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Maudelle Shirek at the inauguration of the Maudelle Shirek Building, formerly Old City Hall. Photo by Judith Scherr.
Maudelle Shirek at the inauguration of the Maudelle Shirek Building, formerly Old City Hall. Photo by Judith Scherr.
 

News

Inaugurating the Maudelle Shirek Building

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 23, 2007

Maudelle Shirek, 96, an eight-term Berkeley city councilmember who served until 2004, was joined by dozens of friends and supporters at the ceremony Thursday afternoon changing name of Old City Hall to the Maudelle Shirek Building. 

Shirek, above, flanked by former aide Michael Berkowitz and niece Deborah McQueen, not only fought for peace and social justice, she fought for senior centers and workers’ rights, said Mayor Tom Bates.  

City Councilmember Max Anderson called Shirek “an uncompromising advocate for the poor and working class” and reminded people that Shirek had been a “midwife” to the political life of Mayor Ron Dellums and Rep. Barbara Lee.  

“I want to invite you back when we dedicate the mural,” Shirek said of a mural being painted by Daniel Galvez to be installed inside the building in April. “That will be about more than just the struggles of a poor girl from Arkansas. That will be the story of the struggle to make this a better place.” 


Artists Plead for City Help to Fight Rent Hikes

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 23, 2007

The last time Rick Goldsmith stood before the City Council was in 1996, when he was honored for an award-winning documentary film. 

But Tuesday night, when he addressed the council, it was to plead for help fighting powerful landlord Rich Robbins of San Rafael-based Wareham Develop-ment, who recently bought the seven-story building at 2600 Tenth St., and wants to jack up rents 40-to-100 percent over two-to-three years.  

“Our community is under siege,” Goldsmith told the  

council. 

In its regular business, the council approved a design contract for a warm water pool on the high school parking lot, made overnight parking on Frontage Road north of Emeryville a violation, put off a decision whether to appeal a property at 2701 Shattuck Ave and set a date to decide on a process to write a sunshine ordinance. 

 

Artists fight for workspace 

Standing behind Goldsmith as he addressed the council were more than a dozen other artists—mostly award-winning documentary filmmakers like him—many of whom have rented space for two decades or more in what is often called the Fantasy Building. There are some 50 filmmakers, writers and radio programmers who rent space in the building. 

The artists were asking for council help to pressure the powerful developer of some dozen properties in West Berkeley and Emeryville—many of them housing biotech companies—to modify the proposed rent increases, or minimally, to delay imposition of the steep increases for a year. 

Because the matter was not on the council agenda, councilmembers were not permitted to act on the request, but have scheduled a special meeting next Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. to address the question.  

They will likely decide to write a letter to Rich Robbins of Wareham, said Councilmember Linda Maio, speaking by phone to the Planet on Wednesday. Maio has met with the artists’ group several times over the last month. She and Mayor Tom Bates met with them on Monday and suggested they speak publicly at the council meeting Tuesday. 

“We didn’t know we had this treasure,” Maio said. While the artists work as individuals, they often consult with one another, both formally—they sometimes edit one another’s work—and informally as neighbors. 

“They don’t make much money,” Maio said. “We value our arts and want to do everything we can to assist them.”  

The developer insists on negotiating with each tenant separately. “The provisions [in the leases that have been offered] are very onerous,” Maio said, noting that some of the rents were as high as $5 per square feet. 

A glance at realtor Norheim & Yost’s website shows studio work spaces available for $1.50 per square foot at 2117 Fourth St.; Korman & Eng are advertising a large space zoned for light industrial or artist studios at $1.75 per square foot at 800 Bancroft Way. 

Representing Wareham, Chris Barlow also spoke at the council meeting. Objecting to those who had called Wareham an “out of town developer,” he said the company had been developing property in Berkeley for 30 years and should be considered part of the community.  

He explained the rent increases: “There’s a severe need for restoration,” he said. The building is being upgraded for fire safety, among other renovations. (Tenants complain that they were not consulted about what improvements they’d like to seen in the building.) 

“We’ve offered compromises,” Barlow told the council. Most people received letters saying Wareham needed signed leases by March 31, while letters to others required a decision by March 16. 

Barlow offered the tenants a reprieve of sorts. “We’re prepared to extend for 30 days [for them] to figure out and digest our proposals,” he said, adding that the tenants would have to pay a 10 percent increase in the short term. He then added a caveat to his proposal, saying that the extension was available “to those people who come to us and put a convincing argument before us.” 

Maio said the ultimate solution is for the artists to get together and buy their own building—but they need a significant amount of time to do that.  

In the meantime, Maio said, “We’re asking for a modest rent increase —10 percent—for a year, or at least six months so that they have some real time to figure out what they want to do,” she said. “Rich [Robbins] needs to help us get there,” she said. 

At the council meeting, Maio said Wareham should allow the tenants six months, but Barlow responded: “Six months it too long. We’ve already given them February and March.” 

After speaking to the council and listening to Barlow’s response, Goldsmith told the Planet: “We have a gun to our head. Chris’ talk tonight shows that Wareham doesn’t want to work with us.” 

Other tenants told the Planet they fear they are being deliberately pushed out. 

During the meeting Councilmember Dona Spring asked the city manager for a report on West Berkeley zoning and how the zoning might affect the Fantasy Building. Artists are given rent protection under the West Berkeley Plan, and cannot be asked to pay the equivalent of other kinds of office space or laboratory rent, she told the Planet on Thursday. 

The city is hiring a city planner to look at zoning issues in West Berkeley, according to Planning Director Dan Marks. 

 

Warm-water pool design contract 

In regular council business, the council approved a $125,000 contract 7-2 to do preliminary design work on a new warm-water pool, intended to give the council information on the full cost of building the pool in part of the high school parking lot on the east side of Milvia Street. Councilmembers Gordon Wozniak and Laurie Capitelli voted to oppose the contract. 

The city needs the information before it can go to the voters and private donors to ask for their support for the project. 

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak argued against the measure, which would be paid for with funds already set aside for the purpose, saying the city should heat existing outdoor pools or use a heated YMCA pool.  

And Councilmember Laurie Capitelli said the city has other “enormous, compelling needs.” 

Councilmember Dona Spring, the prime advocate for the pool on the council, called the arguments against the contract “an effort to once again sabotage warm water pool users.”  

The YMCA pool is used by people with multiple sclerosis for whom the ideal pool temperature is around 80 degrees, lower than that needed by disabled and elderly community who use the warm pool, Spring said. 

“If staff thought there were a viable alternative, they would have come forward,” Councilmember Linda Maio said. 

 

New laws punish bad hosts 

The council approved a two-part alcohol policy, designed to punish those who serve alcohol to underage people at parties and those responsible for loud and unruly parties. Both passed 7-1 with Worthington in opposition and Olds absent. 

The “second response ordinance” would fine responsible parties for the second and following offenses within a 120-day period, when police respond to complaints about loud or unruly parties.  

The “social host” ordinance penalizes hosts “who know or reasonably should know that minors are consuming alcohol.” 

When people report problems to police themselves, they are exempt from the fines. 

 

In other matters 

• The council delayed until next week an appeal by neighbors of a 24-unit building proposed for 2701 Shattuck Ave. During the discussion of the proposed five-story building, Councilmember Betty Olds said the requirement for the building to have commercial space did not make sense. “Why are we so tied to commercial on the ground floor?” she asked, noting the large number of empty retail spaces. The decision was delayed because the developer had gotten in an automobile accident on the way to the meeting. 

• The council voted unanimously to prohibit overnight parking on Frontage Road in the area north of the Emeryville border where car-dwellers often spend the night. Health concerns were sited in a staff report. 

• The council decided 6-0-1, with Wozniak abstaining and Olds and Capitelli having left the meeting, to create a process for writing a sunshine ordinance to enhance the state’s open meeting laws. 

The decision follows a council workshop on the question of making government more transparent. Suggestions for the ordinance included: 

• making the law applicable to task forces and other bodies designated by the council to do work on city policy; 

• making materials related to agenda items available in a timely way; 

• clearly stating rules for public comment; 

• having the ordinance overseen by a neutral body; 

• having public hearings at a time certain. 

The local League of Women Voters chapter will be involved in a public process that will lead to creation of an ordinance. Experts such as attorney Terry Franke of Californians Aware, will be involved as will Mark Schlossberg of the American Civil Liberties Union. (The Planet will report more on the Sunshine workshop Tuesday.)


West Oakland Zoning Change Plan Causes Uproar

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 23, 2007

In the wake of a sudden, sharp increase in public interest sparked by a local media report that the City of Oakland was considering zoning map changes that might further shrink its already depleted cache of industrial properties, the Planning Commission staff has pulled a report recommending changes to West Oakland industrial lands, and a commission subcommittee has postponed considering the rezoning until a larger group of city residents and officials can enter the discussion. 

During a Wednesday afternoon meeting in which the Oakland Planning Commission’s three member Zoning Update Committee had been scheduled to consider and vote on the staff rezoning plan, committee chair Michael Lighty announced the postponement, saying that “the mayor’s office has asked us to pause and reconsider this issue.” 

At issue is the potential increase in residential development in parts of West Oakland that are zoned for industrial use. The proposed changes affect an area mostly bounded by West Grand, Wood Street, 18th Street, and Poplar. Some at the meeting said they feared that the plan could lead to pressure to relax zoning in adjacent areas of West Oakland, which contains much of the city’s industrial lands. 

Committee member Doug Boxer said he was “glad the report was withdrawn because I would probably have voted against it.” 

Without a staff recommendation to consider, the committee took public comment on the issue of changes to West Oakland industrial zoning anyway, with a long series of speakers divided over whether the rezoning would revitalize West Oakland or would sink it further into an economic wasteland.  

Rusty Snow, co-chair of the West Oakland Business Land Group, said that his organization recently took a survey of property owners in the affected area and reported that “90 percent of the property owners want [mixed industrial-commercial-residential] zoning in West Oakland. It’s way overwhelming that these owners do not want to keep it industrial only. Would the city want to implement a zoning that does not have the property owners’ support?” 

And Kathy Kuhner of Dogtown Development, a West Oakland residential development company, said, “If we only allow industrial zoning in this area, no new businesses will be built. If we change that zoning, we will double, triple, even quadruple the number of businesses coming into West Oakland.” 

And Sean O’Conner, a West Oakland resident, said he supported a change from industrial to mixed-use zoning “because it’s not working the other way. Making this change will allow West Oakland to develop a soul.” 

But Bob Tuck of the West Oakland Commerce Association said that trying to mix commercial and residential in other parts of Oakland has not been successful: “See how many mixed-use developments you have with empty windows on the ground floor where the commercial components were supposed to be, and filled residential spaces rising above that.”  

Calling those developments “first floor ghost towns,” Tuck said that “we need to look at the greater needs of Oakland, and not just the wishes of a few property owners.” 

And Bill Chorneau of ACORN, a West Oakland resident, charged that “we are only here today because we have a real estate developer who thinks he can make a lot of money by putting residential development on some of this property.” Saying that “in West Oakland, we need jobs that we can walk to,” Chorneau said much of the support for the rezoning proposal comes from “short-term West Oakland residents who already have good jobs. They can afford to buy $500,000 condominiums, and they don’t need a job in West Oakland. They don’t mind driving across the bridge to San Francisco to get to work.”  

Chorneau said he supported Councilmember Nadel’s “industrial preservation ideas.” 

After the announcement of the staff recommendation postponement, Mayor Ron Dellums’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Victor Ochoa, told committee members “we are glad staff is going to take a second look at this issue. This is a major issue of great importance to the city. We’ve only just gotten into office, and we need more time to weigh in on this.” 

An aide to Councilmember Nancy Nadel said that the Councilmember also welcomed the postponement. Nadel, who represents West Oakland, has been a vocal advocate for retaining industrial zoned land in her district. 

No date or timetable was given for a Planning Commission renewal of the discussion. 

The bulk of the area in question, West Oakland Industrial Sub-Area 16, is located in an area bounded by West Grand, Wood Street, 18th Street, and Poplar, but some portions of it run as far south as 12th Street. 

But Lighty said that after a Wednesday morning article entitled “Homes vs. Jobs: Debating Oakland’s Future” appeared on the front page of the Oakland Tribune Metro section, interest suddenly spiked in an issue that has been simmering under the table for many months, causing the call from the mayor’s office and the request for postponement. 

Oakland’s General Plan, which sets overall land use policy for every portion of the city, was adopted in 1998. Changes to the zoning code to conform it to the General Plan were supposed to follow immediately afterwards, but former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown set that as a low priority and the zoning code update went undone during his eight year administration, with conflicts between the General Plan and the zoning code causing considerable confusion in Oakland development. Momentum to update Oakland’s zoning code picked back up with the election of Ron Dellums to the mayor’s office last summer. 

Brown’s failure to follow through on zoning updates for eight years was alluded to in a backhanded comment by Zoning Commissioner Doug Boxer, who told Dellums’ Deputy Chief Achoa “the former mayor’s absence [from these zoning update meetings] in the past has been noted by me. I’m glad you’re here now.”  


Corporate-Academic Web Entangles UC-BP Proposal

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 23, 2007

At least two leading proponents of the $500 million alternative fuels program now being negotiated between UC Berkeley and BP (the former British Petroleum) have created companies that could profit from the research. 

One of the firms hired a BP vice president while the oil company was considering rival grant applications from five universities, including Berkeley. 

Specifics of the final contract are now being negotiated between UC Berkeley and BP. The university will negotiate subcontracts with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the University of Illinois at Cham-paign-Urbana (UI). 

The result will be the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), which will house two separate programs—academic research conducted by the lab and the two universities and a restricted proprietary section for BP-only research. 

The increasingly short path between academe and board room has been encouraged by Congress, most notably in the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which played a leading role in the creation of what former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl dubbed the “emergence of a substantial ‘university-industrial complex.’” 

 

Amyris 

One of the faculty-founded companies, Amyris Biotechno-logies, was co-created by Jay Keasling, one of the project’s highest-profile advocates. 

Amyris hired John Melos, BP’s former president of U.S. fuels operations, as its CEO in December, while the oil company was evaluating competing proposals from five universities including Berkeley. 

Announcement of the Melos hire came two months after UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory (LBNL) had applied for a $500 million alternative energy grant from BP and two months before the company declared Berkeley the winner. 

Keasling, a professor of biological and chemical engineering at the university, also holds an appointment at LBNL and is an internationally renowned scholar; he was named “Scientist of the Year” in December by Discover Magazine. 

The Amyris website states that among the former BP executive’s task for the British oil giant was “BP’s Helios rebranding”—when the firm changed its name to BP and adopted a new logo dubbed “the Helios.” 

According to the BP corporate website, the logo “was inspired by the image of a sunflower: a living organic form, reflecting our commitment to more environmental ways of producing energy. Named after the Greek god of the sun, the Helios combines the imagery of petals and leaves with a burst of radiant yellow that reminds us of the greatest energy source of all.” 

LBNL’s own alternative energy program is dubbed “the Helios Project,” and will include the BP-funded research. Keasling is the project’s co-director and has been designated as the director of the EBI’s Synthetic Biology Center  

Amyris has been widely praised for the key role the company has played in the synthesis of the highly effective anti-malarial drug artemisinin, which is now produced in a cheap, effective manner by the use of the common bacterium Escherichia coli in a genetically modified form, a process funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Another member of the Amyris advisory board is Harvey Blanch, a professor of biochemical engineering at UC Berkeley who also holds an appointment at LBNL and is the designated lead investigator for the EBI’s Feedstock Pretreatment Laboratory. 

 

Somerville companies 

Another Helios Project scientist with a direct financial stake in alternative fuel science is Chris Somerville, co-founder of LS-9, Inc., which has as its trademarked slogan, “the renewable petroleum company.” 

Somerville holds appointments at LBNL, Stanford and the Carnegie Institution, and is the designated chief of staff of the Energy Biosciences Institute, the organizational umbrella for all of the research conducted under the BP grant, which includes both academic research and proprietary research conducted by BP scientists. 

Somerville was also chief executive officer and chairman of the board of a second firm, Hayward-based Mendel Biotechnology, which is developing genetically modified crops under a contract with Monsanto, the agro-chemical transnational giant. 

He resigned as CEO earlier this year but remains as chairman of the board of directors and also serves on the company’s advisory board, according to the company’s website. 

A Monsanto vice president, Steve Padgette, serves on board of directors. 

One of the crops under development at Mendel is miscanthus, a giant grass related to sugar cane which has been featured as the probable target source of “biomass” for the creation of synthetic fuels, particularly ethanol. The plant is the species most frequently mentioned in the BP grant proposal as a source of fuel derived from cellulose. 

The plant is a native of China, where Mendel has a research program on the plant currently underway. 

Brian Staskawitz, another Berkeley professor named in the BP grant proposal, also serves on two Mendel boards, as both a director and an advisor, and Stephen P. Long, a University of Illinois plant biologist who figures prominently in the BP grant proposal, also serves on Mendel’s advisory board. 

Long is designated at the lead investigator for operations at the Feedstock Production Laboratory, which will be located in Illinois, and he, Keasling and Somerville are the three designated Faculty Scientists for the EBI project. 

According to the proposal accepted by BP, the trio “will work with BP and university leadership to develop the scientific program and establish priorities for the near term.” Other responsibilities include assisting in formulation of the research program and management plans and planning the allocation of space and resources under priorities established by university and LBNL administrators.  

 

Issue raised 

The issue of potential conflicts of interest was raised earlier this week during a campus forum where Keasling, Somerville and other key figures in the BP-funded project talked of the goals and fielded questions. 

Asked about possible conflicts with his role at Mendel, Somerville said that “if I assume a role at EBI, Berkeley will make sure” no conflicts of interests are permitted. “If necessary, I will separate myself from the several companies I’m associated with.” 

The same question was not posed to Keasling. 

A few minutes later, Somerville said EBI would be holding “lots of workshops for people from biotech in the area,” especially investors, which “I hope will lead to a lot of startups,” new companies created to license and exploit patents derived from research by the university and LBNL. 

While BP will have the first right of refusal on patents arising from research it funds, Somerville said the oil company favors licensing technology to startups. “They see that as enabling the development of infrastructure and a base for the biofuel industry.” 

The $500 million grant, to be divided up over the course of 10 years, will comprise the single largest source of non-government funding at the university, and has drawn criticism from some faculty and students who charge that administrators failed to heed the lessons learned from controversy generated by the last grant to drawn in such a wide range of faculty. 

The furor over a 1998-2003 contract between the Plant and Molecular Biology Division of the College of Natural Resources and Swiss agricultural chemical and pharmaceutical company Novartis ultimately led the university to commission a study by social scientists from Michigan State University. 

One of their key recommendations urged the university to “avoid industry agreements that involve complete academic departments or large groups of researchers.” 

 

Not unique  

Despite the proposal’s claim that EBI will be “the world’s premiere alternative energy institute,” other programs are underway in many venues, and the University of Florida is now seeking funds to build a demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant. 

The use of microbes to produce fuels isn’t restricted to Helios either. The Massachusetts-based Celunol Corporation is using a genetically modified Escherichia coli to produce cellulosic ethanol in a demonstration plant now under construction in Jennings, La.  

And earlier this week, two Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University announced they have discovered a fungus with a gene that enables it to produce concentrated levels of ethanol from cellulose. 

The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California held a day-long conference on cellulosic ethanol in mid-February, and production of bio-oil from miscanthus was included in conference materials. 

Cellulosic ethanol is also a major anchor of the Bush Administration’s farm legislation, with $2.1 billion in loans proposed to bankroll projects. On Feb. 27, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced his department would spend up to $385 million in the next four years on investments in six cellulosic ethanol refineries using existing technologies from a variety of companies. One plant will be sited in Irvine, Calif. 

While EBI researchers have stated repeatedly that ethanol is only a small part of their research agenda, it is heavily cited in the proposal and is the major focus of effort by the White House to reduce the influence of President Hugo Chavez, who has been using Venezuela’s oil wealth to oppose Bush Administration efforts to make political headway in Latin America.


East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Turns 25

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 23, 2007

Manuel De Paz has a job and a community college degree. With his extended family, he is buying a home and he has dreams of investing in a family business. 

De Paz’ life, however, has not always been so filled with hope. 

Sitting in the Bancroft Way basement offices of the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant—celebrating its silver anniversary Saturday—De Paz, now the community development and education coordinator at EBSC, told the Planet his story of escape from a brutal regime in El Salvador, how he got to the United States and found help at the EBSC.  

De Paz’ horrific story is not so different from thousands of refugees who have made their way though Sanctuary’s doors since March 24, 1982. 

In his homeland, De Paz’ three siblings were killed by the military in the early 1980s. “My one brother was decapitated and the other one was cut in pieces,” he said matter-of-factly, likely having repeated the story many times. His sister was raped before she was killed and a 9-year-old cousin had his throat slit.  

During that time, refugees came from other towns to the tiny village where the De Paz family lived, which made them targets of the military, he said. 

After the murder of his three siblings, De Paz became a refugee in his own country, living in the mountains for a year, then moving to various towns, until he decided that the best course of action would be to leave the country—an older brother had made it to the United States before him.  

He was able to cross through Guatemala and into Mexico. “I had to walk day and night,” he said. “I had to ride freight trains.” De Paz said he was often cold and hungry during the five months it took him to cross Mexico.  

In Mexico, “I was caught by immigration twice and they stole my money,” he said.  

Once in the U.S., his brother took him to EBSC, where he met Sr. Maureen Duignan, now EBSC executive director, who connected him with those who could help him obtain temporary asylum, then political asylum. De Paz has finally obtained residency. 

Today at EBSC, he helps others learn many of the things he had to struggle with when he first came to the U.S.: how to access healthcare, how to apply for college and understand class schedules, where to look for work and more. He’s also working on a citizenship campaign, going back to former EBSC clients who qualify. 

He is enthusiastic about teaching new immigrants about their rights as tenants and workers. “Landlords think they can evict somebody just because they don’t have documents or don’t speak English,” he said. 

Duignan, the engine that keeps EBSC going, is a diminutive nun who lives the religion she preaches. “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong … we are all sojourners,” she says, with a slightly perceptible Irish accent, as she quotes Leviticus.  

While the sanctuary movement started with the flood of El Salvadoran refugees fleeing the military government supported by the U.S., it has grown to “protect, advocate for and support” people from every continent, Duignan told the Planet, noting that the newest challenge is working with recently jailed Latin American immigrants living in Richmond and San Rafael. EBSC is working to get them released on bond and linked up with legal help. 

“Right now we are facing a real crisis in our own country,” says a message on the EBSC website, written by Duignan and Mia Trusker of the EBSC steering committee. “We are witnessing the suffering of people who are being rounded up like cattle, their families torn apart in raids as some of their members are being summarily deported. They are being targeted by a campaign officially called ‘Operation Return to Sender,’ as if they were an unsolicited package. Perhaps that name in itself symbolizes the inhumanity with which our country, a country of immigrants, is now treating its ‘undocumented immigrants.’” 

Today EBSC and its student interns from Boalt Law School—this year there are 55 of them—continue to work with immigrants and refugees from Central America, but the work has expanded to include women who have escaped domestic violence and female circumcision and those persecuted in China for their spiritual practice of Falun Gong. 

“It doesn't matter where you are from—Central America or Africa—you still are human. You still have rights,” says Manuel De Paz. 

Those EBSC tends to often do not have documents allowing them to be in the country. “But there’s a law that is higher than man’s law, that compels us to reach out to our brothers and sisters,” Duignan says. 

Returning to EBSC’s roots in the early ’80s, she talks about how dicey it was for the five local churches to publicly declare sanctuary for immigrants. “That was a big risk to take at that time,” she said, noting that, while the United Nations declared people escaping from El Salvador in the 1980s political refugees, the U.S. looked at them differently, because the country supported the military there. 

Over the years, EBSC has begun to see its mission in a larger context, and tries to influence U.S. foreign and economic policies to promote peace and justice. EBSC is among those campaigning to shut down the infamous School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. alleged to teach torture to Latin American military. 

Duignan has endless lists of projects—shelter and jobs for immigrants, the political situation in Haiti, improving the EBSC website. “We’re preparing for a big May Day event,” she says. 

 

The anniversary celebration and recommitment ceremony will be Saturday, March 24, 7 p.m. at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Donations are welcome. For information, call 540-5296.


Willard Students Construct Outdoor Clay Pizza Oven

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 23, 2007

After school on Wednesday, students at Willard Middle School were busy showing off their latest invention.  

At six-feet tall, five-feet wide and four-feet deep, the outdoor clay oven was perhaps one of the most exciting projects the sixth- and seventh-graders had got their hands—and feet—on in a while.  

It took 300 students a total of two months and lots of stomping in clay, sand and water to bring the contraption to life, said Willard garden teacher Matt Tsang. 

“It was Sofia’s idea,” said Tsang, pointing at seventh-grade president Sofia Eseudero, who was busy testing the plaster on the oven. 

Sofia quickly credits the idea to Mr. Dohrer, her history teacher. “Mr. Dohrer helped me to come up with the idea of a pizza oven. We were wondering what to do with the Wells Fargo grant and an oven seemed like a good investment,” she said. “I think this will be a more permanent addition to the school, something to add to the garden and the nutrition projects.” 

Willard is the only school in the district that has a clay oven made by students. “King Middle school has one, but they brought in someone to make it and it’s made of stone,” quipped Michael Madison, another seventh-grader. 

“I helped with almost all of it,” he says. “I mashed the clay and the sand and put everything together and then I had the idea of the phoenix on top.” 

The phoenix, which the kids will be painting black and red, is the school  

mascot. 

Sofia, along with school volunteer Yolanda Huang, studied Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer and contacted the author for help. 

“I think this teaches kids about historical cooking techniques and also augments sixth-grade earth and science classes as well as the nutrition program,” Huang said. “We already grow oregano and basil in the Willard garden and that provides fresh toppings for the pizzas.” 

Ten full-size cheese pizzas—baked by the sixth-graders—were ready for consumption by the end of sixth period. 

Sofia and her friends plan to make a strawberry vanilla marble cake in the oven soon. “The possibilities are endless,” she said, petting the school chickens Butterscotch and Aphrodisiac, who lay eggs for the nutrition class. “For something that costs $1,500, I think it’s pretty cool. Most of the stuff came from the garden itself. We hope to invite some of the businesses who chipped in with donations for a slice of pizza soon.” 

Located at the garden entrance on Telegraph, the area holding the oven had to be cleared of weeds, dirt and rubble. 

“We put in retaining walls first and then we built the foundation with the help of sand bags filled with the dirt we had dug up. Then we stuck all the 150 bags together and put chicken wire and stuccoed it,” said Tsang. “Inside the oven is lots of pieces of broken concrete and rocks.” 

Bernhard Masterson—an expert on earth and building from Portland, Ore., came to help the process forward. 

“We worked on a cob oven sculpture,” he said. “Cob is a blend of sand, clay, and straw that is typically mixed together using a foot-stomping method, and then applied to the growing form by hand.” After the initial cob platform was finished, and the brick floor of the oven was placed on the base, the bricks were covered with a temporary domed pile of sand.  

“We then cut a door out and took out the sand. Right now we are preparing the final layer of pigmented plaster,” said Masterson. “I just loved working with kids. Kids in mud is just something else and when food comes out of something they have created it’s just beautiful.” 

 

Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee  

Bernhard Masterson, a clay oven building expert from Portland, Ore., shows WiIlard Middle School students how to insert a pizza paddle into the new outdoor oven built by the students.


City Council Backtracks on Limits for Commission Members

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 23, 2007

On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council rescinded an ordinance it had approved on the first reading, March 13, that would have limited the number of years a person can sit on certain commissions and would have restricted the number of commissions on which a person could sit. The vote was 8-0-1, with Councilmember Laurie Capitelli abstaining. 

Community members were set to challenge the ordinance with a petition to place a referendum on the ballot, had the council approved it on the second reading. 

The future of the measure—whether it is dead or will come back in the same or a different form—will be discussed at the April 16 Agenda Committee meeting. 

On Monday, John Selawsky, Igor Tregub, Patti Dacey, Laurie Bright and Howard Chong submitted a petition for the referendum on the ordinance to the city clerk. They would have had 30 days from approval of the law to collect 4,073 signatures.  

The measure at issue would have applied to four quasi-judicial commissions: the Housing Advisory Commission, the Landmarks Commission, the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Planning Commission and would have: 

• limited the number of years a commissioner could sit on these commissions to eight consecutive years. After a two-year break, the commissioner could be reappointed to the commission; 

• prohibited a person who serves on one of the key commissions from serving on any other board or commission, with the exception of elected boards and the Library Board of Trustees.  

Voting to oppose the ordinance on March 13 were Councilmembers Linda Maio, Kriss Worthington, Dona Spring and Max Anderson. 

Passage of the second reading of an ordinance is usually routine. Maio asked the council to delay final approval of the ordinance on second reading after the community opposition appeared, but when Councilmember Betty Olds made a motion to rescind the measure altogether, Maio supported Olds’ motion. 

Selawsky, a school board member who signed on to the referendum petition as an individual, told the Planet Wednesday that he opposes the concept of term limits.  

“I object to councilmembers telling other councilmembers what to do,” he said, noting that councilmembers who want to terminate their appointees’ terms can do so at any time. 

“It’s two-faced,” he added. “Councilmembers have no term limits or limits on the boards they serve on.” 

Mayor Tom Bates, for example, serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management Board, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and strongly opposed term limits when he was forced out of the assembly after 20 years.


BUSD Surplus Committee Looks to Add Community Members

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 23, 2007

The Berkeley Unified School District Surplus Committee is looking for five community members to serve on it. 

The committee has completed their report to the school board on the Hillside school site and six of the members will be continuing their work on the committee.  

The school board accepted the recommendation of the committee to surplus the Hillside property. It will either be sold or put on a long term lease, said district spokesperson Mark Coplan. 

The board is looking at another potentially surplus property on Sixth Street, followed by the Berkeley High School Tennis Courts, a potential site for the relocation of the warm water pool, and other properties. 

Other potentially surplus property involves some acreage on West Campus that the city and merchants would like to use for commercial development. The Oregon Street property that houses the BUSD maintenance facility is also on the list. 

“Surplus property issues are important to our schools and to the greater Berkeley community,” said Coplan. “We are looking for Berkeley residents who will bring a wide range of expertise. It can be a neighbor or even just an interested party.” 

The surplus committee is referred to as a “7-11 committee,” as it is required to have a minimum of seven, but not more than eleven members.


Remembering ‘The Waving Man’ on His 97th Birthday

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 23, 2007

The yellow gloves came out Thursday morning at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Oregon, as did the smiles and “have a good day” cheers. 

For the group of 10 and the countless commuters honking at them during the two hours of commute time, the waving and the cheering meant only one thing: remembering Mr. Charles on his 97th birthday. 

“I have a new found respect for him and his ability to be here from 7:30 to 9 a.m. everyday,” said Denisha DeLane, who organized the event. “Mr. Charles is like the Michael Jordan of waving. He kept retiring but he kept coming back. And there’s no way we are going to forget him.” 

Mr. Charles, or Berkeley’s “Waving Man” as he was widely known, first waved to his neighbor in 1962. That little gesture went on to become something of a daily ritual, not just for him but for hundreds of school kids and people on their way to work. When Mr. Charles put on his big yellow gloves and waved, people waved back and smiled. Mr. Charles kept waving until he died in 2002. 

“His was the only smile I had for the longest time,” said Mark Lence, a neighbor. “I was going through a difficult time for a while and he would be out here, in his big boots and gloves, cleaning his car and cheering me up with his smile.” 

Kathryn Kaiser, who lives in Mr. Charles’ house now, was arranging doughnuts and muffins on a table for passersby to eat Thursday. 

“It’s a privilege to live in his house,” she said. “My children grew up seeing him wave when I lived two blocks down. I think it’s wonderful to keep his memory alive. I hope we do it every year.” 

Parents who had been elementary school children 30 years ago brought their kids by Mr. Charles’ house at 2819 Martin Luther King Jr. Way to tell them his amazing story and wave. 

Celeste Fikiri, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Kasallah, reminisced about the time when Berkeley had a lot more community events. 

“We had carnivals and shows going on all the time when I was in elementary school,” she said. “That doesn’t happen any more now. The gentrification of Berkeley has led to less neighborhood gatherings. It’s as if the districts have boundaries. We need to get more involved.” 

There is talk of holding a bigger celebration next year and getting a proclamation from the city. 

“It’s about time we got together and did something for him,” said DeLane, as she waved to a lady in a black Volvo who honked twice at her. 

“I miss Mr. Charles,” the lady cried out from the car window as she zoomed by. 

“We all miss Mr. Charles,” said Sean Dugar, who had come from Oakland to wave. “My most vivid memory of Mr. Charles was in elementary school. Every time we hit this intersection, all the children would crowd into one corner of the bus just to look at him waving. He taught us that the simple act of standing on a corner and smiling can cause a lot of joy.” 

 

Photograph by Riya Battacharjee 

Denisha DeLane and Sean Dugar wave to passersby at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Oregon to mark Mr. Charles’ 97th birthday on Thursday.


Elmwood Neighbors Unite Against Wright’s Garage Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 23, 2007

A group of Elmwood neighbors will appeal the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board’s (ZAB) approval of a restaurant, bar and additional unspecified businesses at 2629-2635 Ashby Ave. to the City Council. 

If the appeal is rejected, the group will boycott the proposed restaurant and  

consider suing the city, said Raymond  

Barglow. 

The group, which is in the process of forming its own association, is angry that the ZAB ignored a petition with 375 signatures that was officially submitted to boardmembers before the March 8 hearing on the proposed project. 

“The petition was against the installation of a 5,000-square-foot restaurant in the proposed area, and bar, and other unspecified businesses. We think the Elmwood district is already extremely congested,” Barglow told the Planet on Wednesday. “The area already suffers from an intense traffic and difficult parking situation. A large-scale restaurant and bar would make the current situation worse and negatively impact residents and visitors to the neighborhood.” 

A current petition—opposing ZAB’s approval of the proposed project—states that the developer’s proposal violates Berkeley zoning law by: 

• exacerbating traffic, parking, health, and safety problems in the district. 

• violating the regulation governing alcohol consumption. 

• exceeding the official quota for restaurants in the Elmwood District. 

• violating California Environmental Act (CEQA) guidelines governing environmental impacts. 

• approving the application without knowing which kinds of businesses the developer will lease to. 

The petition can be viewed online at http://www.theelmwood.org/issues.htm. 

The city staff report to the ZAB states that the peak consumer parking for the Elmwood commercial district is during the day. 

The corner of Ashby and Benvenue was put on the city’s list of traffic hotspots because of the high number of accidents. 

Maureen Ewer, manager of the jewelry store Bill’s Trading Post, said that some of the merchants were hopeful that John Gordon—the developer of the proposed project—would provide parking during nights and weekends at the Huntmont Parking Garage. 

“More stores mean less parking for everyone,” she said. “Parking is a huge issue in the neighborhood. It’s not just the customers, people who work in the stores will need a place to park too.” 

Harry Tanielian, an employee of La Mediterranee on College Avenue, said that the restaurant has lost customers because they could not find parking. 

“Weekends are worse, but weekdays can be bad too. Parking really gets out of hand,” he said. “You go around the block ten times, and if you don’t find a place you give up.” 

Immediate neighbors, such as Louis Armstrong on Benvenue, have written to ZAB about emissions from the proposed restaurant’s cooking equipment. 

“My primary concern is the venting of kitchen exhaust via a fume hood to the roof adjacent to my house,” his letter states. 

A resident of Webster Street, told the Planet that although ZAB had stated that the developer’s proposal was automatically exempt from CEQA regulation, she felt this exemption was not warranted. 

“The planning department does not elaborate on this matter. But [the law] speaks only of ‘minor alteration.’ What Gordon did to the property was no ‘minor alteration.’ Something seems amiss here,” said Barglow. “They are not disclosing everything. I don’t even know if the entire development is going to be accessible to disabled people.” 

Tad Laird, owner of Elmwood Hardware, said that he was concerned about changes to the Elmwood. 

“I am concerned about the size and scale of the proposed project and the public process involving it,” he said. “I am concerned that individual developers have gotten away with skirting the ordinances.”  

Laird said he is troubled by the planned opening of an international clothing chain—Lululemon—in the building at the corner of College and Ashby.  

“That’s far from the kind of shopping our neighborhood is known for,” he said. “This sends a clear message about what kind of commercial development the city wants in our neighborhood.”


New Plan to Tackle Downtown Parking

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 23, 2007

Even before they started talking about it, citizen commissioners and committee members heard a dramatic attack on one provision of the city’s new proposed downtown parking plan. 

Steve Wollmer, who lives on Berkeley Way near the soon-to-be-built Trader Joe’s building, fired a zinger at the start of public comments at Wednesday night’s joint meeting of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) and the Transportation Commission.  

“We find the selling of the public commons to be somewhat disturbing,” said Wollmer. “It should start at city hall instead.” 

He was referring to a provision that urges either elimination of Residential Permit Parking (RPP) or a hike in permit fees to restrict parking on the downtown’s residential streets. 

Wollmer said street parking is critical to residents in a city where many apartments, created from divided or expanded houses, lack any parking on the property and force residents to park on the streets. 

“If you want to create hatred and dissension among the citizens who live downtown, sell the parking,” he said. 

No decisions were reached on that issue Wednesday night, during a three-hour session that focused on what parking policies the city should follow during the growth of the next two decades. 

A perennial topic of conversation, downtown parking availability will depend on decisions about how many units builders are required to create for different types of buildings. 

One given, over which the city has no control, is UC Berkeley’s expansion plan through 2020, which calls for 800,000 square feet of new construction and 1,000 new parking spaces to accommodate it. 

Current city policy requires builders of housing to create one parking space for every three dwelling units—a figure Planning Director Dan Marks said may be the lowest in the nation. 

The low requirement is part of the city’s effort to encourage use of mass transit rather than passenger cars, a policy favored by transportation commissioners. 

Members of both bodies indicated they favored the policy, and a minority urged an even tighter no-new-space policy. 

In the end, members of the two groups indicated they were sympathetic to an approach that would let market forces decide how many spaces would be required for new housing. 

Marks said one alternative might be to decouple housing from parking, allowing developers to contribute funds toward city-owned parking in lieu of building spaces of their own. 

The other policy under consideration is the amount of parking needed for non-residential uses, primarily retail and offices, which are currently required to provide 1.5 spaces per thousand square feet of floor space. 

 

Two scenarios 

Two model planning scenarios are being used to prepare the new plan. The high-intensity model calls for 3,000 new residential units, many in a series of 16-story point towers. 

City planning staff members have said that concentrating the potential new residential growth mandated by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in the downtown may be the least politically costly alternative for meeting the quota. That doesn’t mean all the units will be built—a factor left largely to the market—but that the city must be willing to accommodate the ABAG numbers. 

Assuming the full number is built, the new housing would require an additional 1,000 parking spaces. 

In addition to housing, the high-intensity model would create 300,000 square feet of new non-residential uses, mandating 450 new parking spaces under existing requirements, bring the total new parking spaces to 1,450. 

A second alternative, the so-called baseline model, doesn’t allow for high-rises and calls for 1,600 units in smaller buildings and 205,000 square feet of non-residential construction with a total of 840 new spaces. 

Members of the two panels voted overwhelming to exclude from the totals the 250 parking spaces lost since the city’s last downtown plan was created 15 years ago, and a majority voted against a proposal that would have ended the requirement for new spaces for non-residential construction. 

The votes were straw polls rather than formal actions. 

 

Hard numbers 

During the opening comments period, Deborah Badhia, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association, had urged adoption of a plan calling for a balance of transportation and parking. 

The DBA, which represents downtown merchants, wants parking spaces, reflecting the desires of its membership. Berkeley’s public transportation activists have regularly urged fewer spaces. 

Wednesday’s meeting yielded some specific numbers on parking in downtown Berkeley, assembled by the staff of IBI Consultants, the firm hired by city staff to work on the plan, and presented by Bill Delo of the firm. 

Currently, the city controls 665 public off-street parking spaces, while privately-controlled spaces in lots and inside buildings accommodate 1,236 vehicles, and university-owned facilities house 348 spaces. 

There are 1,275 on-street spaces, of which 1,275 are governed by one of the city’s two types of parking meters, with an additional 375 spaces governed by RPP rules.  

Of the three city-owned facilities, the city’s Center Street garage generates the heaviest weekday daytime usage, with an average occupancy of 98 percent, with the soon-to-be-temporarily-closed Oxford Plaza lot coming second with 90 percent and the Berkeley Way lot trailing at 29 percent. 

Center Street lot use drops dramatically on weekends, falling to 32 percent on Saturday afternoon, while levels of the Oxford Plaza and Berkeley Way lots at the same time are 68 percent and 65 percent respectively. 

Several panelists said they worried about the impact of the Oxford lot closure on Berkeley’s movie theaters, and asked staff to see if they could come up with estimates of the impact. 

The Oxford lot will reopen after construction of a new underground facility is completed, but with a net loss of public spaces. The closure is mandated by construction of the new Oxford Plaza affordable housing structure and accompanying David Brower Center.


AC Transit Approves Purchase Of Additional Van Hool Buses

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 23, 2007

Ignoring complaints and controversy over 50 40-foot Belgian-made buses already in the pipeline, AC Transit directors this week quickly approved a staff recommendation to trade in 10 currently-operating buses for 10 more buses manufactured by the Van Hool company, even before the prototype for the original new bus order has been built and approved. 

With Director Elsa Ortiz absent, the proposed sale and purchase passed 4-1-1, with Board President Greg Harper (Ward II—Emeryville, Piedmont, North Oakland, and portions of Berkeley) voting no and At-Large Director Rebecca Kaplan abstaining. 

AC Transit General Manager Rick Fernandez said he was rushing the request through to sell 10 North American Bus Industry (NABI)-made buses five years before their scheduled retirement date because ABC Company, the U.S. distributor for Van Hool, is eager to secure them for use by the Department of Homeland Security in New Orleans. Under the proposal, AC Transit would receive an estimated $85,000 per bus as proceeds of the sale. The transit agency would also have to receive permission from the Metropolitan Transit Commission for approval of a complicated fund swap that will allow purchase of the 10 replacement buses from Van Hool. 

Fernandez said that “we are still negotiating the final amount that MTC will give us” towards the purchase of the new buses. Because of that, the staff report on the proposed sale said the fiscal impact to the district could not be determined. 

When Board President Harper suggested postponing the vote to approve the purchase, Fernandez said that would effectively kill the deal, since ABC was anxious to get the buses immediately. 

Defending the proposed purchase, Fernandez said “this is a great deal for us. We’re getting rid of buses that are going to have maintenance problems in a short time. They have reached a point in their life where they will have major expenditures.” 

But Oakland resident Joyce Roy, a frequent critic of AC Transit policy, told directors that “you are going to sell 10 buses that riders like to buy 10 that we hate. Your attitude to the public is, this is the bus you have, not the bus you want.”  

And following the meeting, Roy said that the district has built into its budget maintenance a 12 year use-life for its buses, and selling the buses before that time is not necessary. “The sale is not being driven by the actual needs of the district,” Roy said. 

The NABI buses proposed for sale were purchased by AC Transit in 2000. 

Before the vote, board president Harper expressed concern that the purchase of more 40 footers was being done without the district developing a policy of how many different sized buses it needs. 

“A few years ago, I said I wouldn’t vote for any more 40-foot buses until we determined whether we had enough 30 footers,” Harper said. “I’ve asked for a policy on how we decide between the need for 30 footers and 40 footers. I still haven’t gotten it.” 

AC Transit also operates a 60 foot “articulated” bus joined at the middle with a bending joint.


Peralta Holds Forum on Campuswide Sustainability

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 23, 2007

A year ago, the Peralta Community College District held its first annual Sustainable Peralta Conference at its oldest and least environmentally friendly campus, Laney College, in typically blustery March weather. Sitting in a classroom that day with a gap under the doorway so large that participants had to wear coats to ward off the brisk wind blowing under the closed door, Peralta Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, chair of Chancellor Elihu Harris’ Advisory Committee on Sustainability and the driving force behind the Sustainable Peralta project, talked optimistically about moving future construction bond money in the district toward “green” building principles. At that time, Peralta’s newest campus—Berkeley City College—was not yet built, and its $390 million facilities bond Measure A was not yet on the ballot. 

Last Friday, with talk of global warming heightened by unseasonably mild late winter weather, the East Bay’s four-member community college district held its second annual Sustainable Peralta Conference at the newly-built, environmentally progressive downtown Berkeley City College campus. 

As much as anything, that stark contrast—the planet’s weather sliding slowly toward an environmental crisis while the local community college district takes small steps to reverse old environmentally unsound practices—highlighted the opposing trends taking place in the year since Peralta began its initiative. 

This year, students and teachers from Peralta Colleges attended four workshop panels ranging from Regional Partnerships with local governments and Green Job Development to Green Curriculum Infusion and Green Facilities Transformation. In between panel sessions, the conference held fifteen minutes of what was called “structured networking” in which participants were able to sit face-to-face with workshop speakers to ask questions and trade contact information. 

Speaking at the Green Facilities Transformation workshop, Alex Ramos, an energy engineer with the Siemens Corporation, defined sustainability as “the ability to meet present needs without compromising those of future generations.” 

And Mike Matson, LEED Senior Associate with Ratcliff Architects, the designers of the Berkeley City College campus, spoke briefly of the history of growing sustainability awareness within Peralta. In answer to the question of why the Berkeley City College is not “greener,” Matson said, “when Berkeley City College was first being developed, there was not a lot of awareness of what green building meant. There was a vague interest within Peralta and the community in making this a green building, without knowing exactly what that meant. The project paralleled a time when public awareness has taken a steep curve. In 2000, there were quiet questions being raised about environmental building. Now it’s a steady drumbeat.” 

He said that Radcliff is “anticipating that Berkeley City will eventually be a LEED-certified project.” (LEED, the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the national environmentally-friendly building rating system.) 

With the successes at Berkeley City, Matson conceded that “sustainability hasn’t completely taken hold throughout the district. The comfort level and the momentum are not quite there, yet.” At the Regional Partnerships workshop, a succession of local political leaders highlighted their jurisdictions’ commitment to environmentally sustainable projects. 

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said that among other county efforts, the county’s two correctional facilities, the county jail at Santa Rita and the new juvenile justice center in San Leandro, are using solar panel electricity, and said that “Alameda County has had a green building ordinance on the books for ten years. We are trying to preserve our community for our children and our grandchildren.” 

Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio called protecting the environment “the most critical issue of our time.” She said that much of the environmental problems stem from practices which citizens themselves can alter, and talked of the Berkeley project in which “we trained high school students to analyze energy use in homes and to then retrofit those homes. The students get course credit for it, as well as stipends during the summer. The residents just love it. It helps build real bridges between young people and seniors.” 

Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), the chair of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, said that sustainability must be a “two-pronged effort,” taking in both the world and the people in it. 

“I read recently that if every person in the world sustained an American lifestyle, we would need five Planet Earths to support them,” Hancock said. “We’ve got to change that.” She also said that environmental protection also has to be expanded to include protection of the earth’s population. 

“Using people and then throwing them out when you don’t need them any more is no more appropriate than discarding a used can or newspaper or bottle on the street,” Hancock said. Stressing the need and value of increased emphasis on education in the state, she added that “there’s going to be an explosion of jobs in California because of efforts on green building and technology, and I want to make sure that all of our children are ready to take those jobs.” 

Hancock also announced that her assembly committee will be holding a hearing on greenhouse gases at Berkeley City College on April 14. 

Gayle McLaughlin, the newly-elected Green Party mayor of Richmond, said that her city is currently undergoing an update of its General Plan, adding two new components of project review: health and energy.  

“We will be looking at each new project in Richmond with an eye towards what is its positive or negative impact on our carbon footprint, as well as considering how the development will have an impact on the city’s overall health. Richmond is a city with a one hundred year industrial and manufacturing history, and we embrace that and want to continue to build on that. A hundred years from now, however, we want the new mayor in that time to be able to build on the tradition of a green industrial revolution that we are beginning now.” 

McLaughlin said that a Richmond green building ordinance is currently being prepared for consideration by City Council, and “a styrofoam ban is in the works following the lead of Berkeley and Oakland.” 

Commenting on McLaughlin’s presentation, Yuen, a Berkeley resident, told conference participants that “when you live in the city of Berkeley, you think you’re ‘all that.’ But very soon we may find that we are chasing Richmond on these issues.” 

Later, sitting on the edge of the stage in Berkeley City College’s atrium auditorium during a break in this year’s conference, Yuen noted a final comparison between last year’s conference and this: “continuity.”  

“Out of last year’s conference,” he said, “we developed curriculum and facilities committees that have been working throughout the year to develop proposals and programs and ideas for the Sustainable Peralta effort. The results are reflected in this year’s workshops. We’re not just talking about this. We’re working on it. 

“We’re also getting more corporate buy-in for the project as businesses begin to realize that this is the way to go,” Yuen added. 

To highlight that buy-in, the Pacific Gas & Electric company, a co-sponsor of the conference, presented a $120,226 oversized check to the Peralta District on Friday “for implementing energy efficient construction methods at Berkeley City College.”


Lecture Series Celebrates Artistry of Mills College Landscape

By Steven Finacom, Special to the Planet
Friday March 23, 2007

From Golden Gate Park and the Presidio of San Francisco to the UC Berkeley and Stanford University campuses to Lake Merritt, spectacular and expansive designed landscapes abound in the Bay Area.  

One often overlooked landscape jewel lies in southeast Oakland; the bucolic, wooded, campus of the private Mills College. 

What would Mills be without its landscape—the main avenue with its double alley of plane trees, another drive lined with towering, more-than-century old, blue-gum eucalyptus, lawns and copses, gardens and hillsides, streams and ponds?  

Clear these away, and it might be just another anywhere campus.  

It’s also a place where nature imbued the educational and social culture, from annual picnics on the grounds to the traditional “senior lantern procession,” to the presidential cottage nestled at the edge of a meadow. 

Funded with a grant from the Getty Foundation, Mills has undertaken a comprehensive study of its landscape history to produce a landscape heritage plan for the campus.  

The plan schedule includes a series of four free public lectures about the development of the Mills grounds and their context in the East Bay and beyond. 

The third and penultimate lecture in the series will be given Wednesday, March 28 at Mills by landscape and cultural historian Vonn Marie May who also worked on the UC Berkeley Landscape Heritage Plan. The fourth lecture is scheduled for April 19. 

May, based in San Diego, is the prime consultant to the Mills College Landscape Heritage Plan process.  

Her talk will present the research team’s findings and tie together the historical threads of landscape and architectural design, planning, and botanical enterprise that produced the campus of today. 

In a Feb. 28 lead-up to May’s talk, local author and historian Phoebe Cutler described the origins of the Mills landscape and the originators. 

Three early 20th century figures animated Cutler’s story. All are overlooked today in East Bay and California history. 

Aurelia Reinhardt came first to Mills, in 1917.  

“A minuscule amount would have happened here without her motivation,” said Cutler of the remarkable UC Berkeley alumnus who took on the Mills presidency as a career when the untimely death of her husband, the university physician at UC Berkeley, left her a young widow with a family to support. 

Reinhardt also served as a board member of the East Bay Regional Parks District. She required each student at Mills to walk at least a mile a day within the campus grounds. 

During her presidency she closely collaborated with Howard Gilkey and Howard McMinn, both of them Cal alumni from 1916.  

McMinn studied under the legendary UC botanist, Willis Jepson, while Gilkey worked with Luther Burbank in Santa Rosa. 

“These three people together made Mills College one of the most exciting places for horticulture on the West Coast in the first three decades of the 20th century,” Cutler says of Reinhardt, McMinn, and Gilkey.  

Gilkey served as landscape architect for Mills. It was he who planted 135 plane trees along Richards Road, now the main drive through the campus and a memorable outdoor space.  

He also designed smaller landscapes around buildings, including one pond that was originally intended to have a mysterious—or perhaps whimsical—“temple to the radio” on its edge, Culter noted. 

Gilkey was active in other horticultural ventures in Oakland. He worked with the Oakland Businessman’s Garden Club to sponsor a huge annual garden show at what is now the Laney College site, planned flower beds in front of City Hall, and replanted the edges of Lake Merritt. 

He also advised on the landscape of the writer’s memorial at Woodminster Amphitheater in the Oakland Hills, as well as the Cleveland Cascade near Lake Merritt which neighborhood activists are now working to restore. 

In the 1920s and ’30s “Italianate water steps were popping up everywhere,” says Cutler (Berkeley got none, alas).  

“Today when we want to make a new subdivision we’ll make it with a Starbucks or a weight loss center, but (back then) they put in a cascade” to ornament new residential developments. 

McMinn was also prolific, but in different respects. He authored three influential books about California shrubs and trees, planned a big botanical garden at Mills—which didn’t happen in his time—and “put together the deal” which lead to the Botanical Garden in Tilden Park. 

“His books survive, many of the plants he discussed or popularized are common in the nursery trade,” Culter said.  

As a member of the Mills faculty and an on-campus resident, “he founded a very strong template for botanical studies at Mills,” Cutler says. Today, one of the newer Mills faculty is, in fact, working to establish a native plant botanical garden on the campus.  

He planted hundreds of trees, particularly native California conifers, on the Mills campus but few survive today, due in part to a dry spell in the 1930s when the saplings were still young and vulnerable. 

The Mills-specific work of these designers, and others, will be part of May’s overview of the campus development history on Wednesday, March 28. 

Her lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. after an informal 5 p.m. reception (with excellent finger food, I might add). 

The indoor setting, in Carnegie Hall on the Mills campus, is spectacular.  

This is a Carnegie-funded former library. The upstairs Bender Room, with its intricate beamed ceiling trusses and built-in glass cases, is a little-seen Julia Morgan masterpiece.  

It overlooks the central oval lawn and historic Mills Hall as well as the Julia Morgan bell tower, “El Campanil,” on the Mills grounds.  

If you arrive a bit early, you can see much of this remarkable campus in daylight as you cross it to reach the lecture venue. 

The lecture is free, but a RSVP, presumably for headcount purposes, is requested to Carrie Milligan at 430-2125 or cmilliga@mills.edu.  

Parking passes and directions can be obtained at the main entrance at 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, just off Highway 580. 

 

Photograph Courtesy, Mills College Photo Collection at the Olin Library  

“El Campanil” designed by Julia Morgan in 1904 for the Mills campus was one of the first reinforced concrete structures in California and withstood the 1906 earthquake. Shown here in its early days, nestled in native oak and imported eucalyptus plantings, it still stands across from Mills Hall.


Council Yanks Term Limit Ordinance for Commissions from Agenda

By JUDITH SCHERR
Tuesday March 20, 2007

An ordinance passed 5-4 March 13 that would have limited the number of years a person can sit on certain commissions and impose restrictions on the number of commissions on which a person can sit was rescinded 8-0-1 at Tuesday’s council meeting, with Councilmember Laurie Capitelli abstaining. 

Had the council approved the second reading of the ordinance on its agenda Tuesday, community members were set to challenge it with a petition to put it on the ballot as a referendum at the nest election. 

The future of the measure—whether it is dead or will come back in the same or a different form—will be discussed at the April 16 agenda committee meeting. 

On Monday, John Selawsky, Igor Tregub, Patti Dacey, Laurie Bright and Howard Chong submitted a petition to referend the ordinance to the city clerk, so that they could begin collecting signatures immediately upon passage of the ordinance. They would have 30 days from approval of the law to collect 4,073 signatures. 

The measure that passed on the first reading would apply to four quasi-judicial commissions: the Housing Advisory Commission, the Landmarks Commission, the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Planning Commission and would: 

• limit the number of years a commissioner could sit on these commissions to eight consecutive years. After a two-year break, the commissioner could be reappointed to the commission; 

• prohibit a person who serves on one of the key commissions from serving on any other board or commission, with the exception of elected commissions and the Library Board of Trustees.  

Voting to oppose the ordinance on March 13 were councilmembers Linda Maio, Kriss Worthington, Dona Spring and Max Anderson. 

 


10,000 Rally for Obama in Oakland

By Riya Bhattacharjee and Rio Bauce
Tuesday March 20, 2007

On Saturday afternoon at Oakland City Hall, there was some R&B, some hip hop and jazz, and then there was Barack Obama. 

The junior U.S. senator from Illinios drew a crowd of over 10,000 for his campaign speech at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in Downtown Oakland, according to organizers. 

“Just look at the crowd he has created,” said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris from her front-row seat on Saturday. “He talks to the people like no one else. He reaches out to them like none other. I am here today as a supporter of Obama. He is a leader, a friend and someone who will take us to the next generation of leadership.” 

Supporters of all ages and colors—some with “Vive Obama” and “Obama in ‘08” posters written in green to keep with the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day—cheered when Oakland mayor Ron Dellums presented Obama. 

“We welcome Senator Obama to the city which has the audacity to see itself as a model city for the entire United States of America ... Mi casa es su casa,” said Dellums, as people roared. 

Born to an American mother, from Kansas, and a Kenyan father, Obama began his career organizing community events in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. He went on to become the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, winning over both liberals and conservatives with his charisma. 

“When people heard I was running for president, some said ‘he’s got the talent, but he doesn’t have the experience,” Obama told the crowd. “It’s true that I haven’t been in Washington long, but I have been in Washington long enough to know that Washington needs to change. 

“My experience as a civil rights attorney has taught me that fairness and justice have to be practiced everyday. My experience as a senator has taught me that ordinary people have the ability to do extraordinary things,” he said. “This campaign is a vehicle for you, for your hopes and dreams. When a million people say a child will have better education, they cannot be stopped. When a million people say we need a better energy policy, they cannot be stopped. Oakland, California, I want to be a partner with you.” 

Obama’s speech touched upon his theme of the “audacity of hope,” echoing his book by the same name that was published last year. 

Hundreds of supporters ignored the chained barriers around the podium to get his signature, take a photograph, or grab his hand. 

“I have made up my mind, I am voting for him” said Kevin Godchaux, a campaign volunteer from San Luis Obispo. “I am a veteran. I was in the Marines for four years and we need someone like him who will support people like us. Obama wants to increase money for veteran’s care and I like the way he supported the Walter Reed investigation. And, more importantly, I am glad that he didn’t support the war from the very first.” 

Obama emphasized that he never voted to support the Iraq War. 

“We're sending our young men and women to fight in Iraq and we have a duty to treat them right when they get back,” he said. “We understand that we are in the midst of a war that should not have been authorized. After seeing 3,200 precious lives lost and thousands of men wounded and trillions of dollars spent, we are less safe and our national image has been diminished ... We need to give the Iraqi government a chance to stand up. We need our young men and women to come back home.” 

Criticizing President Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy, Obama called upon the government to invest in teachers. “Leave some money behind,” he said. “Give our teachers a decent raise.” 

Children, Obama said, were the country’s most precious resource. 

“We need to invest in our young people to allow our economy to grow. Our country needs to produce more engineers. We need to pay attention to math and science,” he said. “We have been so consumed by the cynicism and pettiness in Washington that we don’t understand what’s going on in the lives of ordinary people. If we change the politics, we can change the nation.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New Arpeggio Design Disappoints DRC

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 20, 2007

The Arpeggio—known in an earlier incarnation as the Seagate Building—will soon soar 120 feet into the Center Street skyline, its developers told a city panel last week. 

But members of the Design Review Committee (DRC) said they want to see a little more elegance first. 

The structure—which will house nine stories of housing (including a loft level on the penthouse floor)—was granted the unprecedented height in exchange for adding low-cost condos among its 143 units and for creating rehearsal and office space for the Berkeley Repertory Theater on the ground floor. 

The front half of the ground floor will feature retail shops and separate lobbies for the theater area and condos, as well as a mid-block passageway and public art gallery connecting Center and Addison streets. 

The building will start to rise on the now-vacant lots at 2041-67 Center St. shortly after the final approvals are given. 

“This is a reintroduction of a wonderful project after two years,” said Don Peterson, executive vice president of Phoenix-based SNK Development. “We have devoted considerable thought and resources, and the building is now fully designed and engineered. We hope it matches your expectations.” 

But the DRC, the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) panel that sets standards for the appearance of Berkeley buildings, had expectations of their own, and by the time the dust settled Thursday night, SNK was headed back to the drawing board—though the changes required were more matters of form than substance. 

“This project was given an unusually enthusiastic report from this committee based on the quality of what we saw ... and I am not willing to allow anything to be degraded,” said DRC member and architect Burton Edwards. 

Objections didn’t focus on the size of the building, which has already been approved by ZAB, but on design specifics, ranging from the finish of the ground floor storefronts to the detailing of the finish of the penthouse level. 

Carrie Olson, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s representative to DRC, said she was amazed that the building’s potentially unobstructed views of the bay from the upper five floors had been restricted to glimpses from small windows. 

“These are the narrowest windows I’ve ever seen facing west,” she said. “You apparently aren’t aware that in Berkeley, people pay for views.” 

“We can’t put in more glass,” said Sam Nunes, one of the architects who worked on the project, who said construction details restricted the size of windows on restricted the size of windows on the building’s east and west sides. 

Edwards and fellow architect Bob Allen, a ZAB member and DRC chair, were concerned about changes in the design of the ground floor storefronts from the original plans developed by Seagate Properties, Inc. 

“The storefronts are the most unsuccessful part of you design,” Allen told architect Sam Wright. “The original storefronts were elegant.” 

“We threatened Darrell on the storefronts,” said Edwards, referring to Darrell de Tienne, who represented Seagate when the building was approved by DRC in its earlier incarnation. “We told him he couldn’t change anything.” 

“From the second floor down, this is a very undistinguished building,” said Allen. “From the second floor up, it’s nicely proportioned and detailed, but the ground floor is ho-hum.” 

Wright promised revisions. “It’s easy for us,” he said. 

Members also raised questions about the new roof line, which is slightly recessed at the eastern and western ends compared to the old design, and Olson faulted the penthouse loft designs because the spaces were open and partly visible from the floor below. 

ZAB member Dave Blake said he was concerned because the architects hadn’t provided any renderings of what the eastern and western faces of the building would look like. 

He said he was also concerned that the building had received twice the allotted cultural density bonus normally allowed because Seagate had merged two lots, using the bonuses from each. 

“I’m not convinced yet. We were told this was going to be the finest building in downtown Berkeley,” he said. “This is a modification of a permit, and it’s got to be every bit as good as the original permit.’ 

Rob Ludlow, another DRC member with an architect’s license, said the latest design “has lost the Art Deco elegance it had before,” especially given the width of the base separating the top of the concrete ground floor shell from steel framework of the upper floors. 

“With the exception of the ground floor, I like it,” said Allen. “There are some aspects that are a little more refined than the previous building ... what you’ve got is very nice, but please work on the ground floor.” 

Nunes said the changes were necessary to accommodate the thick concrete slab needed to support the steel-framed upper floors, as well as ducts for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts. 

“We’re asking for a little bit of latitude,” he said. 

“We’re asking for something as elegant,” Allen replied. 

The developer and his architects could return as early as next month with revisions. 

SNK is a major developer of so-called infill housing and has projects in Emeryville and Oakland, as well as the Arpeggio. 

They bought the property from Seagate, which also owns the 12-story Wells Fargo building at the eastern end of the block, in May 2005.  

Under terms of the cultural bonus approved by the Civic Arts Commission, Berkeley Rep must allow other community groups to use its rehearsal stage to for their performances. 

Once finished, the Arpeggio will become the tallest new building erected in Berkeley in decades, though it will soon be eclipsed by the even taller Berkeley Charles Hotel planned for a site a block to the east at the northeast corner of the intersection of Center Street and Shattuck Avenue. 

That building, expected to rise to 21 floors, is being built by a Massachusetts hotelier picked by UC Berkeley to create a new venue for parents and dignitaries visiting the nearby campus.


Loni Hancock Calls for State Health Care Reform

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Berkeley Assemblymember Loni Hancock called out the big political guns on Saturday morning, with some of California’s top lawmakers to join her in an Oakland City Hall forum calling for reform of the state’s health care system. 

Among the participants in the packed Saturday morning forum in City Hall chambers were State Senate President Don Perata, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and the heads of the Senate and Assembly committees that will consider several health care legislative proposals that are being advanced this year. 

Similar forums are being organized by legislators across the state. 

“For the last four years, I have seen piecemeal efforts to address [California’s health care] problems, but none has resulted in significant change,” Hancock said in a prepared statement released before the forum. “However, this year seems promising … I hope 2007 is the year we bring true health care reform to California.” 

Speaking to reporters about the various health care reform proposals being floated around, including one of his own, one from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one from Speaker Nuñez, and at least one from legislative Republicans, Perata said that he expects each legislative house will pass a bill this year, with the matter ending up in conference committee to work out the differences. He also said that he and Nuñez would be working to try to merge their two bills into one before that time. 

“I will make sure we have at least one Democratic-backed bill and one Republican bill to consider in the conference committee,” Perata said. 

In later remarks to the forum, Nuñez said that he and Perata “will soon come back to present a unified plan.” 

Perata added that Schwarzenegger’s proposal was “more a concept than an actual bill,” so it “can’t be put in conference committee.” He said that while “ultimately a single-payer system is the best way to proceed,” he was hoping to get a law passed and signed this year “which will at least provide accessible and affordable health care for adults in working families in the state, as well as for all children. I don’t know how much we will be able to get done. But I want to get something passed this year rather than nothing.” 

A panel of local and state leaders agreed that health care is a major legislative goal this year. 

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who made affordable health care one of the major issues of his election campaign last year, said that while ultimately health care had to be taken care of by Congress, “absent action on a national level, we have to step up to the issue in the state. We join together today in a mighty coalition to bring health care in the nation, the state, the county, and the cities to everyone.” 

Assemblymember Sandré Swanson (D-Oakland) called health care “the great human rights issue of our time.” Swanson said that “we should not be selling health care like we do a loaf of bread,” adding that “the ultimate solution is universal coverage for every citizen.” 

Speaker Nuñez agreed that “our goal is universal health care. We know that there are difficulties and political realities to be overcome, however. So we are going to have to take this in incremental steps. The driving principle is that health care ought not to be a privilege, but a right.” 

Pointedly referring to the stand of some in California that so-called “illegal immigrants” should be barred from some of the state’s social services, Nuñez said that a bottom line for this year’s legislation should be health care for all of the state’s children “regardless of their legal status or their parents’ income.” 

Nuñez said that the cost for such expanded health coverage should be borne jointly by employers and the health insurance industry. He said that proposals that call for employers paying 4 percent of a state health care benefit “are far too low.” In addition, Nuñez said that the health insurance industry “is making the most money out of the current system. It’s time for them to step up to the plate. They must reduce the cost of premiums so they can be affordable to working families and small businesses.” 

But Nuñez agreed with other speakers that even with the current buzz over expanded health care coverage coming from several points, California citizens need to lower expectations about what is possible to be passed in the short term. 

“The political will is here to get something passed, but we don’t have the two-thirds vote necessary to pass a single-payer health care plan,” the speaker said. Noting that this should not discourage citizens from moving forward this year, however, Nuñez added that “before we get to the perfect, I want us to get to the possible.” 

The forum included several panels of speakers, including representatives of both the Alameda and Contra Costa public health departments, hospitals, health care workers, and Mayor Dellums’ Health Task Force. Dellums’ office recently released a 15-page report on the Health Task Force’s seven recommendations on reforming health care in Oakland. In addition, Dellums told reporters that the Health Task Force would not be disbanded, but would act as advocates for several of the proposals on its recommendation list. 

“The idea was never for them to present a report and for us to say ‘thank you; bye!’” Dellums said. “We envisioned from the beginning that the task force process would continue past the reporting stage.” 

 


New Tapestry Delights Children at Berkeley Library

By Zelda Bronstein, Special to the Planet
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Downtown Berkeley has acquired a delightful new attraction: Kaleidoscope, the marvelous tapestry that was recently installed in the fourth-floor Story Room of the Berkeley Public Library.  

Based on original art by North Berkeley children’s author-illustrator Elisa Kleven, the 10-by-6-foot cotton hanging offers a vivid panorama of a verdant, park-like Berkeley peopled mainly by kids in motion. 

There are kids on bikes, kids on skateboards, kids on scooters, kids playing soccer, kids riding BART, kids riding the merry-go-round at Tilden and above all, kids with books. A few children are reading, but most are flying book-kites featuring illustrations from well-known children’s literature, including many works of authors and illustrators with close connections to the San Francisco Bay Area. The most prominent structure is the Main Library, which itself looks like a big mint-green book opened to pages depicting children on every floor. 

Kaleidoscope was funded by Giorgia Neidorf through a trust fund created in memory of her son, Max Delaware Neidorf-Weidenfeld. Max’s fondness for salamanders and other small creatures is represented in the tapestry and the art on which it is based, as well as the salamander bookplates that can be found in the hundreds of children’s books bought by the trust fund for all branches of the Berkeley Public Library.  

The Story Room is the Central Library’s main venue for its many children’s programs.  

Children’s Librarian and Acting Manager for the Library’s Children’s Services Elizabeth Overmyer brought Neidorf together with Kleven, and the three of them collaborated on the tapestry’s design. 

“We knew we wanted books,” says Overmyer. What they didn’t want, she adds, is “teddy bear art … When you hear ‘children’s art,’ unsophisticated images come to mind.”  

Their goal was a work that would appeal to children but wasn’t childish. It was also a work that would engage the Story Room’s clientele, who range from infants to 8th graders. 

It was Kleven who came up with the kite imagery. “Books are like little journeys,” says the artist. In Kaleidoscope books literally take children onto flights of fancy: some of the kids are flying through the air, buoyed aloft by their kites. After doing preliminary sketches, Kleven produced the watercolor and collage that hangs over the fireplace in the Historic Children’s Room, which is also on the fourth floor of the Central Library. 

Transforming Kleven’s 30-by-22-inch art into a 10-by-6-foot tapestry was the next step. City of Berkeley Civic Arts Coordinator Mary Ann Merker put Overmyer in touch with Magnolia Editions’ Don Farnsworth. Located in Oakland, Magnolia Editions is a fine art print studio whose clients include many distinguished artists and their patrons. 

The Magnolia Tapestry Project originated in a commission to produce hangings to cover the walls of the huge nave of the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Working with artist John Nava, Farnsworth developed a computerized method that, in the words of Magnolia Editions’ website, “blends old-world weaving processes with the newest digital possibilities.” 

In a conventional tapestry, each time a new color is introduced, it’s necessary to cut the yarn and tie in another piece. With Magnolia’s unique technique, the weft-weaving (the movement of the yarn across the vertical yarns of the warp) is continuous. For each work, Farnsworth uses a computer and a spectrometer to create a customized palette. As with pointillistic art, what viewers perceive when they look at a Magnolia tapestry are colors that arise from a complex, optically blended mosaic.  

The final, woven product honors the artist’s vision and, inevitably, transforms it. So, for example, I asked Farnsworth why colors in the tapestry version of Kaleidoscope are more muted than what Kleven calls the “paintbox colors” of her watercolor/collage. He pointed to two factors. First, the Belgian weavers chose colors for their loom’s warp that would help them approximate the subtle shades of antique tapestries. Second, tapestries are by their very nature “hilly”; their woven texture creates shadows that don’t occur on paper’s flat surface. 

Farnsworth made a “pixelated” weave file for Kaleidescope and sent it to be woven on Flanders Tapestry’s electronic Jacquard loom in Belgium. The Belgian weavers sent back a six-foot-long sample. Klevens, Neidorf and Overmyer liked what they saw—“It knocked us out,” says Overmyer—and gave their okay to go ahead. 

The tapestry was completed in November and then installed over the Story Room’s fireplace. On Jan. 28 it was dedicated in a moving public ceremony attended by about 125 people, including authors, authors’ friends, Neidorf’s friends and library patrons.  

Kaleidoscope is a testimony to the fruitfulness of private-public collaboration, the generosity of its patron and the talent and commitment of all who were involved in its production. The Berkeley it depicts is a place full of joy, of freewheeling exploration and possibility, a child-friendly world inhabited by caring adults (there are a few grown-ups in the picture). It’s a sensuously pleasing place built to human scale. And it’s a place where the value of books, of reading and of culture is celebrated—indeed built into the very townscape. Would that Kaleidoscope inspires us to make the real Berkeley more like the place it portrays. 

 

The tapestry version of Kaleidoscope may be viewed when the Story Room is open for public events. Elisa Kleven’s watercolor/collage can be seen whenever the Central Library is open to the public. For library hours and for information about events in the Story Room, call 981-6224 or see the Berkeley Public Library’s website at berkeleypubliclibrary.org. More information about the Magnolia Tapestry Project is available at magnoliaeditions.com. 

 

Image: A detail from Kaleidoscope, a tapestry based on the artwork of Berkeley children’s author and illustrator Elisa Kleven which hangs in the Berkeley Public Library’s fourth-floor Story Room.


Berkeley Symphony Makes Everyone a Performer

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 20, 2007

How many ways can a child experience an orchestra? Performing with it—as the “I am a Performer” concert at Washington Elementary School illustrated Friday morning—is one. 

Children from kindergarten to grade-five at Washington and Emerson schools performed alongside the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra as part of the symphony’s annual Music Education Program (MEP).  

Held every spring, the concert acts as the grand finale for the MEP which starts in the fall and takes Berkeley elementary school children through a musical journey for the next six months. 

“We’ve had it for 13 years now but it has evolved every day,” said Sarah Bullock, who has served as program director for the last two years. “We want to give every child the opportunity to perform in music. Every year four elementary schools are selected based on rotation. Our goal is to extend this opportunity to every elementary school in Berkeley annually.” 

This year, students from Cragmont, Emerson, Rosa Parks and Washington Elementary received hands-on training in instruments, met up with symphony performers, took part in school concerts and enjoyed free Berkeley Symphony performances with their parents. 

Bullock herself spent a great deal of time in the different classrooms, teaching kids new songs and compositions for the final performances. 

The brainchild of Oakland elementary school music teacher and former MEP director Randy Porter, the MEP was initiated by Kent Nagano and Kelly Johnson, then administrator at Berkeley Symphony. 

“I told them I wanted the kids to compose music that the symphony would perform and they agreed,” said Porter, in a telephone interview from West Lake Middle School, where he is band director. 

“I wanted to see how many different ways children could experience the orchestra,” he said. “They can listen to the orchestra, rehearse with the orchestra, write music for the orchestra and, most importantly, play with the orchestra. While brainstorming for the education program back in 1993, we tried to create something that would include all of this, and MEP was born.” 

A decade later, the success of the program won it the Bank of America Award for excellence in music education. 

“It’s great motivation for the kids,” said Charles Hamilton, instructor of the Berkeley High Jazz program. Hamilton was getting the fifth-graders from Emerson ready for a traditional piece named “La Sorella” on Friday. “Playing with professionals will encourage a lot of kids to pursue music in the long run.” 

Around 30 musicians from the symphony took part in the program, some making classroom visits to expose students to classical music for the first time. 

“Imagine the excitement of the younger students when they are introduced to a harp that’s twice their size. It’s a lot of fun watching them perform,” said Bullock. 

Debbie Spangler, who plays the violin in the symphony, said the enthusiasm of the children was addictive. 

“Musicians often don’t like getting up early because they practice late at night. So this gives us an excuse to wake up in the morning. It acts like a shot of caffeine,” she said smiling. “This is the best time to expose them to classical music. Once they go into a concert hall as young children, they will never be afraid to do it again. Many turn away because of peer pressure, but they can relate to it at some point again.” 

The first encounters with the symphony orchestra and in-house concerts are followed by the final concert—which has music as varied as the “William Tell Overture” (homemade percussion ensemble performed by grades one and two) and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” (string performance by grade four). 

“There is immense pride in getting the notes right in front of parents and teachers,” said Kathleen Henschel, president of the Berkeley Symphony. “The program is very well received by the school district and is getting stronger by the day. We are currently working with the Berkeley Unified School District to expand the program. Our focus, however, will remain on Berkeley right now.” 

Henschel said that the program had an annual expense of $100,000, most of which was met with grants from foundations and individuals. 

 

Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee, 

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra musicians Emmanuela Nikiforova (left) and Ward Spangler (center) show Emerson Elementary first graders how to play the cymbals at the “I Am a Performer” concert Friday.


Workshop Examines South, West Transportation Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 20, 2007

A community workshop on the South and West Berkeley transportation plan was held at the North Berkeley Senior Center Thursday. 

The Transportation Commission, along with city staff, project consultants and members of the community discussed proposed solutions and strategies to address the transportation needs identified by the South and West Berkeley community and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). 

Lila Hussain, associate transportation planner for Berkeley’s Public Works Department, said that the outreach program to the community had taken place through surveys, community meetings and focus groups. 

“We want to go over the existing transit networks and identify the gaps in the transit networks,” said Ian Moore, a senior associate from Design, Community, and Environment (DC&E). “We have identified the cost of the project as the major issue.” 

Discussions about the reliability and availability of para-transit services were discussed at great lengths during the course of the meeting. Conditions of some of the bus stops, lack of lighting and shelters and the need for solar power lighting were also brought up, as was the lack of information, such as maps and bus schedules. 

The issue that was raised by a large number of people both in the survey as well as at the meeting was the Route 9 frequency and span improvements. 

“Currently, the headway is 20 to 30 minutes. We want to reduce the headway to 20 minutes which will cost us $660,000. If we take it down to 15 minutes, it will cost $1.5 million. We also want to increase the service to midnight seven days a week.” said Richard Weiner, one of the planners. 

The survey also identified the need for more frequent service to the Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations. The “next bus display” that is being installed at the Downtown Berkeley BART station was recommended for both these stations. The cost for these displays were estimated at $100,000 to $200,000.  

“You have your projects well delineated. My concern is the cost. Do you have the funding laid out as well?” asked Deborah Weber, a Berkeley resident. 

A representative of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) told community members that the solutions were not just a wish list.  

“The Lifeline Transportation Program gives out funds for improvements for a period of three years. Alameda County, the City of Berkeley as well as the MTC will apply for funds depending on what kind of project they are responsible for. But before that happens, we have to find out from you what your priorities are,” the representative said. 

Weber also said that the team should prioritize coordinating the schedules of the different service providers instead of increasing the frequencies. 

Moore talked about pedestrian suggestions and ideas. 

“Elementary school children and seniors often find it difficult to cross at signalized intersections, especially at places such as 6th and Hearst, 6th and University, Sacramento at Ashby and King at Ashby,” he said.  

Red curbs and high-visibility crosswalks were offered as some of the solutions to this problem. 

Moore said that solutions to improving bicycle storing conditions at the Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations were limited. 

“We are thinking of coming up with e-lockers (electronic lockers) which use smart cards to lock the bikes electronically. Retrofitting the existing metal lockers is also a good idea. The total cost for this is estimated to be $115,000,” he said. 

Plans to promote bicycle boulevards were discussed.  

Betsy Morris, chair of the West Berkeley Development Corporation, emphasized the need of implementing bus shelters. 

“Dozens of disabled people walk out of the BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) office on Kittredge Street and wait for the No. 9 bus. It’s only humane to get a shelter there. Bus stops should be treated like public amenities,” Morris said. “There are students who have stopped going to the Berkeley Adult School because the closest bus stop is located two blocks down and the lighting there is poor. We need to improve the lighting there and move the bus stop closer.” 

Planning Commissioner Rob Wrenn praised the ideas but said that it was important to secure funding for the improvements. 

“AC Transit is grossly underfunded,” he said. “We need big pots of money for major improvements. Bus drivers here need to get unionized just like the bus drivers in Los Angeles. Only then will things improve.” 

At the end of the workshop, the team decided to work on a draft plan which would include suggestions from the workshop and a more detailed funding plan. They will also be holding a few more community meetings in the future. 


PowerLight Finds New Richmond Home

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 20, 2007

PowerLight, a large-scale solar power system provider, announced last week that it would move out of Berkeley to the historic site of the former Ford Motor Company in Richmond.  

The company, which serves global as well as domestic markets, is now located in three separate spaces in West Berkeley, including the Heinz Building at 2954 San Pablo Ave. It will consolidate in the 175,000 square feet available in Richmond. The move is slated for the end of the year. 

“We are delighted that this icon of 20th century industrial production will become a beacon for 21st century clean, green technology,” said Tom Dinwoodie, PowerLight’s chief executive officer, referring to the Ford Plant in a press statement. Dinwoodie was out of the country and unavailable for comment in person. 

PowerLight was purchased in January by San Jose-based SunPower Corporation for about $330 million. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., also based in San Jose. 

“It was very important for PowerLight to have everyone under one roof,” said Economic Development Manager Dave Fogarty, noting that Berkeley does not have large spaces available like those in Richmond.  

“It is normal for the company to move,” he said, adding that he thinks vacancies that will be created will not be hard to fill and “no one will lose their jobs.” 

Gary Gerber, CEO of Berkeley-based Sun Light & Power, specializing in solar electricity and solar hot water systems and not a competitor with PowerLight, which serves a larger global market, spoke to the Planet about the state of the solar industry. 

A factor that Gerber said hurt the local smaller solar industry in recent years is that large companies have bought up the global stock of solar modules to use in Europe, particularly in Germany, where over several years, there was a 40-50 percent growth in demand for solar installations. 

“Companies like PowerLight made it a problem for us,” Gerber said. “There were gigantic projects in Germany, sucking up all the modules.” 

Gerber further noted, however, that the demand in Germany was flat last year and modules are once again available at lower prices. 

Local demand for solar energy has been growing due to a number of factors, including California’s rebate program, federal energy tax credits, an increasing awareness of the hazards of global warming and increases in the cost of electricity from PG&E, Gerber said. 


Thousands March

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Thousands marched down Market Street Sunday demanding an end to the war in Iraq and no military intervention in Iran. Catherine Siskron of Berkeley, at center with the St. John’s Presbyterian Church peace sign, told the Planet she had come to the march to speak out. “I believe we can live in peace,” she said. “The only way we can do that is to have a voice. I want to bring the troops home and keep people safe.” 

Photograph by Judith Scherr.


Sunshine and Alcohol Laws on Council Agenda

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Berkeley’s draft Sunshine Ordinance still needs work, says League of Women Voters President Junky Gardner, calling for the City Council to delay adoption of the ordinance intended to allow citizens greater access to local government until citizens can meet and further refine the law.  

Councilmembers Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington, as well as representatives of SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense) and Copwatch agree that more work needs to be done on the ordinance. 

Tonight’s (Tuesday) council meetings begin with a workshop on the Sunshine Ordinance at 5 p.m., followed by a meeting of the Berkeley Housing Authority, and then the regular council meeting. The draft sunshine ordinance is slated for discussion and possible action again at the council meeting. 

Also on the council agenda are laws regulating punishment of persons who allow underage drinking on their properties and who sponsor rowdy parties, siting of medical marijuana dispensaries, prohibiting parking at night on Frontage Road and more. 

 

LWV says delay Sunshine Ordinance  

“Don’t rush into this,” Gardner told the Planet in a phone interview Monday, speaking of the adoption of the Sunshine Ordinance.  

The draft language is not comprehensible to the average citizen and should be clarified, she said, adding that the public needs more time to weigh in on the ordinance. 

The change in public comment format—the mayor allows people to speak before the council discusses each item on the agenda, rather than choosing 10 people by lottery—is positive, Gardner said. “The ordinance needs to codify the changes,” she said. 

The City Council approved an item submitted by Worthington in 2001 that outlined a number of concerns to be included in the ordinance. A number were ignored, Worthington said, calling the omissions “outrageous.”  

Worthington said these omissions include: 

• making police logs, records and other relevant information available and making investigative information available once the district attorney decides not to prosecute a case; 

• requiring disclosure of agreements settling litigation 10 days before a City Council meeting, unless disclosure would harm the city’s interest in other pending litigation; 

• establishing guidelines making all memos to the City Council or city departments considered public information available for public view; 

Spring said she is especially concerned with the council holding closed sessions on a threat of litigation. “This could be discussed in open session,” she said.  

Spring further said the ordinance should address task forces, such as those appointed by the mayor that “operate in secret.” They are not publicly noticed, but include city staff as well as selected members of the public. 

The mayor’s office did not respond before deadline to a call for comment. 

Jim Fisher of SuperBOLD said members of his organization have a number of modifications they would like to see in the draft. One would be to take out discretionary language, such as allowing public comment “to the extent feasible.” Restriction of public comment should not be because of time constraints, he said. “There can be more meetings.”  

Fisher said there is an “inherent conflict” in the draft ordinance, which has the city manager in charge of responding to complaints about violations to the ordinance. 

Jake Gelender of Copwatch, an organization whose members often observe police arrests to make sure they are done properly, said he’s had a hard time getting reports on arrests from the police.  

And other types of information have been difficult for the organization to access, he said. After police reports were issued on the Cary Kent case—the officer who stole drugs from the city’s evidence locker room—Copwatch asked the police department for a number of other documents.  

The request was never answered, Gelender said, underscoring that it was not rejected but simply ignored.  

 

Alcohol-related laws 

The City Council will address problems caused by alcohol by considering two ordinances: One is a law that would punish those responsible for—and those attending—loud or unruly gatherings and the other is a law that would punish persons responsible for gatherings at which alcohol is served to persons under 21 years of age. 

The “second-response” ordinance addresses the situation in which police are called to an unruly gathering more than once in a 120-day period. At the first complaint, the premises are posted with a warning, indicating that a complaint is on file. At the second complaint within a 120-day period, including a second complaint on the same day the first complaint was made, a fine is imposed. (When the event host is the reporting party, the fine will not be imposed.) 

At the second police intervention, a second 120-day period for fining the responsible party kicks in. The fine for the second police intervention is $750, the third intervention is $1,500, and subsequent responses will cost the scofflaws $2,500. 

The other alcohol-related law before the council tonight is known as a “social host” ordinance, which penalizes the host of a party where minors consume alcohol. The council will have to decide whether to adopt a measure that penalizes all hosts of such a party or whether it penalizes hosts who “reasonably” should know minors are consuming alcohol on the premises. 

 

Sustainable Berkeley to liaison with commissions 

The mayor has asked the council to recommend to the Community Environmental Advisory, Energy, Transportation, Planning and Zero Waste commissions that each of these commissions discuss what the city should do to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, as mandated by Measure G. 

He also asked that representatives of Sustainable Berkeley, a mostly city-funded grouping of representatives of UC Berkeley, nonprofit organizations, consultants and alternative health practitioners, “attend the commission meetings to discuss the process and ensure ideas and feedback are incorporated into the overall plan [to reduce greenhouse gases to be written by an employee of Sustainable Berkeley].”  

The new contract between the city and Sustainable Berkeley to write the plan to reduce greenhouse gases was to have come to the council today—increased from $100,000 to $225,000—but was taken off the calendar by the city manager’s office. 

 

Appeals 

The council will consider two appeals: one at 2701 Shattuck, appealing the construction of a 24-unit mixed-use project and allowing the demolition of an unsafe building at 651 Addison. 

The council will also consider: 

• Expanding zoning districts for the dispensing of medical marijuana. 

• Prohibiting nighttime parking for vehicles on Frontage Road, 1100 feet north of the Berkeley-Emeryville border. This is a spot where people who live in their vehicles often park at night. 

• Supporting efforts to maintain AB2034, which is funding for mental health services targeted for cuts by the governor. The city receives $955,000 in AB2034 funds. “Elimination of the AB2034 program discontinues intensive mental health services for 102 adults with severe mental illness and histories of homelessness,” the staff report says. 

• Request for authorization of $5,000 to $10,000 as a city expenditure to encourage UC to create a trash collection program when students leave town at the end of the school year. 

 

 

 


Berkeley Historic Walking Tours Start This Weekend

By Steven Finacom, Special to the Planet
Tuesday March 20, 2007

A Maybeck home, a new religious headquarters, an old stadium, two lesser-known neighborhoods, and even a freeway interchange and municipal recycling center highlight the spring 2007 walking tours offered by the Berkeley Historical Society. 

I’ll start off the series Saturday, March 24, leading a walk through the upper Telegraph Avenue business district and its side streets.  

My aim is to talk about some of the changes Telegraph has undergone in a century and a quarter as a commercial, residential and institutional neighborhood, as well as some changes that were once proposed for the area but never came to pass.  

Have you ever heard of the four-block-long parking garage once proposed for Telegraph? Or seen a block that was densely populated with University-sanctioned boarding houses back when women students were required to have their living choices “approved?” 

We’ll talk about those episodes, and others, walking through this ever-changing, ever-historic slice of Berkeley. 

On Saturday, April 7, long-time Berkeley resident and photographer Bruce Goodell conducts a tour further to the east, focusing on California Memorial Stadium and its environs.  

The tour will take in the much-in-the-news oak grove as well as the stadium itself and its Hall of Fame Room where the feats, both long ago and recent, of Cal student athletes are immortalized by hundreds of artifacts, photographs, and memorial plaques.  

On display is one of two circa-1890s hand-embroidered flags that gave the “Golden Bears” their name. 

The modest neighborhoods of far southwest Berkeley and their layers of history and tradition are the subject of a Saturday, April 28, tour led by architect Bill Coburn.  

The San Pablo Park district became home to many of Berkeley’s early African-American families in an era when racial covenants and discrimination kept them out of other neighborhoods.  

Coburn will use the evidence of street grids, garden designs, and various building styles to explain how a neighborhood grows and changes. 

The tour will also pass the “Fish House,” a relatively recent and notable essay in Berkeley’s eclectic tradition of residential architecture. 

On Saturday, May 12, photographer Allen Stross and a staff member from Berkeley’s Transportation Department will jointly conduct perhaps the most unusual tour on the schedule, an exploration of the transportation and industrial facilities at the base of Gilman Avenue. 

Possible changes to Berkeley’s notorious Gilman/I-80 intersection will be explained, along with the city’s nearby Recycling Center. The tour will also visit Ursula Sherman House, a haven for homeless families.  

Transportation, recycling, homeless services—it’s late 20th/early 21st century Berkeley history in the making, and you can see it now. 

The final regular tour in the series falls on Saturday, June 2, when historian and Berkeley native Paul Grunland goes beyond the Berkeley border into Kensington to lead a tour of the Maybeck Estates. 

While Bernard Maybeck was the better-known figure, his wife, community activist Annie Maybeck, helped keep the family finances afloat with her canny real estate deals.  

Here in the highlands they owned considerable undeveloped property, where lot buyers were encouraged to build their own homes.  

Maybeck pere, Bernard, designed an unusual house here for Maybeck fils, Wallen, and it’s possible that building will be visited on this tour, which is co-led by Bob Shaner.  

For those who purchase tickets to the whole tour series there will be a free bonus tour on June 9, taking in the Buddhist Churches of America Jodo Shinshu Center at Durant and Fulton. This recently completed project occupies the renovated shell of a historic car dealership, one of Berkeley’s most notable Art Deco structures. 

The tours all start at 10 a.m. and end around noon. Some involve walking many city blocks; others encompass a smaller area. Two—the stadium vicinity, and the Maybeck Estates—are not wheelchair accessible.  

Series tickets cost $30 for Berkeley Historical Society members only, or $10 per tour for the general public. You can also join BHS for $20 to get the series—or individual tour—discounts. 

Some of the tours may have filled up to their 30-person maximum by the time you read this.  

To check on availability, call BHS at 848-0181 on Thursday or Friday before a tour, between 1-4 p.m. Make sure to leave a telephone number and e-mail address (if you have one). You can also drop by the Berkeley History Center in the Veterans’ Memorial Building, 1931 Center Street, during the same hours.  


Naked in the Oak Grove

By Fernando Torres
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Dozens of people shed their clothes at the UC Memorial Stadium Oak Grove Saturday for a treespirit photograph by Jack Gescheidt. To see the photographer’s image of the event, as well as his other photos of the series, see www.treespiritproject.com. 

 

Photograph by Fernando Torres.


Downtown Transit Options Studied

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Cars, busses, shuttles, passes and parking will be the themes of the day Wednesday when members of two city panels gather to discuss the future of downtown transportation. 

Members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) will huddle with the city’s Transportation Commission starting at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

DAPAC is currently formulating guidelines for the new city center plan dictated by the settlement of the city’s lawsuit challenging UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development Plan 2020. 

That plan calls for the addition of 800,000 square feet of university buildings and more than 1,000 parking places in the expanded downtown area covered by the new plan. 

The Transportation Commission adopted its own recommendations for the plan Feb. 15, and they will form a starting point for Wednesday night’s discussion. 

While no agenda had been posted by Monday afternoon on DAPAC’s website, members have been provided with a copy of the commission’s recommendations as well as a draft chapter of a proposed transportation element prepared by city staff. 

The commission wants a stronger role for public transit, with more frequent service to the city core. One of the recommendations calls for accepting congestion as a means of encouraging use of mass transit and as a sign of economic vitality. 

Transportation commissioners also want higher street parking fees to encourage use of parking structures and faster turnover of street spaces, as well as to ensure that more spaces are available for quick errands and drop-offs. 


Sierra Club Holds Forum on UC-BP Deal

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Are UC Berkeley’s plans to unite with a British oil company in a quest for new biofuels good for the environment? 

That’s the topic for a Thursday night forum sponsored by the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group, said event organizer Helen Burke. 

The event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., will feature four scholars: Paul Ludden, dean of Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources; Chris Somerville, who will be one of the lead investigators, a member of the Stanford biosciences faculty; John Harte, of UC Berkeley’s Energy Resources Group; and Ignacio Chapela, a member of Ludden’s faculty and a leading critic of the proposal. 

Burke, who also serves on the city’s planning commission, will chair the event. 

The focus of the forum is the $500 million planned compact between UC Berkeley and BP, the former British Petroleum. 

Funds from the agreement, to be parceled out over a decade, would be used to create the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), billed by the university as “the world’s premiere alternative energy research institute.” 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus would be the primary subcontractors. 

Each speaker will have 10 minutes and will be given more time to comment on remarks from other panelists and to answer questions from the audience. 

Burke said she hopes these questions among others will be covered: Is reliance on biofuels to sustain current lifestyle habits in the best interest of the planet’s health? And could reliance on genetically modified organisms as fuels sources and producers create unintentional adverse environmental impacts? 

Doors will open at 7:10 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested. 

Burke said that while the Sierra Club is generally supportive of biofuels as alternatives to petroleum products, the club hasn’t taken a position on the UC-BP project. 


First Person: Iranian New Year

By Talieh Shahrokhi
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Last Tuesday, March 13, Iranians across the world celebrated the last Wednesday Eve of the Iranian Calendar year, called Chaharshanbe Soori.  

What I remember from my childhood in Iran is that this occasion was a day when my father and I would go out to a nearby woodland and gather dried bushes and wood for the Chaharshanbe Soori celebration in our neighborhood. We would bring them and arrange them in our street with the help of the rest of the neighbors. The street would be blocked, and at sundown the adults would set fire to the kindling that had been arranged in piles in a row, with the help of a bit of petroleum. I remember the goal of us kids would be to see who could jump over the biggest fire, so it was a bit competitive! As we jumped over the fire, we would say: 

 

(Sorkhi-e to az man)  

Give me your beautiful red color  

(Zardi-e man az to)  

And take back my sickly pallor!  

 

The mothers would bring out sweets and dried nuts to share with the rest of the neighbors, and after a good run at the fire piles, we would head home. Usually by this time, the little kids would pass out from all the excitement of the day and the older kids would put a cloak of some sort, usually their mother's chador, over their heads, and head out into the neighborhood with a pot and spoon in hand. They would go to each neighbor’s house and clang the spoon to the pot (this is called “ghashogh zanee”). The neighbors would then fill the pots of these visitors with dried nuts, fruit, and in some cases money. The dried nuts that are handed out during this time are a special kind of nuts called “ajeele moshghel gosha”; which translates to “problem-solving nuts.” I am not sure exactly how those nuts become problem solvers, but they sure are delicious! 

So now we come to the way we celebrate Chaharshanbe Soori away from the mother land. Chaharshanbe Soori cannot be celebrated the way it was in Iran due to the fire hazard, neighborhood ordinances, etc., so the Iranian community has had to get a bit creative in celebrating this old tradition. Usually at some beaches people have permission to burn wood, which is where a lot of Iranians go to celebrate Chaharshanbe Soori, but this doesn't have the same feel as doing it in the streets like back home. At the Persian Center (www.persiancenter.com) in Berkeley they have come up with a great alternative. 

The Persian Center actually gets all the right permits from the Berkeley City Hall and organizes Chaharshanbe Soori with the help of community volunteers—in the street. Berkeley city officials are very supportive of Persian Center’s preservation of the Iranian culture and have always taken the time to learn more about the culture and traditions. The City Council has even turned out on many occasions to celebrate Chaharshanbe Soori and Norouz. This may be one reason that the city adopted a resolution opposing military intervention or use of force against Iran. 

Chaharshanbe Soori at the Persian Center gets bigger and bigger every year. It has actually become its own Berkeley tradition for many local residents including non-Iranians. It is more like a festival than a quaint little neighborhood celebration. People come from all over the Bay Area to visit with each other, eat delicious food supplied by the vendors, dance to the latest Iranian pop music, and of course jump over fire!  

Happy Chaharshanbe Soori and Happy Norouz.  


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Educating Artists the Hard Way

By Becky O’Malley
Friday March 23, 2007

March is Arts Education Month, according to press releases from the City of Berkeley, Alameda County and county education superintendent Sheila Jordan. It’s a cause everyone can get behind: kids and arts, what’s not to like? We’d like to get on the bandwagon too, before it’s too late. We believe that art is good for kids, and kids are good for art. We’ll even endorse the slogan some creative PR firm dreamed up: “Art IS education.” Of course it is. 

The efforts to limit education to readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic which have come out of the Bush administration are badly misguided. Children have a thirst for creative expression which goes beyond learning to read My Pet Goat. Many a child has been persuaded to stay in school because of the band or the photography class, and some have even been able to build on their arts education for lifetime work.  

But it’s easy to lose sight of what usually happens to the arts after school is over. The traditional picture of artists in the Romantic culture of 19th and 20th century Europe was immortalized in La Boheme: beautiful and young, then starving, consumptive and dead. Few seemed to survive as artists into old age. 

Artists inherit neighborhoods left to them as the rich folks move on: the Left Bank, Greenwich Village, North Beach. They move into industrial buildings where manufacturing has declined: South of Market, West Berkeley, Emeryville. But after the artists move in, others begin to find their neighborhoods attractive, and most often the creative contingent gets pushed out. Now addresses in La Rive Gauche and Greenwich Village are pricey, and the artists, most of them, are the ones who have had to move on.  

It’s happening here in Berkeley again. On Tuesday night a vigorous and articulate group of independent filmmakers told the City Council that they were facing rising rents and threatened eviction from the building at 10th and Parker formally known as the Saul Zaentz Media Center, and popularly called the Fantasy building, from the name of the record company Zaentz ran there. One after another, they read out the names of the films they’d worked on and the many awards they’d received, including Academy Award nominations, Sundance Grand Jury Prizes, Peabody Awards and others. The new owner is Wareham Properties, a big-time developer, whose representative expressed the remarkable goal of turning the property into a world-class media center—which, of course, it already is. 

A press release posted on The Bates Update (the mayor’s official city-funded website) in July of 2005 flacked an arts tour of West Berkeley: “City officials and Assemblywoman Loni Hancock to participate in tour as part of effort to find permanent affordable arts space.” The Mayor was quoted: “Local artists and crafts people are a big part of what makes Berkeley such an innovative, interesting, and creative place. They are our soul,” said Mayor Bates. “But land values are skyrocketing. We need to find ways to make sure that artists and crafts people can always afford to be part of this community.”  

Less than two years later, artists have already been evicted from two prominent artists’ communities, the Nexus building and the Drayage, as well as from smaller sites. The permit for demolition of the Drayage was on Tuesday’s council agenda. 

The 2005 press release said that Hancock and Bates were joined on the tour by Councilmembers Max Anderson, Darryl Moore, and Linda Maio. On Tuesday night Maio said she hadn’t previously known about the work that went on there, but she seemed genuinely distressed by the story the filmmakers told, and promised to help.  

The problem which councilmembers must face up to is that the development-uber-alles philosophy of the current city administration has resulted in a West Berkeley land rush which promises to cleanse the city of any remaining artist-friendly locations, to be replaced by offices and biotech laboratories. The West Berkeley Plan, which was devised in Hancock’s mayoral administration, was supposed to prevent that from happening, but it’s been under attack on her husband’s watch with his blessing. 

Artist and former Planning Commissioner John Curl was the first victim in a series of commission purges orchestrated by the Mayor’s buddy David Stoloff, who just recently arranged to dump Helen Burke and install himself as chair of the by-now staunchly pro-developer commission. Curl’s analysis of the assaults on West Berkeley which are in the works is on today’s Commentary page.  

Bates (or his press secretary) inadvertently got it right in 2005. Artists are our soul, and now we’re in grave danger of losing our soul in the Faustian bargain the city administration is in the process of making with the technology enterprises which covet West Berkeley. 

The Fantasy film-makers constitute the most formidable group of artists yet to be threatened. Their national and international reputation and work are major assets in getting publicity for what’s happening. But since most of them have not been involved in local government, they are at risk of naively relying on the feel-good promises of local politicians whose real agenda is quite different, or whose existing allegiances might overwhelm their good will toward the arts. Many civic crocodile tears accompanied the demise of Nexus and the Drayage. When the wolf (or the crocodile) is knocking on the door of the henhouse, it’s not a good idea to rely on the fox for protection.  

 

 

 


Editorial: Ending the War and Beyond

By Becky O’Malley
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Sunday was a beautiful Northern California spring day, sunny in the afternoon but not too hot for long walks out of doors. In San Francisco, as in many other cities, lots of people combined their desire to take walks with their commitment to putting a halt to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and judging by the pictures a good time was had by all. Peace marches in the springtime are an American tradition going back at least 40 years in our own subculture, and they have much to recommend them. Especially for those of us who lived in the Midwest 40 years ago, it was a genuine pleasure, in spite of the underlying reason, to go to Washington as the cherry trees were breaking into bloom and walk out of doors carrying signs and pushing the kids in strollers. And it eventually worked—Americans caught on to the waste and carnage in Vietnam and withdrew, though not nearly soon enough. 

Four years ago we were proud to have our whole immediate family, three generations, 11 strong, marching in San Francisco to tell America that we opposed the invasion of Iraq. None of us believed any of the propaganda about the weapons of mass destruction and the Saddam-al Qaeda plots which were being repeated as fact on the front pages of the reputable newspapers we all read for guidance. We thought that if Americans could only be told the truth they’d make better decisions, and we were about to launch the revived Daily Planet to help in that effort.  

One of our first big stories, soon afterwards, was about the major San Francisco daily firing one of its reporters for participating in an anti-war demonstration. We did indeed provide a forum, both locally and on the Internet, in which the truth could safely be told, but much to the chagrin of everyone who’d known the truth about Iraq from the beginning, “truthiness” continued to triumph over truth in most national media outlets. Truthiness proved to be the vehicle which ensured the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 and the continuation of the failed war. 

Today (Tuesday), the fourth anniversary of its beginning, we and others like us are more than ever convinced of the utter folly of this war, but we are less sure what’s the best way to stop it. A quick poll of friends and family on Sunday produced no one who went into San Francisco to march this time, even though the weather was perfect. There were reports of seventy-five or a hundred thousand marchers in San Francisco in 2003, many fewer this year. But 3,000 people did show up, and, unlike in 2003, there were also substantial crowds in other parts of the country, even in places where there had been strong backing for the invasion in 2003. The San Francisco paper which had fired its reporter for joining the 2003 demonstrations had sympathetic reporters at some of the suburban demonstrations this year.  

In the Sunday New York Times, columnist Frank Rich put together a chronology of all the press reports about problems with the Iraq invasion which ran around the time the war started. Most of them were not from the Times itself. In 2003 the Times was busy spotlighting the totally bogus reports of Judith Miller and Michael Gordon about those aluminum tubes which anonymous sources said were WMD material. Not seeming to learn much from its mistakes, however, the Times allowed Gordon, just this February, to do yet another story based completely on unnamed sources, this one about what’s supposed to be going on in Iran, which might eventually be used to justify invading another country. So we still won’t count too much on the Times to print the whole truth, except for its excellent columnists. 

One problem in politically sophisticated San Francisco was that the peace march was sponsored by A.N.S.W.E.R., a complex organization which has many causes in addition to ending the war in Iraq. One friend told me that he’d seen an A.N.S.W.E.R. poster which espoused solidarity with North Korea, something he had trouble endorsing with his presence at the march. Others, even some Jews who happily criticize Israel, said they were uncomfortable with the group’s outspoken partisanship for the Palestinian cause. Many of the demonstrations in outlying areas had more broad-based sponsorship and were limited to protesting the Iraq war. 

But if marches alone no longer seem likely to change the course of events, what else can we try? Code Pink, a cheery direct action group, is camping out at Nancy Pelosi’s house this week. Die-Ins are popular. Move-On, still trying to swim in the mainstream, sponsors neighborhood vigils. Those who enjoy big bets are going for impeachments, with many available villains; the more cautious are simply hoping for indictments. It’s all good. But is it enough?  

The time for changing the hearts and minds of the American people has come and gone, thank goodness. They’ve gotten the message. Right after the war started, according to New York Times/CBS polls, 72 percent thought it was a good idea. That’s down to 39 percent now.  

Politicians are trying hard to play catch-up, but only some are succeeding. Many Democrats who should know better are tempted to lag behind the facts and even behind popular opinion because of their fear of some mythical silent majority.  

The big effort at this moment should be shoring up their resolve and looking for replacements for those who just don’t get it. That means the often tedious route of conventional party politics, but it also means not yielding to the adolescent temptation to thumb one’s nose at any and all the Democratic candidates.  

I don’t like Hillary Clinton any better than anyone else I know does, but if she’s nominated for president in 2008 I’ll support her. (And no, that YouTube video making fun of her isn’t particularly cute. I would be amazed to learn that it wasn’t fielded by Republicans.) Or any of the others, except of course Lieberman, who’s no longer a Democrat anyhow.  

My mail last week contained an envelope with Jerry McNerney’s name on it. I haven’t opened it, but I did put it in the pile with the bills to pay. That’s our most important job looking past the next election, making sure that McNerney and people like him who just squeaked through in 2006 are returned to Congress in 2008. After they end the war in Iraq, they need to get a real shot at straightening out the mess this country has become because the whole GNP has gone to paying off Halliburton and the other Bush crony corporations. That promises to be even harder than ending the war. 

 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday March 23, 2007

BLACK OAK BOOKS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was a shock to so many of us when Cody’s closed their Telegraph store. We all know that local bookstores are in jeopardy throughout the country, endangered by chains and online book sellers, but are you aware that another Berkeley institution, Black Oak Books, is also endangered and could close? 

Black Oak not only provides quality books, one of the best selections of the classics anywhere, used books for the budget-minded, and a wonderful selection of children’s books, but it has consistently provided a lectern for important local, national and international writers—a true service to our community. 

Black Oak is looking for new partners and infusions of money, but there is something we all can do: Try Black Oak first, the next time you are browsing or looking for a particular book. If they don’t have it you then have a choice to have them order it, or obtain your book elsewhere. Books ordered from Black Oak take a week to 10 days to arrive—perhaps a couple days longer than online orders at high shipping costs that reduce savings—but unless you are in immediate need of a book, why not give them a chance? The other thing you can do is bring them unwanted books for resale, and receive either cash or trade. 

I am neither an employee of Black Oak, nor a relative—simply a Berkeley resident who has enjoyed Black Oak as my neighborhood bookstore for many years. Black Oak’s address is 1491 Shattuck, near Vine, the number is 486-0698, and you will find their website online. 

Please, let’s be community-minded and preserve this cultural resource. 

Leah Shelleda 

 

• 

LOCAL BOOKSELLERS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Amidst the ceaseless blizzard of global bad news this rainy Tuesday you have printed two delightful letters from women, Amy Thomas and Doris Moskowitz, who own and manage between them four bookstores. Each of their stores is an honest business, a cordial gathering place, a distinctive cultural asset, and a provider of such public services as selling tickets without fees. Another such enterprise is Cody’s, whose veteran events’ producer, Melissa Mytinger, regularly offers free or remarkably inexpensive presentations by the best authors writing books. If we value these stores—and all of our other independent bookstores—we must give them the money, or most of it, that we spend for our books. It’s that simple. That’s the support needed. The way a healthy community supports its schools and parks and gardens, its air and water—that’s how we should support our remaining bookstores. They are an inextricable element in the community web, the tangible one, more fundamentally essential and far more personally responsive than that other one. 

Bob Baldock 

Former owner, Black Oak Books 

 

• 

BERKELEY/ALBANY FERRY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On March 8, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority solicit comments on the scope of the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) to evaluate potential impacts of four proposed ferry terminal sites in Berkeley and Albany. Comments from this meeting and from the second March 15 scoping session held in Albany will be fully evaluated in the EIR/EIS, along with all written comments received.  

In response to the March 13 commentary, it is important to understand that federal and state environmental guidelines require that the WTA fully evaluate the impacts of all proposed sites under consideration. Accordingly, the economic considerations of a potential site near the Doubletree Hotel will be fully evaluated in the EIR/EIS. 

The commentary also expressed concern about schematics that depicted what a new ferry terminal could look like at four locations. Over the next several months, the potential layouts of all potential terminal locations will be refined to reflect comments received at the hearings and potential environmental impacts. The draft EIR/EIS that will be released in early 2008 will reflect the additional analysis. Public hearings will be scheduled to solicit public comments on information included in the draft EIR/EIS.  

The vessels referenced in the commentary are not for the Berkeley/Albany service, since the WTA can not order these boats until the EIR/EIS is completed. WTA has ordered two vessels that will be spare vessels, initially put into service to launch the South San Francisco–Oakland route until the boats specified for that route are delivered. These 149-passenger, 25-knot boats, built to 46CFR Subchapter T standards, will interchange quite well among our routes that range from seven to 11 miles. These boats cost around $8 million each and are scheduled to be delivered in September of 2008 and January of 2009. They will be 85 percent better than EPA emission standards for Tier II (2007) marine engines.  

Throughout the environmental process the WTA will continue to evaluate ridership and cost issues to ensure that Berkeley or Albany ferry service provides a cost effective transit option that increases regional mobility. For more information on WTA go to www.watertransit.org 

Written comments should be submitted by March 30 to douglas@watertransit.org. 

Shirley Douglas 

Manager of Community Relations 

San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority 

• 

CORRECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

For the letter I submitted, and you published, I did not write Chancellor Heynes was a “great president.” I wrote that his eco-friendly deed of saving a grove of majestic, old trees serves as a great precedent for Chancellor Birgeneau to follow. 

Mitch Cohen 

 

• 

HANCOCK’S CALL FOR  

HEALTH CARE REFORM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was clear from the public comments at this event that a universal single-payer health care system is what most of us want and need. So, it is depressing to hear from our state’s legislative leaders that “I don’t know how much we will be able to get done” about moving towards such a system (Perata) because there are so many “difficulties and political realities to be overcome” (Nunez).  

Let us be absolutely clear about exactly what these political realities are. They have nothing to do with “lack of political will” among ordinary Californians, who realize that insurance companies do not deliver health care and in fact prevent people from getting health care and drive up the costs. They have everything to do with lack of political will among our elected officials, who continue to depend on the generous donations of insurance companies to finance their election campaigns. The political realities really are that simple. 

It is difficult to imagine getting an affordable, universal health care system until we can offer an alternative to the financial lifeline between the insurance industry and our elected officials. Assemblywoman Hancock’s Clean Money bill—AB 583—being re-introduced this year, provides an alternative to these “political realities” bemoaned by those who find themselves unable to disassociate themselves from the interests of the insurance lobby. 

Lynn Davidson 

 

• 

PUBLIC PARASITISM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Further to your various comments on the state of the streets, and what to do about the decline in Berkeley’s business districts, one prominent example of a single individual creating a street nuisance that I am surprised has not yet led to violence is the case of the panhandler—who I’m sure many people will recognize from my description— who parks himself on many occasions outside the Peets at the Berkeley end of Solano Avenue, with a doubled-up coffee cup to collect money. 

This black guy literally pursues every single person who walks on the sidewalk or goes into Peets, for hours at a stretch, with his aggressive and loudly annoying requests for money. I have asked the Peets manager on many occasions to ask the police to get rid of the guy, but he keeps coming back. He makes shopping, or even being, on that stretch of street completely unbearable. And people are even stupid enough to give him money! I feel like standing behind the guy—and I would do it if I had time—with a big sign saying, “This person is a professional parasite—don’t encourage him by giving him even a single dime.” I have talked to many friends about this particular person, and all agree that he is the most annoying and unbearable street person that any of us has ever encountered. What’s the solution? I don’t know. Probably a stern warning from the police, followed by arrest if he doesn’t take any notice. But something needs to be done to encourage this guy to desist, and to put him on some kind of alternative track! He imposes his problems on the rest of us.  

Andrew Ritchie 

 

• 

GOD BLESS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I applaud Mayor Bates and the Berkeley City Council for taking a pro-business stance and moving us in the direction of finally eliminating the human vermin that pollute downtown Berkeley. The rights of commerce must take precedence over the “rights” of those who choose to live on the street. Thank God Berkeley is following the rest of the nation in applying this truth. Once the living garbage is entirely erased, our shopping experience in the city will be freed of unpleasantness, discomfort and guilt. God bless you, mayor, and God bless our valiant troops! 

Evan Magers 

Oakland 

 

• 

BUS RIDERS’ UNION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley Transportation Commissioner Rob Wrenn said: “Bus riders here need to get unionized just like they did in Los Angeles.” (“Workshop Examines South, West Transportation Plan,” March 20). Your story on the community transportation workshop turned that into bus drivers.  

AC Transit bus drivers are already organized. The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 192 fights hard for both the drivers and the entire community. Among other things, ATU 192 has taken MTC to court to challenge its discriminatory under-funding of AC Transit.  

Commissioner Wrenn was making a different point: Organized bus riders can create major change. Wrenn was referring to the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union (www.busridersunion.org), which won a civil rights law suit against the LA MTA, and achieved massive improvements in bus service.  

A bus riders union in the East Bay would be a powerful weapon in the struggle for affordable, reliable, and accessible transit service for all. 

Xochitl Marquez  

Michael Russell  

Public Advocates, Inc. 

 

• 

CENSORED! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

No one will believe me, of course, but I’m convinced that my iMac is Republican! Either that, or my e-mail is being censored by Homeland Security or the FBI. Listening to the news this morning I was so riled up by the president’s defiant refusal to allow Rove to testify under oath regarding the Gonzales affair, that I went directly to my computer to complain to a friend. In my message I rather rudely, but accurately, referred to Bush as an_________. Well, I wish you could have seen my screen light up. That word came out in bright, blood red. So, I chose another fitting description: ________. Same thing. I couldn’t send the e-mail nor could I print it. A small symbol, resembling a red pepper, appeared at the top of my e-mail indicating that it was censored! Heavens to Elizabeth, whatever has happened to free speech? Am I now on a “non-flight list?”  

Dorothy Snodgrass 

Note to editor: I’ll call in the two unaccepted words. 

 

• 

SOUTH BERKELEY VIOLENCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a resident of South Berkeley and live just around the corner from McGhee’s Market. The recent shooting outside this well-trafficked local market is just one more of the many episodes of gang and drug-related violence that besiege our South Berkeley neighborhood. Where is the outcry from the Mayor and the entire City Council, especially Max Anderson? Where is the call from city leaders for a community-based, well-funded, multi-pronged initiative to both stop violence in South Berkeley in the short-term and comprehensively and effectively address its root causes in the long-term?  

When at a mayoral debate last fall I asked (then candidate) Mayor Bates about violence in South Berkeley, he tepidly replied that compared to the murder rate in Oakland, Berkeley is not doing that badly. At any rate, thanks a lot for your leadership and engagement with the acute problems confronting this part of town. Thanks also for your compassion for the families of victims of violence in South Berkeley. I’m sure that the next time residents in South Berkeley duck bullets as they try to simply enjoy a spring evening or buy a gallon of milk, they’ll find comfort in the thought that at least they don’t live in Oakland.  

By the way, I am currently working in Gulu, Uganda, the epicenter of a brutal civil war between rebel insurgents and the Ugandan government. For the record, I’m safer walking around in Gulu than I am in my own South Berkeley neighborhood. How ironic to be sending my family e-mails from Gulu warning them not to walk a block and a half to the corner store. So Mayor Bates, for your information, Berkeley is doing worse than Gulu. Hope that helps put things in perspective for you.  

The human right to life and security extends to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, etc. All residents—long-timers and new—living in the vibrant, multi-ethnic neighborhoods of South Berkeley deserve to have these and other fundamental rights respected. The ongoing failure of Berkeley elected officials to ensure respect for these rights is compounded by the failure of Berkeley community members “across town” to show as much concern for their South Berkeley neighbors as they do for anti-global warming and “impeach Bush” initiatives.  

It’s time for Berkeley to come together as ONE community to address the human rights crisis at our own door. Think globally. Act locally. But most of all, stop being by-standers. It exposes a deep blind-spot, callousness and hypocrisy among the otherwise caring and engaged leaders and citizens of an otherwise famously progressive city.  

Phoebe McKinney  

 

• 

SOUTH BERKELEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a resident of the 1700 block of Oregon Street in Berkeley. On Sunday March 11, sometime after 6 p.m., five shots were fired near McGhee’s Market located on the corner of Oregon and McGee streets. 

This is one block down from where myself, my husband and my two children live. This is one block down from the Youth Center and Grove Park. 

It was a beautiful, beautiful, early evening—unseasonably warm. So many people were enjoying the tot lot at Grove park, the baseball field, the ad-hoc soccer field on the outfield of the baseball field, the tennis courts, the basketball courts. People of all ages, ethnicities and races were lounging, talking, riding bikes. The scene was so peaceful, almost bucolic in nature. Babies, older folks—a kind of harmony. Berkeley at its finest, some would say. 

So my husband and I decided to let the kids walk over to Walgreens, about two blocks east down Oregon Street. The children left, and about five minutes later, we heard the shots. At first, I wishfully thought, “Firecrackers?” 

But my husband said, “No, gunshot.” He could hear the recoil of the guns.  

In a panic, my husband and I went outside to the porch. Thankfully, even though the children were heading east, and the shots were down the street just to the west, our children had turned back when they heard the shots. But what if Arturo, aged 12, and Rosa, aged 9, had been walking to their other favorite neighborhood destinations—McGee’s Market? What if they had been doing what they love to do on a warm evening—go to McGee’s for an ice cream? What if any of the hundreds of people who were out and about on that beautiful sunshiny Sunday, what if any of them had happened to be walking by Oregon and McGee, sometime after 6? 

I fear an impending tragedy in our South Berkeley neighborhood. There have been more drive-by shootings than usual, lately. (Yes, “than usual.” Isn’t that sad?) 

What are we to do? To be honest, I have no proposed solutions. However, I would like you to seriously listen to and consider the proposals of others who miGht havesome effective ideas. I would like you to hear my pain, and the pain of all the other parents in Oakland and South Berkeley who fear for their childrens’ lives and wonder if they can let their children taste even a modicum of freedom, a developmentally appropriate measure of independence—just a walk to the corner store. On a beautiful, sunshiny evening. In South Berkeley. 

Diana Rossi 

 

• 

WAR IN IRAQ 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

How was it possible for millions of us who knew before the war started that the war that this administration was planning was illegal, but the administration started the war based on lies, anyway? By now, over 2000 American deaths and over 650,000 Iraqi deaths later, almost all Americans are aware of the facts, and the administration with the help of our so-called representatives are still “staying the course”! This is outrageous and we should all be on the streets of our United States and shout these so-called representatives (with very few exceptions) down! 

Ilse Hadda 

 

• 

LOW-BALLING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There’s no doubt that the Berkeley Daily Planet supports the anti-war movement. Numerous positive, accurate articles about the struggle to end the war and occupation of Iraq has made that clear. (Though I’m unclear about where exactly you stand on the occupation of Afghanistan. More on that some other time.) 

So I was especially stunned to read in your otherwise supportive editorial “Ending the War and Beyond” the assertion that “3,000 people did show up” at the March 18 San Francisco anti-war mobilization. Yeah, 3,000 did show up. And at least 27,000 others!  

It was the strongest showing of the anti-war movement since early 2003. One indicator of the size of the march was the snail’s pace with which we moved down Market Street. The Labor contingent I was with left at about 1 p.m. Due to the sea of humanity clogging the street we didn’t reach the Civic center until about 2:30 !  

I expect such low-balling from the San Francisco Chronicle, who originally came up from with the absurd 3,000 figure. During the build-up to the Gulf War in 1991 the largest anti-war coalition at the time actually hired an aerial photographer to counter the Chron’s notorious downplaying of our huge demos.  

But please, don’t allow this to happen again in your far more honest publication. It undercuts our efforts to end the this Imperial adventure in the “cradle of civilization.” 

Stan Woods  

Oakland 

 

• 

GAS PRICES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

What’s the excuse this time? Why the obscene spike in gas prices over the past three weeks? The oil industry hasn’t given us any of its usual list of excuses. 

The November elections saw corporate Republicans lower gas prices in an effort to help the Bush team and the GOP retain control of Congress. Is the latest round of price increases an effort by the oil cartel to recoup losses (lower profits) suffered in its political power play of November? 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley 

• 

CHANGE THE CURRICULUM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I know it is important to educate our children in mathematics and the sciences so that Americans can compete in the global economy. At the same time we need children who have a strong sense of themselves who will choose an ethical way of life. Art and literature are very important in the curriculum. They exercise the imagination of students and give them an opportunity to think about life values. Without art and literature in the curriculum, we can have citizens who are employed but who lack an independent sense of the meaning of their lives. In early years of their education these are the most important subjects for the young children to build the meaningful connection with the wider world and express their true feelings. 

Romila Khanna 

• 

PRIVATIZING  

PUBLIC WORK 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

A political question much discussed by the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome has been emphatically answered in our times, at least in theory, by the notion of democracy.  

They asked: Who shall guard the guardians? [Quis custodiet …?] and we answer: We, the people, of course.  

Increasingly, however, the people’s voice fails because government agencies and departments are now prone to outsource work of public benefit to private contractors whose ears are not tuned to the people. 

For example, my brother lost his home to the Katrina disaster, then lost his rent subsidy when FEMA turned disbursement over to a private company; his landlord refused the subsidy check as being from a “third party.” This, together with more widespread Katrina/ FEMA debacles, suggests a publicly funded government/broker that puts the needy in touch with profit-greedy providers. 

In Iraq and Afghanistan there are tens of thousands of civilians engaged in military work—armed guards escorting VIPs and convoys, cooking, building, driving trucks, etc. —collecting salaries from companies under contract to the military but not bound by military regulations.  

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center deplorable conditions were due, at least in part, to the failure of a company owned by Halliburton to do the job it was paid to do.  

As privatization proliferates, a buffer grows between the elected guardians, and their guards, the people…us.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 

• 

LEAVE IRAN ALONE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

We’re tired and we just want to be left alone. Nationally, we want Bush and Cheney and their criminal gangs removed from the White House and then punished for treason. We want all of the U.S. troops and contractors and miscellaneous Hessians removed from Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East. 

We want Iran left alone. 

We want an immediate return to 100 percent hand-counted paper ballots for all elections. We want an immediate end to right-wing Republican-owned corporations “counting” our votes electronically with secret proprietary computer software. 

We want federal taxes returned to the levels that they were under President Clinton. We want a universal single-payer federal health insurance system. We want an immediate end to the greedy gouging of our pocketbooks and wallets by HMOs, insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. 

In California, we want an end to left-wing liberal legislative busybodying and bullying about our light bulbs, our cats, our dogs, our fireplaces and our old cars. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), please note: cats pooping in neighbors’ yards is not a major public health issue. We want the Democrats in the state legislative to concentrate on the important issues: getting us universal single-payer health insurance and balancing the state budget each year without floating bonds, and thus sticking our tax bills onto our children and grandchildren. 

And finally, we want corporations to stop trying to put their obnoxious intrusive advertising into any public places. We do not want to be bullied with yakking video ads while we pump our gas or when we use public bathrooms. Are these corporate marketers completely insane with greed? We are already up to our eyeballs in consumer credit card debt… Any yet, they keep telling us that we need to buy more, more, more… We’re tired and we just want to be left alone.  

James K. Sayre 

Oakland 

 

• 

LONNIE TORRES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Back in February 2005 your paper as well as others ran the story about Lonnie Torres. I submitted letters to many of these organizations at the time telling them that they had the wrong guy and assured them that I was correct. Well, that time has come. Finally the truth can be told. Berkeley police never had the correct suspect in custody, and now he’s finally out. Two years later and all charges dropped. Isn’t that interesting, especially for the officer that got the award for identifying Mr. Torres as the suspect? Also, the remark that something about this arrest being the product of some kinda police work or something to that effect. Funny that I don’t see any news coverage about Mr. Torres’ release from custody. This just may be an oversight, I’m not sure. But it would make for some interesting reading on how in this day in age that this could happen to someone—spend two years in jail because someone says your the one. Especially when it happens to be a cop, who also gets an award for his efforts. Have your name slandered by every news outfit in the region, only to have the entire thing dropped, with nothing said at all by anyone. I would urge you to revisit this incident just to see what happened. Like I said, it should make for interesting reading. Thank you for your attention.  

Dave Farias


Commentary: Development Bonanza Behind Artist Housing

By John Curl
Friday March 23, 2007

“We want to turn this into a new type of artists’ community,” said Doug Herst, owner of 5.5 acres of industrial land in West Berkeley, speaking at a special meeting at City Hall. He came over as a nice guy, and he really seemed to like artists and the arts. Sounded great. Until he unveiled the real project: a million square feet of mostly commercial, office, and residential development, with only seven thousand square feet for arts/crafts workshops, and only 20 percent of the residential units as artist live/work studios. 

Herst and his development consultant, Darrell de Tienne, want to change the West Berkeley zoning ordinance so they can replace recently filled manufacturing space with seven-story corporate and residential buildings. They want to “blur” the distinctions between residential, office, commercial and industrial. As a “trade-off” for changing the zoning code, Herst said, he would include 20 percent low-income artist live/work housing, along with 80 percent of the units at market rate for anybody. And here’s the kicker: The city already requires 20 percent inclusionary low-income in all housing projects, exactly what Herst is proposing. As the old saying goes, “They’re giving away ice in winter.”  

The special meeting was attended by members of the Civic Arts Commission, city staff, City Council representatives, and several members of West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies, myself included. I asked Herst, “If you care for artists and artisans so much, why not just subdivide the property into affordable studios? That’s what artists and artisans really need.” Herst responded, “That’s not my vision.”  

The property, almost two entire blocks between Allston and Bancroft Ways and from Fifth Street to the railroad tracks, was formerly the site of Peerless Lighting, owned by Herst. In 1999 he sold Peerless to a large corporation, which retained him as manager and vice president but moved the plant to Mexico and Indiana. Herst retained ownership of the properties. 

A key part of Herst’s proposal is making regular residential units an allowable use in the mixed-use light industrial (MU-LI) district. This is contrary to the zoning code, which excludes residential uses there. The MU-LI is home to most of the city’s industries and art/artisan studios, and these uses cannot compete with residential, which generates several times the rent. Residential speculation in the MU-LI would open the proverbial gentrification flood gates and sweep arts and industries away. 

De Tienne said in order to do this project they want the city to revise the zoning ordinance to “blur” the distinctions between industrial and other uses. But West Berkeley zoning is built around exactly those distinctions. The zoning is geared to keep incompatible uses at an acceptable distance, so that industries, residents, offices and merchants can all be good neighbors. Herst wants to put artisan studios, which make noise and dirt 24 hours a day, directly across the street from upscale residents.  

De Tienne also explained that they are interpreting the newly revised definition of an arts/crafts studio to mean that they can rent those studios to strictly computer artists. However, that is contrary to the intent of the new definition, which was passed unanimously by the Arts Commission. The new definition simply includes computers among the permissible tools of artists who are otherwise eligible for arts/crafts studios. Both the old and the new definitions make a clear distinction, reserving arts/crafts studios for uses that cannot ordinarily be done in an office or home office environment, for artistic and crafts uses that make a mess or are dirty or noisy. Just as poets do not need an industrial-type studio to write poems, creative people who work only on computers do not need industrial-type studios. There is plenty of space for these office-type creative uses in all of the extensive commercial zones throughout downtown and the rest of the city, including home offices, whereas the only place working artists are allowed to do their hands-on work is in the industrial zones of West Berkeley. It’s their only habitat and it is scarce. 

Then why open up arts/crafts studios to strictly computer artists? Blurring the distinction opens up arts/crafts studios to a very large number of people, almost anybody, and thereby jacks up the rents. Since real working artists usually have very modest incomes, this interpretation of the art/craft studio definition winds up pushing them out and replacing them with upscale high-end models, people who could already afford good space. Calling this a project for real working artists becomes nothing more than a marketing ploy. 

If the city would agree to blur the distinctions between industrial and other uses, then it would be throwing out the entire underlying structure of the zoning ordinance, and the heart of the West Berkeley Plan. The repercussions would be enormous over all of West Berkeley, and every industrial and arts/crafts space would be at risk to be replaced by more upmarket uses.  

To put this in context, de Tienne is not just the consultant on this project, but has a long history of having his finger in many other upscale developments all over Berkeley, and has an enormous amount to gain by those proposed Zoning Ordinance changes. 

Look at the reality of blurring those distinctions. They want to put artisan studios directly across the street from upscale residents. Imagine those residents trying to sleep with industrial noise and walking in industrial smells. The noise and odors and dirt would get the residents up in arms, the “community” would become a war zone, and the arts/crafts (the purported focus of the development) would be either shut down entirely or subjected to hobbling restrictions.  

Herst said he came up with his proposal in part because the city’s restrictions on industrial subdivision forced him to keep the spaces larger than were rentable to industries under current market conditions. Herst claimed that there are no large industrial users looking for space in Berkeley. But how about Powerlight, which just left town because they could not find a large enough space? Did Herst ever try to accommodate them? Did the city ever try to bring the two of them together? 

Besides, new legislation to facilitate subdivision of larger spaces into smaller studios is currently wending its way through city processes with the backing of the artisan/artist/industrial sector as well as developer sector, and should be in place this year. Small industrial, artist and artisan businesses are a thriving sector, as are start-ups and recycling, and reasonably-priced spaces and studios are in great demand. If we want real artist and artisan studios, not ersatz chic, then just subdivide the warehouses and rent them at an affordable rate. That’s all real artists and artisans need. Let the artists and artisans pretty them up as they please.  

Why would the city go along with this blatant rip-off of industrial land? Because a lot of people in city hall want to transform West Berkeley into a yuppie enclave as quickly as possible. 

Under the current regime, the Berkeley artist and artisan community has been dying. The Bates administration did nothing of any consequence or substance when the Nexus artists and artisans were evicted, nothing when the Drayage artists were evicted, nothing when the 2750 Adeline St. artists were evicted. All of these were true low income artist communities. They were all evicted to make way for more profitable uses. Gentrification is the guiding development policy of this administration. The vision of the Bates administration, which loudly professes to care about artists and artisans, is a phony arts district in which working artists and artisans are replaced by artsy folks with fat wallets who want quaint artisty tourism within walking distance. 

And Bates is now doing nothing to impede the decimation of the world-class film community in the Fantasy Building, currently under attack from de Tienne’s most frequent employer, Rich Robbins’ Wareham Corporation.  

If only Bates were a little more like Ron Dellums. That’s what the progressive community was hoping from you, Tom, that you would fight for social diversity, not for the most profitable developments; that you would be guided by the struggle for social justice, not by the struggle to maximize profits. 

After the smoke, mirrors, and false promises are removed, the Herst project boils down to a huge development scheme hiding behind the facade of a few units of artist live/work. 

But there is an alternative vision for West Berkeley, a vision already embodied in the West Berkeley Plan, which was written by the community and adopted unanimously by the council. And our West Berkeley community has not given this regime the approval to dismantle that plan. That vision is based on the diverse community of creative people who are here today not being pushed out but staying and coming together to jointly improve the neighborhood to make it work for all of us. 

Why is it important to maintain industries and artisans? Because gentrification of West Berkeley would mean the loss of economic, social and racial diversity, and result in a cultural impoverishment of the city. Because globalization is destroying local economies all around the world, local people are fighting back in numerous places, and this is a key part of our local struggle in Berkeley. Because the future of the country and the world hinges on a green reindustrialization. Because Berkeley should and can be a leader in this struggle. Because the great creative depth of our city comes from the interaction of the university with a diverse urban environment. Because a locally-based economy offers strength and a dynamic quality of life that would cease to exist in a mere upscale college bedroom community.  

Because only if we retain the industrial land base, only if we preserve existing spaces for green industries, recycling, and arts and crafts, can we have a real renaissance in West Berkeley. 

 

John Curl is a cabinetmaker at Heartwood Cooperative Woodshop and co-chair of West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies. 


An Open Letter to Mayor Bates

By Carlos Rivas
Friday March 23, 2007

Dear Mayor, 

I am writing in response to this morning’s speaker panel broadcast on KPFA’s Morning Show where you and other panel members discussed concerns around the plan you are proposing, known as “Public Commons for Everyone Initiative.”  

I understand that your office is under pressure from the business community to address the issue of homelessness in the commercial corridors. The business community likely sees the homeless community on Telegraph and Shattuck as a barrier to commercial success and as a primary cause for their deficient sales. While I would agree that homelessness may be impacting the commercial viability of Downtown Berkeley, our primary concern should be protecting the rights and enhancing the well-being of all our citizens: the homeless, families, patrons, and business owners alike. With all of these people in mind, I believe it is your office’s obligation to propose a plan that would address the problem of homelessness in a comprehensive and compassionate manner that benefits all parties concerned.  

First, it should be recognized that meeting the needs of the homeless in Berkeley must be the primary objective. As an employee of a local non-profit community clinic in Berkeley, it has become evident that the root of the problem of homelessness is lack of support services (or an inability to access those services) and a breakdown of traditional support networks. The homeless have fallen through the cracks of the traditional support systems that the rest of us depend on to keep us healthy and housed in our daily lives. The instability due to poor health care, broken families, poor educational opportunities, poverty, and other socio-economic factors have led them to living on the street. If we address these failures in health care, family cohesion, and support services, we will address the problem of homelessness at its source. Any other attempt to address homelessness through increased police efforts to physically remove the homeless from the commercial corridors will only move the problem out of plain sight. Reducing the visibility of homelessness in Berkeley could potentially make the problem worse, making it more difficult for support service workers to communicate with the communities they are trying to serve. It will also likely lead to an escalation in conflict between the homeless and the Berkeley Police. If the homeless population feels further isolated and desperate it could also lead to an increase in crime.  

Second, it should be noted that there are many factors that may be impairing Berkeley businesses on Telegraph and Shattuck and addressing any of them may have a positive impact on sales equal to or greater than homelessness. As a former UC Berkeley student, the first problem that comes to mind is a lack of businesses that target the student population. University students are generally young, low-income, and technologically savvy. Businesses that fail to properly target this large population will suffer and their loss should not be mourned. Market forces should take course and allow for the introduction of businesses that are appropriate for the local audience. Another large problem is accessibility, with Telegraph particularly in mind. The streets of Berkeley are congested and parking is limited. Improving bicycle, pedestrian, and public transportation access and increasing parking availability may greatly improve accessibility issues.  

It is my belief that the best way to address the problem of homelessness in Berkeley and simultaneously meet the needs of business owners would be to improve access to support services by raising funds for organizations like Options Recovery Services and Youth Emergency Assistance Hostel (YEAH), while also improving the accessibility of the commercial corridors. The police already have a sufficient penal code through which they can enforce the law and should not be encouraged to increasingly confront the homeless in our city. 

Carlos Rivas 


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 20, 2007

NO TEARS FOR BARNES AND NOBLE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In your article about the closing of the Barnes and Noble store, statements were attributed to me that I did not make (I was not interviewed for the article). If I had been asked, I would have made a few specific points: 

Barnes and Noble opened that store, a dozen years ago, solely and specifically to be as close to Cody’s as they could get. Because the chain store model does not require that any individual location be profitable, Barnes and Noble were able to open in an unpromising location and keep their doors open as long as it took to wear out the competition, which by contrast does need to be profitable in order to exist. Meanwhile, they were building two bigger stores a few miles a way against the day when they could abandon downtown Berkeley. Et voila, Cody’s closes, mission accomplished. (In San Francisco, Borders has opened a second huge store about five minutes away from their first huge store—the second store being coincidentally just down the street from Cody’s on Stockton.) Don’t’ shed tears over Barnes and Noble closing a store—they sure didn’t. 

Because of the Internet, the physical bookselling world has lost a big chunk of business over the years. Even in Berkeley there isn’t enough trade for the number of booksellers that used to be able to coexist here. That’s just a fact. If someone had to bow out, I am glad that it wasn’t us, and for a minute I get to be gleeful that it was a chain store. And then it will be back to business for us, keeping the shelves filled, keeping staff in medical benefits and reading copies, keeping the landlord sweet, and keeping the idea of a lively, vibrant bookstore alive for another score of years or so. 

And I would have like to see, just once, the headline from my dreams: “National chain retailer blames store demise on the strength and diversity of local independent booksellers.” 

Amy Thomas 

Owner, Pegasus and Pendragon Books 

 

• 

THANKS FROM MOE’S 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Hello to the good people of Berkeley, 

Thank you so much for your kindness and warmth. 

Since spring 2006, when the rumors of the crisis on Telegraph Avenue came into focus, we at Moe’s have felt an overwhelming warmth and affection from our friends. People have come from all over to see that we are well. We have smiled and said “Thank you.” It has meant so much to us. 

Independent book selling is at risk in the world. Internet machines like Amazon have changed the way that people buy books. Retail stores, like Moe’s, need to find a balance between the real and the online world. 

Because of the nature of our stock—we have hundreds and thousands of titles, used and new—we are confident that we can survive in this new environment. We plan to thrive. 

We are also confident that there are book lovers everywhere who will soon remember that the experience of a great bookstore is a pleasure not to be missed. 

Thanks again to the good people of the East Bay for supporting Telegraph, the heart of our history, and being here with us at Moe’s. 

Doris Moskowitz 

Moe’s daughter 

 

• 

ABAG, PANORAMIC INTERESTS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Kathleen Cha’s letter defending ABAG’s funding of the Pentagon, she says that $78 million of ABAG financing has gone to projects in Berkeley. A quick look at the ABAG website (www.abag.ca.gov/services/finance) reveals that $72 million of the $78 million has gone to Patrick Kennedy/ Panoramic Interests, a commercial for profit developer. Is this the type of financing that the voters and taxpayers of the Bay Area really intend for ABAG to do? The name of the ABAG service is the ABAG Finance Authority For Nonprofit Corporations. The questions raised in the original Planet article (Feb. 27) still have not been answered. Maybe our elected officials would like to chime in. 

Anne Wagley 

 

• 

HOUSING AUTHORITY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to personally thank you for carrying news about the Berkeley Housing Authority saga. 

It means a lot to me to know what is going on with BHA because I am on Section 8. I can’t that news anywhere else. 

Thank you. 

Wilma Tichy 

 

• 

FACT CHECK 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Today Douglas Allen-Taylor wrote that Franklin Roosevelt ran for a third and fourth term in the midst of war. Roosevelt ran for his third term in 1940, more than a year before the United States entered World War II. 

John McDougall 

 

• 

FIRST PERSON 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In your March 13 edition you ran something with a subheading of “First Person,” which I gather is a feature where you simply let whoever it is write whatever they want about themselves. To say that the piece you ran in your March 13 edition was offensive is not quite it. Unaware comes to mind, bad thinking comes to mind, repulsive comes to mind, but what I really want to say is that I hope you give a child psychologist equal time to comment on what this person seems to think is wonderful behavior for a mother. As his justified reaction shows, the only grown-up in the story was the young boy who was so recklessly intruded upon. 

Dennis White  

 

• 

AC TRANSIT BUSES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

About the recent letters on bus transit: Is there any reason AC transit doesn’t use Gillig buses? Why not buy local as well as American? 

Howard Carrington 

El Cerrito 

 

• 

OAKLAND WATERFRONT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for having the courage to print the March 16 commentary by Akio Tanaka (“Oakland’s Waterfront Deserves a Better Plan”). His passion for the First Amendment rights of American citizens is real, and he is committed to giving the voters of Oakland an opportunity to decide on the future of their waterfront. 

Those who have worked so hard to keep the voices of people from being heard will one day ask the voters of Oakland to support them in their next political endeavor—Mr. Perata, Mr. de la Fuente, Ms. Kernighan, Mr. Russo, are you listening? Remember, all these citizens asked was to put the proposed development before the voters, and you very casually discarded their request. Twenty-five thousand and sixty-eight voters will not forget. 

Pamela Weber 

Oakland 

 

• 

GET OUT OF THE WAY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Republicans make what appears to be a strong argument against even setting a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. They say that approval of a withdrawal plan would tell the terrorists that the United States doesn’t have the political will to support Iraq’s fledgling democracy. I think this is yet another framed argument. Some justified going to Iraq, expecting to be greeted by a fledgling democracy, in a scene like the 1945 liberation of Paris, once Saddam Hussein was deposed. The Iraq democracy isn’t “fledgling;” I don’t think it’s even a fertilized egg. The welcoming party for the coalition’s liberating armies was the insurgent terrorists with their roadside bombs and their sectarian strife. I think our continued occupation makes a bad situation worse, because the fighting factions in Iraq can point to a common enemy. If we leave, they have a choice of working together, or completing the destruction of their country. We Americans really don’t want the job of settling all the ancient Mesopotamian disputes, even if we could actually do so. What we need to do is get out of the way. 

Steve Geller 

• 

KUDOS TO POLICE DEPARTMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to publicly express my admiration for the Berkeley Police Department. I was one of three people who witnessed an arrest on Sunday, March 18. The arresting officers acted with incredible restraint under difficult circumstances. The person they were arresting fought them aggressively and bit one of the women officers. The cops did not use their batons, fists or pepper spray. I cannot imagine the anger, fear and adrenaline one would feel if they were bit by someone with unknown health status, yet as I said, the cops remained incredibly restrained.  

My heart also goes out to the person arrested, who must have been extremely desperate, crazy, tripping, or drunk. But the thing that has stuck with me is that BPD has some of the bravest, best trained people I have ever met. I don’t know how you guys do it. 

Kevin Farrell  

 

• 

BEST FOR LAST 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I always look forward to reading the Daily Planet, and save the back page for last. It’s always a special treat, whether “Coots, Hawks and Gulls” or a series on local trees. 

Thank you. 

Carol Bleth 

 

• 

STREET PEOPLE MYTHS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed reading your editorial regarding the pessimistic outlook of businesses and patrons in Shattuck and Telegraph avenues. I don’t think that street people really deserve the reputation they are often given. Maybe anti-homeless advocates exaggerate to make their point, but I think their perspective is not entirely factual. I don’t think that many of them commit the violent crime that would make people fearful, and not very many of them even ask for spare change; most of them have a sign and don’t really do more than sit there so that people read the sign. Despite what some say that they choose to live without a home and/or money, I doubt that many of them prefer to spend their nights outside in the cold weather of Berkeley, or enjoy having very little money to spend. Many complain that homeless people are becoming a disturbance at Willard park and making the bathrooms unclean, not only is it hard to say that the homeless are responsible for messing up the bathroom (which is cleaned and sanitized daily), I think the greatest sanitary problem at Willard is the dog urine one can smell at almost every tree and post and the occasional pile of feces which are normally not caused by homeless people (no one seems to be complaining about that). Additionally, a myth is that homeless people are harming business at Telegraph Avenue, I find that hard to believe, especially when, to paraphrase Kriss Worthington on KPFA, the four blocks of Telegraph generate more revenue than any other four blocks in the East Bay. I think that these myths and irrational fears surrounding homeless people amount to nothing more than old-fashioned scapegoating.  

Nicholas Russell 

 

• 

REPEAT? 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

While walking across the UC Berkeley campus, I found a plaque commemorating a great president from the 1960s or ’70s.  

Building plans for the library were changed, a grove of old trees were preserved, and the grove was re-named and dedicated to Chancellor Roger Heynes. 

Can history be repeated for the oak grove? 

Mitch Cohen 

 

• 

IMPEACHMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Just this Wednesday, March 14, members of a Bay Area impeachment coalition met with Sandra Andrews of Barbara Lee’s staff and Jo Casenave of Pete Stark’s staff to lay out our position on impeachment. Both Stark and Lee’s offices called us to set up the meeting on a last-minute basis. Could this be a stirring of interest from the top? Impeachbush-cheney.com feels, as do many, that the last two years of this administration could be more disastrous than anything we have seen so far. Imagine what they will do when they no longer worry about re-election.  

We at www.impeachbush-cheney.com believe that not only will impeachment strengthen the political legitimacy of the party or politician that takes it up, but impeachment will be the best tool that person or party has to truly win battles in congress. Currently soft appropriations bills do little to affect real action or sway over the situations in Iraq and Iran. Resolutions voted into law matter little to an administration that is clearly willing to disobey the law and act with impunity.  

Impeachment should be reintroduced to the public not as a quagmire or an uphill battle. Rather, we believe that impeachment is currently becoming the best and most comprehensive way to battle all the battles that this administration has us fighting both home and abroad. In other words why chase after brush fires when there’s a guy standing there with a blowtorch. We also feel that though impeachment is rumored to be costly, it can hardly be any more costly than allowing this administration to continue unabated. Never in the history of impeachment has the evidence been more abundant and utterly convincing.  

For information, visit us on the web, come to our events and join our action team. We are urging for higher level meetings and more action to combat this administration.  

Evan Raymond 

 

• 

OVERDUE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

That this administration has not been held accountable for either this illegal war or for having broken both constitutional and international law is shameful. Impeachment proceedings are way overdue. 

David Melloy 

Oakland 

 

• 

MISQUOTED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman misstated my comments at the special Planning Commission meeting held to discuss the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Long Range Development Plan, draft environmental impact report (DEIR) (“City Concerned Over UC Lab, Campus Plans,” March 16).  

Speaking as a member of the Community Health Commission (CHC), I stated the CHC was concerned about the health effects of particulate matter from diesel combustion produced by trucks and generators used in support of demolition and construction activities. I noted that the CHC had submitted similar comments in response to the proposed demolition of the Bevatron (Building 51) for which a separate DEIR has been published. The lab’s DEIR notes that the potential exposure to particulate matter is “significant and unavoidable” when its activities and those proposed in the university’s LRDP 2004 are aggregated. The lab’s DEIR states: “Even though cumulative emissions of toxic air contaminants would decrease, implementation of the LBNL 2006 LRDP, in combination with other potential contributing projects, would contribute to cumulative emissions of toxic air contaminants that result in an excess cancer risk that exceeds, and would continue to exceed, 10 in one million. (Significant and Unavoidable) (Pages IV.B-48-50). 

Speaking as a resident, I noted my concerns about the lab’s development plans in light of the city and state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The lab plans to add 1,000 employees, 660,000 square feet of new buildings, and 500 free parking spaces in the fragile and wonderful Strawberry Creek Watershed at the same time that plans are underway to accept $400 million from an oil company to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that will be used to develop new biofuels. My point was that I find it ironic that the lab’s development plans will add to the very problem that the oil money will probably not solve. While climate-altering GHGs (which are not considered in the DEIR) will rise considerably if the projects in the lab’s LRDP are implemented, the research and development of GMOs is risky, contentious, of uncertain value to GHG reductions, and for many in this community, unwelcome. 

Finally, I pointed out that, should a major oil company take up residence in our community where it would be aligned with the university and the lab, the city is likely to experience even greater political and economic pressures than are already exerted by the existing institutions. Such a powerful triumvirate, held together with free flowing oil profits, may be a bit more than our raucous, engaged Berkeley democracy can handle. I say “thumbs down” to that deal. 

Tom Kelly 

 

• 

LIBERALS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The “Ten Maxims for a Liberal Foreign Policy” by Bob Burnett (March 6) warrant a response. There are two types of liberal policy. Classical liberals favor liberty in all areas of life, in contrast to liberals like Burnett who favor a large authoritarian role for government. Authoritarian liberals seek to limit free markets and democracy, even though economies with more economic freedom have developed rapidly, while those with little economic freedom have remained poor or even gone backwards. Authoritarian liberals, in opposing free markets, favor policies that keep most folks poor and under the rule of elites. The viewpoint that folks in the third world are not ready to have freedom reflects the colonialist mentality of authoritarian liberals. Classical liberals favor free markets because there is no moral justification in forcibly preventing poor folk from working, getting educated, and being in charge of their own communities. 

Fred Foldvary 

 

• 

EXTREMISTS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bush promises immigration compromise. Compromise with racists, bigots and right-wingers who are pushing the anti-immigrant debate? Can you negotiate with extremists? 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley  

 

• 

OCEAN OF PLASTICS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

A plethora of plastic is filling our oceans, from drinking bottles, plastic bags to toy soldiers. I’m referring to the Eastern Garbage Patch, a sea of trash floating around in the Pacific Ocean. This area is known as the North Pacific Gyre where currents move in a circular motion drawing in waste material. Over the years, massive amounts of plastic debris accumulated creating plastic waste twice the size of Texas! 

So not only is our ocean being polluted, but animals are dying mistaking the plastic debris as food. Albatross fly miles in search for food for their young and their path leads them to the garbage patch. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, their studies show that chicks died from plastic in their stomachs as well as those that died from other reasons. The garbage floating in our ocean is toxic to the birds and other sea life, something has to be done! 

What can we do? The easiest thing anyone can do is recycle! Another solution is switching to biodegradable plastic, plastic that decomposes in the natural environment. If we can push for the use of biodegradable plastic for restaurants, packages, and so forth, then it would be a huge step forward in reducing the amount of plastic debris that gets swept away into our oceans. It is a duty for everyone to protect our ocean and prevent the demise of the creatures of the sea. 

Min Song 

 

• 

BETRAYAL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

By being instrumental in supporting torture, spying on U.S. citizens, lying to get our country into an unnecessary and illegal war, Bush and Cheney betrayed the principals this country were founded on. 

Joanna Katz 

 

• 

OUSD LAND SALE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing regarding Oakland School Board Member Dan Siegel’s assertion that the proposal to sell OUSD surplus property failed, in part, because of my leaving office, implying my support or acquiescence of the proposal. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, when the proposal was made I wrote and spoke to California Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell to share by concerns with the educational and economic viability of the plan. I made it clear that unless the process was transparent and made sense for students, parents, teachers and the community, I would oppose it. Without community buy-in and lack of detailed financials, it is not surprising that it did not go forward.  

Wilma Chan 

Assemblywoman, 16th District (retired) 

 

• 

KEEP IT UP 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for continually interesting, informative, useful and concise news and commentary. Keep up the good work! 

Brian Lipson 

 

• 

NORTH AND SOUTH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just got my purse stolen—again—down here in South Berkeley, where every day can be taut, a jangled nerve. How wonderful it must be to live or work in a neighborhood like North Berkeley where a really big issue apparently is fussing with one another over whether they should allow themselves a nice, grassy European-style piazza. 

Susan Leonard 

 

• 

AC TRANSIT SIGNS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On the subject of AC Transit, I’d like to mention the electronic signs that are supposed to tell us when the next bus is coming in “real time.” Maybe in a parallel dimension it’s the real time, but here in the East Bay the signs are inaccurate and a waste of our money. I would like to know how much money is spent on this system and also why it doesn’t work. 

A.B. Fane 

 

• 

ROUNDABOUTS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Scott Prosterman’s letter on roundabouts from a few weeks back: Having attended two conferences on roundabouts, I can speak with some authority on them.  

According to a Nov. 27, 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times, Vail, Colorado had a diamond interchange similar to the I-80 Gilman interchange. Traffic was backed up half a mile and five policemen were needed to direct traffic. 

Afterward, the congestion was gone and the policemen were put elsewhere. 

Seattle has several hundred small circles at what used to be four-way stop intersections. They say that accidents have been reduced by 90 percent. 

The reason is that the number of conflict points are reduced from 32 at a four-way intersection to eight on roundabouts. 

The University of California Institute of Transportation Studies published Tech Trans No. 58 on Roundabouts. They will send readers a copy if readers phone 231-9590. 

Roundabouts are being used all over the world to make traffic safe and better. 

Charlie Smith 

 

 

 


Commentary: Pros and Cons of New South Berkeley Library

By Christopher Adams
Tuesday March 20, 2007

In April 2002 Berkeley’s handsome Central library at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge reopened with a splendid party attended by more than 7,700 people. It had been completely renovated and almost doubled in size. Support for this project came from citizens of Berkeley, who passed a bond measure to pay for the building, and from private donations, funneled through the Berkeley Public Library Foundation, which paid for new furniture, equipment, and refurbishing of the original furnishings of this historic structure.  

The Board of Library Trustees hoped to continue this program of expansion and renovation at the other library branches, and in 2000 Berkeley voters approved a bond measure which would have provided city funds to match a state grant for the renovation and enlargement of the West Branch. While Berkeley’s proposal was rated very high, it did not receive any funds in the first, and very competitive, round of grants. Sadly, because of the failure of the state library bond in the 2006 general election (not in Berkeley, but statewide), there are no new funds to do another round of grants, and thus the West Branch project is on indefinite hold. The Board of Library Trustees is turning to other ways of moving forward in order to renovate the Berkeley Public Library branches.  

Near the Ashby BART Station in South Berkeley is the South Branch, now housed in a concrete and redwood building on Martin Luther King Way at Russell Street designed by the late Berkeley architect, Hans Ostwald. Even if you have not checked out a book at this branch, you may know the Tool Lending Library, which is located there and provides a unique service to Berkeley residents. At 5,000 square feet the South Branch is the smallest library in the city, with little room for a teen section and a small and overcrowded children’s reading area. South Branch is not functioning well as a modern library. Its concrete floor and low roofline make it extremely difficult to bring it up to date for modern library and computer needs—there is just no place to install the necessary wiring. Preliminary studies have shown that it would be extremely difficult to expand on the library’s small site without essentially destroying the original building.  

A few blocks southeast of the present South Branch the Ed Roberts Campus will be under construction later this year over part of the parking lot east of the Ashby BART station. The campus will be built by a consortium of many of Berkeley’s nationally known organizations founded by and for the disabled. It will include the Center for Independent Living, whose founder, Ed Roberts, will be memorialized by the name of the new campus building. The design of the ERC took over 10 years, with much work done to make the project respect the tree shaded streets and older houses of the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to the many groups whose focus is on service to the disabled the Campus will include a café open to the public and, at ERC’s invitation, perhaps a new South Branch public library. Locating the library in the ERC not only offers the possibility of a synergy with other ERC partners such as the center for Accessible Technology, but its location next to a BART station offers the possibility of a unique service to commuters. Imagine putting in a book order at a kiosk on your way to BART and picking up the book from the same kiosk on your way home. For the library another of the attractions of the ERC is that there would be enough space to increase the size of the branch. Because the library would be only a small part of a larger structure, building costs would appear to be much less than for a new or renovated stand-alone building. ERC is excited at possibly including the library in its building; the library trustees are excited at a possible solution to the needs of the South Branch; and last, but not least, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation is excited about the prospects of this project as a focus of fundraising, as well as supporting other capital improvement campaigns for the other three branches. But of course there are many issues still to be resolved. The Board of Library Trustees commissioned a study of South Berkeley needs which indicates a lot of positive feelings about such a move, but there are certainly those who want the branch to stay where it is. Others will be very concerned about what will happen to the Tool Library. The preservation community will be understandably concerned about what happens to the existing Ostwald building if the library moves. ERC’s neighbors will want to be sure that including a branch library does not create unanticipated problems of parking and traffic. Residents of South and Southwest Berkeley, both those using the library now and those among communities which use it very little such as the Latino community, need to become more involved.  

In order to examine all the pros and cons, the library trustees established a discussion group to consider how better to serve South Berkeley and whether the Board of Library Trustees should formally initiate a move to the ERC. Two trustees, Terry Powell and Ying Lee, library director Donna Corbeil, Community Relations Librarian Alan Bern, and myself, the foundation’s vice president, have been meeting with ERC staff members and South Berkeley community leaders. Nothing has been decided and no commitments have been made. The discussion group has expanded to include a Library Staff Task Force, which will conduct further research around the various possibilities. The discussion group hopes to hold a public meeting this spring so that those who have not yet been heard from can make their views know. The library trustees are also working with community leaders throughout southwest Berkeley to determine how better to serve this part of the city. In the meantime, South Berkeley residents and library users should not hesitate to contact the library with their ideas and comments. You can write to the Board of Library Trustees c/o the Berkeley Public Library or send an e-mail to the library director at director@berkeleypubliclibrary. org.  

 

Christopher Adams is the vice president of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.


Commentary: Farewell to the Local Labor Community

By Nicholas E. Smith
Tuesday March 20, 2007

As my final meeting as chairman of the City of Berkeley’s Commission on Labor draws near, I thought I’d to take a minute to give my farewell to the local labor community and to Berkeley residents. 

This all began for me exactly three years ago when I was appointed by Councilmember Kriss Worthington to the city’s Labor Commission in March of 2004. I must confess that Councilmember Worthington took a leap of faith in appointing me, a Berkeley freshman at the time, to this policy body. I maintain infinite thanks for this honor.  

Since my appointment, my colleagues and I have been involved with a wide array of labor activism, legislating, and in contact with in the labor community.  

In brief, my initial foray into the wider struggles of labor came with the dispute between employees and management at the Claremont Resort and Spa. The dispute was contractural in nature, as are many others, including those at the Berkeley Honda, the Shattuck Cinema and Hornblower Cruises. I saw then and continue to see employees who put in many hours on the job only to see little to nothing left at the end of their pay periods for savings. We all know that access to well-paying jobs with adequate benefits should not be optional for anyone in this city, state, or country and it is our responsibility to stand up and speak out. I’ve said before that it’s frustrating to see the increasing number of disputes that divide employees from employers, but I’m made optimistic by the fact that even when one is disadvantaged, the community mobilizes in support of fairness.  

One of the interesting lessons I’ve learned is that although some like to divide the labor and business communities as inherently liberal versus conservative, it is important not see them strictly this way. I prefer to see union organization as employees taking more ownership in their destinies. At the same time, it is important to congratulate companies who engage in positive business practices becasue there are those who do not. 

In addition to supporting fair practices of those related to the previously mentioned disputes, the Commission has recently passed two significant ordinances for City Council consideration. The first is the “Sweatshop Free Berkeley Ordinance,” which if passed by the City Council, would ban government from purchasing garments and other items from organizations (and their subsidiaries) that engage in sweatshop labor. Secondly, the commission passed a “Right-to-Know Ordinance” which protects consumers by stating that local hotels are to notify their customers of a work stoppage (such as a strike) in that could result in hardships of some type. The latter policy emerged as a result of issues surrounding the Claremont Resort and Spa campaign. 

I see these actions as a continuation of Berkeley’s tradition of speaking for those without a voice, and for diversity. No one should be ashamed of this fact. These actions also carry on the legacy of a Berkeley legend, Maudelle Shirek, who was instrumental in creating the Labor Commission and politically inspiring those such as mayor and former Congressman Ron Dellums, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee and even me. She would be proud to note that the commission is one of the most diverse in the city with two African Americans, two Hispanics, and four students.  

Maudelle would want us all to continue to stand up and speak out. So although this is a farewell of sorts, I’m well aware that there is much more work to be done. So, I’ll see you around. Thank you Berkeley! 

 

Nicholas E. Smith is the outgoing chairman of the Commission on Labor, a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, and a Cal Berkeley senior. 


Commentary: Santa Cruz Ordinances Are Divisive, Unfair

By Tracie de Angelis Salim
Tuesday March 20, 2007

According to wikipedia.org déjà vu is “the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously.” 

I am a resident of Oakland, but an avid reader of the Daily Planet. I read Judith Scherr’s article about Mayor Tom Bates “Public Commons for Everyone” initiative and experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu. After having lived through and witnessed a set of similar ordinances passed by the Santa Cruz City Council in the 1990’s, I never thought another city would adopt such draconian measures in an effort to push particular groups of people from a city.  

In the 1990s Santa Cruz City Council passed several ordinances designed to shape the community to remove a particular population. It was disguised as an attempt to make the people safer. The real reason behind this design was to support the Downtown Business Association of Santa Cruz located on the Pacific Garden Mall in downtown. Such ordinances as “No Display Devices” in public places were written. This meant that anyone who wanted to set up a table or rack, chair, box or display would be in violation of a city ordinance; where “Display Devices” were allowed, people could not remain in the same space for more than one hour.  

They also passed a “No Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance, which basically boiled down to a “No Panhandling” rule. This meant that a verbal (or non-verbal) request, such as a sign, seeking donations of food, money, cigarettes or any item of value would subject a person to a fine and/or arrest. In addition, any “Aggressive Solicitation” done before or after sunset would be in violation of the ordinance. 

In Santa Cruz, you cannot sit or lie down on a public sidewalk or sidewalk curb in designated city zones; this was harshly enforced especially on the Pacific Garden Mall which is where a great deal of income for the city is generated. In some designated city zones, you cannot sit within 14 feet of an entry or exit to a building, a building window, a drinking fountain or public phone, an open air cafe and you cannot sit or lie down within 50 feet of an ATM machine.  

If you walk, sit upon or stand on any public monument, decorative fountain, bike rack, trash receptacle, fire hydrant, or street tree planter, you would be in violation and subject to punishment. It gets better. People in designated areas of Santa Cruz cannot place backpacks, boxes, luggage, or bikes on public streets, sidewalks roadways, pedestrian ways or bike paths in the city. Finally, the “No-Camping” ordinance was an out and out push to force the homeless population out of the city. There is no sleeping between the hours of 11:00 PM and 8:30 AM outdoors with or without bedding, tent or hammock, no sleeping is allowed in a car, bus, van, or on or in any structure not intended for human occupancy. All of these ordinances can be found at www.huffsantacruz.org. 

Folks, this “Public Commons for Everyone” is a slippery slope. I witnessed it in Santa Cruz and it created a huge rift between the city population and law enforcement, between the city population and city council and between the different types of people living in Santa Cruz. It is not good for the city of Berkeley to begin looking at ways to further disenfranchise an already dispossessed population. And, in some cases, the people that this will affect could be any of us.  

Yes, these two cities have other things in common. Santa Cruz and Berkeley are both university towns; they both have wealth. A great deal of income in both places is generated by education and tourism. Another commonality of both cities is their long histories of social activism. The one thing that is different are the demographics are in the two cities; the census reported in the year 2000 that Santa Cruz had a population of approximately 55,000 and Berkeley had 102,000. People have historically been drawn to Berkeley and Santa Cruz for the beauty, the education and the open attitudes. People could find comfort in being themselves in Berkeley or Santa Cruz. 

It stupefies me to hear that Berkeley is planning to follow in the footsteps of another historically great place to live; places that allowed for a variety of opinions and expressions to flourish, have now become a place where homelessness and mental illness are criminalized, ignored and pushed aside. Déjà vu. I think I have been here before. 

 

Tracie de Angelis Salim is a former Santa Cruz resident. 


Columns

Column: Barack Obama and the Long, Winding Road of Race

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 23, 2007

Some weeks ago, in a previous column, I promised to continue our discussion of U.S. Senator Barack Obama and race. And so we move forward, but on a roundabout road, because race in America does not follow a straightforward path. 

We begin with the story of Rosa Parks On The Bus, which you cannot go through Black History Month without hearing some reference to. It is actually a pleasing tale as it is now told, a fable, almost, with a courageous heroine, villains who are not too villainous—neither the bus driver nor the arresting police officers, after all, did Ms. Parks any physical harm—dignified protest in which thousands of Black Montgomery residents choose to walk instead of riding the bus, and a happy ending in which segregated bus seating is ended. 

But if you wish to understand the mind of African-Americans and what makes us continue to be so strangely frightening to much of the rest of the country even down to this day, you have to go back to an earlier, all-but-forgotten story about another Black woman on public transit, Araminta Davis. 

In the summer of 1865, just after the end of the Civil War, Ms. Davis—who, coincidentally, died in 1913, the same year Rosa Parks was born—was traveling by train through New Jersey to her home in upstate New York. When the conductor asked her for a ticket, she showed him a soldier’s pass. Believing that the pass must have been forged or stolen—how could a Black woman be legally issued a soldier’s pass, after all—the conductor ordered her to give up her seat. When Ms. Davis refused, politely, the conductor called for assistance to have her physically removed. It took four men to do it—Ms. Davis fought them fiercely, insisting that she had a right to be in the seat—and they eventually dumped her into the train’s baggage car, where she was locked up for the rest of the trip. Several months later, at her home in Auburn, New York, Araminta Davis was still recovering from her injuries from the train incident. 

The name Araminta Davis is not well-known in American history. Araminta was her birth name which she later changed after she escaped from slavery in Maryland, and Davis was her name from her second marriage. She is better known by another name: Harriet Tubman. 

Although Harriet Tubman is a national legend for her work with the old Underground Railroad, courting danger personally leading more than 300 African captives to freedom in the decade before the Civil War, few people know that she volunteered for service in the Union Army when the war began, working as a nurse, a scout, and a spy going deep behind enemy lines. On a New Jersey train in 1865, however, none of that helped her. To the conductor she was just a lying nigger woman, probably a thief, as well, taking up a seat to which she had no right and desecrating the memory of fallen army veterans, to boot. 

Most contemporary African-Americans have never heard of the story of Harriet Tubman’s troubles on that New Jersey train, but I suspect that most, if told the story, would not find it surprising. To be African-American is to have such incidents strewn throughout our own family histories. 

My father’s grandfather—George Allen—served in the Union Army in New Orleans during the Civil War in the Louisiana Native Guard. After he died, my great-grandmother, Leontyne Breaux Allen, applied for a widow’s pension for herself and her 13 children. For years she was denied it, on the grounds that she could not prove that the children—one of them my grandfather, Ellis Allen, Sr.—had been fathered by George. In effect, the army was accusing my great-grandmother of being a whore. Instead of the government pay she should have received, she had to support her family virtually on her own, with help only from the older children who had left home and gotten jobs. My cousin, Betty Reid Soskin, has collected reams of material from the National Archives containing testimony given to a hearing officer by priests and fellow churchmembers and neighbors who knew George and Leontyne in St. James Parish, Louisiana, and who swore that the children were his. I have copies of the documents, but have yet to read them all. Even now, more than a hundred years later, they are heartbreaking. 

On my mother’s side my grandfather, Thomas Reid, Sr., came to California in the late nineteenth century after fleeing for his life from his native Griffin, Georgia. “Trouble with the white folks,” the older ones in my mother’s family used to say, but none would be more specific. Trouble with the white folks in late nineteenth century Georgia could not be taken lightly. Reports of lynchings during that time include several that occurred in and around Griffin. In one, in 1899, Ralph Luker reports in the History News Network (http://hnn.us/blogs/comments /25530.html) that a Black man named Samuel Wilkes was accused of killing his white employer. “A crowd of 2000 people take him about a mile and a half out on the road to Palmetto” near Griffin and Newnan, Georgia, Mr. Luker writes. “Children in the crowd are sent ahead to gather up firewood. Wilkes is hung and burned. Sunday's banner newspaper headlines notified the public of the event and, after church, special trains from Griffin and Atlanta bring additional site-seers out to the Palmetto Road for the occasion. Witnesses gather charred remains from the fire.” 

For the most part, lynchings did not follow African-Americans to California, but the indignities did. My grandfather, a skilled carpenter, could not get carpentry work in the Bay Area, and so had to support his 13 children—including my mother—as a laborer and a janitor. One of his brothers, who remained in Griffin, was a skilled brickmason. Many years later, after he had died, his grandchildren took me around Griffin to show me the many buildings he had constructed which, because of Georgia’s segregation laws, he could not enter once they had been completed. 

Meanwhile, in the Bay Area, my father, Ernest Allen, Sr., joined the Oakland Fire Department in the late 1940s, during a time when the OFD was strictly segregated. African-American fireman were limited to assignment to West Oakland’s Engine 22, and were not allowed to rise to officer’s positions. In 1952, when my father asked to be transferred to an East Oakland station to be closer to our family, his transfer was denied, and when he filed a complaint to the chief, he was suspended. According to a recent scholarly article by former UC Berkeley student Sarah Wheelock, the Oakland African-American labor leader C.L. Dellums, uncle of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, “called the suspension an ‘administrative lynching’ and ‘an attempt at intimidation of the Negro firemen in the department.’” My father became a plaintiff in a lawsuit to desegregate the Oakland Fire Department. One the lawyers later became Oakland’s first Black Mayor, Lionel Wilson. They lost the lawsuit, but shortly afterwards, the OFD broke up its policy of segregated assignments. 

But not its policy of indignity towards Black fireman. Wheelock quotes Sam Golden, one of the early African-American OFD pioneers who fought to bring Black firemen into the department: “It was August 5, 1955, that was the day they integrated and I went to 29 Engine,” Mr. Golden said. “The first day I went there, I checked in with the captain. The captain called me into his office and told me what I could do and what I couldn't do. One of the things I couldn't do was eat with them. I had to bring my own mattress out and sleep on the watch bed whenever I was on watch. We were told that we had a special bed that we were sleeping in. There was another black firefighter on the other shift, and we both slept in the same bed.” 

By that time, my father was no longer welcome in the Oakland Fire Department. He had cashed in his city pension, and resigned. 

This is my family history. I doubt if it is appreciably different from most African-Americans, whose family roots go back to the slave trade, and then through slavery, and the hundred years of terror that followed the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War. It is intertwined with our searches to uncover our family histories and genealogy, but much of it involves personal memories, as well—once, for example, after we got a flat tire in West Oakland and did not have a spare, watching police in West Oakland make my father sit on the curb for a half hour in front of his two sons while they checked to make sure the car actually belonged to him. My father was a property and business owner at the time, but that did not help him evade police suspicion. He was Black. 

Such memories invoke anger in most African-Americans, historical anger, inherited anger, suppressed in order to keep our sanity and go about our day-to-day business without going off, but anger that never completely goes away. My father died with that anger. I will, too. It is one of the legacies of being African-American in these latter days. 

Because he does not have that history, that African-American anger is not present in Barack Obama. This African-American anger cannot be manufactured, or transferred. It is burned into us like the old slave brands, in a crucible of history and memory and experience. It is an unsettling and a frightening thing, both to African-Americans ourselves and to our white brothers and sisters and neighbors and co-workers and friends, even when its source is not recognized or its essence manifested in any observable action. And because Mr. Obama does not have that inherent African-American anger, he is attractive to our white brothers and sisters in this country in a way that no African-American of our time will ever be. 

But that is a subject we will have to further explore in another column. 


About the House: The Last 10 Percent Rule of Remodeling

By Matt Cantor
Friday March 23, 2007

Economics is a wonderful and fascinating field. When I think about the things I’d like to study as I get older, it keeps getting pushed higher up on the list. The fun thing about it is that it’s at work everywhere around us. As long as money or goods are flowing through a system it’s there and from my very prejudiced vantage point it appears to me no more prevalent or relevant than in the world of construction. 

I always laugh and roll my head back when I read stories in the press about enormous civil projects that have cost over-runs of 100 percent accompanied by time delays and white collar arrests of paper pushers who sloughed cost overruns into their Cayman Island accounts. It makes the contractors look good. Certainly many people have a story of woe involving a contractor who turned out be a scoundrel but as I have often beaten into the tabletop, it’s not the way most of them are and certainly isn’t a function of evil. Contractors are JUST like everyone else. Most are trying to their best and most do pretty well but only a few are top flight.  

Also, a few are going to be incompetent, varying with the trade; that is, licensed electricians are rarely stupid and most are both bright and committed. Roofers, on the other hand run from superb to pathetic. I suspect this is because roofs don’t kill people and you don’t have be too bright to nail roofing onto plywood. Of course, this remark is deceptive (like the problem) because roofing, done responsibly and well is actually fairly complex but since you can get away with something that looks like roofing (and who climbs up there to look, anyway) without knowing the finer points, we end up with more than a few roofers who stay in business while producing a shoddy and economically inadequate product. By the way, amazingly, most cities, while issuing permits for roof replacements do NO inspections of these jobs (are you shaking your head?). 

A better roofer may charge 20 percent more for their work but may well produce a product that requires almost no maintenance and lasts 30-100 percent longer. While it seems as though this is a no-brainer, most buyers of these services don’t do much shopping and don’t ask critical questions or contact referrals. Thus, we all end up with lots of subcompentents in the marketplace. If we all did more research, they would just wash out with the tide. Apparently people don’t just get the government they deserve, they also get the marketplace they deserve. See, I’m an economist too (look ma, no Ph.D.) 

But, as usually, I’ve managed to completely evade the point I want to make so I’ll just mosey on back to where I lost my place. The thing I’d like to discuss, and it IS about economics, is within the financial theory of construction costs. When I see houses being sold, they’re often suffering from what might be called, empty-pocket syndrome, or the theorem of ever-shortening shrift.  

Redmodelings I see often appear as though the money ran out about 3 weeks too early and all the nice things that could have been done near completion were either omitted or done in such a slip-shod manner that the best of what they could have been is lost. It’s not only sad, it’s really stupid, economically speaking. Had this same project been economically planned to allow for it’s actual scale, the final measures could have made the work shine. 

When we build a house, there’s a lot of money that goes into a foundation, framing, plumbing and wiring but these, in the end, are not the parts that make us “oo” and “ah.” They’re the subtext. The presumptive. The parts that excite us about a house are mostly the things that get added in the very last days of construction. Now, this isn’t to say that good massing (shape and size of the building and its rooms) as well as good fenestration (window placement) don’t help to make a great house (and these are clearly things set at the beginning of the project). But even when these features are present, the detailing and appointing of these rooms makes all the difference. 

It seems to me that so many of the houses of the 1960 and ‘70s make this argument for me. They may have huge rooms and dramatic siting and views but they leave me blah because they lack detail. Now this was institutionalized in this time period and very much their misbegotten intention but for many of us doing projects today, the same sort of thing happens inadvertently. 

We plan a wonderful project and complete all the big rough parts and then, just around the time we should be picking out great appliances, counter-tiling and flooring, the money starts to run out. Instead of picking great finishes, the parts we’ll actually see and feel, we are forced to short ourselves on the very things that will make the project satisfying and valuable. Worse, we often run out of labor dollars near the end, forcing many important tasks to be passed along to someone cheaper and less skilled. This often results not only in a loss of appeal but also in longevity and quality far short of what a reasonable end-of-job budget would have allowed. 

Finishes, as we might call them, including finish carpentry (moldings, baseboards, built-ins), flooring, counters, painting, appliances and all the things that we do toward the end of the project. These are not only expensive (for seemingly small units of area), they’re also time consuming. The final parts of a construction project can often take half the budget and half the time to complete but these should not be seen as nuisances or cost over-runs. Rather, we need to revise our thinking so that we see the physical mass of construction as being a staging for this vital set of details. 

This modern thinking is a very large part of why modern houses don’t look like old houses. It’s economics. We see square footage as the primary feature of houses today while the quality of detail was the central criteria a hundred years ago and even more in the distant past. 

So how do we actually make this work? Well, one important dictum is to scale your project accordingly. If you want real quality, start off by bidding for it. Make it clear to your architect, contractor or subcontractors that you want “finishes” done well and that you want to begin budgeting for great tile and wonderful windows early on. Build-in all of these costs and leave an extra, secret, sum of money set aside for changes or other budgetary slip-and-falls that are likely to occur before completion.  

Most jobs have some cost over-runs and most clients are asked to accept some disappoint before the job is done, in order that all the bills get paid. If you’ve set something aside, you’re more likely to be able to answer these dilemmas with “Well, I think I can come up with a little extra to make sure that I get it the way we planned.” Don’t say that too often or they’ll figure out where the spigot is. 

Most importantly, don’t try to build or remodel to the max. Part of why Small is Beautiful is that it’s complete, fully nourished and well budgeted. It’s economics. 

By the way, part of what we’re talking about here is the European model and certainly the Japanese model. Do less. Do it better. Make it last and get every penny for your dollar. 

Good contractors end up learning this (if they didn’t know it to begin with). Architects often understand this but can’t always get their way with clients or contractors. 

Really bad contractors not only don’t know it, they often seem unable to finish properly despite repeated requests for extra money. A well organized and experienced contractor can end up being cheaper in the end simply because they know how to control expenditures. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground here and it may be a little hard to digest all at once, but if I can leave you with only one nugget to hold onto, it would be that when you take on any sort of construction job, whether it’s jacking the house, remodeling a kitchen or simply hanging some shelves, that you allow plenty of time, money and labor for what looks like the last 10 percent.  

I think it’s safe to say that it ain’t. 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor at mgcantor@pacbell.net.


Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday March 23, 2007

Russian Roulette? 

 

Would you do it? Put the gun to your head? After all, the law of averages is in your favor. Of course not.  

But we know the Hayward Fault is more than 20 years overdue and geologists tell us that we are probably in for a very major quake when it ruptures. Like along the lines of the 1906 San Francisco quake. 

So we can play the very dangerous game of hoping the law of averages will stay in our favor the rest of our lives, or we can do the prudent things to protect ourselves, our families, and our homes: have our retrofits checked, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed, secure our furniture, and put together or buy an emergency kit. 

Not really so daunting, is it? And imagine the alternative. 

 

 

Larry Guillot is owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and kit supply service. Call him at 558-3299, or visit www.quakeprepare.com.


Column: The Public Eye: The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism in the United States

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Opening his memorable Graceland album, Paul Simon sang: 

 

It was a slow day, 

And the sun was beating 

On the soldiers by the side of the road. 

There was a bright light, 

A shattering of shop windows 

The bomb in the baby carriage 

Was wired to the radio. 

 

It’s been five and a half years since 9/11. With each passing day, it’s more likely the United States will suffer from a “bomb in the baby carriage ... wired to a radio.” More probable this attack will involve nuclear terrorism. 

Americans fear our imminent encounter with a suicide bomber or a remotely controlled explosive device. For good reason. As the Iraq war grinds on and terrorist incidents surge worldwide, it’s clear George Bush’s “war on terror” has backfired; rather than reduce the threat of savage assaults on civilians, the opposite has occurred: the average number of terrorist attacks has increased sevenfold. Nonetheless, the Bush administration does little to guard against these attacks. Particularly those involving “radioactive dispersal devices”—dirty bombs. 

At a recent San Francisco gathering, Illinois Senator, and Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama remarked that, after Iraq, his number one foreign policy objective is control of nuclear weapons and radioactive material. Obama believes the Bush Administration hasn’t paid enough attention to the problems of worldwide stockpiles of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and radioactive debris. 

Writing in the current New Yorker, Steve Coll discussed what’s being done to safeguard America from nuclear terrorism. The good news is the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on an atomic bomb seems extremely low. The bad news is “the world ... is awash in uncontrolled nuclear material.” Much of the contaminated detritus could be used in a dirty bomb: a conventional explosive device surrounded by radioactive material. Coll observes, “The Bush administration has not assigned the same urgency to the dirty-bomb threat that it has to the threat of a terrorist attack using a fission weapon.” 

What should be done to protect the United States from nuclear terrorism? Republicans and Democrats agree that our borders ought to be closely monitored to make sure bad guys don’t sneak radioactive materials into the United States. A necessary component is more money; the Democratically controlled Congress is ready to allocate more funds for this purpose. However, the United States has to have the right technology: radiation detectors able to detect nuclear material slipping across our borders. There’s controversy about the efficacy of the sensors being deployed. Unfortunately, experts agree on one critical point: detecting highly enriched uranium is beyond the capability of the current generation of radiation detectors. 

On Dec. 5, 2005, the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the public-interest group that followed the 9/11 Commission, issued a status report on the efforts of the Bush Administration to prevent another terrorist attack. They concluded, “We are not as safe as we need to be ... there is so much more to be done ... Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed, have not been ... Some of these failures are shocking.” The group’s Republican chair, Thomas Kean, observed, “We believe that the terrorists will strike again. So does every responsible expert that we have talked to ... If they do, and these reforms that might have prevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuses be?” 

A particularly disturbing finding was the “administration’s woeful record in strengthening global counterproliferation efforts to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists.” In November of last year, MIT Professor Stephen Van Evera reported, “Amazingly, in the two years after 9/11 no more loose nuclear weapons and materials were secured than in the two years prior ... This policy lapse is among the worst failures of government in modern times.” The White House isn’t effectively addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism. 

On March 29, 2006, Democratic leaders unveiled their national security strategy, “Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World.” They promised that Democrats will “secure by 2010 loose nuclear materials that terrorists could use to build nuclear weapons or “dirty bombs.” Realistically, Congressional Dems can do little beyond holding hearings and authorizing the appropriate expenditures. 

Given that we are stuck with Bush and company for 22 excruciating months, three actions seem obvious: The first is for progressives to continue to point out how ill-advised Bush’s foreign policy is. How taking our eye off of Al Qaeda and invading Iraq detracted from the primary objective of Bush’s “war on terror”: making America safer. The second point is for all presidential candidates, not just Barack Obama, to make control of nuclear weapons and radioactive material their highest priority foreign policy objective and present their plan. The third is for the Bush Administration, and the next Presidency, to shift their emphasis from nuclear weapons to nuclear debris. To take seriously the possibility of nuclear terrorism, the chilling possibility that the next “bomb in the baby carriage ... wired to a radio” is likely to be a dirty bomb. 

 

 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net 


Column: Two Days in East Oakland

By Susan Parker
Tuesday March 20, 2007

I had a few job interviews, and by doing so, I learned a thing or two. I discovered, too late, that one should not mention in an interview that what interests one most about the position is its part-time status and proximity to one’s home. I also learned that I should have a better idea of what kind of work I want. Employers do not like to hear that the interviewee is still trying to find herself, especially when the interviewee is 54, almost 55, and closer to retirement age than career-making status.  

While answering an ad for tutoring in the Oakland Public Schools, I learned that my interviewer was also in charge of filling the Archdiocese of Alameda County substitute teaching staff. I put in an application. I went down to West Oakland and got fingerprinted. I searched through my old papers and found my college transcript and CBEST results. I swore that I had never been arrested for a felony, that I was not on parole or probation, that I was a citizen of the United States, and that I was available five days a week, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. I told the interviewer that I was not a sex offender. No one asked me if I liked children, but I stated that I did, just in case someone might want to know.  

I was relieved to learn that the CBEST test I had taken over 12 years ago was still valid. In fact, it is valid forever. I had taken the test at nearby Oakland Tech. I’d sweated for a few weeks while I waited for the results. I wasn’t worried about my reading comprehension or writing ability, but I was concerned that my math skills weren’t up to par. I was disappointed when the documents finally arrived. I had passed every section with flying colors except the essay portion. I had passed that section too, but barely, getting the lowest possible score that still allowed me access to the state’s public school population.  

Off and on for a dozen years I have thought about returning to teaching. Years ago I attempted to contact several school districts, but I didn’t have much success. I could not get past the Berkeley Unified School District phone system in order to speak with a real person. In Oakland, I got beyond the multiple recorded messages and made an appointment for an interview, but when I arrived at the school board offices, no one knew who I was or why I was there. I decided subbing was not in my future.  

A dozen years later, I’m willing to give teaching another try.  

Last week I spent two days in a fifth-grade East Oakland classroom. Located only a few minutes from the Coliseum, around the corner from International Boulevard, and across the street from a Jack in the Box, several liquor stores, and a check cashing joint, I found myself sharing a small, stuffy room with Carlos, Elena, Javier, and their classmates. They were excited to tell me about themselves, to show me how they could multiply and divide, spell three syllable words, jump rope and kick a soccer ball. They eloquently expressed themselves in two languages, but in deference to me they spoke English, the only language I know.  

I could not have asked for a more gracious, welcoming experience. I’ve read the articles in the local newspapers, and listened to the talking heads on television. I know from their reports that this country’s schools are in trouble, that our children are not learning, that the system is failing. But I also know now that in a funky little classroom within a few feet of the roaring traffic on East 14th, the future is anxiously waiting. Despite what you may read and hear in the news, these children are eager to learn, to share, to participate, and to prove the media wrong.  


Wild Neighbors: Thinking About Breakfast: The Mind of the Jay Revisited

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Nicola Clayton and her scrub-jays have been at it again. Clayton, as you may recall, is the Cambridge experimental psychologist who keeps making startling claims about the cognitive abilities of the western scrub-jay, a bird she met while at UC Davis. (It’s the most widespread of three closely related species of crestless blue-and-gray jays; the others, the Florida scrub-jay and island scrub-jay, have limited ranges). 

It was Clayton who contended that scrub-jays demonstrated episodic-like memory, thought to be a human exclusive: they could recall what they had done where and when, specifically where they had stashed perishable waxworms and more durable peanuts. In the wild, the birds cache and retrieve acorns. They’re not as good at refinding stored food as their corvid relatives the pinyon jay and the Clark’s nutcracker; as Joseph Grinnell observed back in 1936, the acorns the scrub-jays miss may become the next generation of oaks.  

It was also Clayton who found evidence for a “theory of mind” in scrub-jays, the ability to think of what others might be thinking. In that case, jays prone to pilfering other birds’ caches returned to move food that they had been observed hiding. The line of thought would be: “If I had seen Ralph hiding that acorn, I’d go steal it; and since he saw me hiding mine…” 

Critics objected to both claims, of course, but Clayton’s ingenious experiments made a strong case. Now she’s back, in a recent issue of Nature, with a new study that suggests scrub-jays can plan for the future—again, something only the higher primates, humans and great apes, were supposed to be able to do. 

Granted, many animals do things that appear purposeful: they fly north for the spring and south for the winter, swim to Ascension to mate, seek out caves or dens for hibernation, store acorns. But it’s assumed these behaviors are hardwired responses to seasonal cues: the animals are programmed to act in pre-set ways with changes in temperature or daylight. 

With Clayton’s jays, something different seems to be going on. Her experiment this time exploited the birds’ caching compulsion. 

She designed a three-chambered setup. The jays were kept overnight in the central space, with powdered pine nuts to snack on. In the morning they were moved into one of two adjoining spaces, one with food, the other without. 

On their second night in the experimental cages, the jays were given a supply of pine nuts and each side room had a sand-filled ice-cube tray for caching. The birds that had previously missed out on breakfast cached three times as many nuts in the “no-breakfast room” as in the “breakfast room.” They seemed to remember whether they had spent the previous morning in a cozy B & B or in a Motel 6.  

What could this be, asks Clayton, but a kind of mental time travel? 

“If I thought I’d end up in a grotty motel with no breakfast, I’d take provisions with me”, she told a reporter. (Yes, she’s the kind of person who still says “grotty.” She comes off as a tad eccentric; she is described as somewhat birdlike, and her Cambridge students have classified her as Claytonia professorii. But her experiments are rigorous, and her results have won grudging acceptance among many behaviorists.) 

She has had to defend corvid intelligence against her husband and research collaborator Nathan Emery, who worked with primates. She accuses him of making “ape-ist remarks” about his subjects’ supposedly unique abilities, which she saw echoed in her jays. 

Clayton, who has also studied the rook, a European crow relative, notes that corvids are among the brainiest of birds: a jay’s brain is proportionally larger than a chimp’s. Size may not be all that important, if cognitive sophistication turns out to be more a function of how the brain is wired. As Bernd Heinrich and other scientists have pointed out, jays, crows, rooks, and ravens have rich social environments, with a myriad of individuals and relationships to keep track of—the same kind of setting that may have driven the evolution of intelligence in us primates. 

Although some remain skeptical, it does seem possible that scrub-jays can visualize and plan for the future—at least, a future without breakfast. As far as I know, though, no one yet has approached a jay about life insurance.  

 

 

Joe Eaton is a former professional gardener and arborist. His “Wild Neighbors” column appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet, alternating with Ron Sullivan’s “Green Neighbors” column.


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Friday March 23, 2007

FRIDAY, MARCH 23 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” Fri and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 1409 High St., Alameda, through April 1. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

Berkeley Rep “To the Lighthouse” at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. and runs through March 25. Tickets are $45-$61. 647-2917 

.Central Works Theater Ensemble “Lola Montez” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. through March 25. Tickets are $9-$25. 558-1381. www.centralworks.org 

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company “unconditional” A movement/theater piece Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20 sliding scale for adults and $6 for youth under 18. 597-1619. www.destinyarts.org. 

Shotgun Players “Blood Wedding” opens at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., and runs Thurs.-Sun. through April 29. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

“The Apple Tree and Other Forbidden Fruits” musical and dramatic vignettes Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 1 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $15-$20. 525-0302, ext. 309.  

Virago Theatre “Orphans” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at BridgeHead Studio, 2516 Blanding Ave, Alameda, through March 31. Tickets are $10-$15. 415-439-2456. 

FILM 

“Manda Bala” (Send a Bullet) the Sundance FIlm Festival prize winning documentary, with Jason Kohn, director, at 7 p.m. at Andersen Auditorium, Haas School of Business, UC Campus.  

LunaFest Film festival by and about women at 7 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Oakland East Bay Symphony at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $15-$62. 652-8497.  

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$46. 642-9988.  

UCB/UCLA Contemporary Jazz Collaborative at 2 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. 642-9988. 

Jeff Chandler and Allegro Ballroom “Top Hat Club” at 8 p.m. 5855 Christie Ave. Tickets are $35, or $50 with dinner. 655-2888. 

Lloyd Gregory & Friends, jazz, blues, R&B, at 8 p.m. at Everett and Jones, 126 Broadway, Oakland. 663-2350. 

Sandy Cressman & Her Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Tempest, Golden Bough and Caliban, Irish rock, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. 

Judy Wexler, jazz vocalist, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Claudia Schmidt at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Erin English & Joe Ridout, Nick Zubel at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Mirthkon, Fuxedos, Fuzzy Cousins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Set it Straight, Dance for Destruction, Bright White Noise at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Sol Spectrum at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Eleven Eyes at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Rachelle Ferrell at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $26-$30. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, MARCH 24 

CHILDREN  

East Bay Children’s Theater “Rumplestiltskin” at 10:30 a.m. at 1 pm. at James Moore Theater, Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. Tickets are $7, children under 2 free. 655-7285. 

“Strega Nona Festival” A play based on the characters from Tomie dePaola’s books at 3 p.m. at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison at 27th., Oakland. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Ingrid Noyes & Paul Shelasky at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Silly Symphonies” film screening with author Russell Merritt in person at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

SF Circus Center Clown Conservatory “Experiment! The Excitement of Science” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$8. 925-798-1300. 

Buki the Clown celebrates National Reading Month Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 452-2259. 

THEATER 

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company “unconditional” A movement/theater piece at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20 sliding scale for adults and $6 for youth under 18. 597-1619. www.destinyarts.org 

Playback Theater in Celebration of Women at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Cost is $8-$18. For reservations call 595-5500, ext. 25. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Native American Artist Spencer Nutima from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. www.gatheringtribes.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rhythm & Muse Young Performers’ Night, in coordination with Berkeley Arts Center’s Youth Arts Festival, at 7 p.m. at 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts., behind Live Oak Park. 644-6893.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

American Bach Soloists Early Cantatas at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $16-$42. 415-621-7900 americanbach.org 

Trinity Chamber Concerts “The Sorrowful Mysteries” music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$46. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

“One Soul Sounding” Spring Equinox Concert at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore, Oakland. Tickets are $15-$22. 654-3234. 

Jeff Chandler and Allegro Ballroom “Top Hat Club” at 8 p.m. 5855 Christie Ave. Tickets are $35, or $50 with dinner. 655-2888. 

A Night of Cuban Folkloric Music hosted by Jesus Diaz, featuring Sandy Perez, John Santos, Eric Barbera, Colin Douglas and Chris “Flaco” Walker at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568.  

Robin Gregory & Her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Martin Pendergrast and Friends at noon at Cafe Zeste, 1250 Addison St. at Bonar, in the Strawberry Creek Park complex. 704-9378. 

West African Highlife Band at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson at 9 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054.  

Agualibre at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-1159.  

Jai Uttal & Donna DeLory at 7:30 p.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th St. Tickets are $25. 496-6047. www.Rudramandirtickets.com  

Mariospeedwagon and Lemon Juju at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Equal Opportunity Employment at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Michael Wilcox & Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373.  

Project Move, Jern Eye, Kristo at 9 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. 

Nicole McRory at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Dale Miller & Friends, folk at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7. 558-0881. 

Montana, The Oceans of Fire, Halcyon High at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. 

Elysia, A.G.A.T.G., Moria at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25 

CHILDREN 

“Strega Nona Festival” A play based on the characters from Tomie dePaola’s books at 3 p.m. at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison at 27th., Oakland. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

SF Circus Center Clown Conservatory “Experiment! The Excitement of Science” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$8. 925-798-1300. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“El Corazón de la Communidad: The Heart of the Community” A new public art installation painted by Joaquin Alejandro Newman and honoring two Oakland community activists, Carmen Flores and Josie de la Cruz, will be unveiled at 2 p.m. at the Carmen Flores Recreation Center, 1673 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland.  

THEATER 

“Exit Cuckoo” Lisa Ramirez’s one-woman show on motherhood at 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $32-$52. 925-798-1300. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Socially Responsible Shopping with authors Ritchie Unterberger, Ellis Jones and Allan Holender at 6 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Poetry Flash presents Carl Dennis at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Prometheus Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. www.prometheussymphony.org  

Temple Choir Concert at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland Sanctuary, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Dvorak and the American Indianists Piano Concert with Seth Montfort, at 5:30 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $15. 415-362-6080. 

Chora Nova “Romance and the Part Song” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, Dana and Durant. Tickets are $10-$15. www.choranova.org 

Jewish Music Festival Community Music Day at 8 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Tickets are $7-$24. 800-838-3006. www.jewishmusicfestival.org 

Gilberto Gil, Brazilian pop music, at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $36-$62. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Gillette & Mangsen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Brazillian Soul at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $9. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Emma’s Revolution & Jon Frommer, labor songs, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$20 sliding scale. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Rova Saxophone Quartet at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Skatalites at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $20. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Lion of Judah, Never Healed, Justice at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, MARCH 26 

FILM 

“Jazz on a Monday Afternoon” Films and discussion on Jazz Vocalists at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 3rd flr. 981-6100. 

Japanese Anime: Women as Heroines Multi-media presention at noon at Laney Tech Center, F170, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

LunaFest Film festival by and about women at 7 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend discusses “Failing America’s Faithful” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Donation $10. 559-9500. 

Edmund Zimmerman and Rick Prelinger read at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Ira Nowiski shows slides and talks about his book “Ira Nowiski’s San Francisco: Poets, Politics, and Divas” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin talks about “Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Poetry Express open mic theme night on “grandmothers” at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Musica ha Disconnesso, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Michael Chapdelaine at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761 www.freightandsalvage.org 

Rachel Z and Z Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

TUESDAY, MARCH 27 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Tell on on Tuesdays Storytelling at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Cost is $8-$12 sliding scale. www.juiamorgan.org 

Freight and Salvage Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $4.50-$5.50. 548-1761.  

Irvin Muchnik, with special guest Josh Kornbluth, talks about “Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Death, Sex, and Scandal” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Laury Hammel, co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economy will read from his new book at 7 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 528-3254. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Zizoo at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  

Singers’ Open Mic with Ellen Hoffman at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Randy Craig Trio at 7:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Alan Snitow, Deborah Kaufman, and Michael Fox present “Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Georgann Brennan reads from “A Pig in Provence” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Writing Teachers Write, monthy reading at 5 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on harpsichord at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

WomenSing Chorus at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $10-$20. 925-974-9169. 

Pat Metheny with Brad Mehldau Trio at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$58. 642-9988.  

Echo Beach at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Karabali at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Salsa dance lessons at 8 p.m. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

The Flux at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Nicole and the Sisters in Soul at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Roy Hargrove Quintet at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $18-$24. 238-9200.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 29 

THEATER  

Dell’Ate Group “Second Skin” a one-woman show by Joan Schirle at 7:30 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Free. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Berkeley, Her Land, Her Gift of Early Neighborhoods” an illustrated lecture with Richard Schwartz at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $15-$20. 848-4288. 

Lionel Shriver reads from “The Post-Birthday World” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Tom McNamee reads from “Alice Waters and Chez Panisse” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Elline Lipkin and Sandra Lim, poetry, at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Pierre Bensusan at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Modesto Bresenio Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Julie Lloyd, singer/songwriter, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

BeatBeat Whisper, Snowblink, All My Pretty Ones at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

Pachanga Primavera, benefit for Chicano Latino scholars at UC Berkeley, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$7. 849-2568.  

Headnodic & Raashan Ahmad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

Built for the Sea, Minipop at 8:30 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. 

 

 


Arts and Entertainment Around the East Bay

Friday March 23, 2007

EAST BAY SYMPHONY AT THE PARAMOUNT 

 

The Oakland East Bay Symphony will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s bright, melodic  

Scheherazade and one of the orchestral suites of  

Shostakovich at 8 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theater. The concert will be preceded by a lecture at 7 p.m. $15-$62. 2025 Broadway, Oakland. 652-8497. 

 

FAMILY MATINEE AND ICE CREAM SOCIAL 

 

Stagebridge  

presents the 16th annual Family  

Matinee and  

Ice Cream Social 

at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with the “Strega Nona Festival.” The beloved characters from Tomie dePaola’s popular “Strega Nona” stories come to life on stage in this new production, featuring actors age 9 to 85.  

Oakland-based Stagebridge is the nation’s oldest senior theater company. It uses theater and storytelling to bridge the generation gap and to promote positive attitudes toward aging. Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison Ave., Oakland. Adults $10, children $5.  

For reservations and ticket  

information, call 444-4755 or visit www.stagebridge.org. 

 

A BIT OF JAZZ ON A  

MONDAY AFTERNOON 

 

The Berkeley Public Library continues its free film and  

discussion series about innovators and developments in jazz moderated by musician Dee Spencer from 2-4 p.m. Monday at the downtown library’s Community Room. The event features rare footage in combination with more familiar images to illuminate the depths of jazz in pursuit of a group discussion. 2090 Kittridge St.


Moving Pictures: ‘Kubrick’ Showcases Malkovich Mystique

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday March 23, 2007

After more than 25 years in the movie business, John Malkovich has carved out a unique niche for himself, a cinematic netherworld equal parts post-modernism and cult of personality.  

His charisma has always been apparent, whether adding a dash of suave cruelty to Dangerous Liasons (1988) or mercurial menace to In the Line of Fire (1993). But it has been his more recent, more adventurous work in smaller, independent films that has firmly established his reputation as something of a maverick. 

Malkovich plays the lead role in Color Me Kubrick, a quirky little film based on true events that opens this weekend at Shattuck Cinemas in downtown Berkeley. He plays Peter Conway, a con man who passed himself off for months as legendary film director Stanley Kubrick, swindling a string of star-struck victims along the way. He took money from them, slept with them, promised them roles in his films, even offered them financial backing for their own endeavors.  

Director Brian Cook and screenwriter Anthony Frewin were there as the real-life drama unfolded, the former as Kubrick’s assistant director, the latter as his personal assistant. Frewin in fact was responsible for screening the calls that started coming in from irate strangers who would have Kubrick’s head for having fleeced them in the days and weeks previous, in ramshackle bars and nightclubs and taxicabs all over London.  

There are many paths that could be taken in adapting such material for the screen. The story could easily lend itself to a psychological drama about a man who seeks escape from his dreary existence by adopting the identity of a famous recluse; or a noirish melodrama of a con artist operating in seedy bars, with plenty of narrow escapes and shady intrigue; or a journalistic mystery perhaps, with reporters unraveling the sordid tale of a smooth-talking seducer taking money and favors from down-and-out would-be stars all over London. 

Instead the filmmakers have opted for another approach, one that contains elements of all of the above while playing up the absurdist aspects of the story in the creation of a film that poses more questions than it answers. They have chosen to emphasize the humor and depravity of Conway’s ruse without attempting to divine the motivations behind the charade, electing to make a piece of light entertainment rather than a probing drama. They’ve taken more than a few liberties with the tale, embellishing here and there and working with Malkovich in fashioning the already eccentric Conway into a character even more flamboyant and inscrutable.  

The film doesn’t present Conway as a master con artist; he’s clumsy, he gets caught now and then, and when he does escape it’s more often the result of luck rather than cunning. In fact, the character, like the real-life man, doesn’t even know much about Kubrick or his films and doesn’t bother to do much research. Instead he relies on instinct, improvising the character anew with each new situation. An interesting study could have been built upon the various incarnations of Kubrick that Conway creates: For some victims, he portrays the director as a suave sophisticate, sometimes with a British accent, sometimes with Malkovich’s own jaded purr; for others he presents Kubrick as a brash New Yorker, or an arrogant Las Vegas lounge lizard; for still others, a mild-mannered upper-crust American, weary of recognition and thus traveling under an assumed name. On a whim he decides which incarnation best suits his victim and then proceeds to soften him up, flattering him with the attention of one of the world’s best-known but least-visible film directors. 

The movie is episodic and slightly discursive, never dull but often rambling. Cook and Frewin never quite manage to find the thread which could pull the whole thing together. Instead the film merely revels in Conway’s deceptions, true and otherwise, taking pleasure in the eccentricity of the man and his brazen scams and infusing them with wry comic touches. For instance, iconic musical themes from classic Kubrick films appear throughout, often providing ironic counterpoint to the action. A particularly effective example shows Conway, after a night of Kubrick-fueled deception and debauchery, stumbling downstairs from his low-rent hovel, crossing the street past the “Bleu Danube” adult shop, and tossing his dirty clothes into an open machine at the laundromat—all choreographed to the delicate strains of Johann Strauss’ On the Beautiful Blue Danube, the piece used to such great effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

The inspired decision to cast Malkovich is the film’s saving grace, adding a whole new dimension to the proceedings. Since Being John Malkovich (1999), the actor’s image—eccentric, bemused, arrogant, slightly bored but always enigmatic and vaguely dangerous—has in a way become the subject of many of his films. Thus Cook and Frewin are able to employ the actor’s self-relexive persona as a hook on which to hang the film’s increasingly surreal episodes, bringing layers of complexity to an already strange tale. For it isn’t merely Malkovich playing Conway, but rather it is Malkovich playing “John Malkovich” playing Peter Conway playing Stanley Kubrick. And the kaleidoscopic tone becomes even more mind boggling in a scene where Malkovich-as-Malkovich-as-Conway-as-Kubrick regales dinner companions with tales of conflicts with studio management over the casting of John Malkovich in the lead for his next film.  

Color Me Kubrick could have benefited from a more direct narrative, a more conventional through-line to tie together its absurdist humor and flights of eccentric fancy. Instead it relies on the cult of Malkovich, showcasing the actor’s strange mystique. It may not be a great film, but if you count yourself among the cult, it’s quite a ride. 

 

 

COLOR ME KUBRICK 

Directed by Brian Cook. Written by Anthony Frewin. Starring John Malkovich. 89 minutes. Not rated. Playing at Shattuck Cinemas. 

 

Photograph: John Malkovich plays a Stanley Kubrick imposter in Color Me Kubrick.


Pegasus Welcomes ‘Growing Local Value’ Author

By Zelda Bronstein, Special to the Planet
Friday March 23, 2007

On Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m., Laury Hammel, co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), will read from the inspiring new book he co-authored with Gun Denhart, Growing Local Value: How to Build Business Partnerships That Strenghten Your Community at Pegasus Books in downtown Berkeley.  

The authors are preaching (in an un-preachy voice) what they have practiced. Hammel is the owner and president of The Longfellow Clubs, four New England health and recreation clubs. Gun Denhart co-founded the Hanna Andersson children’s clothing company in Portland, Oregon. Both entrepreneurs built flourishing firms whose success had a lot to do with their innovative community programs. 

While people often think of community activism in terms of philanthropy or volunteer work, Hammel and Denhart show how every aspect of a business—from product creation to employee recruitment to vendor selection to raising capital—can be set up to benefit both the bottom line and the local community. 

Each of the book’s seven chapters offers lessons in building a meaningful and profitable relationship with a key stakeholder group: customers, investors, nonprofits, government, other businesses, employees and the environment itself. Those lessons are illustrated by vivid case histories drawn from a wide range of industries located all over the United States. The authors are keenly aware of the challenges facing small and medium-sized independent entrepreneurs; they tell what worked—and what didn’t.  

For this reader, it’s these stories that make this book compelling. A few examples: Rejuvenation Lighting in Portland, Oregon, established a home-buying program for its employees. TAGS Hardware of Cambridge, Massachusetts, mails every new resident in town a coupon offering a free trash can and a duplicate house key and sends out “free light bulb cards” to frequent customers. Hammel’s Longfellow Clubs helped an inner-city indoor/outdoor tennis club founded by African Americans to get back on its feet with generous donations of time, money and expertise. 

Growing Local Value has a local angle: published by a San Francisco firm, Berrett-Koheler, the book is part of the Social Venture Network Series. Closer to home, the chair of the Social Venture Network is Berkeley consultant and author Mal Warwick, whose letter to the reader serves as the book’s preface. 

According to the press release, after his reading Hammel will lead a discussion on sustaining a thriving downtown in any community. That, of course, is a topic of utmost importance in today’s Berkeley. It’s not one addressed in Growing Local Value. But the author’s imaginative, can-do approach to “value-based entrepreneurship” and his personal track record make me eager to hear his ideas about revitalizing city centers and—what is crucial for for Berkeley—about creating a vibrant retail economy.  

Hammel founded the nation’s first business association of socially responsible businesses in 1988, the New England Business Association for Social Responsibility. He started BALLE with Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia. Both he and Wicks will be speaking at BALLE’s 2007 International Conference, to be held in Berkeley from May 31 to June 2. Hammel’s appearance at Pegasus is sponsored by Berkeley’s two BALLE networks, the Berkeley Business District Network and the Sustainable Business Alliance, as well as by Sustainable Berkeley. 

 

LARRY HAMMEL 

Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 

For more information, contact Gina at  

Pegasus: 528-3254 or pandorabks@sbcglobal.net. Information about BALLE is available at www.livingeconomies.org or (415) 255-1108. 

 


Altarena Playhouse Stages Edward Albee’s ‘Virginia Woolf’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday March 23, 2007

It all begins “after hours” with the simplest of games: “Anyway, Bette Davis turns around, puts down her groceries and says, ‘What a dump!’ I want to know the name of the picture!” demands Martha, and husband George teases her in a patronizing deadpan. But when he announces a nightcap, Martha rasps, “Are you kidding? We got guests coming over!” 

And so the real games begin, more and more in earnest, as a faculty couple of a small New England university town entertains the newcomers met that night at the president’s party, with self-importance, sentiment and language itself flayed like skin protecting vital organs, in Edward Albee’s night of games to end ‘em all, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, mid-run in an engaging production at Alameda’s Altarena Playhouse. 

“You’re always springing things on me.” George, the history teacher, plays the passive-aggressive wounded party. Yet it’s he who takes the lead early as grandmaster, archly admonishing all comers—until the cat’s out of the bag, and the real confrontations begin.  

“I warned you not to go too far,” he cautions Martha, who shoots back, “I’m just beginning!” 

Director Richard Robert Bunker has led his well-cast quadriga of academic drayhorses, all pulling in different directions, through an unusually thoughtful gauntlet. Albee’s masterpiece, bristling with hostility and power plays, is often acted out nearly over-the-top from the start. This version takes a different tack: the Shock and Awe of ’60s revelatory primal scenes has had the veneer stripped off; it’s not Liz and Dick at it again, but something deadlier, a war of attrition that’s continued long after the real revelation should have set in. 

There’s tension alive in every line, but the menace is somehow quieter, and maybe deadlier. The double-binds and blinds can be scrutinized more by the engrossed audience, who laugh at the genuinely funny—if dire—exchanges of the first two acts like a malign situation comedy. As it gets gamier, a few holdouts in the house light up at the telling black humor of a collision between the old and the recently married, as well as the adroit sarcasms that degenerate to bodyslams about careerism, “family values” and the death of love. 

Sue Trigg, who brilliantly directed last year’s Death of a Salesman at Altarena, is an exceptional Martha—Martha who rasps out “I don’t bray!”—cackling, coarse, randy, taking the piss out of George, sometimes barreling drunkenly cross-stage, sometimes arching like a cat ... complemented by suavely underhanded Robert Rossman as George the fake-out artist, bending words around like spoons to juice the truth out telepathically.  

Their weird duet—Martha’s soliloquy on the eve of their absent, much-spoken of son’s twenty-first birthday, while George intones the Requiem—is a high point, yet one not dizzy with histrionics as much as deadly accurate, real irony.  

The younger generation’s not to be slighted in the face of this habitual carnage: Jamie Olsen plays Nick with a patronizing smirk that widens into a half-condescending, half-shellshocked leer as the proceedings suck him in and spit him out. As Honey, his “slim-hipped” wife, fated to play the dummy in this four-handed bluffing match, Lisa Price begins as an ex-sorority girl three sheets to the wind, vacant-eyed, drowsy, flashing an empty grin and tittering at everything, finally dancing alone like a snockered Isadora Duncan as cheerleader, before stretching out on the cool bathroom tiles and peeling the labels off brandy bottles. 

“If I can’t do my interpretive dance, I don’t want to dance with anyone!” Honey declares—and George invites: “Let’s just sit here and watch.” And that’s what we do in the audience, siding with no one, as they play Humiliate The Host, Hump The Hostess, Get The Guests—and the final game of George and Martha’s declared Total War: “There’s something in the bone ... and that’s what you gotta get.”  

That’s the game, the marriage, the career—all the shared secrets—turned inside out for all to see. And whether George is just a gutless wonder or perhaps novelist-manqué, or Martha just a bitch or really the one who wears the pants, the end still puts to bed all the sound and fury we were so lately laughing and wincing at, these characters left only with each other as they leave the stage. 

 

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF 

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through April 1 at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda. $17-$20. 

523-1553. www.alterena.org.


About the House: The Last 10 Percent Rule of Remodeling

By Matt Cantor
Friday March 23, 2007

Economics is a wonderful and fascinating field. When I think about the things I’d like to study as I get older, it keeps getting pushed higher up on the list. The fun thing about it is that it’s at work everywhere around us. As long as money or goods are flowing through a system it’s there and from my very prejudiced vantage point it appears to me no more prevalent or relevant than in the world of construction. 

I always laugh and roll my head back when I read stories in the press about enormous civil projects that have cost over-runs of 100 percent accompanied by time delays and white collar arrests of paper pushers who sloughed cost overruns into their Cayman Island accounts. It makes the contractors look good. Certainly many people have a story of woe involving a contractor who turned out be a scoundrel but as I have often beaten into the tabletop, it’s not the way most of them are and certainly isn’t a function of evil. Contractors are JUST like everyone else. Most are trying to their best and most do pretty well but only a few are top flight.  

Also, a few are going to be incompetent, varying with the trade; that is, licensed electricians are rarely stupid and most are both bright and committed. Roofers, on the other hand run from superb to pathetic. I suspect this is because roofs don’t kill people and you don’t have be too bright to nail roofing onto plywood. Of course, this remark is deceptive (like the problem) because roofing, done responsibly and well is actually fairly complex but since you can get away with something that looks like roofing (and who climbs up there to look, anyway) without knowing the finer points, we end up with more than a few roofers who stay in business while producing a shoddy and economically inadequate product. By the way, amazingly, most cities, while issuing permits for roof replacements do NO inspections of these jobs (are you shaking your head?). 

A better roofer may charge 20 percent more for their work but may well produce a product that requires almost no maintenance and lasts 30-100 percent longer. While it seems as though this is a no-brainer, most buyers of these services don’t do much shopping and don’t ask critical questions or contact referrals. Thus, we all end up with lots of subcompentents in the marketplace. If we all did more research, they would just wash out with the tide. Apparently people don’t just get the government they deserve, they also get the marketplace they deserve. See, I’m an economist too (look ma, no Ph.D.) 

But, as usually, I’ve managed to completely evade the point I want to make so I’ll just mosey on back to where I lost my place. The thing I’d like to discuss, and it IS about economics, is within the financial theory of construction costs. When I see houses being sold, they’re often suffering from what might be called, empty-pocket syndrome, or the theorem of ever-shortening shrift.  

Redmodelings I see often appear as though the money ran out about 3 weeks too early and all the nice things that could have been done near completion were either omitted or done in such a slip-shod manner that the best of what they could have been is lost. It’s not only sad, it’s really stupid, economically speaking. Had this same project been economically planned to allow for it’s actual scale, the final measures could have made the work shine. 

When we build a house, there’s a lot of money that goes into a foundation, framing, plumbing and wiring but these, in the end, are not the parts that make us “oo” and “ah.” They’re the subtext. The presumptive. The parts that excite us about a house are mostly the things that get added in the very last days of construction. Now, this isn’t to say that good massing (shape and size of the building and its rooms) as well as good fenestration (window placement) don’t help to make a great house (and these are clearly things set at the beginning of the project). But even when these features are present, the detailing and appointing of these rooms makes all the difference. 

It seems to me that so many of the houses of the 1960 and ‘70s make this argument for me. They may have huge rooms and dramatic siting and views but they leave me blah because they lack detail. Now this was institutionalized in this time period and very much their misbegotten intention but for many of us doing projects today, the same sort of thing happens inadvertently. 

We plan a wonderful project and complete all the big rough parts and then, just around the time we should be picking out great appliances, counter-tiling and flooring, the money starts to run out. Instead of picking great finishes, the parts we’ll actually see and feel, we are forced to short ourselves on the very things that will make the project satisfying and valuable. Worse, we often run out of labor dollars near the end, forcing many important tasks to be passed along to someone cheaper and less skilled. This often results not only in a loss of appeal but also in longevity and quality far short of what a reasonable end-of-job budget would have allowed. 

Finishes, as we might call them, including finish carpentry (moldings, baseboards, built-ins), flooring, counters, painting, appliances and all the things that we do toward the end of the project. These are not only expensive (for seemingly small units of area), they’re also time consuming. The final parts of a construction project can often take half the budget and half the time to complete but these should not be seen as nuisances or cost over-runs. Rather, we need to revise our thinking so that we see the physical mass of construction as being a staging for this vital set of details. 

This modern thinking is a very large part of why modern houses don’t look like old houses. It’s economics. We see square footage as the primary feature of houses today while the quality of detail was the central criteria a hundred years ago and even more in the distant past. 

So how do we actually make this work? Well, one important dictum is to scale your project accordingly. If you want real quality, start off by bidding for it. Make it clear to your architect, contractor or subcontractors that you want “finishes” done well and that you want to begin budgeting for great tile and wonderful windows early on. Build-in all of these costs and leave an extra, secret, sum of money set aside for changes or other budgetary slip-and-falls that are likely to occur before completion.  

Most jobs have some cost over-runs and most clients are asked to accept some disappoint before the job is done, in order that all the bills get paid. If you’ve set something aside, you’re more likely to be able to answer these dilemmas with “Well, I think I can come up with a little extra to make sure that I get it the way we planned.” Don’t say that too often or they’ll figure out where the spigot is. 

Most importantly, don’t try to build or remodel to the max. Part of why Small is Beautiful is that it’s complete, fully nourished and well budgeted. It’s economics. 

By the way, part of what we’re talking about here is the European model and certainly the Japanese model. Do less. Do it better. Make it last and get every penny for your dollar. 

Good contractors end up learning this (if they didn’t know it to begin with). Architects often understand this but can’t always get their way with clients or contractors. 

Really bad contractors not only don’t know it, they often seem unable to finish properly despite repeated requests for extra money. A well organized and experienced contractor can end up being cheaper in the end simply because they know how to control expenditures. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground here and it may be a little hard to digest all at once, but if I can leave you with only one nugget to hold onto, it would be that when you take on any sort of construction job, whether it’s jacking the house, remodeling a kitchen or simply hanging some shelves, that you allow plenty of time, money and labor for what looks like the last 10 percent.  

I think it’s safe to say that it ain’t. 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor at mgcantor@pacbell.net.


Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday March 23, 2007

Russian Roulette? 

 

Would you do it? Put the gun to your head? After all, the law of averages is in your favor. Of course not.  

But we know the Hayward Fault is more than 20 years overdue and geologists tell us that we are probably in for a very major quake when it ruptures. Like along the lines of the 1906 San Francisco quake. 

So we can play the very dangerous game of hoping the law of averages will stay in our favor the rest of our lives, or we can do the prudent things to protect ourselves, our families, and our homes: have our retrofits checked, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed, secure our furniture, and put together or buy an emergency kit. 

Not really so daunting, is it? And imagine the alternative. 

 

 

Larry Guillot is owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and kit supply service. Call him at 558-3299, or visit www.quakeprepare.com.


Berkeley This Week

Friday March 23, 2007

FRIDAY, MARCH 23 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Anna Barbara Moscicki on “Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine.” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For reservations call 526-2925.  

“Hybridizing Irises” Larry Lauer will discuss his breeding program and new seedlings at the Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Free. 277-4200. 

“Impacts of War, Paths to Healing” Panel discussion with experts to help service members better manage their return from combat, at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Free to veterans and their families, $10 suggested donation for others. Daylong workshop for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families follows on Sat. 415-387-0800. www.cominghomeproject.net 

“50 Years Is Enough” with Sameer Dossani speaking on the IMF, War, Class, and Migration in U.S. foreign policy at 7 p.m. at the Connie Barbour Room, upstairs at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita. 525-5497. 

Film Festival for Diversity “That’s a Family” at 6:30 p.m. in the Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby at Sacramento. Free, including dinner and child care. Presented by the Berkeley PTA Council. 644-6320. 

CopWatch Movie Night “A Legacy of Torture” and “Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt.” Potluck at 6 p.m. at the Grassroots House, 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 

“Homeland” A film on the Native American struggle to preserve their resources at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.HumanistHall.net 

Banff Mountain Film Festival at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus. Tickets are $13-$15 available from REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Are We Winning the War Against Colorectal Cancer?” at 6:15 p.m. at Alta Bates Summit, 450 30th St., Room 2810, Oakland. Free, but RSVP requested. 869-8833. 

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

Kol Hadash Humanistic Judaism Family Pot Luck at 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Please bring dinner food appropriate for children, and non-perishable food for the needy. 428-1492.  

SATURDAY, MARCH 24 

Open the Little Farm Join us to greet the animals in the morning and help the farmers with their chores at 9 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Telegraph Ave” led by Steve Finacom at 10 a.m. Cost is $8-$10. For information on meeting place and to register call 848-0181. 

Spring Equinox Meditation Walk from 9 to 11 a.m. in Tilden Park. Meet at the Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Neighborhood Peace Rally from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the corner of Acton and University, sponsored by Strawberry Creek Lodge Tenants Association. 841-4143. 

Spring in the Ponds Put on your rubber boots and come explore the underworld of the fresh water ponds, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Cerrito Creek Work Party” Join Friends of Five Creeks to help remove invasive weeds to restore a creekside willow grove. Wear shoes with good traction and clothes that can get dirty. Meet at 10 a.m. at Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org  

Mt. Wanda Bird Walk Join a Park Ranger for a walk in the hills. Terrain is steep, wear walking shoes and bring water and binoculars. Rain cancels. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Cal-Trans Park and Ride lot at the corner of Alhambra Ave. and Franklin Canyon Rd., Martinez. 925-228-8860. 

Townhall Meeting with Congresswoman Barbara Lee Topics of discussion will include legislation to bring the troops home and end the war, efforts to stop a U.S. preemptive strike on Iran, and what you can do to end the war and work for peace, from 10 a.m. to noon at Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. 452-3556. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant 25th Anniversary at 7 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Free, but donation accepted. www.eastbaysanctuary.org 

“Impeachment How To” Presentation and Planning Session with Carol Wolman and Jack Rasmus, author of “The War at Home” at at 6:15 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Suggested donation $10. 845-4154. 

“Is Peace Possible?” with Steve Masters, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom National co-chair of Advocacy at 7:30 p.m. at JCC of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St. Donation $5. sf-bayarea@ 

btvshalom.org 

“Brainiacs” Interactive neural anatomy lesson for children at Hall of Health, 2230 Shattuck Ave., lower level. Program for grades K-2 at 1 p.m., and for grades 3-6 at 2:10 p.m. Cost is $5. 705-8527. 

“Pirate Radio USA” a documentary about the underground world of illegal radio in America at 6 p.m. at the Long Haul Infshop, 3124 Shattuck. 540-0751. 

East Bay Baby Fair Information for new and expecting parents from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. 540-7210. 

Study Medicine in Cuba Information Fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland, Room 401 A and B. 219-0092. 

“Karma & Dharma” with Dr. Toshikazu Arai of SOAI Univ., Japan, at 10 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. at the Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant at Fulton. 809-1460. 

Hopalong Animal Rescue Come meet your furry new best friend from noon to 3 p.m. at 2940 College Ave. 267-1915, ext. 500. www.hopalong.org  

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732.  

Car Wash Benefit for Options Recovery Services of Berkeley, held every Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25 

Shoreline Discovery Walk along Wildcat Creek Regional Shoreline with Bethany Facendini, naturalist, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Call for meeting place. 525-2233. 

Family Hike in Miller Knox to discover life on the rocky shore, from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at Ferry Point. 525-2233. 

“Open Garden” Join the Little Farm gardener for composting, planting, watering and reaping the rewards of our work, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cancelled only by heavy rain. 525-2233.  

Garden Spring Start Day Help start the People’s Park Community Garden from noon to 4 p.m. Organic gardening demonstration at 2 p.m. 658-9178. 

Tree Stories in the Grove with Redwood Mary at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Oak Grove. jeanmudge@comcast.net 

Permaculture Bike Tour of gardens involoved in the Food and Environmental Justice movement in West Oakland, featuring examples of urban farming, remediation of toxic soil, green and natural building, graywater systems, neighbor cooperation, and community activism. Meet at 1 p.m. at the West Oakland BART Station. 295-2641. isisferal@yahoo.com 

Forum on the City Budget hosted by Berkeley Citizens Action with Mayor Tom Bates at 4 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 549-0816. 

“Women’s Global Agenda: Peace-builders and Activists” A conference hosted by the United Nations Association - USA East Bay Chapter with Charlie Toledo, Chairman of the Women’s Intercultural Network at 2 p.m. at the Community Center at Harbor Bay Isle, 3195 Mecartney Road, Alameda. For more information visit www.unausaeastbay.org 

Spring Equinox Celebration at 2 p.m. at Dream Institute, 1672 University Ave. Cost is $10-$20. 845-1767. 

Berkeley City Club Tour of the “Little Castle” designed by Julia Morgan at 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 883-9710. 

Socially Responsible Shopping Habits and Business Practices with Richie Unterberger at 6 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Berkeley Cybersalon “Life After TV” with execs from Dabble, Brightcove, Fiber-to-the-Home Council, and MobiTV, at 5 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St.Cost is $10. www.hillsideclub.org 

“Rumi: Preposterous Paths to Joy, Service, and Facing Death Without Fear” with Victoria Lee at 9:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Community poetry reading at 1 p.m. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

Tibetan Buddhism with Barr Rosenberg on “Longchenpa’s Teachings about the Bodhisattva Way” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

“Symbolism of the Passover Seder Plate” with Rabbi Chaim Mahgel-Friedman at 11:30 a.m. at Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave.  

MONDAY, MARCH 26 

Women’s Health Issues Lecture and discussion at 1 p.m. at Laney College, Classroom B210, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. 548-0425. 

TUESDAY, MARCH 27 

Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit Briones Regional Park. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

Women: America’s Greatest Untapped Natural Resource Lecture and discussion with Jerri Lanfe at 1 p.m. at Laney College Forum, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

“Maquilopolis” Screening of the documentary on globalization through the eyes of Tijuana’s factory workers at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Berkeley City College, 2050 Center St.  

“Forced Displacement and the Merowe Dam: The Other Human Rights Crisis in the Sudan” with Ali Askouri, Sudanese human rights activist at 7 p.m. in the Morgan Lounge, Morgan Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by International Rivers Network. 848-1155. 

“Finding Your Roots on the Web” A class on genealogy research at 7 p.m. in the Berkeley History Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. To register call 981-6148. 

Zoo Ambassador Training Orientation The Oakland Zoo is looking for volunteers to help teach visitors about the zoo and the animals. Training from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Oakland Zoo. For information call 632-9525. 

Free Diabetes Screening from 8 a.m. to noon at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours beforehand. 981-5332. 

National Nutrition Month Cooking Demonstrations at 3 p.m. at the Tuesday Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Derby St. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

Glucometer Demonstration from noon to 3 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from noon to 1 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Berkeley Home Safety and Repair Program presentation at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

“Across the Atlas Alaskan Adventure” A video by Pietro Simonetti and Greg Cook at 7 p.m at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St., near the corner of Eunice St.  

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991.  

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28 

Teach-In and Vigil Against American Torture every Wed. at noon at Boalt Hall, Bancroft Way at College Ave.  

“Health Care for Everyone: Plans or Scams” with Jessica Rothhar of Health Access at the Gray Panthers Membership Meeting, North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 548-9696. 

Walk, Talk, Buck the Fence What’s at stake in the Ecology of Berkeley’s Strawberry Canyon A walk at 5 p.m. every Wed. with Ignacio Chapela and expert guests to discuss what is at stake in the proposed steps for the filling of the Canyon by the UC-LBL Rad-Labs, and now British Petroleum. http://canyonwalks.blogspot.com  

“How to Shop Consciously: The Better World Shopping Guide” with Dr. Ellis Jones at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave, near Dwight Way. 548-3402.  

“The Aging Eye” a free lecture with Dr. Erich Horn, opthamologist, at 9:30 a.m. at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Cafeteria Annex B and C, 350 Hawthorne St., Oakland. 869-6737. 

New to DVD: “Children of Men” at 7 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Discussion follows. 848-0237. 

El Grupito, a group for practicing and maintaining Spanish skills, meets at 7:30 p.m. at Diesel Books, 5433 College Ave., Oakland. 653-9965. 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes and a warm hat. Heavy rain cancels. 548-9840. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 29 

“Berkeley, Her Land, Her Gift of Early Neighborhoods” An illustrated lecture with Richard Schwartz at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $15-$20. 848-4288. 

“Fight in the Fields” A doumentary on Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers’ struggle at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Teen Book Club meets to discuss the books we could not live without at 4:30 p.m. at the Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue at Ashby. Bring a book to share. 981-6107. 

Family Story Time for children ages 3-7 at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, North Branch, 1170 The Alameda, at Hopkins. 981-6107. 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

ONGOING 

Tax Help at the Berkeley Public Library Sat. from 11:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the South Branch. Call for appointment. 981-6260. Also every Tues. and Thurs. at the West Branch from 12:15 to 3:15 p.m. Call for appointment. 981-6270. 

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Girls Basketball Age 15 and under league begins April 11 and 18 and under begins April 13. From 5:30 to 8:30 at Emery High School, 1100 47th St. Emeryville. Cost is $175 per team. 845-9066.  

CITY MEETINGS 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., March 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5158.  

Zero Waste Commission Mon., March 26, at 7 p.m., at 1201 Second St. 981-6368.  

City Council meets Tues., March 27, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., March 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533.  

Energy Commission meets Wed.,March 28, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5434.  

Planning Commission meets Wed., March 28 , at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484.  

Police Review Commission meets Wed., March 28 at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950.  


Arts Calendar

Tuesday March 20, 2007

TUESDAY, MARCH 20 

CHILDREN 

Magician and Comedian Timothy James at 6:30 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. For ages 3 and up. 524-3043. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“City of Walls, City of People” The urban experience in Oakland, CA, and Venice, Italy, a collaboration with California College of the Arts, and Istituto Universitario di Architettura, Design e Arti, in Venice, on display at Pro Arts, 550 Second St., Oakland. 763-9425. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

David Batstone discusses “Not For Sale: the Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It” at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 559-9500 

Joe Boyd reads from “White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Zydeco Flames at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  

Singers’ Open Mic with Ellen Hoffman at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Athena Tergis, John Doyle & Mick Moloney at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Beep at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Terrence Brewer at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $6-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21 

EXHIBITIONS 

Youth Arts Festival Annual exhibition of artwork from Berkeley’s K-8 public school students at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. 644-9873. 

Honoring César Chavez Poster Exhibition on display at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., Through April 23. 981-6100. 

FILM 

Film 50: History of Cinema “Persona” with a lecture by Marilyn Fabe at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Asian America Film Festival “Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors” with director Hong Sang-soo in person at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is TBA. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kemble Scott introduces his new novel “SOMA” set in San Francisco, at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Cafe Poetry and open mic, hosted by Paradise at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Berkeley Poetry Slam on the Jewish Diaspora at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on harpsichord at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Whiskey Brothers Old Time and Bluegrass at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

UC Jazz Ensembles at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Orquestra Bakan at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Matt Lucas at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Justin Hellman Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Greg Brown at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $35.50-$36.50. 548-1761.  

Francisco Aguabella at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. 

THURSDAY, MARCH 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s” Guided tour at 12:15 and 5:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. 

“Somebody” The New World of Figurative Art Works by seven artists exploring the human form at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. 

FILM 

Women’s HerStory Film Series “Water” at noon at 4 p.m. at Laney College Forum, 900 Fallon St. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time” reading with Patricia Tumang and Jenesha de Rivera at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568.  

Spoken Word Swap Meet at 7 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Megan Seely discusses “Fight Like a Girl: How to Be a Fearless Feminist” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Susannah Patton and Laura McPhee describe Flaubert’s Normandy and Matisse’s South of France at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain on “Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants” at 4 p.m. at Center for Race & Gender, 642 Barrows Hall #1074, UC Campus. 643-848. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

New Century Chamber Orchestra at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $28-$42. 415-357-1111. 

Jewish Music Festival “Aires de Sepharad” at 8 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St.. Tickets are $20-$25. 800-838-3006.  

“The Josquin Singers” Lenten Music from the Byzantine and Slavic traditions at 7:30 p.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, 4700 Lincoln Ave., Oakland. Suggested donation $15. 868-0695.  

The KTO Project and Aluna at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. 

Peter Mulvey at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Pete Yellin Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $9. 841-JAZZ.  

YBSC, Latin jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Los Nadies, Seth Newton, Luke Newton at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. 

Rico Pabon, CD release party at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

The Mundaze at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Headnodic & Raashan Ahmad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

The Music Lovers, The Hot Toddies, at 8:30 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146.  

Rachelle Ferrell at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $26-$30. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

FRIDAY, MARCH 23 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” Fri and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 1409 High St., Alameda, through April 1. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

Berkeley Rep “To the Lighthouse” at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. and runs through March 25. Tickets are $45-$61. 647-2917. 

Central Works Theater Ensemble “Lola Montez” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. through March 25. Tickets are $9-$25. 558-1381. www.centralworks.org 

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company “unconditional” A movement/theater piece Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20 sliding scale for adults and $6 for youth under 18. 597-1619. www.destinyarts.org. 

Shotgun Players “Blood Wedding” opens at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., and runs Thurs.-Sun. through April 29. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

“The Apple Tree and Other Forbidden Fruits” musical and dramatic vignettes Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 1 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $15-$20. 525-0302, ext. 309.  

Virago Theatre “Orphans” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at BridgeHead Studio, 2516 Blanding Ave, Alameda, through March 31. Tickets are $10-$15. 415-439-2456. 

FILM 

LunaFest Film festival by and about women at 7 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Oakland East Bay Symphony at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $15-$62. 652-8497.  

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$46. 642-9988.  

UCB/UCLA Contemporary Jazz Collaborative at 2 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. 642-9988. 

Jeff Chandler and Allegro Ballroom “Top Hat Club” at 8 p.m. 5855 Christie Ave. Tickets are $35, or $50 with dinner. 655-2888. 

Lloyd Gregory & Friends, jazz, blues, R&B, at 8 p.m. at Everett and Jones, 126 Broadway, Oakland. 663-2350. 

Sandy Cressman & Her Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Tempest, Golden Bough and Caliban, Irish rock, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. 

Judy Wexler, jazz vocalist, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Claudia Schmidt at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Erin English & Joe Ridout, Nick Zubel at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Mirthkon, Fuxedos, Fuzzy Cousins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Set it Straight, Dance for Destruction, Bright White Noise at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Sol Spectrum at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Eleven Eyes at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Rachelle Ferrell at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $26-$30. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, MARCH 24 

CHILDREN  

East Bay Children’s Theater “Rumplestiltskin” at 10:30 a.m. at 1 pm. at James Moore Theater, Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. Tickets are $7, children under 2 free. 655-7285. 

“Strega Nona Festival” A play based on the characters from Tomie dePaola’s books at 3 p.m. at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison at 27th., Oakland. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Ingrid Noyes & Paul Shelasky at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Silly Symphonies” film screening with author Russell Merritt in person at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

SF Circus Center Clown Conservatory “Experiment! The Excitement of Science” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$8. 925-798-1300. 

Buki the Clown celebrates National Reading Month Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 452-2259. 

THEATER 

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company “unconditional” A movement/theater piece at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20 sliding scale for adults and $6 for youth under 18. 597-1619. www.destinyarts.org 

Playback Theater in Celebration of Women at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Cost is $8-$18. For reservations call 595-5500, ext. 25. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Native American Artist Spencer Nutima from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. www.gatheringtribes.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rhythm & Muse Young Performers’ Night, in coordination with Berkeley Arts Center’s Youth Arts Festival, at 7 p.m. at 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts., behind Live Oak Park. 644-6893.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

American Bach Soloists Early Cantatas at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $16-$42. 415-621-7900 americanbach.org 

Trinity Chamber Concerts “The Sorrowful Mysteries” music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$46. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

“One Soul Sounding” Spring Equinox Concert at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore, Oakland. Tickets are $15-$22. 654-3234. 

Jeff Chandler and Allegro Ballroom “Top Hat Club” at 8 p.m. 5855 Christie Ave. Tickets are $35, or $50 with dinner. 655-2888. 

A Night of Cuban Folkloric Music hosted by Jesus Diaz, featuring Sandy Perez, John Santos, Eric Barbera, Colin Douglas and Chris “Flaco” Walker at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568.  

Robin Gregory & Her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Martin Pendergrast and Friends at noon at Cafe Zeste, 1250 Addison St. at Bonar, in the Strawberry Creek Park complex. 704-9378. 

West African Highlife Band at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson at 9 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054.  

Agualibre at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-1159.  

Jai Uttal & Donna DeLory at 7:30 p.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th St. Tickets are $25. 496-6047. www.Rudramandirtickets.com  

Mariospeedwagon and Lemon Juju at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Equal Opportunity Employment at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Michael Wilcox & Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373.  

Project Move, Jern Eye, Kristo at 9 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. 

Nicole McRory at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Dale Miller & Friends, folk at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7. 558-0881. 

Montana, The Oceans of Fire, Halcyon High at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. 

Elysia, A.G.A.T.G., Moria at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25 

CHILDREN 

“Strega Nona Festival” A play based on the characters from Tomie dePaola’s books at 3 p.m. at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison at 27th., Oakland. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

SF Circus Center Clown Conservatory “Experiment! The Excitement of Science” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$8. 925-798-1300. 

THEATER 

“Exit Cuckoo” Lisa Ramirez’s one-woman show on motherhood at 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $32-$52. 925-798-1300. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Socially Responsible Shopping with authors Ritchie Unterberger, Ellis Jones and Allan Holender at 6 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Flash presents Carl Dennis at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Prometheus Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. www.prometheussymphony.org  

Dvorak and the American Indianists Piano Concert with Seth Montfort, at 5:30 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $15. 415-362-6080. 

Chora Nova “Romance and the Part Song” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational CHurch of Berkeley, Dana and Durant. Tickets are $10-$15. www.choranova.org 

Jewish Music Festival Community Music Day at 8 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Tickets are $7-$24. 800-838-3006. www.jewishmusicfestival.org 

Gilberto Gil, Brazilian pop music, at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $36-$62. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Gillette & Mangsen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Brazillian Soul at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $9. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Emma’s Revolution & Jon Frommer, labor songs, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$20 sliding scale. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Rova Saxophone Quartet at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Skatalites at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $20. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Lion of Judah, Never Healed, Justice at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, MARCH 26 

FILM 

“Jazz on a Monday Afternoon” Films and discussion on Jazz Vocalists at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 3rd flr. 981-6100. 

Japanese Anime: Women as Heroines Multi-media presention at noon at Laney Tech Center, F170, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

LunaFest Film festival by and about women at 7 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month. Cost is $7-$12. http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend discusses “Failing America’s Faithful” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 559-9500. 

Edmund Zimmerman and Rick Prelinger read at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Ira Nowiski shows slides and talks about his book “Ira Nowiski’s San Francisco: Poets, Politics, and Divas” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin talks about “Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Poetry Express open mic theme night on “grandmothers” at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Musica ha Disconnesso, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Michael Chapdelaine at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761 www.freightandsalvage.org 

Rachel Z and Z Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

 


Arts and Entertainment Around the East Bay

Tuesday March 20, 2007

‘CITY OF WALLS, CITY OF PEOPLE’ 

 

California College of the Arts, in collaboration with the Istituto Universitario di Architettura, Design e Arti, will present “City of Walls, City of People,” an exhibit depicting the urban experience in Oakland, Calif., and in Venice, Italy, at Pro Arts, 550 Second St., Oakland. 763-9425. 

 

EAST BAY SYMPHONY AT THE PARAMOUNT 

 

The Oakland East Bay Symphony will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s bright, melodic  

Scheherazade and one of the orchestral suites of  

Shostakovich at 8 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theater. The concert will be preceded by a lecture at 7 p.m. $15-$62. 2025 Broadway, Oakland. 652-8497. 

 

CLASSIC CINEMA AT NILES ESSANAY MUSEUM 

 

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will screen the 1922 version of Oliver Twist, starring Lon Chaney and Jackie Coogan, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as part of its ongoing series of Saturday silent classics. The feature will be preceded by two shorts: Modeling (1921), featuring Koko the Clown, and Ring Up the Curtain (1922), starring Harold Lloyd. Live piano accompaniment will be provided by Frederick Hodges. The museum preserves the legacy of the Essanay film studio that was located in what used to be the town of Niles. The East Bay studio was the home of western star Bronco Billy Anderson and, for about a year, Charlie Chaplin. $5. 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont. www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.


Berkeley Art Museum Spotlights Bruce Nauman

By Peter Selz, Special to the Planet
Tuesday March 20, 2007

If we think of Picasso and Duchamp as the two opposing poles in 20th century art, the Berkeley campus at present displays significant work by their successors. Fernando Botero’s series of paintings and drawings, documenting the torture at Abu Ghraib, has been perceived as a contemporary Guernica.  

Bruce Nauman’s concept, that art is what the artist does, goes back to Marcel Duchamp and his ready-mades, as does the use of words as an integral part of the work. Nauman’s well-known photograph, Self-Portrait as a Fountain (1966-67 / 1970) in which the artist is seen spewing water, might be compared to Duchamp’s famous up-ended urinal entitled Fountain of some 50 years earlier. 

The exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum covers the artist’s seminal work as a young man: the years 1964-1969, the years when he was a student at UC Davis and then working in San Francisco. UC Davis at that time had on its art faculty a number of innovative maverick artists, including Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Manuel Neri and Roy de Forest, whose unconventional irreverent work has been designated as “Funk,” which does not apply to Nauman’s work, which tend to be more cerebral.  

This is exemplified by A Rose Has No Teeth, a lead plaque, which was affixed to a tree where it would eventually disappear. The words are taken from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations , in which the philosopher used this phrase to show logical absurdity: the sentence is grammatically correct, but meaningless. Nauman was fond of misleading the public. 

There is a 1966 piece, Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists. The material only looks like wax. It is actually fiberglass and polyester resin and the knee impressions are all his own. 

This work, like his Fountain, also exemplifies his involvement with his own body. As Bruce Nauman exerted enormous influence on younger artists, has attention to his own body did lead to a regrettable pursuit of self-indulgent art, which prevailed in the 1980s and ’90s. 

Nauman’s own physical pieces remain fascinating. There is, for example, a work entitled Hand to Mouth (1967). He uses the idiomatic expression to show a disembodied long arm, which connects his hand to his mouth, done in wax over cloth. Or a color photograph showing the artist from the back and tied up with a rope. It is called Bound to Fail (1966-67 / 1970). 

There is also a series of the equally eponymous screenprints, Studies for Holograms (Squeezed Lips; Pulled Cheeks; Pinched Lips; Pulled Neck; and Pulled Lower Lip) (1970). I found this piece so intriguing that I acquired it for the Berkeley Art Museum the year it was done. The exhibition also shows early 16 mm films in which we see the artist walking, leaning, bending, and crouching. In Sound Effects for Manipulating the T Bar (1965) there is actually no sound, but in the film we see the artist struggling with two plumbing pipes joined in the form of a T. This was originally done with a cheap movie camera and foreshadows Nauman’s prodigious work in video in the years to come. 

In a 1968 video, he performed Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk). Constance Lewallen in the excellent catalogue for the show points out “Literature (Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov, Malcolm Lowry, and Alain Robbe-Grillet, in particular) and Gestalt psychology played into his art-making.” 

Similarly in the film Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967-68) the artist slowly places one foot behind the other in a laborious motion. The walking impulse is impeded. The action is frustrated and the motion useless. Yet he must go on. 

 

 

A ROSE HAS NO TEETH: 

BRUCE NAUMAN IN THE 1960s 

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sundays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays through April 15 at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. $5-$8. Admission free first Thursday of each month.  

 

Image: Self-Portrait as a Fountain, on display through April 15 as part of the Bruce Nauman exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum.


Wild Neighbors: Thinking About Breakfast: The Mind of the Jay Revisited

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 20, 2007

Nicola Clayton and her scrub-jays have been at it again. Clayton, as you may recall, is the Cambridge experimental psychologist who keeps making startling claims about the cognitive abilities of the western scrub-jay, a bird she met while at UC Davis. (It’s the most widespread of three closely related species of crestless blue-and-gray jays; the others, the Florida scrub-jay and island scrub-jay, have limited ranges). 

It was Clayton who contended that scrub-jays demonstrated episodic-like memory, thought to be a human exclusive: they could recall what they had done where and when, specifically where they had stashed perishable waxworms and more durable peanuts. In the wild, the birds cache and retrieve acorns. They’re not as good at refinding stored food as their corvid relatives the pinyon jay and the Clark’s nutcracker; as Joseph Grinnell observed back in 1936, the acorns the scrub-jays miss may become the next generation of oaks.  

It was also Clayton who found evidence for a “theory of mind” in scrub-jays, the ability to think of what others might be thinking. In that case, jays prone to pilfering other birds’ caches returned to move food that they had been observed hiding. The line of thought would be: “If I had seen Ralph hiding that acorn, I’d go steal it; and since he saw me hiding mine…” 

Critics objected to both claims, of course, but Clayton’s ingenious experiments made a strong case. Now she’s back, in a recent issue of Nature, with a new study that suggests scrub-jays can plan for the future—again, something only the higher primates, humans and great apes, were supposed to be able to do. 

Granted, many animals do things that appear purposeful: they fly north for the spring and south for the winter, swim to Ascension to mate, seek out caves or dens for hibernation, store acorns. But it’s assumed these behaviors are hardwired responses to seasonal cues: the animals are programmed to act in pre-set ways with changes in temperature or daylight. 

With Clayton’s jays, something different seems to be going on. Her experiment this time exploited the birds’ caching compulsion. 

She designed a three-chambered setup. The jays were kept overnight in the central space, with powdered pine nuts to snack on. In the morning they were moved into one of two adjoining spaces, one with food, the other without. 

On their second night in the experimental cages, the jays were given a supply of pine nuts and each side room had a sand-filled ice-cube tray for caching. The birds that had previously missed out on breakfast cached three times as many nuts in the “no-breakfast room” as in the “breakfast room.” They seemed to remember whether they had spent the previous morning in a cozy B & B or in a Motel 6.  

What could this be, asks Clayton, but a kind of mental time travel? 

“If I thought I’d end up in a grotty motel with no breakfast, I’d take provisions with me”, she told a reporter. (Yes, she’s the kind of person who still says “grotty.” She comes off as a tad eccentric; she is described as somewhat birdlike, and her Cambridge students have classified her as Claytonia professorii. But her experiments are rigorous, and her results have won grudging acceptance among many behaviorists.) 

She has had to defend corvid intelligence against her husband and research collaborator Nathan Emery, who worked with primates. She accuses him of making “ape-ist remarks” about his subjects’ supposedly unique abilities, which she saw echoed in her jays. 

Clayton, who has also studied the rook, a European crow relative, notes that corvids are among the brainiest of birds: a jay’s brain is proportionally larger than a chimp’s. Size may not be all that important, if cognitive sophistication turns out to be more a function of how the brain is wired. As Bernd Heinrich and other scientists have pointed out, jays, crows, rooks, and ravens have rich social environments, with a myriad of individuals and relationships to keep track of—the same kind of setting that may have driven the evolution of intelligence in us primates. 

Although some remain skeptical, it does seem possible that scrub-jays can visualize and plan for the future—at least, a future without breakfast. As far as I know, though, no one yet has approached a jay about life insurance.  

 

 

Joe Eaton is a former professional gardener and arborist. His “Wild Neighbors” column appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet, alternating with Ron Sullivan’s “Green Neighbors” column.


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday March 20, 2007

TUESDAY, MARCH 20 

Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

Sunshine Ordinance for Berkeley Workshop on open government at 5 p.m. at City Council Chambers 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. The public will have time to comment. 981-7170. 

Traditional Ringing of the Berkeley Peace Bell at noon at City Hall. Bring your own bells! 

César Chavez Commemoration with a showing of “No Grapes” at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

Berkeley Garden Club “Brighten Your Garden with Birds” presented by local birding author Pat Bachetti at 2 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. 845-4482. 

Spring Equinox Gathering at the Solar Calendar at 6:30 p.m. in Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina. www.solarcalendar.org 

“Slow Is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure, and Joie de Vivre” with author Cecile Andrews at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. www.hillsideclub.org 

“Food Safety in Oakland” A public hearing with the Food and Drug Administration on recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses associated with microbial contamination of fresh produce, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Federal Building, 13th St., at Clay, Oakland. 202-314- 4713. isabelle_howes@grad.usda.gov 

“Not For Sale: the Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It” with author David Batstone at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 559-9500. 

“How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US” at 4 p.m. at the IEAS Conference, 2223 Fulton St. 642-2809. 

Free Diabetes Screening from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the West Berkeley Senior Center. Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours beforehand. 981-5332. 

“Your Favorite Stress Busters” Discussion at noon at the Herrick Campus of Alta Bates Medical Center, 2001 Dwight Way, Mafly Auditorium. 644-3273.  

“Hiking the Camino de Santiago” Susan Alcorn will show slides of her 400-mile trek along Spain’s ancient pilgrimage route at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Elder Co-Housing presentation at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Oreintation from 6 to 8 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave. Registration required. 594-5165. 

Discussion Salon on “Nucular” Deterrence at 7 p.m. at JCC, 1414 Walnut.  

ADD & Autism with Dr. Thauna Abrin of Defeat Autism Now at 7:30 p.m. at 828 San Pablo Ave. Ste 115C. RSVP to 282-2104. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21 

Teach-In and Vigil Against American Torture every Wed. at noon at Boalt Hall, Bancroft Way at College Ave.  

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds, at 3:15 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Walk, Talk, Buck the Fence What’s at stake in the Ecology of Berkeley’s Strawberry Canyon A walk at 5 p.m. every Wed. with Ignacio Chapela and expert guests to discuss what is at stake in the proposed steps for the filling of the Canyon by the UC-LBL Rad-Labs, and now British Petroleum. http://canyonwalks.blogspot.com  

Spring Hike in Briones from 1 to 4 p.m. to see wildflowers, lagoons, vistas and black oaks. Meet at the Bear Creek Staging Area. 525-2233. 

“Media Bias in the Middle East” with Khaled Abu Toameh, a Jerusalem Post writer, who also wrote for the Palestinian newspaper, at 7:30 p.m. at 60 Evans Hall, UC Campus. 818-419-6500. 

Fund-raiser for Ann Hershey's documentary-in-process “A Heart in Action” about San Francisco writer Tillie Olsen” at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Donation $5-$500. 843-8714. 

Free Diabetes Screening from 9 to 11 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours beforehand. 981-5332. 

Albany Library Evening Book Club meets to discuss “Tortilla Curtain” by T. Coraghessan Boyle at 7 p.m. at The Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 16. 

New to DVD: “Casino Royale” at 7 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Discussion follows. 848-0237. 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes and a warm hat. 548-9840. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at t6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Statioon. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 22 

Dedication of the Maudelle Shirek Building at 4:30 p.m. at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. 981-7008. 

“Is BP’s Biofuels Project Good for the Environment?” A forum sponsored by the Sierra Club of Northern Alameda County at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Donation $5. 

“Stopping the Destruction of Our Sierra Nevada Forests” at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Banff Mountain Film Festival Thurs. and Fri. at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus. Tickets are $13-$15 available from REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Women’s History Month “Legacy of Visionaries” a lecture on the women who helped form the East By Regional Park, Save Mount Diablo and Save the Bay at 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. Registration required. 636-1684. 

“Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time” with Patricia Tumang and Jenesha de Rivera at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Raising Media Savvy Kids” A workshop for parents at 7 p.m. at Windrush School, Multipurpose Room, 1800 Elm St., El Cerrito. Free. 970-7580. http://windrush.org  

Easy Does It Emergency Services Board of Directors Meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 1636 University Ave. 845-5513. 

Great Books Discussion Group meets to discuss “Billards at Half-Past Nine” by Heinrich Boll at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3700, ext. 16. 

Family Story Time for children ages 3-7 at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, North Branch, 1170 The Alameda, at Hopkins. 981-6107. 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

FRIDAY, MARCH 23 

Impeachment Banner Fridays at 6:45 to 8 a.m. on the Berkeley Pedestrian bridge between Seabreeze Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park, ongoing on Fridays until impeachment is realized. www. Impeachbush-cheney.com 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Anna Barbara Moscicki on “Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine.” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For reservations call 526-2925.  

“Hybridizing Irises” Larry Lauer will discuss his breeding program and new seedlings at the Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Free. 277-4200. 

“Impacts of War, Paths to Healing” Panel discussion with experts to help service members better manage their return from combat, at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Free to veterans and their families, $10 suggested donation for others. Daylong workshop for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families follows on Sat. 415-387-0800. www.cominghomeproject.net 

“50 Years Is Enough” with Sameer Dossani speaking on the IMF, War, Class, and Migration in U.S. foreign policy at 7 p.m. at the Connie Barbour Room, upstairs at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita. 525-5497. 

Film Festival for Diversity “That’s a Family” at 6:30 p.m. in the Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby at Sacramento. Free, including dinner and child care. Presented by the Berkeley PTA Council. 644-6320. 

“Homeland” A film on the Native American struggle to preserve their resources at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.HumanistHall.net 

Banff Mountain Film Festival at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus. Tickets are $13-$15 available from REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Are We Winning the War Against Colorectal Cancer?” at 6:15 p.m. at Alta Bates Summit, 450 30th St., Room 2810, Oakland. Free, but RSVP requested. 869-8833. 

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

Kol Hadash Humanistic Judaism Family Pot Luck at 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Please bring dinner food appropriate for children, and non-perishable food for the needy. 428-1492.  

SATURDAY, MARCH 24 

Open the Little Farm Join us to greet the animals in the morning and help the farmers with their chores at 9 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour “The Rise and Fall of Telegraph Ave” led by Steve Finacom at 10 a.m. Cost is $8-$10. For information on meeting place and to register call 848-0181. 

Spring Equinox Meditation Walk from 9 to 11 a.m. in Tilden Park. Meet at the Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Neighborhood Peace Rally from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the corner of Acton and University, sponsored by Strawberry Creek Lodge Tenants Association. 841-4143. 

Spring in the Ponds Put on your rubber boots and come explore the underworld of the fresh water ponds, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Cerrito Creek Work Party” Join Friends of Five Creeks to help remove invasive weeds to restore a creekside willow grove. Wear shoes with good traction and clothes that can get dirty. Meet at 10 a.m. at Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org  

Mt. Wanda Bird Walk Join a Park Ranger for a walk in the hills. Terrain is steep, wear walking shoes and bring water and binoculars. Rain cancels. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Cal-Trans Park and Ride lot at the corner of Alhambra Ave. and Franklin Canyon Rd., Martinez. 925-228-8860. 

Townhall Meeting with Congresswoman Barbara Lee Topics of discussion will include legislation to bring the troops home and end the war, efforts to stop a U.S. preemptive strike on Iran, and what you can do to end the war and work for peace, from 10 a.m. to noon at Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. 452-3556. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant 25th Anniversary at 7 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Free, but donation accepted. www.eastbaysanctuary.org 

“Impeachment How To” Presentation and Planning Session with Carol Wolman at at 6:15 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Suggested donation $10. 845-4154. 

“Brainiacs” Interactive neural anatomy lesson for children at Hall of Health, 2230 Shattuck Ave., lower level. Program for grades K-2 at 1 p.m., and for grades 3-6 at 2:10 p.m. Cost is $5. 705-8527. 

“Pirate Radio USA” a documentary about the underground world of illegal radio in America at 6 p.m. at the Long Haul Infshop, 3124 Shattuck. 540-0751. 

East Bay Baby Fair Information for new and expecting parents from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. 540-7210. 

Study Medicine in Cuba Information Fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland, Room 401 A and B. 219-0092. 

“Karma & Dharma” with Dr. Toshikazu Arai of SOAI Univ., Japan, at 10 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. at the Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant at Fulton. 809-1460. 

Hopalong Animal Rescue Come meet your furry new best friend from noon to 3 p.m. at 2940 College Ave. 267-1915, ext. 500. www.hopalong.org  

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732.  

Car Wash Benefit for Options Recovery Services of Berkeley, held every Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 25 

Shoreline Discovery Walk along Wildcat Creek Regional Shoreline with Bethany Facendini, naturalist, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Call for meeting place. 525-2233. 

Family Hike in Miller Knox to discover life on the rocky shore, from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at Ferry Point. 525-2233. 

“Open Garden” Join the Little Farm gardener for composting, planting, watering and reaping the rewards of our work, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cancelled only by heavy rain. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Garden Spring Start Day Help start the People’s Park Community Garde from noon to 4 p.m. Organic gardening demonstration at 2 p.m. 658-9178. 

Permaculture Bike Tour of gardens involoved in the Food and Environmental Justice movement in West Oakland, featuring examples of urban farming, remediation of toxic soil, green and natural building, graywater systems, neighbor cooperation, and community activism. Meet at 1 p.m. at the West Oakland BART Station. 295-2641. isisferal@yahoo.com 

Forum on the City Budget hosted by Berkeley Citizens Action with Mayor Tom Bates at 4 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 549-0816. 

“Women’s Global Agenda: Peace-builders and Activists” A conference hosted by the United Nations Association - USA East Bay Chapter with Charlie Toledo, Chairman of the Women’s Intercultural Network at 2 p.m. at theCommunity Center at Harbor Bay Isle, 3195 Mecartney Road, Alameda. For more information visit www.unausaeastbay.org 

Spring Equinox Celebration at 2 p.m. at Dream Institute, 1672 University Ave. Cost is $10-$20. 845-1767. 

Berkeley City Club Tour of the “Little Castle” designed by Julia Morgan at 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 883-9710. 

Socially Responsible Shopping Habits and Business Practices with Richie Unterberger at 6 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Berkeley Cybersalon “Life After TV” with execs from Dabble, Brightcove, Fiber-to-the-Home Council, and MobiTV, at 5 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St.Cost is $10. www.hillsideclub.org 

“Rumi: Preposterous Paths to Joy, Service, and Facing Death Without Fear” with Victoria Lee at 9:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Community poetry reading at 1 p.m. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

Tibetan Buddhism with Barr Rosenberg on “Longchenpa’s Teachings about the Bodhisattva Way” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

“Symbolism of the Passover Seder Plate” with Rabbi Chaim Mahgel-Friedman at 11:30 a.m. at Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave.  

MONDAY, MARCH 26 

Women’s Health Issues Lecture and discussion at 1 p.m. at Laney College, Classroom B210, 900 Fallon St. Oakland. Part of Women HerStory Month http://laney.peralta.edu/womensherstorymonth 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. 548-0425. 

ONGOING 

Tax Help at the Berkeley Public Library Sat. from 11:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the South Branch. Call for appointment. 981-6260. Also every Tues. and Thurs. at the West Branch from 12:15 to 3:15 p.m. Call for appointment. 981-6270. 

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Girls Basketball Age 15 and under league begins April 11 and 18 and under begins April 13. From 5:30 to 8:30 at Emery High School, 1100 47th St. Emeryville. Cost is $175 per team. 845-9066.  

CITY MEETINGS 

Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., March 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6601.  

Commission on Aging meets Wed., March 21, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5344.  

Commission on Labor meets Wed., March 21, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center.981-7550. 

Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission meets Wed. March 21, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7487. 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., March 21, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5427.  

Library Board of Trustees meets Wed., March 21, at 7 p.m. at South Branch Library, 1901 Russell St. 981-6195.  

Mental Health Commission meets Thurs., March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. 981-5213.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., March 22, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.