Great Valley event May 6-7

Innovation and inspirational thinkers will be the topics of discussion at the annual Great Valley Center conference, "Valley Up."

The two-day event, May 6-7 at the Gallo Center for the Arts, will be in Modesto for first time after 12 years of being held in Sacramento.

The guest speaker list includes the creator of the POM Wonderful pomegranate juice line and an adviser from the California Energy Commission.

Great Valley Center director of research and communications Amy Moffat said the event will focus on how to bring regional change to the valley. It aims to show how its battered economy,from Bakersfield to Redding, can rebound.

"We were really looking to bring successful people who have had success in the valley and get people excited that they, too, can have success," Moffat said.

Panama Bartholomy, an adviser to California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas, will speak about renewable resources, transmission technology and green building. Lynda Resnick, the mastermind behind POM Wonderful, is another featured speaker.

Other speakers include artist and sustainable farmer Paul Buxman, Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program coordinator Genoveva Islas Hooker, Reading and Beyond Executive Director Luis Santana and rural entrepreneur Diane Smith. Former Modesto poet laureate Sam Pierstorff also will speak.

The event will include breakout sessions on topics including air quality, urban forestry, nonprofit entrepreneurs and local food.

The conference is open to the public and aimed at those in the business, civic and nonprofit communities. In years past, some 500 to 600 people have attended.

Registration is $315 and includes all sessions, lunch both days and a copy of the book "20/20 Foresight: The Great Valley in a Decade," a compilation of last year's conference keynote addresses.

"The economy and the indicators that we have for the Central Valley right now can sometimes be very depressing," Moffat said. "We're trying to bring more of a positive message.

For more information or to register, call 522-5103 or visit

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or 578-2284.