City council to vote on sports arena development as transparency issues arise
S1: Campaign donations may complicate today's Midway Rising vote at the city council.
S2: There's a lot of questions surrounding this. It's a big project , one of the city's biggest in history.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. Compassion , persistence and patience. All three are needed by San Diego's homeless outreach workers.
S2: Watching somebody move into housing after 20 or 30 years on the street. Seeing that happen is a pretty amazing experience.
S1: There's often a long wait for kids to get mental health care at schools and a report on stem cell research in space. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Mayor Todd Gloria's top pick for the sports arena redevelopment will be considered by the full city council today. The Midway Rising proposal contains the largest number of affordable housing units on the 48 acre site , in addition to retail , open space and a new sports arena. But recent information has shown that the head of the top development company in the Midway Rising plan made significant contributions in support of Mayor Gloria's 2020 mayoral election. The report says Zephyr Partners owner Brad Termini and his wife Stephanie donated more than $100,000 to the cause. Critics of the Midway Rising plan are alleging connections between the donations and the selection. And joining me are San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald. Jeff , welcome to the program.
S2: Hello , Maureen. Thanks for having me.
S1: And they weren't given directly to the mayor's campaign.
S2: The big donations , $50,000 each were made to an independent expenditure committee that the mayor's office , of course , points out it has no control over. But it is a political committee that was dedicated to electing Todd Gloria mayor.
S1: And those were the two single largest personal donations given to this committee toward Gloria's election.
S2: There were some unions that gave a little bit more , but unions gave money to campaigns all the time. So that's not that unusual.
S2: They live in Encinitas. The company is based up there. They built a number of smaller projects across the region. Nice projects by all measures. Successful , I suppose , but nothing to the scale or scope of the Midway Rising project. They've , I think , completed just less than 600 housing units by themselves. They also had a history of entitling properties and then selling them to other builders. So a lot of the projects they've been involved with , they haven't actually followed through and constructed. Once you secure the entitlements , the value of the property goes way up , of course , and you can just cash out and sell to somebody else who will develop the actual buildings. So Zephyr has done that a number of times.
S1: And they have been apparently sued repeatedly.
S2: Every company gets sued from time to time , so that's not all that unusual. I did think that it was notable that they did not disclose the litigation history. The city's answer was that they were only required to disclose the past seven years worth. But it does speak to a company's business practices when they're repeatedly sued for breach of contract or failing to pay vendors or whatnot. So I think any reasonable person would say that's something of a red flag.
S1: Now , the city's land use and housing committee approved the selection of Midway Rising last week , where concerns about Zephyr and its donations to Mayor Gloria brought up.
S2: Yes , a number of speakers spoke against the recommendation from staff , which was to , of course , forward the forward the midway rising proposal on to the city council , which was approved and will be heard this afternoon at at the city council meeting. They did raise concerns not only of the political donations , but the litigation history , the lack of experience , the haste with which this project is moving forward. There's a lot of questions surrounding this. It's a big project , one of the city's biggest in history , almost 50 acres. That would be completely remade.
S1: Now , in your report , you say concern over this redevelopment process is heightened by the bad real estate deal the city entered into with the Ash Street building.
S2: This this city has a history of questionable real estate dealings , not just with Ash Street , which , of course , you guys know the city agreed to pay $132 million in July to settle some lawsuits over this building that cannot be safely occupied. It's the 19 story , former Sempra headquarters , one on one ash. But this city has a long history of , you know , questionable real estate deals. So the trust that the city has with a number of constituents is hugely tested. And that's one of the driving forces behind the calls to slow down this process , to make sure the city gets it right this time.
S1: Now , as you pointed out , it wasn't just mayor. Gloria , but city staff and now a city council committee that have chosen Midway rising out of the three finalists for the redevelopment.
S2: Absolutely no connection , which , you know , is understandable. They they solicit donations from all comers , as every politician does. I mean , that's the system we have here in the United States where campaign contributions can be considered free speech. The mayor's position is that the donations he accepts and the donations made to his efforts to be elected have no bearing on his policy making. So , you know , we all hope that's the case. And and there you go.
S1: So the full city council is scheduled to vote on this redevelopment today.
S2: Yes and yes. Remember , this is only a suggestion that the Midway Rising enter into exclusive negotiations. They'll have up to two years to hammer out an actual development plan for the acreage. It's about 48 acres. So this is the start of the process. This is not a building permit consideration before the council today or even a ground lease , but it is obviously the inside track for this company and we'll see how it moves forward.
S2: I don't expect it will be rejected. As I said to somebody else last week , if this council , a majority of them , was willing to approve the straight settlement months ahead of a trial that the city attorney recommended they'd not approve. They're certainly not going to go forward with the mayor's recommendation today.
S1: I've been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune reporter Jeff MacDonald. And Jeff , thanks.
S2: Hey , thank you. Have a great day.
S1: In an effort to house an increasing number of unsheltered people in San Diego. The city is trying to address the issue on multiple fronts. It's working on everything from plans for more affordable housing to a new conservatorship unit to force severely mentally ill people into care. And one key element of the city's strategy to address homelessness is its $4.6 million outreach program. The efforts of San Diego's homeless outreach workers are profiled in a San Diego Union-Tribune report. It's a job that takes compassion , persistence and patience to convince a sometimes reluctant population that there is a better life for them off the streets. Joining me is Nate Dressel , an outreach program manager with people assisting the homeless or PATH. And Nate. Welcome.
S2: Thank you , Maureen. Happy to be here.
S2: In order to do that. It really does require establishing a relationship. A lot of folks who are living on the street , you know , they may have been working with providers in the past. They may have lost trust in the system. And we're here to meet people where they're at , develop a relationship with them. And in the end , we're really aiming to get them into a permanent housing placement.
S2: In fact , a lot of our team , they kind of take ownership in a way of a neighborhood. So we'll have somebody in , say , Balboa Park or Ocean Beach or even downtown San Diego working with a specific community of people. And occasionally we do work in pairs. Sometimes it does help to have a couple of people tackling an issue , but generally we do go out alone.
S2: We carry food. Water is super , super important in the summertime. Hygiene kits. We'll also carry Narcan on us just in case we happen to run into a situation where somebody may be overdosing on heroin or fentanyl. And many first aid kits. We also will carry those. So it depends on the need , but we are definitely well stocked when we go out.
S2: It's more of a conversation. At first it's kind of like , Hey , how are you ? How's it going ? How's your day been ? My name is so-and-so. Know I work for Pathe. Have you ever heard of us ? And just kind of get a conversation going and then , you know , we're going to come back day after day to the same spots , talk to the same people. They're going to see us doing that work , and they might see us getting their friends into housing and to shelter. Some people that might be reluctant to work with us can kind of see us in action and see us model that. And that's when that kind of trust begins.
S2: And that's our target population , is the people that are most vulnerable. And there's a lot of them out there. And sometimes , you know , they're relying on the rest of the encampment around them just to live and transitioning from that situation into housing. It takes a lot of work and we've got to be sure that they're ready once they move in and they're set up with people that can care for them. But those are the kind of situations we see when we're on the street.
S1: The city has been conducting regular sweeps of homeless encampments , and some of the people who live there are saying that their possessions are often thrown away.
S2: It's unfortunate. It really is , because sometimes those possessions can include things like medication. It can also affect people's documentation , which is pretty important. When you're moving into housing. You need to be able to provide documentation that vouches for who you are. That's part of what we're doing. I think as an organization is where we're trying to come in and help people with that. We're going to keep those documents on file for them because we know from experience being out there that it's one of those things that just happens. I mean , people lose this stuff. It does get thrown away. It also gets stolen. It's a major , major hurdle for people that are living on the street.
S2: It can come down to the fact that , like , we can't find our clients sometimes when they're arrested or when they're areas where , you know , they move to different areas that we're unfamiliar with. Maybe their phone was thrown away. We can't contact them anymore. It can damage trust , too. I mean , you know , when you're living on the streets , sometimes you don't really have an idea of what's going on. So you might see the police roll up right after past , just as a coincidence. And we have had that instance where we're talking to a client and they're saying , Oh , you guys are connected to the police , right ? And we're not. But we do have to kind of rebuild that trust. And sometimes that trust can be affected by the timing of sweeps.
S2: And , you know , we we've worked with some clients that when we met them first , you know , they told us like , hey , you know , when I first met you , I didn't think I would ever move. And in fact , I was just kind of going along with it. But it actually happened. And I mean , that's incredible , you know , and just seeing that happen is it definitely propels you forward because the job can be really tough sometimes. You know , it's not all winds. And I really just try to remind my staff like , hey , you know , like take pride in what you do. And even the smallest accomplishments make a big difference to people who are living on the street.
S1: Well , I've been speaking with Nate Dressel , an outreach program manager with PATH. Nate , thanks for what you do and thank you for speaking with us.
S2: Thank you , Maureen. I really appreciate it.
S3: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. Writes Of Depression among local youth have been on the rise for the last decade. According to San Diego County's behavioral health services , the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem not only here , but across the state. In California , rates of anxiety and depression among children shot up by 70% between 2016 and 2020. Suicide rates increased by 20% in 2020 alone. And in many places , there just aren't enough mental health professionals to meet the needs of youth. Joining me is Amy Bentley , who works in this space as a developmental psychologist with a focus on adolescent mental health and well-being with UCSD. Amy , welcome.
S4: Thanks so much for having me.
S3: Now , as school starts back , we get a better understanding of what students are struggling with.
S4: We've had a large number of students who have lost , if not their father and mother , other caregivers and family members. So there's a lot of grief. We also have disconnection where students are just feeling disconnected from community , even from their schools. There's also a sense of loneliness that's occurred because of the pandemic , but has continued as youth are coming back to school. So these problems are really difficult , especially the disengagement. And students are having mental health crises , their engagement with school drops , and it's really hard to reconnect them because their brain is actually going through a lot. So we have to find a way that we can welcome them back and get them connected again with their schools , with their peers , and with our communities.
S3: And all of that highlights the need for mental health professionals in schools and the community. But there just aren't enough. You're a former teacher from where you sit.
S4: So as it systems in California , there's been advocacy for years around these issues , but there were always other pressing concerns. I think that the high standards on testing has made a big difference because if a school district has to make a decision to hire a teacher or to hire a counselor , they're put in a bind because of the mandated testing. And they'll make the choice to hire a teacher because that will help them to reach some of those testing goals. And so I think that schools have been put in a difficult situation because of lack of funding and just because a lack of focus on these issues. What the pandemic has really done is that the anxiety and suicidality has been on the rise across communities. So from an equity perspective , more affluent parents are getting involved in this. And when we think about equity situations , as soon as these problems start to transfer throughout multiple groups , advocacy becomes louder. Hmm.
S4: We did a two year study with teachers in San Diego Unified and around the county. And one of the things that teachers were really forced to do is to find ways to support social emotional needs of students. And they were really on the front lines , both teachers and counselors of listening to students and their concerns that built up. So we have teachers that are also suffering from anxiety and depression. We have teachers and counselors that were really overworked during this time and also had the stressors that we've all experienced with getting COVID , sometimes multiple times and also worrying about their friends and family.
S3: Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is going to invest $4.7 billion for mental health support for youth across the state.
S4: I think some of the community school initiatives are really brilliant. How do we go back to creating these neighborhood centers ? I think the other thing that would be wonderful is to focus more funding on before and after school programming. We also need to focus on prevention. So what are the systemic issues that are driving some of these things ? This isn't appearing out of the blue. It's very connected to social inequalities that we're seeing across the board in California.
S4: But again , this this situation has been growing and developing over time. And we know that students of color are also facing equity issues regarding just the police brutality that they might have. So there's a lot of stigma even around Asian-American students right now. So in addition to all of these initiatives , we also have to supply community education around issues of equity. Students don't attend school in isolation. They're attending from communities. And so part of what we have to do is to really engage stakeholders in decreasing these equity issues.
S3: I've been speaking with Amy Bentley's , a developmental psychologist with a focus on adolescent mental health and well-being with UCSD. Amy , thank you.
S4: Thank you for having me.
S3: STEM cell research has proven to be a valuable area for scientific advances in understanding and treating many diseases. And last week , UC San Diego announced a $150 million gift for stem cell research , not only here on Earth , but also expanding it above the clouds aboard the International Space Station. Here to tell us more about the scientific possibilities from low-Earth orbit is Dr. Katrina Jamieson , director of the UC San Diego Stanford STEM Cell Institute. Dr. Jamieson , welcome.
S5: Thank you so much for having me here this afternoon , Jay.
S5: STEM cells are responsible for repair and regeneration of our tissues when they get injured. And so they're really vitally important for maintaining our lifespan , but also our quality of life. And I guess the most important is stem cells saying this is a haematologist , a blood doctor. Is that hematopoietic or blood forming stem cell , which is in our bone marrow and can give rise to all the different cell types in our blood. So that's just an example of a tissue specific stem cell. Very important.
S5: For example , Parkinson's disease , ALS , you know , these really debilitating degenerative diseases. If we understand how stem cells work in the brain , neural stem cells , if we understand how they work in the liver , these liver progenitors or daughter cells of stem cells and how they work in the bone marrow , then we can intercede , predict and prevent disease development in a broad array of diseases , but including cancer , if you think of the number one cause of death in this country is cardiovascular disease. A lot has been learned about how stem cells work in myocardial tissue , but also how they work in cancer. There are cells called cancer , stem cells that really allow a cancer to clone itself. And that's where some of the biggest advances have actually been made in stem cell research , knowing that cancer can hijack stem cell properties to really be able to invade and spread to other parts of the body. So that's been a huge advance. Understanding stem cell properties in cancer , which is the number two cause of death in this country.
S3: You know , many years ago , there had been some controversy about using stem cells in research. President George W Bush at one point banned federal funding in that area , though that was later revoked.
S5: And actually , interestingly , President Bush at the time approved more cell lines , human embryonic stem cell derived cell lines than had been used in the past , actually. So it expanded opportunities. It just made it clear what the guidelines were for using stem cells that were no longer going to be useful. They would be discarded from fertility clinics. So I think that debate became less of the debate. The bigger deal was to be able to make therapies by understanding stem cell properties of different tissues. How do we enhance the capacity of different tissues to repair and regenerate themselves ? And that has been the biggest challenge over the last ten years of having stem cell funding in this state. And how do we bring in new partners that are accustomed to developing new technologies with alacrity , you know , very , very quickly to make sure that we stop cancer in its tracks , stop cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases in their tracks. That's something I'm reminded of as that sense of urgency being really supremely important. Having just come off call for the inpatient hematology service.
S3: You've recently announced a new donation that will help bring a laboratory aboard the International Space Station. Why is studying stem cells above the earth so intriguing ? Well , what we.
S5: Realized in looking at the nascent twin study that was published in Science , where Scott and Mark Kelly had different amounts of time and space , is astronaut Scott Kelly was in space for almost a year. His brother Mark had spent far less time in space. Also , as an outside astronaut , they're identical twins. Scott Kelly came back with leukemia changes in his blood activation of this enzyme called telomerase that Elizabeth Blackburn discovered. And that is how we keep the ends of our chromosomes intact. It looks like it was too active and we see that as an early warning sign for cancer. So then we started thinking , wait a minute , maybe stem cell stress is a big driver of accelerated aging and tissue degeneration that we could study in an abbreviated timeframe in space. And we got this $5 billion grant from NASA. To study stem cell aging in space. And so we've been doing those experiments in space since December 2020. We've actually had six stem cell launches into space. And so far what we've seen is what looks like accelerated aging and pre malignant changes that we think are related to that uniquely stressful environment. In space , it seems to recapitulate about ten years of aging in a one month time frame on the International Space Station. So that's important because it allows us to understand how stem cell aging occurs , but in an abbreviated timeframe. And number two , it allows us to develop what are called countermeasures by NASA so we can predict and prevent this accelerated aging and pre-cancer development before it becomes a big issue. And can we develop not only diagnostics but therapeutic strategies to prevent that ? And of course , that's going to have a lot of value on Earth , not just in low-Earth orbit.
S3: All of this sounds so hopeful. I have been speaking with Dr. Katrina Jamieson , director of the UC San Diego Stanford STEM Cell Institute. And Dr. Jamieson , thank you so much for joining us.
S5: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
S1: Most Californians are feeling the effects of the drought. But in big areas of the state where people rely on groundwater , the pain of this drought is especially severe. Wells are going dry and there's intense competition to find more water that's underground. The California Report's Saul Gonzales wanted to see what that looked like , so he took a trip to the San Joaquin Valley to find out.
S2: I'm standing by a mobile drilling rig in a rural area about 30 miles north of Fresno. I can see and feel the drill pipe rotating as it burrows deeper and deeper into the earth in search of untapped reservoirs of groundwater. If it's found , the water will be used by nearby homeowners whose first well has gone dry. And like many people in this part of California who aren't hooked up to municipal water systems , no. Well , water means no water , period. Daniel Reese is the drilling supervisor here. This area here , we will realistically what.
S6: Will not hit water until about through.
S2: 80 , 430 , 8400 feet ? Yes , that's unfortunate , say unfortunate researchers , because in the past , drilling to such depths to find groundwater would have been rare. These existing wells from these homes 15 , 25 years ago were only drilled down to about 200 , 300 max. Why drill deeper to hit water ? Well , drought , of course , both the one we're in and past ones. Less rain means it's harder for aquifers to get recharged. So there's a kind of race in the San Joaquin Valley now between property owners and farmers to drill deeper and tap the water that remains. In a sense , a lot of straws are going into the ground to get to that water. And some people win and some people lose. The deepest straw gets the water. That's absolutely how it works. That's Tom Collishaw , a Visalia based self-help enterprises. It's a nonprofit that provides emergency water services and low interest loans for private well construction in the San Joaquin Valley. Collishaw says one huge challenge is the soaring cost of drilling as demand increases and plentiful groundwater is more difficult to find. And well drilling right now , just a domestic well on a single family household lot is costing $60,000 , where three years ago maybe we were paying $25,000. So what do you do if you can't afford to drill or you need to wait until a drilling crew arrives ? That's when many put in giant tanks filled with trucked in water. So we're installing a temporary 2500 gallon water tank , and we'll get them temporary water until they can come up with a permanent solution for water , either be a new well or connection to some sort of city infrastructure , which I don't think is out here. So that's water tank installation contractor Brandon Jones. He says his company installs as many as five tanks a day. When I meet him , he and his crew are at a home east of Visalia. The homeowner , Michelle , who doesn't want her last name used , says she hasn't had water since June when her well went dry.
S2: Michelle is happy the tank is finally here , so she and her family can bathe , flush toilets and cook.
S4: But this is a Band-Aid until we're able to drill a new well and hopefully find water.
S4: Well , no.
S2: Oh , really ? Because it's just so hard to get through.
S4: So there are so many people in the same situation that everyone is extremely busy.
S2: But another problem , even if a property owner or community drills are successful , well , the water that's found could be contaminated. That's been a yearslong issue in mostly poor and Latino communities in the valley like du core population just over 600. There's groundwater here , but the water's too dangerous to consume because of decades of pesticide runoff from agriculture. I talk about that with resident Eliseo Al Dako as he waters his yard. It's water that's safe for the plants but not to drink. Know. Can you maybe even smell it ? So what do you do for drinking water ? Just buy bottled water. And that's just a constant thing. I mean , that's. I mean , every. Every every week. Yeah. So you got to buy the water for the week. So what's ahead for the San Joaquin Valley and the quantity and quality of its groundwater ? Well , cleanup efforts of tainted aquifers are slow or nonexistent. The state is also implementing a massive groundwater management plan , but that will take years to see results. Meanwhile , the search for increasingly scarce groundwater continues. Back at his drilling site , Daniel Reese says he has a long line of desperate customers who are waiting. I'm averaging right now 5 to 6 months out. That's actually a pretty decent number. Where we're pushing it , we're pushing it. But he says he cautions his clients that just because he drills it doesn't mean the water will actually be found no matter how deep he goes.
S1: That was Saul Gonzalez for the California Report. A new rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park represents another step in the effort to save a related rhino species that's nearly extinct. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson explains.
S2: The baby rhino begins the day leading mom Livia around the closed off rhino habitat on the eastern side of the park.
S4: Yeah , he has a bundle of energy , which is all typical rhino calf behaviors.
S2: Wildlife care specialist Jonica Pierro is accustomed to watching the young animals zoom around the enclosure , usually with mom lumbering close behind.
S4: She's really playful and confident. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Mom is so confident and feeling good about her role as a mom.
S2: And of course , all that running makes a romp in the mud even better. The bureau says that mud baths cools the animal down , protects from the sun's harsh rays and keeps bugs off its hide. The baby weighed more than £100 at birth and is already more than twice that size. And while the calf is cute and attracting attention , researchers are celebrating the birth because it's the first for mom , Livia. She now joins two other southern white rhino females at the park out of a herd of six that have proven they can give birth and care for offspring. Barbara Durrant is the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Director of Reproductive Services. She says the six females were brought here in 2015 to teach researchers about rhino reproduction.
S4: We knew vaguely what the rhino cycle was like from the animals that were breeding here in our field habitat , but we didn't know the details.
S2: That's critical because these six females could one day be surrogate moms to the closely related northern white rhino. That species is on the precipice of extinction thanks to war and poaching. An aging man and her daughter are the only northern white rhinos on the planet. Both are too old to breed , so surrogates could be a lifeline to keep the northern whites from going extinct.
S4: That goal for all of us , all of us working on this project is a self-sustaining herd of northern white rhinos that we can reintroduce into native habitat.
S2: San Diego researchers hope to do that by implanting an embryo of a northern white rhino into one of the proven moms. If the pregnancy is successful , the result would be a northern white calf. But it's complicated and unprecedented. The Wildlife Alliance is Carla Young is one of the researchers pioneering the techniques. Some steps are as basic as figuring out how to make the petri dish culture that cloned fertilized rhino eggs will grow in.
S4: We've sort of taken protocols that we've learned for the horse and other protocols that I've learned using domestic cat.
S3: Deer , even. Human.
S4: Human. And we've taken all those protocols , and this is how we made the maturation media for the rhino , because no one's ever done this sort of work before.
S2: Eventually , Young will use frozen northern white rhino cells to create sperm and eggs. Each egg will be the shell of a southern white with the northern white cellular material inside.
S4: I have no doubt that we can produce northern white rhino embryos with the southern white rhino host oocyte. I just hope in the near future we could do an embryo transfer.
S3: And figure out.
S4: Our technique to to do this and actually be able to produce a northern white rhino calf.
S2: But challenges remain. Barbara Durand says researchers want proof of concept in the field with southern white rhinos before they tap their limited supply of northern white cells. But creating the embryo is only half the battle.
S4: There's never been a successful embryo transfer in any rhino species.
S2: Duran says there has been steady , incremental progress. Two females in San Diego did get pregnant from artificial insemination. The team knows more about rhino reproduction. And three females are now candidates to have a southern white rhino embryo implanted. But Duran says the clock is ticking.
S4: The northern white rhino is so close to extinction now that there's a very real possibility that before we have a northern white rhino calf , that both these females will be gone and that we'll be bringing back an extinct species.
S2: The work being done with southern and northern white rhinos in San Diego could still prove invaluable to other species like the Sumatran rhino , which only has a population of about 60 animals. Eric Anderson , KPBS News.
S3: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. There is a new show coming to the fall lineup on KPBS. This one will take you on adventures to wineries , restaurants and breweries from the comfort of your home to hear the stories of women in trailblazers of color. It's called fresh glass. The wine and beer industries are growing , and now women in Bipoc communities are joining in , creating their own brands and making a name for themselves. Share their travel with me to meet these innovators. Find out why they started , what drives them , and how representation is the cornerstone of their passion.
S4: Never shied away from change.
S3: I'm creating a space for people who look like me to share their stories and their stories. This is fresh glass. I spoke with Cassandra Shag , host and founder of SIP Wine and Beer. I started by asking what inspired this series ? Yes , well , I'm glad to be a part of the KPBS family. And I'm and I'm honored and privileged to be able to have this , you know , shown on KPBS. But Fresh Glass is a docu series that we created during COVID. It was it was grown out of the virtual wine tastings that were taking place during COVID while we were sitting at home. And. And so I was able to connect with , you know , my collaborators and a lot of women and bipoc winemakers and brewmasters who were doing phenomenal things to stay afloat. And we started to create a show called First Glass to highlight and share those stories , because entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. And here we are. Here we are. You know , I mean , this is really a continuation of what you do with SIP Wine Bar , which is your tasting room in Escondido , where you elevate brands created by women and people of color. Talk about that and why it's so important to you. Yeah. So I opened SIP Wine and Beer in 2016. I cannot believe I am , what , five , six years in business. And this tasting room and event space is dedicated to elevating brands created by women and bipoc winemakers and brewmasters. And the industry is underrepresented when it comes to winemakers and brewmasters. With 2% being women and less than 1% being people of color. And so with the community support , I've been able to showcase those brands and drive economic impact to these niche brands that are making boutique phenomenal wine and beer. I mean , so what got you interested in wine and and how did it become a vehicle to to sort of elevate these trailblazers of color ? Yeah. I mean , I would look , I love drinking wine. I grew up in Temecula. And through my exploration of traveling and in my professional journey , you know , we've been drinking. I've been drinking a lot of wine. And so to hear the stories of people behind the bottle and really what it takes to make wine and beer is phenomenal. And I just took a risk. I moved to Escondido and I decided to open a wine and beer tasting room that showcases community culture and conversation. And thankfully , the city of Escondido was very welcoming and warming to my idea. So I'm still here. So when people tune in to Fresh Glass , what can they expect to see ? They can expect to see me traveling throughout California to some of the state's phenomenal wineries and breweries , and of course , a couple of that are local. You get to hear the stories of entrepreneurs who who have the grit and the perseverance to create their own rulebook for entrepreneurship and to really make things happen in a space that that where there's a lot of people that don't look like me. And you also get to learn about phenomenal wine and beers that are being made and a little bit about the process. My goal is to take , you know , that that connotation , that wine is something that's supposed to be for people who are wealthy and to really explore the facets of wine and beer with viewers. And I also want to make sure that the people we are highlighting also get the recognition that they deserve as well. They have worked hard and they have been at their craft for ten , 15 , 20 years. And the recognition that they deserve is due. And I am just honored and that these people have entrusted me to share their story and journey. When working on the show , was there any one story or one person that you interviewed that really inspired you ? Yes. You know , one story that stands out to me is Tara Gomez , who. Is the only Native American woman winemaker in the country , and she was also honored as 2021 winemaker of the Year by Vine Pear. She's been making wine for her tribe and her whole life has been has been spent making wine. And , you know , she's like the quiet person who just dedicates to her craft. And her wine is very popular in San Diego. Her brands are key to encomiums , to dreams. And she's also the pilot episode of Fresh Glass.
S4: Feeling. I'm honored and I'm proud to represent my tribe.
S3: So the reason why her story sticks out is because she's the only Native American woman to do it. And that has to be a hard road when you're the only one trying to perfect your craft. So ultimately , when people see your show , what do you hope people walk away with ? I really hope people walk away being inspired , having a different world view of the wine , beer in the food scene and making sure that they are supporting women and bipoc brands and women and people of color in the wine , beer and food space because it is detrimental that they get that support in order to continue pushing forward and that you fight , you figure out new places to travel to. And , you know , there's so many there's so many wineries in California and in San Diego. And to be able to visit wineries and breweries that are local and throughout the state is great for , you know , the economic drive. So I hope people tune in and get inspired. All right. I've been speaking with Cassandra Chang , host of Fresh Glass and founder of SIP Wine and Beer. Thank you so much for joining us , Cassandra. Cheers to you and congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. Fresh glass will air on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. from September 15th through October 20th on KPBS television , with encores airing throughout the year and streams online and on the PBS video app.