Category: Sustainability

One or two months from now you will be thinking about the goals you set for 2016 and, if you are like most people, you will be wondering where the time went and what you could have done differently to help yourself be more successful. Let Sierra Commons help “Future You” by offering advice to “Present-Day You”: Get together with a community of people who have a drive to succeed. Stay actively involved with a support system and a team of people who keep you accountable.  Dedicate a schedule to allow for setting goals and meeting timelines.  Coworking may offer you the support in a structured environment that you are looking for.

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Sierra Commons, Nevada City’s Coworking Space, offers desk rental, membership, classes, workshops, mentoring and a community of fun, determined people who work in a professional environment with a friendly and casual atmosphere.  Come for the high-speed internet.  Stay for the community.  To find out more about coworking, call 530-265-8443 or click here.

In a sudden and unexpected move, the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) announced yesterday that it would be closing permanently. Employees arrived to work at SARTA on Tuesday morning only to be sent home.  Employees were told that they were out of a job and wouldn’t need to come back.

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Like Sierra Commons in Nevada County, SARTA has been a pivotal force in economic development in the Sacramento region.  Focusing on the tech aspect of many industries, SARTA has been instrumental in connecting people to resources and helping small business owners with support and education.  Many businesses in the Sacramento region have used SARTA’s resources to network, find funding, and to take their businesses to the next level.  Sierra Commons has partnered with SARTA for multiple events in the past and has enjoyed the resources that SARTA has offered.  The loss of SARTA in Sacramento will have a lasting impact on small business development in the region.

In a statement about SARTA’s closing, CEO Howard Bubb said, “The region has evolved to the point that businesses and individuals are putting their support elsewhere.  There is only so much funding available for economic development.”

Sadly, Howard Bubb is absolutely right.  Sierra Commons, Nevada County’s non-profit business education center and coworking space, supports its overhead with rental income from desk and office rental in our coworking facility.  Our staffing and education programs are entirely dependent on the support of donations, volunteers, and, occasionally, grant money.  Sadly, this support has declined dramatically in the past two years.

Sierra Commons has helped to start and support a number of business locally and regionally in Nevada County.  Some of our past clients and graduates of our signature course, our “Business Ignitor,” include Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery and Brewery, Victoria LaFont of Truly Healthy Protein Powder, Dave Myler of Boga Paddle Boards, Erin Noel of Community Legal, and many, many more.

Don’t let Sierra Commons face the same fate as SARTA.  Support your local economic development center.  Help Sierra Commons support your local businesses and local economy.  Donate now.

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I had a problem at work today that surprised me.

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I had a wonderful meeting this morning with a wonderful business coach.  She is a qualified teacher and she has volunteered as a faculty member with Sierra Commons for a long time.  (She wasn’t the problem.  She is completely awesome.)  Together, we used her resources to put together curriculum for an upcoming workshop about how to hire the right people.  Sierra Commons is really excited about offering this class and I left the meeting with real motivation to promote a workshop that I know is going to be a huge help to local businesses.

I have a system for promoting the classes at Sierra Commons and it is mostly a by-the-book approach to social media marketing.  I usually start by adding the workshop to our calendar and then I add the workshop to our business page on Facebook.

When I add workshops and events to our business page on Facebook, I usually search for a stock photo on the internet, or some other picture licensed under a commons license, in order to promote the event. (For those who aren’t familiar with web promotion, stock photos are available at a minimal price and photos licensed under a commons license are available to the general public.  It’s good to find a photo that can be the icon for the event as you promote it and it is also important that the photo you use matches the values of the organization or business.)  As a non-profit organization, we offer free and low-cost classes. It isn’t always within our budget to hire designers to create new icons or photos for every class we offer.

I went to look for a photo that would match the mission to “hire the right person.”

Nevada County isn’t exactly known for its racial diversity.  As of the last census, we were the second whitest county in California, just after our northern neighbor, Sierra County.  Interestingly, for being the whitest counties in California, neither Sierra County nor Nevada County have a particular propensity towards racism.  That’s not to say that racism doesn’t exist.  Racism exists everywhere.  But for counties lacking diversity, the awareness and the intention for inclusion is an undercurrent of the culture.  Speaking for Nevada County, many people and local organizations make consorted efforts to include people of color and other minorities in both business and organizational strategies.

Ruth Schwartz, the teacher for our upcoming workshop, and I had a long conversation about preconceived ideas about “hiring the right person.”  We talked a lot about pitfalls. We talked about inappropriate referrals.  We talked about how many local businesses hire their friends.  We talked about the fact that many local businesses don’t list job postings, they just ask for resumes through word-of-mouth.  We talked about how to honor resumes and how to sort through them.  We even talked about discrimination and how our prejudices can have an adverse effect on the hiring process.

I was so excited when I left our meeting.  I know that our upcoming workshop is going to be amazing and I know that our local business community is going to benefit from the material.

Here’s the problem I wasn’t anticipating: when I went to look for an appropriate picture to promote an event about “hiring the right person” it took me nearly two hours to find a mildly appropriate photo to promote the event, a photo that mirrored our values about the workshop.

Nearly every photo about “hiring the right person” contained the exact same group of people: young, fit, white men. Photo after photo portrayed young white men.  Pages upon pages.  Groups of young white men getting the job.

Then, most of the photos that tried to diversify, contained young, fit, white men and then one young, pretty, white woman in high-heels, a skirt, and low-cut blouse.  There were a small handful of photos that had a white-skinned Eastern Asian person, still 20-something and good-looking.  There were less photos that had a tan-skinned Indian or Pacific Asian person, usually in the background.  With the exception of a single photo that contained a group of entirely black young people high-fiving each other, there was no pictorial representation of diverse job-seekers that I could find.

I could not find a photo that contained a diverse group of hireable people that appeared to be equally qualified for a job. Today’s qualified job seekers might be not-white, not-male, not fit, and not under 40.  Those possibilities, and being open to those possibilities, are an asset to anyone hiring someone new.

I finally settled on a picture of a white woman’s left hand with no wedding ring using a magnifying glass to examine non-racially-descript, gray-scale icons of men and women.  It was a compromise.hiring the right people sq

What is a Coworking Space?

As one of the world’s few rural coworking offices, we get this question a lot.  It is rare to find a coworking space in a town with a population of just over 3,000 people.  Most coworking spaces are found in large cities.  Coworking in San Francisco and coworking in New York City is quite popular.  Coworking in Nevada County is something some folks might not expect.

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A coworking space or, coworking facility, is a brick-and-mortar office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas, and share in a regular professional social environment. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.  A coworking space offers a common roof for people who want to work with others but who are working as individuals or small groups.

Coworking is a legitimate business model used all over the world to provide structure and resources to independent working professionals. The model is attractive to work-at-home professionals, remote workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. At Sierra Commons we have many members who do off-site or field work such as farming, well-inspection, web design, and real estate appraising, but who need an office in order to complete administrative tasks such as accounting, recordkeeping, marketing, and web management. We have twelve Resident Members at Sierra Commons and over twenty Nomadic members.

Our members’ employment varies widely. Currently at Sierra Commons we have software engineers, IT directors, a travel agent, a real estate agent, copy editors, freelance writers, farmers, a lobbyist and more. Some of our members are self-employed and some of them work remotely for companies located in other cities throughout the world.

With membership, all of our members enjoy a desk rental and use of our facility which includes high-speed internet, printing-faxing-scanning capabilities, and utilities. We have private conference rooms for consultants and coworkers to meet with clients. We provide all of the overhead of a professional business environment for our members, including coffee, paper, lighting, and supplies like pens, staples and toilet paper. Membership is open to the public and available to those seeking office space. For our services, we charge a monthly fee.

Membership costs at Sierra Commons are divided into two categories: Resident Member and Nomadic Member and we also have drop-in rates.  Resident members are people who are typically working 40+ hours each week and who have a designated desk space at Sierra Commons where they can keep their computers and other office equipment as needed at their own workstation. Resident members have their own key code and can access the building 24/7. Nomadic members are those who come and go, usually bringing in their own laptop when they come in. Nomadic members have access to the building during open business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm. All members can schedule time in our conference rooms as needed and they may use Sierra Commons as their office/business address.

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Coworking offers people a community while working in a professional situation that may be individual, remote, and/or sometimes isolating.  As Nevada County’s coworking space, Sierra Commons is dedicated to the health of our economy while maintaining a sense of community.  If you are interested in coworking, please feel free to contact us.

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.

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“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.

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!

Sierra Commons is proud to be co-sponsoring this event.

CleanStart PowerUP, presented by SARTA

You’ll be able to connect with your colleagues, pitch your product or company in your very own promotional video (included in the attendance fee), receive feedback on your clean tech product ideas and possibly win the 4 minute video raffle prize — good luck!   

  • Learn what your colleagues are doing and tell the crowd what you’re up to. If you have a new product or program, come share it with the community!
  • Pitch your product or company with your very own promotional video, included in the attendance fee.
  • Meet investors, entrepreneurs, service providers, researchers and more.
  • Learn about the Clean Tech Open and how to participate in 2013.
  • Receive feedback on your clean tech product ideas.

Date:  Tuesday, June 26, 2013

Time: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: Esterly Hall | 336 Crown Point Circle, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Cost: General Admission: $30; SARTA Members: $15, Students: $10

REGISTER HERE

CleanStart is an initiative of SARTA designed to accelerate the development of clean technology ventures within the greater Sacramento region. Our mission is to empower entrepreneurs with the knowledge, capital and connections that are critical to creating a successful new business.

  • CONNECTING Sacramento region’s clean tech community through The Sacramento Clean Tech Showcase, Clean Tech Executive Breakfast forums and regional CleanStart Advisory Committee meetings
  • PROMOTING the Sacramento region’s clean tech economy in the annual CleanStart Progress Report, Sacramento Region Clean Tech Cluster interactive map, at The Sacramento Clean Tech Showcase, on social media & news outlets and at statewide and national events
  • EDUCATION Clean Tech business leaders through our Leadership Series: Clean Tech Track offering industry specific content for executives and entrepreneurs

By: South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)

Nevada City, CA January 6, 2012 – Some Nevada County, CA residents are stepping up to very publicly shave their heads to keep the South Yuba River and Malakoff Diggins State Parks from closing.

The State’s budget issues have led to draconian cuts, and the State Parks are one of the hardest hit, but regions that have fought for their parks have seen progress towards taking them off of the closure list. The South Yuba River Citizen League (SYRCL) is spearheading this fight locally, educating the public and generating community energy to save the parks and keep them open and accessible. A petition is circulating, the goal is to send 5000 signatures to California Gerry Brown to show support for the parks and, hopefully, stem their impending closures.

Generating as many signatures as possible inspired a new movement – “S(h)ave Our Yuba State Parks.”

It started when former SYRCL Director Shawn Garvey agreed to bare his dome once the petition reached 2000 signatures, a number achieved in just a few days. Soon after, two more residents, Robert Trent and Mike Mooers, agreed to undergo the same hair-styling procedure should other benchmarks be reached.

Mooers set that benchmark at six thousand signatures. “Let’s show the state that this community needs and loves these parks. Five-thousand signatures sends a powerful message, but when we hit 6000 it gets loud.” He notes that getting buzzed is a bit of a sacrifice. “I have nice hair – definitely nicer than Garvey’s – but our parks are far more valuable than vanity.”

Adds Trent: “There’s an alignment: The Yuba is the fiber of our community, my hair is the fiber of my head. I love my community and the parks that are such a big part of it. I will proudly sacrifice my personal fibers for the greater good, and to get people to step up and sign.”

“The ‘S(h)ave the Yuba State Parks’ movement has definitely raised the stakes of personal commitment to keeping our parks open,” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL’s Executive Director. “We surpassed our goal of 5,000 signatures in only 10 days so we raised the goal to 7,000 – maybe that will challenge a few others to put their locks on the line too.”

The heads will be publicly shaved during SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Every year Wild & Scenic brings leading filmmakers, activists, social innovators, celebrities and adventurers to the largest festival of its kind in the country, and the audiences pack the small town. This year’s begins Friday, January 13th, with hair styling commencing at 5 PM in front of the Mowen-Solinsky Gallery on Broad Street. Stylists from Bel Capelli Salon will provide professional shearing services.

Garvey, who spends much time at the Yuba with his children, is putting tremendous effort into raising awareness about the closures. “The parks are so important to us. The river is our soul, and Malakoff is our history. Beyond the personal connections my family and I have to these parks is the impact closures would have on the community. Tourism would drop off, jobs would be lost, and it would be emotionally and economically devastating to Grass Valley, Nevada City and the entire area.”

Now with SYRCL’s leadership, the community is responding to the increased goal. “Anyone can sign, adults, kids, whether you live here or not,” says Garvey. “All you need is a love for the river, or Malakoff’s link to our history.”

If you are interested in signing, visit SYRCL’s website, www.yubariver.org, and click on the link for the on-line petition. Or take it up a level, download a printable petition form, and go get some signatures in person.

About the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival:

SYRCL (pronounced “circle”) is the leading voice for the protection and restoration of the Yuba River and the Greater Yuba Watershed. Founded in 1983 through a rural, grassroots campaign to defend the South Yuba River from proposed hydropower dams, SYRCL has developed into a vibrant community organization with over 3,500 members and volunteers based in Nevada City, CA. SYRCL is the leading regional advocates for creating resilient human and natural communities throughout the greater Yuba River basin by restoring creeks & rivers, regenerating wild salmon populations, and inspiring & organizing people—from the Yuba’s source to the sea—to join in the movement for a more wild & scenic Yuba River. More information at www.yubariver.org,

This January 13-15th, SYRCL’s 10th Annual Wild & Scenic® Film Festival returns with another incredible selection of films to change your world.  Each year, the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the historic downtown of Nevada City, California. More information at http://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/

We live in challenging times and people are seeking jobs anywhere they can. Necessity is a powerful mother of invention, and there is plenty of necessity to go around, with unemployment still stubbornly high. After sending out countless resumes more and more people are realizing that the best new job is one they make for themselves by starting their own business. And as people reevaluate the direction of their lives, they’re finding that they don’t want just any job or business; they want a business or career that means something, one that has a purpose as well as paying the bills.

from article by Glen Croston :Building a Green Business

 

Oh, and by the way, Sierra Commons can help you start a business that is meaningful to you and your community….