Author: Stu VanAirsdale

Sacramento Film Commissioner Jennifer West

As a one-time Hollywood studio accountant, Jennifer West used to routinely play one of the most important roles on a movie set: She was the one who made sure megastars like Julia Roberts, Anthony Hopkins and Val Kilmer got their paychecks. Today, after a two-decade industry break, West wields a new kind of celluloid influence as Sacramento’s first-ever full-time film commissioner. She talks about building the city’s film office from scratch, nurturing the next generation of local auteurs, and her bold vision for creating a mini Hollywood of the North.

Spring Forward

Physical distancing takes on a whole new meaning with this update of our 2014 guide to 10 great bike trails around the region. Whether you’re looking for a two-wheeled version of a lazy stroll or the pedaling equivalent of climbing Everest, we’ve got your sweet spring ride mapped out, from an 8-mile sunset trek along the Sacramento River to an 11-mile roller-coaster adventure in Auburn and a 26-mile pastoral journey through Yolo farmland. So go ahead, turn the page, and take yourself out for a spin.

Sacramento Public Library CEO Rivkah Sass

Since taking the helm of the Sacramento Public Library system in 2009, Rivkah Sass—who was named Librarian of the Year by the "Library Journal" in 2006 while serving as the executive director of the Omaha Public Library—has shepherded the 28-branch organization through the past decade with the introduction of services like digital access to more than 200,000 e-books and the ability to check out everything from an electric guitar to a GoPro camera. We spoke to the Manteca native about what’s new at the SPL, ways to keep the library relevant in 2020, and bringing big names—from best-selling author Neil Gaiman to rapper 50 Cent—to town.

Food Literacy Center CEO Amber Stott

Despite its status as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento has not escaped the growing childhood obesity crisis. In fact, a recent study of the city’s fifth, seventh and ninth graders found that more than 40 percent are either overweight or obese. Amber Stott is on a mission to change that stat. As CEO of the local nonprofit Food Literacy Center, she is spearheading a new 2.5-acre headquarters, farm and cooking school at Leataata Floyd Elementary in Upper Land Park. The org’s “chief food genius” talks about bringing the bounty of the region to underprivileged youth, tackling picky eaters, and why cooking and nutrition should be on the curriculum along with reading, writing and ’rithmetic.

Funny Business

In his new B Street Theatre show about his long stand-up career, comedian Jack Gallagher plays for laughs while sharing professional highlights (his "Tonight Show" debut) and lowlights (his "Tonight Show" encore).

Mercy Pedalers Founder Sister Libby

Her name is Libby Fernandez, but everyone knows her as Sister Libby, one of Sacramento’s most tireless advocates for the city’s homeless. The 58-year-old Catholic nun earned the distinction in large part through her long tenure (including 11 years as executive director) at Loaves & Fishes. Her latest endeavor, Mercy Pedalers, tends to the hungry and impoverished at street level, with squads of volunteers helping the less fortunate by bike and trike. We tracked Sister Libby down to talk about her growing organization, how best to address the homeless crisis, and how just saying “hi” can be the start of a beautiful relationship.

William Burg

The Queen of the Sacramento Tenderloin. The nightclub owner who first brought jazz to town. The public officials who resisted the frenzied carnal currents of the downtown’s most integrated, energetic district. They’re all chronicled in William Burg’s new book "Wicked Sacramento," a history of the city’s long-gone West End neighborhood that once stood where sprawling landmarks like Capitol Mall, Old Sacramento and Golden 1 Center are today. Burg speaks about the West End’s seamy charms, its important cultural impact, and where to find what might be the lost neighborhood’s last surviving building.