Out & About

By Jessica Laskey
March 2023

Bringing Up Baby

Sacramento Zoo welcomes newborn Masai giraffe

The Sacramento Zoo has a new resident! Shani the Masai giraffe gave birth to a healthy female calf Jan. 22.

The zoo is now home to six giraffes and one of 34 institutions managing 131 Masai giraffes in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums population. This is the 21st calf born at the zoo since 1954, when giraffes were first housed in Sacramento.

The Masai giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies and found in southern Kenya and Tanzania. Gestation is 14 to 15 months. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as 6 feet and weigh as much as 150 pounds. Within minutes, the calf is able to stand on its own.

Wild giraffes are experiencing a silent extinction due to poaching and habitat loss. Their numbers have fallen by more than 40% over the last 30 years, leading to their move from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. The Masai giraffe is listed as “Endangered.”


Sacramento-based criminal prosecutor and human rights lawyer Maggy Krell has released a book about her prosecution of
ex-trafficking website Backpage.com.

“Taking Down Backpage: Fighting the World’s Largest Sex Trafficker” chronicles Krell’s legal fight against the commercial sex website. The book serves as a road map for other agencies fighting trafficking networks.

“At the heart of our work should be the survivors whom I have had the privilege to work with both in prosecuting Backpage and telling this story,” Krell writes. “It has been the honor of my life to stand with them as they speak up for justice.”

Krell was recently honored at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s HOPE Gala in New York City for her work. For information, visit maggykrell.com.


Wondering how to get involved in April’s highly anticipated Photography Month Sacramento. The annual monthlong event, led by Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, is open to professional and amateur photographers.

If you’re an individual, plan an exhibit at a local coffeeshop or restaurant, host a meetup or photo shoot, or hold a workshop or lecture.

If you’re a business, museum or other organization, consider incorporating a photo exhibit or hosting a special activation or reception.

Once you’ve confirmed your plans, post details on the community calendar connected to and supported by Sacramento365.com. For information, visit photomonthsacramento.org.


Sacramento’s Al Fresco Dining Program has returned. The city offers up to $20,000 in reimbursable grants funded through the American Rescue Plan.

The program, which started in 2020 when indoor dining was shut down due to the pandemic, was made permanent in 2021. Grants support the cost of building or expanding a permanent outdoor dining patio or sidewalk café within a public right-of-way or private parking lot. Included are pre-approved engineered layouts, customizable design options and streamlined permitting process.

To be eligible for Al Fresco grants, restaurants must be independently owned and operate in the city of Sacramento. Grantees can incur reimbursable expenses between Jan. 11, 2023, and June 1, 2024. Projects must be completed and expenses submitted by June 30, 2024. For information, visit sacpark.org.


Gayiel B. von Geldern has published her first book of poetry at 92 years young.

The Sacramento native has written in a journal every day since the 1970s, using it as a way to record memories, reflect on her journey recovering from alcoholism and get to know herself better. She started writing poetry in 1978 and dove in headfirst, taking classes, attending poetry readings and building a community of fellow poets.

When good friend Christie Braziel suggested she collect her work into a book and publish it through Amazon, von Geldern jumped at the chance to realize a lifelong dream. The pair completed “Please, Let It Be” earlier this year.

“I am so grateful to Christie for volunteering her help, skills and enthusiasm to compile my work and get it to the finished product,” von Geldern says. “Seeing it listed on Amazon confirms it’s a reality beyond my wildest dreams.”


The city of Sacramento has selected 10 companies to participate in the third installment of Economic Gardening 2.0.

The program pairs local companies with funding, as well as experts and data to help them grow. To be selected, companies must be well-established, and have five to 99 employees and $1 million to $50 million in revenues. The program has served 16 businesses over the past two years.

This year’s companies work in technology, publishing, food and beverage, consulting and marketing. They are Sacramento Observer, e-Mission Control, Fast Break Tech, Garage Champs, Midtown Spirits, Unseen Heroes, Land IQ, Symsoft Solutions, Build Momentum and Signs Now.

“The Sacramento Economic Gardening program has really enlightened us on the tremendous business opportunities that we have overlooked,” says current program participant Kenneth Johnston, CEO of KJ2 Productions. “The research has yielded invaluable data that should assist us in growing our business.”


United Way California Capital Region’s STARS program is the recipient of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation’s 12th annual Inspire Giving grant.

The nonprofit will receive $10,000, as well as in-kind services to create a four-week STEAM-focused summer school in South Sacramento for STARS students. STARS pairs tutors and students from underrepresented communities to improve literacy skills.

“The ability to read at or above grade level is a basic building block to achieve educational excellence and we need to do everything possible to boost literary performance, especially in underrepresented communities,” says Kyla Bryant, executive director of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation.

For information, visit yourlocalunitedway.org or metrochamber.org/foundation.


City Council member Katie Valenzuela has instituted a new community service award named after Travis Silcox, a Sacramento resident and community leader who passed away in January.

Valenzuela describes Silcox as an educator, active neighborhood leader and advocate who never shied away from speaking her mind or offering her time and energy to help find solutions.

The Travis Silcox Community Service Award will be given to District 4 residents who embody Silcox’s spirit of social justice and community service.

To nominate someone, visit cityofsacramento.org/mayor-council/districts/district4. Submissions are open through May 5.


More than 50 fifth- and sixth-grade students from Susan B. Anthony Elementary School have partnered with the Center for Sacramento History to collect meaningful objects celebrating their Hmong heritage. “Kids Collect” is on display at the Robert T. Matsui Gallery inside Sacramento City Hall through April 5.

The exhibit includes jewelry, clothing and other personal family treasures accompanied by labels written by the students.

Center historian Marcia Eymann says putting together the exhibit allowed students to work on writing skills and explore their family stories. She reports that Sacramento has the third largest Hmong population in the United States.

“To see Hmong traditional clothing and culturally significant artifacts be celebrated in Sacramento City Hall brings me such joy and pride for our community and our city,” says Mai Vang, the city’s first Hmong-American City Council member. “I am especially proud of our Susan B. Anthony Elementary School students who put together such a powerful and inspirational exhibit.”


If you’re curious about building an Accessory Dwelling Unit—also known as a granny flat or in-law unit—the city of Sacramento has made the process easier.

Free permit-ready building plans for detached ADUs are now available through the city’s ADU Resource Center. The plans meet all 2022 Residential Building Code requirements and offer all-electric studio, one- or two-bedroom layout options.

“The permit-ready plans are a helpful addition to streamline the process for customers and to produce more housing options in Sacramento,” says Garrett Norman, senior planner with the city.

The ADU Resource Center is part of the city’s eight-year housing strategy to produce more than 45,000 housing units of all types by 2029. For information, visit adu.cityofsacramento.org.


The Sacramento County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council Subcommittee is looking for two community members to make a positive impact on youth residing in Sacramento County’s Youth Detention Facility.

JJCC Subcommittee members help educate the public about Senate Bill 823 (also known as Juvenile Justice Realignment), which gradually transfers the responsibility for managing youth housed at the California Division of Juvenile Justice from the state to local county jurisdictions.

Members work directly with the chief probation officer and representatives from Behavioral Health Services, Child Protective Services, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Sacramento County Office of Education and Superior Court to develop and provide program updates for the county’s local Juvenile Justice Realignment plan.

Applications are due March 8. For information, visit saccoprobation.saccounty.gov.


The Sacramento Master Singers Scholarship for Young Choral Singers is now accepting applications.

Applicants must be 14 to 22 years old; from Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, San Joaquin or Amador counties; current or recent (within the last two years) members of their school choir, church choir or community choir; and show commitment to and leadership in the choral arts.

Applications are due March 18. Top applicants in each age category will be invited to an interview and feedback session April 8. One or more winners will be showcased at YouthSINGS! on April 20 at the McClatchy High School Auditorium. To apply, visit mastersingers.org, under “Get Involved.”

40 UNDER 40

Sacramento Metro Chamber President/CEO Amanda Blackwood has received a national 2023 Economic Development 40 Under 40 Award. The biennial awards recognize rising stars under 40 years old in the economic development industry.

The selection committee, made up of six economic development leaders and site selection consultants, evaluated nominations based on strong leadership, commitment and innovation in the workplace.

“I am very proud to serve as the voice of business for the greater Sacramento region and promote the importance of our work on a national stage,” says Blackwood, the first female president and CEO to serve full time in the 128-year history of the Metro Chamber. For information, visit metrochamber.org.


SAFE Credit Union is offering $2,000 scholarships for 10 high school seniors continuing their education after graduation.

The scholarships are based on financial need, grade point average, a personal statement and letter of recommendation. To be eligible, applicants must attend schools in Alameda, Amador, Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, Yolo or Yuba counties and be members of SAFE (or their parents or guardians are members of SAFE).

Scholarship recipients can use the funds at any university, college, community college or trade school.
SAFE has awarded approximately $200,000 to students living in the 13 Northern California counties over the last 20 years. Applications are due March 15. To apply, visit safecu.org/2023scholarship.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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