Joan Cusick is an experienced journalist who started her career as a reporter and editor for The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis. From the newsroom, she moved into the corporate world, serving as a communications director for Maybelline, FedEx and Charles Schwab.
In 2013, Joan quit her “day job” to pursue her lifelong passion for photography. Since then, she has completed several long-term documentary projects, photographed dozens of weddings and events, and freelanced for Comstock’s, Edible Sacramento and Outword magazines. Joan is drawn to stories about people — especially that span generations — and captures them in both words and pictures. She is based in Sacramento. To view more of Joan’s work, visit www.joancusick.com.
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Maker Space Cuts New Path
Leader of Sacramento Hacker Lab details demise and path ahead
We spoke with Hacker Lab CEO Gina Alatorre about trying to save the enterprise from debt, the next pivot and her hard-learned lessons.
Photos: Emerging From the Ashes
A 170-year-old homestead barely survived the LNU Lighting Complex fire
Ethel Hoskins is determined that her family ranch’s legacy will endure despite the significant damage to the property where she still lives.
‘The Bees Will Fly Again’
Beekeeper Clay Ford on how his Vacaville-based business has fared following the LNU Lightning Complex fire
Comstock’s spoke to Ford about the impact of the fire on his beekeeping business and how he believes, “The bees will fly again.”
How to Cast Your Ballot
California offers options to vote early, either by mail or in person
The COVID-19 pandemic will change the way some Californians vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Growing During a Pandemic
Renewed interest in gardening helps The Plant Foundry take root
Angela Pratt was ready to close her gardening shop during the COVID-19 crisis until The Plant Foundry was deemed an essential business by state and county guidelines. Pratt turned a negative into a positive by changing business practices to better serve customers.
Sutter Health’s PACE Services Help Seniors Age In Place
When Clint Allison’s father had a stroke in 2010, he stepped in to provide the round-the-clock care his father, Bob, required. But not long into his father’s recovery, Allison realized he couldn’t do it alone, even with the help of his wife and children.
Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou is Sacramento’s First Female Advanced Sommelier
Sacramento’s first woman to become Advanced Sommelier aims to elevate the local wine scene.
Land of Libations
Rancho Cordova’s Barrel District is on track for growth
A promotional effort created by the City and supported by the
Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce, the Barrel District is an
attempt to unite these craft beverage manufacturers and brand
Rancho Cordova as a distinct destination for beer and
Seeing The Forest For The Trees
Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Urban Wood Rescue program gives new life to urban lumber
The Urban Wood Rescue project has allowed the foundation to repurpose landfill-bound wood — and in doing so, to eliminate carbon emissions, as well.
Move out of the way beer, here comes the whiskey
National research shows that while big beer’s market share continues to plummet and craft beer has plateaued, the spirits industry is on the rise — a trend bolstered by women and millennials.
Boom on Broadway
Infill development helps usher in the next generation of eateries on Broadway’s west end
Until recently, Tower Cafe in Sacramento was one of the only food options west of 16th Street on Broadway, with some of the most well-known establishments east of the intersection, including Willie’s Hamburgers, Los Jarritos and Pancake Circus. The west end of Broadway heading toward Sacramento River, while not completely devoid of restaurants, was largely an industrial hub.
WarmLine Family Resource Center strengthens families of children with special needs
For Jasmine Pena, having a sister with Down syndrome was not something she felt she could talk about with just anyone.
Grant funding allows local youth the opportunity to experience free community theater
Community theater, often known for supporting and encouraging aspiring young artists, has a new home in the greater Sacramento area. Thanks to a new Youth Theatre For All program, launched by the Natomas Arts and Education Foundation, more than 50 children ages 10-18 were afforded the opportunity to participate in a production of “Bye Bye Birdie” for free for three performances in July.
We Also Served
Unsung Heroes is a nonprofit that collects, preserves and exhibits the stories of African Americans who served in the U.S. military. Veterans of African descent and their family members share oral histories, along with artifacts from their own experiences in time of war.
State Quarantine Stings Urban Farmers
A ‘canning party’ helps Root 64 preserve its produce
Urban farmers Sarah McCamman and Randy Stannard never dreamed their most lucrative time of year — heirloom tomato season — would go from boom to bust under a state quarantine.
Making Wellness a One-Stop Shop
Two new Sacramento businesses provide multiple mind-body services under one roof
When Madeleine Lohman took her first class at the YMCA in 1999, yoga was already a mainstream fitness regime. But it didn’t take long for her to realize that limiting yoga to physical fitness denied the mental, physical and spiritual balance that the Eastern practice seeks.
Lessons in Lemonade
El Dorado County teen finds business success the old-fashioned way
At age 14, Jake Van Ry is already an all-star in the Foothills food truck scene.
Entrepreneur behind Kitchen428 Restaurant and Mojo’s Lounge has been key to re-energizing downtown Woodland
When Christy Hayes arrived in Woodland in 2004, the former U.S. Air Force heavy diesel mechanic was fresh out of active duty. She found a job as a hostess at an iconic downtown eatery, Morrison’s Upstairs. She worked her way up to bartender and then bar manager. But Hayes never expected she would one day see the building house her own restaurant.
Sacramento Metro Chamber Welcomes New CEO
Amanda Blackwood becomes first woman to serve full-time as organization’s top executive
Amanda Blackwood took charge of the Sacramento Metro Chamber on May 1, and immediately embarked on a 100-day plan to assess and redefine strategy.
The Comeback Kid
Poor Red’s BBQ joint in El Dorado does the abnormal — reopens with success
When Poor Red’s shuttered its doors six years ago, it was the end of an era in the sleepy foothills town of El Dorado — or so many people thought.
Real Pie Company Opens Sell-Out Business on Broadway
Kira O’Donnell Babich wasn’t expecting block-long lines and a sell-out day when she opened the Real Pie Company in early April, but that was her welcome to 24th Street in Sacramento.
SACOG Regional Futures Forum
Sacramento Area Council of Governments held the Futures Forum event at the Milagro Center in Carmichael on April 30. The event included a keynote address from Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institute. Regional city officials and community members gathered to hear the Brookings report on the Sacramento region’s economy.
Capital Region Schools Get Their Own Farmers Markets
In San Joaquin County, elementary and middle school students are running farmers markets at 10 after-school sites. In Yolo County, the Yolo Food Bank runs each market held at local schools, but hundreds of students get to shop weekly for fresh produce. And in Sacramento County, a hybrid approach currently serves five schools.
FBI Academy Schools Local Students
When an FBI agent asks a roomful of high school juniors, “How many of you watch FBI shows on TV?” nearly every hand goes up. But at the recent Sacramento FBI Teen Academy, held in March, these 41 students soon learn fact — not fiction — about how the bureau works.
Journey to Citizenship
After years of waiting, Khaleel Yasir and his wife, Zuhal Al Ameen, became naturalized U.S. citizens on Feb. 22 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. During the monthly naturalization ceremony, 1,060 residents from 81 countries took the oath of citizenship. Yasir resettled his family to Sacramento in 2012 after nine years of service as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq.
One Family’s Journey to Citizenship
Iraqi family living in Sacramento fulfills a dream to become U.S. citizens
As a teenager growing up in Iraq in the 1990s, Khaleel Yasir wanted to become a U.S. citizen. But his path to citizenship — like that of so many others — turned into a decades-long journey.
Run With It
Shiloh London began overseeing the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation five years ago - here's what she's done
Shiloh London is an early riser of the extreme variety. She wakes up at 4 a.m., spends a few minutes in silence over black coffee, laces her sneakers and literally trains for a marathon. Afterward she connects with her running mates over coffee — all before a full day’s work.
La Placita has remained a constant during 30 years of growth in Orangevale
La Placita, a local favorite in Orangeville, has stood the test of time.
Feeding the Family Legacy
General Produce has been meeting demands throughout the region for generations
General Produce, a third generation family business, has been feeding the region for over eight decades.
Let’s Talk About the B Street Theatre
Artistic producer Dave Pierini and executive producer Jerry Montoya talk about the company’s history and future as it prepares to move to The Sofia
In mid-December, actor and artistic producer Dave Pierini and executive producer Jerry Montoya sat on an empty stage at the original B Street location to talk about their long history with the professional theater company and their vision for the future. Here is an excerpt from their conversation.
A Mann and His Wine
Raley’s Director of Alcohol and Beverage Curtis Mann brings innovation to the wine aisle
Raley’s recently nabbed the coveted Retailer of the Year award from Wine Enthusiast, thanks to Director of Alcohol and Beverage Curtis Mann
Heating Up the Hot Sauce Market
Former Sac High students ace their business plan
What happens when a high school business plan assignment turns into reality? For a team from Sacramento Charter High School, it’s just the beginning of a budding hot sauce business.
In the Kitchen with Sangre del Dragon
The Sangre del Dragon project started in August 2016 when Sac High seniors Leo Lopez, Angel Roque, Benny Perez and Jordan Salvador were given an assignment to create a business plan for hot sauce.
A Good Vintage
In the Capital Region, wine is truly a family affair
In the wine industry, families must often handle the unique dynamics of their arrangement while running several operations at once — growing grapes, producing wine, and marketing and selling the final product. It’s not always easy. But these four wine-industry families wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why Do You Want This Job?
Whitney High School seniors learn how to interview
At the beginning of the fall semester, about 450 seniors at Whitney High School in Rocklin participated in mock interviews to learn the valuable skills needed to enter the workforce. They learned how to prepare a resume and cover letter, participated in an interview class and completed a 20-minute mock interview.
Mock Interviews in High School Lead to Post-Graduation Success for Whitney High Alum
Outside the Whitney High School library, a group of seniors sit in chairs, each clutching a resume and cover letter. The girls wear dresses or skirts. The boys are in slacks, a dress shirt and tie.
At Home in the Kitchen
Husband and wife team give Sacramento a taste of the South
As Sacramento undergoes a culinary renaissance, family-owned restaurants like South have become foundational to the city’s rejuvenated character. For the restaurant’s owners, however, running a business with family can be both a great blessing and a major headache.
Sticking a Fork in Hunger
Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services takes in a half-million pounds of produce in one day
After staging a cattle drive across the Tower Bridge and a tractor parade down Capitol Mall, Mike Testa and his Visit Sacramento staff faced a huge challenge: How could they broaden the impact of Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Month kickoff?
Make It Work
To build a successful creative career, entrepreneurship is as important as aesthetics
Believe it or not, it’s possible to make a living as an artist in Sacramento. All it takes, according to those who’ve succeeded, is a base of communication, community, willingness to treat your work as a business and a good share of bull-headed persistence.
Helping Cooks Go Pro
Cottage Food Program turns homemade treats into a food business
When Davy Bui decided to start a bread-baking business, he wasn’t sure how much demand there would be for his “drunken” loaves.
Truckin’ to the Suburbs
Food truck events find acceptance and easy rules to operate in cities on the outskirts of Sacramento
SactoMoFo, which had held regular events over the years that opened the door for food trucks in Sacramento, hosted its 10th and final central city gathering at the Railyards on April 29.
Arts Are Good For Our Soul — And Our Economy
Can Sacramento continue to invest in the arts when public budgets remain tight and the economy continues to underperform? Wrong question. Rather, we need to ask ourselves whether we can afford not to invest in the arts. We need to change the debate away from a competition for dollars and toward building an understanding of the many avenues by which a vibrant arts scene complements and promotes robust economic growth in our region.
Boot Camp for Startups
Hacker Lab sheds light on new business ideas with Startup Hustle
When Adrian Cummings arrived for his first Startup Hustle session, he had the prototype for an idea — a complete light kit for bicycles — but no customer research, business plan or marketing concept.
Catching a Wave
FourthWave Cofounder Cheryl Beninga on Sacramento as an emerging tech hub
FourthWave, a nonprofit accelerator program for women-led tech companies, expanded from its Los Angeles pilot to Sacramento in March and is already working with its first seven entrepreneurs. We sat down with Cheryl Beninga, who is the managing director of Beninga Advisors and who cofounded FourthWave Sacramento with Tracy Saville, CEO of Sofia Al., to talk about women in technology and the regional tech scene.
Plenty of Fish in the Creek
Spawning Chinook salmon have returned to Deer Creek for the first time in nearly a decade
In order for spawning Chinook salmon to return to Deer Creek this autumn, they first had to swim against the stream from the San Joaquin River to the Mokelumne River, east of Rio Vista. Then, the determined fish had to make their way up to where the Mokelumne meets the Cosumnes River, and finally, migrate several miles more to get to the shady shores of Deer Creek.
Gettin’ Figgy With It
The peculiar world of fig traders and their trees
California fig farmers, who grow nearly all the figs produced in the U.S., harvested about 30,000 tons of fruit worth $22 million in 2015, according to the latest crop report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. But of all those figs, there were just a handful of genetically distinct varieties. Meanwhile, almost uncountable heirloom varieties have fallen to the wayside or even disappeared.
Sharing Community Pride
LGBT Center increases awareness through Pride festival, tours
Fred Palmer, who handles sponsorships for Sacramento Pride, recalls the festival’s 33-year journey from a gathering in McKinley Park to a larger event in Southside Park in Sacramento, finally making “a big, big leap” in 2010 to Capitol Mall, where about 13,000 people are expected to gather this year.
A Sisterhood of Beer
Sacramento’s chapter of Pink Boots Society aims to give women in the brewing industry a place to call their own
Historically, the beer game has been just for men: Commercials for big brands have often shown guys clinking bottles together around a grill, or fly fishing while someone pulls a cold can out of the ice chest. The message was clear: Beer is manly, and you are made masculine by drinking it.
But, more recently, we are seeing females incorporated into this picture.
Mystery Writers Unite
Aspiring writers converge in Rancho Cordova for Capital Crimes workshop
Both James and McPherson are now full-time mystery writers who have found a support group in Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento affiliate of Sisters in Crime. McPherson is also a past president of the national board of Sisters in Crime, which has supported female mystery writers for 30 years.
New Publishers Relaunch Edible Sacramento Magazine
Edible Sacramento is back in print with a March/April edition that might be headlined “Under New Ownership.” The bimonthly food magazine is now owned and published by Reno residents Amanda Burden and Jaci Goodman.