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Paint The Town

David Sobon has overseen the creation of more than 200 local murals with Wide Open Walls, a nonprofit art organization he founded in 2017. His new passion is creating murals for local schools in underserved neighborhoods.

Murals bring social, cultural and economic benefits. They build a sense of community and offer accessibility to art and creative expression without the cost barriers of museums and galleries.

“Outdoor murals have a proven track record to be a fairly inexpensive way to enhance the image of cities,” Sobon says.

Our city’s murals have been featured in widespread media. The cover of Parade magazine recognized one as best in the state.

Traffic Detour

California has an estimated 31 million registered motor vehicles, nearly twice as many as Texas, the next closest state. All those cars make the work of Mellissa Meng and her colleagues at North Natomas Jibe vital.

North Natomas Jibe is a nonprofit devoted to making it easier for people to walk, bike and use public transportation. Meng is executive director.

Life Coach

Kids on Foy Reynolds’ YMCA basketball teams learn more than sports skills. They learn life lessons.

“I coach by the Y’s core values: respect, responsibility, caring and honesty,” Reynolds says. “I start getting kids in second grade all the way through seventh, which is an important time in their life. They play hard and they win, but they earn it because they work hard. I bring out the best in a person. That’s my job.”

East Meets West

Christopher Fairman is a walking advertisement for a well-run restaurant. Having been a manager at The Shack and Magpie, he knows how to work with good people who run good businesses and make good food.

When he told me he was going manage a new, buzzy Italian place in Midtown, I couldn’t wait to try it.

The restaurant is Pazza Notte—Crazy Night in Italian—at 18th and L streets. It’s fun, irreverent and inviting.
Black and white photographs line the walls, portraying celebrities and models, cars and kittens. The vibe is old country and new world.

Family Value

Leon Sobon and his wife Shirley founded Shenandoah Vineyards in 1977, far ahead of the sustainable wine revolution. Based in Plymouth, the Sobon family became one of the first environmentally friendly producers to distribute local wines on a wide level outside the region.

Last month, Sobon was recognized with a California State Fair Lifetime Achievement Award. The patriarch’s dedication to the craft can be felt when Sobon describes how he turned a hobby into a second career.

Sobon was a research scientist for Lockheed living in Los Altos when he began making wine for fun. His hobby led him into a group of other enthusiasts. He and Shirley eventually moved their family of six children to the foothills to try professional winemaking.

Gone was a stable research career. But Sobon followed his bliss.

Roll Over Beethoven

You’ll probably never meet anyone more passionate about music than Benjamin J. McClara.

The founder and artistic director of Sacramento Preparatory Music Academy, a community-based education program, gets choked up when he talks about music.

He shares that passion with hundreds of students and community musicians in academy lessons and performances.

“Our mission is to provide lifelong access to music education and a place where students can come and study music with professionals,” McClara says. “You don’t really get that in school.”

The academy offers private and group lessons at Midtown’s E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts in piano, guitar, ukulele, woodwinds and voice under McClara, Michael Dale and Anthony Tavianini.

Inside Pitch

Inside Pitch

Residents near the Sacramento River who want to block public access have a big advantage over the 500,000 or so people who will benefit from a new levee bike trail.

The residents have a good lawyer.

One attorney working for property owners shouldn’t matter. After all, the rest of us are represented by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, a state agency whose mission is to serve public interests.

But that’s not how it works.

Documents obtained under the California Public Records Act tell a more complex story. For the past three years, a lawyer hired by property owners near the levee built a relationship with flood board officials.


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