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By Eric Johnson
Published Feb 26, 2024

Downtown Sacramento, seen from  Sutter's Landing Park in Midtown. Downtown Sacramento, seen from Sutter's Landing Park in Midtown. Image credit: Eric Johnson

California’s Awesome Capital City

Hi and happy Monday. As always I write today from Sacramento, and this week I bring you news from your state capital, all built around a thesis: Sacramento is its own kind of awesome.

First, staying with the Black History Month theme that The Newsletter has been championing for the past four weeks, I am pleased to celebrate two venerable Black cultural institutions, and introduce a brand new institution that is likely to draw national attention. Out of order:

1. Last night I caught a performance of the 1975 play for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, staged by Celebration Arts, a Black theater company founded in 1986. This revolutionary Obie Prize-winning work consists of a series of monologues (or “spells”) in which the performers dance to accompany their stories, or another character’s stories, which are sometimes joyous and often devastatingly painful. Set on a spare stage with minimal props, these "choreopoems" relied entirely on the seven actors’ voices, bodies and hearts, and the show was thrilling. 

Celebration Arts has dubbed this the season of Black Girl Magic. Its next production, Zora and Langston, is written and directed by Sacramento’s own Imani Mitchell, and is drawn from correspondence between the novelist Zora Neale Hurston and poet/playwright Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance. It opens Friday, March 1.

2. Last week, the Sacramento Observer reported that Sacramento State University will be the first public university in the nation to host a Black Honors College on its campus. Sac State President J. Luke Wood, an alum, said the college will be modeled on the Historic Black Colleges and Universities of the South and Northeast, and that the effort represents “something that has never been done before outside of an HBCU, which is to have an honors college that is specifically designed to serve students who are from the Black community, who are interested in Black history, Black life and Black culture, and to use that as a way to protect the environment so that students are leaving having their brilliance, dignity and morality extolled.”

3. The Sacramento Observer itself has been covering the Black community here since 1962. Cofounded by longtime publisher Dr. William H. Lee, it is now guided by his son, Larry Lee, who in 2023 was named named Publisher of the Year by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. That organization has selected The Observer as the nation’s top Black newspaper seven times in its history, including last year.

I Heart Sacramento

The clouds can be spectacular this time of year in the Sacramento Valley. Walking on the levee by the American River late last Thursday afternoon, we were looking up to marvel at their puffy beauty when we noticed the almost full moon. Nice! The Sierra were also looking fine on the eastern horizon, draped in fresh snow.

I had no idea before we moved here from Santa Cruz that Sacramento is such a beautiful city. I did not know that you can see the snow-capped Sierra from here on clear winter days, or that bald eagles occasionally hunt this river right in town. This morning, taking a walk down at the river to clear my head, I heard the comically loud bugling of sandhill cranes overhead, and looked up to see a flock flying in V-formation way up there, so high that, even with their six-foot wingspans, they looked like a plain old flock of geese. Stuff like that happens almost every day.

In the seven years since we moved here, Sacramento has continued to surprise me. Midtown, the neighborhood where we live (right near the banks of the American River) is a showcase of old-school mixed-use development. We are in a modest hundred-year old duplex directly across the street from a stately, five-bedroom home and kitty-corner from an apartment complex that has been home to a string of Sac State students since we’ve been here. Every block for several miles in every direction is lined with its own parade of magnificent old trees—Paris may be the only city in the world with a more impressive urban forest than Sacramento. I’m not making this up. 

Sac really is in many ways a case study in good urban planning; there are a lot of parks, and we can walk to great restaurants and bars—on Friday night, I popped into Harlow’s to see Helado Negro, just one of the countless great shows I’ve seen in my neighborhood nightclub.

I realize I’m bragging—you’re welcome. Come visit—you’ll thank me. I know (roughly) where you live, and Sacramento is no more than a few hours beautiful drive from your home. (Another great thing about this city: We’re centrally located in the heart of Northern California—in 90 minutes, I can be at my favorite XC ski destination in the Sierra Nevada, or in San Francisco. If the traffic allows, I can be back in Santa Cruz in a couple hours plus.) Okay I’ll stop.

Art History: Sacramento’s Most Enduring Cultural Institutions

These arts groups have deep roots in the capital city.

20 Free Things to Do in Sacramento County

Sign up for a free spin through the Capitol Building and its gardens.
Home to the state capital, Sacramento County offers many amusements for visitors and locals alike. But only some require no cash outlay.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Winter! cookbook.

Versatile asparagus casserole perfect for any meatless meal

Light and creamy, asparagus-mushroom bake can be a meatless main course or side dish.
Recipe: Easy asparagus-mushroom bake with eggs and cheese.

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Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Monterey County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

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Ventana Wildlife Society logo Ventana Wildlife Society

When news broke in 2017 that two California condors made the first known nest of wild-born condors since 1985, thus furthering the return of the near-extinct species, it was the wildlife biologists of Ventana Wildlife Society who were credited with tracking and spotting the nest in the Big Sur wilderness. This chick was the first second-generation wild-born condor in decades.

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From Our Media Allies

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Monterey County Weekly logo Two-Year Associate Degree to Launch at Gonzales High School Next School Year

Hartnell College offers dual enrollment at high schools in the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County, where students can take high school and college-level classes simultaneously.

King City Rustler logo City of King Hosts Community Meeting for Riverbed Wildfire Prevention Plan

Reducing hazards of fire and floods in the riverbed area adjacent to the community has been an ongoing objective for the City of King.

Monterey County Weekly logo Monterey Mourns Loss of Former Mayor Peter Coniglio

Peter Coniglio described himself as a “Monterey guy,” and he was, with deep roots that run back to his Italian immigrant grandfather.

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Recent Local News

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• Monterey Council Discusses Possible Amendments to Charter

The Monterey City Council started discussion on possible amendments to the city’s charter and received an earful when it came to the allotment of tax money to the Neighborhood and Community Improvement Program.

(02/23/2024) → Monterey Herald

• Carmel Unified Board Members Served Recall Notices

Four Carmel Unified School District board members were served with recall notices—the first step in an effort to remove them from their elected positions.

(02/23/2024) → Monterey Herald

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California State University students have officially created the largest undergraduate student union in United States history. The union vote passed with 97% of CSU students workers voting yes.

(02/23/2024) → The Lutrinae

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Members of the California Faculty Association approve a two-year agreement that the union and administration hammered out after a strike last month that lasted one day.

(02/19/2024) → CalMatters

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(02/19/2024) → CalMatters

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(02/19/2024) → CalMatters
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Recent Statewide News

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(02/26/2024) → CapPublicRadio

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(02/26/2024) → CalMatters

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(02/26/2024) → CalMatters

• Scientists Warn That a Crucial Ocean Current Could Collapse, Altering Global Weather

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(02/25/2024) → Los Angeles Times

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(02/24/2024) → Monterey Herald

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(02/23/2024) → Los Angeles Times

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(02/21/2024) → CalMatters

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(02/20/2024) → SF Gate

• After Heavy Storms, Death Valley Is Now Open to Kayakers

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(02/20/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• The Inland Empire’s Once-Unstoppable Warehousing Industry Falls Into a Slump

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(02/20/2024) → Los Angeles Times
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (02/23/2024)

G.A. Mart Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of H&NATURAL TejoRoot and H&NATURAL Brazil Seed Dietary Supplements Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana), a Poisonous Plant Native to Mexico and Central America

February 22, 2024 - San Luis, AZ, G.A. Mart dba H&Natural, is voluntarily recalling 2 lots of H&NATURAL TejoRoot, 10g pills and 2 lots of H&NATURAL Brazil Seed, .167g Seeds to the consumer level. The products have been found via random FDA testing to contain yellow oleander, a poisonous plant native
Image of County of Monterey seal. County of Monterey   (02/23/2024)

5 Things for March from Monterey County Free Libraries

5 Things for March from Monterey County Free Libraries In a blink of the eye, we are in the third month of the year, March, when we celebrate the vernal equinox (March 19) which is officially the first day of spring and Womens History Month!...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/22/2024)

Backstage Center is Issuing a Recall of Approximately 280 Bottles of Alipotec Raiz de Tejocote, Dietary Supplements, that are Labeled with the "Alipotec King" Sticker

Backstage Center is issuing a recall of approximately 280 Bottles of Alipotec Raiz de Tejocote, dietary supplements, that are labeled with the "Alipotec King" sticker. This recall is being initiated because FDA analysis found that the product contains toxic yellow oleander. The recalled product, whi
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/22/2024)

LQNN, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Egg in Banh Ba Xa and Banh Pia Products

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Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (02/22/2024)

Request for Proposals for 2024 Utility Box Art Project

City Releases Request for Proposals For 2024 Utility Box Art Project
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (02/22/2024)

Robert Rivas CA Assembly 29:
Speaker Rivas Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Day of Action Presser

Speaker Rivas Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Day of Action Presser vincelty Thu, 02/22/2024 - 09:55 Thursday, February 22, 2024
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (02/20/2024)

Robert Rivas CA Assembly 29:
Speaker Rivas Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Day of Action Presser

Speaker Rivas Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Day of Action Presser vincelty Tue, 02/20/2024 - 09:35 Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/16/2024)

Nordic Naturals Issues Voluntary Recall of Baby's Vitamin D3 Liquid Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D3

Nordic Naturals is voluntarily recalling one lot of Nordic Naturals Baby's Vitamin D3 Liquid, 0.76 fl. oz. (22.5 mL), 400 IU (10mcg) D3. This recall is being conducted due to a manufacturing error that resulted in an elevated level of Vitamin D3 dosage or super potent dose. The affected lot number i
Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (02/16/2024)

Remembering Former Mayor Peter Coniglio

Image of United States seal. United States   (02/15/2024)

Raw Cheddar Cheese - Voluntary Product Recall

On February 15, 2024 Raw Farm was contacted by the FDA and CDC regarding the epidemiological possibility that Raw Farm raw cheddar cheese might have caused some illnesses within a date range of October 18th 2023 and January 31st 2024.