Page One


Saturday July 28, 2001


Please cut your trees for my solar power 



I’ve been trying since March to get Berkeley to cut its trees that interfere with my energy independence. East Bay Regional Park cut its seven trees, at its expense, east of me but those 20 south and southwest owned by Berkeley are the problem now.  

One of you advises patience. Another says its a money problem. As I spoke to you some months ago you can save $300,000 by converting to Instant Run off Voting. And I understand the city budget is $440,000,000. The work of cutting your trees is estimated to cost $30,000 I can’t afford. Solar conversion for my home itself will cost $30,000. Your trees are 150 feet high and some five feet diameter. Heavy equipment will be required.  

Your progressive position relative to the energy crisis put on us by the energy corporations and the government they own is laudable. While we all wait for municipalization of energy city by city without trust the state will do what we elect them to do, you can financially support those of us willing to solve the problem on our own by cutting your trees.  

I know Green Party Councilmember Dona Spring advocates you provide incentives property owners become contributors not just consumers of energy.  

I’ve done what I can by converting to solar water heating and reducing my energy use 60 percent over all.  


Jack Shonkwiler 




Improper ramps aside, Joyce event was great 




We really enjoyed the James Joyce conference, Extreme Joyce/ Reading on The Edge, held on the Clark Kerr campus July 2-6 and which we learned about from your salubrious paper. It was a truly outstanding gathering of scholars. 

Our interest in Joyce is current as we moderate and attend a Ulysses Reading at 1 p.m. on Fridays at the North Berkeley Senior Center (all are welcome). The best paper we heard was called My Adventures as a Literary/ Music Detective by Myra Russell. There were delegates from all over and around the globe.  

The papers we heard were excellent and exciting. Some were absolute stunners. The last scholarly event of the conference was Adam Harvey’s performance of “Shem the Penman” from The Wake. He took three years to memorize the passage, and did a dynamite job. The only thing that might have been improved would have been to have done it in an Irish baroque. 

At our table at the elegant feast which ended the conference to my left (Hulse) were an engaging couple from Massachusetts. To my right (Gertrude) was the Chief Information Officer of the BBC in London and a charming gentleman. Next to him was a Hungarian Bolivian woman who had delivered a paper on Tuesday which unfortunately, we had missed. The couple across the table were a bit too far to converse with. The food — stuffed chicken breast. Yum. 

One of us uses a walker. This proved to be difficult as the building we were in didn’t have proper ramps. All they need is a ramp for four steps up and four steps down, and the conference would have been perfect. This is something that should be taken care of as soon as possible.  


Hulse Rauh 

Gertrude Diamond 



Local architect should have been hired for Beth El project 




Throughout the Beth El process one claim has often been repeated: the congregation is a steadfastly community-minded organization. This cannot be disputed, but I wish that the idea of community extended to the choice of the architect for the project. There are many extremely talented local architects (many of them Jewish) who would consider the new Beth El project to be the commission of a lifetime. That the chosen architect is an L.A. based outfit is really unfortunate; there is no doubt that this a top-notch firm, but there is also no doubt in my mind that there a great lack of regional and even Berkeley-specific sensitivity evident in the design. 

Unfortunately Beth El has made the same mistake that the City itself made when it forsook local designers for an east coaster who produced an embarrassing cartoon solution for the new Public Safety Building in the civic center. The L.A. firm is producing work in the image of its great and recently deceased architect-founder Charles Moore. When looking at the Beth El design it’s possible to believe that you are looking at any number of other projects produced by this firm for other clients throughout the western states, the U.S and even abroad. 

While the recent school construction in town points to the fact that local architects can hit home runs (Cragmont), infield singles (Columbus), and sacrifice bunts (Thousand Oaks) — let’s not mention the base-running error that is the King project — there is certainly no guarantee that a local firm will necessarily produce an exemplary building, but I feel that it is the responsibility of an organization that values the welfare of the community to exhaust all local possibilities before looking out of town. 

Perhaps a bone will be thrown to a local architect who will take on the liability of overseeing the construction of the Beth El building, but this is cold comfort. The Bay Area is one of the birthplaces of regionalism as a way of architectural thinking; it’s a shame that a local firm with an innate and intimate understanding of all things local couldn’t have been hired to do the work. Wendell Berry’s writings on the importance of local economy should be of interest to the congregation as well as to the City. Too bad it’s too late in this case. 


Gary Earl Parsons 



City library  

provides a host of public  





Our library staff appreciated Charles L. Smith’s letter of July 20, 2001, suggesting that there be a strengthening of local government information and communication by having local government documents and reports in public libraries. 

We are pleased to have the opportunity to remind our community that the Berkeley Public Library’s central library does have city documents, city council packets, agendas and minutes of commissions and committees, and other regularly produced Berkeley city reports. We also have special reports, EIRs, and project proposals from the city of Berkeley, Alameda County, AC Transit, UC Berkeley and other governmental agencies as appropriate for issues under current discussion. The City Council packets are also available at all our branch libraries: Claremont, North, South and West. 

For more information, please call our central library’s reference department at 644-6648. 


MaryLou Mull 

Acting Director 

Berkeley Public Library