Daily Archives: January 23, 2013


The Berkeley Wire: 01.23.13

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740 Heinz project moves forward, sans historic walls

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On Tuesday night, a Berkeley City Council majority upheld a 2012 zoning panel decision to allow the construction of a new 100,000-square-foot lab building in west Berkeley.

Thirty neighbors had signed a petition to appeal the Zoning Adjustments Board’s decision in September, taking issue with the project’s environmental review, parking plans and changes in design since an earlier approval in 2009. The petitioners asked for an additional public hearing to ensure that the community knew about the changes and had time to comment on them. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High to offer rewards to boost attendance

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In an effort to build on a concerted campaign to keep students in class, Berkeley High is introducing an incentive scheme based on rewards that the school hopes will be donated by local businesses and members of the community.

“It’s about recognizing and rewarding the kids who are in class,” said Daniel Roose, Dean of Attendance at Berkeley High, who said the past two years have been spent focusing more on the students who skip school. “We have been addressing the needs of truants, getting them resources and setting consequences. Now we want to step up the game and introduce positive incentives.”

Starting next week, at the beginning of the school’s second semester, the high school will begin a fundraising push to collect attendance rewards. Roose said he is hoping to galvanize local businesses into contributing money or products and services as rewards for kids who have good attendance. … Continue reading »

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Raj Raja creates community, great food at Café Raj

Raj Raja
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Café Raj’s open kitchen belongs to one man, whose commitment and concentration are evident as he shakes, stirs and tosses spices into a half dozen pans filled with aromatic curries, simultaneously bubbling on the range-top. He is Raj Raja, owner and chef of the Albany restaurant. Depending on the time of day, five to ten women complement his cooking crew by grinding spices, mixing chutneys and raita, slapping circles of naan dough onto the scorching sides of the tandoor ovens, and plating and serving dishes to eager diners.

During a momentary lull, I approach Raja with questions for our arranged interview, but find him soft-spoken, seemingly more comfortable cooking than talking. He defers my inquiries to his wife, Rosemarie Eichner-Raja, who tells me “My husband is shy.” But he’s also obviously busy, overseeing every single plate that comes out of his kitchen. “He does 200 or more curries a day, Rosemarie explains, “and every dish is made fresh to order, tailored specially for each guest.” … Continue reading »

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How the Barn Owl became Berkeley’s official bird

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By Lisa Owens Viani

Lisa Owens Viani, co-founder of Raptors Are The Solution, recalls how her passion for owls began in Berkeley and led to possibly the least controversial Berkeley city council resolution ever passed: the designation of the Barn Owl as the city’s official bird.

My owl obsession began when I moved to Berkeley in 2003. One evening, while on an evening walk with a friend, she pointed out what she thought was the sound of someone breathing with the help of a respirator in a house on Edwards Street. That didn’t seem quite right — I instantly thought “bird” — but I wasn’t expecting to hear owls in such an urban spot.

I called a birder friend who suggested the possibility of a Barn Owl. Sure enough, upon closer inspection, we confirmed that the sound was coming from a Canary Island palm tree behind the house with the “respirator.” Then we spotted Barn Owls flying in and out of the tree, pearl white in the dark sky, backlit by the moon, making trip after trip to feed their young. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

WIB 01.23.13

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments.

Update, 6:30pm: Sandy Friedland got it! Not only did she correctly identify the photo — it shows a detail of the mural by Emmy Lou Packard on the UC Berkeley Chavez Student Center (part of the Student Union) — she provides lots of interesting detail on what it is. Here is is:

“Here are some details about this mural from Harvey Helfand’s guide book of UC-Berkeley: The concrete, bas relief mural is five feet high and eight-five feet long. Emmy Lou Packard (class of 1936) was a protegé of Diego Rivera. “The abstract concrete mural represents the land forms of the state of California: coastlines, agricultural fields, mountains ranges, clouds, and rivers.” It was cast in reverse, Helfand explains, and Packard “utilized various vegetables, including radishes, potatoes, onions, and puffed wheat to create the textures …”

Congratulations, Sandy, on being this week’s winner!

Photo: Nina J. Hodgson.

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