2022 Wild & Scenic Art Exhibition Winners

Congratulations to the winners! The winning art is now on display at Fable Coffee at 233 Broad Street in Nevada City through January 30, 2022. Thanks to the Nevada County Arts Council and to local artist and community arts leader Roseanne Burke for passing along a press release, which we posted on our magazine’s Facebook page, along with this video.

“Warmth bombing” in downtown Grass Valley

The annual “warmth bombing” of downtown Grass Valley took place this morning, thanks to a group called Nevada County Random Acts of Warmth. Dozens of hats, scarves, gloves, and ear warmers were left for passers-by in the downtown area, according to the group’s Facebook page. The loose-knit group, so to speak, has been “warmth-bombing” Nevada County since 2015.

(credit: Nevada County Random Acts of Warmth Facebook page)

Big turnout for Toy Run

Since 1991, motorcyclists have gathered to ride through Nevada City and Grass Valley and deliver food and toy donations to benefit families in need at Christmas.

“We had over 1,300 bikes show up to donate,” according to the organizers. “We had food for 400 families, and gave four toys each to well over 1000 kids.”

We joined in making a donation, and watched the festivities near our house. A video is here:

Oh, Christmas tree


We cut our Christmas tree at McBurney’s Tree Farm near our house in Nevada City and hung our lights and glass-blown ornaments this afternoon. It’s a privilege to live in the Sierra foothills.

In San Francisco, we bought our tree on the Guardsman lot, where it was cut in late summer up north. Although less romantic than cutting your own, it was for a good cause. Every year since 1947, The Guardsmen organization has sold Christmas trees in San Francisco to benefit at-risk youth in the Bay Area.

Our Christmas tree ornaments represent a lifetime of memories. A few date back to when my grandmother Ella was a girl growing up in Park City, Utah. Others we have collected throughout our marriage. Some represent our travels together, such as a frosted-glass kangaroo from Australia. A glass-blown ornament of John Lennon is a favorite. (Imagine and Peace Train were released 50 years ago. Both songs yearning for a world of peace and oneness).

We miss our son, who’s away at college in the East until the week after next and not here to join us today. I guess we are empty nesters “in training.” We’re listening to Christmas music on my iPhone while we hang the ornaments, not our LP record player. Times change with technology, too.

Tonight we’ll light a fire in the fireplace, hunker down for a big rain storm that is headed our way, and count our blessings.

Here’s to wishing you a happy holidays!

Victorian Christmas in Nevada City

We enjoyed Victorian Christmas in our “cute little town” this afternoon — a Whoville-like gathering. The weather was spectacular — an idyllic Indian Summer — and it was a joyful crowd. Festival-goers walked along Broad Street, visiting with merchants and their friends and neighbors. Local musicians played Christmas songs. Chestnuts were roasting on an open fire. And families gathered around the town’s Christmas tree and menorah. What a perfect way to start the holiday season. Some of our videos and photos are here:

MLB locks its doors

“As expected, Major League Baseball and its players association did not find common ground on a collective bargaining agreement by 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday night,” as The Athletic is reporting in an email newsletter. “The league is closed for business for the first time in 26 years. We have a lockout. Here’s a 30-second guide to our new reality. Why?

“The players want a larger share of the revenue. Historically it has hovered around 50-50 in the modern era. Currently, owners get 57 percent while the players receive 43 percent.

“The players also want to end service time manipulation, or diminish its effect on their earning power. We’ve seen it repeatedly — young stars shelved in the minor leagues longer than necessary. Clubs game the system in order to depress salary and keep a player under team control longer.

“Finally: the union wants to incentivize competition. The league has seen more teams outright tank in the last few years, which has an adverse effect on the on-field product and on player salaries. No tanking team is going to line up to pay a mid-tier free agent; so where do those guys play? There are myriad possible solutions, but the sides can’t seem to agree on a route. 

“So, what do we do now? Until an agreement is reached, coaches and front office personnel will not be able to communicate with players. No one can sign contracts. No offseason training allowed. None of it.

“For now, we wait. Talks will resume immediately. Let’s hope this lockout isn’t too long.”

BTW, if you are a sports fan, I recommend a subscription to the Athletic, or at least checking it out. The subscription-based website is part of a growing publishing trend. The writing and analysis is top-notch.

Pittsburgh Pirates owner buys The Union and Sierra Sun newspapers

The Union and Sierra Sun newspapers are being sold to a well-off gentleman named Robert Nutting who is the principal owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team; a small ski resort in the “Keystone State”; and — last but not least — a chain of small newspapers, magazines and some phone directories based in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The net worth of Nutting and his family comes to an estimated $1.1 billion (with a “b”). Nutting’s family is listed as the 10th wealthiest owner in the MLB, according to Wealth-X, a global-wealth intelligence firm.

“BOTTOM-LINE BOB”

Nutting’s nickname, at least to some of his critics, is “bottom-line Bob.” An Instagram account titled “Spend Nutting, Win Nutting” pokes fun at the MLB owner. A fan once was asked to remove a T-shirt at a Pirates game that was critical of Nutting. It also read “Spend Nutting, Win Nutting.” An alternative newspaper in West Virginia, The Wheeling Alternative, also is a frequent detractor.

In 2018, the appearance of the Pirates mascot at a GOP dinner in Pittsburgh, which included a visit by then-President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, raised eyebrows. The Pirates said it was not a political endorsement.

The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been a harsh critic of Nutting. In an editorial last month that conjured up images of Scrooge himself (ahead of Christmas, no less) the Pulitzer Prize-winning PG wrote: “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: If Bob Nutting doesn’t want to pay to field a legitimate Major League Baseball team in Pittsburgh, he should sell to someone who will.” (The PG won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting). 

Nutting, 59, whose title is CEO of Ogden Newspapers and The Nutting Company, reiterated his family’s “commitment to the industry and the critical role of community newspapers.” The family leadership also includes Bill Nutting (VP) and Cameron Nutting Williams (chief revenue officer).

The sale is set to close Dec. 31, and with the acquisition, Ogden Newspapers now will publish 54 daily newspapers and a number of weekly newspapers and magazines, including the Utne Reader (a longtime vanguard of the alternative press), in 18 states.

Ogden will continue to operate the existing Swift publications under the name Swift Communications. After the close date, Swift will change its name to Questor Corp. Swift’s Acres USA and Breaking Ground Institute will be part of Questor, along with a portfolio of commercial and residential real estate properties in various states.

Founded in 1975, the second- and third-generation family owned Swift Communications has operated magazines, newspapers, websites, book publishing and other digital products in western state cities, according to its press release. In California, that includes Grass Valley, Truckee, and South Lake Tahoe; and Carson City in Nevada. In Colorado, that includes the Aspen Times and Snowmass Sun, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Vail Daily, Summit Daily News, Steamboat Pilot, Craig Press and Sky-Hi News near Winter Park. Swift also includes publications and offices in Park City, Utah.

“The publications, communities and most of all the great people who have been a part of our company since its founding in 1975 will be very much missed,” Bill Waters, CEO and chairman of the Board of Swift Communications, said in the announcement. “We know the time has come to pass the baton of stewardship to new owners who can carry forward the important mission.”

LET’S GIVE BOB A CHANCE

Let’s give Mr. Nutting a chance with our local newspapers. Despite the criticism of being “bottom-line Bob,” Nutting founded the Pittsburgh Pirates philanthropic arm, Pirates Charities, in 2010.

Our son, who is a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, might be one of the few locals to own a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hat. He said he liked the color scheme.

“Nutting was born on March 29, 1962 in Wheeling, West Virginia,” according to Wikipedia. “He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Nutting likes the outdoors, enjoying his time fly fishing, skiing and flying his personal twin-engine aircraft. Nutting and his wife, Leslie, have three daughters. An avid conservationist, Nutting is the driving force behind the Pirates’ ‘Let’s Go Bucs. Let’s Go Green’ initiative to make PNC Park operations more environmentally friendly.”

Leslie Ganyard Nutting is “a painter based in West Virginia, though her roots are in California. . . . She uses field painting opportunities to slow down, look closely, think openly, and intensely feel the world as it is,” according to her CV. Leslie studied art at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Art and received her MFA in painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I like her work: It reminds me of some of the bucolic American landscapes we have hanging on the walls at home.

Nutting (credit: NuttingCompany.com)

The Pirate Parrot (credit: MLB.com/Pirates)

T-shirt (credit: Amazon.com)

Family farm helps feed people in Nevada County

“Kenneth and Aleta Barrett are the owners and operators of Starbright Acres Family Farm, and in this video take us through their journey in moving to the Grass Valley area with their two young children, and with little farming experience, they have continued to meet the challenge each year to plant and harvest a variety of vegetables for local residents.” Credits: some photographs from Starbright Acres Family Farm, music: http://www.bensound.com

Don’t let culture wars ruin our schools


We are a small, rural area, but some of our local students go on to some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. This includes “top 10” schools such as Stanford, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins, as well as our top-ranked “UCs,” led by Cal Berkeley then UCLA, among others. This is a credit to our district’s hard-working teachers, college counselors, and administrators.

As longtime residents and parents, we are extremely grateful for it. I should add we also are grateful for programs such as the Sierra College Fire Academy and our community college’s associate degree nursing program; education is not “one size fits all.” 

Our towns can benefit from this comprehensive education: In the past, for example, a “bring them home” campaign has sought to attract and retain young professionals and entrepreneurs to start a business here and help us thrive. We need to nurture this philosophy to help our local economy thrive. Let’s face it: We are a declining and aging population — not the ideal path toward sustainability. 

Despite our best efforts to prosper, there are some FRINGE (capitalized) efforts in our towns that risk undermining all this — you know, “one step forward, two steps back.” Case in point: At a Nevada Joint Union High School District board meeting on Wednesday, a trustee (Jim is that you?) requested the school board hear from a group AGAINST Critical Race Theory. Argh! 

Though I’d choose a less academic-sounding term, Critical Race Theory is an approach to studies which holds that “racism is systemic, and that even laws and policies that are race-neutral on their face can have racist outcomes,” according to Education Week. Duh!

But opposition is mounting in this era of culture wars: 27 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, the publication adds.

“In public discourse, critics of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have misinterpreted and misappropriated the term, using it to refer to a host of educational priorities, from history lessons on the Civil Rights Movement to diverse classroom libraries to culturally responsive teaching,” adds Education Week

Meanwhile, while communities such as ours “zig,” the bigger world “zags.” Many of the nation’s top universities are celebrating the role of diversity, and rightly so. I learned that Johns Hopkins, for example, has launched an exhibit about the indispensable role of blacks in shaping the university. I learned a lot from the project. It stemmed from Johns Hopkins learning from its own past (its founder owned slaves), rather than sweeping it under the rug. 

I am hopeful that the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting will be full steam ahead with what our schools are doing. It is the right way to go, to be sure.