Saints of Sactown

SN&R anoints some of the Sacramentans who did awfully… righteous things for their fellow humans

Illustration by Sarah Hansel

It can be easy to think things are bad. That there are wicked neighbors all around us. That Hell is indeed other people.

But it's even easier to forget that good folks are everywhere. Speaking for others on the picket line, feeding and sheltering the poor, providing opportunities where they’re less available. Boosting the neighborhood economy. Keeping our minds open. Making Sacramento a better city.

We could be more like them.

We’re space-limited in print newspapers. If you’ve noticed a glaring omission, or just want to shout out to someone doing the secular word for “God’s work” in Sac, please send us a letter to the editor. We’ll happily spotlight them.

And now, with a light heart emoji, we commemorate Sacramento’s newest patron saints:

Danielle Vincent:

Saint of music festivals

Sacrifice is a common spiritual theme, and Vincent gave an entire fibula to put on her fourth 40-band, all-local outdoor festival, First Fest. She broke it falling out of a U-Haul moving equipment out of Tanzanite Park, where for a weekend in May, Sacramento musicians, stand-up comedians, visual artists and you had a chance to get an encompassing primer on what the city has to offer in its arts scene. It was an opportunity for upstart music-makers to feel the magic of a big stage, and those that did attend had everything to do, from the mosh pit to the barbecue pit, mostly created by people doing business in your city. Vincent’s taken a break from festival-making, but the next Fest might return in 2020. May we all still be here, and may Vincent and her team be up for a fifth coming.

Jim Lofgren:

Saint of water bottles

They called him “Jim the Water Man.” During the summer of 2017, the director of the property manager nonprofit California Apartment Association left big, industrial containers filled with ice and water bottles at downtown parks. They weren’t just for thirst-quenching. They were for immediate survival: Last summer, Sacramento underwent a record heatwave, and at least six county residents died on the streets from heat-related hypothermia. Almost half of public water fountains were broken or malfunctioning. With the city working on a longterm solution, Lofgren’s “oases” were crucial to making water accessible where Sacramento wasn’t. This is Jim. He helps save lives. Be like Jim.

Grace Loescher:

Saint of bangers

“Art is for everyone” is the thesis behind the Creation District, including and especially those who are housing insecure. Aside from offering classes to the community at-large, including in radical self-love and activism, Loescher, the Creation District’s director, recently started a record label under the same moniker, giving a chance at music stardom to young people who had recently or were experiencing homelessness. The newbie artists even shared their latest tunes at a showcase at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub in September, mostly hip-hop tracks crafted and recorded with the help of two Sacramento talents, Hobo Johnson and So Much Light. Divine Grace!

Sister Libby Fernandez:

Saint of hugs

At least once a week, Fernandez and 60 others, called Mercy Pedalers, ride throughout downtown Sacramento and West Sac handing out food, water, soap and other essentials to the most neglected and the most in need. But the greatest gift this Sister of Mercy pulls from her tricycle is a handshake and a hug, reminding others that they’re welcome regardless of their housing status. She recently retired after 20 years as the executive director of Loaves & Fishes, Sacramento’s biggest homeless charity. And she’s been a vocal advocate in defense of the homeless, speaking out against the city’s camping and panhandling ordinances, which charge unreasonably high fees to survive. High five, Sister!

Berry Accius:

Saint of tough love

As protests erupted after the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014, Accius predicted that Sacramento was due for its own Ferguson, that the tensions between law enforcement and the citizens they serve being displayed on national television would echo all the way across the country, to Sacramento. And when he was proven right, following the killing of Stephon Clark in March, Accius helped lead hundreds in protests. For years, the pro-black activist has proudly been one of the loudest fighters for equality and against gentrification and racism. He’s also a teacher and historian, the founder of a mentorship program for inner-city kids called Voice of the Youth. Berry, step into the waters of sainthood, man!