Volume XIII, Issue 9: September 5, 2014

On The Calendar
September 11 – RISE EVENT – Mad River Brewery Tour & Fellowship – 5 pm
September 12 – FIELD TRIP!! – Our Friday Meeting will be at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center (Friends of the Dunes) – 220 Stamps Lane in Manila
September 17 – RISE EVENT – Pints for Nonprofits at the Tap Room – Proceeds to the Arcata Chamber of Commerce – Featuring Cadillac Ranch
September 20 – RISE EVENT – “Equivocation” at the Redwood Curtain Theatre – 8 pm
September 24 – RISE EVENT – Youth Exchange Welcome Party at Moonstone Beach – 5:30 pm
October 23 – Arcata Sunrise Cross Country Championships
November 1 – Foundation Dinner North in Crescent City

Rotarian of the Month
President Barbara named Karen Burgesser our Club’s Rotarian of the Month for August. “Anything I do,” Barbara said, “Karen is there – and she makes it beautiful.” Karen is very good at making sure that the details of an undertaking are handled. Barbara continued, “If I have a big idea, I can rough it out … but Karen is there noticing the small details, and making everything so much better.”

Karen has served in many capacities over the years, but this year, she is outdoing herself! She is co-chairing the Membership Committee, scheduling and facilitating the orientations of new Sunrisers and completing their paperwork. She also co-chairs the Program Committee, managing the program schedule and sending notices out about each week’s program.

Barbara also reminded us that Karen is a great gardener who “shares her beautiful flowers with us all”. Congratulations, and thank you, Karen!!

Craft Talk
Last Friday, Chris Jelinek gave his Craft Talk. He started by thanking us for welcoming him into the Club. “I’m just so honored and glad to be here,” he said. “It’s a wonderful experience. I really look forward to the fellowship and to really getting engaged with projects.”

He showed photos of his wife Kim and his two daughters – Emma, who is 16 and a junior at Arcata High School, and Alyssa, who at 14 is a freshman at AHS. Chris said that the family leads a very active lifestyle. Although Chris has traveled a bit – to Costa Rica as a high school student, and later to Europe – he said that his children are more well-traveled. Both girls are competitive swimmers who are members of Humboldt Swim Club. Emma does particularly well in open water events.

Chris said that he loves the outdoors, and he showed a photo where he was pulling crab pots out of the bay, followed by a picture from a recent hike in the Trinity Alps. He is an avid runner – he prefers trail running, but he also participates in road racing and marathons.

He became locally famous in 2012 when he went missing while on a 26-mile solo run in preparation for an ultramarathon. “I went for a run,” he explained, “and I ran out of trail and did some off-route work which led me very deep into some very, very steep, inhospitable country. I had my dog to keep me warm throughout the night.” He continued, “For the record, I knew exactly where I was the entire time – I was not lost, I was just about a day late.”

 “I am a firefighter,” Chris said, “It’s pretty much all I know how to do at this point.” He has been a first responder since 1992, spending most of his career with Humboldt Bay Fire, where he is a Battalion Chief. He told us that his department has a family culture, dedicated to serving the community.

Chris serves on a couple of state boards, including the Northern California Training Officers Association. He recently did a series of classes on the hazards that the marijuana industry poses for firefighters. The dangers are posed by grow houses, hash lab explosions, and drug houses. Chris jokingly refers to the presentations as the “Ganja Roadshow”.

Chris Jelinek

The association also presents a training symposium each fall, and because Chris was away teaching a class during a board meeting, he found that he had been named to head up the event to be held this year. A lot of his time this summer has been spent preparing for the symposium, which will take place in November.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys woodworking. Earlier this year, he was on a walk with Kim along the mouth of the Mad River, when he found a large piece of driftwood. He took it home, sawed it into rough-hewn lumber, and made a table from it.

Chris said that he always closes his emails with the phrase, “The journey is the destination”. The story behind that line, he said, combines different elements of his life. Seven years ago, while Chris was training for an Ironman Triathlon, he attended a family reunion in Anaheim. There, he learned that a cousin had signed up for the same race. They competed together, and his cousin’s wife made up 50 t-shirts bearing a logo for “Team Jelinek”. Each time the two competitors would make the loop for the cycling and running, they would pass a large group of enthusiastic supporters wearing the shirts, bearing the motto, “The Journey is the Destination”.

Last week, Dustin Littlefield provided a special recognition of Sunriser Tomas Chavez. Tomas has been a member of our Club for two years, sponsored by Angelo Bacigaluppi. He serves on the Recognitions Committee and on the Vocational Development Committee.

Tomas is from Hesperia, California, and after graduating from the local high school, he attended Humboldt State, earning his degree in Business Administration in 2006. “He is a family man,” Dustin told us. “He has his wife Heidi and his son Cruz, who is three years old.”

Heidi wrote the following tribute:

My husband Tomas Chavez is the most important person in my life, other than his “Mini-Me” [Cruz]. He teaches me to be hard-working, honest, always have faith in God, and be a true person. He is loved by everyone who comes into his life. Tomas is a wonderful loving father, and my partner through life. He loves camping with his family, making precious memories with his three year old son Cruz, and nothing beats football season with his boy … “49ers – yeah, baby!”

Tomas has worked for Sequoia Personnel Services since 2006. Dustin spoke with co-worker Michael Kraft, who had this to say:

Tomas is truly a great guy and a valued colleague. I edit the Business Sense column for the Times-Standard. Prior to my thinking of joining Sequoia Personnel Services as an employee, I sought out Tomas as one of three younger businesspeople I wanted to add to the column rotation. I knew that he would have good things to say to our local business community.  He is widely known to be the future of our business, a key part of its present, and a rising leader in Humboldt County. I think it’s fair to call Sequoia Personnel Services a work hard / play hard place, and Tomas fits in well with that culture. President Barbara should fine him without mercy! Kidding aside, Tomas is a great person, great family man, hard worker, future pillar of the community, and a great ambassador for Rotary International.

Steve Thomas, a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, said:

I don’t have a record of how long he has worked as an ambassador, but I know it’s been a few years. Tomas is someone I know as an ambassador, and a personal friend.  I can say without hesitation that I trust him immensely and can ask him to do a job, and without hesitation he takes it to the highest degree. He’s likeable, friendly, honest, and trustworthy, and an excellent role model for his son. I am very proud to call him a personal friend and believe that Rotary is very lucky to have him as a member.

When Dustin asked Tomas what he likes to do in his spare time, he replied, “What the **** is spare time?” When he’s not busy, he likes camping and sports – he roots for the Kings along with the 49ers, but he is true to his SoCal roots as a Dodgers fan.  We’re happy and lucky to have Tomas as a Sunriser.

Rebecca Crow and her son Max participated in the recent Kevin Ebbert
Memorial Run put on by HealthSport. Rebecca said that it was a beautiful
morning, and they saw parts of the Arcata Community Forest that she
hadn’t been to before. They were prepping for the Arcata Sunrise
Cross-Country Championships, which will be held in late October.  Romi
Hitchcock-Tinseth, Mark Burtchett, and Tami Camper-Dart also
participated in the event.
We then heard from our globe-trotting international explorer and President-Elect, Howard Stauffer. In his quest for new and unusual cultural experiences, Howard most recently attended the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. He traveled with several local friends.

Howard said that 55 thousand people converge on a “playa” 12 miles by 23 miles northeast of Reno. The festival lasts about a week each year, leading up to Labor Day, for “partying and other experiences”. Howard said that he isn’t much of a party person – “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke – so what did I get out of it? I got a lot out of it!”

It rained the first day they were there, so Howard walked around with clay clinging to the soles of his shoes. The group had a mobile home, a tent, and a shelter for their kitchen.

“You go as a different persona,” Howard told us. Many of the attendees wear costumes, and he was no exception. His costume recalled his pre-retirement gig as a math professor – he was “Captain Infinity”, complete with goggles and a vest festooned with equations.

Howard said that his “peak experience” was playing a piano that was out on the playa. He drew an audience, and “one very attractive female came up to me afterwards, and said, ‘This has been the best experience I’ve had at Burning Man.'”

The playa provided a temporary home for over 150 immense sculptures. Internationally known artists design and construct the pieces. Howard said that it was like a Dali painting out amid the sculptures on the desert floor. He said that you are encouraged to climb on the sculptures and interact with them. At the close of the festival, the works are all burned, along with the central 40-foot Burning Man sculpture.

Between the Sound Camps and Theme Camps, there was always activity, commotion, and noise. There were also Art Carts – trucks decorated with bright colors and designs. One of these featured Humboldt County art legend Duane Flatmo. The only breaks in the activity seemed to come between five and six in the morning, when it became relatively quiet.

Howard called it a “Transformational Experience”, and he noted that an Oklahoma Rotary Club offered a make-up meeting at the event.

“Fueling” the Humboldt Business Challenge
Our Featured Speaker was Greg Seiler, a member of the Rotary Club of Eureka (Noon), a member of the Headwaters Fund Board, and a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Greg was on hand to discuss the new Humboldt Business Challenge.

Greg Seiler

Greg said that the US owes a debt of gratitude to small business for helping us emerge from the 2008 financial crisis. The recovery was driven by small companies who created the majority of new jobs since then. Humboldt County is a hotbed of entrepreneurial spirit – we have the highest rate of business ownership per capita in the state.

Owning a business is a risky proposition, Greg noted. Starting one from scratch is even more difficult – only about 20% of such businesses survive for five years or more. It is a myth that the companies that succeed from such beginnings are run “by the seat of the pants”. Actually, over 80% of the businesses that survived more than five years started with a business plan in the first year. “in fact,” Greg said, “the biggest differentiator between survival and failure with start-ups is regular reporting of critical business metrics.”

Given the importance of planning for success, organizations and competitions have been formed to help potential entrepreneurs engage in that process. To that end, Rob and Cherie Arkley and their Security National Corporation donated nearly $1 million over eight years to help fund the Economic Fuel program in Humboldt County. The program involved students and recent graduates of HSU and CR. Last year, the Arkleys discontinued their support for a variety of reasons.

Greg received the news that Economic Fuel would be discontinued via a call from the program’s coordinator, Rachel Callahan. He, in turn called Dawn Elsbree, who at that time was the Executive Director of the Headwaters Fund for the County (and a Sunriser). Dawn put together a group to look into creating a successor program.

The first thing the group considered was whether the program would provide benefits sufficient to warrant the effort that would be required. They asked what the success rate for Economic Fuel graduates in creating durable businesses. They also considered whether the program met the appropriate economic threshold. Greg said that a common metric for economic development is that it should cost no more than about $35,000 to create a new durable job. They asked whether a new program would have broad-based community support.

They determined that Economic Fuel had recognized 64 teams over its eight years of operation. Thirty-six of the businesses that grew out of those 64 teams are still operating, and of those businesses, 33 are headquartered in Humboldt County. “These businesses are interesting and diverse,” Greg stated. “They produce our food, fix our phones, build our gates, make movies, educate our children, store our stuff, [and] shred our documents.”

If each of these businesses had just one employee, the $35,000 per durable job threshold would have been easily met. Since most have several employees, the jobs were created even more economically.

The group polled businesses and community leaders to determine the potential level of support for a successor event, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Greg said that the “long and growing” list of sponsors includes several Sunriser-owned businesses. He told us that “virtually everyone we’ve reached out to ask for support has said yes”.

Here is a description of the new event, from its Humboldt Business Challenge:

The Humboldt Business Challenge is a catalyst for discovering talented
and aspiring entrepreneurs, vetting their ideas, and connecting them
with the people and resources needed for them to flourish in Humboldt
County. We believe entrepreneurs are vital to Humboldt County’s
prosperity and economic development. We provide incentives to promising
entrepreneurs in cash awards, in-kind prizes and meaningful recognition.

Greg said the group believed that finding entrepreneurs was probably the easiest part, but what would constitute “meaningful recognition”? They decided to offer services that might be hard for emerging companies to afford, and they included the ever-popular cash prizes as well. While Economic Fuel focused on students and recent graduates, the new competition has expanded its outreach to existing companies that are looking to expand their offerings.

The competition will take place in three phases: the “Idea Phase”, the “Analysis Phase”, and the “Market Prototyping Phase”. During each of these phases or stages, the participants will receive feedback from the judges, and some will receive incentives and awards.

The process will help the participating entrepreneurs connect with a network. They are likely to find their accountant, their attorney, mentors, and others who will help their business grow, beyond the timeline of the challenge.

Greg closed by recognizing some of the people who have helped bring the Humboldt Business Challenge into being. He first thanked Rob and Cherie Arkley “for starting the tradition”. He also thanked the Economic Fuel competitors for providing motivation for future participants. The mentors and the judges have played critical roles in helping the competitors succeed. The Coordinating Committee has been instrumental in designing and promoting the new event. HSU and CR have set up classes to help potential participants prepare for the challenge. And the sponsors, both past and present, have provided the needed capital to make the event a reality.

For more information, please visit the Humboldt Business Challenge website at http://humboldtbusinesschallenge.org/.