The ‘Three Michaels of Berkeley’: Supporting, supported

When Berkeley’s three most well-known Michaels take to the stage tonight for the first time, they will be doing so to support an organization that is helping foster a future generation of enthusiastic writers.

Authors Michael Chabon, Michael Lewis, and Michael Pollan, who all live in Berkeley, will appear at the Berkeley Rep in “The Three Michaels: A Berkeley Conversation,” an event organized by Berkeleyside, to help enable the creation in Oakland of a tutoring and creative writing center for East Bay youth modeled on the highly regarded 826 model.

The original 826 center, 826 Valencia, founded by Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari in San Francisco ten years ago, is dedicated to supporting students, ages six to eighteen, with their writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. All their programs are free of charge and, so far, their model, which combines a writing hub and retail storefront, has been replicated in eight locations nationwide.

The goal is to open an Oakland chapter next.

“We’ve been on the San Francisco side of the bay for so long and we feel Oakland and the East Bay will benefit from the model,” says Gerald Richards, Chief Executive Officer of 826 National.

A writing workshop at 826 Valencia, a model that is to be replicated in Oakland to serve East Bay youth. Photo: 826 National

Some of the programs offered by 826 include storytelling and bookmaking for younger kids, and writing workshops and after-school tutoring for teenagers.

Richards says one of the most satisfying parts of the initiative is seeing the 4,000 volunteers the organization has recruited nationwide getting the opportunity to interact with young people in such a constructive way. He says instilling a love of writing in young people, and being able to support teachers, are also goals 826 is also very proud of having achieved.

Berkeleyside’s “Three Michaels: A Berkeley Conversation” is being supported by a new-generation bank, one that sets out to challenge the traditional model of financial institutions and to bring real benefits to the communities it serves, including those usually underserved by banks. One PacificCoast Bank, which is sponsoring “The Three Michaels”, was founded in 2007 by Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor “to be a force for good,” according to Taylor who is the bank’s CEO.

“We want to be a model for how banks should operate, as it’s clear many banks have been responsible for unholy damage,” Taylor says, citing the mortgage crisis and the destruction of rain forests as examples.

In practice, that means OPCB offers the normal range of banking services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals, but it operates from a triple-bottom-line which measures its financial, social, and environmental impact as it meets the needs of its customers. Taylor says a particular focus is providing an alternative to payday loan operations. “There are more of them than fast-food outlets in California,” she says, “and they bankrupt communities and lead to debt crises.”

The bank is headquartered in Oakland with branches in Seattle, Washington, Ilwaco, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.

This is the third public forum Berkeleyside has put on, part of its commitment to providing quality conversations and debates on issues that matter to Berkeley, both on- and off-line. Tonight’s conversation will be moderated by Sedge Thomson, Berkeley native and host of West Coast Live.

If you are joining us tonight for the “Three Michaels” we look forward to seeing you at the Berkeley Rep. Whatever type of ticket you purchased, it will be available to pick up at the ticket table at the Roda Theatre. The Champagne reception (for those who bought “VIP tickets”) begins at 6:15pm. Doors open for general admission at 6:45pm for the show which begins at 7:30pm. If you choose to share your experience when there on Twitter, be sure to use #3michaels as a hashtag. We will be publishing a review of the event with photographs, and an audio recording will also be made available.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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  • serkes

    Sedge Thomson – the best live interviewer out there!

    Congratulations!

    Ira

  • Geech

    This was a great event. Surprisingly hilarious and refreshingly candid. Thanks, Berkeleyside for putting it together.