Three things that could…

Three things that could make Sacramento a “world class city.”

  • Public drinking fountains, at least one every eighth mile
  • Public restrooms, at least on every quarter mile
  • Trash and recycle cans, at least one corner of every major intersection

Sacramento central city is actually doing much better on trash and recycle cans, but could do much better. Sacramento gets a zero on public restrooms (as in, not just unacceptable work, but the assignment never turned in) and a D- on drinking fountains. It is clear to anyone who looks that drinking fountains used by the homeless and low income are frequently broken, or dribble, but the ones in upper income neighborhoods always work. I cannot see this as other than intentional. 

You might think my rant is just about bias against homeless individuals, but this is discrimination against all citizens. It is a failure of government. The homeless suffer most from it, but we all suffer. 

Theatre: Winter 2014-2015

Though I’ve seen a few play multiple times, most particularly Into the Woods, I had never seen a play in two different theatres over a short period of time. Last fall I saw Ideation at San Francisco Playhouse, and then this season at Cap Stage. The performances were somewhat but not remarkably different. Actor Carrie Paff played Hannah in both! Two favorites this season, Tree at San Francisco Playhouse, for the though provoking staging and deep feeling, and In The Heights for the incredible energy of the story and dancers. Nine plays for the season.

  • 2015-03-13 Green Valley: In the Heights (Lin Manuel Miranda)
  • 2015-03-11 STC: Julius Cesaer (William Shakespeare)
  • 2015-03-06  City Theatre: The Cradle Will Rock (Marc Blitzstein)
  • 2015-02-15  SF Playhouse: Tree (Julie Hebert)
  • 2015-02-05  Cap Stage: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2015-01-23  Geery Theater: Love Letters (A. R. Gurney)
  • 2015-01-22  Big Idea Theatre: Cloud 9 (Caryl Churchill)
  • 2015-01-04  SF Playhouse: Promises, Promises (Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hal David, Book by Neil Simon)
  • 2015-01-15  B Street B3: The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence (Madeline George)


What would a REAL Earth Day look like?

Two things brought to mind Earth Day today, one an article in Orion on red, black & GREEN, and the other an email. I think Earth Day, as it is practiced today, is dead. We need something new, something real.

I was one of the organizers, along with some older friends, of the first Earth Day in Las Vegas, April 1970. What did we do? We hung out on the grass and threw frisbees, and had long and deep conversations about how to change the world, and how ourselves. And, that being the time, smoked dope. It was really transformative for people, I think, because there had never really been group discussions before. We had a feeling we were all going in the same direction, if not the same path.

I continued to help organize, and go to, Earth Days for a while, and then eventually dropped out. Last year I stopped by briefly at the Sacramento Earth Day in Southside Park. And left soon after. Earth Day has become booths. Everyone is selling their version of the solution, whether agencies or organizations, and brochures multiply. Some of these agencies and organizations are really doing next to nothing, or in some cases some very bad things, but this is their greenwashing opportunity. And some organizations and agencies are doing good things. But the booth and the brochure are not the way we get where we need to go. That is a dead end, in an energetic and action sense.

So, what would a REAL Earth Day look like? Well, I’ll thrown in my two cents.

  1. Not: No booths, no tables, no chairs, no tents, no brochures, no business cards. Everyone who has a message to get across would get it across while working with other people (see below). I’m sure that most agencies and organizations would drop out, but that is OK, they weren’t doing much of use anyway. A few would stay. Their employees and volunteers would be part of it, along with everyone else.
  2. Real work: The day would be organized around a work project. Something that addresses community needs and concerns. Obviously a project that occurs in an underserved community (Sacramento has plenty!) would be best, but only if the project is initiated and organized by the community. It can be supported by organizations and agencies, but it needs to start and end with the community.
  3. Conversation: Some conversations will happen naturally as part of the work and food (see below), but more can be facilitated by having roundtable discussions on topics of concern to the community. These could be convened but not led. There are no experts here, just people who care. I see groups sitting around on the grass in a circle, that grow until too large to hear each other, and then naturally seed other circles. When a discussion isn’t speaking to a person, they get up and find one that does.
  4. Food: What we eat is not only a great impact on the earth, but is also the core of our social function. So we should eat together. That might be one use for the tables and chairs not used above, for people who cannot sit on the ground, but I envision most people sitting on the ground, and continuing informal conversations. How to pay for it? Ask people to give in proportion to their ability (To each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities). This is a gamble, of course, because food must be purchased and prepared ahead of time, but what better role for all those agencies and organizations to play than as a guarantee against a loss.
  5. Interactive: Music and dance should be a core part of it, probably following lunch. Performances should be interactive. Not someone up on stage entertaining the crowd, but the whole crowd entertaining itself, with the help of creative initiators. Keeping with the theme of the day, this is a time to get involved, to stretch beyond your normal boundaries, not a time to be an observer.
  6. Transportation: Ask people not to drive! Maybe even tell people not to drive. After food, our second greatest impact on the earth is how we get around. We have become far too complacent, thinking that something will save us from climate change, just some adjustments here and there, nothing too inconvenient. Well, it won’t! There may be things in life important enough to drive for, but I don’t think Earth Day is one of them. If people really want to come, they will get there, on foot, on bicycle, on public transit, in real carpools (not just another person, but a car packed with people). Which leads to the next point.
  7. Community: Stop doing regional events. Earth Day should happen in communities. If there isn’t one in your community, either help organize one, or stay home and do something useful in your neighborhood.


ADT6: Sacramento to Antioch 2013-06

Continuing my gradual completion of the California portion of the American Discovery Trail (ADT), I rode my bike from Sacramento to Antioch. The route largely follows the Sacramento River into the delta. Though I’ve walked all the portions to the east, including the Western States Trail (which largely though not entirely overlaps with the ADT), this section is entirely along roads and I figured it would be more efficient to ride it. This is section six of the California portion of the ADT. I’ve done sections one through five already (and I’ll do them again). Previous posts include closing my gap in the Western States TrailWestern States Trail, and another trip from Auburn to Sacramento that I apparently forgot to write about.

Grape Vines as far as the eye can see, near Clarksburg
Grape Vines as far as the eye can see, near Clarksburg

Starting from mile zero of the American River Parkway in Discovery Park, the route follows the river south, then through neighborhoods of south Sacramento including Land Park, crosses the river at Freeport, and then follows the levee-top River Road through Clarksburg, the center of a recent wine growing region, back across the river near Courtland, and then on to Locke and Walnut Grove. It is interesting to see the crops changing, with grapes, walnut, fruit trees, and row crops. The land to east of the river seems to be almost exclusively large agribusiness, with very few actual farmers remaining, the west of the river there are some family farms remaining.

Continue reading “ADT6: Sacramento to Antioch 2013-06”

local AND organic at Sac Sunday farmers market

Spring Hill Jersey Cheese
Spring Hill Jersey Cheese

I was at the Sacramento Sunday Farmers Market (state parking lot, 8th & W) this morning, and since it was earth day, thinking about food sources. If I had to choose, I’d choose local over organic, but when I don’t have to choose, what a wonderful thing that is.

The local and organic vendors I like are:

Spring Hill Jersey Cheese specifically asked me to let people know about their wonderful cheeses, so here you go!

There are of course a large number of local vendors at this, the largest of all the Sacramento area farmers markets, but these are the ones I buy the majority of my food from. And there are vendors which attend some of the other farmers markets in the region and not this one, so you’ll find different organic vendors at different markets. Yes, I also shop at Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, Trader Joes, Grocery Outlet and Safeway.

Photos on PicasaWeb.

Tweed Ride Sacramento

So much fun with so many interesting people on a variety of bikes. Starting with breakfast at One Speed, we rode across the Sac State bridge, along the American River Parkway, back across the railroad bridge to Bows & Arrows (beer), then to Revolution Wines, though I had tea at Temple adjacent, then to Pangaea (more beer). Tweed, tweed and more tweed. Thank you Rick, and all the other tweeders – tweedies (?). See the blog for more info. Next one in the spring!

Five Bromptons – more than I’ve even seen in Sac. A sixth joined later.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Sacramento,United States


I am now living in Sacramento. Many friends already know, but I’m sure some to not. I took a job with San Juan Unified School District as a Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the eleven K-8 grade schools in Citrus Heights. Citrus Heights is a suburb of Sacramento, and as a place lacking sidewalks and bike lanes in many areas, a place that was designed for cars and not people, it needs my help. I really enjoy the people I work with there, as they are by in large committed to the same objective of creating a more walkable, more human place where children feel welcome to get to school under their own power.

I live in mid-town Sacramento, and I’m very much enjoying being here. There is so much to do: live music, community theatre, coffee shops that have quality bulk teas, restaurants, bars, museums, young people, streets lined with beautiful mature trees, fairly bike-friendly streets and drivers, the American and Sacramento rivers close by. If my income level were higher, I’d get to enjoy more of some of these opportunities, but I’ve decided that half-time work is about the right amount for me, and I’m learning how to survive and thrive on it.

My apartment is on the third floor, up at the crown level of many of the trees, so as I stand on my porch, I feel somewhat like I’m living in a forest.

Living in one place and working in another doesn’t fit my ideal of what people should do, and I wonder about it. But I realized that with a public transit system that starts shutting down at 8:00 and is completely shut down by 10:00 in the evening, I would be more socially and culturally isolated in Citrus Heights than I was in Carson City. As has been said of many places, “there is no there there.” Suburbs where most of the people leave every morning to work in a completely different place and return home at night too tired, from work and driving, to do much, do not create social and cultural opportunities. So, for now, I’ve chosen to be where the opportunities are, not where I work. I get to work every day on a combination of light rail, buses, and biking. At the end of the day, I try to ride at least a little of the American River Parkway bike trail on my way back home.

Today I rode bike trail from home to the beginning at Discovery Park (the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers), and east to Folsom 32 miles, where I had a beer and ice cream cone (not together!), and took the light rail back home. The light rail station is three blocks from home.

I miss several friends from Carson City, and very much miss being so close to the Sierra Nevada. One can see the Sierra from Sacramento only on clear days, and they are much further away. But I’m happy to be where I am. It is much noisier here, with the busy streets and night life, but that is a reasonable trade off for living in a place where so much happens.

New job, new place

I have accepted a Safe Routes to School job in the Sacramento area, specifically working for San Juan Unified School District and the nine schools in Citrus Heights. Other partners include WalkSacramento (Complete Streets coordinator Terry Preston generated the grant application), the City of Citrus Heights which has a greenhouse gas reduction plan, and Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

For the remainder of April and May, I will be continuing my Safe Routes to School contract in Carson City, supporting the bike education programs and finishing out projects. Since both positions are part-time, I’ll be back and forth nearly every week between Sacramento and Carson City. A little crazy and wearing, no doubt, but I really want to wrap up Carson City successfully. I’m not sure when I’ll actually move to the Sacramento area, but sometime after I decide whether to live in Citrus Heights or mid-town Sacramento, and it depends on my summer schedule as I’ll have some time off for backpacking but not sure how much.

Things I will miss about Carson City: being close to the mountains, biking in a place that has low traffic, the advocacy organization I work with, Muscle Powered, working with the PE teachers, and most of all, my best friend who I’m sadly leaving behind. Things I’ll enjoy about Sacramento: more dancing of all sorts, the American River and the bike trail along it, milder winters, being only 1-1/2 hours away from the bay area by train, and the challenges and new learning of a new job.

One of the things not yet figured out is how much I’ll be able to live without a car. Sacramento has pretty good public transportation, but Citrus Heights is way out in the suburbs, well beyond the light rail. I have been reducing my car use for several years, with the ultimate objective of living without one.

My email address will stay the same, and my cell phone number will stay the same at least until August, and maybe longer.