Russell Nichols

Back Writer

Russell Nichols is a freelance writer who focuses on technology, culture and mental health. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine and Government Technology

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Meeting of Minds

In 2014, the City of Sacramento’s construction valuation (which tracks the dollar amount of issued permits) was $390 million, but by June 2018, that valuation will be about $1.5 billion (adjusted for inflation), according to Ryan DeVore, Sacramento’s community development director.

Feb 20, 2018 Russell Nichols

Surreal Estate

Virtual Reality Tours Give Real Estate Builders And Buyers Room to Play

If you’re going to live in a 3D environment, you need to see a 3D environment.”

These are the words of Stephen Phillips, co-founder and chief technology officer at Theia Interactive, a design firm based in Chico. His company creates VR tours for people looking to build or buy homes, cars and yachts. It was one of the four startups to come out of the Green Screen Institute’s first accelerator program.

Mar 21, 2017 Russell Nichols

Startup of the Month: Brass Clover Cold Brew Coffee Company

For Oak Park startup, coffee is a drink best brewed cold

Is 14 too young to get into coffee? It wasn’t for Randall Echevarria. He grew up in Crescent City on the California/Oregon border, and the small town’s first coffee shop gave him his very first job. He started as a barista and moved up in the ranks over four years, his favorite part being the beverage development. Turns out, this high school gig was just warm-up.

Aug 5, 2016 Russell Nichols
This rendering shows what the Green Screen Institute in Nevada City will look like. (Photo courtesy NCERC)

Virtual Investment, Real Growth

Nevada County incubator builds on region’s video technology legacy

On New Mohawk Road in Nevada City, the 27,000-square-foot facility has three components: a training academy, business accelerator and coworking lab for established companies. The academy will include classes that can last from a weekend to up to six months. The Green Screen Institute will hire industry experts on a contract basis to teach the classes. The idea is to develop the workforce needed for the influx of virtual reality and augmented reality companies.

Jul 20, 2016 Russell Nichols

The Ice Man

Building up from the ashes

After plans for a massive upgrade to the historic Crystal Ice and Cold Storage building went up in smoke, Mike Heller and his team were forced back to the drawing board — here’s how they forged ahead.

Jul 5, 2016 Russell Nichols
From left: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Derek Bluford and Velocity Capital General Partner Jack Crawford. Bluford’s business, Quicklegal, won the Sacramento Kings Capitalize competition in April. (Photography courtesy of John Jacobs)

Updated: Quicklegal

Need legal advice? Comprehensive app gives support with attorneys-on-demand

Update (2/2018): Quicklegal was named our Startup of the Month in June of 2016. Shortly after, we became aware of legal proceedings against Quicklegal. You can read more about the settlement judgement and the original complaint. In a statement to Comstock’s, CEO Derek Bluford said, “I had an employee who impersonated me. He defrauded me, our company and one of our clients.” In January of 2018, Derek Bluford was convicted of fraud.

Derek Bluford was in eighth grade when his single mom got into legal trouble. She had gotten injured at her prison job and couldn’t work full-time. Disability assistance wasn’t enough to cover utilities, food and rent, and they were about to get evicted from their duplex rental in Elk Grove.

Jun 6, 2016 Russell Nichols
Slow-growth advocates, like members of SaveOurCounty, urge residents to support Measure E and Measure G on the June ballot. / Kevin Nagle, co-partner for the El Dorado Hills Town Center (pictured), says he’ll push for affordable housing to generate a tax base to attract the employers and small businesses that will fund services in the growing county.

Two Sides to Every County

Business creation and job growth are usually positive things for a growing county, but some El Dorado County residents are vehemently opposed to building over the rural land they love

For the past 48 years, Mike Doran has watched El Dorado County evolve— slowly. He recalls the days when the county was a peaceful, low-density community — long before the Home Depot came to Placerville, before the Dollar General  got the greenlight for Georgetown, back when Highway 50 was nothing but a two-lane road.

Jun 2, 2016 Russell Nichols
(Shutterstock)

Sonic Boon

There is another potential path for treating ischemic stroke

In mammals, the developmental pathway known as sonic hedgehog (named after the popular video game character) regulates the generation and survival of neurons and other brain cells. But a team of UC Davis scientists found that this pathway plays a critical role in neuroprotection, regeneration and functional recovery after a clot blocks blood flow in the brain.

Apr 14, 2016 Russell Nichols
When Bright Underbelly is completed, Sofia Lacin will have spent about 315 hours painting the expansive mural.

Placemaking: Person, Place or Thing?

Will the latest urban renewal buzzword to charge into the Capital Region draw people in or push them away?

Placemaking. You might have heard the word — maybe at a redevelopment conference or tossed around at a marketing mixer. You might have seen it in a neighborhood newsletter about new housing downtown, or read about it in an article shared by that cool architect friend who was just inspired with a vision for how to make Sacramento “the place to be.” But no matter what you’ve heard or how you feel about placemaking, the concept likely won’t be disappearing in the near future.

Mar 8, 2016 Russell Nichols