Thursday, October 12, 2017

Local Makers Create Comprehensive Database on Sonoma Fires

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 12:00 PM

A team of volunteers based out of Chimera Arts and Makerspace in Sebastopol has spent the last four days creating, compiling and sharing verified up-to-date information, resources and news regarding the Tubb's, Nunn's and other fires in Sonoma County on the website

"We all woke up early in the morning (on Monday) and decided to figure out what we could do to help out," says Dana Woodman, founder of Chimera and a key figure in "One of things we were noticing was lack of information, there wasn't a lot of data being generated that was accurate."

A software consultant by trade, Woodman and his fellow makers put their computer skills to use to make a translatable website that funnels information from different sources regarding the status of shelters, local markets, gas stations, pharmacies, and animal assistance, as well as accurate information about donations and volunteering options. The volunteer group has ranged from 10 to 30 people at a time on site at Chimera gathering data and calling officials and businesses to get accurate information.

"It started as a Google doc shared on social media with a list of resources, by the end of Monday, it was converted to a website, structured to be useful on phones and browsers," explains Woodman. Ninety hours into the ordeal, has over 75,000 unique visitors and over 1,000 followers on Twitter. Woodman expects to keep the site going even after fires have been put out, and says it will transition from emergency response to recovery information. "Right now the site's geared toward short-term, life-saving stuff, but when the fires die down we're going to keep doing this until it's not needed anymore."

If you need updates or resources, or if you are looking for ways to help, visit and @sonomafireinfo on Twitter.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

Santa Rosa Toy Con Is A Smashing Success

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 12:08 PM

Star Wars storm troopers, Marvel and DC superheroes, pirates, ninjas and other colorful characters took over the Sonoma County Fairgrounds for the fifth annual Santa Rosa Toy & Comic Con, which celebrated its biggest year yet with an estimated 7,500 attendees and lots of special guests on Saturday, Sept 23.

Stepping into the fairgrounds' Grace Pavilion, fans of all ages were greeted to dozens of vendors specializing in collectible figures and playsets, vintage comic book collections and other nerdy paraphernalia. Collectors got their hands on both old-school toys, like original Mattel action figures from the 1977 Star Wars, as well as the latest in toy trends like the art big-headed Pop! figures from Funko.


Other booths included Petaluma-based Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, and Santa Rosa's CULT Film Series, giving horror and movie geeks a thrill. Several independent artists and comic book writers were also on hand to show off their original art and self-published or small press works.

  • photo by Melissa Pagluica

There were a few vendors also selling amazing hand-crafted props, costumes and armor for those interested in cosplay, in which fans dress as their favorite fictional characters, and LARPing (live action role playing), in which players dress in costume and wield foam weapons in fun.

  • photo by Rebel Legion.

Anyone unfamiliar with LARPing got the chance to see for themselves with supervised exhibitions in Shade Park behind the Grace Pavilion, and the fairgrounds' Hall of Flowers held interactive art demos and card-playing stations. This year's con also included a high-flying pro wrestling show from the folks at Petaluma's Phoenix Pro Wrestling and Sacramento's Supreme Pro Wrestling.


Last, but far from least, the showcase cafe next to the fairgrounds' racing grandstands held several intimate panel discussions featuring special guests like actors Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols, two of the original cast members of "Star Trek," who spoke with the attentive crowds about their respective 50-year careers and indulged fans with autographs and photos after their panels.

Packed with families and filled with positive vibes, the Santa Rosa Toy & Comic Con succeeded with shared passions coming together for infectious fun. Anyone who missed out this year should head over to Santa Rosa's Batcave Comics & Toys Shop, run by toy con founder Mike Holbrook and equally impressive in it's collection of classic toys and comic books. Holbrook promises the toy con will continue to grow bigger and better when it returns in 2018.
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin Returns

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 12:34 PM

  • Alex Chiu
Written by James Knight.

Routinely called “the most fun guy in pro cycling,” retired German cyclist Jens Voigt—known everywhere by his nickname, Jensie—returns to Marin County on Saturday, October 7, to headline the third annual Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin.

The Jensie has been named among the Top 15 U.S. Gran Fondos by Grand Fondo Guide.

I survived 70 miles of the inaugural ride in 2015, and am trying to decide whether to stick with that pretty fair slog, or step up to the challenging 100-mile category in 2017, thanks to a press ticket provided the Bohemian by the Fondo. There are a few changes to the routes this year—but first, let’s back up and answer the “what, exactly, is a Fondo, again?” question.

A Fondo is an organized, recreational bicycle ride that’s open to all cyclists and is not a race, but is timed, and which is supported by some road closures and rest stops. If you’ve biked West Marin, you know the views are superb and the smooth road surfaces, in many areas, are a fine sight, too. Just imagine all that, plus traffic control, rest stops at just the right intervals, plus energy snacks, water and…beer? For me, it’s a little too early in the morning for that.

Plus, there’s gregarious Jensie himself, who manages meet and snap photos with half the peloton and make it to the finish line. Everyone has a German-inspired meal and beer or other beverages afterward.

As with most Fondos, the Jensie has a fundraising component. Ticket sales benefit MCBC and their efforts to make cycling in Marin even better, and safer, for everyone. Three programs currently top their list of priorities: Safe Routes to School helps to educate school communities in cycling skills and advocates for infrastructure improvements that encourage people to choose “green” transportation option; the Road Advocacy Program promotes bike routes in Marin through partnerships with public agencies; and the Off-Road Program helps to expand and restore mountain biking trails—with the goal of a future off-road trail from the Golden Gate to Point Reyes.

All Jensie routes start out together from Novato’s Stafford Lake Park in a throng of cyclists. It’s both exhilarating and a good opportunity to brush up on your peloton etiquette—no crossing wheels!

I can recommend the 40-mile “Break Away” route to anyone who can stay upright on a bike for half a day and climb a moderate grade or two, but if you’ve got the stamina and want a bigger challenge, step up to the 70-mile “Presidential.” However, only the 100-mile “Shut Up Legs” route—so titled for Jensie’s catch phrase during his pro riding days—includes the grinding Alpine Dam climb this year.

Maybe this year I'll get wise, and makes one of those promo water bottles from the previous service stop useful with beer, for the end of that climb.

The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin leaves Stafford Lake Park very early in the morning of October 7, 2017. $95–$195 For tickets and details, click here.
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Friday, August 11, 2017

New Far-Out Documentary Screens in Sebastopol

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 12:28 PM

August marks the 40th anniversary of one of mankind's greatest endeavors, the Voyager program. Launched by NASA is 1977, the twin spacecraft, Voyager I and II, visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and sent back images and data that are critical to our understanding of the solar system.

And they're both still out there, traveling ever farther from us. In fact, Voyager I has actually left the boundaries of our Solar System, making it man's first interstellar craft. Aboard the Voyager, a "Golden Record" containing details about Earth and humanity may very well be the first contact we ever have with extraterrestrial life. It's kind of a big deal.

Commemorating this achievement, the new PBS documentary "The Farthest" celebrates the Voyager's mission in space and the people who conceived, designed, built and launched the crafts. "The Farthest" premieres on PBS on Aug 23, but the film screens in advance of that with two showings at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol on Wednesday, Aug 16, at 1pm and 7pm.

A fascinating discussion featuring two key members of the Voyager mission, Frank Locatell and Frank Drake, follows the 7pm showing. Locatell, a former senior engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led the team that built and launched Voyager and designed the propulsion module that pushed the craft into space. Drake, who most famously founded SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life Institute) and developed the Drake Equation to calculate the possibility of alien life, co-created Voyager's "Golden Record" with Carl Sagan and was technical director on the mission. Together, these titans of space exploration will share their brilliant insights and scientific passion that's central to the film's message.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Upcoming Cannabis Country Fair Canceled

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 4:49 PM

It was meant to unite California's growing cannabis community, headed by the folks behind The Emerald Cup and boasting musical acts and camping fun amid educational programs and organic cuisine. But, marijuana enthusiasts just got the bad news that the planned inaugural Cannabis Country Fair, set to take place July 21-23 at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, has been canceled by organizers.

In a statement posted on the event's website and Facebook page today, Emerald Cup founder and producer Tim Blake explained the decision to cancel the Cannabis Country Fair:
Due to a short production time frame, promotional hurdles and challenging situations for our cannabis farmers, we have unfortunately decided to cancel this year’s inaugural Cannabis Country Fair. Refunds will immediately be issued at the point of purchase.
This was a difficult decision for our team to make. We realize that our industry is going through rapid changes that are impacting every aspect of our lives.
We strive to create the best onsite experience for our festival patrons to unite the cannabis community in a safe, inspiring and beautiful space. Providing this unique event experience is very important to us. We are excited to move forward with this year’s Emerald Cup, taking place December 9-10, 2017 in Sonoma, California.
We want to thank you for your continued support, and look forward to celebrating with you at this year’s Emerald Cup.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more.
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Friday, June 2, 2017

Heritage Salvage Hosts Upcoming 'Big Mama Day' Event

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Petaluma's one-stop spot for reclaimed building materials, Heritage Salvage is dedicated to creativity and sustainability. This Sunday, June 4, the lumber yard and colorful salvage shop hosts Big Mama Day in cooperation with sustainability non-profit Daily Acts. The party commemorates World Environment Day and features inspirational speakers, live music, kids activities and libations aplenty.

Special guests include Julia "Butterfly" Hill, the author and activist who made international headlines in the late '90s when she protested logging in Humboldt County by sitting in a redwood tree for two years. Daily Acts founder and executive director Trathen Heckman and Occidental Arts & Ecology Center co-founder and program director Brock Dolman are also on hand to share their stories.

In addition to environmental messages, the event boasts local bands the Highway Poets and the doRian Mode, with family-friendly fun in the form of critters from
Sonoma County Reptile Rescue, games with the Farmers Guild and more.

101 North Brewing Company, Kokomo Winery, HopMonk Tavern and Straus Family Creamery provide the drinks, while food trucks The Bodega and Fuel supply the nosh. You can even get deep discounts on Heritage Salvage lumber.

Carpool on over to Heritage Salvage on Sunday, June 4, 1473 Petaluma Blvd S, Petaluma. Noon to 6pm. Free admission. For more details, click here.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kate Wolf Honored In New Television & Album Retrospectives

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 3:12 PM


It's been more than 30 years since acclaimed Northern California folk songwriter Kate Wolf passed away from leukemia, but her memory and music has remained a strong and influential force in the North Bay thanks to the annual Kate Wolf Music Festival, which honors her with a weekend of music every summer.

This year, Wolf's music will also come alive with a new episode of "The American Music" television series on North Bay area PBS affiliate station KRCB-TV, airing June 4 at 5:30pm on channel 22.1.

The insightful documentary show will weave together family interviews, commentary, musical performances and storytelling to shine a light on Wolf's accomplishments and legacy.

In addition, a newly released tribute album entitled “Unfinished Life…Dreams, Friendships and Farewells” gather 12 of Wolf's compositions and highlights the songwriter's commitment to love, friendship and artistry through choral interpretations.

The 22nd annual Kate Wolf Festival will feature more than 40 bands and artists performing among the open fields and old growth oak trees of Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville. June 22-25. For tickets and details, click here.
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Rhino Ride Coming to the North Bay

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 12:11 PM

  • Michele Westmorland

Matt Meyer is a South African conservationist, safari guide and cyclist who has spent the last few weeks riding his bike from the Canadian border on down to San Diego; all the while pulling a 300lb life-size black rhino sculpture.The pedal-powered spectacle known as Rhino Ride is raising funds for three South African organizations dedicated to protecting the Rhinos.

Tomorrow, May 16, Meyer's trek arrives in the North Bay, on view at the Sebastopol Visitor's Center and crashing at Petaluma metal artist Kevin Clark's Reared in Steel studio for a party.

The Crash of Rhinos event in Petaluma begins at 4pm and features Clark's own imaginative metal rhino sculpture and Meyer's realistic recreation on hand for viewing and pictures, along with music by the Highway Poets, a classroom Safari, raffle and food and drinks. The event also aims to raise awareness of what Reared in Steel does for Burning Man and get the community involved in creating large-scale interactive art.

For more information about the Sebastopol event, click here. For details on the Crash of Rhinos in Petaluma, click here. For more information about the Rhino Ride event's fundraising efforts, watch the video below.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

KOWS Mo(oo)ves Down the Radio Dial

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 2:14 PM

Ten years ago, west Sonoma County community radio station KOWS began above a restaurant in Occidental.

Over the last decade, they've moved to downtown Sebastopol to reach a bigger audience, and this spring, the station is making another move, this time on your dial.

Starting May 5, KOWS will broadcast locally on 92.5 FM, moving down the dial from 107.3 FM and widening their scope in Sonoma County with the new destination. Tune in on the weekend of May 6–7 for special programming and information how to support the all-volunteer staff. Radio fans who are outside the radius can continue to to stream at
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Former Black Panthers to Speak at Sonoma State University

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 12:06 PM

Documentary photographer Suzun Lucia Lamaina spent five years traveling throughout the United States and chronicled the lives of more than 50 former Black Panther Party members in black and white photos. Many of those works are currently on display in Lamaina's solo exhibit, "Revolutionary Grain," showing through May 31 in the 2North Gallery of Sonoma State University's library.

Next week, Lamaina will be joined by four former members of the Black Panther Party whom she worked with for an opening reception and panel discussion on March 27.

Former Black Panther members Barbara Easley Cox, Elbert Howard (Big Man), Billy X Jennings and Emory Douglas will discuss their time in the organization, and Lamaina, who published the collection last year as "Revolutionary Grain: Celebrating the Spirit of the Black Panthers in Portraits & Stories," will be selling and signing copies of the book.

Get a look at "Revolutionary Grain" on Monday, March 27, at SSU's 2North Gallery, 1801 E Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 4pm. $5 parking. For more info, click the link here.

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