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di Rosa: 217 Acres of Art and Nature

Benicia State Capitol On the Chopping Block

The Geocaching Gold Rush is Big in Benicia

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Fashion Weekend in Benicia October 7 – 9, 2011

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Benicia Magazine SEPTEMBER VOLUME 6 ISSUE 11

9 10 10

Printing sustainably From the Editor Feedback

Departments 9 Kid’s Calendar 12 Currents

16

Three of this month’s biggest (and best) events

14 Interview with Carol Berman,

Benicia State Park Association President Historic Capitol & Fischer-Hanlon House facing closure

19 What’s on the Website 24 Fashionista

Mentored at a young age, Fashionista returns the favor

30 Looking Back

The Golden State

32 Listening

Bay Area live music schedule Featured musician Elizabeth Edwards

34 Calendar of Events

Top Right: Balancing Act, 1976, Robert Arneson, Courtesy of di Rosa Bottom Right: Mustard in the Marsh, by Marilyn Bardet Cover: Benicia State Capitol, by Jerry Bowles 6 • Benicia Magazine

Features

16 di Rosa: A cultural treasure 20 Five million world wide geocachers



26

seek hidden treasures

The biodiversity of the Suisun Marsh

“The coveted parchment map has been digitalized and there’s plenty of booty to go around”

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Community News

707-745-7534 September 2011

Need additional copies? Contact the Community Relations office: Valero Benicia Refinery, 3400 East Second Street, Benicia, CA 94510

Organizing for Operational Excellence

A Walk in the Park The benefit of one of the Valero Benicia Refinery’s many grants to the community is evident every day in Benicia, if you know where to look. In 2008, a $50,000 Benefit for Children grant was awarded by the refinery to pay for safety upgrades at Channing Circle Park, located on Channing Circle in Southampton, just off Oxford Way. According to Mike Dotson, director of the Benicia Parks and Community Services Department, “Not only was the playground equipment replaced, but also the sand was replaced with engineered fiber.” The safety upgrades were completed in the summer of 2009. Benefit for Children grants are nominated, reviewed and selected by refinery employees. The money is raised at the annual Valero Texas Open and Benefit for Children Golf Classic held in San Antonio.

Fast Facts:

Since 2001, Valero Benicia Refinery has distributed over $2.8 million in Benefit for Children grants. The 2011 grants will be announced this fall.

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Following a successful refinerywide maintenance project, the Valero Benicia Refinery launched another major undertaking: a reorganization of operations. “Success in today’s increasingly competitive and highly regulated environment requires that we continually explore ways to improve our business,” said Vice President and General Manager Doug Comeau. “Safe, stable, and reliable operations are the key to success for Valero.” “This remarkable reorganization will drive improved expertise, performance, and accountability,” noted Comeau. “And these changes will add depth of expertise to day-to-day refinery operations, improving reliability, and enhancing institutional knowledge to workers for years to come.” No workers lost jobs due to this reorganization. Since round-the-clock operations began in 1969, seven teams ran the refinery’s processing units. Team members were crossed-trained in mechanical areas (routine maintenance, planning, etc.). The seven-week cycle for each team included day, swing, and graveyard shifts on processing units, and a rotation into a mechanical area assignment. Each shift was eight hours. The Organizing for Operational Excellence plan, implemented in July, created two 12-hour operating shifts for process unit employees.

Each operator (formerly a “technician”) is now assigned to one of four crews. Each crew works four days on, four days off, then rotates from day to night schedules. Refinery operators no longer rotate between running units in the plant and working in mechanical areas. Now, operators work on assigned process units. Full-time mechanical workers staff the mechanical areas, previously staffed with a combination of full-time mechanical workers and a rotation of technicians. The mechanical staff remains on an eight-hour shift, five days a week. Under the organizational change, five operational complexes, each containing multiple units, were created. Each complex has its own manager, multiple supervisors, and engineers who focus on that specific complex. Routine maintenance jobs are now designated by five “zones” that match up with the five operational complexes, adding further specialization and expertise. “Like all businesses in Benicia, we must strive to streamline operations,” said Comeau. “This organizational change, along with our continued efforts to lower energy costs and increase efficiencies will allow the refinery to be the low-cost producer of California fuels. These efforts promote a sustainable economic climate for Benicia,” added Comeau.

What’s New At A Glance?

Previously 8-hour shifts for operations

Now

12-hour shifts for operations

7 teams 4 crews Rotating schedule of day, swing, graveyard Four days on (6am-6pm); four days off shifts, plus rotations in the mechanical area Four nights on (6pm-6am); four days off “Technicians” run process units

“Operators” run process units

Mechanical area staffed by a combination of fullAll mechanical positions are full-time time mechanical staff and rotating technicians

BeniciaMagazine.com • 7


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Contact Us 707.853.5226 Beniciamagazine.com editor@beniciamagazine.com

Benicia Magazine is published monthly by Polygon Publishing, LLC Copyright © 2011, all rights reserved. Contents of Benicia Magazine cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without the written consent of the publisher. Opinions expressed in Benicia Magazine editorial or advertisements are those of the authors and advertisers, and may not reflect the opinion of Benicia Magazine’s management or publisher. Subscriptions $18.00 per year. Benicia Magazine, P.O. Box 296, Benicia, CA 94510. 707.853.5226, beniciamagazine.com

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From the Editor Welcome to the all-new Benicia Magazine! We hope you like this long-anticipated change. It took some time to find a printer with the sustainable elements we were looking for. We’ve also added more features and events, live music and what’s going on around town. And if you have a smart phone you can scan the QR codes on our calendars to see expanded listings online. This new format officially qualifies us as a green business, and allows us to display the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance logos in the magazine as we join the growing number of businesses investing in green technologies. For the print industry, that means using paper from managed forests, state-of-the-art presses, vegetable inks and fewer chemicals. Reducing environmental impacts is of critical importance to us all. Equally compelling is that companies of all sizes, including multinational corporations who are leading the charge towards sustainability, have discovered that going green can also save them money in the long run. Speaking of cost reductions, state budget cuts are about to have a huge impact on our fair city. Solano County’s only two state parks are located in Benicia—the Capitol and FischerHanlon House State Historic Park, and the Benicia State Recreation Area. The capitol’s windows have already been measured for plywood and the state is in full-swing closure mode for the seventy parks on the list.

The Benicia State Parks Association is searching for a local solution to keep these facilities open, even at a reduced level. Closure of the capitol in particular will deal a hard blow to tourism. A healthy downtown means a healthy community, and downtown will certainly suffer with the capitol not just closed, but fenced off and boarded up. A fundraising effort is underway to keep this worst-case scenario from happening and it needs our help. Benicians always come together to support our schools and other causes. Please consider making a donation to the Benicia State Parks Association to keep the capitol from being shuttered. Preserving our place in California history, and its associated economic benefit, is an investment that will pay us back over time. Send checks to association at P.O. Box 404, Benicia, CA, 94510. —Jeanne Steinmann What green steps are you taking at home or work? Let us know—tweet, post or email your responses for next month’s Feedback column. Twitter: @beniciamagazine Facebook.com/Benicia Magazine editor@beniciamagazine.com

Photo by Lisa Duncan

Feedback Nostalgic Look at Mills School Insufficient

Making a Day of Art

Ed. Note: The Benicia Community Center is located at 380 East L Street. 707.746.4200 visit www.ci.benicia.ca.us.

Tom Hamilton Interview

I received volume 6 issue 9 of Benicia Magazine in the mail recently. I was astonished and frustrated that absolutely NO detail was provided regarding this new facility. … It is unfortunate that rather than providing citizens of Benicia with any information regarding this new facility that readers received a nostalgic look at the school as it had once been … hope you’ll decide to include better information in future issues. —Georgia Benedict

Staycationing

Thank You for the article, “Staycationing is Stale!” in the July issue. Our family moved here from Livermore in April. I had heard Benicia is known for its parks but could not find any literature other than a map where they are located. Our family now has several new staycation sites to enjoy. ­—Jessica

10 • Benicia Magazine

Great article on the art community in Benicia! Looking for more public art? You can find several picnic tables in the City Park (at West Military/First Street) that are decorated with wonderful tile mosaics. These works of art were created by Aline Karpoyan of Artcentric in collaboration with various groups. —Tracy S

I totally think Benicia has the potential to be a “little Sausalito” too. I love that you are trying to boost tourism. Great job! —Windy

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BeniciaMagazine.com • 11


Three Ways to Enjoy Art with Big Events in September

Arts Benicia 19th Annual

Benefit Art Auction & Gala

One of the best see-and-be-seen parties of the year, this event attracts seasoned art buyers, art novices looking to score their first original work and those who have discovered just how fun this event can be. The main attraction is the art, but the buzz of excitement brings people together for an eagerly anticipated good time. The evening begins at a leisurely pace in the Arts Benicia Gallery, while guests socialize and peruse the exhibit of silent auction items. These pieces are one-ofa-kind works, including sculpture, mixed media, paintings, etchings, photographs, jewelry, art glass and more. The silent auction’s low-key vibe makes it possible to score a deal on original art without breaking the bank. Bidders can enjoy a glass of wine and conversation while keeping a sharp eye out for competition on their favorite pieces. When the silent auction closes, guests are seated to watch or participate in the lively part of the evening: the live auction, which generates stiff competition for works by artists that are generally more valuable. Bidding gets intense as serious art buyers from around the Bay turn out to add to their collections. And then it’s over all too soon, when an evening of excitement becomes a happy memory. The event has sold out the past two years, so order tickets early through Arts Benicia’s website. September 24, 6:30pm Benicia Clock Tower, 1201 Washington Street Tickets: $35, $60 per couple artsbenicia.org, 707.747.0131

12 • Benicia Magazine Currents

An Evening of Art, Wine and Finger Food at the 8th Annual

Expanding Experiences A second, but completely different type of art event is Expanding Experiences, a high-profile meet-and-greet in the lower Arsenal. Music, wine tasting from Northern California wineries and finger food from area restaurants are combined with a self-guided tour of artist open studios. Held on a Wednesday evening, this is a great option for individuals or families who are busy with fall sports or out of town on the weekends. The Rotary Club of Benicia “adopted” Liberty high many years ago, recognizing that art and cultural offerings were a powerful way to engage Liberty students lacking credits and self-esteem. The money raised is used mostly for art education and field trips to art events, museums, and other creative outings, giving students an opportunity to expand their horizons and gain confidence. Rotarians team up with Arts Benicia to produce the event, where Liberty students serve hors d’oeuvres to the 300-strong crowd meandering around the buildings on Jackson and Tyler Streets. This event will probably sell out, so buy tickets early from Benicia Rotary or Arts Benicia. September 14, 6-8:30pm Benicia Historic Arsenal, Jackson & Tyler Streets Tickets: $35, Artsbenicia.org, 707.745.6650 beverlywhite4@gmail.com


Art, Art

and More Art

Fine Arts & Crafts Fair 38 Years Strong Sponsored by the Benicia Chamber of Commerce as a community event and major fundraiser, this is a free arts and crafts street fair that draws visitors from all over the Bay Area. The long-running festival always gets great reviews and is touted as one of the largest Bay Area arts and craft shows. Not to be confused with the Benicia Peddlers Fair, which is mostly antiques and is held in August, crowds are estimated at as many as 20,000, with over 150 exhibitors along First Street from G Street to the waterfront. Arts and Crafts can encompass a wide range of offerings, and this fair has it all: fine art, home and garden décor, toys, jewelry, gifts, floral arrangements, furniture, clothing, accessories, oil & watercolor paintings, photography, handcrafted pottery, holiday decorations, handmade candles, quilts and much more. Vendors are pre-screened to ensure a high quality event. Considering the many shops, restaurants and galleries lining First Street, this event is a day trip’s worth of activities. The Fair takes place Saturday, September 17, 10am-4pm. Admission and parking are free, and the event will take place rain or shine. Benicia Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center 601 First Street, Benicia Beniciachamber.com, 707.745.2120

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BeniciaMagazine.com • 13


Carol Berman just wanted to dress in period costumes and get others interested in local history when she started volunteering decades ago at the state capitol and Fischer-Hanlon House downtown. Now she finds herself making history as she heads a community group determined to forge an agreement to keep Benicia’s state parks open. Both sites—the State Recreation Area at the western edge of town and the downtown capitol park that includes the Fischer-Hanlon House—are on the list of 70 state parks slated to close by July 2012. “This is totally unprecedented,” the retired teacher says. “The worst time before this was the Depression, and there were fewer state parks then. It’s that serious.” Carol, 65, is president of the Benicia State Park Association, a non-profit group working to establish a partnership with the city and state that would allow operations to continue at both local parks. She volunteered with the group’s predecessor in the 1980s, and became active with the local group again in 2006.

An Interview with

Carol Berman

Read the expanded interview at beniciamagazine.com By Sue Sumner-Moore

Why are you committed to keeping the parks open? Because I don’t want to see the capitol or the Fischer-Hanlon House shuttered; meaning closed. They’re just too great an asset to the community and to California in general. It’s a crime. I’ll do anything that I can to prevent plywood from going up, from cyclone fences going up, and to keep the capitol and the Fischer-Hanlon House open two days a week and the state recreation area open five days a week. What would it look like to actually close the parks? They call it mothballing. They’d take out almost everything at the Fischer-Hanlon House—the tables, the furnishings. They’d take everything from the wedding dresses to the seashells gathered by the sisters. Everything up to the Steinway, the most valuable artifact, although it might go to another site. And there are the carriages in the carriage house that will have to go somewhere. This is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 14 • Benicia Magazine

What would happen at the state recreation area? It’s a little different there because it receives federal funding, and you can’t deny access to the water. Fish and Game could come in and install someone, or we could get a younger state ranger whose salary would be less than a long-time ranger. Or, for about $1,000 a month, we could give room and board to someone to live there. Someone who would open the gates, open the restrooms—just provide security. That idea came from one of our volunteers. We have to propose a number of scenarios and see what the state accepts. I don’t expect anything back from the state until the first of the year. Why do you expect the state review to take so long? Seventy different sites are on the closure list and, for each site, there’s a group working on ways to keep their site open. But there is no sample operating agreement to look at, so different arrangements are being made with each of the different groups in different places. We’re creating this entire arrangement anew, and the state is not being a very supportive parent.

What are some of the difficulties in reaching an agreement with the state? Right now, nonprofit groups cannot legally take over operations of a state park. So we’re waiting for the outcome of AB 42, which would allow nonprofit groups to do that. That would be a big change for the state parks association: taking on personnel, managing the operations—that’s an entirely different situation than what we have now. Also, the state is demanding a 10year agreement, which is a long time to commit to. How many volunteers will it take to keep the parks operating? To maintain the status quo, I used to say we’d need 20 to 30 people. But I think we’ll probably have to have double that to realistically cover the shifts and do the work. We can do the gardening, haul the trash, clean the bathrooms, dust—if they let us, if we get an operating agreement. Do you expect volunteers will take on more tasks as part of a new partnership? They’ll have to, but I’m convinced the state is not going to allow the citizenry


A Benicia resident for 35 years, Carol is also a board member for the Benicia Library Foundation and the Benicia Historical Society, serves on the city’s Tourism Committee, and takes an active role in the costume shop for Benicia Old Town Theatre Group. Her husband, Bob, is an environmental planner who joined the Benicia State Park Association board this summer. When Carol talked to Benicia Magazine in late July, committees were developing plans for everything from security and maintenance to volunteer staffing and fundraising on behalf of the local state parks. City staff was working on proposals for a private-public partnership needed to keep the sites open. Benicia council members are scheduled to consider options for different levels of commitment on September 6, then the city’s plan would go to the state. “I’m a real optimist,” Carol said. “I think we’ll be able to keep the status quo in terms of the number of days the sites are open if we can come up with an operating agreement.” The capitol and Fischer-Hanlon House are open Saturdays and Sundays, and the State Recreation Area is open Wednesday through Sunday. But getting to that point will require diligent work and a large commitment from the city and volunteers. “This is like a birthing process—and someone said that I’m the midwife,” she says. “It’s really messy.”

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to run either of these sites. We’ll have to have a state employee on site along with the volunteers. The state owns it and they won’t relinquish ownership. I’m not sure the State Park Association is ready to take on the full operations at this time. But there are literally people coming out of the woodwork willing to help—other nonprofits contacting us to help—so it’s giving us more confidence that this could occur. But it’s scary. Do you have an estimate of how much it will cost to keep both state parks open? We can have a bare-bones operation at the capitol and Fischer-Hanlon House for about $40,000 a year. That’s with two paid, seasonal people, for two days a week, but no benefits, disability or workers’ comp, and that doesn’t take into consideration utilities or supplies like toilet paper for the bathrooms, so the overall costs will be higher. When we’re talking about operation of the State Recreation Area, we’re talking six figures. The historic sites are much less because we don’t have as large an area to maintain. What has the state done to prepare for closing the parks? We were told [in July] that the state started building cases for the archives and artifacts in 2008. … We’ve learned that there were measurements taken for plywood to go over all the windows. They’ve taken measurements at all 70 sites, though not all of them have historic homes. The state required recently a listing of costs to inventory [the buildings]. We were in the garden recently and the ranger said they’d had to give cost estimates on restoring the garden if it were abandoned. These are 100-year-old plants. How do you restore those? B

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di Rosa: A Cultural Treasure

Top: Gordon Huether, Yucca, 2002, photo courtesy of di Rosa Bottom left: Rene di Rosa with Reclining Nude #2 by Viola Frey, 1987, photo by Stefan Kirkeby Bottom right: di Rosa residence exterior with Figure of Speech, photo by Robert Hudson, 1984 16 • Benicia Magazine Feature


By Adriene Rockwell Rene di Rosa created a buzz amongst the artists in town when he came to Arts Benicia’s Open Studios events and other local art openings. Looking like a farmer, his normal garb was a faded blue denim shirt with pens in the pocket and a green baseball cap. He was the largest collector of Bay Area art in the world, and even though most artists knew him, he called himself John Smith. Rene wanted to be under the radar partly because he was shy, but also because he knew that if artists recognized him, he wouldn’t get the best deals. He was a multimillionaire after all. Collecting was Rene’s greatest pleasure. “Without it, I can’t imagine how to function,” he said, and for more than five decades (well into his 80s) he searched for work that “awakened” his spirit or made him laugh. Through the process he boosted the careers and confidence of hundreds of artists because he believed in them sometimes before they believed in themselves. So for the artists, when Rene purchased a work, it was a big deal. Benicia artist Mike Kendall remembers this feeling well, because in 2001 Rene purchased Brain Burner, the biggest multi-media video piece Kendall ever made. A decade later, the sculpture built from old aircraft parts, a VCR and other recycled parts, is still a highlight on the public tours of Rene’s sweeping collection and property in Napa Valley. “It was like winning an Oscar,” Kendall says of the purchase. “Like you’ve created something through your talent that’s been picked. It’s given a sense of reverence and then put where people can come and give it respect.” He adds: “I felt like, hey, I could die now.” Rene and his wife Veronica, who passed in 1991, turned their love for art into a cultural treasure or “art park” just 30 minutes from Benicia. In 1997 it opened to the public as the di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature and was rebranded as “di Rosa” in 2009. Spanning 217 acres in Carneros, the stunningly beautiful property encompasses a

lake, a sculpture meadow at the base of the highest peak in Napa Valley, and a century-old olive grove where peacocks, egrets and other wild life roam. Di Rosa is home to the largest collection of Northern California art in the world. There are 1,900 works by nearly 800 regional artists shown in the Gatehouse Gallery, Main Gallery and the 125 year-old stone farm building where special infrastructure was built to hang art from the ceilings. He earned his first fortune the old fashioned way: he inherited it. He was the only child of an Italian diplomat in Boston and a manufacturing heiress from St. Louis. A graduate of Yale University, di Rosa traveled to Paris to write the Great American Novel, but eventually felt the pains of a failed artist. When he returned, he became

shamans who can take us to deeper truths,” said Rene. Words, he felt, distracted us from that. Back in the 1960s when he was at UC Davis taking viticulture classes, Rene was drawn to the creative energy in the art department and soon developed friendships with instructors and rising artists in the Bay Area figurative or “funk” movements like Manuel Neri, Roy De Forest, Richard Shaw, William T. Wiley, Robert Hudson, and the late Benicia ceramicist Robert Arneson. “It was back in the time when we were making very few sales,” said Neri, now a world-renowned sculptor who lives in a converted church in Benicia and has a studio in the historic arsenal. “All of a sudden this man starts buying our work and we

“There is a heightened sense of creative awareness and engagement here, just like there always was” a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1960 he bought the 450-acre ranch in Carneros where he pioneered the success of pinot noir grapes in the region. He later sold half of his land to Seagrams, giving him the funds to support his art habit. “It’s hard to talk about the collection without talking about Rene,” said Richard Reisman, di Rosa’s first curator who retired in 2005 after 17 years. “Because he didn’t collect based on connoisseurship or because something was historically important, he collected from his gut.” The collection is a reflection of Rene’s life, and could be considered the great novel he never wrote. It is whimsical, rejects convention, embraces the human figure—and stirs the soul. It is also dark and disturbing in parts. There are no labels or didactics, and the works of worldfamous artists are shown alongside those of fledgling art students. He said he wanted people to look at the picture and to experience what was real for them. “The best artists are like

loved what he was picking. He only bought one or two pieces from each of us, but it really knocked us out.” These early works remain at the root of the collection, and all of the artists from this group are now considered rock stars in the art world. Some of them are seen together in the permanent collection at SFMOMA or the Oakland Museum, but Neri says there is nothing like the early days captured at di Rosa. Kathryn Reasoner, di Rosa’s Executive Director, and her professional team embrace the challenge to translate Rene’s vision into tangible programs and build awareness both regionally and nationally. (Di Rosa has partnered with KQED television on a series of lectures for SPARK, and is often asked to lend work or collaborate with major museums throughout the country.) Today, di Rosa hosts more than 18,000 visitors each year who experience guided tours of the Continued on page 21 BeniciaMagazine.com • 17


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What’s new at

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Benicia's Patrick McGuire, US Army Ranger, with wife Mindee, accompanied fellow Ranger and good friend Leroy Petry to Washington when Petry received the Congressional Medal of Honor

Great bird viewing and kayaking on the Suisun Marsh

Exploring Healdsburg's picturesque wineries

Benicia Education Foundation begins their fundraising year—learn how you can help


Getting in on t he

Geocach Gol

By Beth Steinmann Ever get that hankering to don an eye patch, a peg leg, and search for hidden treasure? Thought so! Well, nowadays, it’s ubiquitous—you may even be standing on X Marks the Spot at this very moment. The coveted parchment map has been digitalized and there’s plenty of booty to go around—no missing appendages required (although, if you happen to have a thing for swashbuckling, I’m not judging). It’s called geocaching, and it was conceived in the first year of this century, just one day after GPS (Global Positioning System) was made available worldwide. David Ulmer, a GPS enthusiast, proposed a way to test the new technology in an Internet chat room: leave a navigational target in the woods and see who can find it. He stashed a black bucket near Beavercreek, Oregon with a logbook, pen and a few cool prizes, and simple directions: “take some stuff, leave some stuff.” Within three days, two GPS users located the treasure and reported their experiences online. The game rapidly mushroomed, and less than a month later the official title was coined in 20 • Benicia Magazine Feature

d Rush

e

the brilliant marriage of geo, meaning Earth, and cache, in dual reference to a secret stash and computer memory for frequently used data with a short access time. At its heart, geocaching is an amalgamation of buccaneer, techie and explorer. There are currently 5 million cachers in 100 countries, and over 1.3 million active geocaches have been recorded. Want to get in on the gold rush? Here’s how it works: Joe Doe stashes a waterproof container somewhere in the world with a pen and a logbook inside. Then he notes the coordinates and uploads them to one of a handful of websites (geocaching.com being the largest). You, and all the other eager cachers out there, use your GPS device to locate the cache. Sounds almost too easy, right? Well, not exactly—your GPS device will generally get you within fifteen to thirty feet of the cache— then you’re on your own. Many caches are camouflaged and expertly hidden. We have been eluded by a cunningly stashed cache more than once, but oh, the thrill when we strike the spot—well, we feel like midnight marauders! The inside of a cache is its own little world. Common containers include coffee cans, Tupperware and even

Altoids mint tins, and range in size from “nanos,” caches as small as your pinky, to 5 gallon buckets. The logbook is the only essential inclusion, and it tells tales of travelers come and gone. Each “cacher-through” leaves the date, their name (many cachers also have team names or code names), what they took and what they left, and sometimes other anecdotal information. Most caches are also full of SWAG—Stuff We All Get. The golden rule, passed down from the great grandmamma of all caches, still applies: if you remove an item from the cache, you must leave something in return. Many folks like to leave something of personal value—a treasured toy, a favorite book, an artistic creation, a poem, an old coin, a CD; or something that may be of value to others—playing cards, Band-Aids, guitar picks, sunscreen, key chains, flashlights, etc. Some caches contain “trackables,” which include “geocoins” and other items that may be tracked online. These are meant to travel from cache to cache, and some have goals to hop mountain ranges or continents. We once found a trackable Dora the Explorer doll who hitched a ride with us from Sonoma to Marin. My boyfriend and I are avid hikers. I


Ethics

Pirate imagery aside, geocachers tend to uphold a very strong code of ethics. Most websites have guidelines that must be followed when stashing a cache. All local laws apply, and caches cannot be placed on private property, school property, military bases, sacred or historic sites, or ecologically sensitive sites. They are never buried and can’t deface or destroy public property. They are, however, allowed in space (although a cache on the mother ship could make GPS tracking tricky). The Geocacher’s Creed is “Safe, Legal, Ethical” and includes these common sense statements: be considerate of others, avoid causing disruption or public alarm, minimize environmental impact, and respect property rights. Misunderstandings do occur—geocachers have been reported to police for suspicious behavior, and several caches have been destroyed by bomb squads. All the more reason, some say, to be a conscientious cacher. CITO, (Cache In Trash Out) is an ongoing environmental initiative espoused by most geocachers to leave a space cleaner than upon arrival. Not all geocaches are simple and straightforward—hybrid and variation geocaches are an ever-evolving category. This is just one of the wonders of a game that’s played by 5 million people—collaborative innovation on a worldwide scale. tend towards flower child and he towards tech nerd, so when we’re out on the trail he deftly handles his iPhone app to locate coordinates and we race to find the cache. He usually wins as I invariably end up wandering off to check out the local flora, but I enjoy the suspense as we pry open the little treasure boxes and peer inside. We’ve never made our own cache or tried a fancy variation, and half the time we forget to bring cool SWAG and end up rummaging through pockets for something worthy, but we love the hunt (he especially) and we love the feeling of being part of something global and sort of secret. Geocaching can be enjoyed on many levels by almost all ages, it’s a great family bonding activity, and geocaching.com provides geocaching apps for the iPhone, Android, webOS and WindowsPhone7. The same website has a basic, free membership that allows you to find and create caches. Just be careful traipsing through the bushes with your flashlight in the middle of the night—this game has not caught on with everyone yet! B

Lingo Everything has a specialized language, and the language of caching tends towards the humorously nerdy. A “muggle” (adapted from Harry Potter) is a non-cacher, and the term “muggled” refers to the act of being caught retrieving or replacing a cache by a non-cacher, while a “muggled cache” is a cache that’s been stolen. A “smiley” is a cache find. BYOP stands for “Bring Your Own Pencil,” TFTC for “Thanks For The Cache,” POS for “Pile Of Sticks” (alluding to where the cache could be hidden), UFO for “Unnatural Formation of Objects,” and UPS for “Unnatural Pile of Sticks.”

di Rosa continued from page 17 galleries and meadow; quality hands-on art programs for children and youth; artsy, fun events for young professionals and so much more. Launched in 2005, the Gatehouse Gallery now features changing exhibitions every 12 weeks that focus on fresh new artists, and different ways to look at the collection. “There is a heightened sense of creative awareness and engagement here, just like there always was,” says Reasoner. “What’s so wonderful about the collection is that you don’t have to know anything about art to get it.” This is also true for the current exhibition in the Gatehouse, “ZombieProof House,” a darkly humorous exhibit organized by di Rosa’s new curator Robert Wuilfe that satirizes the current state of the economy. “Everyone walks into the show and relates to it on some level,” Reasoner says. “There is a lot to interact with, a lot to do.” Rene passed away on October 3, 2010 at the age of 91. He was pleased

with the direction of the organization, and according to Reisman, felt his legacy was in good hands. The Founder’s Day celebration of his life held on May 14, which would have been his 92nd birthday, was sold out months in advance. Among the crowds, hundreds of artists came to show their respects and to return the love. “When I go there now I see a world that I belong too and that is really special to me,” says Neri. “Rene had an eye for what was happening around us and he pulled it together and held it for us. I’m so happy there is a place where we can come see it now.” B BeniciaMagazine.com • 21


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Mentoring in the

Fashion Industry By Christina Strawbridge Fashion is one of the top three industries in California, and California is the world’s seventh largest economy. Industry professions include retail, wholesale, marketing, design, merchandising, and manufacturing. Los Angeles is the apparel manufacturing leader in the United States, with three times as many women’s wear establishments and employees as New York City, while San Francisco is ranked number three. At seventeen, I knew that I wanted to be part of the fashion industry and was ready to try anything to get my big break. Since my Mom had worked for many years at a local department store, I was hired to work in the Ladies Sportswear Department. I was given a rare opportunity to tackle many duties besides selling, including ticketing, marking down sale merchandise, inventory and merchandising. Nancy Dugan, the department manager, taught me the business side of retail, and as time went on she gave me increased responsibility. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, sportswear was the hot trend for women, who finally had the ability to choose separates over a dress. Pants and the infamous mini skirt became the symbol of liberation in society and fashion. The Sportswear department was a high volume area with merchandise pouring in and out on a daily basis. I learned the secrets of merchandising with the simple movement of a rack or visual display, and Nancy’s influence helped set me on a career path that I am still following forty years later. A couple years ago, Benicia High School junior Ashley Houston approached me and expressed her desire to learn about fashion retail. At first I resisted, but this persistent young 24 • Benicia Magazine Fashionista

woman just would not give up. When I finally met Ashley I was impressed with her confidence in making fashion her career goal. She knew what she wanted and how she was going to get there. I took her on as an intern with the idea that I would teach her the way I was taught: through hands-on experience. Ashley learned the realities of fashion

retail, including visual merchandising, gross profit, customer base, margins and marketing. She sat in on a number of buying appointments and met several line reps, some of whom took notice of Ashley’s personal style and hired her to assist them at local apparel shows, giving her a feel for the wholesale side of the industry. For her senior project, Ashley wrote a paper on retail marketing and development, for which she visited Bay Area shopping districts and surveyed women about how, where and why they shopped and how much they spent. I am sure her teacher was as impressed as I was at how thorough and relevant the paper was in identifying how to reach potential customers. After interning for about a year, the fashion planets aligned and Ashley was introduced to a staff member for international designer icon Betsy Johnson. Shortly thereafter, Johnson personally invited Ashley to come to New York City to work as an intern, where she learned firsthand what it takes to be a fashion designer in today’s market. She helped with the Betsy Johnson 2011 Collection during Fashion Week, then returned to the Bay Area to work at Betsy Johnson retail stores. Ashley recently started FIDM (San Francisco’s renowned Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) and is ecstatic about her classes and instructors. We continue to work together on local projects, including Benicia’s annual Fashion Weekend, October 7-9. Mentoring is an important role in any industry. Time spent sharing your passion and knowledge can make a difference in someone’s career. I am looking forward to watching Ashley’s future unfold in an industry that is all about dreams and possibilities. B


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A Marsh Rich in

Beauty and Biodiversity By Jeanne Steinmann Abutting the Eastern border of the Benicia Business Park, the Suisun Marsh is visible to all who drive north on Highway 680. Most of us take it for granted—it’s just there. But what is the marsh, and why is it important? Named after the Suisunes, a Native American Patwin sub-tribe, you might be surprised to learn that the Suisun Marsh is the largest contiguous brackish water marsh remaining on the west coast of North America. (For more on the Patwins, visit the Benicia Historical Museum.) Formed by the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers between Fairfield and Martinez, its 116,000 acres are comprised of tidal wetlands, seasonal non-tidal wetlands, upland grasslands, bays and sloughs. The Marsh encompasses more than ten percent of California’s remaining natural wetlands and plays a critical role in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary Ecosystem. It supports 80% of the state’s commercial salmon fishery by providing important tidal rearing areas for juvenile fish. It’s home to Elk, River Otters, thousands of migrating waterfowl and many species of fish. It’s also home to Rush Ranch, a marsh preserve within Suisun Marsh, acquired by Solano Land Trust for the purposes of wildlife habitat protection and public access. Besides bird-watching and wildlife viewing, recreational activities include boat cruises, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, duck hunting and the Suisun Wildlife Center. For more information about the Suisun Marsh, visit www.water.ca.gov/suisun. B

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FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY Fighting For: • Budget reform • Balanced budget • Maintaining a 20% reserve • A strong industrial park

• Reducing costs through reorganization • A vibrant downtown • Tourism

Negotiated a fiscally sound garbage agreement “Alan’s insistence on a balanced budget and healthy reserve, without cutting services, has made Benicia the envy of cities throughout the state.” –Alan Nadritch, Retired Benicia Finance Director

SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS Fighting To: • Maintain police and fire emergency response services • Increase pothole and street repair • Maintain funding of crossing guards • Increase neighborhood traffic calming • Ensure safe routes to school • Finish safe pedestrian connection to Benicia bridge Expand the B.E.R.T. emergency program "Alan knows what it takes to maintain our safe secure neighborhoods. His active support of our public safety programs has earned my support for his election." -Jim Trimble, retired Benicia Police Chief

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BeniciaMagazine.com • 29


The Golden State By Mary Marino Labor Day is around the corner—this year it falls on September 5. Traditionally, Labor Day marks the end of summer and in many areas of the country indicates the opening of schools. Here in Benicia, however, schools are in full swing, having started in mid-August. Labor Day was designated a national holiday by congress in 1894, and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. California became the 31st state in the union on September 9, 1850 and surpassed New York’s population in 1964. In case you’ve forgotten your grammar school history, the state flower is the Golden Poppy, state colors are blue and gold, the state tree is the California Redwood, the state animal is the California Grizzly Bear and the state mineral is native gold. See inset for more state emblems.

State Grass: Purple Needlegrass State Tree: California Redwood State Reptile: Desert Tortoise State Insect: California Dog-faced Butterfly State Fish: California Golden Trout State Gemstone: Benitoite State Song: “I Love You, California” State Motto: Eureka! (I have found it) State Dance: West Coast Swing Dance

Historical Museum Hires New Director In August, the Benicia Historical Museum’s Board of Directors chose Elizabeth d’Huart as the museum’s new Executive Director. D’Huart is the former director of Georgia’s Steffen Thomas Museum of Art. She succeeds Ann Hansen, who oversaw many improvements at the museum complex during her 4-year tenure. At the Museum’s Annual Membership Meeting on Sunday, September 25 at 2pm, members will vote on the proposed slate for next fiscal year’s Board of Directors. This is an opportunity for members to zero in on the operations of the museum and its progress towards becoming the best small museum in California. The public is invited to come and meet the new Board and Executive Director. On Saturday, September 17, The Spenger Garden Music Series presents The Steve Freund Trio at 8pm. This is the Museum’s final outdoor concert for the year, don’t miss it! Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Bookshop Benicia, Benicia Main Street, or at the Museum. B 30 • Benicia Magazine Looking Back


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BeniciaMagazine.com • 31


L ISTENING I N

SEPTEMBER By Rhonda Lucile Hicks

Featured Artist: Elizabeth Edwards, Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Born: Plumas County, CA Resides in: Benicia, CA, for past 19 years Favorite Book: Anything by Jane Austen Relationship Status: Married with two kids

What did you listen to as a teenager? I listened to what is now considered “Classic Rock” - Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac and of course the great songwriters of the seventies, Carole King and James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and from the country side of things, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. What do you listen to now? A lot of classic stuff, but some of my favorite new artists and bands are Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie, James Blunt, Allison Krause, Jenny Lewis, Adele, Cold Play and The Kings of Leon.

LIVE MUSIC The Rellik Tavern

therelliktavern.com 707.746.1137 Live music Friday & Saturday nights Cascada 9/3, the Blind Willies 9/10, One 9/16 and Blisses B 09/24

Upstairs at the Café

firststreetcafe.com 707.745.1400 Live music Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights 8 pm; Sunday afternoon 2 pm Mike Ehlers 9/9, Mad & Eddie Duran 9/11, Red Horlick & Friend 9/23

Benicia Historical Museum

beniciahistoricalmuseum.org 707.745.5435 Saturday 9/17 8pm: Steve Freund with special guest Jan Fanucci

Union Hotel

unionhotelbenicia.com 707.746.7847 Live jazz band every Thursday 6-9 pm

Benicia Farmers Market

beniciamainstreet.org 707.745.9791 Live music every Thursday: Bruno Grossi, Kevin Frazier, Fred McCarty

32 • Benicia Magazine Calendar

What’s the first music you remember hearing? The first song that really sticks out in my mind is The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension. The harmonies and the energy blew me away. Who influenced your music? The popular musicians of the 70’s and all the jazz singers I studied, and when learning to perform Jazz as a teen, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. When did you start writing your own songs? When I was 12 or 13, a friend taught me three chords and a John Denver song. Then my own songs started coming through and I have been singing those ever since. Your songs come from a special place that not everyone would know about. Would you care to talk about that? After spending the past twenty-five years involved in the 12 Step recovery communities I’ve found that my songs tend to attract people who can relate to overcoming addiction by learning to live along spiritual lines; my songs speak to that emotional journey. What’s your latest project? I just released a single titled Clean. You can check out the song and the video at singersongwriterelizabethedwards.com. I am also working on my fourth CD, it will be available Fall 2011. B

Sunday Jazz at the Sardine Can

sardinecan.net 707.553.9492 Enjoy dinner and great jazz, no cover 5-8pm through September Passaris-Chambers, Bob Nadler and Bob Simmons

Live Mariachis at Favela’s Fusion

Fairfield, favelasfusion.com 707.421.8484 Authentic Mexican food & live music First Friday of each month

Oxbow Market

Downtown Napa Oxbowmarket.com 707.226.6529 Jazz on Friday evenings at 6:30pm & every other Sunday through October 2

Step Up Music

Vallejo, stepupmusicvallejo.com 707.647.3050 Sunday, August 21st at 2:30pm Free Concert for Kids with Mike Fritch

Armando’s

Martinez, armandosmartinez.com 925.228.6985 Thursday, September 22nd at 8pm Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz Band

The Willows Main Stage

Concord, tickets@willowstheatre.org 925.798.1300 Saturday, September 24th at 8pm “Sing For Your Supper: Motown…and More” Concert Benefit for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

Sticky Rice Chinese Bistro & Bar

Fairfield, stickyricebistro.com 707.863.7500 Live Music every Saturday from 6:30-9:30pm

Napa Valley Opera House

Napa, www.nvoh.org 707.226.7372 Friday, September 16 at 8pm Joan Osborne & Dar Williams Saturday, September 17 at 8 pm Lee Ritenour

Winterhawk Winery

Suisun Valley, winterhawkwinery.com 707.428.6977 Live music, dancing and wine tasting every Saturday from 2-5pm

Continued on page 34


: n o i t a n i t s De

A I C I BENwe go! Here

Stop #1: Shop Local & Support Small Businesses. Christina supports the 3/50 Project, which advocates for independent, locally owned businesses. — As a small business owner, Christina has experienced economic challenges firsthand. Supporting local businesses can save a local economy. Stop #2: Benicia State Capitol needs to stay open to preserve its role in California history and serve as an economic asset for tourism. — Christina’s work on the restoration committee of the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is an example of how the City of Benicia, businesses and residents can work together to save a significant historic treasure. Stop #3: Christina means business! Benicia can find new revenue sources by attracting and retaining businesses in the Industrial Park, Downtown & other retail centers. — As the Chairperson of the Economic Development Board and Board Member since 2006, Christina helped establish a comprehensive tourism program, institute a business recruitment and retention committee and recommended a Needs Assessment for the Industrial Park

Vote for Christina Strawbridge for City Council Nov. 8 Paid for by Christina Strawbridge for City Council 2011 FPPC # 1339457

ChristinaForBeniciaCouncil.com

BeniciaMagazine.com • 33


C ALENDAR O F E VENTS

SEPTEMBER 9/1-9/29 Benicia Farmer’s Market 4-8pm

9/15 Community Blood Drive 1-7pm

9/3-9/25 Capitol & Fischer-Hanlon House Weekends 10am-5pm

9/17 Annual Fine Arts and Craft Fair 10am-4pm

Fresh produce, baked goods, food booths, arts & crafts First Street between B and D Streets, every Thursday Beniciamainstreet.org 707.745.9791

Fischer-Hanlon tours 1st & 3rd Sundays & 2nd Saturday Tours at 1, 2 and 3pm, Sept. 4, 10 & 18 115 West G Street 707.745.3385

9/3 Sift and Sip Benefit 1-5pm

Great wines & tasty treats from Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar A portion of the proceeds benefit Arts Benicia The Inn and Spa at Benicia Bay, 145 East D Street 707.746.1055

Donors 17+ years, good health, 110+ lbs. First Baptist Church, 1055 Southampton Rd. 707.745.0899

Fine arts, gifts, home & garden, jewelry, pottery & more Downtown First Street, Benicia Beniciachamber.com 707.745.2120

9/17 Historical Museum’s Spenger Concert Series 8pm

The Steve Freund Trio, classic Chicago style blues Benicia Historical Museum, 2024 Camel Road Beniciahistoricalmuseum.org 707.745.5435

/7-9/28 Toastmaster’s Group 9 Wednesday evenings 7:30-9pm

9/20 Taste of First Street 6-9pm

9/10 Friends of the Library Book Sale 10am-4pm

9/21 Evening Book Club for Adults 7-8pm Library Doña Benicia Room

Learn to speak with confidence in a friendly environment 601 First Street, Suite 100, Benicia 707.745.5694 Larry Miller Benicia Library basement, 150 East L Street Benicialibrary.org 707.746.4343

9/10 Benicia Plein Air Gallery reception 5-8pm

Featured artist is watercolorist Marshall Lockman 307 First Street, Benicia, Beniciapleinair.com

9/14 Expanding Experiences 6-8:30pm

Art and wine tasting benefitting Liberty High School Tyler and Jackson Streets, Historic Arsenal, Benicia Sponsors: Rotary Club & Arts Benicia 707.745.6650

Sample cuisine from restaurants & enjoy a glass of wine First Street, Benicia Beniciamainstreet.org 707.745.9791

Benicia Library, 150 East L Street Benicialibrary.org 707.746.4343

9/24 Annual Art Auction & Gala 6:30pm

Arts Benicia benefit. Art, food & wine Clock Tower, 2101 Washington St. artsbenicia.org 707.747.0131

See kid’s events on page 9

LIVE MUSIC Continued from page 32 Vezer Family Vineyard

Suisun Valley, vezerfamilyvineyard.com 707.422.8025 Saturday, September 17th at 4 pm Ritmojito

Firehouse Arts

Pleasanton, firehousearts.org 925.931.4848 Sunday, 9/18 at 2 pm Lisa Vroman

Freight & Salvage

Berkeley, thefreight.org 510.644.2020 Saturday, September 3rd at 8pm Girlyman 34 • Benicia Magazine Calendar

The Jazz School

Berkeley, jazzschool.com 510.845.5373 Saturday, September 10th Fay Victor

142 Throckmorton

Mill Valley, 142throckmortontheatre.org 415.383.9600 Sunday, September 18th at 8pm Robben Ford Blues Band

The Palms

Winters, palmsplayhouse.com 530.795.1825 Friday, September 2nd at 8:30pm Joe Louis Walker

Yoshi’s

Oakland, yoshis.com 510.238.9200 Tuesday, September 20th at 8 pm Johnny A.

Monterey Jazz Festival

montereyjazzfestival.org 925.275.9255 Friday-Sunday, September 16-18 Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Huey Lewis and the News

The Sleeptrain Pavillion

Concord, livenation.com 800.745.3000 Thursday, September 15th Train and Maroon 5


Welcome to

Tosch Dental Schedule a check-up and cleaning and receive

off

Professional Bleaching

Ronald J. Tosch, DDS l 118 West K St., Benicia, CA 94510 707.745.2130 l www.toschdental.com Who has one of the FASTEST TURNAROUNDS, from start to finish, according to insurance industry surveys? Don’t be steered away from our state-of-the-art facility by insurance rhetoric.

Offering Benicia “Perfection” since 1983

Why would you be referred out of town? Who is benefitting by using “preferred shops?” What rights do you give up by following these referrals?

Things you should know:

Avoiding using your insurance deductible isn’t always the best practice Out of town repairs could lead to questionable workmanship and lost time Call us first – we keep you ON TRACK, and ON TIME, get you into a rental car, and provide free pickup and delivery -Guaranteed lifetime warranty on all repairs -No waiting or appointment needed for estimates

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746-0535

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BeniciaMagazine.com • 35


CABINETS AND COUNTERTOPS

Introducing Solid Bamboo Cabinets

Excellence in Design and Function

Our dream kitchen became a reality thanks to the vision, ingenuity, and artistry of Susy, Mary Ann, and Allan. They took our rough ideas, gave them beautiful form, and demonstrated uncommon integrity from project planning to fruition. Marvelous! —Michael and Loxie

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from the renowned Nourot Glass Studios, with the purchase of your kitchen

4852 East 2nd Street, Benicia Open M-F 9-5, weekends and evenings by appointment

707-745-2100 • www.aqchome.com 36 • Benicia Magazine

Benicia Magazine September 2011  

Events, the arts, politics, Benicia State Capitol faces Closure, Benicia State Recreation Area, Letters to the Editor, Kids Calendar, histor...

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