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Interview: Aizik “Aik” Brown, Wide Open Walls Muralist

Aizik “Aik” Brown proudly describes himself as an Artist and Educator committed to improving the lives of those around him, particularly in Oak Park. Over the past two weeks, Valley Vision has been fortunate enough to have Aizik paint a stunning mural on the outside wall of our new office building as part of Sacramento’s Wide Open Walls mural festival, in partnership with St. HOPE.

As a product of nearby Sacramento Charter High School and Student Life Coordinator for College Track, his commitment to the Oak Park neighborhood is deeply rooted and unwavering. He was one of 33 artists selected to participate in this year’s Wide Open Walls mural festival, which each year connects artists with empty wall space around Sacramento. The piece celebrates his Mexican American and Black heritage, and juxtaposes the skulls and art associated with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with bright colors and intricate designs to bring the mural to life. He explains the bright colors throughout the mural as reflecting the happiness and pride that he feels while in the neighborhood.

When asked how it felt to have his work featured so publicly in Oak Park, Aizik was initially at a loss for words, before sharing that he’s simultaneously proud and overwhelmed. Reflecting on the effort and countless hours spent fine tuning his craft, he declared, “It’s crazy to think this actually happened.” When people walked by his mural or snapped photos during its development, he was eager to strike up conversations and engage with community members. The importance of human interaction and connection was a point that he emphasized throughout our conversation, at one point saying, “I want to be approached by people. I want them to say hello if they see me. I want them to tell me what they think of my art. Human connection and interaction is key.”

Regarding Wide Open Walls, Aizik says it’s a great platform to celebrate the talented visual artists that Sacramento has always had. He looks forward to seeing how the annual mural festival develops over the years, and hopes it maintains the local feel while also remaining dedicated to its slogan: “Art for All”. He hopes that the festival continues to place art in all of Sacramento’s neighborhoods while inviting more artists of color to participate as artists.

Engaging communities and incorporating arts is how he plans to grow as an artist and as a person who thrives off human interaction. Aizik invites everyone to visit his website: – and keep up with him on Instagram @AikBrown and Twitter @AikBrownX.

Valley Vision invites you to check out Aizik’s mural at our upcoming Open House on Thursday September 13th! We are excited to be partnering with Unseen Heroes during GATHER: Oak Park to welcome you to our new space. RSVP now!

Ruben Moody was Valley Vision’s Communications Intern.

Community to Embrace Farm-to-fork Pride

Sacramento, Calif. – Restaurants, auto shops, and hair salons. Software engineers, yoga instructors, and baristas. These are just a few of the people and places that the Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee includes in its new “We Are Farm-to-Fork” campaign, designed to encourage inclusivity and community pride around the region’s farm-to-fork identity.

In 2015, Visit Sacramento formed the Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee to provide expert guidance in shaping its America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital program. Now led by the non-profit Valley Vision, the committee is comprised of chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, suppliers and representatives from grocery, government, non-profits and more. Together, the group has established connections between many of the organizations in the greater Sacramento region that are working in the farm-to-fork space. The committee also continues to look for ways to expand the reach of farm-to-fork across the region and beyond Visit Sacramento’s special events and marketing efforts. The idea behind “We Are Farm-to-Fork” was born out of the growing enthusiasm around the farm-to-fork concept from people and organizations outside of related industries.

“The Sacramento region has been farm-to-fork since long before the America’s Farm to Fork Capital initiative,” said Valley Vision Chief Executive Bill Mueller. “This is the region’s heritage, and everyone here is a part of it, from farmers and farmworkers in our rural communities, to mechanics, bank tellers, small businesses, and workers in our urban core. We are Farm-to-Fork shows our pride in that heritage.”

“Over the last six years, we’ve seen interest in farm-to-fork go well beyond local restaurants,” said Visit Sacramento CEO Mike Testa. “From trade associations to accounting firms, people are looking to be a part of the farm-to-fork effort. But the truth is, they were always a part of what has been building here. This new campaign highlights the fact that if you’re a part of our community, you’re a part of farm-to-fork.”

Part of the “We Are Farm-to-Fork” campaign rollout includes a corresponding logo designed by The Honey Agency. The members have committed to utilizing the logo within their own organizations and are excited to share it with others throughout the region.

“As Sacramentans, we are all proud of our region’s strong agricultural heritage,” said Chelsea Minor, Raley’s Corporate Director, Consumer & Public Affairs. “We are Farm-to-Fork is intended to be a badge of honor for all businesses to embrace throughout our six-county region to show our commitment to being America’s Farm to Fork Capital.”

200 Global Leaders Find Their Edge in Sacramento

Shape uncertainty. Lead through ambiguity. Find your edge. Amplify your impact.

These principles guided the four-day SHAPE North America 2018 summit, which brought over 200 young global leaders to Sacramento from August 9-12th.

#SHAPENA18 participants came from 63 city-based “Hubs” in 30 countries, but all were members of the Global Shapers community, which is the youth leadership network of the World Economic Forum. The 27-member Sacramento Hub, to which I belong, won a competitive bid to host this important event – and we created an experience that has been billed by many as the best “SHAPE” event ever, on any continent.

Valley Vision has been fiscal agent for the Global Shapers – Sacramento Hub throughout the production of the SHAPE North America gathering. Through this formal partnership, the Sacramento Hub has access to a high-performing and trusted local nonprofit that manages its finances and records, keeping things running smoothly. For Valley Vision, the Global Shapers bring a unique connection to the global community not found in other young leaders groups, which further boosts VV’s toolset in advancing the livability of the Sacramento region.

From the get-go, our team modeled #SHAPENA18 as an “anti-conference.” The programming was meant to introduce uncertainty into the lives of #SHAPENA18 attendees, give them the tools to navigate that uncertainty, and then celebrate each individual’s ability to grow their leadership acumen and overcome obstacles of all kinds. Tears are not normally shed at conferences, but they were commonplace as Shapers recounted life-altering insights to their peers at key points during our time together.

The four days were modeled after the Hero’s Journey concept popularized by scholar Joseph Campbell, and were highly experiential. This meant that (1.) the lion’s share of “sessions” were led by actual Shapers/attendees, (2.) we were constantly changing physical locations and backdrops, and (3.) there were no “expert” panels to be found. Each day, Shapers were exposed to new means of “Leading Through Ambiguity” and “Finding Their Edge” before a final day of “Amplifying Impact,” in which #SHAPENA18 participants spent their afternoons giving back to the community via service projects in partnership with local organizations.

Highlights included (but certainly were not limited to):

  • Kicking off the anti-conference on the Capitol West Steps with a deeply moving and personal story from Hub Alumni Kelly Rivas.
  • Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs speaking at Golden 1 Center, followed by Shaper-led breakout sessions around the concourse on topics like “Identity, Power, and Privilege,” cryptocurrency, radical storytelling, and more.
  • Setting up 22 separate “Salon Dinners” across the region, providing an opportunity for Shapers to divide into small groups and find their way to meals hosted by community leaders, friends, and family.
  • Organizing a Friday night after-party at The Urban Hive featuring authentic performances in partnership with Sofar Sounds Sacramento.
  • Saturday breakfast in the State Capitol followed by a dynamic workshop on embracing failure as an indicator of success.
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg reflecting on his time at UC Davis Law School – he was a bit of a rabble rouser!
  • Volunteer service projects across the Sacramento region, where Shapers were able to give back to their temporary region of residence.
  • A final dinner at the Stanford Mansion which featured recognition of sponsors, delicious Farm-to-Fork food, and a heartfelt blessing with the Sacramento-based Maquilli Tonatiuh Aztec Dancers.

The Sacramento Hub could not have pulled off this production without the help of our fantastic sponsors: UC Davis Global Affairs, P&G, Sacramento Kings, Balanced Body, UC Davis Health, Statehouse at the Capitol, Sacramento State, UC Davis Dining Services, Blue Shield of California, Sierra Health Foundation, Valley Vision, The Urban Hive, Visit Sacramento, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, University of San Francisco, Capital Public Radio, Uber, California Chamber of Commerce, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, Lucas Public Affairs, NextGen America, ACLHIC, and Blanket Marketing Group. You are all awesome!

Our team looks forward to harnessing this momentum, expanding our community partnerships, and doing another mind-blowing thing in the not-too-distant future. I encourage you to learn more about the local Sacramento Hub and the Global Shapers Community at large. You are also free to dig into the final #SHAPENA18 Schedule for more information about the specific components of the 4-day experience. Please email us if you have any Shaper-related questions or ideas!

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Adrian Rehn is a Valley Vision Project Manager overseeing the Cleaner Air Partnership and Valley Vision’s online communications.