Author Archives: Guest contributor

Opinionator

Op-ed: Homeless life in the East Bay — an odyssey

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On my birthday last month, I had to vacate the home where I’d been for about a year. I wasn’t evicted, but my lease ran out, and I was given five weeks’ notice that the month-to-month arrangement was over. During the search for a home, I saw some nice people with scary places and scary people living in nice places. As with many in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m willing to make lifestyle sacrifices to share housing with others … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Not in my front yard: Cuts to downtown services threaten basic quality of life for the homeless

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While the number one priority for serving homeless people is (or should be) helping them find affordable housing to live in, for the last several years the city has also rightly deemed it an important quality-of-life priority that homeless people have access to showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities.

Until now.

BOSS’s Multi-Agency Service Center (MASC) is a downtown drop-in center located in the basement at the City Veterans building. Since 2000, it has provided access to showers, bathrooms, laundry, and, … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Clever design brings protected intersection to Berkeley

Kids crossing The Alameda
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Students at Martin Luther King, Jr Middle School in North Berkeley will soon be able to walk and bike to school much more safely, thanks to a new protected intersection coming to the neighborhood. Over 22,000 cars pass through the intersection of The Alameda and Hopkins Street everyday

Thanks to a clever design by city staff, this intersection will be upgraded to a protected intersection by the end of 2016. This will be the first protected intersection in the East Bay … Continue reading »

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The Institute of Mosaic Art in Berkeley to close Aug. 30

Ilse Cordoni, the owner of the Institute for Mosaic Arts, teaching an andamento class at IMA.  Andamento is the art of laying tiles with a sense of flow and design, rather than just putting broken pieces of glass next to each other. Since this was a one-day class, she taught the class using paper (easier to cut) rather than glass. Photo: Daphne White
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By Daphne White

The Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA), an East Bay institution that is one of the oldest and largest mosaic centers in the U.S., will close its doors on Aug. 30 unless someone steps up to take it over. The school, which has offered classes to more than 1,000 students in the past three years, is a victim of its own success, according to owner, Ilse Cordoni.

“When mosaic artist Laurel True opened IMA in 2005, there were only two mosaic schools in the U.S.: IMA, and the nonprofit Chicago Mosaic School,” said Cordoni, who purchased IMA in 2013. These two schools helped spearhead a mosaic renaissance across the country. “Now that mosaic has become very popular, there are half a dozen mosaic schools in California alone, and many more nationwide. Students no longer need to travel from all over the U.S. to take introductory mosaics in Berkeley.”

Unless a buyer can be found, the school and its associated mosaics store and gallery on Allston Way will close its doors as of Aug. 30, Cordoni said. This announcement has left the East Bay mosaic community reeling.

“IMA has been an enormous part of the mosaic renaissance in Oakland and beyond,” said professional mosaicist Rachel Rodi, whose mosaic career began at IMA when the school first opened. “IMA and its students and teachers have created community murals and public art throughout the Bay Area in places such as the Martin Luther King Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School and Mission Creek in San Francisco.” … Continue reading »

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‘Gold Mountain’ reading leaves audience hungry for more

Monica Ho and Jonny Hsu Lee, as “Yook Mei” and “Lit" in a stage reading of Gold Mountain at the Aurora Theatre Berkeley.
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By Bonnie Britt

The musical drama Gold Mountain taps into the rich emotional lives of the too-often-forgotten Chinese immigrant labor force who gave their all to connect the eastern United States with western states in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

A staged reading of Gold Mountain at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley on July 11 was presented by LaborFest and the SAG‑AFTRA SF‑NorCal local.

Actors flew in from New York and Los Angeles to join Bay Area professionals for the one-act performance that left the audience wanting more from Jason Ma, a natural‑born storyteller, whose credits include writing the script and music for the musical Barcelona.Continue reading »

Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley should endorse, not oppose, Governor Brown’s housing proposal

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Twice now, Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has introduced legislation asking Berkeley to issue a resolution opposing an important state affordable housing bill proposed by Governor Brown. City resolutions on state matters are of course non-binding, but if Berkeley and its councilmembers, especially those with aspirations of becoming mayor, are interested in solving the housing crisis, then they should welcome Governor Brown’s proposal with open arms.

The governor’s proposal, referred to as budget trailer bill 707, would allow … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Environmental issues must be solved with Berkeley values

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Berkeley prides itself in being a leader in environmental policy. In 2006, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly supported Measure G, which called on the City to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by the year 2050. This vision, which received a mandate of over 82% of voters, laid the foundation for the Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2009. More recently, in April 2016, Berkeley became one of the first cities in the world to create a Resiliency Strategy, as part of the 100 Resilient Cities program from the Rockefeller Foundation. Among other goals set out, the Resiliency Strategy aims to accelerate access to clean energy and find innovative solutions to adapt to climate change.

While Berkeley is ahead of state goals when it comes to reducing GHG emissions, we have fallen behind the City’s proposed target of a 33% reduction by 2020 (as of 2013, we have reduced GHGs by 9%). When it comes to the environment and climate change, Berkeley knows how to talk the talk. But in order to achieve the bold goals we set out, we need to walk the walk.

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council will be voting on two proposals that I have introduced which will make a significant impact in tackling climate change. The Deep Green Building Program, an incentive program to create zero-net energy buildings, and the Urban Agriculture Package, which will expand opportunities for urban farming, build on Berkeley values to consciously address the local and regional environmental issues we face. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: We need real equity and access to a livable Berkeley

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This letter, by REAL Berkeley, was sent to the Berkeley City Council ahead of its July 12 meeting. REAL Berkeley is a group of Berkeley citizens who are interested in helping to develop a comprehensive housing plan for the city that provides affordable housing for low-income, moderate and workforce housing (see list of members below).

REAL Berkeley first addressed the City Council in February, expressing our support for a comprehensive housing plan that addressed all income levels, including middle income working people, … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: We cannot wait until 2018 to achieve police accountability and reform

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Within 48 hours in early July, five Black and Brown men were killed by police officers across the country: Anthony Nunez, Alton Sterling, Pedro Villanueva, Dylan Noble, and Philando Castile. Every 24 hours, new names are added to the list of police brutality, names becoming hashtags like another check on the board for who fell victims of police brutality. It has been three years since the Black Lives Matter movement began, and Black lives being murdered rather than protected by … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley’s Suitcase Clinic: Services for the homeless, life lessons for the volunteers

Chris Ki, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, cuts the hair of Michael Georgeius, a client of The Suitcase Clinic. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/UC Berkeley
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By Cathy Cockrell, UC Berkeley News

A foot washing. A haircut. Empathy. Legal advice. Eyeglasses or dental work. Medical attention for a wound, a case of scabies or even diabetes.

All these needs bring people living on the margins to the Suitcase Clinic — a free service that UC Berkeley students have provided near campus for more than a quarter century.

See Berkeleyside’s Berkeley Homeless Project coverage. Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

On a recent Tuesday evening, several dozen people turned up at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, on Dana Street, for the first “general clinic” of the summer (the Suitcase Clinic also holds specialized clinics for women, youth, and LGBTQI people). … Continue reading »

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At Pinnacles National Park, the condors fly free

Immature California condor. Notice the white patches beginning to appear across the bird’s shoulders. In adult condors, the white patches look more distinct. Elaine Miller Bond
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Pinnacles National Park is one of the national parks closest to Berkeley. It’s about two and a half hours away. Elaine Miller Bond, who often showcases her wildlife photography on Berkeleyside, visited the park recently to shoot photos of condors, a critically endangered species. She also had a lengthy conversation with Richard Neidhardt, who volunteers with the Condor Recovery Program.

By Elaine Miller Bond and Richard Neidhardt

Their wings can span 9.5 feet. Their bodies can weigh more than 20 pounds (compare that to the red-tailed hawk, at about 2 pounds). California condors are glorious, but they’re also critically endangered. Just over 30 years ago, only 22 wild condors remained.

In a high-stakes effort to save the species, these 22 birds were captured and placed into captive breeding programs. The birds proved resilient. And today, there are more than 400 California condors, over half of which are soaring the wild skies—thanks to such programs as the Condor Recovery Program at Pinnacles National Park.

Richard Neidhardt, known in condor circles as “VIP Richard,” serves as a longtime volunteer with the program. In our conversation, we learn more about his favorite bird and what it takes to keep the condor flying free.

EMB: What does the Condor Recovery Program do?

RN: The primary function of the Program is to manage the wild flock, approximately 80 birds in our area. We trap them twice a year and give them health checks. We service their tags and transmitters. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Council must adequately regulate short term rentals to protect Berkeley’s housing supply

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Tonight the Berkeley City Council will vote on legalizing and regulating short-term rentals, defined as rentals which last for less than fourteen days.  Currently, such rentals are illegal in Berkeley, though that hasn’t stopped multi-billion dollar companies such as Airbnb from ignoring the law.  With Airbnb’s assistance, certain landlords around the state have been able to remove entire apartment buildings from the long-term rental market by converting them into illegal hotels.  In Berkeley alone, 400 rent-controlled units are being used only as short-term rentals.  As a result, tenants who otherwise would have been able to live long-term in these units have been displaced, worsening Berkeley’s housing emergency.

After years of work and input from stakeholders such as the Berkeley Tenants Union, the ASUC, the Housing Advisory Commission, and the Planning Commission, on May 31 the City Council passed a first reading of an ordinance to both legalize short-term rentals for good actors who occasionally rent out a spare bedroom for the additional income, and regulate them so that certain bad actor-landlords who would permanently convert apartments into illegal hotel rooms cannot do so.  The ordinance contained numerous important protections for our housing supply, such as prohibiting accessory dwelling units from being used as short-term rentals (as promised by the City Council) and requiring postings to list the business license number to make enforcement feasible (similar to contractors and various other professions). … Continue reading »

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Longtime Berkeley resident Henrietta Harris turns 100

Henrietta Harris
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By Erika Shaver-Nelson

Henrietta Harris celebrated her 100th birthday June 15 with a leisurely morning. She had breakfast in bed and then got her hair and make-up done to get ready for her day. She and her close friends had a picnic in the back garden at Chaparral House, where she lives, with fried chicken, potato salad, carrot salad, fruit salad and lemonade. Residents, staff, family and volunteers of Chaparral House gathered to celebrate with chocolate cake.

Everyone really enjoyed R&B/Soul vocalist Kymi, who sang at Henrietta’s party. Kymi and Henrietta sang “Summertime” together and Henrietta danced with her guests. Henrietta received numerous birthday cards, wishes, gifts and flowers. She received a very special birthday letter from the current president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano. Kris Welch sang happy birthday to Henrietta at the beginning of her show, The Talkies on KPFA. The archived link to her announcement can be found here.  … Continue reading »

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