Page One

Wednesday May 02, 2001

Help collect  

left-over food 



Last year, Carolyn North was given the annual Berkeley Community Award for having founded our terrific organization DAILY BREAD. This year, we need (non-financial) help and some readers of the Daily Planet might want to answer our call. 

DAILY BREAD volunteers pick up donated food from restaurants (Chez Panisse on “down”), bakeries (almost all of them), markets, etc. etc. and we deliver this food to the many churches and shelters in the East Bay which feed the needy. 

Some pick up once a week, some more often if they have the time. It is as simple as that. For the first time in our 18-year existence we need more volunteers. Bette’s Diner on Fourth St. has just asked for food to be picked up on a daily basis. Alas,our network of picker-uppers is stretched thin and at this moment has no time to spare for Bette.  

But we (you?) are not about to let Bette down. If this is something you would like to do (even one time per week),please give me a ring at 339-9811 and I’ll get you started. Welcome to the wondrous world of DAILY BREAD...and to the wondrous world of Berkeley’s Fourth Street. 


Julianne Morris 

DAILY BREAD Coordinator 


New trash cans don’t make the grade 



Today I noticed the new city trash cans which have begun to appear throughout downtown. My first thought: UGLY! My second thought: environmentally unfriendly! My third thought: anti-free speech! And my fourth thought: OUCH! for the backs of the folks at Public Works. 

The new cans have a sickly hourglass shape. They have not got the cute sturdy shape that has become a familiar fixture in Berkeley, with a front door that opens. They evidently cannot be retrofitted with the ingenious recycling pyramids either. And where can a citizen post a flyer on them, one of the few places left to us for reaching out to the grassroots? 

Is this part of the “downtown revitalization” going hand in hand with ripping out bike parking, tearing down our few trees, citing peaceful pedestrians and bicyclists but not crosswalk terrorizing motorcars, and the business clamor for more subsidized congestion, pollution, crime and mayhem (e.g, more car mausoleums otherwise euphemized as “parking”)?  

Most likely the “new designs” go along with the campaign to remove every scrap of public communication from Berkeley (and not even recycle the paper they tear down!) as the old beloved bins offered a handy front panel to affix flyers. Makes sense if the cans were selected as a deterrent to democracy as the “improvements” were rushed through with almost no public involvement. 

I spoke with a kindly gent from Public Works today as he hoisted a load of garden trimmings into a truck and he agreed the new cans are “terrible” and said they are “crap.” He said they are “too much hassle”. When I mentioned that I thought it would hurt people’s backs to hoist the cans out of the top he also agreed. 

Our Public Works Department has already let it be known that they have limited resources, e.g., being unable to fix the potholes we suffer daily. Why are we making things harder for them? And how much will it cost the city in time and money to deal with the disability claims that are sure to result? 

When is the city going to stop causing disabilities on every front and start supporting the basic rights of our people to a healthy, vibrant, accessible, comfortable, inclusive, downtown? Can the new cans! 


Jason Meggs 



Some weighty ideas for tired young backs 


I’m trying to get the School Board to enact a policy limiting the amount of weight students are allowed to carry on their backs and shoulders, in order to give Longfellow Middle School and all Berkeley students, from kindergarten to high school, some relief from those extremely heavy backpacks they all carry around.  

We don’t have lockers at Longfellow, which creates a very inequitable situation for our kids. I organized a student protest at Longfellow in March, which got some media attention, and I continue to ask the board (without success) to focus on this issue and give our children some relief.  

I have presented medical facts about the risk of permanent injury our students are facing as a result of carrying more than 10 percent of their body weight on their backs and shoulders. Some Longfellow students are carrying 15 percent, 20 percent, and 30 percent of their body weight to and from school and up and down our three-story building each day! (They’re not allowed to use the elevators.)  

School Board President Terry Durand and the other board members have not responded to my request. School Board Vice President Shirley Issel has told me that she does want to push textbook publishers to publish books on Cd-Rom, in sections, or in paperback, which is a good strategy, but that could take years. A policy is needed because that will raise the awareness of teachers, administrators, students and parents of this issue. 

Of course it would be impossible to enforce such a policy, but if students are officially prohibited from carrying more than 10 or 15 percent of their body weight, then at least the schools will have to provide ways to lighten their load-- in any way they can find to do that. 

As a member of the School Site Council Safety Committee at Longfellow, I put together some recommendations for staff approval which include: 

• Having a check-room for student belongings;  

• Purchasing rolling backpacks which could be checked out to students or sold to them at cost: 

• Asking teachers to allow students to leave their things in their classrooms during the day;  

• Holding an assembly to train students in the right way to carry and pack a backpack in order to lighten the load and reduce the risk of serious, permanent injury to their spines, necks and shoulders. 

I am hinting that I may organize a class action lawsuit against the district, but I guess the board doesn’t care if they spend our money defending it instead of retaining teachers or paying them higher salaries.  

I have to say that giving me the silent treatment is not making me very happy.I have the names of nine Longfellow students who have medical expenses, who have lost time from school and whose parents have lost time from work as a result of visits they’ve had to make to doctors and chiropractors due to injuries to their backs, shoulders, and necks from carrying heavy backpacks on a daily basis.  

Cynthia Papermaster 



Seniors need variety of low income housing  


“City Plans for More Affordable Housing” (April 30) are good plans but ... as many senior citizens will attest – what is needed is something else: low-income housing (for example, but not exclusively, “Section 8” housing).  

Affordable housing and low-income housing are two different things! Not surprisingly, for profit/not for profit developers, who, when pressed by the city, used to make occasional references to low-income and or Section 8 housing, no longer feel the need to do so – in part, we fear, because many Berkeley citizens don’t understand the difference. 

May is Older Americans Month, celebrating the Older Americans Act – with its several Titles providing for almost all aspects of seniors’ lives, for example, meals-on-wheels and senior center hot lunches – all except housing. 

Eleanor Gibson: Vice Chair, Berkeley Commission on Aging 

Helen Wheeler: Member, Berkeley Housing Authority North Berkeley 

Senior Center Advisory Council.