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By the Editors

We first met Sacramento artist Maren Conrad (Instagram) nearly five years ago, when she became an accidental lighting rod over artistic expression, censorship, double standards, gender roles and feminism. Dozens of gallery shows, installations and murals later, Maren has emerged as one of GOTG’s all-time favorite artists. Her passion is evident with each stroke, and she tirelessly gives her time and talents back to the Sacramento.

How do you define success? Personal fulfillment?

Maren with her latest mural at Urban Roots (1322 V St)

I define success by personal fulfillment. My measuring stick is not bank accounts, cars, or a collection of Luis Vuitton bags. It’s not competitive or based on what others are achieving. Success to me is waking most mornings to a day filled with getting to do what I love, surrounded by people I truly enjoy, and having the autonomy to tell pretty much anyone that I do not have to work with them if they do not respect me, the people who work with me, or the boundaries we’ve set in order to produce the best work possible.

What is the driving force in your life?

Compulsion to take ordinary supplies and make something extraordinary with them shoots me out of bed most days. On days I am not painting, I love cooking. On days I am not cooking or painting, I am rearranging furniture, picking light fixtures or tile, or scouring the aisles of hardware stores for new materials that have hidden purposes. I spend my entire life trying to make this world (whether it be a wall, house, office, dinner table) more beautiful and interesting than I found it.

What has been one of your most life-defining moments? 

I left an ugly relationship when my son was in 2nd grade. I found myself broke, with an art degree, with a child.  My husband had been tragically taken, and my money had been squandered by a trusted family friend. I was in Winco with $43 to my name and had to put cheese back because I couldn’t afford it. In that moment, I realized there was something I had that couldn’t be stolen or taken or squandered. I had a dream, and as long as I held onto it, and didn’t let anyone discourage me- especially myself- I was not at rock bottom. And from that place, I called schools and asked to come teach art.  I hosted summer art camps.  I said “yes” to every art door that opened.  And they still keep opening…

What’s the biggest work-related lesson you’ve learned?

The biggest professional lesson I’ve learned is to do what scares you. Tackle what feels impossible. Dare to publicly belly-flop. The lessons that you learn making mistakes are far more valuable than practicing what you already know. STRETCH.

What’s the biggest personal or health-related lesson you’ve learned? 

Listen to your gut. This does not mean listen to your fear, in the creative realm, you can’t let fear drive your life. This is that pit in your stomach when you sense something is not what it seems. You don’t have to have data or firm proof to say “No thank you.” You are the best friend and best advocate you will ever have. Treat yourself like you would treat your most cherished friend. In my life, I cannot remember a time where I was happy I went against my gut. My biggest regrets in life are inaction or letting someone else talk me out of my intuitions.

What’s been the most surprising thing about how your life/career turned out? 

Maren’s “Lady Bird” mural for Wide Open Walls at 16/I St.

I cannot believe that people pay me for my imagination.  I walk into University Art, and I boldly parade up and down the isles with confidence that I can buy whatever supplies I fancy, and I can sell what I make from them.  That magic is not lost on me.  It’s amazingly awesome.  I can’t buy a Bentley, but I can make something worth more than the sum of its parts.

What do you value most in friendships?

I value every friendship’s unique gifts. For some, it is longevity and the perspective I gain from the witnesses to my life. Some friends have interesting angles on the world. The gift is expanded views and deepened understandings of paths I haven’t had to walk (racism, the legal system, etc.) Others, I just find wildly entertaining and endearing. The one thing I do NOT have patience for is competition in friendships. No one’s accomplishments have ever cost me anything. If there is an ounce of rooting for others’ failures, I’m not going to put the time into keeping that a part of my life. I have no room for haters.

What is your most treasured experience?

Everyday I try to have a good parenting day, and everyday I do something that in retrospect, I could have handled a little (or a lot) better. My son Hunter receives daily apologies, and I try to tell him the moment I realize my shortcomings. My most treasured experience was watching Hunter act in Sacramento Theater Company’s “To Kill A Mocking Bird” opening night. I wept. It was the first moment I really saw him. Him. Not this person I am responsible for, or am trying to manage, or trying to prevent from harm. This beautiful, charming soul that in all my mistakes and failures is still perfectly intact and amazing. Under the lights he shined, and I was just in the audience getting to watch.

Best advice you’ve received?

The best advice I’ve received is to never use the words “should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve”. They are dead ends and lead to a ton of negative unhelpful thoughts. Just by changing my framework of my disappointments/ frustrations to “_____ happened. Now what?” I have been able to let go of judgements and resentment. I communicate more effectively and honestly, and I let go of what I cannot control.

What historical figure do you most identify with? And why?

Gertrude Stein had an open door to brilliant artists, and was one in her own right. She fostered dynamic exchanges of ideas and bolstered movements. She was from Oakland and lived her life under her terms in Paris. She is just an incredible character who valued many of the things I value.  If I could have lunch with any person living or deceased, she would be my number one.

Fantasy dinner party scenario: you can invite five people (alive or not) – who do you invite? 

Gertrude Stein, Mapplethorpe, Banksy, JayZ, and Lin-Manuel Miranda because I would want to listen to their exchanges and opinions on creating culture and fostering the creative class.  I think each person would have a very unique perspective on something we (this group in particular) undeniably value.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

You are not fat. You are not what others tell you you are. You are capable of so much more than you know. Stop trying to fit in. Stop taking shit. High school is not important other than it will get you into college. Drive safely and remember where you put your keys.

What is your motto/personal credo?

Laugh loudly, as often as possible.

What Sacramento woman do you most admire? And why?

Mary Daffin because she is a straight-up lady boss. She has an incredible event production company. She has had successes and hiccups, and will be the first to tell you honestly about them. She isn’t afraid to ask for what she is worth, and she has an incredible standard and quality controls.  She has taken time out of her busy life to mentor other women, including myself. We met for lunch a couple years ago and she looked me square in the eyes and said, “If you are going to have your own business, get a good accountant.” I listened. Mary’s life is rich with honest friendships and laughter.  She is fierce and loyal. She is just the best, and I am lucky to know her.

SacJet’s International Private Terminal at Mather.

Biggest opportunity facing Sacramento in the next 5 years?

I think Sacramento is like a teenager. We have areas where we are copying what we think other people think is cool. We are also breaking out and hitting our stride and finding our voice. We will be a cool city NOT because we have what other cities have, but because we have what other cities DO NOT have. We are a quirky incredibly diverse community in Midtown. We are every color, every age, and every sexual orientation – without blinking. In Midtown, its totally normal to see an old homeless man, a mom with a stroller in $100 yoga pants and a transvestite all on the same sidewalk, at the same hour, at the same time. It is beautifully textured with acceptance and open-mindedness.  If we lead with our moral compass, our city will be amazing on a level a lot higher than having a cool bar scene (we have one of those too).

Biggest challenge facing Sacramento in the next 5 years?

Sacramentans love to hate Sacramento. Our designers and developers constantly drag back copy-cats of other city’s original concepts. Not that you have to reinvent the wheel, but why aren’t we trying to resonate with our citizens instead of buying into what resonates with the citizens of other cities with different climates and demographics? I am falling in love with the places I see spring up from the imaginations of our dynamic creative collective. South, yes please. Mulvaney’s feels like visiting family. A stop into Waterboy = perfect date.  Low Brau = more please. Unseen Heroes = thank you for all the areas you are activating.  Track 7 & Two Rivers Cider = yup yup.  Team Ride took a Soul Cycle concept and made it a dance party I don’t want to miss. WAL = thank you Ali for putting the Art Dorms in the middle of the city, everyone cherishes it. Localis- thank you for getting me out of my culinary box. For our city’s future, sponsor our local talent.

Latest Sacramento guilty pleasure?

I absolutely love the Co-op’s new location. I’ve been a member for at least ten years. I have randomly developed a couple food allergies this past year that has made eating out less enjoyable. The co-op (with all it’s ingredient listing and quality/anti-cruelty oversight) has made my extremely annoying new issue totally manageable. It is kick-ass that we have a place where you can have whatever crazy food demand met. Gluten free vegan? No problem. Paleo? Handled. Animal Rights? Covered. Plus, their sushi is awesome and sustainably caught. It’s my jam right now.

Maren’s work at the Andaz Hotel in Napa, Calif.
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By Laura Braden Quigley

Stephanie McLemore Bray is a force to be reckoned with. Her nearly 30-year career includes serving as Executive Director of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and as Assistant Dean for Health Sciences Advancement at UC Davis Health System, overseeing fundraising for the School of Medicine, The Medical Center, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and several other centers of medical excellence on UC Davis’s Sacramento Campus.

Bray now serves greater Sacramento as the President and CEO of United Way California Capital Region (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Our local United Ways provides vital services in five counties: Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo. Sacramento area kids who graduate from college are 62 percent less likely to live in poverty than those who drop out of high school so they want to end “poverty in our region by starting at square one: school, the one place where we can reach every student and their families.” The Square One Project focuses on 1) keeping kids in school, 2) keeping them on track, 3) setting high expectations and 4) ensuring strong support. These are the sorts of goals worth pursuing!

What is the driving force in your life?

My family is definitely the driving force. My husband is my rock and my most steadfast supporter. Both of my parents defied many odds to provide me and my siblings with every opportunity to achieve success. I am so fortunate to be able to pass that along to my two daughters who are bolder and braver than I was at their ages (18 and 21). I have no doubt that they will succeed in whatever they choose to do and that keeps me motivated to be the best I can be.

What has been one of your most life-defining moments?

Moving across the country at age forty with a husband and two children. It was a life-defining moment for all of us and transformed our lives in many ways.

What’s the biggest work-related lesson you’ve learned?

To stay the course even when things get rough, and do not doubt myself.

What’s the biggest personal or health-related lesson you’ve learned?

That I am stronger than I think I am.

Biggest life lesson learned from a failure?

That it beats not trying.

What are your thoughts on work/life balance?

I am getting better at work/life balance. It is all about setting boundaries. If you answer email at 3 a.m., expect to keep getting them. If you sacrifice time for self-care and reflection, expect to feel burned out and resentful. It is okay to say no. I have to remind myself of these things all the time.

What’s been the most surprising thing about how your life/career turned out?

When I first started working in the nonprofit sector, my dream job was to be CEO of a United Way and here I am. What saddens me though is that I am one of only thirty African-American CEO’s in a network of about 1200 United Ways in the United States. We need more diversity in the nonprofit sector.

What do you value most in friendships?

Loyalty.

What is your most treasured experience?

Seeing the Grand Canyon on my 50th birthday is high on the list after my wedding and giving birth to my children.

Best advice you’ve received?

When you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. Be patient, listen and the answer will come to you.

Fantasy dinner party scenario: you can invite five people (alive or not) – who do you invite?

I would invite a woman from each of the past five generations of my family. The only one still alive is my mother.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Go ahead and be the writer I was meant to be. I am working on that now.

Biggest opportunity facing Sacramento in the next 5 years?

Finding a solution to homelessness, including how to prevent it that could be a model for the rest of California.

Biggest challenge facing Sacramento in the next 5 years?

Enough affordable housing.

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By Megan MacNee

Maria Bardet is the Founder and CEO Humani Pilates Studio (Facebook, Instagram). She has spent most of her life moving from one city to another until she settled in Sacramento, almost 10 years ago. She made it her home after starting her business. Changing her career path multiple times, Maria has spent the last 4 years creating a thriving community at Humani and watching it grow into mindful space for people to move their body, and feed their sprit. Her biggest passion and driving force in life is for all of us to live authentically.

How do you define success? Personal fulfillment?

When I spend the majority of my time doing things that align with my core purpose.

What is the driving force in your life?

I really want people to be happy – which is up to each person to define it for themselves. I have an internal drive to help people (myself included) to figure out what we’re here to do, and just go and do it already.

What has been one of your most life-defining moments? 

There are a few, most of them involve going with my gut, and taking risks. The biggest one to date, is starting my own business.

What’s the biggest work-related lesson you’ve learned? 

Having a set of clearly defined principles is absolutely essential to making a company work. That’s how you find the right people for your team and the right clients.

What’s the biggest personal or health-related lesson you’ve learned? 

When there’s no clear line between work and your personal life and when your workday completely blends together with the rest of your life, it brings it’s own type of challenges. Like, taking time for yourself to relax, recharge your battery, or just do nothing. You get so wrapped up in your work, you can get lost in it.

Biggest life lesson learned from a failure? 

Don’t rush into things. Patience is difficult for me because I like to move a million miles a minute. Sometimes, the hardest thing for me to do is slow down and not take action.

What are your thoughts on work/life balance? Advice on how to achieve or what to focus on?

I hear this question a lot and I’m always tempted to say, “there is no such thing”. What I really mean by that is that there is no perfect “balance” where everything fits into your day neatly. For me, balance is when I remember to refuel when I get really wrapped up in work. That means I have to stick to a meditation and workout routine, and get out of town once in a while to replenish my energy.

What’s been the most surprising thing about how your life/career turned out? (

When I decided to stop making 10 year plans, most things became surprising.

What do you value most in friendships?

Honesty and understanding. I have friends whom I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, and our friendship survives because we try to understand where there other person is coming from even if we don’t agree.

What do you wish someone had told you about marriage/committed relationships?

There are so many… Don’t get married young. You will change, your partner will change. You have to be ok with that. You don’t need your relationship to look like anyone else’s. Make your own rules.

It’s not that I wish someone should have told me these things (because I wouldn’t have listened), but it’s that people need to see that valuable and rewarding relationships don’t all look alike.

What is your most treasured experience?

My 10 day silent meditation Vipassana retreat.

Best advice you’ve received?

Don’t compare someone else’s middle to your beginning. Actually, just don’t compare.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Try as many things as you can. Don’t make plans.  Start things and experiment often – you have plenty of time figure things out.

What is your motto/personal credo?

The only thing that’s constant is change.

Biggest opportunity facing Sacramento in the next five years?

Business growth – supporting small businesses is the key to our economic growth and putting our city amongst the greatest. We have incredible talent here, motivated and passionate people and we have to give them opportunities to grow and thrive.

Biggest challenge facing Sacramento in the next five years?

We have to deal with problems like transportation, infrastructure, and homelessness, etc.. now instead of putting them off to the future, which will be more costly. In a growing city like Sacramento, we must have leaders who are innovative, forward-thinking, and willing to take action to grow the city the smart way. The way we develop the neighborhoods and set up our transportation infrastructure, will impact how our city will function in the future.

Latest Sacramento guilty pleasure? 

Not guilt here just pleasures – McKinley Park, American Rive Bike Trail, The Mill, and love my neighborhood – Oak Park.

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By Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith

A Tale as Old as Time: Confidence is Attractive.

By now you’ve probably heard all about Amy Schumer’s latest movie, I Feel Pretty. A story about a woman who lacks self-confidence and all the terrible things that happen to oneself in that state – until suddenly, she hits her head and magically sees herself as physically “beautiful.” Only then is when life begins to pick up for her – she meets a man, gets a huge promotion, and lives happily ever after. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve certainly heard this premise before.

But unlike the Shallow Hal-type movies (hello Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit) where the person physically changes shape in order to find happiness, Amy’s character Renee never actually transforms her outer appearance. Early responses to this movie were premature and ridiculous – many media outlets complained that Amy Schumer was too “beautiful” to have played this role and argued that if she was depressed about her body and appearance “before” her transformation what chance to “regular” women have at being happy. Then you had later reviews of the movie which were similarly as obnoxious to me, but this time because they pegged it as a “body revolution” and how we should love ourselves no matter what size we are – which you should – but holy face palm, people. Let me introduce you to the actual point here.

If you watch the movie and pay attention the message behind it, you’ll realize that it has nothing to do with looks or weight, which is probably why it’s called I Feel Pretty and not I Look Pretty. The focus is changing your attitude and outlook on life. I suppose for some people, they might need to lose weight or get plastic surgery in order to do that, but in this case, the only thing that she changed was the way she treated herself and people around her. If you feel like your physical appearance is holding you back from altering your attitude – absolutely do something about it – but such was not the case in this movie.

“Pretty” has a variety of definitions depending on who you talk to and it’s very likely that simply changing yourself externally won’t always fix any internal issues you’re having. Most commonly, I’d say society defines “Pretty” as a woman who is skinny, has smooth skin, flowing hair, and a symmetrical face. But that doesn’t mean that all women who are skinny, with smooth skin, flowing hair, and a symmetrical face FEEL pretty. Therein lies the point of this movie.

Once Amy’s character bumped her head and thought she was transformed into a Kardashian, the only thing that actually changed was her attitude. She had a permanent smile on her face, she took personal and professional risks she never had before and changed the way she responded to haters. People responded to her differently without her changing anything about her appearance.

Pre-head bump, she was this miserable, sad, downer of a person who was very reserved and easily pushed over by coworkers and society as a whole. It was almost uncomfortable to watch. You had this sense of wanting to press fast forward or anything to get away from this person. But once she became this talkative, bubbly person she immediately became magnetic. This new attitude attracted so many positive things in her life and opened a lot of doors just because of her mindset. Sure, she could have lost 25 pounds and got a spray tan, but that doesn’t necessarily change someone’s behavior. I know plenty of skinny and tan people who are boring AF. Or mean. Or sad.

A perfect line in the movie comes from comedy genius and the movie’s bikini contest host Dave Attell who says something along the lines of, “She wasn’t the prettiest in the competition but she’s definitely the one you’d want to be stranded with if you get a flat tire. She can handle shit.” The point of that course is, personality will always out shadow looks when it comes to deciding who you want to be around and who wants to be around you. Looks matter when it comes to romantic relationships, no one can deny that. The good news is everyone has their own definition of beauty and there’s no one-size fits all. Just because you don’t look like a Kardashian doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful in every way or desirable. But if you’re kind to yourself and those around you, you’ll feel good. And feeling good is important to achieve happiness.

I mean, what does this ideal of “Kardashian Pretty” get you, anyway? Your baby daddy cheating on you while you’re in labor? Wow, glad I worked out all those months and ate kale so I could have a perfect NBA player to impregnate me. It’s not a cure-all. We don’t know anything about other people’s internal struggles –  and everyone has them – so don’t think that changing your appearance means you’ll automatically be happy. Certainly, taking care of yourself and feeling pretty in whatever form that takes is important, but doing it for you and not someone else is more important. Maybe let’s worry less about being “pretty” so “guys will like us” and focus more on being a bad ass bitch and surrounding ourselves with equally bad ass people.

God knows self-confidence is an ongoing battle for me. A few years ago I wrote this piece about self-esteem and confidence and I often have to remind myself of the lessons shared. I know what it takes to be happy in my own skin, but sometimes I need to work a little harder at it. The truth is, our outer appearance always seems to dictate internal happiness, but this movie really encourages all of us to get over that.

Just recently, I was in the grocery store when a woman commented on my leggings which are semi-sheer in the back-leg area. She said, “I love your leggings! They show just enough!” I took it as – omg “just enough?” Like I’m not someone who could pull of a full sheer legging? I’m not skinny enough to show more? So, I left the store annoyed after getting what was honestly a nice compliment from someone instead now I felt like I had been called fat by a stranger in the ethnic foods aisle. But it’s my own insecurity that made me annoyed, not her or anything she said or could have said. When you’re in a negative headspace, a simple look from someone can take you to a dark place. But if you’re in a happy place – whatever that may look like for you – it won’t matter if a truck full of guys drove past you and threw a steaming pile of dog shit at your face because you’re happy with who you are – and there’s nothing prettier than that.

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By guest blogger Kristal Reynaga

Every year an increasing number of men — and their entourage of supporters, friends, co-workers, women, families, businesses, and community leaders alike — join the high-heeled-hilarity and fund raising event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The international Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. This year, Sacramento’s annual event will be held in the heart of downtown on Sunday, May 20, at Crocker Park.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is a powerful, yet playful opportunity to raise awareness about the causes, effects, and remediation of domestic and sexual abuse toward women (and men), which affect individuals and families regardless of education, religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Proceeds raised from the event benefit WEAVE, Sacramento’s primary nonprofit service and resource provider for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking.

As a survivor of domestic violence and of sexual assault, it is my responsibility to highlight Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® and serve as an example of what overcoming and healing can look like — and that it is possible.  Everyone deserves to know their worth and value; that they are deserving of healthy relationships; and to know the joy of real love. I hope that awareness events, such as WAM, empowers both men and women to have those difficult, yet important, conversations that can change patriarchy deeply rooted in many societies.

It is imperative that women (and men) who are victimized have access to a supportive network and feel inspired, not ashamed, to seek them out; and, that they have the courage and strength to escape the violent environments that put their lives and the lives of their families in jeopardy everyday. Having experienced it first hand, I know how hard it is to not self-blame, to become empowered, and to leave — especially in the Latino community. I am grateful to organizations such as WEAVE, and I am determined to do my part to raise awareness and empower others.

Three local Latinas founded WEAVE in 1975 to address the issues of domestic violence in the community; and, local Latinas are making advocacy history in Sacramento, again!

In 2015, Chicas Latinas de Sacramento leadership felt it was necessary, and time, to invite and include Latinos in the conversation – by creating WAM’s FIRST Latino walking-team: Los Hombres de Las Chicas.

We asked our male friends and family members to join the team, and we are so thankful that they rose to the occasion. Our first Latino team to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® for Weave was a success, with over 25 Latino men participating with Los Hombres de Las Chicas, 30 the year after.

We are proud that the tradition and advocacy continues with Los Hombres de Las Chicas in 2018 and hope to break our previous record! However, getting our men to walk with us, or for us, isn’t always easy due to a “machismo culture” that persists in the Latino community. According to Machismo Sexual Identity, “In terms of machismo, males have an expansive and almost uncontrollable sexual appetite, and it is their right to satisfy that desire in the ways they choose.”

As one might imagine, wearing a pair of red high-heels isn’t a respectable representation of a man’s uncontrollable sexual appetite. In fact, this is the exact opposite of the culture that has plagued Latinos for far too long. But, as with many issues, to change something requires the ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

According to What Rape Culture Looks Like in the Latino Community, “ It is believed that by the year 2050, 10.8 million Latinas in the U.S. will be survivors of sexual violence.” Think about that. How will the 10.8 million Latinas projected to be affected by sexual assault (this does not include all the other women who will also be affected), directly or indirectly affect you?

If knowing that your mother, wife, or daughter could be raped doesn’t bother you, or change you in some way, then consider the 5 Myths About Sexual Assault That Just Aren’t True, which reads, “About 3 percent of men will experience an attempted or complete rape during their lifetimes, and one in ten rape victims are men.”

No one deserves to be exposed to sexual assault, or abuse, but until we all rise to the occasion to stop the abuse, reject harmful cultural norms (such as machismo), and change the legal system and repercussions for the perpetrators of these violent acts, then these issues will continue to plague our society — and the Latino community.

According to the National Latin@ Network, “Approximately 1 in 3 of Hispanic/Latino women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their life time and 1 in 12 of Hispanic/Latina women experienced this violence in the previous 12 months.”

So, whether you’re a brother, uncle, cousin, father, friend, friend of a friend, co-worker, husband, fiancé, or a neighbor, we are counting on you to join the conversation and use the power of your macho-ness for the purpose of protecting your women, all women!

Men.

Should.

Be…

Proactive to the pandemic that systematically masks sexualization and domestic abuse toward women. And, as protectors and providers men should be protecting women (and their families), not harming them.

As we seek to change the broken patriarchal society and cultural taboos, we need men to be accountable, take action, and support Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® — especially men of color, as these issues disproportionately affect our communities, yet are rarely talked about.

It is incredibly important for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® to reach Sacramento’s Latino community. Which is why I am proud to be a part of Chicas Latinas de Sacramento and help encourage participation in support of WEAVE and its programs and services. It can be difficult to get Latinos in heels, but it can be done, and we are so grateful for the ones who do!

Learn more, register, share! Los Hombres de Las Chicas

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By Laura Braden Quigley

Adult use of cannabis is now legal in California, and Sacramento has been embracing all of the challenges and opportunities this emerging industry provides. But unlike cities like Denver, Portland, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Seattle and LA, social groups (e.g. Ganja Yoga) and educational opportunities (e.g. Tokativity) are sparse and few between.

Until now.

WomenCann916 (Facebook group, Instagram) is a new group of local women that will host FREE monthly #CannaConvos with Sacramento cannabis experts, cultivators, advocates and brands.

Our first event is “Cannabis 101” with local cannabis dispensary owner/advocate Kimberly Cargile and attorney Ariana Van Alstine.

From choosing the right products to knowing the difference between CBD and THC (not to mention CBN, THCA, etc), it can be intimidating and hard to find credible information so we’ve assembled two of the brightest local experts to answer all of your cannabis questions.

There are no topics off the table, and we’ll have plenty of time for audience questions following the panel moderated by yours truly. And while the event is designed with professional women and mothers in mind, ALL are welcome.

JOIN: Cannabis 101 with #WomenCann916

We’re going to start small/mighty and grow based on feedback from our attendees. My personal dream is to eventually host infused dinners, yoga classes and puff & paints…one day.

And if you’re interested in speaking, sponsoring, partnering, collaborating or helping us expand our mission and event offerings, please hit us up at womencann916@gmail.com!

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By Megan White

Megan White

We’ve all been there.

You’re at work and you know you have nothing in the house to make for dinner. And while you like to eat out, your go-to takeout place treats you like family because you are there so much.

It’s time for something different.  

Enter City Kitchen Sacramento.

This local service is like having a personal chef, without the cost of a personal chef.

The company delivers ready-to-eat meals to your home or office Monday through Thursday. Every night is a different delicious option and you can place your order for two to six people. Another bonus- the food is always fresh. They work with local farmers and make seasonal meals that will make your mouth water.

Ordering is simple. Just log onto the City Kitchen Sacramento website before 3 pm and you can order a dinner that will be delivered between 5:30-6:30 that evening. Need to cover more than one night? You can place orders for multiple days, too.

The meals are the highest quality and offer plenty of food. A sample menu item is the sun-dried tomato turkey meatloaf with garlic smashed potatoes topped with a roasted red pepper sauce and a tomato, basil & mozzarella salad.

For those skipping meat, City Kitchen Sacramento offers Aina Bowls. Nightly options include the Vietnamese Banh Mi or the Greek Quinoa bowl. They also deliver power salad lunches, organic bone broth, and dessert options.  

Need the perfect gift for newlyweds, new parents, or those taking care of a sick loved one? You can gift a meal, or splurge and get them multiple meals. Add on trendy paper place-setting products to your order and you even handled the dishes.

But even more intriguing than the food is the person beyond this local woman-owned business. It’s the brainchild of Rebecca Lujan Loveless.

Rebecca was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii. She had a busy career in urban community development that allowed her to travel the world for more than a decade. She worked with women to build healthy, thriving communities in some of the world’s most “difficult” places.

Along the way, she met fascinating women who taught her their family recipes, and she added these delicious dishes to her already extensive cooking list. When she’d post the beautiful dishes on Instagram, friends and family asked if she would make extra for them.  

Realizing that she loved to cook, while others dreaded the task, the idea of City Kitchen Sacramento was born.  

However, food isn’t Rebecca’s only passion. She is also a strong advocate for women’s rights.

“Like so many professional fields, the culinary field is dominated by men,” explained Rebecca. “I find that so odd considering women are the ones who predominantly are cooking at home for their families! I find that I have to be extra on my game in every area in order for some people to take me seriously.”

Earlier in her career she felt being a woman hindered her ability to be successful. Now she believes even if she doesn’t get the same pay or opportunities as a man, she can create opportunities through her strong business concept.

She is also working to change pay discrepancies by hiring women in all aspects of her business and paying them a fair wage. “I have been underpaid most of my career for no other reason than the fact that I am a woman,” stated Lujan Loveless. “I refuse to do that to any other woman, and work hard to pay them fairly, or even above what may be ‘standard’ for that particular job.”

That tenacity and commitment to doing the right thing has led to success. Her business is growing and she has exciting plans for the future. She hopes to scale her business to include other cities and expand her offerings to include beer and wine, brunch, and even a baby food line.

But no matter where her business takes her, she is proud to call Sacramento home. “I love the fact that we live in the Farm to Fork Capital of the country. Before I purchase any meat, poultry, or produce from any local farm, I throw my kids (Gavin 15, India 12 and Kingston 8) in the car and drive out to the farm to meet the farmers face to face, tour their properties, and ask questions about their farming practices.  It’s such a privilege to have so much access to such bountiful harvest right in our backyard.”

So next time you are craving a real homemade meal without the work, let Rebecca and her team handle the cooking. Her amazing meals will make your taste buds happy, plus you’ll be supporting a local business that is committed to local farmers and fair wages. That is a meal to celebrate!

All Photo Credit: Nicolette Lovell

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By Laura Braden Quigley

Kimberly Cargile is a FORCE to be reckoned with. We’ve profiled her before (LINK), but I knew she had to be included in this series because her words are so powerful – and they actually lead to action. And progress.

Kimberly is a tireless advocate for the Sacramento community and cannabis industry. She runs one of my all-time favorite cannabis dispensaries in town, A Therapeutic Alternative. They have some of the most helpful and educated staff, and they also have some of the strictest quality standards to ensure safety and efficacy with their products.

Enjoy this trailblazer’s frank advice – and if you’d like to learn more about cannabis, join Kimberly at a FREE #WomenCann916 event focused on “Cannabis 101” on 4/19 at Antiquite Midtown from 6-8pm (Eventbrite) (Facebook group).

How do you define success? Personal fulfillment?

Success for me is knowing that I am making the world a better place for others.  The more people I can help be happier and healthier, the more successful I feel!

What is the driving force in your life?

The knowledge that I personally have the power to make real, substantial changes in the world.  Each of us have that power, but some of us will take it away from ourselves by believing that we don’t indeed have the power.

What has been one of your most life-defining moments?

In 2007 after filming medical cannabis patients testimonials all day, I woke up that night and realized that I had a responsibility to stand up for those patients that were too sick or too scared to stand up for themselves.

What’s the biggest work-related lesson you’ve learned?

There is always another side to the story.

What’s the biggest personal or health-related lesson you’ve learned?

Balance is key to EVERYTHING!

Biggest life lesson learned from a failure?

Success is much sweeter after a serious failure.

What are your thoughts on work/life balance? Advice on how to achieve or what to focus on?

It’s simple: stay in the moment.

What’s been the most surprising thing about how your life/career turned out?

That I am alive in a time that I get to see real change happening as it relates to my cause of legitimizing cannabis as medicine.

What do you value most in friendships?

Each person’s individuality.

What is your most treasured experience?

The birth of my son, Jude.

Best advice you’ve received?

Trust your intuition.

What historical figure do you most identify with? And why?

Mary Magdalene – she was a powerful woman who was misunderstood and misrepresented.

Fantasy dinner party scenario: you can invite five people (alive or not) – who do you invite?

Anias Nin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Madonna, Michelle Obama and Joan of Arc.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Stay out of the sun.

Biggest opportunity/challenge facing Sacramento in the next 5 years?

From my perspective, the biggest opportunity is the tax dollars coming into the city from the cannabis industry. Our biggest challenge is simply weathering the storm of the current federal administration.

Latest Sacramento guilty pleasure?

Asha Urban Baths

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By Megan MacNee

Megan MacNee

When I knew I had my mom and sister coming into town one weekend I went on the lookout for a fun activity that we’d all enjoy, that was something a little different, but would be more relaxing and enjoyable than anything. That’s when I stumbled upon a new company here in Sacramento, Stencil & Co.

You’ve probably heard about, or even tried, paint nights. But the ladies at Stencil & Co. have taken a twist on the concept with a DIY craft night. They take the best of what has made the paint night idea successful and learned from its weak points. And it was a blast!

I will start all this by saying, I do not craft. I am not good at DIY projects. At events that need cute decorations I take on the cooking. My friends are impressed if I add the simplest decorations to my house. Basically this is not my strong suit.

But, with that in mind, I walked away with a beautiful DIY decoration for my home that I made without messing it up! And that really is no small task in my case.

A Fun Time with Friends, Both Old and New

You’ll want to grab a couple friends and book your seats for one of Stencil & Co.’s workshop. Have fun drinking a little wine, laughing as you’re trying to figure out what to do next, and chatting away throughout the session.

On top of a great environment to catch up with good friends you’ll likely make some more before the night is over. I ended up chatting with the other ladies at our table as well as the one nearby. It was fun to get to know more amazing women in our community.

Get Your Hands a Little Dirty

Sometimes it’s fun to get a your hands a little dirty and this is definitely one of them. Whether you are waking your board with a hammer and chains to create imperfections on the wood, or you’re applying the stain and paints, you’ll enjoy the chance to be hands on.

At the same time, I avoided getting anything on my clothes, which is always my prefered way to craft.

Directions to Succeed and the Flexibility to Personalize

When I posted my photos from the event I had many people ask me how I got my board so perfect. This is mostly because they know if I didn’t mess it up, the folks hosting the event really knew what they were doing. And they were right!

The ladies at Stencil & Co. were great guides helping us through the process. They made the process simple enough for anyone to follow and kept a close eye on everyone to make sure everything went right. At the end of the night, everyone’s boards looked great.

While they create a process and environment for you to succeed in your DIY endeavor, no one walked away with one that looked the same.

This starts with the fact that they have a few dozen designs you get to pick from. I loved that all three of us got to have a different project that fit our personalities. Then once you got going you got to pick a stain, how much you distressed your board, and all your paint colors.

In the end, everyone’s boards looked great but distinct to them. A nice twist on many of the other takes to this type of night.

All While Supporting a Great Cause

Stencil & Co. has put together great workshops and they made it even better by partnering with Plates Midtown. If you haven’t already visited Plates Midtown it is a restaurant run by Saint John’s Program for Real Change. This organization helps women and children get off the streets, out of domestic violence situations, and helps them to gain real experience and opportunities to move their lives forward.

St. Johns is an amazing program, and when you purchase wine or food at the Stencil & Co. workshops the profits go to support it. Making it a win-win for everyone involved.

This is just another reason the Stencil & Co. workshops standout from other crafting nights.

Head Home with a Piece You’ll Want to Hang in Your Home

On a normal paint night, I have fun, don’t absolutely ruin my painting. But I’ve never created something I actually want to hang in my house. With Stencil & Co. my new DIY decoration when up on the wall in my living room the next day.

The reasonable cost of the workshops is far worth their value when you come home with a piece for your home that would cost you at least double to order off Etsy.

So after a fun night, getting to support a good cause, you’ll walk away from your Stencil & Co. piece that makes you excited to hang it up. And you’ll likely be looking to bring along a few more friends to one of the upcoming workshops.

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March is Women’s History Month to “pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.”

We created GirlsOnTheGrid.com in 2009 to celebrate Sacramento and provide a creative outlet for professional women to share their experiences. To that end, we’re honoring 12 women kicking ass in their careers and working tirelessly to support this community.

Some names are instantly recognizable – others are unsung (she)ros. But they all share a commitment to supporting other women and giving back their time and talents to our beloved City of Trees.

They’re making history…RIGHT NOW…and we’re thrilled they choose to call Sacramento home. Congrats to all the 2018 honorees – be sure to click on the picture to learn more – and we’ll promote a new woman most weekdays on GOTG’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts.

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