April 2014  | sunflowerhill.org
April 4, 2014 

Welcome to our first Sunflower Hill newsletter! We've been very busy and have so much to tell you. We hope you enjoy!

Join us for SEED DAY on April 19!

Thanks to a $500 grant from the Rotary Club of Livermore Valley, Sunflower Hill will soon be selling sunflower seeds and plants packaged by our members and their families.
April 19 will be 'seed day' - a family fun day to launch the process and complete all packaging.






1:00 to 3:30 p.m.

City of Livermore Library Community Room

1188 S. Livermore Avenue, Livermore




The seeds, "Sunnyside Medley" will sell for $3.50 for 25 seeds and feature ornamental varieties of pale yellow to mahogany red flowers designed to grow to 24 to 28 inches in height.  Seeds will be available via the Sunflower Hill website beginning April 21.  All seeds are designed to be planted in 2014. 


"In addition to the seeds, we'd like to start selling small sunflower plants grown by our member families.  The plants will feature the name of the individual grower and will be for sale at local farmers markets in the East Bay and other locations," said Chris Bogert, Sunflower Hill board member who served as the project manager. "Families who would like to participate in this fun growing process can pick up their plants on Seed Day."


As a bit of trivia, the origin of sunflowers date back to 1000 B.C.  Traditionally considered to be gifts of radiant warmth, they represent loyalty, longevity, nourishment and vibrancy.  Sunflowers are also the happiest of the flowers!   Thanks to the Rotary Club of Livermore Valley for their generous grant and assistance! A special thank you as well to Cindy Usedom, of Cindy & Partners for the great graphic design of our seed packages and all things Sunflower Hill!  

Community Leaders Join Advisory Board

Six prominent community leaders, industry experts and medical professionals have joined Sunflower Hill's inaugural advisory board.


Alan Cerro is President, Land Planning & Development for Dutra, Cerro, Graden, a Dublin-based commercial real estate, development and consulting company. He resides in Livermore.


John Sensiba, a Pleasanton resident, is Managing Partner of Sensiba San Filippo, LLP, a Pleasanton-based firm providing accounting, business consulting and tax advisory services to businesses throughout California.


Sblend Sblendorio, a Livermore resident, is a shareholder with Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel, a San-Jose based law firm with offices in Pleasanton. 


Dr. Lynne Mielke is a Pleasanton resident and physician and the founder of Optimal Health Spectrums, Developmental Spectrums Medical Clinic and the Optimal Brain Center. They are Pleasanton-based medical clinics specializing in biomedical solutions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, psychiatric and neurological and wellness. 


Vicki Obree is the Executive Director of Bittersweet Farms, an 80-acre intentional community for adults with autism in Whitehouse, Ohio that serves as a nationwide role model for similar communities under development.


Dr. Glenn Petersen is a board certified physician in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine and the chairman of Pharmacy and Therapeutics at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. He resides in Orinda.  


"These advisors are crucial to our organization as we fully develop our vision," said Susan Houghton, Sunflower Hill president. "We're grateful for their expertise and assistance."


The advisory board will meet twice a year to assist the Sunflower Hill board with strategic planning and direction.  For additional background information, visit our website.

Greeting Cards Are A Hit!

Twelve artists, twelve different sunflower designs.  All the makings for a beautiful set of greeting cards!  Launched in Fall 2013, the cards are Sunflower Hill's first micro business project and are selling quickly.


"We've already sold more than 2000 cards, resulting in $3300 in revenue," said Lynn Monica, Sunflower Hill Vice President who served as the project manager. "These cards showcase the artistic talents of our members and we're grateful for their participation!"


Taylor Queenan, Connor Mielke, Patrick Kirbach, Jake Elfin, Kenny Schlegel, Travis Raefield, Garrett Brain, Aaron Petersen, Zachary Carlson, Jeff Throop, Steven Blaney and Robby Houghton all contributed designs for the first set of cards.  "It's wonderful to see the unique perspectives of the artist," said Monica.  "We've received great comments from our buyers and others in the community."


Due to their popularity, two follow up card projects are now in development. The first will be a holiday greeting card series- with fun designs for Halloween, 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day, in addition to traditional holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Passover. Then a second series of sunflower cards will be produced.


If you have an artist who'd like to participate in either one of the new series, please let us know by sending an email to info@sunflowerhill.org. The sunflower greeting cards sell for $20 and can be purchased via the Sunflower Hill website

Sunflower Hill is going to the Edible Schoolyard Academy!

We are extremely excited to have been selected as a participant in Alice Water's June 2014 Edible Schoolyard Academy. The honor also comes with a grant of $650 to cover the costs of participant/trainers. This will be a wonderful opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills to help Sunflower Hill create a powerful and sustainable edible garden and a set of educational programs for our future community. Stay tuned - there will be more to come! 


What might the Sunflower Hill Community look like?

Sunflower Hill has been attending the community task-force meetings for the East Pleasanton Specific Plan (EPSP) and was asked to formally present to the group at the December 2013 meeting. 


"We were thrilled that the committee and the city of Pleasanton staff wanted more information on Sunflower Hill and how our vision and intentional community might fit within the framework of what's being planned," said Susan Houghton, President. 


Sunflower Hill presented a vision that included 1,2 and 4 bedroom apartments and houses over five or six acres.   Residents would have access to social and outdoor activities, and the opportunity to participate in micro-businesses and community partnerships.  Olive trees, vegetables and sunflowers would complete the picture.  


"We would love to be a partner in this community and be included in the East Pleasanton plan," said Houghton.  "A Sunflower Hill community does not impact the schools or traffic - something we know is of concern to Pleasanton residents."


In addition to the EPSP presentation, Sunflower Hill has made formal presentations to the city of Pleasanton Housing Commission and Health and Human Services Committee as well as informal presentations to the city council.


The city is currently finalizing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the EPSP. While the required Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers for affordable housing in the city of Pleasanton have been revised, the city must also adhere to the requirements of SB 812.  This law, passed in 2010, requires analysis of the housing requirements/needs for both physically disabled and developmentally delayed individuals.  The number of individuals who are disabled, the need for housing and a discussion of the potential resources that are available are part of that process.   The City of Pleasanton will be including this analysis as part of the Housing Element Review and stakeholder meetings that are currently underway. Sunflower Hill is participating in these meetings and we invite all families to join us, if interested.  For more information, contact Susan at susan@sunflowerhill.org.


Reserve the day - August 23 for Wine and Painting!

Sunflower Hill will continue its wine and painting series on Saturday August 23 at Las Positas Winery in Livermore.  In 2013, Sunflower Hill launched the popular wine and paint series with two events.  The first, held at Canvas and Cabernet in Walnut Creek in May 2013 featured Van Gogh's Sunflower series.  The second event in November at Stony Ridge Winery in Livermore featured another Van Gogh favorite - Starry Night.   Both events generated more than $20,000 in revenue for Sunflower Hill.  


"This is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon," said Lisa Rosare, Sunflower Hill family member and project manager for the auction and raffle. "We'll be looking for wonderful and unusual auction items.  If you know of a business that might be willing to donate a gift certificate or product, please let me know." 


"We're also grateful to Lisa Maier, owner of Las Positas Winery for her partnership on this event," said Rosare.  "Great wine, great art and a great cause. It can't get better than that!"


Tickets and more details on the event will be available soon but if you have an auction item or donation, please contact Lisa Rosare at tobnlove@comcast.net


Sunflower Hill begins Second Year of Operations - New Board Members Elected

Pleasanton residents Dave Muller and Janeen Rubino Brumm and Lafayette resident Rosemary Kirbach officially joined the Sunflower Hill board of directors in January 2014.


Muller will serve as CFO/Treasurer for Sunflower Hill - replacing Howard Bogert.  He works as managing director for a network/outsourcing advisory firm and is the father of a 14 year old son with autism.


Brumm is a social media consultant at The JRB Group and the mother of a 17 year old son with special needs. She will serve in a newly created board position of social media and marketing and will be responsible for Sunflower Hill Facebook and Twitter posts. 


Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter 


Kirbach, a former partner with the law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, has been assisting Sunflower Hill with legal advice since mid-2013.  She now serves in the official capacity of legal counsel - reviewing contracts and working closely with Sunflower Hill's outside counsel, Hoge Fenton Jones and Appel.  She is the mother of a 16 year old son with autism. 


All three join Lynn Monica, Toby Trevarthen, Jon Elfin, Angi Queenan, Chris Bogert, Leslie Vilfort, Tamara Notestine and Susan Houghton as board members for 2014.  Monica was elected as Vice-President, replacing Angi Queenan. 



Kudos to California State Senator Lou Correa and the Senate Select Committee on Autism for introducing SB 1178 - a bill designed to help provide housing support for Californians with developmental delays.  


The bill is set to be heard in committee on April 22. If passed, it would establish the California Developmental Disabilities Community Support Housing Fund - to be administered by the 21 Regional Centers in the state.  Regional Centers would be able to provide rental assistance/subsidies and vouchers, capital funds for community projects like Sunflower Hill and loans and grants for the construction of housing projects. 


The first committee hearing will be on Tuesday April 22 at 1:30 in Sacramento and all are welcome to attend.


The rental subsidy option alone would make a huge difference - as current market-rate apartments are out of reach for special needs adults who must rely solely on social security income.


Sunflower Hill was thrilled to work with Senator Correa's staff and the Senate Select Committee on Autism on this issue. We urge you to contact your local Senator and Assembly member and ask them to support it. More information and a fact sheet can be found on our website
Thank You to Tri-Valley Solar Universe

Special thanks to our partner Tri-Valley Solar Universe for their sponsorship of our organization and support of our cause. If you are interested in a free solar evaluation please click here for more details.


 P.O. Box 11436, Pleasanton, CA 94588