YoloShines: River City Rowing Club

Yesterday we gave thanks to the Oshima family for their suggestion to donate $500 to the Davis Schools Foundation. It hit home, which made the gift even more special. Today’s recipient of $500 through our YoloShines program strikes a similar family chord.

On behalf of Repower homeowners Don Mooney and Samantha McCarthy, we are pleased to gift $500 to the River City Rowing Club. Here’s the (my) family connection: RCRC’s boat house in West Sac is named after my wife’s late grandfather, Curt Rocca. Grandpa Curt was big into crew in his days at UC Berkeley, and his affinity rippled (perhaps through his myriad business interests in Japan, and hence the Port of Sacramento) to our local crew organization. Very cool.

I have known Don and Samantha’s daughter, Morgan, since she was shorter than a small oar; she and my oldest son, Scott, went through Spanish Immersion together at Montgomery and Chavez. Here’s Don and Samantha’s rationale for supporting RCRC:

We support River City Rowing Club because the coaches work with the teen rowers to inspire them to try their individual best and then beyond while building  a true sense of dedication to the team and sportsmanship. The rowers also learn to set goals and priorities so that they can continue to do well do well in school, crew and life.

Very cool, take two, and it mirrors my family’s support of Davis Water Polo Club (for our oldest son) and Davis Little League (for our youngest).

With the Big Day of Giving nearing, we encourage you to support RCRC. The sun always rises, and so too do committed and aspiring crew athletes.

YoloShines: Repowering community organizations

When we conceived RepowerYolo, we made two conscious commitments:

1. We will not solicit homeowners. No advertising, cold calls, direct mail or commission sales people.

2. We will reinvest in and support local nonprofit organizations; in other words (excuse the trite phase), repower our community.

The obvious residue of not knocking on doors, cold-calling homeowners, or peppering mail boxes with sales collateral is that we will sell less solar. We can live with that, because we strongly believe markets are conversations and nobody likes to be solicited (sans their permission). And, by eliminating sales/marketing/advertising costs, we significantly reduce the cost of going solar for friends and neighbors.

Furthermore, many an eye has been rolled at our community fundraising efforts: Why are you donating large amounts of money to nonprofits (when you could/should be pocketing the money to send your kids to college)? In simple terms, we believe RepowerYolo is a community program and our commitment to — and support of — local nonprofit organizations is a community dividend.

This community dividend is growing. To date, we have donated upwards of $23,000 to more than 25 local causes on behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners. And, in 2016, we created YoloShines: Every time a homeowner goes solar, we donate $500 in their name to their favorite Yolo County nonprofit.

The first four recipients of YoloShines donations in 2016 are Progress RanchYolo Crisis NurseryDavis Schools Foundation, and River City Rowing Club. 2016 is off to a great start … the future is bright for both homeowners who go solar and nonprofit organizations that stitch the fabric of our community.

Community Choice Energy: Coming to Yolo County?

I’ve had the — sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding — pleasure of working with a team of Davis residents to evaluate Community Choice Energy (CCE) for the city and county. Over the past year, our Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee has taken a deep dive into CCE: Does it make sense for our community and, if so, what’s the best approach? Last night we had a productive discussion with the Davis Chamber of Commerce's Government Relations Committee, and our committee is nearing a recommendation to the City Council.

In simple terms, CCE provides PG&E ratepayers with a second option for their electricity source. Competition — providing customers with options — is, of course, good for a market, particularly when the sole provider is a regulated, investor-owned monopoly. Under CCE programs, PG&E continues to manage the grid and deliver customer service. Status quo. Except, CCE (it’s happening in Marin and Sonoma Counties) reduces electricity costs for ratepayers while delivering cleaner energy.

CCE is not a slam dunk, here or elsewhere. Utilities will continue to fight to protect their entrenched monopolies. Ultimately, consumer choice is good … let the market work. And, if we can develop additional renewable energy resources locally (and keep the dollars here, versus filling PG&E’s pockets), our local economy will benefit.

You can learn more about the City’s CCE assessment here.

And, on Feb. 11 (6:30 at the Vet’s) we are facilitating a public forum to elaborate CCE and engage community input. Please join.

Or, of course, feel free to give us a call if you'd like to learn more.

THE GREAT Reed + Susan Youmans

I broke bread and had a drink (okay, two) last night with one of my faves, Reed Youmans. Reed and his family own Hallmark Properties, a business -- I see it as a platform -- that enables them to enrich our community. The Youmans' are beyond benevolent; they put their community first. 

Our bread-breaking, drink-drinking gathering was a belated celebration of Reed and his wife, Susan's, recent honor: the Covell Award (aka, the Davis Citizen of the Year). Here's a great article elaborating the award.

Beyond cool. Extremely proud. And, Reed was floored when he was notified of the award, which floored and moved me.

Join the community in celebrating Davis and honoring Reed and Susan Saturday, February 13 at the Chamber of Commerce's annual awards gala. You can learn more – and buy tickets - here.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Koen Van Rompay

[Originally published November 4, 2015]

By Jennifer Ann Gordon, Repower Yolo's Storyteller

Koen Van Rompay is a radiant man. “I learned the essence of life. Life is much more satisfying when you share what you have,” he said. And share he does. A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Ph.D., Koen is a Full Research Virologist at UCD who lives a life of compassion and care in the lab…and everywhere else, too.

His AIDS research has contributed significantly to the development of a therapeutic and preventive drug. “I am but a humble link in the chain,” he said. But when Koen takes his lab coat off, he tackles the AIDS epidemic in a different way. Sahaya International.

Koen founded Sahaya International to  address the social aspects of the AIDS epidemic: poverty, illiteracy, and women having no rights. From its beginnings in India, Sahaya has grown to Kenya, Vietnam, Philippines and Sri Lanka. Director Andy Lauer made an award-winning 20-minute documentary about Sahaya International, Sahaya…Going Beyond, which was narrated by Jeremy Irons.

In 1997, Koen went to India to present his HIV research at an AIDS conference.  He said, “The poverty was overwhelming. I asked myself, ‘How can the world close their eyes?’ I had no social training. I was not a politician. But I had to do something. If I could permanently improve the life of just one child, that would be good.”

“I think people  have to feel loved and have hope. Hope is the strong medicine.”

How did a young Belgian veterinarian come to be an AIDS researcher at UC Davis? After becoming a veterinarian, Koen wondered, “Whatever was I going to do? I needed courage.” His passion was wildlife and zoo animals. He found inspiration when Michael Jackson came to Belgium and sang Man In the Mirror:

I'm starting with the man in the mirror

I'm asking him to change his ways

And no message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

(Michael Jackson)

Then Koen read Zoo Animal Medicine, which was edited by Dr. Murray Fowler from UC Davis. This was the first he had heard of UC Davis. He applied for a scholarship to UCD through the Belgian American Educational Foundation. The one-year fellowship was his segue into HIV research. Five years later, Koen had earned his Ph.D.  And he has been here in Davis ever since.

Koen travels to India every winter to see how the children are doing. He “emptied his bank account” to build a five bedroom guesthouse in one of the villages, so that Sahaya supporters, social workers and others would have a place to stay. The guesthouse is next to the schools and one of Koen’s favorite things is to play with the children during their recesses. Some of the children had never seen the ocean, even though they are only two hours away. So Koen takes the children on field trips to the beach to introduce to them the joys of sand and surf. 

“An act of kindness inspires. Be a drop of water that creates a ripple,” said Koen. “Each of us can make a difference, if we just take a step.”

Koen, thank you for exuding such joy, courage, affection, compassion and generosity...for being love-in-action. Thank you for helping rid the world of AIDS. Thank you for empowering women and saving the lives of children and their families. Thank you for starting a love epidemic that floods our community and reaches the world’s most impoverished places. Thank you for being so extraordinary.

The Opportunity to Grow Fresh Food and Understanding

[Originally published October 22, 2015]

Repower Yolo is a Gold Sponsor of Yolo Farm to Fork's School Programs. When you go solar with us, we'll donate $500.00.

The benefits of all the love, sweat, time, dollars and meticulous care showered upon Holmes Junior High’s garden are rippling outward. Integrated, experiential learning about the beauty of fresh, nutritious food and the art of preparing it deliciously are becoming available to all. Who threw the first stone that is causing all the ripples? Keri Hawkins, Garden Coordinator of Holmes Junior High’s gardening project.

"Thank you for supporting our school gardens! They are a wonderful place for children to unwind and learn through doing."

--Keri Hawkins, Garden Coordinator, Holmes Junior High

In 2012, Keri inherited a neglected, overgrown, weedy mess. But she saw the potential right away to cultivate far more than vegetables, herbs and flowers. The art and cooking classrooms opened to the garden with its courtyard, and the garden could benefit both with gorgeous subjects for still lifes and fresh ingredients for culinary masterpieces and learning about nutrition.

She envisioned the impact the garden could have on the lives of children of all physical and mental abilities. Keri also saw the potential of the garden to provide the enriching experience for collaboration amongst the diverse students. Keri said that her aim is “to make the garden accessible to students of all abilities and to have the students working side by side.”

In 2013, Keri and the students replanted the garden to be low maintenance. In 2014, she had the idea to sell pumpkins in order to raise the money for the gardening program. The Esparto Lions donated the pumpkins and $1,000 was raised, with a matching grant fromTandem Grants. “The garden is truly a community garden. The more people involved, the greater the community ownership of the garden,” she said.

Keri applied her Masters in Architecture to designing tables that were accessible by wheelchair. She gave the designs to Holmes' tech teacher, Lance Gunnersen, and his students, who built the tables and entered them in the State Fair. After the fair, the tables came home to the courtyard next to the garden.

Keri then designed a potting table accessible to all users. She and her enthusiastic team pulled out everything from the existing Zen Garden, a part of the overall garden and courtyard areas, and Dave Leveque, Holmes teacher Deanna Leveque’s husband, built the framework for the Zen Garden. Sadly, with the drought, the water to the garden was cut-off and everything died.

After the potting table came a three-tier planter box, again with the idea that students of all abilities would be able to access it. Avery Phimmasehn, a BoyScout, helped design the planter box, and then built it to achieve his Eagle Scout rank. The planter now boasts seasonal beauty and bounty, replete with beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi and cilantro, which are quite often enjoyed immediately after picking.  Special Ed life skills are taught in the garden, where students learn about the tools and feel the utter satisfaction of using them.

The garden and courtyard are thriving, but there one more step before it can be truly accessible to all. In wet weather, the wheelchairs get stuck in the muddy pathways. Keri said that, to remedy this, they need the garden's remaining area graded. And they also need decomposed granite for the space. Please EMAIL KERI if you'd like to help with the grading or donate the decomposed granite. 

Yolo Farm to Fork’s Dig In Yolo! Restaurant Fundraising Campaign makes Davis Farm to School programs possible. For example, last year, Yolo Farm to Fork contributed $250 to Holmes’s garden for garden supplies and plants, with the PTA matching the amount.

These restaurants are digging in to help educate Yolo’s children to live sustainably throughout the month of October. Eat well and help Yolo’s children learn about fresh, healthy food, recycling, and respecting the planet and one another.

Bon  Appétit!

The Savory Café

722-A Main Street, Woodland

DIG IN SPECIAL: Organic Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Lamb Sogu

Café Italia (The Dancing Tomato Café)

1121 Richards Boulevard, Davis


Maria’s Cantina

306 Sixth Street, Woodland


Dos Coyotes (both Davis locations)

2191 Cowell Blvd., Davis | 1411 W. Covell Blvd. #7

DIG IN SPECIAL: Banh Mi Taco Plate

Jack’s Urban Eats (All Locations)

DIG IN SPECIAL: Fresh Harvest Salad

Broderick Road House

319 Sixth Street, West Sacramento

DIG IN SPECIAL: Fiesta Burger


317 Second Street, Woodland


Kitchen 428

First and Bush Streets, Woodland


Osteria Fasulo

2657 Portage Bay East #8, Davis


The Extraordinary Ordinary: Sandy Lynne Holman

[Originally published October 7, 2015]

By Jennifer Ann Gordon, Repower Yolo's Storyteller

Sandy Lynne Holman lets her light shine brightly. A Davis resident and UCD alumna, Sandy is on a mission to “encourage people to love themselves and others, and share power and resources in the world.”

Regionally and nationally recognized as a leader in social justice, equity, and “anti-hate” programs, talks, workshops and children’s literature, Sandy founded and directs The Culture C.O.-O.P. and United In Unity. She has given keynote addresses, served on boards, consulted with diverse organizations, and won numerous awards. Most recently, she was donned the John Garamendi Woman of the Year 2015 award. “The awards have been overwhelming and are valuable because they draw attention to the tough work I have to do,” she said. “We are living in a world where our ability to work together is critical. A cornerstone of success is understanding and serving diverse people. We become more effective when we understand cultural differences and similarities.”  

There is nothing theoretical about Sandy or her work. She practices what she calls “active research,” where social theory is matched with practical application. She goes into the trenches daily…shoulder-to-shoulder, vis-à-vis, hand-in-hand, and heart-to-heart, with the people who need her most. Battling entrenched beliefs and hatred can be brutal work, but her faith and love sustain her.

Her book, Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad?, which won the Blackboard Book of the Year Award in 2002, continues to be a favorite throughout the world. Sandy’s grandfather, Rufus X. Holman, helped shape her future. "He left me over 100 poems that he wrote, which were absolutely beautiful and historic, written over a 50-year span," she said. "I had an incredibly close relationship with my grandfather and I saw him pretty regularly through my teen years. He was a talented and wise person. He only had a third grade education, but he continued to read throughout his life and learn as much as he could. I was transfixed by him. He taught me a lot about loving yourself and honoring your history and culture and heritage, and so I grew up not having a lot of the self-esteem issues that a lot of my peers did.”

She has been honored alongside Al Gore, Quincy Jones, and other notable authors for her work in Multi-Cultural Children's Literature at Book Expo in New York. She was the only self-published author ever to win the award, primarily because she didn’t know that self-publishers couldn’t enter. Sandy lets nothing hold her back, and the world and our community are the beneficiaries.

Her next round of children’s stories –Love Is The Root Of All People. Honor Your Elders, Peace Is For People, and You Ain't Dressed Until You Got Your Hat On—is forthcoming. Publishers frequently approach Sandy about her books, but she prefers to be self-published and set up her own publishing company. Sandy gives workshops on self-publishing, as well.

Purple is Sandy’s signature color. “I love purple! When I wear it, it makes me happy. People ask me about all the purple I wear. It opens doors. I decided to do the things that make me happy…the things that make me ecstatic,” she said. An artist, poet, author, speaker, educator, consultant and citizen of the world, Sandy said, “Everyone is a V.I.P. We need to treat everyone like a king or queen.”

Sandy Lynne Holman, thank you for uniting, fortifying and educating us all. Thank you for your generous heart, your clear mind, and your bountiful contributions to peace, equity, and love on earth. Thank you for teaching our children and our teachers to appreciate, accept and celebrate diversity. You are a purple wonder. Thank you for being so extraordinary.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Secilia Corona

[Originally published September 15, 2015]

By Repower Yolo's Storyteller, Jennifer Ann Gordon

I met Secilia Corona’s smile first. Then I met the rest of her. Behind the counter at Village Bakery on Second Street by the Amtrak station here in Davis, I was struck by the depth of kindness with which she served me and the other customers.

Having graduated from UC Davis last December with a double major in Chicano-Chicana Studies and Italian, Secilia is an eclectic blend. She is also the first generation in her family to earn a college degree. Sicilia’s dad is Mexican, her mom is Caucasian, and she has Italian in her heritage. Spanish is her first language.

“My major is a little bit random,” she said, “During my first two years of college, I thought I was going to go into biotech, but I wasn’t really passionate about it.” Taking Chem 2E, Bio 2A and Physics 7A in one semester, Secilia decided to throw in an Italian class to get a break from the heavy science classes, loved it, and soon realized, “Science is not going to be my thing.”

When she realized that she did not want to pursue biotech, she investigated Chicano-Chicana Studies, where she discovered a strong sense of community and a caring professor. Secilia said that the demands of a double major “were not a struggle because I was so interested in the topics.” She said, “Languages allow me to communicate with more people and to have rich experiences.”

During her junior year in college, Secilia had a teaching internship in Turin, Italy, for four months. Upon graduation, Secilia looked for a “serious job.” While she was job hunting, she found a house in Davis, and her two sisters, Delilah and Elsa, who are also college students, moved in. She also did not want her parents to keep supporting her, so she decided to wait on traveling and teaching Italian, and applied at Village Bakery.

“I applied at Village Bakery because I liked their food, ate there often, and bought their bread at the Farmers Market on Saturdays. Because I liked their products, I thought it would feel good selling them to others. The pastry chef is super friendly and teaches me. These people are wonderful!”

Secilia is originally from Point Arena, where her mom and dad have a landscaping company. “We’ve always had a ton of support from my parents. They were forced to grow up young and never had the opportunities they’ve given us. They’ve always supported and encouraged us. And they wanted my sisters and me to be united…unified. My family is really close.”

“There are so many people who have helped me. It is impossible to take credit for any of my accomplishments. I don’t feel like I do anything different or important. Being friendly and kind does make a difference in people’s lives. I prefer to listen, rather than speak about myself.”

Thank you, Secilia, for gracing this community with your kindness, humility and care. Thank you for listening to others so intently. Thank you for feeding us with Village Bakery’s finest fare and your smile. Thank you for being such a fine example of a young woman who knows herself and listens to that inner voice for guidance. Thank you for being so extraordinary.

Sacramento Business Journal profiles Chris Soderquist

[Originally published September 9, 2015]

THE GREAT Ed Goldman -- one of our favorite, iconic regional treasures -- recently sat down with Repower Cofounder Chris Soderquist. Here's his story:

Ed Goldman: Chris Soderquist’s newest (ad)venture: Sharing the sunshine

When scientists get around to studying the biological basis of entrepreneurship, Chris Soderquist will make a splendid case study: He seems to prove that it runs in families.

At 46, Soderquist is a former venture capitalist and a serial entrepreneur. He calculates he’s created “about a dozen” businesses and has been an investor or board member of “another 30 or so.” Restlessly intelligent (maybe even antsy), he appears to have settled into a single company that he loves: Repower Yolo, a Davis-based solar energy firm that in the past year-and-a-half has installed “more than 2,500 solar panels on 60 homes and 10 commercial projects,” he says, adding, “all in Yolo County.”

Soderquist is pursuing the venture with business partner and operations manager John Walter. Repower Yolo doesn't install solar systems. Rather, “I consult with the clients and tell them what will work for them and what won’t. Sometimes I talk myself out of a sale, but that’s a small price to pay for integrity.”

There’s a circular perfection to Soderquist’s latest passion. His dad, Charles Soderquist, was also an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who started amassing his wealth building and installing solar-powered hot tubs in Davis. Soderquist the elder, who died 11 years ago of an aneurysm, was also a philanthropist: he left the bulk of his estate to UC Davis.

I had interviewed Charlie Soderquist for my Working Lunch column in Comstock’s Business Magazine two years before his passing. He was a fascinating guy and Chris reminds me of him save for one attribute: while warm and soft-spoken, the dad had a somewhat dour, dark-ish aspect to him (possibly only with columnists) whereas Chris, despite being a serious man, has a lighthearted, almost impish quality.

He’s also, like his dad, a philanthropist, who donates money from every sale to one of 18 Yolo County nonprofits. While he says the principal motivation for doing so is “helping out,” Soderquist says, “There’s a kind of a domino effect at play. If we can re-power homes” — convert them from running solely on gas and electricity, “people will save money and will have more to spend in the community. There’s a lot of sunshine out there.”

And that, he says, “is the only positive thing about climate change I can think of. The less rain, the more sunshine, the more electricity we can generate. But I’d prefer it rained.”

Soderquist and his wife Karen, a manager at a medical software company, have two sons: Scott, who’s 16, and 13-year-old Ty. Perhaps because he majored in journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — he also has an MBA from UC Davis — he elects to help out his interviewer. “I’m pretty easy to summarize,” he says. “I’m a father, a husband, a Little League coach and the son of amazing parents. I got my work ethic from my dad and my loving side from my mom.” Yes, but that sunshine is all his own.

Ed Goldman’s newest book, “And Now, With Further Ado: More Gravitas-Defying Profiles and Punditry from the Sacramento Business Journal,” is available at Amazon.com.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Laura Christensen (and Company)

From left to right: Landon, Katie, Chelsey, Laura, Gary. Not pictured: Lynn Christensen and Granddaughters Kayla and Emily.

[Originally published September 2, 2015]

Laura Christensen and her husband, Lynn, have been infusing our community with warmth, kindness and generosity since they opened their store, Parcel Dispatch, PDQ,  in 1981, just three years after they moved to Davis. The business is a family affair. Their three adult children—Katie, Landon and Gary—play big parts in the company. And their two “grandgirls,” Kayla and Emily, spend a lot of time at Parcel Dispatch, too. Last, but not least, Laura considers their one employee, Chelsey, an honorary family member. Laura said, “I couldn’t do it without them. It’s really nice to work for yourself. I’m happy that our family gets along. Knowing your children as adults and working together is so precious.”

For Laura, it’s all about treating people well. She said, "It's easy to be nice and just share with other people." For example, when little children come into the store with their parents, Laura and the others are ready with stickers, a Parcel Dispatch, PDQ tradition which began with an employee named Gina. “She was so friendly and outgoing. She bought stickers,” Laura said. “When I give the children stickers and talk with them, they feel like kings and queens. We also have a rubber snake that peeks out of a hole in our counter for the children to play with.”

Parcel Dispatch, PDQ is a favorite stop for many locals, whether or not they are customers. “My husband Lynn gathers people, sees who they are, accepts them, and befriends them,” said Laura. For example, Esteban. Esteban is himself an entrepreneur. He comes by the store every day to present his menu of soda and candy. Another regular, Jerry, picks up all their cans to recycle. No matter how often Lynn tells Jerry his name, Jerry greets him with a “Hi, Pete!” Bruce the artist, a loyal friend of the Christensens, keeps a folder of his artwork at the store and comes in to look through or add to it from time to time. Laura said, “College students don’t know how to address letters or even where the stamp goes. We have to be very patient with them and show them how it’s done.”

The Christensens also have a wall of postcards from customers who tell them about their travels.“We have mailbox renters whom we’ve known for so long. We knew them when their babies were born. We’ve watched their children grow up,” said Laura. 

Laura said, “My husband compares Parcel Dispatch, PDQ to a play. At 9 AM, we pull the curtains and are on stage all day, with the closing curtain at 5:30 PM.” 

Thank you, Laura (and company), for treating all with whom you come into contact with the deepest respect and care. Thank you for seeing a need in this community and meeting it. Thank you for your humility and expertise. You are a shining example to us all. P-D-Q. Pleasant. Delightful. Quintessentially professional. Thank you for being so extraordinary.

NEWS FLASH: Erin Farmer, a friend of mine from high school, saw this post about Laura and her family on Facebook and responded with her own story about the Christensens:

"I love these folks. Landon and Gary battled flames from a car fire in the lot next to the store, which helped keep us safe when I pulled my dog out of my parked car next to burning car last December. Good people, great place."

PG&E’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) is Wonderfully Simple

[Originally posted September 1, 2015]

PG&E’s accounting methodology for solar homeowners (aka, Net Energy Metering) is wonderfully simple. It’s the bill credit mechanism that makes solar lucrative for Yolo County homeowners. Unfortunately, many solar homeowners we speak with are caught off guard when they receive their annual “true up” bill from PG&E. In all of these cases, the homeowners have leased their solar system from a national company and said that the company's salesperson did not explain the process.

To wit, when you have solar, here’s how it works:

1. You are enrolled in PG&E’s Net Energy Metering program, and you have a 20-year contract with PG&E whereby they are required to credit you for the solar electricity you generate.

2. When you generate electricity, you are credited at the full retail price (per kilowatt hour), the same rate you pay when you use electricity.

3. As a solar homeowner, you only pay your PG&E electricity bill once a year. Every month, PG&E sends you a Net Energy Metering statement, quantifying and valuing your net electricity use. Some months, you are a net generator (you make more electricity than you use) and PG&E owes you money; conversely, there are months where you use more electricity than you generate and you owe PG&E money.

4. At the end of your 12-month solar year with PG&E, you receive an annual true-up, reconciling each month’s net electricity use. Thereby, if you were a net user, you pay PG&E; if you were a net generator, PG&E pays you.

It’s that simple. Please feel free to contact us — whether you already have solar or are considering it — if you have any questions.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Wilson Lam

[Originally published August 5, 2015]

Walk into Copyland on G Street here in Davis and, chances are, you'll see blueprints rolling out of the printer, students on the computers, business people making copies and others discussing their visions with Wilson Lam. The shop can get pretty busy, but amidst the positive maelstrom of the thriving business is Wilson, the epitome of "calm, cool and collected." Wilson is all about service, but what makes him so special is the way he goes about serving...quietly, expertly, responsively. 

When I asked him how he came to be who and how he is, he replied without a second's hesitation, "My mom, the way she raised me to always respect people and treat them the way you want to be treated...to do what you can to help them." 

Wilson became aware that he wanted to help people in middle school. After high school, he became a Nurse's Assistant and loved it. Then he attended Unitek where he earned his Vocational Nursing License (LVN), but the increased stress and bureaucracy that came with the job didn't click with him. After a brief stint as an LVN, he got a job working at T-Mobile. When T-Mobile closed, he walked next door to Copyland and asked owner Paul Wang for a job. Paul gave him the job on the spot. 

Seven years later, Wilson still likes his job. "People come in with an idea and we help give it a physical form. It makes me feel happy that I am creating something out of nothing." 

Turbo, Wilson's dog, also likes his job at Copyland. On Wednesdays or Thursdays, depending, Turbo greets customers and gives them the joy of petting him. Wilson said, "Turbo likes to come in and relax, and enjoy the customers." The Lams are bonified Davisites. Wilson's mom works at the United States Post Office on Fifth Street and his older brother is a doctor here.  

Wison, thank you for making people's experiences at Copyland seamless. Thank you for your positivity, promptness and patience. You are extraordinary. (And, by the way, we'll be sending you a print job later today.)

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Susan Linz

[Originally published July 30, 2015]

Susan Linz exudes freshness, warmth and a deep love for Davis. You might know her from Logos Used Bookstore, where she manages all the details of running the shop. 

She and her husband, Peter, started Logos out of love for their community and for humanity. Logos, a nonprofit, is in its sixth year. All profits from book sales go directly to Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. In 2014, Logos donated $45,000 to Doctors Without Borders and $47,000 overall. Since its inception, Logos has contributed $200,000. 

Susan carefully nurtured and coaxed Logos into becoming a gathering place, a “browsing bookstore.” For example, it’s open on Saturdays until 8, so people can amble over to Logos after dinner with their ice cream cones and enjoy meandering through the store’s 7,500+ books.  

"Conversation is really important. We're good at shouting at one another these days. It's lovely to talk about a book," said Susan. One of Susan and Peter’s favorite questions to ask the students who wander in wanting something to read other than textbooks is, “What do you like to read?” Susan said, “It’s fun.” They help the students sleuth out great books according to their interests—“Steppenwolf by Hesse, for example, for the kids who are getting existential,” said Susan.

A retired French instructor who taught at Solano College, Susan brings her love of languages to Logos with its Spanish, Italian and French Language Circles that meet once each month. A topic is shared beforehand, so people have time to prepare. Then people converge to practice conversing in the language. Poetry readings, shows that feature local artists, and music flood Logos' calendar of events, also à la Susan.

Susan began at UC Davis as a medical student, taking the likes of organic chemistry, but experienced France when she signed up for UCD's Junior Year Abroad program in Bordeaux. Upon returning home, she switched her major to French and went on to earn a Master’s in French, as well. She then returned to France to live for two years in Bordeaux and Tours.

Susan and Peter met in an elevator, as Susan was making her way up to the math TA's office for tutoring. They've been married for forty years. Regarding marriage, Susan said, "Nobody should ever think that it's an easy thing. You have to really work at it."  They have two sons, Davis and Thomas, both of whom have just returned to grad school for their PhDs.

Susan relishes new challenges and experiences. When I asked her how she first responded to Peter's idea of opening a nonprofit used bookstore, she said, "Whoa, that's something that neither of us has ever done before!" Well done, Susan and Peter!

“It’s a joy for us. We’re enjoying it for all it’s worth right now,” said Susan.

Merci, Susan, for shining so brightly. Grazie for all the joy, cultural adventure and affection you share with us. Gracias for being so extraordinary.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Marjory Tolbert

[Originally published July 22, 2015]

On occasion, we meet extraordinary people who grow more beautiful with each passing year. These vibrant and often quiet contributors to our community are treasures whose lives inspire others. Marjory Tolbert is such a sparkling gem.

An English major just shy of obtaining her Master's, Marjory shared her love of books with me. "Books are your best friends. They are always open-armed and ready to receive you." 

As a child, her family moved a lot. Marjory looked at it as a grand adventure. At an early age, her mother handed her the book, "Heidi," and told her to read it. When she had finished, she asked her mother what she should do. Her mother replied, "Read it again." And thus began Marjory's love affair with books. 

After four years of persistence on the part of Mr. Joseph Tolbert, a Captain in the United States Air Force, Marjory married the man. They had two sons, Ridge and Ned. Joseph flew in three wars--World War II, Korea and Vietnam. And, in 1969, the Tolberts moved to Davis. 

When I told Marjory that she was "zesty," she replied, "Well, what else are you going to do? I had to find ways to get along. You have to sustain yourself." And sustain herself she did. While Joseph was flying missions, Marjory got involved in theater, dancing, chorale, and writing for the BBC and other publications. She worked in the hospitals taking care of wounded soldiers. While they were stationed in England, she traveled extensively throughout Europe,Tangier, Majorca, Egypt and Greece with other Air Force wives.

"I couldn't stand being cooped up constantly. I had to get out, too. I inherited the spirit of adventure from my childhood. I always felt so privileged to get to do all these things," she said. 

Here in Davis, she has been an active member of the University Farm Circle, the Sweet Adelines, El Macero Republican Women (she introduced Nancy Reagan), a Crocker Art Museum docent, on the Yolo County Board of the Red Cross, Davis/Sacramento Symphony League, Davis Family Services, and a docent at the original Nut Tree ranch house...among many other things. 

"If you can't contribute, you shouldn't belong," said Marjory. "I've been very lucky. I've had a good life. I just feel grateful."

Marjory continues to stay interested and involved in the local color and culture. She takes Zumba and Jazzercise, plays bridge and bunko, attends Air Force events, partakes of the theater, and so much more. And, in case you're wondering, the photo up top is Marjory standing next to...Marjory. A friend of hers painted Marjory pin-up style. Marjory's spunk shines through. 

Marjory Tolbert, you've got gumption! Thank you for letting your light shine so brightly and bringing others great joy.

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Terence and Janis Lott

[Originally posted July 8, 2015]

Davis is reflected in the glass of the large New York Times clock in Newsbeat's window, the perfect juxtoposition to describe Newsbeat'sowners,Terence and Janis Lott, and how they conduct their business. (The clock was given to them by the New York Times for being "the perfect newstand.")

Newsbeat is a Davis institution. Janis and Terence are bright lights in our community. They embrace their customers with respect, kindness and care. And they never waver. I've experienced and observed the love they express to everyone who walks into the Newsbeat, regardless of the person's station in life. 

"We're all in this together, people," said Janis. "Being kind is not hard to do. It's all about relationships, about being kind to one another." 

Janis is deeply touched when customers--even from their Sacramento store, which they've since closed--come in to see how they're faring or to show them their new puppy or meet their new baby. Terence and Janis cherish their regulars, too. The eighty-year-old men who come in regularly for their morning newspapers and to talk, for example, and the people who bring in their dogs, well-knowing that Janis and Terence have dog treats at the ready. 

"It's the kind of store that welcomes people from every walk of life with humanity, kindness, and great regard," said Terence. Janis refers to the Newsbeat as "a nice, visceral experience, a little mental health break for people. They can buy or not buy."

Janis is especially grateful for all the quiet support she received from customers and vendors when she was going through chemo. Years later, people are still checking up on her. 

In 25 years of business, they've never had to advertise. "We feel like Newsbeat is special because we're in a special place," said Terence."Yes," chimed Janis, "We're a college town, but we're not hoity-toity like some university towns. There's a bucolic quality here in Davis, the kindness and warmth of an agricultural community...that connection to earth and water and growing things." 

Janis and Terence ardently support local artists and authors in their store, too, which brings us back to our town reflected in Newsbeat's New York Times clock. Sophistication without pretension. Intelligence, not intellectualism. And an awareness of what people want and need. First and foremost, though, is love. Plain and simple. 

Janis and Terence, you are rays of sunshine who brighten all our lives. Thank you for being so extraordinary.