Author Archives: Guest contributor

Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley fumbles future: lacks long-term vision and financing strategy for our public commons

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Once again, as in an seemingly endless ‘ground-hog day’ loop, the Berkeley City Council is busy with its every-other-year ballot exercise, considering various bond financing measures for the 2016 November. Much is desperately needed in Berkeley, and many competing needs are being pressed by a large number of community groups.

The city’s neglect of adequate capital and capital repair financing of vital and central public spaces, facilities and services has left these essential elements in disrepair and in unsafe or … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley students build new bridge in John Hinkel Park

Blackberry Creek  bridge. Photo: Rene Davids
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By René Davids

This spring, as the result of a collaboration with the City of Berkeley, students enrolled in a multidisciplinary seminar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Architecture designed and built a pedestrian bridge for the upper portion of Blackberry Creek, one of the most attractive natural features in John Hinkel Park.

Located on a steep hillside in North Berkeley planted with oaks and other native species, the 4.9-acre park, which was donated in 1919 to the city by businessman John Hinkel, also includes a clubhouse, a large native-stone fireplace, a network of paths and a playground. The small bridge is intended to improve the safety of park visitors who were previously forced to either jump over the creek, or tread carefully across a slippery stone during periods of increased water flow.
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Obituaries

Norma Grayson, loving mother, adored by her friends

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Josephine Norma Grayson (nee Josephina Norma Pozza) of Denver, CO., passed away in her sleep Thursday evening, May 13, 2016, after a prolonged illness. She was 79 years old.

Norma, as she was commonly known, was born May 7, 1937 in Sharon, Connecticut to Angelo and Clorinda Pozza of Lusiana and Santa Caterina, Italy respectively. She was the youngest of three daughters who grew up in Dover Plains, NY where her parents had settled.

Norma lived in New York, San … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: The public and library employees are being ignored by the Berkeley Board of Library Trustees

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In the home stretch of researching my latest book, I found myself consulting a 1969 issue of an anthropology publication archived in the Main Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, discovering what the people I had been writing about — the Juwasi (or San) of the Kalahari Desert — really looked like. Before leaving the library, I browsed the reference room. I came upon an atlas of women travelers of the 19th century. Whoopee, I thought. Research done, proofs corrected, I’ll … Continue reading »

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John Muir Elementary School celebrates 100 years

John Muir Elementary School. Photo: BUSD/Mark Coplan
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By Elise Proulx

For 100 years, the small school in the mock Tudor building at the top of Claremont Avenue has educated the students of Berkeley.

Along the way, there have been a number of milestones: the school hosted the first integrated classrooms in Berkeley Unified School District in 1969, and pioneered programs for hearing impaired children in 1986. The architecturally significant Arts and Crafts schoolhouse was even slated for demolition in 1976, until the community rallied to preserve the building and the historic murals by renowned California artist Ray F. Coyle that grace the school’s library walls.

This year, John Muir Elementary School is marking the school’s remarkable centennial anniversary with two days of activities.

First up is a traditional neighborhood May Fair on Friday, May 13, from 5-8 p.m., replete with games, food trucks, obstacle courses, a cakewalk, old-fashioned field games and a raffle (with a four-pack of tickets to Disneyland as the grand prize). Entry is free but the purchase of a wristband is necessary to participate in specific activities. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Why I support Isabelle Gaston for City Council

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A few months ago, I joined the North East Berkeley Association (NEBA) Board of Directors at the request of President Isabelle Gaston. My limited time with the board has made me simultaneously distraught, and cautiously optimistic, about the future of Berkeley.

It has made me distraught because this group of folks has an incredible grasp of the economic dysfunction of our city, and what they know and share with the group about both the present and historical state of our … Continue reading »

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How I became a docent for burrowing owls. What a hoot!

Burrowing owl in Cesar Chavez Park in Feb. 2016. Photo: Miya Lucas
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By Rubi Abrams

Newly retired from a fulfilling career as a community college librarian last year, I was ready to plunge into as many birding activities as I could schedule. Birding-related travel, classes, meetups, speaker series, feeder watch, bird counts – the more the better, and most sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society. But I was also eager to use my professional skills. I was itching to be a citizen scientist, to have a “conservation conversation” in my community.

Read more (and see photos) on burrowing owls.

Remembering the delightful young adult novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, I was inspired to get involved with the GGAS Burrowing Owl docent project. In the novel two young boys embark on a campaign to save the burrowing owl colony in their Florida town from real-estate developers. Although not threatened by local developers, our local burrowing owl populations have declined steeply, and they are currently a federally listed Species of Management Concern and Species of Special Concern in California due to habitat disruption. Though protected, there is still plenty to do in educating the public about these delightful creatures. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley must protect its cultural inheritance

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“West Berkeley Shellmound dates back 5,800 years and is the oldest Shellmound in the area by about 1,000 years” Richard Schwartz. Berkeley Voice, April 15, 2016.

As many of you of may (or may not) know the City of Berkeley has decided to allow the re-development of Spenger’s Fish Grotto to go forward in spite of the finding of human remains dating back almost 6,000 years. This project would be an estimated 207,590 square feet of stores, restaurants, luxury apartments … Continue reading »

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Schools

Op-ed: Berkeley, testing, testing, 1-2-3… is this thing on?

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BUSD is preparing for standardized testing next week. Meanwhile, across the rest of the country, there’s a strong, vocal tide that’s swelled into what has become the largest revolt against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.

I have been surprised by the silence in Berkeley.

Public school advocates throughout the US are voicing opposition to modern school “reform” practices that civil rights icon, James Meredith calls “catastrophically misguided and ineffective”.

It’s time to break the silence.

This community has … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Remembering beloved mother, friend Nancy Jane Heckrotte

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Nancy Jane Heckrotte: July 9, 1958 – April 21, 2016

Nancy Jane Heckrotte, 57, of Berkeley, transitioned from life on April 21, 2016, with loving family and friends present, following a long illness.

Born in Oakland on July 9, 1958, to Warren and Mia Heckrotte, Nancy was the younger sister of John and Peggy. She attended Berkeley public schools, graduating from Bay High School at 16 years old.

Nancy trained as an electrical designer and worked in the lighting industry … Continue reading »

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In the hands of feminist press, Calamity Jane rides again

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By Judith Coburn

What was the best book the actor Ethan Hawke read last year? Calamity Jane’s Letters to her Daughter. (The second was Berkeley writer Greil Marcus’s A History of Rock ‘n Roll in Ten Songs) When Alta Gerrey, founder of Shameless Hussy Press, the first feminist publisher in America, heard about those choices, she rushed to her favorite Copymat on College Avenue to run off 50 new copies of the Calamity Jane book. Shameless Hussy had initially published Calamity Jane’s letters in paperback in 1976; its first edition is now selling on Amazon for $300. Hawke’s endorsement was followed by a recent shout-out from a blogger at The Paris Review.

“Calamity Jane is a feminist icon,” said Alta, who prefers to go by her first name as she did as a poet for many years on the Berkeley poetry scene.

Alta said Calamity Jane has taken her licks from mainstream biographers and filmmakers, like the men who made HBO’s Deadwood. “They just depict her as a drunk and a whore,” she said. Historians of the West quarrel over whether she was really married to Wild Bill Hickok and whether he is the father of Janey to whom the letters are written. Some regard the letters as fiction. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: stop UC from eliminating award-winning medical program that creates life-changing physicians

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Proposed budget cuts are threatening UC Berkeley’s award-winning medical program, which partners with UCSF to create life-changing physicians. In a fight to keep the program alive, students, staff and alumni are taking action.

Since 1971, the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP) has been producing innovative physician leaders. Students spend the first part of the program, the pre-clerkship years, studying at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health before heading to UCSF for the final sprint. It has now trained over 450 highly accomplished physicians, with 70% of all those graduates continuing to practice in California.

Now, because of budget cuts, this critical program may be closed. Funding for it is needed in order to get more highly trained physicians into the industry, physicians who are changing lives and furthering scientific research. 80% of the research projects conducted by JMP Masters candidates directly benefit Californians’ health and wellness.

As a program alumni, Colette Auerswald, MD, MS says, “I would not have embarked on a 20-year career caring and advocating for marginalized children and youth in California had it not been for the JMP. Period.” Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Remembering disability-rights activist Paul James Church

Paul James Church. Photo: courtesy family
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Paul James Church, a disability-rights activist and City of Berkeley employee, died suddenly at home in Berkeley on March 31, at the age of 60.

Paul was born in Dubuque, IA to Helen B. and Robert S. Church. However he considered Missouri to be where he was from — growing up his family moved often throughout the Midwest, but he lived the longest in Missouri.

Paul earned a B.S. degree in Horticulture and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, … Continue reading »

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