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By Eric Johnson
Published Feb 05, 2024

The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. Image credit: Nikolas Coukouma   CC BY-SA 2.5 DEED

Black History and Black Futurism

In The Newsletter this week we celebrate the start of Black History Month with a guide to California organizions working to help the state deliver on the promises of equal rights and social justice to its African American residents. 

Also: ICYMI, a list of 30 great Black California heroes who helped create the best of California, from the abolitionist millionaire Mary Ellen Pleasant (c. 1814-1904) to the Boyz n the Hood filmmaker John Singleton (1968-2019). And as always: A curated collection of local news you can use, and the Recipe of the Week.


Black Californians Working for Justice

Last week I happened to hear Baratunde Thurston, host of the “How to Citizen” podcast and “America Outdoors” on PBS, pose this question to Ava DuVernay, the director of Origin, as well as the MLK biopic Selma and the documentary 13th

“I want to ask you about your belief and your faith in the human capacity to change,” Thurston said to DuVernay. “Because so many of the stories you're telling … are about revealing some deep intransigence in the human condition—commitments to discrimination, [and] to systems of hierarchy and unfairness.

“As you wrestle with these ideas, where do you stand on our capacity to not just recognize these systems, but to alter them for the better?”

DuVernay took the question in a direction likely informed by its source—whether he’s talking about political activism or tree-climbing, Bararunde generally begins and ends in a deeply personal place.

DuVernay: “Let me say, yeah, I believe, I believe in change. I believe Octavia Butler, the great writer and futurist, talked about ‘all that you touch changes you.’ And, and so that is a daily process, that is an ongoing engagement—holding hands with the world. And to think that that change is not possible, to think that you are not changed by what you encounter, what you say, what you do, what is said and done to you, is I think a pedestrian way to think about life.

So for me, absolutely. Not only is change possible—it’s inevitable, and it’s happening in every moment.”

Here are some individuals and organizations working for positive change in California.


Bending the Arc of History


Here’s a short list of just some of the organizations working to build better futures for African Americans in California.

California Pioneers

Clockwise from upper right: Architect Paul R. Williams, Assemblyman Frederick Madison Roberts, abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley (with President Gerald Ford).
Black History Month provides an opportunity to remember the achievements of African Americans who fought for equality in the Golden State.

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.

As an extra bonus, we're also including a link to their new cookbook of seasonal recipes! 


Slab apple tart a no-sugar treat

Thinly sliced apples top this slab tart, which makes a lovely dessert for a dinner or potluck.
Recipe: Make bourbon apple butter for extra flavorful filling

‘Taste Winter!’ cookbook shows how to make the most of your cool-season harvest

Fresh-off-the-tree oranges mean winter to those of us lucky enough to live in California. Find several citrus-based recipes in the "Taste Winter! cookbook.
Enjoy winter fruit and vegetables with these home-grown recipes


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Get to Know a Group

Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference logo Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference

Hands 4 Hope inspires young people to develop their leadership skills and give service to the community. The nonprofit offers school programs, outreach programs, and youth committees.

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From Our Media Allies

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Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Slow Down, Move Over

A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sheds light on the daily risks encountered by tow truck drivers, mobile mechanics, and roadside technicians.

Folsom Telegraph logo Local Film Aims to Humanize Those Experiencing Homelessness

“No Address,” a film about homelessness, was shot throughout the area, including Auburn, Folsom, Rocklin and Sacramento, and is produced by Rocklin-based Robert Craig Films.

Sacramento News and Review logo Regional Tribal Environmental Coalition Challenges State Water Board on Bay-Delta Plan

“The coalition urges the State Water Board to expeditiously update water quality standards sufficient to protect Delta tribes and communities,” the group said in a statement.

Sacramento News and Review logo In California’s Housing Crisis, a Senior Fights to Keep His Place in the World

Facing eviction after 30 years, Mike Balog says moving out would mean losing his community and part of his identity.

Folsom Telegraph logo Five Landmark Trees Will Come Down for Light Rail Track

The Folsom City Council voted to support a Sacramento Regional Transit request to remove five oak trees along Folsom Boulevard. Oak trees in the area are on the city Landmark Tree Registry.

Folsom Times logo Folsom Assemblyman Hoover Pens Legislation to Combat Fentanyl in Schools

Assembly Bill 2045 would increase penalties on fentanyl crimes involving minors and add sentence enhancements for criminals who traffick fentanyl within 1,000 feet of school grounds.

Folsom Times logo Commentary: Folsom Vice Mayor Talks City’s Budget Situation

Sarah Aquino writes, “Decisions will need to be made about cuts and/or additional revenue that will affect city services and you, the residents, should be involved.”

Folsom Times logo Tony Gemignani’s Slice House Opens in Folsom Ranch

Slice House, the highly successful fast-casual pizza franchise by pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani, has announced the opening of its new Folsom location.

Folsom Times logo Sutter Health is Latest Addition to Folsom’s Growing Medical ‘Hub’

Sutter Health is the latest medical provider to announce it has plans to expand into the city of Folsom.

Folsom Times logo 35th Folsom Festival Was 1st Under New Leadership

Saturday’s Folsom Jazz Festival marked the event’s 35th anniversary—and the first under the direction of Folsom High School music director Gaw Williams.

Folsom Times logo City of Folsom Addresses Queries on Finances, Sales Tax Revenue

Folsom residents and businesses owners have been hearing about a five-year forecast that projects a structural deficit will grow as the cost of providing city services outpaces revenue.

Sacramento News and Review logo Hazel Watson on the Power of Relationship-Building as a Pathway to Stronger Communities

Hazel Watson is one of five community organizers with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, who work to facilitate communication between community members and elected officials.

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Recent Local News

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• Talk Focuses on Anti-Gentrification and Displacement Efforts Around Aggie Square

While promising to boost local health care and tech economies, UC Davis’s Aggie Square project raises concerns for Oak Park community.

(02/05/2024) → The Sacramento Observer

• Galt Council to Decide on Interim City Manager

The Galt City Council will consider appointing Chris Erias as interim city manager during its Feb. 20 meeting, the city announced.

(02/03/2024) → LodiNews

• Citrus Heights Eyes Improving Appearance of Sound Walls

The Citrus Heights City Council will consider awarding a contract to move forward on a “Sound Wall Beautification Project,” using up to $155,000 in federal pandemic recovery funds.

(02/03/2024) → Citrus Heights Sentinel

• Parents’ Lawsuit Forces California to Spend $2 Billion on Learning Loss. Here’s What Will Change

Learning loss during the pandemic hit California’s low-income students hardest. An agreement requires the state to focus spending there.

(02/02/2024) → CalMatters

• Former CSU Professor Admits to Setting Blazes Near Dixie Fire in 2021

The ex-professor pleaded guilty to multiple arson charges in court.

(02/02/2024) → SF Gate

• California Recall Reform Moves Forward, But Other Bills Don’t

A sweeping change to California elections took a step forward. The proposed constitutional amendment aims to allow the lieutenant governor to be installed if a governor is recalled.

(02/01/2024) → CalMatters

• Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe Raising Funds to Reestablish Homeland

The Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe has a time-limited opportunity to purchase 232 acres on a Nisenan Village site called Yulića—the tribe’s best opportunity to re-establish a homeland in more than half a century.

(02/01/2024) → YubaNet

• Sac Sports Hall to Welcome Five Inductees

NBA stars Matt Barnes and James Donaldson, baseball players Leon Lee and Nick Johnson, and Team USA paracyclist Jamie Whitmore will be inducted on Feb. 4 at Thunder Valley Casino.

(02/01/2024) → The Sacramento Observer

• Imperiled Monarch Butterflies Cling to Survival in California

Monarch butterflies have a long way to go before reaching stable population numbers.

(01/30/2024) → SF Gate

• Sacramento Joins San Francisco as California’s Slowest Cities to Recover From the Pandemic

San Francisco is coping with a “doom loop” of declining employment and business activity in its downtown core, but a new study suggests Sacramento may be in worse shape.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters
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Recent Statewide News

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• Mike McGuire Wants to ‘Lift Up Every Person’ as New California Senate Leader

Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg takes over as Democratic leader in the state Senate from Sen. Toni Atkins. He terms out in 2026, so has limited time to push his agenda.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Is Housing Health Care? State Medicaid Programs Increasingly Say ‘Yes’

States are plowing billions of dollars into a high-stakes health care experiment that’s exploding around the country: using scarce public health insurance money to provide housing for the poorest and sickest Americans.

(02/05/2024) → California Healthline

• The Terrifying Forces That Created a California Monster Storm

The storm fed off of unusually warm waters as it grew. It also reached “bomb cyclone” status as it neared California.

(02/05/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Darrell Steinberg: Return of State Workers Helps, But Sacramento’s Transformation is Well Underway

Downtown Sacramento faces many challenges, but the growing number of small businesses, hotels, homes and other major developments signal its transformation, says the city’s mayor.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Despite Disbanding in 1995, Grateful Dead Make Billboard History

The Grateful Dead have broken the record for the most Top 40 albums to chart on the Billboard 200.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• Some Experts Are Proposing a Category 6 Storm Rating

A handful of super powerful tropical storms in the last decade and the prospect of more to come has a couple of experts proposing a new category of whopper hurricanes: Category 6.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• California Universities Are Required to Offer Students Abortion Pills. A Lot Just Don’t Mention It

One year after California became the first state to require its public universities to provide the abortion pill to students, basic information on where or how students can obtain the medication is lacking.

(02/04/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• New ‘Toothless’ Walrus Discovered Along California Coast

An extinct species of walrus was unearthed in Santa Cruz County, evoking a time when California was teeming with odd creatures that feel closer to fantasy than reality, researchers said.

(02/01/2024) → SF Gate

• Back From COP28, California Climate Leaders Talk Health Impacts of Warming

As Californians increasingly feel the health effects of climate change, state leaders are adopting sweeping policies they hope will fend off the worst impacts.

(01/31/2024) → California Healthline

• ‘Just the Beginning’: California Reparations Backers Applaud Bills, Even Without Big Cash Payouts

Lawmakers introduced a package of bills designed to tackle some forms of reparations. The measures may face budget constraints and opposition.

(01/31/2024) → CalMatters

• Saving Salmon: Newsom Unveils Blueprint for Ending Decades-Long Decline

Chinook and other salmon runs are collapsing. Conservation groups call it too little, too late. Plan includes dam removals and restoring river flows.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters

• Advice From Former Superintendents on Retaining Those Still on the Job

Five former California superintendents shared potential solutions for reducing the increasing turnover rate in their profession.

(01/30/2024) → EdSource

• Will More Outdoor Drinking Give CA Economy a Buzz?

State Sen. Scott Wiener wants to allow California cities and counties to designate “entertainment zones” where bars and restaurants could serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on public streets and sidewalks.

(01/29/2024) → CalMatters

• New Pickleball Equipment Takes a Swing at the Sport’s Noise Problem

The “pop, pop, pop” that’s become synonymous with Pickleball may soon be a racket of the past. That’s the goal promised by a new generation of equipment developed to lessen the overall acoustic burden of the sport.

(01/29/2024) → Daily Democrat
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (02/03/2024)

City extends weather-respite operations to Feb. 8

Due to the continuing wet weather, the City is once again extending weather-respite operations at its Outreach and Engagement Center (3615 Auburn Blvd.). The OEC now will provide weather respite through 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 8. Walk-ups will be accepted, with the OEC able to accommodate up to 50 guests as part of its weather-respite activation. [...] The post City …
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/03/2024)

Hormel Foods Recalls Ready-To-Eat Spiced Deli Ham Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2024 - Hormel Foods, an Austin, Minn. establishment, is recalling approximately 945 pounds of ready-to-eat spiced deli ham products due to misbranding and undeclared allergen, the U.S...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sesame in Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped with Harissa

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. of Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada is recalling its Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped With Harissa because they may contain undeclared sesame. People who have allergies to sesame run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The recal
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (02/02/2024)

Data Report: How the City responded to homelessness Jan. 22-28

The City of Sacramento has released its weekly progress report for the Citys Incident Management Team responding to homelessness. From Jan. 22-28, the City of Sacramento received 731 calls to 311 customer service related to unsheltered individuals. Through the work of the IMT, 1,063 calls were closed, meaning that either the issue was remedied, compliance [...] The post Data Report: …
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (02/02/2024)

Household junk pickup starts again in February. Here is what you need to know

Doing some early spring cleaning, or just looking to get rid of bulky waste? City of Sacramento Solid Waste and Recycling residential customers now can make an appointment for household junk pickup to dispose of items too large to fit in the curbside container. To make an appointment, residents can call in their request to 3-1-1 [...] The post Household …
Image of City of Sacramento seal. City of Sacramento   (02/02/2024)

How to get up to $3,000 in grants for neighborhood and waterway clean-ups

The Citys Department of Utilities is now offering grants to community groups to help fund projects that protect, restore or enhance rivers, creeks and nearby areas in the city. The grants for up to $3,000 are designed to help prevent urban runoff pollution and protect water quality. These grants have such a positive impact on [...] The post How to …
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Pork Products Imported Without Benefit of Import Reinspection

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2024 - Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd, a Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada establishment, is recalling approximately 2,745 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat pork products that were not presented for...
Image of City of Citrus Heights seal. City of Citrus Heights   (02/01/2024)

Update: Citrus Heights & Rocklin Gun Store Burglaries – Second Suspect Arrested

During the course of the investigation into the theft of two firearms from an open business in Citrus Heights on January 29, 2024, Citrus Heights Police Impact Detectives obtained information that the second suspect, 27-year-old Taron Carter,
Image of City of Citrus Heights seal. City of Citrus Heights   (02/01/2024)

Record number of Accessory Dwelling Unit permits issued in 2023

Learn why Citrus Heights issued a record number of ADU permits in 2023!
Image of City of Citrus Heights seal. City of Citrus Heights   (02/01/2024)

Kick Off Super Bowl LVIII with a Go Safely Game Plan

As the excitement builds for Super Bowl LVIII, the Citrus Heights Police Department reminds football fans to intercept impaired driving if they are heading out to a Super Bowl party and plan on drinking.