‘Finish in Four’ turns 1: Has it been effective?

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on Sept. 13, 2017. Featured photo was by Nicole Fowler for The State Hornet. I created the infographic below by using Canva.

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen said in his fall address Aug. 24 that the Finish in Four initiative has positively affected the university’s graduation rates despite the program having only been in place for one school year.

“Finish in Four” began in fall 2016 as a Sac State commitment to help incoming freshmen earn their degrees within four or six years, and transfer students within two, by offering incentives like discounts on summer classes and campus products, as well as more academic advising sessions.

RELATED: Editorial: It is too early to tell the success of Finish in Four when it’s only been in effect for 1 school year

In return, students must sign a pledge to enroll in at least 15 units per semester to be on track to reach 120 units to graduate — a plan that Nelsen hopes would raise the four-year graduation rate from 8.3 percent to 30 percent by 2025.

Nelsen also mentioned in the address that 64 percent of freshmen signed the pledge during the program’s first year, while 84 percent signed this fall.


The program also helped usher in at least six new academic advisors, 89 new faculty members, and more than 12,000 added seats in 658 new course sections throughout all departments.

Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success Jim Dragna said that the plan is working and the university is progressing to reach that 2025 goal, as there was a 12.5 percent increase from 51.6 percent to 64.1 percent of freshmen enrolling in more than 15 units during their first semester.

“The difficulty here at Sacramento State was over the last 30 years, we have really balanced between 8 and 10 percent of students being able to graduate in four years,” Dragna said. “And that needle hasn’t moved much in recent years.”

He also said the university determined the effectiveness of Finish in Four by examining how many students enrolled in the program are on track for their second year and other data.

One of the program’s main objectives is to be more proactive by using this data. Dragna, who is known as the “graduation czar” for his focus on increasing graduation rates, said Sac State has always examined the rates post-graduations, and then complained about how low they were.

Part of being more proactive includes shifting the “campus culture” by showing support at all times, such as academic advisors reaching out to students throughout the semester.

A total of 2,347 freshmen committed to taking at least 30 units during the 2016-17 school year, and one of them was now-sophomore psychology major Gina Gargano, who said that she’s expecting to finish in four because of the pledge, in addition to being in the honors program.

“I don’t take any more classes than I currently have or am required to so that’s a relief,” Gargano said. “I really don’t want to extend the amount of time that I’m here (at Sac State).”

For freshmen like electrical engineering major Nicholas Johnson and pre-biology major Aliyah Penn, there’s a newfound pressure to get through college within four years by being bound to the contract.

“The contract is like a reality check,” Johnson said. “Being to able to sign something physically kind of keeps it in the back of your head to follow the requirement every semester.”

Penn also said that being a pre-biology major can make it hard to get classes, but with Finish in Four’s incentives, she could use the $1,000 discount on summer courses to take up more units to be on track for graduation.

Even with the program’s rigorous assistance effort, Dragna said only 50 percent of the total freshmen enrolled completed 15 units for fall 2016, and there was a 10 percent increase in the number of those who are progressing into their second year this fall.

Sophomore social work major Paula Melissa is one of the many students who did not complete the first year requirement and is no longer in the program.

“Spring semester was tough,” Melissa said. “It was a hard first year especially with the whole transition, having to live away from home and dealing with financial problems. I failed a couple of classes as a result of that.”

Melissa said she’s now working to finish this 12-unit semester with good grades to get back on the Finish in Four program and graduate within four years.

Pelosi, Matsui, local officials call for Dream Act passage at Sac State conference

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on Sept. 19, 2017. Claire Morgan received co-byline, with additional reporting by Will Moon. All photos were by Matthew Nobert.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Doris Matsui joined a group of local legislators and Sacramento State leaders for a news conference Monday urging Congress to pass the Dream Act.

Pelosi and Matsui both delivered speeches at the event — hosted by Associated Students, Inc. — iterating the importance of the Dream Act, which would grant legal status, and eventually permanent residency, to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to Congress’s website.

Matsui said in her speech that the legislation is the first step toward a comprehensive immigration reform that would streamline the process of becoming a U.S. citizen for those who came to the country without documents.

(Follow Twitter profiles of Vu Chau and Will Moon for more tweets from the event)

“Dreamers are counting on us to do the right thing and stand by our values,” Matsui said.

Pelosi began her speech echoing the attitude of Dream Act supporters: a clean pass.

“A clean bipartisan Dream Act pass (is) really important to our dreamers, but it’s also important to our country,” Pelosi said. “Who are we as a country that we would not recognize how important it is for us to be enhanced, exhilarated, invigorated by our dreamers to our country?”

Standing alongside Pelosi and Matsui at the conference were Associated Students, Inc. President Mia Kagianas, Sac State President Robert Nelsen, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Congressman Ami Bera, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and other local legislators.

A few Dreamers were also given center stage to tell their stories. One of whom was Oswaldo Hernandez, a DACA recipient and Sac State alumnus.

Hernandez described his experience of suffering from a chronic illness and said that if he is deported, he may not be able to afford his medication and treatments.

“They call us Dreamers, but our ability to dream was taken away from us,” Hernandez said. “We have to stay awake and we have to make plans for tomorrow. The passage of the Dream Act would allow me to dream for once.” (Story continues below photo)

Pelosi made her first stop Monday in San Francisco and was faced with a group of more than 60 young people who chanted pro-immigrant slogans like “all of us or none of us” and “we are not a bargaining chip” at a separate news conference.

After the event at Sac State, Pelosi said to the press that these protesters acted out of fear of not knowing what their future will hold.

“We’re in this fight to win for the Dreamers,” Pelosi said. “We (lawmakers) are disrupters ourselves, so we recognize (why they protested) and respect it in others.”

Pelosi then said that showcasing Dreamers will not only benefit themselves, but also their parents, as she wants to reflect the teaching values these young individuals received through “how beautifully they were raised.”

“We will not rest until we have competence in immigration reform,” Pelosi said. “But we must protect the parents as much as we protect the children.”

For senior sociology major Rossmeri Ramirez, this sentiment hits close to home. As a former DACA recipient, Ramirez said she still has many family members and friends impacted by the Dream Act. She said attending events like the news conference was, for her, a way to put a spotlight on an almost-perpetual problem in American society.

“I’m here to support,” Ramirez said. “I’d just like to see how our representatives and elected officials react to this problem the country is facing.”

Like Ramirez, sophomore liberal studies major Ashley Arias said family is also a strong motivation for her passion to see the Dream Act passed and hopes that the event will help her understand the problem at an even deeper level.

“(I’m here) to become more knowledgeable about what’s going on in our society, and I want to back up (my arguments) and inform others who don’t know much about the situation” Arias said.

As a student representative, Kagianas said that she hopes a strong showing of public leaders will allow her peers to learn about the significance of the Dream Act.

“This is an extremely important event to our community and to ensure the safety of all of our students at Sac State, including our undocumented students and students from mixed-status families,” Kagianas said. “I took a vow to support all our students, and this is where I’m meant to be.”

The message of unity continued post-conference as Matsui said to The State Hornet, Democratic lawmakers — local, state and federal — are “very much in support of” Dreamers.

“I think we’re all lucky that we’re living in a community where people feel very much like ‘We want people to be here to feel like they belong,’ “ Matsui said. “If you look at the city of Sacramento and you look at the people who are here, you can see that they’re all in. They’re neighbors.”

More power for electric vehicles?

This article was originally published on CapitolWeekly.net on Oct. 4, 2017.

It may soon become a lot easier for California drivers to get plugged in.

Legislation on Gov. Brown’s desk would allow city officials and private property owners to install charging stations for electric vehicles on curbsides of public streets. Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

The measure was introduced by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, D-Rolling Hills Estates, to increase the number of charging stations in cities, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to Muratsuchi aide Brady McCarthy.

Four out of five EV owners currently charge their cars at home. Boosting the number of public charging stations likely would encourage a greater use of EVs.

In part, the bill was prompted by the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, or EVs, in California: Some 244,000 electric vehicles were sold in the state from 2011 to 2016, more than three times the rest of the nation combined.

McCarthy said AB 1452 would add many electric charging stations to curbside parking where there are now regular parking spaces. Four out of five EV owners currently charge their cars at home, and boosting the number of public charging stations likely would encourage a greater use of EVs – a key piece in the fight against climate-changing greenhouse gases.

The bill would give cities the ability to regulate electric vehicle parking in municipal lots that they own and authorize people with curbside parking spots to designate spaces for charging or parking electric vehicles.

“This bill is intended to facilitate the expansion of electric vehicle parking in public streets, in open areas and local municipalities,” McCarthy said.

Muratsuchi’s measure allows cities, counties and residents to decide whether they wish to set up designated areas for electrical vehicles, and leaves it to them  to establish phase-in periods to alert the public to the changes.

Many vehicles in Rolling Hills Estates, Muratsuchi’s home city, are still gasoline-powered, although there has been an increase in electric cars in recent years.

The city of Los Angeles recently published a citywide plan that proposes an expansion of at least 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations on its public streets.

McCarthy said that the law also would allow local municipalities to designate how those parking spaces will be regulated, including posting proper signs and ticketing vehicles if they’re not utilizing the EV-specific spaces properly.

Similar to other common public curbside parking rules, vehicles — electric or conventional — would get fined if they’ve exceeded the time limit, and gas- or diesel-powered vehicles would be ticketed if they’re parked at a charging spot. The cities would also tow vehicles violating these parking rules.

“These regulations will give more spaces to electric vehicle owners to park and charge,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully along the way would convince more people to drive these (types of vehicles).”

He also said that although many vehicles in Rolling Hills Estates, Muratsuchi’s home city, are still gasoline-powered, there has been an increase in electric cars in recent years, prompting the Assemblymember to introduce AB1452.

The legislative analyst said that there’s no  cost to the state  with the bill, but  it’s at the discretion of local authorities to determine how much money should be allotted to this new effort and to choose how many charging stations to install based upon the availability of spaces and the residents’needs.

“The city has been actively seeking to promote itself and electric vehicles and to increase charging infrastructure.” Jennifer Venema, Sacramento

In June, Sacramento  City Councilmember Jay Schenirer, who represents  Oak Park, sent a letter to the governor on behalf of the city  showing support for AB1452.

Schenirer said in the letter that his city has been “working actively” to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure for years, but lacks the authority and opportunities to “dedicate and enforce” spaces exclusively for on-street electric charging.

“Visibility of charging infrastructure in the public right-of-way testifies to the legitimacy and viability of EVs,” Schenirer wrote in the letter, “and speaks to the commitment of government to support their use.”

Jennifer Venema, the city’s sustainability manager, said that as the city  grows, legislation like AB 1452 would only increase  the city’s appeal for eco-friendly, on-the-go residents, especially downtown, where the city is planning for  a new hospital, new transit-focused development and at least 10,000 more residents.

“The city has been actively seeking to promote itself and electric vehicles and to increase charging infrastructure,” Venema said. “We believe that AB1452 will help us achieve these goals and missions.”

She also said that the bill is a great opportunity to build community awareness and provide a significant educational opportunity — all with the hope of encouraging more people to drive electric vehicles.

The governor’s Executive Order  would increase  to 1.5 million the number of zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2025.

The city currently does not have specific plans to fully implement the legislation, and the costs associated with AB 1452 are focused on paying city’s employees  to regulate public parking and transportation.

However, there’s a possible way for cities like Sacramento to make money from AB 1452: towing fees.

“I think that these California cities can make money by towing violating vehicles,” said Hannah Goldsmith, project manager of the California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC), a Sacramento-based non-profit.

CalETC  also sent a letter to the governor on Sept. 11 showing support for AB 1452.

“More tows can mean more money for cities,” she said.

Goldsmith said AB 1452 should help California reach many of its current goals, including the governor’s Executive Order  to increase  to 1.5 million the number of zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2025 and Senate Bill 32 to reduce the greenhouse gas emission to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“The biggest barrier to reach widespread electric transportation, which is (CalETC’s) goal, relies heavily on consumer’s understanding, adequate incentives for driving an electric vehicle and adequate charging stations to make their lives easier,” Goldsmith said. “And one of the biggest reasons why CalETC supports this bill is because we see charging infrastructure serves as its own educational outreach to the community.”

CalETC and the city of Sacramento join a list of supporters for the bill that includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, ChargePoint and Southern California Edison.

No opposition groups were verified by the bill, although 29 Assemblymembers and 12 senators voted “No” on the bill. None was immediately available for comment.

Assembly Bill 1452 was sent to the governor on Sept. 12.

Ed’s Note: Vu Chau is a journalism student at California State University, Sacramento.

Sac State alum’s art in new Golden 1 Center inspired by local rivers

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on Oct. 19, 2016.

When it was announced in early 2015 that an $8 million sculpture called “Coloring Book” by renowned artist Jeff Koons would be the centerpiece of downtown Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, the community was shocked that it wasn’t a piece commissioned by one of the many talented artists in town.

In the midst of the controversy over local representation, the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission decided to host an open call to regional talents for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to have their works featured at the arena.

One of those 135 submissions was from Sac State alumnus and local award-winning artist Bryan Valenzuela, whose pitch was inspired by the convergence of the Sacramento and American rivers.

With a budget of $350,000, Valenzuela brought his idea to life by using 400 handblown turquoise glass balls vibrantly marbled with yellow-green and subtle hints of gold fabrication representing the Gold Rush. Valenzuela also used 109 stainless steel rods to construct the abstract sculpture spanning almost the entire length of the atrium at the arena’s 5th and L Streets entrance.

A portrait of Bryan Valenzuela (Photo by Jessica Wilson)

Valenzuela said that the idea to name the piece “Multitudes Converge” initially came to him after reading the last line of David Mitchell’s work Cloud Atlas: “Yet what is an ocean, but a multitude of drops.”

“It was kind of the idea that from many things come this one thing,” Valenzuela said.

The many things that Valenzuela alludes to have to do with how the Golden 1 Center was built with the intention of unifying the many aspects that make Sacramento great, such as architecture, sports, arts, entertainment, politics and the community.

“What I did is very regional and site-specific,” Valenzuela said. “I don’t think I would’ve done the same thing at a different space. The piece is so much a part of the history of this region even if it may not be as readily apparent to many.”

“Multitudes Converge,” Valenzuela’s first sculpture, took the artist over a year to finish, with the installation of the sculpture occurring just days before the arena’s official opening.

The construction process allowed Valenzuela to travel to Europe to work with artists who have been fabricating glasses for decades. There, he collaborated with artisans from the Czech Republic to assemble the glass globes and with artisan Franz Mayer of Munich to fabricate the layout of each globe.

Bryan Valenzuela 6
(Courtesy of Joan Cusick Photography)

“It’s an engineering feat,” said Valenzuela of what it took to sculpt “Multitudes Converge.”

“I knew that I wanted to make something beautiful and evocative of the region —something that when people go up the escalator, they can experience that moment of ‘ahh’ and take them out of whatever they’re doing,” Valenzuela said.  “Just like Gale Hart said to me, ‘We’re artists, we’re just supposed to decorate the world.’ ”

Gale Hart was another local artist chosen to have her work displayed at the arena.

For Valenzuela, however, art was never his ultimate career choice. His time at Sacramento State in the early 2000s can attest to the fact that he was more musically-inclined than artistic.

“I loved Sac State when I was there,” Valenzuela said. “I didn’t even start doing art until I went to Sac State. When I started there, I was actually pursuing the music department.”

Valenzuela, who is also the current lead vocalist of the local rock band Exquisite Corps, said that his change of mind in pursuing art had plenty to do with the way the professors were welcoming him to the program.

“I started taking some elective classes in art,” Valenzuela said. “I never even had any experience with art prior to that, and the teachers there were so inspiring. If I had gone to the bigger school, I might have never had the same kind of attention; I made real relationships with those teachers there.”

With a successful music career in Sacramento and a sculpture permanently residing in Golden 1 Center, it might be difficult to pinpoint what’s next for Valenzuela. His accomplishments are beginning to allow him to lend his name to other upcoming projects of similar scopes.

Valenzuela said he is also working on an upcoming auxiliary project called “It Takes a Village.” The exhibit, paying homage to the more than 40 individuals who helped him create “Multitudes Converge,” will be shown at Sacramento City Hall.

“Being someone who was given such a great opportunity to show (work) at the arena, I thought that it was one of those moments of ‘go big or go home,’ ” Valenzuela said. “This is a perfect time to just prove to yourself (that you can do it because) if you trust yourself and if you have a great resource behind you, you can do anything.”

Student-athletes, expert discuss LGBT issues faced in athletics

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on April 13, 2017.

When Abby Wambach leapt over the crowd to kiss her wife after winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Japan in 2015, the world was treated to a moment rarely seen in athletics.

For some fans, the now-retired U.S. soccer star’s high-profile victory kiss was an appropriate celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage just one week before the World Cup final.

But for Sacramento State softball infielder Tiffany Moore, a sophomore history major, the smooch was more than that — it made her proud to be both an athlete and a lesbian.

Sacramento State softball sophomore infielder Tiffany Moore and women’s basketball senior guard Emily Easom said that they have dealt with stereotypes about being “less feminine” during their time in athletics. (Photo courtesy of Sacramento State Athletics)

“That’s my No. 1 team,” Moore said. “I just love how many gay players there (were on) that team.”

In the world of sports, a stigma surrounding LGBT athletes has existed for decades and coming out can be an intimidating challenge given the risks — from teams, fans and society — involved.

The so-called “locker room culture” is also a factor that may sway some closeted athletes away from coming out, as some believe they must portray a masculine persona at all times, according to Katherine Jamieson, the chair of Sac State’s department of kinesiology and health science.

Jamieson said that athletes who decide to come out only do so after confirming their status as being publicly “masculine” in their athleticism, so much so that they’re willing to take the “gender risk.”

“This can happen to women too, but this is more common with men,” she said. “They feel like there are rewards already coming because of that elite athleticism.”

At Sac State, Moore is in a group of very few athletes who decided to play their respective sports while being upfront about their sexual orientation. Two other student-athletes are women’s basketball senior guard Emily Easom and men’s soccer junior midfielder Elias Rieland — who is the only openly gay male athlete The State Hornet was able to find on campus.

Rieland made the decision to come out during his first season with the team. He said that coming out to his teammates and coach individually helped take the edge off of having to worry about putting up a facade on a daily basis.

“When I came to Sac State, I realized that being closeted affected my sports more than anything because I was more worried about that than actually performing,” Rieland said. “The minute I let that go, I started doing much better.”

Sacramento State men’s soccer junior midfielder Elias Rieland said that coming out to his teammates at Sac State was a nerve-wracking experience because of his experiences at an Arizona boarding school. (Photo by John Ferrannini)

Rieland also said coming out was a nerve-wracking experience because of what he once went through at a boarding school in Arizona before coming to Sacramento.

“Around that time, the words ‘f—–’ and ‘gay’ got tossed around a lot,” Rieland said. “But I think I was also just nervous because of the locker room situation.”

Rieland disregards what others have to think about his sexual orientation because he said that being gay doesn’t dictate whether he’s good at soccer or not. Instead, he’d rather show how being gay doesn’t interfere with how he performs on the field.

However, Jamieson said that coming out doesn’t solve problems from a personal or societal point of view. She questioned what coaches could do to create an ideal setting for all athletes to compete at their best and not be distracted by the “unnecessary vulnerabilities.”

As the first openly gay athlete to be drafted in the National Football League by the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014, Michael Sam’s experience was an example of how difficult it is to find success within the league, unlike former NBA player Jason Collins and Major League Soccer midfielder Robbie Rogers of the LA Galaxy — who both came out as gay in 2013.

In Sam’s case, the Rams cut him before the regular season even began. During his stint with the Dallas Cowboys, Sam was put on the practice squad and never managed to play in a single game.

In May 2015, Sam signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, making him the first openly gay player in that league as well. By August 2015, however, he abruptly left the league citing mental health concerns.

Jamieson said there is still a concern about whether there are enough guidelines in sports ensuring that all diversity — sexual and otherwise — is safe enough that everybody can comfortably participate in the team.

“I don’t think that we have answered that question yet,” Jamieson said.

Easom, who came out during her last year at Portland State before transferring to Sac State in 2014, said there is still a major stereotype in basketball that all female players are lesbian.

“There are people out there that may say, ‘Oh, she’s practically a dude,’ ” Easom said. “I think that female athletes, in general, are looked at as less feminine (and) gay.”

Easom said closeted athletes everywhere should feel comfortable enough to be who they are because teammates are their family members.

Like Easom, Moore said that terms like “butch” and their negative connotations have always irked her. She said she doesn’t see herself or anyone else, especially female athletes, as masculine or feminine when they’re just being themselves.

“I don’t have an image in my head of what a stereotypical female athlete looks like because they come in all shapes and sizes,” she said. “I think that for men, (the image depends on) how hard they play. And for women, (it’s) how masculine they are to play.”

Sacramento State women’s basketball senior guard Emily Easom said that she has dealt with stereotypes about being “less feminine” during her time playing basketball. (Photo by Vu Chau)

Moore also said that when other men ask who’s the “man” in her relationship with her girlfriend, it makes her mad because the question is an example of how men who categorize same-sex relationships as males have more control than females.

As someone who has worked and studied closely with the physiology of sports, Jamieson said masculinity and femininity have become binaries that athletes always uphold. She said the problem of framing others into gender categories not based on athletic ability still exists and society continues to see athletes getting “sports-typed.”

Jamieson explained that when men are seen excelling in graceful sports, they’ll always be watched, surveilled and judged because of the familiar notion of normative masculinity that society is used to.

“These are young people who are still figuring out who they want to be,” Jamieson said. “I think that sexuality is one more layer of a social condition that our student-athletes inherit.”

She said she believes coaches aren’t being prepared well enough to work with such a diverse set of student-athletes. In her own academic community, Jamieson said that this preparation is one of the most important things because she and other leaders can never surely know who’s going to sit in their classrooms.

“And I think it’s true in our athletic teams as well, because we never really know who the student-athletes truly are and what their stories are,” Jamieson said.

Within the next 10 years, Jamieson said she wonders if the world will get more comfortable with gender fluidity and see women competing against men.

She said that as a society, people have to wrestle with much more than just the facts that sexuality isn’t gender and transgender is not synonymous with gay.

“We have to be willing to complicate these categories and be willing to actually acknowledge other nuisances of diversity that exist for all of us,” Jamieson said. “Sports can be that place where we can witness that happen because of its cultural centrality. However, I think it will still be a lot of back and forth.”

Additional reporting by Carlo Marzan

Sac State’s public art: A history lesson

This article was originally published on my Medium profile on Dec. 13, 2016. Featured photo by Michael Zhang.

There’s a room at a far end corner of the University Library Gallery at Sacramento State that not many people tend to take notice. Its door was painted white — so white that a blink of an eye can lead you to see its long, vertical rectangular frame and the wall blended as one.

Inside, high metal shelves storing folded chairs completely overtake three sides of the room while the remaining wall, facing the hustle and bustle of the University Union and The Store, serves as an office area.

And this is where Phil Hitchcock has been working for the past four decades.

When Hitchcock arrived at Sac State to join the art department in 1975, the campus was bare and bleak with nothing other than classroom buildings, students, staff, squirrels, trees and grass.

“Oh my god, there was nothing here before I came,” Hitchcock said. “But I chose Sac State because of the alumni — very productive, talented and well known around the country.”

Hitchcock is now a professor and lead director of the University Library Gallery, a position he took on since 2001. At Sac State, he is considered as one of the longest staying faculty in the art department.

Professor Phil Hitchcock stands in front of art piece in a previous exhibit inside the University Library Gallery. (Photo courtesy of Phil Hitchcock)
Professor Phil Hitchcock stands in front of art piece in a previous exhibit inside the University Library Gallery. (Photo courtesy of Phil Hitchcock)

In addition to his own major development projects around Sacramento like the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Meridian Plaza as well as being a special advisor to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission during the 1980s, Hitchcock is also known at Sac State for being the first person to bring most of the outdoor sculptures and indoor paintings to the campus.

Hitchcock said he doesn’t even remember how many pieces of artwork he has gathered throughout his time at the university.

According to a comprehensive list from the art department, there are about 77 pieces and counting displayed across campus.

These pieces include an untitled painting by nationally known artist, muralist and former Sac State professor Esteban Villa hanging inside Serna Center and a tall lacquered steel sculpture titled “Daimaru XVI” by Michael Todd outside Shasta Hall.

The 70-something-year-old gallery director doesn’t even remember what the first piece he acquired. But for him, it doesn’t matter because what’s most important is his passion to show off works of alumni, faculty and staff to the community.

“The alumni and faculty that we have produced here at Sac State are right up there with the best of the universities in the country,” Hitchcock said.

Also, Hitchcock wasn’t the only person who worked to accumulate masterpieces of Sac State affiliated artists. During the earlier years, he worked alongside William Sullivan—Dean of the former School of Arts and Science (1984–1998) and the then newly formed College of the Arts and Letters (1998–2004)—to help bring the collection to its current status.

When choosing which piece to feature and if deserved of a spot of the campus real estate, aesthetic is the last thing Hitchcock looks for. Instead, he looks for connections and the artist’s prominence in the legacy of the university. After all, Sac State’s boisterous, welcoming crop of talented employees was the main reason he decided to stay on for this long.

“Phil (Hitchcock) has a great deal of respect for me as an artist and he has a great pair of eyes for contemporary work,” said Julia Couzens, former Sac State faculty member and current art writer for the Sacramento Bee, whose original work is being loaned to the university for the next five years.

According to Hitchcock, the majority of the sculptures and other artworks were gifted to the campus by the artists themselves or by the family of William H. Cook, a well-known local developer who passed away in June of 1993 who Hitchcock has worked with in the past.

And instead of giving backstories of how each piece came about and the reason why it was sculpted the way it looks, Hitchcock reflected back on the artists and their connection to Sac State, as well as how their presence and legacy on campus through their sculptures are so important.

Click the paint palette for more information on each location.

Outside Shasta Hall

“Daimaru XVI” by Michael Todd, 1982, lacquered steel sculpture (Photo by Michael Zhang)

Located on the outskirt of campus next to the gravel faculty parking lot in front of Residence Hall and Shasta Hall, this large lacquered steel sculpture (pictured above) was acquired by the university in the early 1980s as a gift from the artist himself, Michael Todd.

This sculpture is one of the few pieces in Todd’s “Daimaru XVI” series — a very similar piece can be found in front of a redeveloped building on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.

According to Hitchcock, the large ring that encircles the other multi-shaped steel pieces reflects back to Todd’s famous works inspired by Zen concepts, calligraphy and the freedom of expression in California during the late 1960s.

Details of “Daimaru XVI” by Michael Todd (Photos by Michael Zhang, top, and Vu Chau, bottom)

During this era, Todd explored many ideas and experienced many shapes and materials that match his inspiration of the cosmos and composition in space.

Since then, the circle, which Todd referred to as “the enso,” began to prominently appear in Todd’s works over the course of his decades-long illustrious career.

Todd, one of the few virtuosos who had no prior connection to Sac State, was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1935.

After years of traveling the world before residing in Southern California to teach at UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Todd was chosen by Hitchcock to have a piece of his composition permanently installed at Sac State in 1982.

Next to Pho Saigon Bay, Amador Hall and the Library

“Arequipa” by William Wareham, aluminum sculpture (Photo by Michael Zhang)

This geometric, multidimensional aluminum sculpture by William Wareham was one of the many gifts from the city of Sacramento and the family of William H. Cook.

On campus, it is located in the middle of the grass lawn next to Saigon Bay restaurant and Amador Hall since the late ’80s —Hitchcock couldn’t recall the exact year from that decade but he did remember that it was brought onto campus a few year after its creator, artist Wareham (a well-known sculptor from the Bay Area), passed away.

Details of “Arequipa” by William Wareham (Photos by Michael Zhang)

Hitchcock said Wareham’s contemporary touches to his pieces add unique and fresh characteristics to a campus that owns a large variety of art styles.

In “Arequipa,” Wareham’s abstract, kinetic style came through via his use of the materials and how each mini-parts were assembled to give each viewer a different experience and perspective when looking at it.

Wareham’s repertoire is often regarded by many as loud and fearless.

The artist has once said in a statement that he had a small sign in his studio that says, “Do not be afraid!” —a reminder to himself to use his strong aesthetic to pursue the creative act with passion, dynamism, knowledge and intuition.

University Library Lobby

“Waiting” by Ruth Rippon, 2000, ceramic sculpture (Photo by Michael Zhang)

The University Library receives about 200,000 visits on a daily basis. That means this life-sized ceramic sculpture, entitled “Waiting” by Ruth Rippon, receives the exact same number of views.

Resting on a bench as people walk through the front automatic doors to get inside the Library lobby, the sculpture, Hitchcock said, is a perfect representation of the purpose of the building it’s being housed in—storing books and the act of reading those books.

The sculptor reflects back on Rippon’s years of creating works that many have considered as whimsical and humanizing because of the way she portrays realism so effortlessly, yet the details can still be so intricate.

Since 2000, Rippon’s piece has been the reason for many “What is that?” questions posed by thousands of passersby everyday. What they didn’t know is that Rippon was a Sac State alumnae who went on to spread her pragmatic creativity around Sacramento since the 1950s.

Some of Rippon’s legacy include the Creative Artists’ League—an organization that helps put spotlights on the many highly regarded artisans in Sacramento; “The Lollies,” two Waiting-like clay sculptures placed side-by-side in front of the Pavilions Shopping Center, and a bronzed “Lollie” at the entrance of the UC Davis Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care facility.

North Quad (Close by Sacramento Hall)

“Untitled” by Gerald Walburg, 1987, Corten steel sculpture (Photo by Michael Zhang)

Gerald Walburg’s most-recognized public art piece is the “Indo Arch” that extends across the top of the pedestrian pathway at 4th and K streets.

When installed in 1977, Walburg’s Islamic and Indian temples motif of “Indo Arch” was viewed by many Sacramentans as standard with just a few rusted cylindrical shapes that for some people may have resembled too much of a certain body part.

“Soft-Hearted” by Gerald Walburg, 1971, Corten steel sculpture (Photo by Michael Zhang)

This untitled Corten steel sculpture in the front lawn next to Sacramento Hall and Shasta Hall did not create as much controversy, or even any at all, when it was brought onto campus in 1987. Because of this, little information can be found regarding it, as well as Walburg’s other piece entitled “Soft-Hearted” placed outside Sequoia Hall lawn.

Even Hitchcock himself didn’t know much about it, but when it comes to Walburg, the gallery director said that he’s one of the most treasured figures in the city, regardless of controversies.

Outside the Harper Alumni Center

“Brazen” by Stephen Kaltenbach, 1988, faux iron sculpture (Photo by Vu Chau)

“I get inspired by the villains for this piece,” said Stephen Kaltenbach, the sculptor who created “Brazen,” a 6-foot-tall faux iron sculpture of a pair of legs cut off at knee-length that’s located outside the Harper Alumni Center facing College Town Drive.

Who’s the villain that inspired Kaltenbach to sculpt this large piece? He said that it could be either Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler or any other eccentric characters in world’s history.

Kaltenbach also said that a different, more obvious, interpretation viewers of the piece may have is what to refer to the type of footwear as. Is it a pair of boots of sandals? Are they an iron replica of a Roman warrior’s sandals?

Kaltenbach, who graduated from UC Davis in the early 1960s before becoming an art professor at Sac State from 1970 to 2005, said that they’re sandals, not boots.

Also, the piece is more about whether they’re boots or sandals, it is, according to Kaltenbach, a metaphorical representation of the juxtaposition of evil and good in both civilization and human experience.

Due to the constant changes in administration, budget cuts and the constraints in spaces around campus, Hitchcock said he decided to stop collecting more art works in around the year 2008.

Pieces displayed prior to this were stored in collections of university or University Library Gallery.

The university is still accepting donations from student, faculty and staff artists but for Hitchcock, he’s definitely thinking about scaling back since spaces are so limited these days.

“I don’t know if this can even continue,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t want to accept these (donations) anymore since there are no places to curate them or store them since I already filled up spaces that are available on campus to place them on permanent location.”

Three of the latest donors to brighten the campus art scene are from current faculty Branda Louie and Sarah Flohr —whose works can be seen inside the University Library.

Sarah Flohr’s painting hung inside the University Library (Photo by Michael Zhang)

Interestingly, Hitchcock said the proudest moments in his decades-spanning career at Sac State aren’t about these public pieces, but instead, his presence at the university should be known for taking the initiative to collect works from Wayne Thiebaud, one of the world’s most celebrated artists and a former teacher at UC Davis whose works in the ’60s had a strong connection to the Pop Art movement.

But ultimately, when he leaves, Hitchcock hopes that his legacy will live on and there will be some person out there who’s willing to pick up where he left off with the public art collection and finds a way to continue to introduce the 30,000 student-body and hundreds of other staff and faculty in all departments to the vibrant and ever-changing art scene at Sac State.

“You can’t always in your life wait for somebody to pay your bill and buy your dinners,” Hitchcock said. “You have to figure out how to buy your own dinners.”

MusicLandria: A library drumming to its own beat

This article was originally published for my Medium profile on Nov. 29, 2016. Featured photo courtesy of Buddy Hale.

While living in Berkeley, Buddy Hale became a frequent visitor at the Tool Lending Library, a place where people can check out power tools at no cost. Now the senior business major at Sacramento State is operating a similar version of the concept with girlfriend Rachel Freund — but for music devotees — out of his Land Park home, called “Library of MusicLandria,” a name derived from the ancient Library of Alexandria of Egypt.

What is Library of MusicLandria and how is it similar to Tool Lending Library?
The idea started about three to four years ago. Basically, anyone who signs up to use the library can check out a musical instrument for totally free. We don’t charge anything for two weeks. And if they want it for more time, they can renew the item for another two weeks before having to bring it back. If they don’t, they’d be charged $5 a day per item. We’re not trying to make money out of this thing so we do everything we can to let them know the item is due.

You’re not trying to make money out of the library?
I wasn’t born to have a gene to want to make a million dollars ever. I’d rather build and enrich the community I’m in. My emphasis (at Sac State) is entrepreneurship but I’ve done my best to add social to that because I’m not necessarily interested in starting your typical for-profit businesses. That’s where my passion and interests are.

How are you going to make a living from it? Have you ever thought about that?
This is where nonprofit can get a little bit confusing, especially if you don’t study it. Most nonprofit organizations get grants if they’re lucky. The organizations that get grants will write out a salary for their employees and a certain percentage of it has to go to “furthering the mission.”

(Photo courtesy of Buddy Hale)

Who borrows from the library and what kind of instruments do you lend out?
We had people from babies who couldn’t even talk to music teachers who check out a bunch of instruments for his classes because the school that he teaches at doesn’t have funding for music. Also, local musicians for sure, especially when they play a concert and need a pedal or an amp. We also got stage lightings and recording gears.

Sacramento News & Review recently dubbed the library an “Uber of Instruments.” Is that accurate?
I think they’re very different actually. We don’t go to pick people up. What we’re trying to do is to empower people to be creative and give them resources to explore themselves and their own identity. Libraries are still all about books even if most are becoming digitized, which I think is great because of the archival aspect of it — preserving our history and information. There’s a power to that.

Is that the main purpose of MusicLandria: to preserve music?
Exactly. Preserving musical instruments. I’m so crazy about that. I think about an instrument that exists today or 20 years ago may not be available 20 or 30 years from now, and that’s a pretty scary thought. With everything becoming digital, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of instruments just disappear and we won’t have access to them anymore. I have a very clear image in my head of this massive structure that is sort of akin to what I assumed the Library of Alexandria looked like.

How much have you spent, personally, to build up the catalog?
I don’t want to say, but a decent amount. I’ve definitely contributed a ton of my own resources into building it. I’ve donated every instrument that I owned to it and that was like around 60 different things.

You said you wanted more people with serious business mindsets for a board of directors, have you tried to look for them here at Sac State
Kind of but not in a dedicated way.

Why not?
I feel like I’m a bit too busy when I’m on campus to build strong working relationships (with peers). I can potentially force it to work, but I’m a bit busy right now and time makes it harder.

Has any local music store reached out and condemned your idea for potentially putting them out of business?
I was actually a little worried about that when I first started out. But when borrowers find what they like and say that they would go out to buy the instrument themselves, that’s when we’re going to direct them to some local retailers. I don’t think we’re taking any business from them. Instead, we’re giving them a ton of business because that’s where we also get our instruments for the library.

How do you think the library is contributing to the Sacramento music scene?
We had so many responses from people who have used the library so it’s totally inspiring. We already got a big impact on educators. And that’s our mission: providing access to instruments so people can explore themselves. I think that the more people know about Library of MusicLandria, the more musical the city will become.

For more information, visit www.libraryofmusiclandria.webs.com

Sacramento Archives Crawl will celebrate the city’s historic oddities

This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on Oct. 3, 2017. Feature photo courtesy of Center for Sacramento History.

In honor of National Archives Month, four local institutions will display rare artifacts and treasures from their collections for the seventh annual Sacramento Archives Crawl on Oct. 7.

During the free event, the California State Archives, Center for Sacramento History, Sacramento Public Library and California State Library will lead visitors on tours of their facilities, including temperature-controlled rooms where artifacts are kept under lock and key. This year’s theme “It Came from the Archives?!” pays homage to the Northern California’s unusual relics.

“A lot of people think that archives tend to have serious documents and we do have those,” says Dylan McDonald, deputy city historian at the Center for Sacramento History and a coordinator of this year’s crawl. “[But] our committee decided to dedicate the entire day to all of the oddities and wonderful things that some people may not realize we have.”

The Center for Sacramento History will show art films by Darrell Forney, a former Sacramento City College professor, known for his whimsical paintings, while the California State Archives will present vintage crime artifacts, like a mug book, reward posters and an 1893 blueprint of the administration building at Ione’s Preston School of Industry. Known as Preston Castle for its Romanesque architecture, the facility was one of the oldest reform schools in the country. Tour-goers can view a boot with a notched heel worn by the school’s minor wards and a wooden grave marker for a San Quentin inmate from 1921.

The State Archives will also display oddities like a photo of California’s former Secretary of State March Fong Eu shaking hands with a robot and a shot of former Gov. Earl Warren posing with Bozo the Clown in 1952. At the California State Library, archive crawlers can view a showerhead once owned and used by former U.S. President Richard Nixon, as well as a late 1960s advertisement poster for clothing brand Van Heusen’s wrinkle-free Century shirts featuring Ronald Reagan.

Check out artifacts like a Civil War soldier pocket Bible during this year's archives crawl. (Photo courtesy of CSUS & Preston School of Industry)

Local historian Andrew McLeod will give a presentation about rare artifacts in the archives and tales of the rise and fall of could-have-been cities in California at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. at the city’s central library. From its Sacramento Room archives, the library will also show an assortment of still photographs that capture oddities of the city’s past, including chariot races held at the state fairgrounds, and the goggles and script used by Sacramento High School’s Alpha Mu fraternity for the purpose of initiating pledges in 1904.

History buffs can start at any of the four Archives Crawl locations, where they will be given a passport to use as a guide. They can walk, drive or take one of two Amador Stage Line shuttles that will be running between sites every 15 minutes. Visitors who get their passports stamped at three or more host sites will take home a set of limited-edition commemorative coasters featuring quirky archived photos, including one of former Gov. Pat Brown posing with a figure of Frankenstein at a Universal Studios tour in 1965.

Free. Oct. 7. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. California State Archives (1020 O St.), California State Library (900 N St.), Center for Sacramento History (551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.) and the Sacramento Public Library (828 I St.). For more information, visit sacarchivescrawl.com.

Specialty Coffee Week returns for its fourth year with a bevy of buzzy events

This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on Oct. 11, 2017. Featured photo courtesy of Sacramento Specialty Coffee Week.

Get your buzz on from Oct. 15-21 as the fourth annual Specialty Coffee Week hits the capital city for seven caffeinated days of events, including brewing classes and a boozy coffee drink competition.

Organizer Edie Baker, who co-owns Chocolate Fish Coffee, says that this year’s event will celebrate the quality and innovation of area roasters. “High[-quality] specialty coffee has over 100 aromas and tons of flavors,” she says. “We want people to celebrate these coffees, start to learn more about them and understand why coffee [in Sacramento] is so incredibly good.”

The final lineup is yet to be determined, but Baker predicts that there will be more than 20 events throughout the week. On Oct. 15, Old Soul Co. will host hourly free tastings and home brewing classes, led by co-owner Jason Griest and head roaster Brad Terry from 12-4 p.m. at its midtown location, while a few blocks away from 11-11:45 a.m., Pachamama will offer short lessons on the art and skill of coffee cupping.

Chocolate Fish will also present several events, including demonstrations on Oct. 15 for home baristas to try their hands at using an upscale Londinium espresso machine. On Oct. 17, the Battle of the Brews competition will take place at Bottle & Barlow between teams of local baristas from the likes of Shine Sacramento and Camellia Coffee Roasters and bartenders from watering holes like Shady Lady. Watch as they compete with their custom spiked coffee drinks.

Organizers are known to throw bags of coffee beans, water bottles and T-shirts into the crowd during the finale of Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament, which coincides with the last day of Specialty Coffee Week. (Photo by Josh Corrigan)
Enter a captionOrganizers are known to throw bags of coffee beans, water bottles and T-shirts into the crowd during the finale of Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament, which coincides with the last day of Specialty Coffee Week. (Photo by Josh Corrigan)

Organizers are known to throw bags of coffee beans, water bottles and T-shirts into the crowd during the finale of Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament, which coincides with the last day of Specialty Coffee Week. (Photo by Josh Corrigan)

Closing out the week will be the new daylong grand finale event on Oct. 21 at motorcycle repair shop and cafe Vintage Monkey. Beginning at 10 a.m., Temple’s director of education Cole Cuchna will offer a palate development class with insight on sampling coffee, chocolate and fruit for features like aroma, acidity and sweetness. At 1 p.m., coffee savants can show off their home brewing skills using an AeroPress, as Guatemalan coffee producer Juan Luis Barrios and a panel of judges pick the best cup of joe.

Baker says she expects hundreds of coffee enthusiasts to attend the finale event, during which the last round of the Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament—which kicked off in June—will turn the skill of swirling milk and espresso into a rowdy spectator sport, pitting the region’s best latte artists against one another for the winning title.

For more information on these events and others during the 2017 Specialty Coffee Week, visit specialtycoffeeweek.com.

Kick off the holiday season at one of these 11 festive tree-lighting ceremonies

This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on Nov. 22, 2017.

Not feeling the holiday spirit just yet? There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned tree lighting ceremony and copious amounts of marshmallow-topped liquid chocolate to warm the cold hearts of even the sourest Scrooges. Behold our list of 11 of the region’s most spirited celebrations.

Old Sacramento

Nov. 22 On the eve of Thanksgiving, Old Saint Nick will arrive at the historic district to light its 60-foot-tall Christmas tree. Sourced from Shasta County, the towering giant will sparkle with about 100,000 lights from Sacramento Theatrical Lighting, four 9-foot-long stockings, three decorative sugarplums and one 4-foot-tall mouse. Stick around after the tree lighting to watch the opening performance of Macy’s Theatre of Lights festival, featuring a live-action retelling of the 1823 poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” narrated by Emmy-nominated voice actor Bill Farmer, known for voicing Disney’s Goofy. Free. 6 p.m. 1014 2nd St. 970-5226. oldsacramento.com

Elk Grove

Nov. 25 More than 2,000 LED lights will adorn a 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at Elk Grove’s Parade of Lights, which features a cavalcade of colorful cars, bicycles and floats, as well as Christmas sleighs and marching bands, beginning at the corner of Emerald Park Drive and Elk Grove Florin Road and ending at the 30th annual Dickens Street Faire along Elk Grove Boulevard. Kids can hit up “Oliver’s Alley” for bounce houses, face painting and balloon artists, then join Santa for the tree lighting festivities at 7:30 p.m. Free. Parade starts at 6 p.m. Emerald Park Dr. & Elk Grove Florin Rd. Elk Grove. 691-2489. elkgrovecity.org


Nov. 26 & Dec. 1 The Palladio hosts its annual tree lighting gathering on Nov. 26, during which families can join the Nutcracker for some cocoa and a chance to take photos with Santa. On Dec. 1, the Folsom Historic District will host its 23rd tree lighting ceremony near the ice-skating rink, featuring live performances from the Sutter Street Theatre carolers and local dance teams. Ride the trackless train through the historic district, where “snow” will fall from shop balconies. The 20-foot-tall Christmas tree at the heart of the ice rink will be set aglow at 7:30 p.m. Free. Palladio: 5-6 p.m. 410 Palladio Pkwy. 542-7408. Historic District: 6-9 p.m. 200 Wool St. Folsom. 985-7452. historicfolsom.org

On Dec. 1, Historic Folsom will light up its 20-foot-tall tree surrounded by an ice skating rink (Photo courtesy of Folsom Historic District Association)On Dec. 1, Historic Folsom will light up its 20-foot-tall tree surrounded by an ice skating rink (Photo courtesy of Folsom Historic District Association)


Nov. 30 A children’s candlelight parade will kick off the 36th annual downtown Davis holiday celebration where guests can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Watch performances by the UC Davis Aggie Marching Band and the “Jazzamatazz” jazz band, as well as a free showing of the animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Varsity Theatre. Hop on a free carriage ride, which departs from Armadillo Music every 10 minutes and take selfies with Davis’ mascot Mr. Toad and other holiday characters like the Nutcracker and a gingerbread man before the city’s 25-foot-tall tree is lit up at 6:30 p.m. Free. 5:30-8:30 p.m. E Street Plaza. 207 F. St. Davis. 530-757-5602. cityofdavis.org


Nov. 30 Roseville will channel Disneyland as snow in the form of bubbles fills the air during its annual tree lighting event. Decorate Christmas cookies, grab some hot chocolate and take youngsters to a kids zone, where they can tackle a climbing wall, obstacle courses and other outdoor activities. Thousands of lights will illuminate the tree in the Vernon Street Town Square shortly after 6 p.m. Free. 6-8 p.m. Vernon Street Town Square. 311 Vernon St. Roseville. 772-7529. roseville.ca.us

West Sacramento

Dec. 1 To ring in the holiday season, West Sacramento will celebrate its annual Winter Wonderland tree lighting ceremony, replete with falling snow and performances from school bands, choirs and the BlyueRose Dance Project. Decorate sugar cookies and other holiday crafts, sip hot chocolate, and line up for a meet and greet with Santa, who will arrive on a fire truck. A West Sacramento councilmember will light the city’s 50-foot-tall Christmas tree at 7 p.m. Free. 6-9 p.m. West Sacramento Civic Center. 1110 Capitol Ave. 371-7042. cityofwestsacramento.org

Visit with residents of the North Pole during Elk Grove's Dickens Street Faire and tree lighting event. (Photo courtesy of the City of Elk Grove)Visit with residents of the North Pole during Elk Grove’s Dickens Street Faire and tree lighting event. (Photo courtesy of the City of Elk Grove)

El Dorado Hills

Dec. 2 El Dorado Hills Town Center will teem with activities and the sounds of carolers during the city’s 11th annual Christmas tree lighting. Drink hot chocolate and snack on cookies and kettle corn as you wander through nearby shops, which will be open for the evening. Little ones can participate in the fifth annual “Stuff Your Stocking” game and watch as a city fire truck carries Santa into the Theater Plaza to light the tree at about 6:30 p.m. Free. 4-8 p.m. El Dorado Hills Town Center. 2085 Vine St. El Dorado Hills. 933-3013. edhtowncenter.com

Fair Oaks

Dec. 2 Plaza Park in Fair Oaks will transform into a festive Yuletide scene for the city’s 34th Christmas in the Village celebration, featuring a gingerbread house display, holiday ukulele jingles from the River City Ukes, arts and crafts at Santa’s workshop booth and a parade of lights along Fair Oaks Boulevard. Attendees can also sip hot cider, get crafty at wreath and Yule log decorating workshops and nab some selfies with the man in red before the park’s tree is lit around 6 p.m. Free. 3-7 p.m. Fair Oaks Village. 4238 Main St. Fair Oaks. 966-1036. fairoakschamber.com


Dec. 2 Rocklin’s historic Quarry District will host its annual tree lighting festivities in front of the charming, whitewashed Old St. Mary’s Chapel, built in 1883. Go for a wagon or train ride, listen to carolers, visit with costumed characters in Victorian attire, and munch on hot dogs, chili, popcorn and cookies. Kids can tell Santa their favorite gift wishes and take a hop or two inside bounce houses. The tree lighting ceremony is at 7 p.m. Free. 4-7 p.m. Old St. Mary’s. 5251 Front St. Rocklin. rocklintreelighting.org

St. Nick and Mrs. Claus will light the tree at El Dorado Hills Town Center on Dec. 2. (Photo courtesy of El Dorado Hills Town Center)St. Nick and Mrs. Claus will light the tree at El Dorado Hills Town Center on Dec. 2. (Photo courtesy of El Dorado Hills Town Center)


Dec. 7 Bring a canned good to benefit the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and receive a pass to take photos with Father Christmas at this tree lighting event in Carmichael Park. Kids can also browse booths with cookie decorating and face painting while parents nosh on dinner from local food trucks like Cecil’s Taste, Chando’s Tacos and Bacon Mania. Everyone will gather at 6:15 p.m. around a grand 60-foot-tall redwood tree for the night’s main event. Free. 5-8 p.m. Carmichael Park. 5750 Grant Ave. Carmichael. 485-5322. carmichaelpark.com

Downtown Sacramento

Dec. 7 A 65-foot-tall white fir tree, sourced from a state forest near Redding, arrived on the lawn in front of the State Capitol’s west steps on Nov. 6 and will soon be decorated with about 10,000 LED bulbs, as well as hundreds of handcrafted ornaments that were donated from the California Department of Developmental Services. Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Ann Gust Brown will set the tree aglow during this 86th annual lighting ceremony, which is hosted by Kitty O’Neal of KFBK and will feature a performance by St. Paul’s Baptist Church choir. Free. 4-10 p.m. West Steps of the State Capitol. 10th St. and Capitol Mall. seecalifornia.com

MLK at Sac State: 50 years later

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on Oct. 11, 2017. Ashley Nanfria wrote the story. Featured photo courtesy of The State Hornet. I created the timeline.

(Go to StateHornet.com/MLK50CSUS for more related stories)

Click here for timeline.

On Oct. 16, 1967, more than 7,000 people gathered on the grass field at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium and watched as civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his thoughts on what the future of the civil rights movement would look like.

Sac State will celebrate the 50th anniversary Monday with a full day of events, all meant to teach attendees about the legacy of King’s work and the day he came to speak at the university.

RELATED: Editorial: 50 years later, it’s still a white man’s world

King first rose to prominence as a leader from his writing and speaking on behalf of black communities in the south where segregationist laws were most heavily enforced.

He helped lead over 200,000 people in the March on Washington, where he gave his most famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, commonly referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Within one year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was written into law by President Lyndon Johnson, setting in motion the end of segregational law in the United States.

Dr. King gave his speech to the crowd, touching on his main ideas of equality, respect and civil liberties; ideas that King passionately advocated for throughout the civil rights movement.

“We still have a long, long way to go before the problem of racial justice is solved in our nation,” said King in his speech.

“Large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, humanity and equality,” he said to roaring approval.

Dr. King would be assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee six months later on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. King had been in Memphis working with and leading sanitation employees who were on strike.

At the time of his speech, rights movements were still contentious; the “Long Hot Summer of 1967” featured 159 recorded race riots, during which nearly 100 people died and over 11,000 others were arrested.

King reflected on the riots, particularly the 12th Street Riot in Detroit in July, imploring the values of nonviolent resistance in protest.

“Nonviolence in a militant, powerful expression is the most potent weapon available to a black man in his struggle for freedom in human dignity,” King said.

RELATED: #SacStateSays: What civil rights progress still needs to be made?

In a 1970 visit, King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., echoed that sentiment.

“You don’t win anything in violence,” the elder King said.

King is not the only notable visitor that came to Sac State in the 1960s; Eldridge Cleaver, an early leader of the Black Panther Party, also gave a speech at Hornet Stadium in 1968 in which he challenged then-California Governor Ronald Reagan to a duel and said, “Fuck you, Ronnie baby.”

The civil rights movement has been a significant topic in the country for decades. Dating back to 1954, the movement has made strides and encountered obstacles over the years.

Today the country celebrates leaders of the Civil Rights Movement such as King, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman with statues and national holidays celebrating their efforts in the movement.

King’s speech still resonates, as the United States has seen resurgences of racial tension stemming from high-profile deaths of African-Americans like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and many others that helped to create and popularize the Black Lives Matter movement.

RELATED: Student athletes remember MLK, speak on peaceful protests in NFL

This came decades after the first race riots of the 1970s and in 1992 after Rodney King was violently beaten on camera by four white police officers in South Central Los Angeles who all were subsequently acquitted.

Between those two high-profile events, America elected its first black president, Barack Obama, who served two terms while receiving racist threats and questions of whether he was born in America, most notably by now-president Donald Trump.

King addressed the root of contention in civil rights as the imbalance of political and economic power among different races; mainly that white Americans had a disproportionate amount of power over all minorities in the country and attempted to legislate change without truly addressing the real problem of race relations.

“To have a truly integrated society, ultimately, men and women must do the right thing, not merely because the law says it, but because it’s natural and it’s right,” King said.

“White Americans must ultimately treat Negroes right not because the law says it but because the Negro is his brother.”

RELATED: Campus to celebrate 50th anniversary of MLK’s visit

PRIDE Center celebrates 10th anniversary on campus

This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on April 12, 2017. It was written by John Ferrannini. Featured photo by Matthew Nobert. I created the timeline.

Click here for the timeline.

Of course, LGBT students have been attending Sacramento State since its inception. Yet it was only about 10 years ago that the school provided the PRIDE Center to combine educational programming and access to community resources with an atmosphere of support and inclusivity.

Nicole Scanlan, a Sac State student in 2007, remembers trying to persuade both school administrators and Associated Students, Inc. representatives about the need for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students to have a center on campus.

“Students from the Queer-Straight Alliance (now called the Queer Union) got together and met with university officials and lobbied for funding saying that students who were LGBTQ+ identified needed a safe space,” Scanlan said. “They needed an entity that could educate the campus community about the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and to train staff, faculty and students about how to provide safe spaces for students on campus.”

Scanlan said she knew the need for the PRIDE Center personally. Her parents hadn’t reacted well when she came out of the closet at the age of 16.

“It was a lot of hiding, a lot of sneaking around and doing things teenagers shouldn’t have to do,” Scanlan said. “At the time most people were living in and out. When they found folks supportive and affirmative of their identity they were out, but there’s always a hesitance about being out because you never know what people’s opinions and belief systems are.”

The PRIDE Center got up and running at the outset of the 2006-07 academic year, moving into a space in the now-defunct Foley Hall that was located where the American River Courtyard is now. (Story continues below)

The precursor to the PRIDE Center was run from inside the Women’s Resource Center office inside of the Multi-Cultural Center. According to PRIDE Center Coordinator Chris Kent, this photo was taken in summer 2006 — the week that the PRIDE Center moved to its first location inside Foley Hall, which has since been replaced with the American River Courtyard. (Photo courtesy of the Sacramento State PRIDE Center)

Scanlan was co-coordinator of the PRIDE Center from 2007 to 2010, and during that time saw it gain more support from the campus community.

“We had plenty of threats to slash our funding while increasing funding to other groups for minority students. Was it as big as (2008 anti-LGBT protests at) American River College? No. But there was a subtle sense that we were not as important as other groups on campus,” Scanlan said. “Toward the end, there was more public support for the center on campus.”

The PRIDE Center is now located in the University Union, where it shares an office with the Women’s Resource Center.

Chris Kent, the current coordinator of the PRIDE Center, said that there is still a need for a place where students can seek support and faculty and administrators can seek information, in spite of some advances in LGBT rights over the past decade.

“One of the things that caused me to stay was finding a job here. I found friends. I found community. It was my ‘in’ to be involved on campus.” – Chris Kent, PRIDE Center coordinator.

While same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, Kent pointed to ongoing debates about transgender issues and President Trump’s executive orders rolling back Obama-era LGBT rights protections as evidence that the struggle is ongoing.

“I tend to push back against the narrative of progress,” Kent said. “That sounds like doom and gloom, but it’s just reality.”

Kent said that he couldn’t have been successful as an undergraduate without the center, which he first encountered after he started attending Sac State in 2011.

“I had a very lonely first semester here and there were times I thought about leaving,” Kent said. “One of the things that caused me to stay was finding a job here. I found friends. I found community. It was my ‘in’ to be involved on campus.”

The PRIDE Center Time Capsule, located next to its University Union office, contains information about and posters from the history of the LGBT-oriented center. (Photo by John Ferrannini)

Kent said that he hopes other students can find the support that he did.

“I think it’s nice for people all over campus to know that there’s a place where they can send folks who need a place (and) resources,” Kent said. “The center is providing programs and education to the campus.”

The PRIDE Center helps put on educational events of different stripes throughout the school year, some more geared toward academics (such as talks about various issues affecting the LGBT community) and others more geared toward socializing (such as this week’s makeup demonstration).

The center’s offices also contain information advertising where to find health care resources and who is looking to hire, as well as a box with different kinds of condoms.

Yozantli Lagunas Guerrero is a student program assistant at the PRIDE Center. They said that the center has helped them find fellow people who share their other experiences and identities with them.

“I’m from a very small, white place. It’s very conservative and it’s also very white, so when I came here I found so much diversity especially within LGBTQ communities,” Lagunas Guerrero said. “It was really a culture shock for me because it was me entering ‘I’m a person of color, I’m Queer, I’m Trans, I’m this,’ and being able to see folks who share those identities really was shocking — I really loved it, I really enjoyed it, and it really made me feel more at home.”

Scanlan, who now works as a graduate program support coordinator in the psychology department, said that she is proud of the work that the PRIDE Center has accomplished in helping LGBT students.

“I’m glad to see that LGBT youth can find safer spaces and that we as LGBT adults can help them in their efforts,” Scanlan said. “It’s really a wonderful thing.”