losing some of Nevada County’s brightest young people to Oakland — and we ought to be worrying about the “why’s” behind that.

The latest is one of The Union’s reporters. In a nutshell, the job opportunities are better, diversity is embraced and it is vibrant.

“I love Oakland,” one young Nevada County-to-Oakland transplant said on Facebook, joking, “My redneck streak runs deep. I’ll do you proud, even in Oakland.”

I happen to like Oakland, too — and Nevada County — but a recent, outstanding book about Oakland has fascinated me from a marketing perspective. Our community can learn from it. You need to check it out.

It is called “This is Oakland” by Melissa Davies. “She and photographer Kristen Loken illustrate the images and stories that show why it’s become the destination for ‘what’s next’ among the Bay Area’s creative types,” as the San Francisco Chronicle wrote. It was published through a “Kickstarter” campaign — just like Reinette Senum’s documentary of crossing Alaska is going to be.

Oakland’s creative thought and pioneering spirit

“This book is of course for anyone who lives in or is visiting Oakland or the San Francisco Bay Area and wants to know where to go for food, drink, shopping or just plain fun. Perhaps more importantly, though, this book is for anyone, across the country, who is inspired by creative thought and the pioneering spirit.

“Oakland’s restaurants are trend-setting, and its shops are getting national attention. People who want to know what’s next are looking to Oakland. We’re offering them a glimpse inside.”

We could write a book like this to market our area — AKA “The State of Jefferson.” We also have a pioneering spirit, and great food, drink, shopping, activities, arts & culture and just plain fun.

One example: The new Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City is redolent of Piazzaiolo in Oakland — and, in fact, it was an inspiration.

Our regions have much to learn from each other. We also need to work harder to keep our young people in our community, but that’s going to require some fresh ideas.

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Lamphier “swearing in” ceremony is January 5

I received this email from Terry Lamphier, who asked me to post this press release. I’m happy to do that and wish Terry (along with his political foes) the happiest of holidays:

“Newly elected Grass Valley City Council member Terry Lamphier invites friends and supporters, City Councilmembers and staff and the community for his Council ‘swearing in’ ceremony on Monday, January 5 at 10 a.m. in Grass Valley City Hall Council Chambers.

“Lamphier says, ‘It’s been a long road to City Council but I like some of the things I’ve been seeing with Grass Valley government and I look forward to bringing my extensive experience as County Supervisor to further the success of Grass Valley.’

“Lamphier started his local political career as an unsuccessful ‘write in’ candidate in 2004 after seeing the lack of candidates; however soon after, he was asked to serve on the City of Grass Valley Fee Committee to represent interests of the general community in reviewing City fees.

“More than a year later, he was appointed to the City’s Planning Commission and worked to improve procedures and processes regarding review of large development projects.
In 2006, Lamphier, with the help of several community volunteers, ran an unsuccessful campaign for County Supervisor but the experience helped him win the seat in 2010.

“As Supervisor, Lamphier’s significant accomplishments included successfully lobbying with others in Sacramento to bring the ‘cottage food’ bill (home kitchen business) to Nevada County, resulting in eleven new local businesses to date. He also helped established a new, highly successful youth mentor program at the County’s juvenile detention center.

“As a member of several committees, he worked with a subcommittee to bring revisions and new energy to the County Mental Health Advisory Board, worked with colleagues on the Nevada County Broadband Task Force to host a community meeting to bring updated information to the community regarding high speed internet status and options and assisted the Nevada County Biomass Task Force to further plans for a local ‘green energy’ plant.

“As the County representative on the City of Grass Valley Redevelopment Agency Dissolution Oversight Board, he and fellow Board member Donna Fitting were successful in challenging management and distribution of funds, resulting in over $1 million in tax money recovered for local schools and lesser amounts for the County, City of Grass Valley and other agencies.

“Going forward as the City’s newest Councilmember, Lamphier will seek opportunities to implement his campaign goals of providing quality City services, transparent and accessible government, support for sustainable middle class job development and ‘preservation of our small town quality of life.'”

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More turnover at The Union — brings to mind a systemic problem

“Hi Folks
I’ve met a lot of you this year through my work covering the city desk for The Union. Today was my last day on the job, and I’m starting a new position with the Bay City News Service in Oakland on December 29. I’ll still be lurking here on Peeps, and occasionally posting things you folks might find interesting, but I’m leaving Nevada County over the holidays. Thanks for everything and good luck in 2015!

We will miss David Brooksher. Our family was seated next to David at the Nevada City Farm-to-Table banquet this summer. I initially joked a big “thank you” to Reinette Senum, the seating coordinator, at her choice. She laughed out loud, but she knew better because it was a good match.

During the evening, David and I enjoyed “breaking bread” and chatting about our region, our families and journalism as a career. Our son also enjoyed the conversation.

As for our local right-wing nuts, they gleaned on to an unflattering picture of me at the banquet (cropping out my son and David), and George Rebane happily let one of his nastiest “commentators” run it on his blog to score political points, complete with a few  nasty comments.

Back in the real world, turnover at The Union — a small rural, community newspaper — is an ongoing problem.

The current publisher is a longtime “Swiftie,” and the HR person, at least to my recollection, is the longest-serving member. For most staffers, however, The Union seems to struggle to retain “outside talent” for any long period of time.

On top of that, the old-timers in our community largely are nasty to newcomers. It just isn’t a very friendly place for independent-minded young people. As a result, many of them move on.

Another one of the problems — besides our local culture — is that The Union underpays its young reporters, compared to housing and other costs. As Editor, I earned $60,000 per year. A reporter, at least at the time, earned about $35,000 annually.

In the end, young reporters such as David are better off working off at outfits such as Bay City News Service, long known as a good place for a young person to incubate their journalism career.

The opportunities for journalists, and many other young professionals, is in the big cities — not in rural communities such as ours.

As for the rest of us who live here, we need to create more local jobs — and better paying ones. The cost of living is too high for the salaries we pay.

At least for now, we are a retirement community with an aging, declining population. It isn’t much of a “sustainable” future unless we can turn it around.

Good luck David. I enjoyed our dinnertime conversation. I mentioned David’s departure to our son, and he will miss you too. “He was pretty cool,” he recalled.

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Bonnie Raitt is coming to Grass Valley for the Strawberry Music Festival this spring

“We are very pleased to announce that artists for the Spring 2015 Festival are to include Bonnie Raitt, Peter Rowan’s Big Twang Theory, Ray Bonneville, Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, Sam Baker, and Chicago Farmer! Tickets are now on sale, so don’t miss out on special winter prices,” the Strawberry Music Festival announced on Friday. “Visit our Ticket page for more information or Buy Tickets Now.

On Thanksgiving week the Festival announced: ““Great news folks! We could not be happier to announce that the Spring 2015 Festival is taking place at the Nevada County Fairgrounds on Memorial Day weekend- Thursday, May 21st through Sunday, May 24th.”

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Scoop: Local to open Foxhound Espresso in Nevada City in coffee house boom

389162_4302350005583_1176150095_nWe like to write about local entrepreneurs and job growth in our community, so we’re glad to report that Nevada County native Steffen Snell plans to open Foxhound Espresso (d.b.a. “FoxHound Expresso & Coffee Broaster”) on Spring Street in Nevada City, next to Nevada City Winery and Sushi in the Raw, in January.

With sushi, wine and now “third wave” coffee, the area could become a hip food lovers’ neighborhood. On top of that, KVMR’s new building includes a wi-fi tower for great wi-fi reception in downtown Nevada City. Steffen also will include analog record players and music for its patron’s enjoyment.

Sounds a little like what lower Commercial Street in Nevada City has become, thanks largely to Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.

“My expected build out is around the 10th of January,” Steffen told us.

It is the latest example of the coffee trend sweeping the region. Fable Coffee plans to open its own coffee house in downtown Grass Valley, next to the Del Oro Theatre, as we reported previously. Truckee-based Coffeebar, located on Jibboom Street, just opened a second store in Reno.

Steffen has been making coffee (professionally and passionately) since 1999 when he started as a barista in training at Dean and DeLuca in Washington D.C., where he rose to barista trainer and participated in local espresso competitions.

He now helps run the Alchemy Collective in Berkeley — a popular café. “The café is all about third-wave coffee and serves Verve on a La Marzocco machine,” as Berkeleyside.com has reported.

Steffen also taught a coffee brewing class when Wendy Van Wagner ran In the Kitchen Cooking School on Zion Street in Nevada City (now home to the BriarPatch Cooking School). This class was a comprehensive study session tracing coffees path through history, the cultivation process, roasting, and the ritual of pulling the full potential out of your coffee.

Steffen’s coffee beans are used in artisan ice cream too. In Nevada City, Treats’ Coffee Broaster ice cream is made using beans Snell.  It includes ice creams, milkshakes, sundaes and affogatos.

(Photo: In the Kitchen)

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Risks of newspapers such as The Union outsourcing their print operations — “morale, resentment and logistics”

Editor’s note: Last week, in a roundabout way toward the bottom of a column, not in a news article, The Union said that it would be outsourcing the printing of its newspaper to The Bee, suggesting it would result in job cuts. “Not many, but just more than a dozen positions of The Union’s nearly 60-person staff will change across 2015,” Publisher Jim Hemig wrote. If you do the math, 12 out of 60 is 20 percent of the workforce. Though The Union has not discussed the matter further, the decision has sparked candid discussions on Facebook, including the “NC Peeps” page. Here are some factors to consider from a report about newspapers titled ‘thinking through‘ the outsourcing print option.

“A significant dilemma in deciding to outsource is the impact it will have on the morale of your organization. The challenges come from not only laying off individuals who have been long-time employees, but also the simple fact that your company no longer produces the newspaper at your own facility. Many newspapers are located in small, tightly-knit communities and are integral to those communities in part because of the individuals who work at the paper. As such, there may be some resentment towards a company that moves its production outside of the community.

“Other items to consider are logistical in nature. The location of the outside printing company is important so that the timeliness of delivery is not impacted or that impact is minimal. Also, consider the outside printing company’s disaster recovery or back-up printing plan in case it is unable to print. Does the outside printer have more than one press available to print your paper? If not, does it have arrangements with another production facility? These are some of the questions that must be answered before you can move forward in an outsourcing arrangement.”

These are some of the questions that The Union ought to be addressing to its readers.

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Planned 452-acre Loma Rica housing project being used to sell nearby real estate

6d2d34915f364be29f8b9bb3ea7849a0“The property consists of two parcels: 1) 11150 Idaho Maryland Rd (APN 35-412-24), a +-3.15 acre prime corner parcel that will be a prime gateway to the planned 452 acre Loma Rica Ranch mixed use development. This parcel is located just outside City limits & currently zoned IDR (Interim Development Reserve), a temporary holding classification pending completion of a master plan for the area; and 2) 1207 Idaho Maryland Rd (APN 09-680-23), a +-1.19 acre steep upslope property with superb views of the Loma Rica Ranch area, located within the City limits of Grass Valley, and zoned SP1A (corporate office/R&D district). Both properties are included in the list price. A superb, passive land play – buy, hold and profit from increasing values as Loma Rica Ranch builds out,” according to the listing on LoopNet.com.

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