This Is Reno Radio

Federal lands transfer on hold, the downtown bike track and a robot mixologist

July 24, 2022 This Is Reno Season 2022 Episode 13
This Is Reno Radio
Federal lands transfer on hold, the downtown bike track and a robot mixologist
Show Notes Transcript

A man in a chicken outfit was recently protesting at U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei’s Reno office. He was one of about 20 who gathered in protest of an amendment by Amodei to the defense authorization bill in Congress. 

The protesters said more than 350,000 acres transferred from federal ownership would devastate wildlife habitat and amount to a land and water grab. In this episode show we hear from some of those protesting – as well as from the Congressman. 

We also hear from Dayo McIntosh, who brought her new business to Reno. Yateo, the business, features beauty products and a robot that blends essential oils.

Reno City Manager Doug Thornley joins us to answer questions about the Virginia Street bike and micro-mobility project. There have been a number of questions and allegations about how the Virginia Street micro mobility changes came to be in recent months. Bike advocates for years have been pushing for similar bike amenities on Center Street, one block to the east. Thornley tells us what’s next for the project.

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Also this bill authorizes the Dixie Valley Water grab. And my organization has been fighting to protect the Dixie Valley Toad for five years. We're currently in court trying to fight to save the Dixie Valley toad and this Dixie Valley Water grab would suck. The aquifer of Dixie Valley dry, Potentially driving the Dixie Valley towed to extinction. A man in a chicken outfit was recently protesting at US Congressman Mark Amadeus Reno office. He was one of about 20 protesters speaking out about an amendment by Amadeus to the defense authorization bill in Congress. The protesters said that more than 350,000 acres transferred from federal ownership would devastate wildlife habitat and amount to a land and water grab. Are we going to suffer from amnesia about the history? Let's talk about where we've been. And let's talk about where we're going. In today's show, we hear from some of those protesting as well as the congressman. We also hear from Reno city manager on the Virginia street bike track and from a new business in Reno with a robot that blends essential oils. With this week in Reno news I am your host Bob Conrad with this is First a note from our sponsor, Truckee Meadows Water Authority is a podcast sponsor of the this is radio show in support of locally focused journalism and to promote conservation in our community to view summertime watering days and other important water resource management topics. Visit smart about Yes, so I found it yet, so about five years ago. Yes, so means exceptional, and we're very much about empowering people to embrace the authenticity and invest in their well being. This is dyo Mackintosh, who recently moved to Reno. I met her at the Midtown Artwalk in early July, after seeing and smelling what her business has to offer. I also witnessed her robot Addy inaction, we believe that there's no one size fits all when it comes to beauty and wellness. And so we have a platform that encourages people to fully invest in in their individuality and how that pertains to wellness and personal care in general. The name is derived from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. And so that's just just like an overview, a quick overview of USA and where it came from. We are a sustainable, clean beauty and wellness brand. We create 100% All natural vegan cruelty free haircare skincare and aromatherapy products that, you know, people can utilize in whatever way to promote their personal care and wellness. I we met last week at the Artwalk. And I was very intrigued with your robot. Please, please tell us about that. Yeah, when I started this, when I looked into starting the business, actually, this was I felt compelled to start this company, out of my personal frustration, the lack of safe and inclusive products in the market. And so as I was on this journey, my love of innovation was something that I wanted to bring in. I've always been fascinated by innovation by tech in general. And I wanted to create something that would stand the test of time. The beauty industry, as you know, is completely saturated. And I didn't want to do something that everyone else was doing. I'm creating something really unique. And the robotics angle of that just takes that to the next level. Addy, our robot is very much a part of the team. And the idea is that people will be able to engage directly with the robot to personalize and customize products that are geared specifically for whatever again, haircare skincare aromatherapy needs or solutions they're looking to solve. So it's just so it's a novelty, definitely a way of getting the conversation started of engaging people. And again, getting having a conversation about the kind of products they're using the ingredients and the efficacy of the products. Those all keep people coming back. When you say you were prompted, because in this industry, it wasn't inclusive. What do you mean by that? And can you elaborate on that a little bit? Yeah, so I am a black woman, I am originally from Nigeria, I moved to the US when I was 12. And growing up, it was always it was a huge pain point in trying to find products in a market that worked for my hair and skin types. And because I didn't look like this, I didn't feel good. And that, of course, affected my, my self esteem. And it's something that I carried throughout my life until adulthood. About five years ago, I started seeing myself in a different light after going through a series of, of loss. And so that prompted this journey of wanting to take better care of myself of invest in my well being. And I just learned that a lot of the ingredients and chemicals and the products out there are really toxic. Besides the fact that there aren't too many products for people like me, that's changing now, but that was sort of, I guess, the catalyst for this journey of wanting to create my own products, I started creating my own products in my kitchen with all natural ingredients, safe ingredients, and that blossomed into what is yet so today. And who is your target market for your products. So we target women between the ages of 18 to 45. And it's across the board because we can the street of yes, so is customized and personalized products. Back to the point about there is no one size fits all, when it comes to beauty and wellness. So what might work for you might not necessarily work for me. And so we have this platform that is inclusive, and empowers people to really search to experiment to have this self discovery journey to find out what works for them. And so it's we welcome anyone and everyone looking to do better looking for natural products, products without chemicals, products that are sourced responsibly and ethically. And, yeah, that is what we're offering. We'll talk about the robot and what you aim to achieve with that, combined with the products that you are offering. Yes, so the robot is I wouldn't say it's the is the star of what we're doing. Because again, it's a novelty. And I fully expect that that that excitement that draw will fade as people become familiar with it. But it's sort of like our marketing, our marketing strategy, and again, a way to engage consumers so that they are forced to reflect and be have that. Very, I guess self seeking conversation, internal conversation about what they're doing to elevate the quality of life. Our products are all natural, premium grade products. So it's not anything you'd find in the store or from any of these large, you know, companies that are doing the same thing. We're very intent and intentional and purposeful about everything that we do. From you know, our packaging to the product itself. Everything is sustainable, it's good for the planet. And so whatever you smell, and it's just again, the quality of the products, we have a broad array of essential oils of carrier oils of extracts and different natural products and ingredients that we utilize to to create the products that we have. Oh, so yeah, my question was going to be with with specific to the to the robot, can you talk a lot about what it does and what you want it to do? I think we talked about how it might serve as perhaps a kiosk for people to self order your products with that through an app or something like that. Yes, that is a long term play. I guess I started this about five years ago, I was able to build the robot in 2019. And we did a beta test at fgtech in 2019, November 2019. And since then, you know, we had the lock downs and it was locked up for a while. But again, it sort of our marketing strategy overall for the business. But the idea behind it was this experiential retail. It's the ability for people to own their wellness and their and their personal care and create something that would work specifically for them. So right now we have Addy built into a box truck. And we're able to take it out to different festivals and events and the Planning so that people will be able to walk up to a screen and place an order or customize a product for whatever their, their target personal care is, for example, someone might say, oh, I want a product that will help my hair grow. And we have this handholding test of prompts that will help them create a product geared specifically towards them. And so for now, it's very rudimentary because I'm building this myself. I'm bootstrapping this company and have been since I started. But I'm hoping to raise money and that will help us fully realize the or realize the full potential of this. I think the real opportunity here is our ability to monetize our application, which is patent pending. So fully see this being at a kiosk at a mall at an airport. We're looking into franchising. So there are different avenues that we can take this once we have the resources that we need to completely build this out. Fantastic. And you're a recent transplant to Reno, is that correct? I am Yes, I moved here about two months ago. I was here last year for about six months and just fell in love with Reno. Love the people love the community love how supportive people are. And the tech ecosystem. The up and coming tech ecosystem was just really exciting for me. And so the combination of all those things was so compelling. I couldn't resist moving here. Yeah, we wish you the best of luck. Please keep me updated, especially as your business develops. So maybe we can revisit where you're at in another six months or a year or so. Thank you, I really appreciate this. groups opposed to a federal land transfer Senate amendment to the defense spending bill would devastate wildlife and natural resources. Among those who gathered recently at Congressman Mark Amadeus office were the progressive leadership alliance of Nevada, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Great Basin Water Network. They said the land transfer would expand the boundaries of the Fallon Naval Air Station, making some 350,000 acres of public lands subject to bombing runs and military warfare training. It would also extend military control over as much as 400,000 acres of other public lands. We're here today because of an amendment proposed by Congressman Amadei to the National Defense Authorization Act. Here's what Kyle rink with the Great Basin Water Network had to say, this amendment, it's 186 pages long. And it includes scores of provisions that would expand the Navy's footprint near Fallon, it would expand it by hundreds of 1000s of acres, largely to do more bombing operations and, and other training missions out there. One of the reasons that I'm here and representing the Great Basin Water Network is that in this sweeping amendment, there is a provision that would help facilitate what I call the Dixie Valley Water grab. Fallon and Churchill county have for years since the mid 1980s, had been proposing exporting groundwater out of Dixie valley to serve sprawl. There are provisions in this in this bill that would help advance that cause. And so we are here to say, you know, take that language out of this. We know that the National Defense Authorization Act is a bill that is going to pass but you don't have to put a water grab. And this is Patrick Donnelly with the Center for Biological Diversity. You know, wildlife is gonna lose in that deal. Stillwater national wildlife refuges, the densest concentration of wintering range for bald eagles in the state of Nevada. There are hundreds of 1000s of shorebirds and wading birds who come out to Stillwater every year and their migratory trip up the Pacific Flyway. This proposal will dramatically increase overflights over Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge disrupting breeding birds disrupting the bald eagles. They will also lower the supersonic floor. Right now they have to stay above 30,000 feet if they're going to break the sound barrier. This proposal will let them go down to 11,000 feet almost 1/3 the height. The Congressman Mark Amadei said he has been working on this plan for five years. It did not pass through the house on the day of the protest. But here's what he had to say in response to those who were there demonstrating against Measure? Well, we submitted an amendment, it went to the Rules Committee with about 1000 others and it wasn't made in order, which means it wasn't accepted for inclusion in the bill on the floor. It's not the first time it's happened. It's part of a five year ongoing process. And so there's not really a bunch of blood and guts to talk about they, they didn't make it in order along with about, I don't know, four or 500 other bills, unless I missed it. And I don't think I did. There wasn't one where they brought it up specifically and argued the merits or whatever, they just issued a report saying, These are the ones that are already in order. And this was one of them. Okay, not not much on how much meat on the host there. But anyhow, there were also there were also groups that said they thought it was a pretty good bill, Sharon Netherton, with the Nevada Wildlife Foundation, I think, are friends of Nevada wilderness, that there were other folks, you know, counties that are responsible for planning and zoning throughout the area. So that's great, if that's their opinion, they're entitled to it. I think a a read of the proposal, as it's developed over the last five years, would leave one at a loss for creating about a million acres of wilderness area, an unprecedented Cultural Resource Program, put the federal government in charge of safety and habitat with with the budgets that go with that, as opposed to BLM budget, which is almost nothing for that. So yeah, I think it would take land management in some in some areas into more protected status, and also provide more resources to manage that stuff. I think the bill overall was supported by many, many wildlife and resource organizations, which is why it's pretty close to consensus. But you know, if those three groups, if plan with its extensive land use experience throughout central Nevada and the great bass and thinks they've got a better view of it, than they're entitled to it. There have been a number of questions and allegations about how the Virginia street micro mobility changes came to be in recent months. Bike advocates for years have been pushing for similar bike amenities on Center Street, one block to the east, I checked in with Reno city manager Doug Thornley about the Virginia Street project, and what's next, take center T Street as a separate issue, right. So Center Street got to 30% of design with RTC, and a number of fatal flaws were uncovered. And, you know, from the loss of loading zones behind the Pioneer theater, to the loss of parking spaces, along the road that made it extremely difficult to just sort of, you know, the high speed nature of Center Street, and, and so the space, some of the intersections, were determined to be a little dangerous. And so when we got word that, hey, you know, this ain't gonna work. Our thought was, well, you know, sort of contrary to what you read on the internet, we really do want people on bikes, we really do want people on skateboards really do want, you know, people walking around in a in a safe environment. And so how can we at least replicate the intent and, and try to, you know, get people between the university and midtown and from Keystone to Evans. And so, the first set Alright, well, what's what's, what's next? What can we do to accomplish this goal? The team at RTC, the engineering team at the city came up with sort of conceptually, hey, we could try this with Virginia Street. And and, you know, there was money in to do what we've been that pilot project. And of course, you know, is it working perfectly? No. Are there lessons learned? Yes. Hopefully, you know, the survey from deal will uncover some things even though maybe we haven't noticed. And we can make sort of a more permanent, more attractive, more functional facility. And so, you know, the timing of it. I don't know. I don't know that if in a perfect world, we would do it all at once. But, you know, the opportunity was there. And I think, as an organization, we're trying to be less of fraid of failure in spaces like that, we want to make sure people are safe, but want to try things so that we can we can move that part of the community forward. The survey, you know, is sort of step one in that in that placemaking work. And I've seen some of the criticism that maybe it's it's too high level, it's not specific enough. But like I say, it's step one, right? It's the jumping off point for the conversation and step two and step two, and beyond our more direct interaction with with folks. So it's my hope that as we drill down into the specifics of what people want to see, that'll occur a little further along in that process. Okay, so I seem to recall that the study was the entire process, the survey, putting all that work into Virginia Street. And fifth is, Am I incorrect to us, and that, you know, so the Virginia street placemaking, I don't know that it necessarily extends into into fifth and Evans, Virginia State virgin history placemaking, we use a talked to the consultants and said, Hey, we really do want to include the three downtown parks, and sort of that corridor that runs right there through the river and to the plaza. We think that's important. But, you know, the survey is, is step one, the direct outreach and more interactive processes are step two. And from that, we should start to have a conversation where we start to see real design come out of that information. And that's the product that should show up in its final form. Okay, so the study is, all of these components combined? Well, the study, it's all of them, and none of them, it's sort of a Schrodinger stat of placemaking. But the bike lanes, right, that the multimodal, either project is distinct, right? It's that's a distinct thing from the Virginia placemaking study. And so, you know, ideally, the placemaking study, we'll come up with some suggestions on how if that sort of multimodal space were to be made permanent, how we can do a better job of it. But it's not they're not intertwined, except to say they're in the same place at the same time. Okay. So Senator Street by track is off the table due to these fatal flaws that came out after it was already in the 30% design phase. That Yes. Okay. I mean, when you say after it was at the 30, spring phase, that's sort of when you start to find like, the less glaringly obvious things that are fatal flaws in any sort of project, which is why we do design it 30% 50% 90%. Okay, is it normal for a project that far into its design phase to be halted like that? Does that happen before? That you're aware? And they happen before? I wouldn't say? I don't want to say it's normal, because I don't want to say, I don't want to suggest accidentally, through my own poor word choice that it that it happens a lot. That doesn't happen a lot. But it certainly happens enough that you wouldn't say it's a typical, what stakeholders were supportive of the Virginia Street project? Well, I think the RTC was you're gonna see here on the 20th. Tomorrow, that there's a reimbursement I think it might be to 20. There's a reimbursement deal where they're gonna give us $400,000 towards the cost of that project. Our engineers and our planning folks are in terms of, you know, we know that this sort of mobility is a thing that we haven't traditionally done enough for. And it's something that we do want to focus on, particularly in, in the downtown Midtown university area. I don't know that we necessarily did not say enough, but we didn't do a full on like we've talked about, we didn't do a full on outreach campaign. On it, because it's, like I said, it's just the pilot project. And so we knew it wasn't necessarily going to be permanent. And we wanted to see what worked and what didn't, and figured that people would use it and provide feedback in real time. And we'd end up with a with a better product for it because it was something that people could use in Excel. And and not just sort of hypothetically draw it on a sheet of paper. Okay, what? What what are the downtown businesses saying about it as they've been supportive? Or? I mean, the row wanted it, obviously. Well, I don't you know, the row was okay with it. I don't know that they wanted it. There's a pawn shop that's pretty unhappy. But that's, as far as I am aware, from the business side, it's really just the one pawn shop that's unhappy. My understanding is that the feedback we received, has sort of said, this is fine. A lot of the feedback we've had is from people driving cars, saying, you know, the signage is confusing, or we don't like that we lost the lane, or you have to drive slower and people don't like that. I will say, you know, you sent me that picture. It's funny, because I was walking somewhere. That day, I was walking somewhere that day. And I saw two people on bikes, both on the sidewalk, neither one in the bike lane. It is weird. I will. I mean, I like it. But it's weird. And the number of bird scooters that get dropped into that bike lane are just hilarious. I mean, it's just That's the funniest part. I think, bird scooters, I mean, the bird scooters are sort of another thing, right? Like, the thing we're trying? I think they're going better than the line bike. But man, you find them places, right? I mean, I, I find them on the corner at Plum and Sharon, right, right by Jesse back. And I'm like, Man, this thing's a long way from home. Oh, they're all over my neighborhood. Yeah. So I mean, I think, you know, we're getting incrementally better. I agree that before any of these bike lanes become permanent, we need, we need to, we need a better solution for signage, we need a better solution for you know, sort of keeping large vehicles, I saw Porsche drive down the bike lane a couple of weeks ago. You know, so we need a better solution for keeping large vehicles out of them. Which, you know, frankly, just feels like a bollard. But the there are things that we can do better there. And so, you know, we're sitting down as we go through this year, and in conjunction with the results of the placemaking study to say, alright, so if we wanted to make this permanent, how would we make this interface more friendly for people on bicycles more usable for people in cars, and frankly, just less confusing, particularly on Virginia Street? I mean, I think there are some areas where we could improve on Fifth, but I think Smith does a better job than that. Virginia is is sort of the way I've lean right now. Yeah, overall, it's, I will tell you, it's very nerve wracking to get to the end as you're heading toward Keystone and did to get split right into a right hand turn. Okay. Yeah. I mean, I've written it twice. Now on a scooter and once on a bike, and I was just like, oh, this can go south really easily. I can, I can understand that. Reading the tea leaves, what do you what do you anticipate happening for for this project? Is it going to stay or? I think I think some iteration of it will say yes, I think we are. I mean, when when we've had conversations with the RTC as a staff, we've made clear that that Micromobility and bikes scooters, walking are all things that we want to prioritize in road design and and functionality, particularly inside the inside McCarron. Yeah, I'm not seeing any scuttlebutt about people saying the city doesn't want or RPC doesn't want by me. I would, I would argue that I see the exact opposite. It's how it's been implemented that I think where people have, you know, raised some concerns for Yeah. Well, I mean, I think, you know, the particular administration at the helm of the federal government right now, when they talk about road design, they sort of talk about it holistically, and they talk about it in terms of community health and everything else. So I think, you know, to the extent we're competitive for federal money for rehab and design for our local streets and roads, that's a that's a key component part of the discussion. That's it for this week in Reno news, please visit us online at this is And if you like this show, and podcast please give us a review on your favorite podcast app.