Everything Begins with One Step

The largest gay event in the Central Valley shares the story of their arduous journey to maintain LGBTQ visibility within the city of Fresno

by Lisa Talley

A single spark is enough to set the world afire. The same is said for the movements that change the course of history. It starts with an idea, a single word, or a single step to set the right things in motion. In just a few days, on June 3rd, Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival will be celebrating their 27th year in the historic Tower District complete with the theme: “One Step Starts A Movement” to commemorate the many milestones achieved in the fight for Equality.

From 1955 when the first known Lesbian rights organization formed in San Francisco to the ban lift of Transgendered people serving in the U.S. military in 2016. “It is only through a community’s unity that we can overcome injustice towards all groups of people,” says the committee about their message behind the parade and festival.

Despite the impressive progress the LGBTQ community has seen throughout the country, as well as around the globe, the movement is still in full swing with the growing need for change right here in the Central Valley. But to know where this fight is going, it’s important to know where it has been and for that, we need to go back to the beginning.

“We’ve never had massive support from our allies,” shares Jeffery Robinson, Lead Coordinator, longstanding committee member, and one of the 12 original founders of the Fresno Pride Parade and Festival, “No one has ever rallied around us and [in our defense] said ‘no, we don’t put up with [hateful behavior], it’s all about inclusion, tolerance, and equality.’ That’s never happened in the city of Fresno.”

In 1991 the very first Pride parade was met with a protest from the Klu Klux Klan. But before the parade could take the flight down Olive Ave, the founders were met with resistance from members of their own community.

In the Beginning

1990 could be considered the first year of the official Pride celebration in Fresno when 12 individuals got together and decided that it was time for the local LGBTQ community to be visible. In the beginning, the parade was small and took place inside of a bar with attendees decorating baskets and carts in a similar fashion to parade floats. But it was quickly decided that wasn’t enough.

“We wanted something that couldn’t be pushed away. Something that couldn’t be closeted,” Robinson recalls from the days of establishing the parade march.

However, obtaining and securing a permit for the event was more complicated that it would seem. The early 90s was a time filled with activism for the LGBTQ community and some felt that battles were won through a delicate balancing act with regard to more conservative areas, such as Fresno, and the influential opinion was that Fresno was not ready for an ’out’ Pride celebration.

“Gay and Lesbian individuals who were in positions of leadership, who were visible community members, tried to work with the city government and Tower [District] businesses to stop us from having a parade on the streets of Olive Ave,” shares Robinson on the argument which few felt that the celebration would send the movement backwards, causing more harm than good.

The opposition failed and the permit was won. However, the committee was soon to face their next show of resistance; the KKK. Stationing themselves between what is now Sequoia Brewery and the Tower Theatre, the KKK came dressed in full traditional Klan attire complete with robes and infamous hoods, facing absolutely no opposition from any other members of the local community. But in spite of the display of intimidation, the committee was ready with a strong show of support.

Organizations from San Francisco and Los Angeles came to show their support with members representing from Queer Nation, Act Up, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and roughly 20 bikers from the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent (Dykes on Bikes) to round out the march.

“When the contingents of Act Up and Queer Nation arrived at where the Klan were rallied, a young man all of 18 years old ran up and grabbed the hood off of one of the Klan members and tore it. Many of the folks from San Francisco and LA had never experienced a protest like this,” Robinson says of the clash, “the rest of the Klan stepped into the street as if to retaliate, but across the street were the Motorcycle Contingent riders. They popped their kickstands, got off their bikes and the Klan got right back up on the sidewalk.”

The KKK continued to protest the parade for the next 2 years. On the third year, the committee was contacted by Fresno Police Department who had credible intelligence that the Klan would not only be present but would be coming with weapons. Sure enough, the parade march was met by the Klan but this time they waited for the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent to pass before a few of their members went back to their vehicles, popped the trunk, and stood, waiting with hands lightly pressed on their trunks appearing to wait for an opportune moment. The FPD arrived and found that they did, in fact, have weapons, the FPD seized and hauled them away. The Klan never came back.

As shocking as the incident was, having been mere moments away from becoming an intense scene of physical violence, no one (other than those directly involved) knew about it.

“It was never publicized in the Bee, or any other media [when it happened],” Robinson says.

Surprise! Regulations, Regulations, and more Regulations

Visual displays of protesting Pride in Fresno dwindled down to the occasional religious loner with a sign or 2 in the years that followed. However, resistance to the parade had arrived through more subtle and political avenues.

In 2005, a lieutenant was assigned to oversee the committee’s application for their annual march permit who “had definite ties to a large church in town, and conservative members of city council,” states Robinson.

A new stipulation was suddenly and conveniently tacked on to their application requirements stating that the committee had to provide an exhaustive list of names for who would not only be in the parade march but who would also be attending. An impossible feat for an event that is free, and open to the public. The committee immediately contacted the Human Relations Commission whose purpose is to “Promote harmonious relations among the different cultures and people of Fresno. The HRC monitors discrimination and hate crimes, develops positive programs to address these issues, mediates disputes, and celebrates cultural diversity.” As stated on the Civil Rights Directory for the state of California via the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights website.

“About 50 of us with news cameras went down to meet with [the city] to talk about this… 2 of the city council members came in, the Lieutenant with his aides and his Captain were there… they grabbed me and ushered me in to shut everyone out the meeting,” Robinson says.

Again, the committee won the fight for their permit and successfully held their annual parade. In doing so they had also established to the City of Fresno that they would not go silently into the good night. But the pop-up surprise regulations and stipulations were long from over.

A new requirement for permit applications arrived in the early 2000s in the form of additional fees. In order for the organization to even apply, they’d have to submit a $378 application fee. Within the last 2 years, the City of Fresno decided to no longer allow ‘soft closures’ (allowing timed openings for pedestrian crossing) for the parade and instead required only ‘hard closures’ (absolutely no openings). This has jumped the event’s fees for blockades from $1,500 to $5,000 according to committee member Robinson. But these were just the beginning of the new stipulations.

Along with hard closures, the committee was then told that in order to apply they would need to acquire signatures of approval from every business and homeowner that could be inconvenienced by the parade, and it was an ‘all or nothing’ task as one failed signature could result in being denied the permit for the parade. Try as they might, the committee set forth on the task and were met by resistance as there were business owners and residents on Olive Ave who wouldn’t even speak to them. Struggling to meet the new requirement, the committee began to ask questions and soon found that their event, the Pride Parade and Festival, was the only one being held to the new regulations.

Frustrated by the unjust treatment, the committee took to the American Civil Liberties Union who determined that the new set of regulations placed on Fresno Pride Parade was an act of ‘Selective Enforcement’, which meant that a legitimate case could be filed against the city. A letter from an ACLU lawyer arrived at City Council stating, in short, that if they failed to grant the committee their permit, ACLU would take the City of Fresno to court. Robinson and the committee received their permit.

Still, surprise stipulations were not a thing of the past and the Pride committee faced, even more, hoops and hurdles to jump. In 2016, the week leading up to the event, just days before the parade, Risk Management stated that the event was required to insure each vendor booth at $100 per booth for up to 70 booths resulting in a potential $7,000 of added costs. Then, on the afternoon before the start of the event, on a Friday after normal business hours, Fresno Fire Department arrived insisting that the festival canopies be inspected before the city would approve their use. The large canopies provide refuge from the heat during the day’s festivities for not only guests, but also for performers, and the wide range of sound equipment used for the event. The situation concluded with the city allowing the use of the canopies but denying their use in the future within the very same area where the festival has been held for the past 27 years.

Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival is currently fundraising to cover additional costs of acquiring new materials to replace the use of canopies to help keep guests, performers, and equipment cool under the June sun. More information on this can be found at www.gofundme.com/one-step-starts-a-movement

Fresno Pride and the Split Support

Support of Pride in Fresno’s local government throughout the last 27 years has been consistently split with most of the support coming largely from the 2 council seats representing District 1 (north of Olive Ave) and District 3 (south of Olive Ave). It wasn’t until 2015 that an official proclamation declaring June 6 (the day of the event of that year) official Fresno Pride Parade and Festival Day was signed by all members of City Council and Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the first in Fresno Pride history. The last time a mayor signed a Pride proclamation was in 1991 by Mayor Karen Humphrey.

However, Fresno County Board of Supervisors has been an entirely different matter completely. “Fresno County has always ignored our existence,” states Robinson, “We’ve worked diligently year after year to receive some kind of acknowledgment.”

This year, Fresno Pride may receive the recognition they’re looking for from Sal Quintero who is rumored to sign the proclamation for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. It would be a monumental achievement for Fresno Pride whose initial response from the Board of Supervisors in the early 90s was “We don’t have any gay people in Fresno County”.

2017 Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival: What to Expect

The committee is moving forward with wonderful positivity despite the new regulations regarding the festival canopies and they are tackling the challenges with creative flair. To combat the heat, volunteers will be walking around with Super Soakers filled with ice-cold water to hose down anyone looking to cool off. Outdoor evaporative coolers and misting systems will also be present to help make attendees more comfortable. The performance area, typically covered by a canopy, will be dressed in the style of an outdoor cafe with tables, chairs, and large umbrellas spread throughout the space.

For all the kids, there will also be a Kid’s Area where the first 75 children who arrive will receive a ‘goodie bag’ containing a bottle of water, snack (non-peanut related for the sake of allergies), and a toy. The area will be complete with bounce houses and carnival style games.

The 27th annual Fresno Rainbow Pride Festival is very much a social gathering as it is a reminder of how Fresno Rainbow Pride and the Community has evolved. With spectacular performers, Unison dance party, beer garden, food, merchandise, informational booths and a children’s area, there’s something for everyone! Entry to the Festival, located on Fulton Ave is $5.00 11am-3pm.

So You Want to Get Involved?

Good. “Bring your talent, bring your ideas, come as you are and get involved,” says Robinson who goes on to state that no one on the committee ever had prior experience and the only thing they needed to get started was their passion. To find out more information about how you can help and get involved email the Fresno Pride planning committee at clinkinc@aol.com

Visibility for the LGBTQ community is still a vital and essential part of the progression toward full equality. Each march is a statement that echoes out from the 1969 Stonewall Riots when LGBTQ people were still classified as illegal and they fought back against the establishment. It’s a reminder of where the community has been, where it’s going, and a message of solidarity that it’s never going back there again. Each new generation builds upon the work of the one before it, helping to ensure that those LGBTQ people who are just discovering themselves, or finding that they’re stuck in an unwelcome place, know that they are not alone.

A Foodie’s Review – Rocket Dog

By Saeed Alkurdi

The hotdog, the bratwurst, and the sausage. The centuries-old tradition of stuffing meat into the shape of a tube combined with spices and sometimes, strange and wonderful cheeses before it hits the grill, oven, or pan continues to be a wonderfully basic and satisfying meal. Alone, a sausage or hot dog sandwiched in a soft, fluffy bun can be a completely blissful exercise in simplicity but with the addition of the right toppings, the hot dog or bratwurst experience is elevated to heights never imagined. Enter Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brews.

Nestled near Shaw and Blackstone in Fresno, Rocket Dog celebrates the hotdog and its cousins in all their forms and glory. For example, ‘The Danger Dog’ is loaded with things like bacon, cheddar cheese, and Sriracha. Or ‘The Firehouse’ topped with house-made chili and made complete with corn chips, cheddar cheese, and red onions… it’s enough to make any hotdog lover’s heart skip a beat. As if these weren’t enough, Rocket Dog also offers things like house-made potato chips and a fine assortment of craft beers, common domestics, and local brews.

The atmosphere is casual and inviting, a place to have a truly relaxing lunch or an early dinner. The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the menu as they were willing to make recommendations on what to try and what’s currently popular. The restaurant is clean, modern, but as I mentioned, casual.

I order ‘The Firehouse’, ‘The Gangnam’, and sweet potato fries. My food arrives fifteen minutes later and the presentation is fantastic. The food looks hot, fresh, and perfectly cooked. I bite into The Firehouse and the first thing I taste is the chili, which is smoky and rich. The bite continues into the all-beef hotdog that has a wonderful snap to it with a great meaty flavor. The crunch of the corn chips hits in symphony with the broiled bun everything is piled upon, and it all manages to hold together with zero signs that it will split or come crashing down into a mess. Every bite of the dog continues to display the flavor its creator intended for us to taste, and it’s delicious. In between bites of the hotdog and sips of beer, I manage to eat a few sweet potato fries which are coated in honey and cinnamon. This is a combination I’ve never encountered before, but after having experienced it I now wonder how I could ever go on without it, it was a spectacular addition to the dish.

Next, I bite into The Gangnam and the flavor is spot-on-good. The chicken sausage is light, juicy, and seasoned well making for a flavorful experience. The toppings of pickled veggies, jalapeños, and cilantro are bound together with the very mild Sriracha mayo. The heat in this dish is what I would consider a ‘small bite’ and doesn’t overpower the array of flavors. However, halfway through devouring The Gangnam, the bun splits and the contents spill onto my plate. It’s a small inconvenience so I press on with a fork to finish the dog.

At the end of the meal, I sit and reflect on what Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brews has been able to accomplish. The hot dog is still considered the most basic of dishes and yet, this restaurant with the help its staff has created a much more elevated experience of a longtime favorite.

Saeed is a local ‘foodie’ always on the hunt for the next great find of the Valley’s best-hidden gems. Twitter / Instagram: @kurshjak

Works of Hope

Neurocognitive disorder. Psychosis. Bipolar. Artist.

A journey of survival, strength, and acceptance leads to self-discovery. Lubna K Suboh creates captivating photos while challenging perceptions of ‘crazy’.

By Lisa Talley

Can’t. It’s a definitive verb with unimaginable stopping power, the likes of which the word ’impossible’ is its only competitor. In some instances, it is an undeniable truth, but more often than not, and unnecessarily so, it’s only a relative term we choose not to challenge. Instead, we accept its presence like some old stain we can never remove. And we’re forever making it synonymous with the words like ’disability’ and ‘mental illness’.

24-year-old Fresno-based artist, Lubna K Suboh, is throwing ‘can’t’ to the wind as they rewrite their own story in answer to the one usually given to those living with conditions like theirs. (No, that’s not a typo. Suboh is part of the LGBTQ community identifying as queer and trans with gender-neutral preferred pronouns of they/their/them. If you’d like to learn more about preferred gender pronouns [PGP], UWM.EDU/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns has a great breakdown of gender pronouns, why they’re important, and how and when to properly use them)

Diagnosed with psychosis, neurocognitive disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD to name a few, life for Suboh can take on an array of complicated shapes and sizes. There are breakdowns, seizures, delusional episodes, and crushing depression. But these aren’t the only definitions of living for them. Through the lens of Suboh’s camera, there is also art, beauty, and hope.

“I needed to make art to survive. I was in so much pain [because of] depression, rolling anxiety attacks, and PTSD [and] the only way I could relieve that pain was by creating art… it was my way to work through it and it became more healing than therapy,” Suboh shares in an interview. They emit a calm surety about themselves that is open, honest, and heartfelt, only sometimes wringing their hands together in a slight display of anxious nerves as they continue to tell their story.

“I would probably be dead by now, I never thought I’d make it past 18 years old [and] I feel grateful that I found photography as a medium.”

The art Suboh creates are blasts of captivating color, rooted in natural landscapes and past traumatic experiences. It’s not uncommon to find that the responses to their work tend to be an emotional one. The dynamic display of light and dark hits home to something personal for many.

“If you notice, I have a lot of shadows in my artwork along with a lot of light. Because of the contrast, some [people] gravitate to the shadows more than the light or vice versa, and they’ll say things like ‘I feel really depressed now’ or ‘I feel relieved’ or ‘I feel so calm’ after viewing the photos,” explains Suboh.

This kind of reaction with the audience is when Suboh feels the message has made its way through. Although photography has given Suboh an outlet in which to deal with their own set of conditions, it has also provided them with a unique opportunity to show the rest of the world what it’s like to be inside the mind of people like them.

“I have psychosis and it affects the way I see things. There are times that I think I’ve had a conversation with someone and I’ll approach them only to find out that the conversation never happened. It’s very disorienting… the photos are similar to what it’s like to experience psychosis,” Suboh continues.

Each piece of art is a culmination of up to 12 different photos Suboh has taken themself. The merging of each image is done by applying them with varying degrees of opacity, amongst other editing techniques. The result reflects a feeling of being pulled out of reality. There are elements of certainty, knowing what’s in the photo during the first look, but on the second glance, the viewer begins to find things that weren’t there before, challenging the notion and feeling of what’s true. Or as Suboh puts it, “[feeling] like they’ve dropped into another dimension.”

Creating a connection between mental illness and disabilities to their artwork is important to Suboh. At every mention of their diagnoses, they never falter or hitch on words like ’disorder’ and answer each question about their condition with complete ease, more than happy to educate on what seems to be considered a taboo subject.

“It took me a long time to come to terms with my disabilities, and I’ve even experienced overdosing on medication… I feel [as if] not enough of the people who are going through these sorts of things are talking about it. More representation is necessary [because] without it, things will never change,” Suboh addresses the stigma surrounding mental illness that keeps honest and continuing conversations about it from widely existing.

A disparity between individuals who suffer from mental illness and the rest of the world continues to persist in what Suboh considers a ’true understanding’ of persons experiencing mental disorders because of a lack of visibility. What exists now is a sense of pity, or disdain, that a person with mental illness is somehow a drain on society but Suboh is living proof that this does not have to be the only narrative, and they hope that through their work people will begin to change how they themselves perceive and understand those living with disabilities.

“You can be ‘crazy’, or whatever [the world] defines as ‘crazy’ and you can still play a role and be a part of society… I’ve poured my soul into my art and I want people to see that, to connect with me as well as the art,” Suboh goes on to explain that their art is also intended to reach the viewer on an intimate level. As the artwork is a display of their own world, it’s also a display of their own struggles and through it, the understanding of yours. “I want people to release whatever they’re going through… most of us are walking around with bottled up emotions trapped inside [and] I want this artwork to help heal that in some way.”

As Suboh continues to create art and promote visibility for those with disabilities, they also hold up their work as a beacon to those living with similar conditions to never lose hope for a new world of understanding. That one day, society will begin to hear and see them more clearly. “Because,” Suboh adds, “hope is something we all really need right now.”

With a full list of debilitating conditions that range from medical to the psychological, Suboh navigates each day like a journey without a road map. Sometimes it yields magnificent discoveries, and other times it’s a harrowing turn into the dark without a foreseeable end in sight. There aren’t always precedented methods in handling the exhausting weight of mental and psychological conditions, but in spite of it all, Lubna K Suboh is carving out their own path with bold, sweeping colors.

Lubna K Suboh

Lubna K Suboh was born in California, raised in Amman, Jordan during her early childhood and currently resides in Fresno. A self-taught photographer, Suboh utilizes both the digital and film platform.

Suboh will be featuring 50 original pieces in Bitwise Industries’ building beginning in November and the art will be displayed until January.

Follow Lubna K Suboh on Instagram @SubohOriginal, Flickr under Lubna Kamal Suboh (lsuboh4799) and Facebook.com/LubzzSuboh to stay up to date on new shows and artwork.

Along with photography, Suboh is also a poet with 7 self-published books out now. This, along with prints of their artwork can be found on Etsy under LubzzPotions available for purchase.

Skinny – The Not So Skinny Rescue Horse

By Lisa Talley

“There was no way I was going to send him back.” These are words that echo across everyone who has ever looked into the eyes of an animal and have seen in them the need for a loving hand. It’s a snap decision that has us racing with arms wide open, scooping said animal up and into our lives for a happily ever after. Although the ending is much the same, the journey to get there can be considered far different for that of a horse, and more specifically, a beloved 21-year-old Friesian named ‘Skinny’.

6 years ago, Visalia-based horse trainer, Leeanne Lloyd, was on her way to pick up a gelding from a local breeder to take part in the Clovis parade. However, when she arrived what she found was not what she expected. “He was completely emaciated… we’re talking skin and bones,” shares Lloyd.

A discovery like that is no doubt alarming, but it’s important to note here that his story goes back further than what was found on that one particular day. Malnourishment is a state that’s only achieved after a long period of a gradual decrease in food. As it turns out, Skinny, the (now) not so skinny rescue horse, arrived at the breeder already emaciated from a man who had inherited him through the purchase of a large property. Skinny had been out to pasture quite a long time before anyone even noticed him.

Another factor that turned out to be a surprising result of Skinny’s condition was that his emaciated state wasn’t because he didn’t have access to food… he did, he just couldn’t eat it.

“Horse teeth can grow sharp edges and if it goes unchecked they can rub against the horse’s gums causing holes in their mouth, ulcers, abscesses, and cause all sorts of problems,” explains Lloyd, “ [Skinny’s] teeth were jagged like a serrated steak knife, he couldn’t even pick at the grass.”

Over time, Skinny’s condition continued to worsen, and with it his ability to defend himself against other horses. Much like a pack of canines, droves ( a group of horses) have a pecking order and without a consistent show of strength, a horse could quickly find themselves at the bottom of the totem pole. Skinny was that horse. Picked on, pushed around, and the last in line to eat (if he was even feeling well enough to attempt to chew) left him living a very isolated and uncomfortable life.

Skinny when he was first rescued.
Skinny when he was first rescued.
Ribs and hip bones jut out from malnourishment.
Ribs and hip bones jut out from malnourishment.

“He was simply overlooked. He could have easily died out there in the pasture,” shares Lloyd about Skinny’s alternative future had no one taken an interest in him.

Bringing the Friesian back to health was a long process that required a combination of patience, hard work, and kindness. Trust is the single biggest obstacle to overcome when adopting horses coming out of poor environments. “Rescue horses have a lot of emotional baggage,” says Lloyd. When they’ve gone through an abusive or neglectful situation, they’ve learned to either distrust people or they’ve never learned to trust human beings in the first place. This can be a dangerous situation for anyone without the proper experience to attempt to take on. Sometimes rescues are untrained or have never been handled by a person and can become defensive or unruly, without a solid background in knowing how to take back control of the situation should things go awry, it’s most likely someone will get hurt.

Leeanne Lloyd has over 15 years of experience not only in competition, but also in training horses specializing in Andalusian and Friesian breeds more specifically, and it made for a wonderful match in the case of rehabilitating Skinny.    

“It took a solid 6 months. To build trust, to build back enough muscle and fat before I could do anything with him… with horses like him who were literally skin and bones, you have to be careful not to push them too hard too fast, so you never go more than 15-20 minutes a day. It’s like training for a marathon, if you don’t work out regularly you have to start small, so maybe you run to your mailbox one day and then you run to your neighbor’s mailbox the next day each day going further until you can run the marathon,” Lloyd explains

After Skinny’s teeth were taken care of, he was able to eat on a regular schedule consisting of small meals until his stomach was able to handle normal sized portions. As the Friesian slowly began to put back on weight, Lloyd worked on his trust. It began with the food and proving to him that he had something to look forward to every day. Next, it was proper grooming, proving that it welcomed a gentle touch from a loving hand. With repetition, consistent care, and positive reinforcement Skinny’s personality blossomed…. after 15 years.

“He probably never had a person. He always just had someone throwing food for him and that was it. [and yet] He’s turned out to be a fabulous horse. A big gentleman… super tolerant, patient, kind. A big gentle giant,” Lloyd shares.

These days, Skinny is a name reminiscent of a time long gone. Originally a nick name derived from his unhealthy state when he first arrived, the name eventually stuck, despite all efforts Lloyd made to find something that felt more suitable for the distinguished horse. And after years of being adored and showered with not only affection but also treats, ‘Skinny’ is now a bit of an oxymoron that seems more of a joke than tragedy to anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him.

Now, at 21 years young, Skinny has the standing reputation of being everyone’s favorite horse. His easy going and pleasant disposition makes him an excellent choice for small children and elderly students learning to ride. His calm confidence makes him a great role model for the young horses Lloyd trains to follow in disciplines like cart driving. After 6 years of being under Lloyd’s care, Skinny has gotten a second chance and is currently living with a brand new lease on life.

Leeanne shares a photo op with Skinny after the long road to recovery.
Leeanne shares a photo op with Skinny after the long road to recovery.
With a new lease on life, Skinny now spends his days helping people of all ages learn to ride.
With a new lease on life, Skinny now spends his days helping people of all ages learn to ride.

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If you’d like to learn how you can help other horses like Skinny, reach out to your local shelters and find out how you can lend a helping hand by donating hay, grain, or services. Seek training and assistance, if you are without experience, before adopting a rescued horse.

To learn more about Leeanne Lloyd, her work with horses, other specialties and training history please visit www.LeeanneLloydEquestrianTraining.com

Eli Young Band Interview

On balancing family and music, the long road to success, and the much anticipated new album.

By Fresno Flyer Staff

Eli Young Band continues to evolve musically in fresh and exciting ways. Their new single, “Skin & Bones,” is currently spinning on Sirius XM’s The Highway.  With a trio of platinum and multi-platinum #1 hits like “Drunk Last Night,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Crazy Girl” under their belts, their last album 10,000 TOWNS ranked #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, landed a coveted Top 5 spot on the Billboard 200 and claimed the #1 spot on the iTunes Country Albums chart.

Eli Young Band will be performing at the Rodeo Grounds in Clovis on April 28th as part of the events surrounding the 2017 Wrangler Gold Tour. Jon Jones of Eli Young Band, talked to The Fresno Flyer about the new album set to release this summer, where they’ve been, where they’re going, and a request to any openers who cover one of their songs.

I’ve noticed that you guys have some fairs and festivals on the tour this year all across your schedule, has that been a big part of the tours over the years?

JJ: It has been. This is when the festival/fair season starts ramping up. It’s a lot of fun, it’s been a really fun way for us to see the country and get a taste for not just the landscape but also the people. I think you get a really good cross section who come out to a lot of the fairs.

Is the energy real different between being in an outside venue/festival versus being in a club?

JJ: It is. And I think this is going to be a really fun year for us because we were trying to mix it up quite a bit. So we might play a festival or fair one day and then we’ll play a club the next day, and then like a little theater the next, so it really keeps it interesting for us.

You guys actually have a show tonight (4/14) in Wichita Falls, TX so are you on the road now?

JJ: We are. I am in the bus, in the back of the bus, right now. We only live a few hours from Wichita Falls so it’s kind of a backyard show for us tonight.

So is tonight the kickoff to the tour?

JJ: We’ve [actually] got just 2 shows this weekend and then [we go] back home. The best thing about the way we’re touring this year is that I don’t think we’ll be out more than a week or two ever. We’ll stay out probably once or twice for more than a week, but I’ve got a 4-month-old daughter at home and we all have young kids, so we’ve kind of scaled back. We tour kind of all year, it never really stops but we fly home almost every week. So it’s kind of a different way of touring than what a lot of artists do.

Yea sounds like you’re able to incorporate both being close to your families while still being able to do music and tour all year round. That’s pretty awesome.

JJ: Yea it [is]. When we were younger and we were just out of college there was no problem leaving home for 3 months, it was kind of nice but life is different now. I think we’ve done a good job of figuring out the ways in which we want to grow up and still kind of acting like kids on the road sometimes when we want to. I think if you’re going to choose music as your life you have got to be able to find a balance and still have a life.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals, anything that helps you get ready for the stage or before you go on tour?

JJ: It doesn’t really help us get pumped up, but we do like to have a moment of calm… like we’ll clear the bus and make sure it’s just us for the last half hour or 45min before the set and just talk about anything we need to go through for the show, listen to some music… nothing too intense, we like for it to be a little down time, a little private time.

I read in an interview some years back that when you guys were first getting started you played some really long sets that were mostly cover songs and hardly any original music… do you guys ever come across other bands who are covering you now?

JJ: Haha yea. We have had a lot of bands, especially around Texas and wherever there are cover bands that cover other regional acts that are from around there… but they’ll open up for us and talk about the songs they love of ours that are the ones they cover. It’s such a great form of flattery, but I have yet to hear any of them try to play it live before us. That would be a fun thing, I think that if you can cover one of our songs and you’re opening up for us you should have to play it, just for fun.

That would be so nerve-wracking, I’m sure.

JJ: [laughs] Probably.

Is there anything from those early years that you guys have held on to as far as your writing style or writing methods that you’re still using today?

JJ: Actually, on this record that ‘Skin & Bones’ is the current single for and will be out this summer. I think a lot of this upcoming record we went back to our roots in the sounds we were going for in the studio of wanting it to be less layering, less experimenting and just back to bass, drums, guitar, a little bit of organ.. you know, the foundation of where we started. The stuff that we were really into when we were younger that helped us build a big fan base. I feel like in terms of songwriting we’ve come a really long way as far as getting better at it but… I know that there are some fantastic songwriters out there who have a method that works for them every time, we just continue to try every little thing and see what works.

That’s really great. Fans really tend to rally up bigger than usual when they hear one of their favorite bands went back to their roots again. So that’s awesome to hear that you guys did that with the album coming out this summer.

JJ: Thank you, we’ll see if it holds true. Until it’s in the fan’s hands… they will really let us know how we’ve done. I’m excited for that process.

What’s one of the biggest things you know now about doing music that you wish you would have known then?

JJ: Oh man. It’s a long, long road and just to slow down and enjoy it sometimes. I love the way we’ve done it, meaning I love our missteps and successes. I think we’ve learned to embrace both and realize that there’s going to be a handful of both. I have a lot of respect for people that go on American Idol and win and then can maintain a successful career without the background of hitting the road and having to play night after night in clubs and really grind your teeth doing it the way we did it. Because it’s tough, I think if you go at it slowly you learn a lot of things along the way that you really can’t learn any other way. I’m glad we did it the slow way, but it takes a long time. It definitely takes a long time.

What is something that bands have available to them today that you would have loved to have when you guys were getting started?

JJ: Digital recording. You can make a really good sounding record if you want to take the time you could do it on the road or you could do it during the day before the show. Back when we were starting you’d demo a song with a little 4-track recorder and that was it. Now the technology is so much better. And cell phones, the fact that I can FaceTime and be so connected at home… I wish I would have had that.

This next question is for a bass player specifically… what’s your stance on playing with a pick?

JJ: I used to be totally against it. It’s changed over the years, I think it has a time and a place. I think on the last record, or maybe the one before was the first time I actually used a pick in the studio and it felt so foreign. I started violin first when I was really young, then guitar, then bass and I’ve been on bass since high school, it’s been my focus for a long long time and yeah, I was definitely a purist, fingers only. But there is something about the texture of playing with a pick the way it stands out and cuts through the music a little bit differently where I’m not against it. I don’t think you should always play with a pick, but I do think it has a time and a place. And oh, I would’ve shot myself in my younger years if I knew I would say that one day.

There are 4 stops through California on the tour, Santa Ynez, Riverside, Turlock, and of course Clovis. However, San Francisco and LA don’t get any dates. Was this strategy or preference?

JJ: That’s just the way that we’re touring this year. Because we are flying in and out quite a bit and not stringing weeks and weeks together at a time that we’ll anchor out of one show and then do a couple of shows around that and then fly home. Buses will move on and then we’ll fly back in and do a few more shows. I think it’s just the manner in which we’re touring this year.

Skin & Bones was the track released in February and you guys are starting to talk about the new album coming out in the summer, but there’s no date picked out for that?

JJ: There is a date that we haven’t announced yet, but it should be announced soon… It’s just that weird period where they’ve got a plan for rolling everything out. This is where the band just kind of sits back and realize how little control we have over our careers [laughs] The record has been done almost a year now, it’s been that frustrating part [of waiting for] everything to line up, but we’re almost there.

**UPDATE** Eli Young Band’s new album ‘Fingerprints’ is available June 16, 2017.

For tickets to upcoming shows and news about the release of Eli Young Band’s newest album visit www.EliYoungBand.com.

14-year-old Scientist Aims to Solve the Energy Crisis

(BPT) – The family trip. For most kids, it’s a chance to relax, visit a new destination, collect souvenirs, and create stories and memories to share with their friends throughout the year.

For 14-year-old Maanasa Mendu, however, the family trip provided her with a vision of how she needed to change the world.

Mendu’s spur for innovation came during a family trip to India where she witnessed firsthand the energy scarcity experienced in regions of the world far from her native Ohio. The family makes the visit every summer, and during this particular visit, as she experienced persistent blackouts, Mendu knew she had to do something about it.

So she got to work.

With an idea in her head, she found her opportunity to grow and develop it through the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The competition challenges students to create an innovation that solves a real-world problem affecting their global, national or local communities.

Nature inspired Mendu to solve the problem of unreliable power. By harnessing wind, solar and rain energy, she created a device that could provide energy in any rural or urban environment. Her early prototypes used recycled soda bottles hanging from a tree. She then attached solar panels like leaves and while these prototypes looked simple, they actually captured energy — as much as 9 volts with her third prototype.

Mendu used this discovery and her work thus far to enter the Young Scientist Challenge by recording a two-minute video describing the science behind her innovation. Judges evaluated her video based on her creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation, and liked what they saw. Mendu was named a competition finalist and paired with a mentor, 3M senior product development engineer Margaux Mitera, to further develop her project.

For Mendu, the partnership with her 3M mentor ignited myriad new possibilities. “My mentor, Margaux was amazing and I learned so much about the process of innovation working with her. She truly exemplified how collaboration is key to success!” she remembers.

Mitera’s sentiments were mutual. “Maanasa is such a bright, enthusiastic young woman. It was really a pleasure to work with her and help her project grow. I can’t wait to see what she will do in the future.”

With Mitera’s help, Mendu learned the four C’s of science: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. She was also able to meet with Mitera at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where each of the finalists arrived on October 16, 2016. Mendu and her fellow finalists all had the opportunity to present their projects before a panel of judges, including 3M scientists. When the competition was over, Mendu’s idea to deliver electricity to impoverished regions earned her the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.

The victory also awarded her $25,000, but Mendu isn’t looking toward the future just yet. She’s still busy in the present, perfecting her design, so she can help impoverished people around the world as soon as possible. “Along the way I have learned so much about the process of innovation,” she says of the project. “Innovation is more than just a lightbulb moment, it’s about being creative, trying new approaches and learning from your mistakes. I’ve began to realize the truth in the saying, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Mendu is dedicated to continuing her process of innovation for those who live every day without energy.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Mendu won the 2016 Young Scientist Challenge with an idea and a dream. Nominations for the 2017, challenge are still open. To enter, students in grades 5-8 must submit a one- to two-minute video no later than April 19, 2017, describing the science behind their new innovation or solution to solve an everyday problem. The problem could be one experienced half a world away, as was the case with Mendu’s, or it could be one you encounter every day. The only limit to your scientific solution is your own imagination. To learn more about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, visit www.youngscientistlab.com/challenge.

IMAGE CAPTION: 14-year-old Maanasa Mendu presents her innovation during the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Mendu’s innovation works to capture unused wind, solar and rain energy, and turn it into reliable source of energy for developing communities.

The Mighty Mozzarella: From Rescue Dog to Super Dog

“There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In this world of terrorist threats, ridiculous political nonsense, and far too many shootings, we could really use a hero. And I mean a REAL hero. I’m not talking about stereotypical vigilantes like Batman, Spiderman, or Wonder Woman. There’s only so far you can go with a flashy car, spandex, and a push-up breastplate. The dictionary defines a hero as: “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.” But what about a champion like Underdog? There are many stories about dogs performing selfless acts of valor, saving their owners—and complete strangers—from disastrous outcomes. From burglaries to gas leaks, to tracking lost toddlers, these canines are lionhearted when facing a perilous scenario. And let’s not forget the specially-trained dogs who rescue the living after earthquakes, sniff out explosives, and assist the blind.

While Captain America, Catwoman, and The Green Lantern are impressive, they can’t hold a candle to the scrappiest superstar on the planet. A mutt with a mission, and a true protector of the people, I give to you The Mighty Mozzarella. This plump little package of personality is a winter white English Bulldog, who’s giving Superman a run for his money. More on that a bit later.

Formerly known as Millie, she came to ARF with a dreadful case of mange, but after a little medication and a lot of TLC, she recovered nicely. A joyful, affectionate dog, Mozzarella made friends easily with the visiting public. On March 22 of last year, she was adopted and renamed by the nicest couple around, Matthew and Kezia Roman. Originally hesitant to get a pet due to allergies, they chose one of ARF’s smaller pooches only to learn the dog was already adopted. Continuing their search, they looked at other potential companions. And in a quirky twist of fate, unbeknownst to each other, they had both noticed Mozzarella and fallen in love with her. A happy ending, right? Well, eventually…it just took some lights, camera, action!

Now Mozzarella is a good-sized girl, and per their lease, too large for the Roman’s apartment. They pleaded their case but were still met with a resounding NO from the management. In desperation, the couple got creative. They decided to make a video starring the happy hound, convinced it would sway the jury. Their filmmaking skills didn’t win them an Oscar, but it did persuade the landlords. The Romans promptly made a beeline to ARF and collected Miss Mozzarella. In the following months, the couple regaled us with stories regarding the impact that Mozzarella has made on their lives, particularly her uncanny ability to notify Matthew when his blood glucose levels spike too high or low. As a diabetic, he must constantly monitor these levels. Normal or “good” numbers typically range between 80-100, and anything else can have catastrophic results. If his numbers are too high, he can fall into a diabetic coma, and low numbers can literally make his heart stop. That is some scary stuff.

After having a surgical procedure last April, Matthew suffered a pulmonary embolism which caused diabetic complications, specifically, constant high numbers. He was sent to the hospital, where he enjoyed the luxuries of bad food and five TV channels for a month. It wasn’t until he returned home, that Matthew recognized the true talents of his pudgy pup. One day after a shopping trip, he felt ill and just attributed it to exhaustion. His decision to lie down in a back bedroom could have been his last, had it not been for the amazing actions of one concerned canine. Matthew awoke to a very distressed Mozzarella licking his face, and an extremely frightened Kezia right behind her. Apparently, the bulldog had been head-butting the closed door, while running up and down the hallway to notify Kezia.

Since Matthew was visibly disoriented, his wife brought out the blood glucose meter. The reading showed a sugar level of just 15, meaning his heart could have easily stopped. Matthew describes another close call when Mozzarella came to the rescue, “She climbed on my lap and up to my chest, making her way to my face, gaining my full attention. She licked my face and made garbling sounds, as though she was trying to talk until I awoke. My blood glucose level was 25 at that time.” On a daily basis, Mozzarella alerts Matthew about his spiking levels, by intensely licking his fingers and toes. He proudly says, “We have thought of getting Mozzarella trained and certified as a diabetes alert dog, and yet she has already proven her abilities.”

This stouthearted sweetie is top-notch to her owners, but she recently earned the admiration and gratitude of her neighbors as well. It was 5 a.m. on September 27, 2016, when Kezia was awakened by Mozzarella, who was making extremely strange sounds. When Kezia went to investigate, she found her dog staring quizzically at the kitchen wall. After hearing banging noises, and noticing a small black hole beginning to appear, she rushed to wake her husband. Matthew observed a bubble growing under the paint, and when he touched the wall and felt the rising heat, his fears were confirmed.

He hastily told Kezia to call 911, and then get herself and Mozzarella out of the building. Hobbling on his cane while balancing an extinguisher, Matthew ran through the building, pounding on doors and yelling “FIRE!” He found the source in the apartment right next door, where a man was frantically dumping cups of water on the blaze. After jumping in to help, Matthew thought the situation was under control. But when he went outside to check on Kezia and Mozzarella, he saw flames coming from the roof. Fortunately, the fire department arrived within minutes.

What could have been a tragic case of lost lives turned into an unbelievable tale of one dog’s curiosity saving lives instead. It turns out the fire started with the neighboring wife putting a pan of oil on the stove, and asking her husband to cook for their children. He didn’t hear her, and when he finally entered the kitchen, the wall had already ignited. Panicking, he yanked the pan from the burner, started punching holes in the wall with a screwdriver, and dousing the flames. In his confusion, the neighbor failed to call 911. If Mozzarella had not perceived that black spot and banging as potential danger signs, things might have gone horribly wrong. The fire sergeant told the Romans, “If two more minutes had passed, all eight units would have been lost.” All emergency personnel who met Mozzarella called her a hero, patting her head and saying, “thank you,” and “you’re a little life saver.”

Due to severe smoke damage, the family was moved into a different apartment that night. However, all the stress from the day’s events took a toll on Mozzarella. The alien smells and surroundings had clearly spooked this bravest of bulldogs. According to Matthew and Kezia, “She spent the first night with her nose pressed against the front door, emitting occasional low growls and ‘scoffing hmphs’ throughout the night. The second day, she mostly hid under our new kitchen table, barking at the unfamiliar sounds.” Mozzarella lost her beloved pink and purple bed in the accident but quickly fell in love with a substitute. She received new toys, but still misses favorites, like her Hello Kitty and potbelly pig dolls.

She still stands guard at the door when visitors arrive but relaxes after a friendly introduction. Her appetite disappeared for a while but is slowly returning. Despite having no renter’s insurance and Matthew being on disability, the couple was able to replace the kitchen and dining rooms, though not their living room furniture. But to the Romans, this is small potatoes considering how good Lady Luck has been to them. They are quick to declare, “We are alive, as are the rest of the tenants, thanks to Mozzarella. We are grateful every day for our little angel.”

Looking for an angel of your own? Come by and meet the wonderful dogs at ARF, or visit your local rescue. Rescue dogs may not have wings, but they all have plenty of heart.

If you would like to help Matthew & Kezia get back on their feet, please visit our website at www.arf-fresno.com. Click on the “donate” button for our PayPal page, and type “Mozzarella” in the note field. You can also find more dogs in need of adoption.

Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with Kings River Life Magazine their animal rescue adventures every month. This article was released in their November 5, 2016 issue and can be found on KingsRiverLife.com under the ‘Animal Rescue Adventures’ section.