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But go to a Zumba class at Roseland elementary and you’ll see the success stories. One woman’s depression is gone. Another has lower insulin levels. And many of the women have dropped a few pounds.

You’ll see that Alejandra Sarmiento has become a community leader. Recently, she was recruited for a five-day neighborhood leadership training class through St. Joseph’s. Sarmiento got a crash course in social justice, community organizing and outreach. She learned about the relationship between governmental policy and the health of communities and strategic planning. She’s excited to go to neighborhood stores as a Healthy Food Project representative, where, for a stipend, she’ll promote marketing and product-placement.

The second installment of my reporting project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship is on the stands today.


I wrote a 1700 word feature story for Made Local Magazine about the movement to (re) build a local grain economy in Sonoma County. I really enjoyed the process of researching and reporting this piece. The farmers in our community are doing amazing things!

Edited by the fantastic Gretchen Giles, you can find Made Local Magazine at Oliver’s Market, Pacific Market, Andy’s Produce, Copperfield’s Books, SHED in Healdsburg, and various other spots around town.


Simple and arresting, this is music for the end of the night, when the dancing slows and the party winds down, and whoever is left in the bar is forced, with the disappearance of those distractions, to wrestle with emotional darkness. Like the best songwriters before her (Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams come to mind) Muth writes about the underdogs: the mom who waits for her baby to go to sleep so she can have a well-earned drink, the wives of men who’ve disappeared down the road, and the thousands of regular folks staring out the window of a rundown house “dreaming of a life beyond these blues.”

-A music feature I wrote about Americana singer-songwriter Zoe Muth is up today at The Krush.


The first installment of my two-part series on health improvement initiatives in Roseland, produced as a project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, (a program of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism) was published in the Bohemian on July 2:

Mekong is squarely located in a low-income neighborhood that has an average yearly income of $22,000, according to county figures. East Bennett Valley, just a few miles away, has averages of $69,000.

More than one in three low-income children and almost half of low-income teens in Sonoma County are overweight or obese, according to 2007–09 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease in later life.


Write On Mamas

“A lot of writing about motherhood is still considered ‘mommy memoir’ or ‘mommy blogging’ and isn’t seen as serious memoir,” says Kovac. “Even the word ‘mother’ is so loaded. There are some in publishing that are just like, ‘We don’t want motherhood stories.’”

Kovac adds that whatever literary space there is for moms tends to be taken up by well-known writers like Anne Lamott and Ayelet Waldeman. The stigma has led to an ongoing conversation among the Write On Mamas about whether or not “Mamas” should stay in the name.

The answer is always a resounding yes, says Kovac.

“Isn’t this how we take it back?” asks Kovac. “We’re writing, and we take it seriously; we’re parents, and we take it seriously.”




Restorative Justice

“True justice has to come from a place of love,” Sanchez says. “If it comes from a place of vengeance, there’s no true healing. There’s very little you get out of asking for vengeance. I truly believe it has to come from a place of love, especially for youth, who pick up these subtle messages. When you tell them, ‘Get out of here, we don’t want you in our schools anymore,’ the youth think, ‘These schools hate me, my teachers hate me, everybody’s out to get me.’ But when you remind them, ‘No, we love you and we need you here,’ it speaks volumes.”