Our Blog

We are worth it.  Please give to Sierra Commons.

sierracommonsfront300

Donating at the end of the calendar year is an American tradition.  Sierra Commons, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is helping folks in Nevada county start their own businesses and is helping to keep those businesses going.   We offer mentoring, and when the recession hit Nevada County hard, we were helping folks stay in business so that they could stay in the county and continue the tradition of giving.

We are asking for your generous donation so that we can continue to support the creative class and the small business community in Nevada County.  Our experienced business advisors volunteer their time to help businesses get started through its signature Ignitor Course, now in its 5th year. In addition, Sierra Commons helps businesses with mentoring and business advice. Our coworking facility in Nevada City has created a small business community for individuals to benefit from cross learning and sharing of advice in a supportive environmen.
Sierra Commons is an independently run non-profit organization. We do not receive any government or county funding.  We are the only business education center in Western Nevada County dedicated to serving Nevada County exclusively.  We rely upon minimal fees for services and we need your support and donations.

Please consider donating to Sierra Commons as part of your annual giving. Our community is strengthened when we can provide an opportunity for individuals to stay here in Nevada County and start and grow their business instead of leaving the area to find work. Many of the businesses started at Sierra Commons have taken advantage of the Internet to reach out to all parts of the USA and the world for sales, bringing those earnings back here to Nevada County and helping the local economy.

Sincerely,
All of Sierra Commons- the board, the sudents, the members, the faculty and the staff.

Sierra Commons is excited to announce that we have named Nevada County resident, Hilary Hodge, as their Executive Director. Hilary Hodge is the first Executive Director for Sierra Commons since founder anddirector Robert Trent resigned last year. Hodge has been volunteering with Sierra Commons for the past two years and joined the Board of Directors in March of 2014. Before moving to Nevada County four years ago, Hodge had lived in Sacramento and had sat on the Board of Directors for Sacramento Pride and the California National Organization for Women. Hilary Hodge has nearly 20 years’ experience working for and running non-profit organizations.

1b

“Hilary Hodge has shown her commitment to the Sierra Commons’ mission and to bringing together a diverse population so that each can learn from one another,” says Board President Samantha Hinrichs. “Along with Hilary Hodge, the Sierra Commons staff, faculty, and volunteers will continue to be able to assist the continued growth of our small business community in Nevada County.”

“Hilary Hodge has been a pleasure to work with and a real driver behind the continued success of Sierra Commons”, reveals Coryon Redd, Sierra Commons Board Member. “Her attention to detail and leadership have been a real asset.”

Sierra Commons continues to offer business mentoring, classes, a work-share community and the “Ignitor” course, their signature business incubator and class series. They have a coworking facility where freelancers, contractors and remote workers can rent desk space daily and monthly. Their vibrant coworking campus fosters collaboration, peer-to-peer mentoring, support and camaraderie in a professional environment. Sierra Commons also offers conference room rentals as well as day use services.

“Sierra Commons offers an infrastructure and community that no other facility or work environment in Nevada County can offer,” says Hilary Hodge. “We are a vibrant and fun place to work where the work gets done. I’m looking forward to serving Sierra Commons in a leadership role. As a volunteer and as a board member, I have had the privilege to see Sierra Commons thrive and grow in the past two years. Our coworking facility and our classes offer an incredible resource to our community.” Hilary Hodge adds, “I’m excited to take Sierra Commons to the next level.”

In the next year, the Nevada County public, creative class and business community can look to Sierra Commons for single subject classes, the “Ignitor” course, social events and ongoing support of Nevada County’s small business community.

This is a time of year when it can be particularly difficult to work from home, or in restaurants and cafes. The holidays can be really stressful and, if not, busy and distracting.

IMAG8422

The Sierra Commons Campus

At a time when people are running around and constantly planning and cooking and traveling and visiting, I find that I am incredibly thankful that I work at Sierra Commons , that I have an office to go to with interesting and thoughtful people to hang out with.

Even though I had a particularly nice Thanksgiving yesterday, I still looked forward to being able to go into an office and work away from home this morning. As my family ran around, getting ready to go shopping or catch trains, I packed a piece of left over pumpkin pie and headed to Sierra Commons to quietly get a few things done before I join up with my loved ones at Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley this evening.

Sierra Commons along with the City of Nevada City is teaming up with SARTA, the Sacramento Regional Technical Alliance, to bring the Epic Beer and Geeks event to Nevada County on Thursday November 20th 6pm-8pm to be held at ol’ Republic Brewery in Nevada City.  Thursday’s event in Nevada City is being held in conjunction with four other locations in Northern California including Sacramento, Folsom, Davis and Roseville and will connect local entrepreneurs, hackers, techies, computer nerds and small business owners throughout the Northern California region.  The event is a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and the public is invited to participate.

ol' Republic Brewery is located on Argall Way in Nevada City

ol’ Republic Brewery is located on Argall Way in Nevada City

“Nevada City is thrilled to serve as a host city for the Epic Beers and Geeks networking event in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week,” say Mark Prestwich, City Manager for Nevada City. “We are home to incredible technology talent in this region and hope budding entrepreneurs, technology professionals, and others will participate in this tremendous and cost-free opportunity.”  The City of Nevada City issued a proclamation at the City Council meeting on November 12th celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week and acknowledging Sierra Commons for the organization’s dedication to connecting and engaging technology entrepreneurs in our community.

The Epic Beer and Geeks event is a casual mixer designed to help techies around the region connect, learn, and engage.  The event is designed to foster comradery and to help connect the Nevada County tech community to the greater tech community in the Sacramento region and in Northern California.

“This event is going to be fun but it additionally gives our local talent the opportunity to connect and network with other professionals on a regional level,” says Hilary Hodge of Sierra Commons.   “We have a lot of tech savvy people who live and work in our county.  Teaming up with SARTA for Thursday’s Beer and Geeks event gives Nevada County an opportunity to showcase our talent.”  A representative from SARTA will be at the event.  The event will include video conferencing with the other events and locations.  For more information contact Sierra Commons at (530) 265-8443 or info@sierracommons.org.

On Thursday November 13th, Sierra Commons will be offering a two-part class on LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking service, with 300 million members. LinkedIn is a website that is free to join and has two people join its network each second worldwide. Sierra Commons will be hosting the two-part class in a single evening starting at 5:30pm with the first ninety minutes focused on beginning skills and the second ninety minutes taking a more in-depth and goals-focused approach to profile-building.

From Mommy Bloggers to Fortune 100 CEOs, LinkedIn is the site to use for managing and growing your personal professional network. According to Forbes Magazine, “Linkedin is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job-seekers and business professionals today.” LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks, having started in 2003. Sierra Commons is excited to offer the class and wants to help our local professionals join LinkedIn and standout among the crowd.

“To do well, its important to have a strategy,” say Sari Hale-Alper who will be teaching the class. “LinkedIn is an incredible resource that anyone can use with the right training and strategy. Most people don’t know how to use LinkedIn in a way that serves their goals. I want to help people figure out what the right way is and what’s right for them.”

The class is a strategy-based class designed to help LinkedIn users achieve specific goals. Do you want to get noticed in your field? Do you want to collaborate? Do you want to get noticed by a recruiter? Many people who use LinkedIn aren’t using the site for its optimum features. The class at Sierra Commons will help people achieve more and move forward with the right focus. If a person uses LinkedIn systematically and effectively, it is a tool that is worth the time.

“There are many people in Nevada County who feel comfortable using local, isolated internet groups to frame conversations about local businesses. But there is a relevant internet world outside of Nevada County that contributes to the local business conversation through websites like Yelp, Foursquare, and LinkedIn,” says Hilary Hodge of Sierra Commons. “If people in Nevada county want to hone their internet business skills and start using available websites to frame conversations on a local, national and international level for local business we can start with LinkedIn.”

For more information or to sign up for the class, email info@sierracommons.org or call (530) 265-8443

I heard some great advice today at a workshop in Grass Valley hosted by Score, an organization dedicated to small business, similar to Sierra Commons and based out of Sacramento.  One of the workshop presenters advised business owners to find a buddy and have a conversation or, at the very least, “take yourself out to coffee once a month.”

2014-03-17 13.28.11-1

Community members come together at Sierra Commons.

Running a business is no easy task. It’s good to have friends to talk to.  Sierra Commons can help.

Do you want to network casually and learn from other members of the business community? Do you need a few business buddies? Do you need a few folks to bounce ideas off of? The Sierra Commons “Lunch and Learn” is open to the public and allows folks to come together for an hour once per month for a casual, low-pressure, participant-driven round table.  We meet every first Thursday of the month from 12noon-1pn at the Sierra Commons Campus: 792 A Searls Ave in Nevada City.

Our next lunch and learn is on November 6th, 2014.

This is a chance to share ideas, brain storm and voice concerns in a relaxed environment. Bring a lunch! Please join us!

Sierra Commons is thrilled to announce the latest addition to our board of directors: Magdalena Coronel. Magdalena, or “Magui,” brings a unique perspective to the Sierra Commons Board of Directors and makes an incredible addition to our already successful, energetic, and well-rounded board.

Magdalena Coronel

Magdalena moved from Uruguay to Nevada City, where she now lives full time. She works in Sacramento for SARTA, the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance.. She is the AgStart’s and VentureStart Program Manager at SARTA. AgStart promotes innovative sustainable agricultural technology and supports companies that are bringing those products to market. VentureStart provides hands-on, customized guidance to assist tech companies working towards venture capital funding. In addition to these responsibilities, Magdalena supports the Sacramento Angels investment group in managing their monthly selections process.

Prior to joining SARTA, Magdalena had more than seven years in the early stage venture capital industry in Latin America and the United States. Since 2007, she worked as a top analyst for Prosperitas Capital Partners, a financial management company that established venture capital in Uruguay. In her role, she reviewed hundreds of potential investments and was in contact with the largest investment and venture capital firms from Latin America. In 2011, she was selected as a Partners of Americas’ Business Fellow, a program form the US Department of State, to work in a venture capital firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has the passion for developing innovative and globally high-potential ideas which could transform the world. Magdalena is still a partner in an Angel Club in Uruguay.

During her free time, you can find her enjoying outdoors activities up in the sierras or catching up with her Spanish-speaking friends by phone. Feel free to approach her either in English or in Spanish.

There are no good jobs in Nevada County!” How often have you heard this?

At Sierra Commons, we hear this comment a lot. Members of the skilled and/or educated work force in Nevada County have found that it is easy to become frustrated with the lack of employment opportunities in our community. Many of the locally available jobs are in the service or tourist industry and don’t use trade skills, advanced skills and/or a college education. Some folks have started to diversify their scope of work to make extra money. Some people have taken on two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Frustrated by unfulfilling jobs, many people are turning to freelancing and contract work, as well as entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. For many people frustrated with the local economy, Sierra Commons is a beacon of hope. Sierra Commons creates good jobs in Nevada County and we keep good employees local.

IMAG8248-1

Sierra Commons is probably best known for its “coworking facility,” an office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas and share in a regular professional social environment. Wikipedia offers a great definition of coworking: “It is style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.” Sierra Commons’ office space and education center is located at 792 A Searls Ave in Nevada City. We offer desk rental and day use, which includes high-speed internet and utilities. We have 20-30 regular members throughout the year and have regular visitors who drop in on a daily basis to our facility to take advantage of our office setting in order to work on a project or meet a looming deadline. We love the energy that both our members and visitors bring to our coworking facility.

In addition to offering a professional work environment for members and visitors, we are also a 501(c)(3) non-profit education center and business incubator. We offer continuing education to the public and to business professionals through classes and workshops. We offer confidential mentoring for sole-proprietors, managers, owners, employees and entrepreneurs who may be struggling with taking their skills or business to the next level, or who simply may need some guidance about a frustrating situation at work or a brush-up on business basics. Our goal is to ensure the local economic health of our community by offering education and support.

Our signature course is our Business Ignitor, a set of business incubator classes that takes entrepreneurs through the steps of creating and sustaining a healthy business, while helping established business owners to take an active role in their business’ stability and momentum. We help people get their businesses out of their garages and on to Main Street. We help people turn the hobbies that they love in to the careers they enjoy. We help people to stay in the careers they want to have and help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.

IMAG8261-1

Sierra Commons was founded in Nevada County five years ago, during the heart of an economic recession. What emerged was a community icon for a thoughtful and strong local economy. We want to emphasize that Sierra Commons creates good jobs. We create jobs in Nevada County that people want to have, jobs that people are passionate about. It is one thing for someone to do a mechanical job with no real connection to their employment. It is far better to have an employment opportunity where the people involved in a business feel a passion for what they are doing. As Charles Eisenstein writes in his book, Sacred Economics, “Once work has become mechanical, it is in a sense too late — inhuman work might as well be done by machines.” It is not enough to simply create jobs. We must create good jobs that people want to do. Sierra Commons knows how to create good jobs.

front view

By providing a campus where people can come together, share ideas and get involved in a professional environment, with mentoring and professional services, ongoing education, and incubator classes, Sierra Commons is a pinnacle of economic development in Nevada County. We provide a space for employees who want to live in Nevada County but who work remotely. We provide a professional setting for freelancers, contractors and professionals who need a place to work. Sierra Commons helps start-ups and individual business people to have a space where the utilities and overhead costs are a part of a package deal, cutting down on initial cost of starting a business and allowing for businesses to be more successful in the introduction phases of doing business. Sierra Commons provides the tools for people hoping to start their own successful business. We provide an education center for all levels of business in Nevada County. Sierra Commons is not a typical entrepreneurial resource; we are a collaborative, community-focused economic program and we have a passionate commitment to see Nevada County thrive.

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.