Shaping The World’s Food Future In Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today, on July 1, 2014.)

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, announces a new kind of Food CORPS focused on healthier ways to grow and distribute food

More than a century of agricultural research at UC Riverside has helped feed the human population.  When a pest invades California and starts killing important crops, it is Riverside scientists who find the natural enemy, raise it and release it, in concert with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

When far flung countries are fighting drought and flood, crops developed in Riverside can withstand the weather.  Catalyst for Innovation isn’t just a saying when speaking of  UC Riverside – it’s a lifestyle.

A campus community garden keeps UCR students connected to the land, and provides locally grown fruits and vegetables for students and others. And every piece of citrus in a California supermarket has a connection back to the campus, because Riverside hosts the budwood and genetic material for citrus growers around the world.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

“Keep in mind, the issue of food is not just about what we eat,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “It’s about delivery systems. Climate issues. Population growth. Policy. All of these and more come into play when you begin to think about the colliding forces that shape the world’s food future.”

On July 1, Napolitano promised a laser focus from the 10-campus University of California on a new UC Global Food Initiative, an issue with global implications.

The campuses in Riverside, Berkeley and Davis serve as a hub for Agricultural and Natural Resources, the University of California applied science that has advised and informed California’s growers for a century. But each of the 10 campuses, as well as the national laboratories, have a piece of the food puzzle.

“This initiative will help us address food security issues on our own campus, in our community and across the world,” said Peggy Mauk, a cooperative extension specialist who is director of UC Riverside’s Agricultural Operations, which covers 440 acres on campus, and another 500 acres in the Coachella Valley. She has heard growers ask for new certificate programs and an agribusiness degree. She is working to provide UCR grown crops to campus restaurants as well as schools in the Riverside Unified School Districts and local food banks.

“Our research has been going on for generations, but what this initiative does is ask us to knit it all up with the local community, local restaurants, even our local students. It’s totally doable in my opinion, given some time and some resources and some good partnerships,” Mauk said.

One of the tensions of the UC Global Food Initiative is that food means a lot of things to a lot of people, from growing organic greens in the backyard to large industrial production of soy and corn and beef shipped to the world.

For the entire article, click here.

 

Riverside Tops The List Of Best Cities For Small Business

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Amy Whyte, published in inc.com on May 12, 2014.)

A new study from Biz2Credit.com examines how a number of U.S. cities measure up and Riverside tops the chart as best city for small business when ranked by annual revenue.  See the infographic chart below. 

Infographic map comparing major cities based on annual revenue and average credit score.  Photo credit: shutter stock

Infographic map comparing major cities based on annual revenue and average credit score. Photo credit: Biz2Credit.com

The study, which defines a small business as a company with fewer than 250 employees or less than $10 million in annual revenue, analyzed more than 12,000 businesses that have been in operation for at least a year. The findings place San Jose in the top spot, on the basis of a weighted score that includes annual revenue, credit scores, and the average age of the city’s small businesses. Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco round out the top five.

This is an outstanding representation of Riverside as a location of choice.  For small businesses across the country, choosing what location to set up shop can be difficult and exhausting.  This type of chart is a useful tool for entrepreneurs to compare big cities side by side.   Riverside attracts creative, entrepreneurial, dynamic and diverse people as residents, workers, business owners and visitors.

To read more, click here.

Riverside Home Prices Up Over 20% In 2013

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Paul Ausick, published in 24/7 WallSt.com on May 13, 2014.)

As a location of choice, Riverside tops the list of California cities with rising home prices.  Although the value of homes across the country has risen roughly 11%, Riverside is way ahead of the curve at almost 24%.  Home prices in seven U.S. metropolitan areas rose at least 20% in 2013, according to the latest CoreLogic Case-Shillehome price index. The seven are Las Vegas (25.6%) and six California cities: Riverside (23.8%), Oakland (23.3%), Sacramento (23.0%), Los Angeles (20.3%), San Jose (20.1%) and San Francisco (20.0%).

Skyline view of Riverside, California.

Skyline view of Riverside, California.

House prices across the country rose 11.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, but remain 21% below the peak reached in the first quarter of 2006.

Overall, 308 of 384 U.S. metro areas posted price gains between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013. In those areas with populations greater than 1 million, every city either posted a gain or remained flat with the previous year.

For the current year, the CoreLogic Case-Shiller index is expected to post a home price gain of 5.3%, less than half the 2013 gain. Over the next five years, home prices are expected to rise at an annual rate of 3.1%.

Riverside attracts creative, entrepreneurial, dynamic and diverse people as residents, workers, business owners and visitors.

To read more, click here.

Council Votes To Add Sister City In Vietnam

(This article contains excerpts from article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on March 18, 2014.)

INTERNATIONAL SISTERS

Riverside will add Can Tho, Vietnam, to its already large collection of sister cities.  Riverside has sister city relationships with Sendai, Japan; Ensenada and Cuautla, Mexico; Obuasi, Ghana; Hyderabad, India; Gangnam, South Korea; Jiangmen, China; and Erlangen, Germany.

The ideas of “people to people” relationships and healing after war won out Tuesday, March 18, when the Riverside City Council narrowly voted to add Can Tho, Vietnam, as its ninth sister city.  The decision came after lengthy and impassioned public comments on the goals of the sister city program and whether having such a relationship in Vietnam would disrespect American veterans.

“The purpose is to promote peace and common understanding,” said Bill Gavitt, a Vietnam veteran. “It’s time to start helping others if we want to change their behavior.”

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside's sister city program.  Photo Credit:  Alicia Robinson

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, has spearheaded efforts to add Can Tho, Vietnam, to Riverside’s sister city program. Photo Credit: Alicia Robinson

The vote was 4-3. Councilmen Chris Mac Arthur, Steve Adams and Mike Soubirous dissented.

Riverside was among the earliest participants in the sister city program, which was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster cultural, educational and economic exchange between countries. Riverside formed ties with Sendai, Japan, in 1957 and has since added sister cities in South Korea, China, India, Ghana and Germany, and two in Mexico.

Vien Doan, a Vietnamese American physician who lives in Riverside, helped revive the idea of a sister city in his native country in 2012. He personally met with veterans’ groups in the past year and a half to build support for the plan.  “We have every reason to hate communism,” he said, describing how his family was rescued by American soldiers during the war. “I will never forget the past, but the past will not determine my future.”

Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey has said his office spends about $10,000 on the sister city program annually, but most other costs are borne by the International Relations Council, a private nonprofit group that oversees the friendships and raises money for related events and travel.

Like Riverside, Can Tho is home to a university and a medical college, and it’s an agricultural center producing fruit and rice.

Adding Can Tho to Riverside’s collection of international sister cities is a model of the seizing our destiny pillar, unified city.  We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

Riversiders respect and value the cultural heritage, distinct needs and varied input of each of our neighbors, while proactively engaging them across historical dividing lines.  Riversiders are working together everyday to not only address local issues, but to also have a positive impact on the region, nation and world…

To read the full article, click here.

Vision And The Brain: Can We Be Trained To See Better?

(This article contains excerpts from an article written by Kathleen Lees, published in Science World Report on February 17, 2014)

According to a recent study, researchers from the University of California, Riverside discovered that good vision may have a lot to do with an individual’s ability to spot out details.  For their experiment, they examined the role of vision for UCR’s baseball players, discovering just how a visual training program that teaches the brain how to see better could positively affect the sport’s players ability to succeed in the game.

For their experiment, researchers examined the role of vision for Riverside, Ca. baseball players. (Photo : Flickr/A Nowak)

For their experiment, researchers examined the role of vision for Riverside, Ca. baseball players. (Photo : Flickr/A Nowak)

“The goal of the program is to train the brain to better respond to the inputs that it gets from the eye,” Seitz said, via a press release. “As with most other aspects of our function, our potential is greater than our normative level of performance. When we go to the gym and exercise, we are able to increase our physical fitness; it’s the same thing with the brain. By exercising our mental processes we can promote our mental fitness.”

With the latest and greatest technology, researchers and psychologists have been able to apply their creativity and drive to help close the gap between potential and ability. This is just another example of how catalyst for innovation is demonstrated at Riverside’s universities.

“The demonstration that seven players reached 20/7.5 acuity-the ability to read text at three times the distance of a normal observer-is dramatic and required players to stand forty feet back from the eye chart in order to get a measurement of their vision,” Seitz concluded, via the release.

After the 2 month training period, players reported “seeing the ball much better,” “greater peripheral vision,” “easy to see further,” “able to distinguish lower-contrasting things,” “eyes feel stronger, they don’t get tired as much,” and so on.

To read the full article, click here.

 

 

 

 

Remodeled Convention Center Brings High Hopes

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Alicia Robinson, published in The Press-Enterprise on February 14th, 2014)

Riverside’s renovated convention center hasn’t yet opened but is already eliciting the “wows” city leaders hoped for in 2012 when they ponied up an extra $4.6 million dollars for a more attractive design.  A large scale renovation of the Riverside convention center has been long overdue, and on March 1st, 2014 the new convention center is scheduled to open it’s doors.  Loaded with state of the art technology and high end capabilities, the convention center will become a choice for new markets such as biomedical and pharmaceutical conventions, financial services events and corporate meetings. We will have the opportunity to showcase the City as a location of choice to many new visitors.

Now it sports a custom chandelier hanging in the 66-foot-high glass entry tower, a 40 percent larger exhibit hall, building-wide Wi-Fi and hundreds of smart phone charging stations, giving city and tourism officials hope that the center has everything a 21st century convention needs.

Photo credit: Kurt Miller/ staff photographer

Photo credit: Kurt Miller/ Staff Photographer

Riverside officials had been planning for nearly a decade to update the convention center, which opened in 1976 and had its last major touch-up in the late 1990s.  “It was a little worn before,” said Councilman Mike Gardner, who represents downtown.

Officials have said they got complaints about inadequate restrooms and a lack of “breakout rooms” for smaller sessions, and the center didn’t meet current earthquake standards. It also had a boxy, nearly windowless, dated design that didn’t command attention.

The redesigned center has a larger exhibit hall, two ballrooms, more small meeting rooms, a modern kitchen, a glass-walled entry tower, and the first escalator in a Riverside city building. Officials with the city and Raincross Hospitality Corp. said the furnishings – cherry wood paneling and a variety of carpet patterns in brown, beige and colonial blue – are meant to evoke a boutique hotel.

Photo Credit: Kurt Miller/ Staff Photograpgher

Photo Credit: Kurt Miller/ Staff Photographer

Riverside officials are banking on the kind of results Palm Springs has seen, after a $34 million upgrade completed in 2005.  Business has come back stronger than ever after dipping in 2008 and 2009 due to the recession, said James Canfield, executive director of the Palm Springs Convention Center and the city’s bureau of tourism.

Riverside Convention Center officials expect the upgrade puts them in a better position to compete with convention centers in Ontario and Pasadena and the Pechanga Resort & Casino near Temecula. They also say it enables them to go after a higher caliber of events.

To read the full article, click here.

Mayor Pledges Progress On Economic Front

(Excerpts from this post came from an article by Alicia Robinson, Staff Writer, and published in the Press Enterprise on January 23, 2014.) 

Riverside is a globally competitive, big city that is poised for economic success with assets like the UC Riverside medical school, the soon-to-open renovated convention center, and a public utility that helps fund city services, Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey told a crowd of more than 800 people at his “State of the City” address Thursday, Jan. 23.

Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo Credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo Credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Bailey’s second such speech since winning office in November 2012, the annual talk covered highlights of his first year as chief representative of California’s 12th largest city and set some goals for 2014.

When he’s asked about Riverside’s advantage over other communities, Bailey said, “My answer is consistent: our educational institutions, our public utility, our historic downtown and our community spirit.”

In the past year, Riverside saw loss, with the on-duty death of one police officer and the wounding of another, Bailey said.

But the city also fulfilled the goal of fully funding and opening the new medical school at UC Riverside, and the community came together to preserve the iconic Mount Rubidoux cross, Bailey said, with both mentions winning applause.

In early 2014, Bailey pledged, city leaders will meet to discuss their policy goals and set Riverside’s future direction. March will bring the reopening of the renovated convention center downtown and a conference on revitalizing agriculture in the city’s greenbelt.

Guest listen as Riverside Mayor William "Rusty" Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo credit:  STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Guest listen as Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey gives his second State of the City speech on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. (Photo credit: STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

The year will bring “major progress” on the railroad “quiet zone,” which improves rail crossings so trains don’t have to blow their horns, Bailey said. The city also will begin using “smart codes” to streamline the urban planning process, he said.

As a closing challenge, Bailey urged support for the historic Harada House fundraising efforts and creation of an “innovation corridor” for arts and technology along University Avenue.

“I am so proud to lead a city that is not afraid to take some risk, and to celebrate the rewards with everyone,” he said.

“Riverside continues to prove that even as it grows and competes with cities across the globe, we remain a city that honors and builds on its past, while pursuing a future that raises the quality of life for everyone.”  This is a reference to the Vision of Seizing Our Destiny. The Mayor connected all four pillars – Intelligent Growth, Catalyst for Innovation, Location of Choice and Unified City - to his presentation in order to show how important this movement has become.

Two residents said after the speech that they liked what they heard.

“I really enjoyed hearing him talk about the increase in jobs that they’ve brought to Riverside – very impressive,” said attorney Amy Osborne, referring to Bailey’s comment that city economic development efforts have helped create 4,500 jobs in the past two years.

Osborne, who recently moved to the city to work at downtown law firm Gresham Savage, said she also appreciates the city’s environmental efforts and Bailey’s focus on education.

Janaar Barnes, co-owner of Gram’s Mission BBQ restaurant, said hearing about new buildings, businesses and entertainment gives him a response to critics who say there’s nothing going on here.

“A lot of people talk down on Riverside,” he said. Now “I have more things that I can kind of tell people.”

Barnes said he was glad to hear about UCR’s new medical school, which will be “very, very big” for the city.

For the full article, click here.

Prayer Breakfast, Speeches and Walk Honor King’s Legacy

(Excerpts from this post were taken from an article by Alicia Robinson, Gail Wesson and Erin Waldner, Staff Writers for the Press Enterprise, on January 20, 2014.)

Riverside shined as a Unified City on January 20, 2014  when the community came out for a variety of events honoring the late Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was a great demonstration of Seizing Our Destiny with a community that comes together around common interests.

Students from a dozen clubs at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School were among the hundreds that took part Monday, Jan. 20, in a 5K walk commemorating the work of the slain civil rights leader.

“It’s part of our legacy and our tradition (at King High) to represent what he stands for,” Associated Student Body President David Reynolds, 18, said.

Odessa Bragg, center, and daughter Geneva Williams sing the Black National Anthem during The Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches' 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Monday, Jan. 20, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Odessa Bragg, center, and daughter Geneva Williams sing the Black National Anthem during The Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches’ 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Monday, Jan. 20, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Beginning at Bordwell Park, an estimated 800 walkers proceeded down Martin Luther King Boulevard, wound their way through downtown, and past the King statue on the Main Street mall before finishing at Riverside City College’s digital library.Elsewhere in the Inland area, the life and work of King were honored in other ways. Some attended a prayer breakfast held by the Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches in San Bernardino. Others stopped by Mt. San Jacinto College, where speakers recalled the 1963 March on Washington and women in the civil rights movement.

WALKING IN RIVERSIDE

At the Riverside event, several students said King’s message that all people should be treated equally still resonates.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Walk-A-Thon begins at the Stratton Community Center in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 20. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Walk-A-Thon begins at the Stratton Community Center in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 20. (Photo Credit: KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Amanda Gomez, 17, whose parents were born in Mexico, said people who hold outdated stereotypes of Hispanics sometimes question what she’s doing in honors classes.

“I feel like the world is changing,” she said. “It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, you’re Hispanic – you probably won’t even graduate high school.’”

Neil Shah, 17, said that after coming to the U.S. from Cambodia as a child, he was teased and bullied because of his skin color and for not speaking English.

Because of that experience, he said, “I know better than to be making fun of other people.”

One lesson from King’s work that stuck with Nigel Item, 17, was the need for grassroots activism and the realization that it can change society.

“People need to understand that they have power,” Item said. “By joining together, by protesting, it actually works.”

For the full article, please click here.