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Best of Sacramento 2011

(page 3 of 7)


THINGS TO DO

Best Way To Spend a Day
Grady O’Bryant likes bringing people together. And he does just that with his Meetup, SACRAMENTO DAY TRIPPERS. The group, which boasts 2,000 members, has been tripping all around Northern California since 2008: wine tasting in Amador, seeing plays in San Francisco, cheering at football games in Oakland, taking in the sights at Monterey Bay Aquarium. O’Bryant organizes some 50-plus outings a year. The group also holds a big New Year’s Eve bash and gets together to listen to jazz at MIX Downtown during the warm-weather months. (916) 443-8741; escapesac.com

Best Way To Expand Your Mind
Where do you go when you’re craving intellectual sustenance? California State Library’s FOOD FOR THOUGHT CULTURAL PROGRAM scratches that itch. Held the third Wednesday of every month, the free events have a format that varies: It could be a movie screening, author lecture or music performance. But it’s always something California-related. This month, pop-up-book author and illustrator David A. Carter talks about his books. “The series is meant to introduce people to what we offer here at the library,” says Rebecca Fontaine, special events coordinator at the library, which is like the California version of the U.S. Library of Congress. “Most people don’t know what we are really about or that we are even here.” 900 N St., Sacramento; (916) 654-0266; library.ca.gov

Best Way To See the Real Old Sac
In the late 1800s, the city raised Old Sac’s buildings 8 to 12 feet to help combat the effects of flooding. Now you can tour the hidden underground city that was left behind. Hourlong OLD SACRAMENTO UNDERGROUND TOURS ake you below several historic buildings, including the B.F. Hastings and Hall & Luhrs Co. buildings. You’ll learn about interesting residents of the era and view bona-fide artifacts from back in the day. Sturdy shoes are recommended and a new appreciation for Sacramento history is guaranteed. Tours run through November, then resume in April. historicoldsac.org/programs/programs-underground.asp

Best Place To Spot a Celebrity
Sacramento isn’t exactly teeming with famous people. But once a year, a slew of celebs come to town for induction into the CALIFORNIA HALL OF FAME. Founded in 2006 by then-first lady Maria Shriver, the Hall of Fame celebrates remarkable Californians who’ve had a major impact on the world. Past honorees include Tiger Woods, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Serena Williams, Jack Nicholson, Mark Zuckerberg and Clint Eastwood. In previous years, induction was held in The California Museum’s tiny downtown auditorium. This year’s ceremony will be on Dec. 8 at the much larger Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are available at $125 a pop. For fans looking to gawk for free, there will be a red carpet arrival out front for this year’s inductees, which include Buzz Aldrin, Magic Johnson, Carlos Santana and The Beach Boys. Bring your binoculars. californiamuseum.org

 

Next page: Garden + Design

(page 7 of 7)

CIVIC LIFE

Best New Infrastructure
“Bringing the outside in” was the central theme for the newly opened TERMINAL B at Sacramento International Airport. Through a well-thought-out mix of design elements, artwork and concessions, the masterminds behind Terminal B’s development have achieved their thematic goal. Designed by Corgan Associates, the new $1 billion terminal is divided into two parts: landside, where travelers check in, claim baggage and reunite with loved ones; and the airside concourse, where planes await at 19 gates to whisk people away for business or pleasure. A two-car “people mover” train transports up to 62 travelers between concourse and landside, with less than a minute between trains. Terminal B uses less energy, thanks to airy ceilings and large glass panels, filling the airside terminal with natural light during the day. Other eco-friendly elements include low-flush fixtures in the restrooms and trims made of recycled wood. The majority of the artwork commissioned for the terminal comes from Northern California artists, with pieces from Gregory Kondos, Joan Moment and Suzanne Adan representing Sacramento. But executing the theme didn’t stop with the building’s design: Travelers can nosh at locally based concessions that include Old Soul, Esquire Grill and Cafeteria 15L, while “Good Day Sacramento” and The Sacramento Bee host retail shops. Seating areas at each gate are comfortable and come equipped with USB ports and outlets for business travelers. With a terminal like this, it’s almost worth a security pat-down.

Best Volunteer Idea
Caring for public parks throughout Sacramento has been low on the city government’s priority list for several years, with budgets being slashed dramatically and maintenance crews dwindling. But that doesn’t mean the parks have been forgotten: In neighborhoods throughout the city, residents are establishing volunteer corps to ensure their parks stay well-groomed and clean. One group, LAND PARK VOLUNTEER CORPS , keeps the area’s busiest public park looking good, with monthly volunteer crews coming through William Land Park to perform tasks once handled by park employees: planting, trimming, pond cleanup, etc. Another group, FRIENDS OF FREMONT PARK, reclaimed its park from drug dealers and prostitutes by convincing the city to lock the public restrooms. These cleanup crews are doing a great job—and they’re happy to do it. As Land Park Volunteer Corps founder Craig Powell says, “It’s fun, it’s healthy, and it helps our community.”

Best Urban Revival Project
It’s been a heckuva year for K STREET MALL. The opening of Pizza Rock, Dive Bar and District 30 made K Street Mall a new hotspot for eats, drinks and dancing. New hanging planters, benches and other landscaping features have added to K Street’s beauty quotient. But this month, the return of cars to the previously pedestrian-only mall may take the area to a whole new level of hustle. While the area has seen more foot traffic in the past year, the addition of cars opens up the space to many more people, according to Lisa Martinez, director of marketing and outreach for Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “It’s part of our long-term vision,” says Martinez. Next up: developing the 700-800 block of K Street, where a mixed-use project includes the addition of 100-plus residential units with ground-floor retailers and a live music venue.

Best Green Idea
Thanks to a federal grant, Priority Parking president Aaron Zeff was able to install ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS charging stations in two publicly accessible locations in Sacramento last year. The stations are part of the ChargePoint Network, which uses mobile apps to help EV owners find free or low-cost charging anywhere in the country. EV drivers visiting downtown can juice up at Harv’s Car Wash at 19th and L streets or at the Priority Parking garage at Ninth and L. Business was slow at first, says Zeff, but now there’s someone charging his or her car every day. One user is Stockton resident Catherine Kearney, who frequently charges her Nissan Leaf at Harv’s while she attends meetings nearby. When her car is fully charged, the ChargePoint system notifies her with a text message, so she can move her vehicle and allow another EV driver to “refuel.” “Sacramento is on the verge of taking the next step and really contributing to the planet,” says Kearney. “I’d love to see it become the green city it could be.” Expect to see more EV charging stations installed throughout the city in the coming year.

Best Civic-Minded Blog
Sometimes, the best ideas come under duress. In 2008, when business reporter Jon Ortiz was approached by his editor at The Sacramento Bee to come up with a blog concept focused on state workers, he resisted. “I thought it would beso narrow, and I wasn’t a big believer in blogs,” he admits. By choosing to focus on how state politics affects state employees, Ortiz laid the groundwork for The Bee’s STATE WORKER BLOG. A little over three years later, the blog has established itself as an information resource for the 220,000-plus state workers it serves. “It consistently is one of our best-read blogs,” says Bee executive editor Joyce Terhaar. Ortiz’s e-mail overflows with messages ranging from complaints about stinky colleagues to tip-offs on fraud. When he’s on vacation, his readers use the comments section as a virtual town square where they can share information, which is just fine with Ortiz. “I view myself as a conductor, and the people using the blog are the ones who drive it.” blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/

Best Idea To Get Sacramento Reading
Anyone who wants to quickly launch a project can learn a thing or two from the Sacramento Public Library. At the end of February, the library received a grant from the California State Library to purchase and circulate E-READERS to library patrons. By April 10, the e-readers were loaded with content and ready to be checked out. Early response was staggering, with hold queues surpassing 200 requests within a couple of weeks of the program’s launch. Currently there are 300 e-readers in circulation, all of them dedicated to a specific genre or interest, such as Best-sellers, Biography, Teen and Science Fiction. Each e-reader is preloaded with 20 books, though the Best-sellers e-readers include more than 40 titles to account for new releases. When a second batch of e-readers was added, the library system set aside 60 of the devices to serve as “Lucky Day” items, giving patrons visiting a branch the opportunity to check out an e-reader without having to place a hold. The program’s success has made the Sacramento Public Library a leader among libraries nationwide: The team behind the project is now educating other library systems on how to implement e-reader lending programs of their own. Sacramentans wanting to request an e-reader can stop by their local branch or visit the website and search for Nook. saclibrary.org

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