U.S. Rep. Cummings’ service stirs memories of our time at Sacred Heart in S.F.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings’ recent funeral at the Baltimore church where he worshipped for about four decades was memorable for us.

Besides honoring the legacy of the civil rights advocate, the service at the overflowing New Psalmist Baptist Church reminded me and my wife Shannon of the period when we began our courtship in the late ’80s, attending services at an iconic Western Addition church in San Francisco.

Before we were married, we attended services at Sacred Heart Church in San Francisco, one of the city’s few predominantly African American Catholic churches. This church, in S.F.’s Western Addition, was in the neighborhood of Shannon and her best friend Laura’s apartment in the Hayes Valley.

Shannon is Catholic (I am Episcopalian), and we met with the priest of Sacred Heart — Father Ken— to arrange for “engaged encounter” classes. We enjoyed the meetings, and learned more about the church and its history — as well as each other. We had homework too!

Sacred Heart was a phenomenal church, built in 1897 at the corner of Filmore and Fell streets. The yellow brick church featured Roman-style columns, big stained-glass windows and ceiling frescos, the handiwork of architect Thomas Welsh. It provided food and shelter for the homeless after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake.

“The Western Addition was once made up of mostly Irish immigrants who filled the church every Sunday,” as a former colleague Peter Fimrite wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle in 2004. “The area changed dramatically in the 1930s and ’40s, when thousands of African Americans came to San Francisco looking for work.

“As the Fillmore District changed, so did Sacred Heart,” it continued. “Filipinos and other immigrants joined the church and attended the adjacent elementary school during the 1960s. The city’s Nigerian Ibo community was welcomed into the fold several years ago.

“The church services took on a gospel style as more African Americans joined, and the choir is now widely considered one of the best in the city.”

We found the services refreshing and inspirational. The church closed in 2004, citing the need for a multimillion-dollar seismic retrofit, stemming from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but our memories of going there have lasted a lifetime.

AMGEN Tour of California on hiatus for 2020

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)– AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, today announced that they will put the Amgen Tour of California race on hiatus for the 2020 racing season.

“This has been a very difficult decision to make, but the business fundamentals of the Amgen Tour of California have changed since we launched the race 14 years ago,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “While professional cycling globally continues to grow and we are very proud of the work we have done to increase the relevance of professional cycling, particularly in the United States, it has become more challenging each year to mount the race. This new reality has forced us to re-evaluate our options, and we are actively assessing every aspect of our event to determine if there is a business model that will allow us to successfully relaunch the race in 2021.”

The race has become California’s largest annual sporting event, contributing more than $3.5 billion¹ to the state’s economy over the years. Each year since 2006, the cycling road race has showcased some of today’s best known and most decorated international cyclists, including numerous World, Olympic and National Champions. The international competition also carries the distinction of being the only U.S.-based event that has both its men’s and women’s races listed on the UCI WorldTour calendar while being the only event of its kind that concurrently produces men’s and women’s stage races that offer equal prize money.

“On behalf of USA Cycling, I would like to thank AEG, Kristin and her team for providing an outstanding showcase for the sport in America and for our American Athletes,” said Bob Stapleton, Chairman of USA Cycling. “We stand ready to help rally additional support and resources in the hopes of resuming this event in 2021.”

The competition has also been praised for creating a global platform to feature current and next-generation U.S. cyclists, showcase the picturesque state of California, introduce the sport to millions of new fans and promote cycling as a healthy lifestyle.

Klein continued, “I would like to sincerely thank the teams, the cyclists, sponsors, volunteers, elected officials, host cities, and all of the fans that helped make the Amgen Tour of California ‘Americas Greatest Race.’ Most of all, I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of my team who have tirelessly worked alongside me, each and every year, to develop the renowned event. I also would like to thank our governing body, USA Cycling, UCI and Amaury Sport Organisation for their continued support.”

“We would also like to extend our sincere thanks to Amgen for their incredible support and partnership from day one,” Klein added. “We are proud to have stood together with them to create this amazing legacy.”

Past men’s race champions have included Tour de France General Classification Winners Egan Bernal and Bradley Wiggins; as well as Tour de France Stage Winners George Bennett; Levi Leipheimer; Michael Rogers; Peter Sagan (record 7-time Tour de France Points Classifications winner, and record 17-stage winner at the Amgen Tour of California); and Tejay van Garderen. Additionally, 10-time Stage Winner Mark Cavendish has won 30 stages at the Tour de France (2nd all-time for both races).

The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM has featured an equally impressive field of competitors including three-time Olympic gold medal winner Kristin Armstrong; current race champion, Olympic gold medalist and world champion, Anna van der Breggen; Chloe Dygert, Olympic silver medalist, current UCI world time trial champion and six-time UCI gold medalist; and Coryn Rivera who in 2019, at age 26 holds 72 national titles.

Support local businesses impacted by power outages on Nov. 6

Our Sierra FoodWineArt magazine is glad to help sponsor a communitywide effort to support our local businesses impacted by the recent PG&E power outages.

Dubbed “Let’s Go Out Tonight!” western Nevada County residents are being asked to set aside Wednesday, November 6, to “visit a local restaurant, brewery, winery, bar, specialty shop or market and support local businesses that have been impacted by the recent power outages! 

“These local businesses not only feed and provide entertainment for the community, they also employ thousands of our neighbors, friends and family.  Here is our chance to show our support! Stop in for a drink, meal, or ice cream cone…every little bit helps!”

The sponsors include the Nevada City Chamber, Greater Grass Valley Chamber, Grass Valley Downtown Association, Penn Valley Chamber, The Union, KVMR, KNCO and Sierra FoodWineArt magazine.

We hope to see you out on the town! Thanks to Jesse Locks, a longtime local and director of the Nevada City Film Festival, for helping to spearhead this effort. — Jeff, Shannon and Mitchell Pelline of Nevada City

BriarPatch donates food to those in need, explores options in face of power outage

On October 10, the BriarPatch community came together in a positive way during a PG&E Power Outage that put hundreds of thousands of people in the dark for days across Northern California.

 “Our goal is to not waste food. Food is precious,” said General Manager Chris Maher.

BriarPatch teamed up with the Food Bank of Nevada County to offer fresh, delicious, healthy and ready-to eat-foods to people facing food insecurity. The Co-op donated several thousand pounds of food at the Nevada County Emergency Food Distribution Center that consisted of hundreds of pre-made meals like sandwiches, dinners and salads; fresh produce like organic avocados, bags of gourmet specialty cheeses, pro-biotic and fermented foods, baked goods and fresh juices.

“One woman broke down in tears and told me that she lost all of her food for the week and wouldn’t be able to buy groceries again until her next payday. The food that she left with would need to sustain her until then,” said Nicole McNeely, Executive Director of Food Bank of Nevada County.

Food Bank and Food Link brought four` trucks full of 3,300 pounds of fresh produce and milk, 900 pounds of meat and eggs and 10,000 pounds of dry food. Nutritional support was given to 225 families and over 650 individuals. Many of those were seniors and children.

“Clients expressed immense gratitude,” said Sustainability Coordinator Lauren Scott.

Several hundred pounds of food that had reached unsafe temperatures for human consumption was donated to local farmers to feed their pigs.

Thanks to some advanced planning and lots of hard work, BriarPatch managed to save a lot of products by using 1800 pounds of dry ice, a refrigeration truck and a freezer truck until the outage was over.

“It was a huge team effort. I give the whole store huge kudos for working together,” said Grocery Manager Shawn Bailey.

Despite all the efforts to save perishables, goods valued at tens of thousands of dollars were lost with food like dairy and meat hit the hardest.

A New Normal

In the week after the PG&E power outage, BriarPatch staff and board are giving considerable thought to public concern that arose from the Black Out and the idea that electric grid shutdowns could become the new normal in the face of changing climate and increased risks from wildfire.

“We heard the community loud and clear and we’re exploring every idea that’s on the table,” said General Manager Chris Maher.

BriarPatch has 680 high performance solar panels that also serve as an impressive shade structure in the store’s parking lot. Members of the community have asked the question – Why did BriarPatch shut its doors during the power outage if it uses solar power?

While the panels reduce dependency on the public electrical grid by $3 million over 25 years and offset upwards of 51 percent of the store’s electrical needs, they do not provide an off-grid power source to the store during a black out.

“Like 95 percent of the solar systems in our area, the BriarPatch solar carport was designed solely as a power supply, focusing on delivering green energy at a cheaper price, and was not designed as a back-up power source, which would require large and very expensive batteries” or generator, said Martin Webb, Commercial Sales Manager for California Solar Electric Company, the Grass Valley business that installed the system in 2016.

The Solar Array on the Briar Patch is a “grid-tied” solar system – or a system that uses the PG&E power grid as a battery – storing power all summer for use in the Winter.

Solar systems without a battery bank that are connected to the utility grid must fully shut down in the event of a utility blackout, as a safety feature required by the National Electrical Code. Otherwise, the solar power could shoot up the dead electrical lines and create dangerous conditions that can shock linemen or create a fire.

“Though batteries have come a long way, BriarPatch would need to do an extensive cost benefit analysis to justify such a system for situations like this, as these systems would cost a multiplier of the existing solar array and would require room for the equipment in an already crowded store,” said Lars Ortegren General Manager of Cal Solar.

When the system was designed two to three years ago, the concept of a multi-day intentional regionwide blackout was not even a remote possibility. The original goal of installing a solar electric system was to reduce the store’s environmental impacts while saving co-op owners money over the lifetime of the panels. It is part of BriarPatch’s long-term sustainability vision that also includes: a LEED certified green building, an Electric Vehicle Charging Station, supporting a local food system, and reducing food waste.

BriarPatch is exploring all options of grid-free electricity as PG&E power outages become more common place. Another black out could hit later this week.

“It’s an enormous undertaking to get the store to be working independently of the grid,” said Chris Maher. “The community has made BriarPatch a primary gathering hub and resource. We’re working toward the best vision of preserving that reality that we can.” Learn more: https://www.briarpatch.coop/


Impeach this!

Editor’s note: I somehow managed to miss this gathering when I was in Las Vegas, but I read about it in the newspaper. It drew 100 people in the nation’s 28-largest metropolis — about what you’d expect around here.

“On October 17, 2019, fellow Republicans and supporters of President Trump will join forces with conservatives from all over the Country to protest the attempt to impeach President Trump.

“We want our President to know that he is not alone and that we stand with him! We invite you to join us at Trump International Hotel, 2000 Fashion Show Dr. Las Vegas, NV. 89109 at 10am to March for President Trump!

“Bring your rally signs, wear your red shirts and comfortable shoes so that we can show President Trump that we support him and REJECT the constant attempts to impeach him!

“Don’t forget to show your support and get you [sic] exclusive “Impeach THIS” T-shirt. The proceeds of the sales are split equally between the NVGOP and the Trump Campaign. Order yours today!

SoHo comes to Vegas (and India too)

LAS VEGAS – I’m living it up at the Bellagio and starting tonight, headed to the Waldorf Astoria, during this “excellent adventure” to Sin City. I checked out the casinos but have preferred to read a book (“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover) at the pool instead.

The public spaces at the Bellagio are remarkable – and the highlight of the hotel, at least for me.

This fall the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden features a colorful fall display celebrating India: complete with elephants, tigers, fountains and flowers. A live webcam to the fall display is HERE. (Note: The webcam title is mislabeled).

Alongside the exhibit, the Bellagio has imported the popular vintage-style New York SoHo restaurant, Sadelle’s, to Las Vegas.

Sadelle’s is recreated in exquisite detail, ranging from “colorful pastels and bespoke touches transporting diners to a grand café along an old European boulevard” to the restaurant’s legendary menu.

The menu includes bagels and fresh smoked-fish platters, triple-decker sandwiches, salads and all-day caviar offerings.

I enjoyed the smoked-fish platter one morning for breakfast. It was a glorious presentation (plated in a tower, no less), complete with a bagel, thinly sliced tomato, cucumber and capers.

“Overlooking the Bellagio Conservatory, Sadelle’s brings an elevated perspective to all-day dining in Las Vegas,” as the Bellagio puts it. “The restaurant’s stunning locale, Ken Fulk design, fun vibe and legendary menu make it a destination experience for tourists and locals.” A video is here: