Category: Event

I had a problem at work today that surprised me.

hiring the right people square

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

On Friday, March 27th, Sierra Commons will host a free mixer and party to introduce their latest Business Ignitor graduates to the community. The Sierra Commons Business Ignitor program is Nevada County’s premier business incubation program. The program is a six-week course that helps start-ups and businesses learn about running and managing a business successfully. The event is open to the public and will be held at Sierra Commons, 792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959. It starts at 5:30pm and runs until 7:30pm. The graduation mixer and party is a way to introduce new businesses to the greater business community of Nevada County.

Ignitor 8

“The Ignitor Graduation is always a fun event and it’s a great way for people to connect,” says Hilary Hodge, Executive Director of Sierra Commons. “Many of our start-ups are looking for established businesses with resources to help get their new businesses off the ground. This event is a way for our students to introduce themselves and find those resources.”

This is the 8th Ignitor class to graduate from the Sierra Commons program. The program has a history of producing successful businesses. Past graduates include Nick Santos of Environmental Consumer and Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery and Brewery. This current graduating class is very diverse and includes an enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs, writers, artists, managers, and business people.

“The Ignitor Course has helped me get a firm hold on the vision for my business and it has given me the tools that will make that vision a reality,” says Shelly Covert of Nevada City Rancheria. “The staff and mentors at Sierra Commons have an amazing wealth of knowledge and are very approachable. The experience has been priceless. I’d highly recommend this course to anyone who needs assistance entering the marketplace.” Shelly and her fellow graduates are looking forward to celebrating what they have learned and what they have accomplished. Feel free to join them on Friday at Sierra Commons.

The next Business Ignitor will be starting in June. For more information email or call 530-265-8443.

SARTA, the Sacramento Regional Technological Alliance, along with Nevada County’s Business Ignitor, Sierra Commons, hosted a Clean Technology Mixer at the Nevada City Winery on Friday, March 20th, 2015.  The event brought people from all over Northern California, including experts from the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.  The event speakers included Brandon Davis of local solar electric company, California Solar Electric; Michael Carroll, the CEO of HeliosAtlas, a regional authority on Hydropower Technology; and Dr. Richard Philpott, CEO of Burst Laboratories, a local visionary who is on the cutting edge of chemical-free water and waste treatment.  The event focused on green technologies that solve local and global environmental problems and energy problems.


Pictured from left to right:  Hilary Hodge (Sierra Commons), Brandon Davis (CA Solar),  Michael Carroll (HeliosAtlas), Amber Harris (SARTA) and Dr. Richard Philpott (Burst Laboratories).

Pictured from left to right: Hilary Hodge (Sierra Commons), Brandon Davis (CA Solar), Michael Carroll (HeliosAtlas), Amber Harris (SARTA) and Dr. Richard Philpott (Burst Laboratories).

“It was exciting to see so many tech companies at the event, many of whom expressed how grateful they were to connect with other companies and resources,” said Amber Harris, CleanStart Program Director for SARTA.  “SARTA is pleased to support economic growth in the Sierra Foothills region through hosting events such as this Clean Tech Mixer.”

The event combined major players from the Clean Tech industry with local experts in the field and was open to the public.  SARTA teamed up with local organization Sierra Commons in order to reach a broader audience and to get folks from other regions of California up to Nevada County to see what is happening in the foothills.

“I think this event really showed people that you don’t have to be in the Bay Area or Sacramento in order to have a successful, thriving business in the Clean Tech Industry,” said Brandon Davis of California Solar Electric.  “It was great to see people from other areas at the event.  It was good to make connections with others that are in Clean Tech.  Those connections will help us move the industry forward.”

SARTA and Sierra Commons plan to maintain their partnership and hopes to bring more events to our local region throughout the year.  For more information about Sierra Commons and/or upcoming events call Sierra Commons at 530-265-8443 or email

For more information about SARTA visit

All contest entries made to Sierra Commons via social media in response to the January 2015 library display, are included in the drawings. The drawings are open to U.S. citizens residing in the 50 states of the U.S. or District of Columbia. Entrants must be 18 or older or have a designated guardian to claim the prize. All current Sustaining Members of Sierra Commons are automatically included. This contest is sponsored by Sierra Commons. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. Taxes are the responsibility of the winner(s). Winner(s) must complete a W9 form prior to claiming prize(s).

How to Enter 
No purchase or contribution is necessary. You may enter this contest by liking Sierra Commons on Facebook, by posting a picture of Sierra commons with the #sierracommons, by emailing or be mail to Sierra Commons, 792A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959. Mail-in entries must include your full name, complete mailing address, phone number with area code, and an email address. No other method of entry will be accepted. Mail-in entries must be received no later than two days prior to the prize drawing. Contest begins January 2nd and ends on January 31st, 2015. All drawings will be held on February 4th.  Exact times and dates of drawings within that time period are subject to change. Limit two entries per person. Incomplete entries are void.

Selection of Winner(s) 
Winner(s) will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received by the deadline dates above. Prize drawing will be conducted by Sierra Commons. Winner(s) will be announced on our Facebook page. Winner(s) need not be present to win. Winner(s) may be notified electronically, by telephone and/or be email within 24 hours of drawing. Every reasonable attempt will be made to award the prize. If after every reasonable effort has been exerted (three (3) attempts over 30 days) to award the prize but the potential winner(s) cannot be reached after 30 days from first notification attempt, or the potential winner(s) has refused to accept the prize, or if entrant is found to be ineligible, or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, the prize will be forfeited and become the property of Sierra Commons.

Odds of Winning 
Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Entry constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use winner(s)’ names, hometowns, and likenesses for publicity purposes without additional compensation. Winner(s) will be notified electronically, by telephone and/or e-mail.

Limit of Entry 
Limit two entries per person for the entire entry period. Multiple entries, if discovered, will be disqualified. By entering, entrants acknowledge compliance with these official rules including all eligibility requirements. Sierra Commons is not responsible for failures in technology such as but not limited to: technical malfunctions, lost/delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, line failures of any telephone network, computer equipment, software, inability to access any website or online service, or any other error or malfunction, or late, lost, incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, or for any human error, or misdirected entries. Entry materials that have been tampered with or altered are void. Proof of emailing and/or mailing does not constitute proof of delivery.

One drawing will be held. All prizes are non-transferable. Prize value varies based on prize. Prizes are not redeemable for cash. All taxes on the prizes, including but not limited to federal, state and local income and sales taxes, and any expense not covered herein (including but not limited to expenses related to the use of the prize) are the responsibility of the winners.


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.”

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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 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


2014 TechEdge

Advancing our innovation economy
Celebrating our technology sector
Succeeding in Sacramento

Friday, March 7, 2014
11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Sacramento

Image from TechEdge 2013

Each year TechEdge is the place where the Sacramento tech community convenes to share and celebrate the successes of the past 12 months, and to gain insight and inspiration from the TechEdge speakers and from each other.

More than 500 tech companies, more than 650 total attendees, 3 great local CEO speakers, 1 high-energy keynote speaker in Andy Miller – there’s no better place to be in Sacramento in 2014 to capture the energy and drive of this critical part of our economy.

Don’t just take our word for it…check out video from last year’s TechEdge!

Keynote Speaker

Andy Miller, Leap Motion
Andy Miller
Leap Motion™

Succeeding in Sacramento Speakers

Cate Dyer, StemExpress Michael Miille, Bayer CropScience Robert Winkler, 5th Planet Games
Cate Dyer
Founder & CEO
Michael Miille
Head of Strategic &
Business Mgmt,
Bayer CropScience
Robert Winkler
Co-Founder & CEO
5th Planet Games

Register now – early-bird registration is available only through February 21, and moreover this event will sell out!  Gain the clear benefit of registering early, and eliminate the potential cost of waiting too long!

Howdy Sierra Commoners,

Glad you are coming to our party this Thursday, Sept.19.  From 5:30 -8:30pm.

First off, I want to give a big shout out to our sponsors


ol republic logo

 Miner Moe's Pizza

Now let’s get down to business.  Here is what you need to know:

  • No need to RSVP, just show up.  Directions
  • Come on time.  Salon sessions start promptly at 5:30.
    • Technology discussion in main building downstairs.  Ask for Abe.
    • Social Entrepreneurship in main building upstairs.  Ask for Vanessa
    • Current world trend in main building.  Ask for Hilary.
    • Lean LaunchPad -How to Build a Startup in the studio. Ask for Robert
  • Schedule of events goes like this:

5:30: Come
5:31: Get a drink and think
5:32: Eat Miner Moe’s Pizza
5:32 – 6:32: Pick a salon topic- technology, social entrepreneurship, start ups
6:33: Get a drink and think. Eat some more pizza
6:32 – 7:12: Presentations- Robert Trent, Benji Brown Studio B Flat, Jim Harte from Ol’ Republic Brewery
7:12-8:30: Free Play

Other important things to know and do:

Even More information:

The Union Article from Today’s Paper

Come. Drink. Think.


Sierra Commons Re-Ignitor

Come. Drink. Think.

September 19th, 5:30-8:30pm

@ Sierra Commons

Who: Nevada County entrepreneurs seeking ways to reinvigorate their businesses, gather new ideas, find out about the newest tools and trends, and help fellow business owners.

What: Come join successful entrepreneurs, business ignitor graduates, Sierra Commons co-workers, and business ignitor instructors for a fun and inspirational event.

More than a networking event, the Re-Ignitor will provide forums to discuss bleeding edge technologies, social entrepreneurship, trends for rural business owners, and the upcoming Business Ignitor 6.0 class starting October 2nd, 2013.

Why: Celebrate your successes. Learn how to be more successful. This event hopes to accommodate both of these objectives.

Sierra Commons has graduated over 60 Ignitor students- many have launched successful local businesses. Our past and present co-working members are constantly seeking the best way to grow their businesses and maintain a quality lifestyle. There are also hundreds of Sierra Commons community members who have come through our doors to seek advice, get connected, take classes, and get inspired.

This event is a call out to all Sierra Commoners and the Sierra Commons curious.

Come. Drink. Think.




Don’t fret, it’s not too late to initiate a retirement plan.

Financial Advisor Sean Andersen will be at Sierra Commons to share tips on retirement planning for small business owners.

Learn basic strategies that you can use to help prepare for your golden years at this free workshop.

Please RSVP – and you’re welcome to bring your lunch!


Sean Andersen is a Financial Services Professional at New York Life, and VP of Public Relations for Marysville Toastmaster. He is active in community building and relations, and is also a member of the Nevada County Successful Thinkers Network.