Sarah Stierch

Hi! I'm a writer, photographer and Wikipedian based in Sonoma, California.


I'm a subject matter expert about wildfires, Northern California wine and food, and Wikipedia. I am currently not affiliated with any publication. I utilize social media as my primary platform at this time.


Access to critical information in a timely manner and a general fascination with the science behind wildfires has led me to become a lead voice in reporting on wildfires in Northern California. I reported extensively during the 2017 North Bay Fires and have since covered all major wildfires in the North Bay, as well as additional fires in Northern California, annually. My work, which has been featured on KQED Forum, the San Francisco Chronicle, WNYC's The Takeaway, KPFA, KSVY, and the Washington Post, is credited with changing the face of emergency disaster reporting on natural disasters. I continue to report on natural disasters and local emergencies as an independent journalist utilizing social media as my main communication tool.


As a freelance mainstream journalist I have contributed to to Sonoma Magazine, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, North Bay Woman, NorthBay Biz, Huffington Post, North Bay Business Journal, Nuvo Newsweekly, Sonoma Valley Sun, and the Bohemian.


As a photographer, I shoot historic sites, auto racing, and food/beverage. My photography has been published by WAMU, California State Parks, ROAR, Washington Post, Utne Reader, NBA, Motorburn, Red Bull, Nature World News, Buzzfeed, Christian Post, KNPR, Thrillist, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Financial Observer, Hilton, PETA, Joie de Vivre Hotels, the National Park Service, Country Queer and more. I am a passionate advocate for Creative Commons and all of my photography is released under a CC license. 


I have been editing Wikipedia for over 15 years. I am the former Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress and former Susan B. Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. My efforts to encourage more women to edit Wikipedia and cultural institutions to partner with Wikimedia has been featured in Smithsonian, Slate, the Atlantic, East Bay Express, the Daily Dot, The Mary Sue, Tech Republic, Linux Magazine and on KCRW, National Public Radio, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I have been named an Ada Lovelace Day Hero by the Ada Initiative for my efforts.


I also serve as Research Director and partner of Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting. I also am a bartender at the Sonoma Speakeasy. I earned my bachelor's degree in Native American Studies from Indiana University and my master's degree in Museum Studies from George Washington University. I am a former fellow at the Berkeley Center for New Media, Wikimedia Foundation, Library of Congress, and Smithsonian. In curatorial practice, I have worked for the National Museum of the American Indian, Colonial Williamsburg, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. If you have been to any of these institutions, you have seen my work.


Small Fire Breaks Out In Sonoma County Just After Power Is Restored, Downed Power Lines Found Nearby

Another possible near-miss for PG&E was recorded Tuesday night in northern Sonoma County when a vegetation fire broke out just minutes after power was restored in one area — and apparently there were two downed power lines in the vicinity that were missed in the utility's inspections. Named the Franz Fire even though it was contained at just a quarter of an acre, the small blaze broke out around 7:20 p.m. on the 8000 block of Franz Valley School Road, in or very near the footprint of the Tubbs

When blazes spark, 'Fire Twitter' heats up

The hills were on fire and Sarah Stierch was asleep. It was the man shouting in the street, outside her home in downtown Sonoma, who woke her to the orange glow on the horizon and the smoke in the air from the 2017 Nuns Fire. The text messages started coming; it would be a long time before they stopped. “People didn’t know what was happening,” she says. It was the middle of the night; everybody was confused. “Evacuation orders were being issued, but people weren’t evacuating.”

The North Bay Journalist Providing Vital Fire Information for Her Neighbors

North Bay journalist Sarah Stierch has become a resource for locals looking for critical fire information, down to their specific block. That’s because when the North Bay was burning in 2017, she knew the streets and roads and homes intimately enough to gain the trust of her neighbors seeking information. But aside from the latest fire reports, she’s also been a compassionate voice for many people during these traumatic times.

Wildfires Sweep through Wine Country, Forcing Thousands to Evacuate

Thousands of Northern California residents awoke to flames on Monday, as dry conditions and high winds caused multiple fires to explode in size overnight. The Glass Fire - after merging with the Boysen Fire in St. Helena and Shady Fire near Santa Rosa - scorched an estimated 11,000 acres in Napa and Sonoma wine country. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate as of Monday afternoon. We'll get an update on the wildfires and evacuations and we want to hear from you: if you live in the affec

California wildfires double in size, force, and degrade air quality; tens of thousands to evacuate

The massive blazes are sending plumes of smoke and ash into the skies surrounding San Francisco, fouling air quality for hundreds of miles and endangering public health. Evacuations expanded overnight Wednesday into the early morning hours Thursday, including portions of Travis Air Force Base, an Air Force logistics hub. Tens of thousands of people have been instructed to evacuate from advancing flames, with more told to be ready to flee if necessary. The fires come as California has been endu

Meet Sarah Stierch: The Archives’ Wikipedian in Residence

This March through June 2012, the Archives is hosting Sarah Stierch as Wikipedian in Residence. Sarah is no stranger to Wiki residencies or the Smithsonian—she served as the Smithsonian’s first Wikipedian in Residence last year at the Archives of American Art, where she focused on improving Wikipedia content related to American art history. Her residency here at the Smithsonian Institution Archives will continue the efforts of Sarah, and the Wiki-GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums)

Meet Sarah Stierch - News/Research - Berkeley Center for New Media

The Berkeley Center for New Media is turning 10! To celebrate, we’re sharing ten stories of BCNM’s life so far. This month, hear how BCNM Susan B. Miller Fellow Sarah Stierch supports open source information through diversifying Wikipedia and digitizing small museums’ archives. Recuperating at her parents’ house after a car accident, Sarah Stierch was reading a Wikipedia article when she noticed a grammar mistake. Desperate for entertainment, she created an account and edited the error

The Smithsonian Archives’ Sarah Stierch Will Be Working On Wikipedia’s “Women In Science” Problem

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has publicly acknowledged the dearth of female editors at his site and how many subjects that could use a woman’s perspective are seriously lacking. Well, at least one area of subject matter has begun to be tackled, thanks to Sarah Stierch, the official “Wikipedian-in-Residence” at the Smithsonian Archives. Her fellowship was first announced back in December, when she was brought on to encourage more women to contribute to the crowdsourcing information site

Wikipedia's Editors Are 91 Percent Male Because Citations Are Stored in the Ball Sack

Wikipedia, the collaborative encyclopedia that's edited by you (if you're a dude), me (if I were a dude), and all the dudes you know, launched in 2001 and quickly became the place to find quick info on pretty much any topic under the sun. Remember writing research papers before Wikipedia? Man, we were all such chumps with our "books." Despite being one of the most heavily visited sites on the web, women comprise just 9 percent* of all Wikipedia editors. Why is that? Oh, you know, the usual — ge

PG&E outage: Spotty cell service in Sonoma, Marin counties

Sarah Stierch could barely get AT&T cell service on the westside of Sonoma after PG&E cut power during Wednesday’s early hours — but she could get a White Claw spiked seltzer at the still-lit Whole Foods, she tweeted ironically. “AT&T has been very weak all day on the east side of town and downtown,” another Sonoma resident Nina Sheridan said in a message. She had no service at her house Wednesday morning, where she said it’s never great. But even downtown where service is usually stronger, her

Sonoma developers face local backlash over LGBTQ views

A husband-and-wife team of developers faced mounting backlash in Sonoma this week after a series of anti-gay online posts made by the wife went viral this month. Stacy Mattson who, together with her husband Ken, has spent $80 million the past three years purchasing 26 properties throughout Sonoma Valley, made the controversial comments on her then-public Facebook page. In one post, she described herself as “disgusted” by the 2013 Rose Bowl Parade being “high-jacked by the gay agenda,” adding th

Update: The Fremont Diner Has Officially Closed

Employees of the Fremont Diner — a mandatory stop for tourists on the way to and from wine country — write on Facebook that they’re suddenly looking for work: The restaurant is rumored to have closed according to locals, though the circumstances are unclear. Calls and emails to the business have gone unanswered, and Eater SF has reached out to employees and neighbors for confirmation and further details. Update, 10 p.m. Wednesday: In an Instagram post this evening, the roadside haunt confirms

Weeks after wildfires, California wine country is ‘as beautiful as ever’ — and hurting for visitors

Northern California wine country wants you to know: It is open for business. Last month’s wildfires across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and Solano counties sparked countless headlines about wine country burning. Dramatic photos of the winery at Signorello Vineyards engulfed in flames fed fears that venerable wineries along Napa’s Silverado Trail or nearby Atlas Peak, where the conflagration started, were also destroyed. Alarmist headlines spelled the ruin of the 2017 vintage and predicted pric

Vineyard owners share stories of loss and salvation amid wine country wildfires

“I just really wish we knew our fate,” wrote Carole Meredith in a recent Facebook post as she waited out her evacuation from her winery and home on Mt. Veeder. Meredith, of Lagier Meredith vineyard in the Napa Valley, is one of the many affected by the multiple wildfires burning in Northern California. For most, the mantra has been watch and wait, looking anxiously at ridgelines, at puffs and plumes in the distance, hoping not to hear the loudspeaker announcing evacuation, hoping that the winds

Guy Fieri Brings TV Crew, Mobile BBQ Unit to Aid in Fire Relief Effort [Updated]

TV game show host, flame shirt apologist and Santa Rosa native son Guy Fieri has arrived in fire-ravaged Sonoma County today. As local journalists Sarah Stierch and Heather Irwin reported on Twitter this morning, Fieri’s team was spotted setting up shop in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, with a CBS TV crew and a mobile BBQ unit in tow. While it’s currently unclear what Fieri’s relief efforts entail, the sight of crews setting up chafing dishes in the parking lot

Wikipedia's Hostility to Women

Then, in January 2015, Lightbreather proposed a women-only space on Wikipedia for female editors to support each other and discuss the specific barriers they face online. The proposal was part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Inspire Campaign, launched to fund projects aimed at closing the site’s gender gap—but users took to the “oppose” section of proposal’s discussion page to promise to “fight this to the death.” “It’s just incredible how much hatred was spewing out of these guys. … When you hav

Wiki editors boost entries on female scientists to mark Ada Lovelace Day

For five years now, fans of female scientists have set aside the date of Oct. 15th to recognize their accomplishments, naming the effort after the remarkable Ada Lovelace, a 19th century woman who began her life as the only child of the poet Lord Byron with his wife. Lovelace then went on to write the first algorithm intended to be used by a machine, rendering her, in effect, the world's first computer programmer. The early years of celebrating Lovelace and other women saw requests for people ar
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