September 2014

At Sierra Commons, our members often impress us beyond their usual work ethic, innovation and ideas. This past weekend was one of those times. Sierra Commons members Abe Miessler and Hilary Hodge were one of 670 people who participated locally in the 17th Annual Yuba River Cleanup.

Abe Miessler helping to remove blackberries along Wolf Creek

Abe Miessler helping to remove blackberries along Wolf Creek

The Yuba River Cleanup is an annual volunteer event organized by the South Yuba River citizens League, or SYRCL. The event is in conjunction with the Great Sierra River Cleanup sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the annual Coastal Cleanup Day, a state-wide event in California. The collaboration makes the day the largest single-day volunteer event in California. More than 4,000 people volunteered their time to help clean streams, creeks, rivers, meadows and large portions of the California Coastline.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy announced in a press release that their efforts removed 55 tons of trash along Sierra Nevada rivers and watersheds. Our more locally-concentrated efforts were highlighted by SYRCL. SYRCL announced that “volunteers cheerfully removed over 15,946 pounds of trash and 2,000 pounds recyclables from 81 miles of river, creek and lake shoreline at 33 sites within the Yuba River and Bear River watersheds.”

Goldenrod, a native flowering plant threatened by invasive species.

Goldenrod, a native flowering plant threatened by invasive species.

The event focuses on trash removal but it is also an opportunity for conservation and restoration. Our Sierra Commons members, Abe and Hilary, signed up to remove—not trash—but blackberry bushes from a meadow along Wolf Creek. The meadow is an important part of the watershed ecosystem, allowing for safe overflow and absorption during the rainy season. The blackberry bushes inhibit the distribution of water along the meadow and may possibly create water diversions that could damage or destroy sensitive environments. By clearing the blackberries, a non-native invasive species, volunteers made way for the natural flow of water into the meadow.

The group of volunteers.

The group of volunteers.

Way to go Abe Miessler and Hilary Hodge!

After five years of service to Sierra Commons, Robert Trent has decided to step aside and pursue new avenues.  Robert was the founder and original Executive Director at Sierra Commons.  He built Sierra Commons from the ground up during a recession and helped to make Sierra Commons a sustainable co-working facility and education center.  “I have been blessed with the opportunity to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Nevada County and help individuals transform their passion into sustainable enterprises,” Robert said about his time spent at Sierra Commons.  His hard work and dedication to Sierra Commons will always be appreciated and Robert Trent will always remain a friend to the organization and its members.

Robert Trent taking a call on the Sierra Commons tire swing.

Robert Trent taking a call on the Sierra Commons tire swing.

Robert Trent’s resignation comes at a time when Sierra Commons is blossoming and growing.  Robert Trent wrote in a recent press release, “Last August, Sierra Commons celebrated its fifth anniversary.  The non-profit was the first co-working facility in the Sierra Nevada, and one of the few rural co-working organizations in the world.  Sierra Commons, started during the recession, was an experiment to see if western Nevada County could rebuild its economy based on the principles of community, collaboration, and innovation.  The ongoing success of this experiment can be seen in the scores of new businesses and local jobs, the re-imagined careers of laid off workers, the countless “light bulb” moments at classes and community meetings that Sierra Commons continues to be a part of.”

Robert explains his decision to leave the board by saying, “After five years of serving on the Board of Directors at Sierra Commons I have decided to switch gears and focus on building new businesses from the ground up and offering private business consulting services.  I plan on staying involved with the Sierra Commons community as a co-working member, mentor, and volunteer.”

The current Sierra Commons Board of Directors is a dedicated and diverse board of business professional and non-profit leaders.  Robert Trent notes, “The board, along with Sierra Commons members, volunteers, and the greater business community are working together to ensure that the organization continues to serve individuals and our community.”

We thank Robert for all he has given to Sierra Commons these past five years.  We wish him success on his future endeavors.

I recently showed a potential new member around the Sierra Commons office. She liked our facility and enjoyed the people. She was excited to have some free conference room time each month, a benefit to all of our members. But, like with many people who aren’t familiar with Sierra Commons or co-working, she wondered, “Why don’t all these people just work from home?”
Lower floor at Sierra Commons

Lower floor at Sierra Commons

It’s an interesting question but it is easily answered. A co-working space is more than just a desk or an office space in a building somewhere. When you are part of a co-working facility, you are a part of a community. For many entrepreneurs and independent contractors, having co-workers improves productivity and helps the bottom line. Additionally, having a group of people to turn to and bounce ideas off of can be a priceless tool when working as an independent contractor, a freelancer or as someone who works for a company remotely.
Working alone can be hard for a lot of people. For one thing, it can be very expensive to try to work from home. There are a lot of start up costs involved and utilities can become more than a person bargained for. It is also difficult to remain focused when working on one’s own, especially when working at one’s home. Work and ideas can stagnate, causing a person to work below their potential. It is easy to blur the lines between work and home activities and many people find themselves taking care of home chores during the day and then working late into the evening on work activities, making it harder to maintain a work-life balance.
Collaboration at Sierra Commons

Collaboration at Sierra Commons

Working alone can be very lonely. It’s nice to be a part of office potlucks and water cooler chitchat. Having co-workers helps to break up the day into a sensible workflow. Having a place to work helps to free up your free time. With co-working, you can work independently but you don’t have to work alone.

Sierra Commons is offering our signature six-week course to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams of launching and growing their business. Known as the “Business Ignitor Course” the course consists of six 3 hour evening sessions starting Thursday September 18th at 6:00 pm at the Sierra Commons office located at 792 Searls Ave, Suite A in Nevada City. More than a business-plan workshop, the course brings together a group of motivated entrepreneurs and guides them through all of the steps needed to create a thriving enterprise.

Sierra Commons Classroom

Sierra Commons Classroom

This will be the sixth time that Sierra Commons has offered their Business Ignitor Course but the first time that it will be held in the evening. Building on the success of previous Business Ignitor Courses, the curriculum has been refined and tailored to serve our unique business community. As an additional perk, Sierra Commons is providing three months of free membership at their co-working facility to top performing graduates.  Sierra Commons will continue mentoring and housing these graduates to further increase their business success rate.

The Ignitor course was important to me for filling in the business-related gaps in my knowledge,” says Nick Santos, Ignitor graduate and current Sierra Commons member. “As the Executive Director of Environmental Consumer, a nonprofit that enables real, measurable reductions in environmental impact, I could manage the technical and organizational side. With the Business Ignitor course, I learned a better way to track clients and to think about business information.”

Mixer at Sierra Commons

Mixer at Sierra Commons

Whether someone is hoping to start a new business, or is looking for a way to revitalize an on-going project, the Business Ignitor is a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs. It is also a wonderful way for struggling business owners to receive the mentoring and collaboration needed to make a business thrive. The course’s approach is action-based and covers topics including business planning, market analysis, marketing strategies, finance, budgeting, web, business law and more.  Course faculty are seasoned professionals who teach weekly classes, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to each topic.  Students also meet with mentors for special one-on-one sessions and for group discussions. Small businesses benefit from collaborative entrepreneurship and Sierra Commons offers exactly that.

Sierra Commons serves the community in a variety of ways. For membership, class enrollment, to rent the conference room or to get more information, please call the Sierra Commons at (530) 265-8443 or email info@sierracommons.org.