Author Archives: Natalie Orenstein
Tilden Park’s cherished antique merry-go-round will continue spinning — but possibly in a different direction.
For the first time in 21 years, the East Bay Regional Parks District could, at its March 18 board meeting, approve new management and operation of the Tilden merry-go-round. This could spell the end of the merry-go-round’s Christmas Fantasy tradition, a month-long holiday extravaganza the current operators began 16 years ago.
Terri Oyarzùn and her family have managed and operated the 103-year-old carousel and its crew of colorful wooden animals since the previous operators retired in 1993. When her second 10-year contract expired last year, and EBRPD put the merry-go-round out to bid, Oyarzùn was among three potential operators who submitted proposals, but hers was not ultimately selected. … Continue reading »
ART IN SCIENCE Right and left brains collide at the two-day Art [in] Science extravaganza. The event, presented by Science@Cal and the Energy Biosciences, explores the intersection of art and science, and how the two fields inspire one another. Mesmerizing multimedia images of scientific investigation will be on view, and the artists and scientists who created them will lecture on, and give live demonstrations of, their work. Stop by 2151 Berkeley Way from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28, to view photos of volcanoes, clay sculptures of proteins, and videos of ciliate reproduction. The admission is free and the music is live. … Continue reading »
WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON UC Berkeley grad Min Kanhg is a triple-threat: composer, lyricist, and playwright. And he donned all of those hats to create Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a musical Bay Area Children’s Theater adaptation of the beloved book of the same name. The story follows an adventurous young girl in an ancient mythical China as she and a friendly dragon set out on a quest to help her family. The music of the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin, accompanies the performance. Director Mina Morita is also based in Berkeley, where the show opens on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. at Osher Studio on 2055 Center St. The two-hour show is recommended for children ages 7 and up. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $16 for children. … Continue reading »
Neighbors to a proposed new UC Berkeley building say its modern design, and the need to remove several trees in the area in order to build it, are threats to the aesthetic and value of the historic Northside neighborhood. And the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) agrees.
The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a new College of Engineering design facility, is set to replace the volleyball court at Le Roy Avenue and Ridge Road. The 20,000 gross sq ft building, funded by a $20 million gift from the Paul and Stacey Jacobs Foundation, will have three stories, with the first story being partially underground.
BAHA sent a letter to UC Berkeley in October objecting to the proposed building’s “alienating institutional look,” and suggested the planners consider a design that bears more “relation to the surrounding historic resources.” … Continue reading »
TASTING IN THE DARK Think you’re a beer buff? Here’s your chance to prove it (and sip some delicious craft beers at the same time). The Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room’s “Tasting in the Dark” event designed to challenge beer drinkers’ assumptions and help them cultivate a more perceptive palate. The blindfolded participants will learn to identify different styles of beer. The event begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13. The limited $20 tickets are available at the Torpedo Room, at 2031 4th St., Berkeley. … Continue reading »
This time of year is always hard for the Berkeley High class of 1974 boys basketball team.
“A Valentine’s day doesn’t go by without me thinking about those 15 guys I played with,” said Kenny Walter, former guard.
Forty years ago in February, 17-year-old Greg Brown, the leading scorer on the team, died from sudden cardiac arrest in the middle of a game.
It was in honor of Brown — and the installation of seven automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at Berkeley High that might have been able to save the athlete’s life — that members of the ’74 team gathered together on the court once again, during the varsity boys victorious Feb. 7 game against San Leandro High. … Continue reading »
At age 13, Matthew Boger was banished from his mother’s Northern California home for being gay. To stay alive, the teenager prostituted himself on the streets of Hollywood, where, one night in 1980, he was brutally beaten up by a group of young skinhead neo-Nazis.
The attackers never knew that Boger miraculously survived the assault – until 25 years later, when one of the perpetrators met Boger by chance at, of all places, Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance.
Boger and his attacker, former neo-Nazi Tim Zaal, are the subjects of Berkeley filmmaker Jason Cohen’s Academy Award-nominated short documentary Facing Fear. Through interviews with Boger and Zaal, and an examination of their respective backgrounds, the film explores bigotry, transformation, and forgiveness. Cohen tells the startling story of the two men’s personal evolutions and their eventual, improbable friendship. Today, Boger and Zaal speak together at museums and schools, and continue to navigate the process of reconciliation.
Berkeleyside interviewed Cohen at the Saul Zaentz Media Center, where he edited and produced Facing Fear. … Continue reading »
BILL SANTIAGO With his knack for biting political satire and a fondness for taboo topics that has garnered him comparisons to George Carlin, comedian Bill Santiago should be well received in Berkeley. On Friday, Jan. 31, Santiago is performing at La Peña, at 3105 Shattuck Ave., where he’s presented his renowned wordplay, astute observations and bilingual comedy in the past. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. … Continue reading »
When gun violence in the school’s neighborhood forced LeConte Elementary School to go on lockdown earlier this month, second grade teacher Pamela Diebel and her colleagues weren’t able to lock their own classrooms, and students in bathrooms and hallways missed the announcement on the loudspeaker. But the next campus in the district to go on lockdown may not face the same challenges.
The Berkeley Unified School District will immediately begin to implement a nearly $2 million school safety improvement plan approved by the school board to install new PA systems, increase the use of surveillance cameras, conduct armed intruder training for staff — and replace classroom locks so that the doors can be bolted from the inside.
“All of those improvements were ones we desired,” said Diebel. “I would’ve liked to be able to lock my door from inside.” … Continue reading »
OUR SHINING STARS Astrophysics, climate change, technology, and education are all on the table at tonight’s conversation with three local and renowned scholars. Yes, this one’s in El Cerrito — 960 Avis Drive — but one of the scholars, Saul Perlmutter, is a physicist at both Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. He’s also the recipient of a Nobel Prize, for his discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. Amy Luers is the director of climate at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and previously headed Google’s environment program. Phillip Alvelda has founded several media and technology companies as well as an education non-profit. Plus, he’s won an Emmy. Catch all of these phenomenal speakers for free tonight from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, Prospect Sierra School, 960 Avis Dr., El Cerrito. … Continue reading »
Fans of Berkeley’s beloved Totland will be delighted to know that its current dilapidated state will soon be a thing of the past.
The Virginia-McGee playground will undergo renovations later this year to replace a deteriorating climbing structure and faulty drainage system.
Per community members’ requests, the preliminary design avoids major changes to Totland, a 16,000-square-foot park with a large grassy area, sand play area and recreation building decorated by a colorful mural.
“It will look fairly similar but hopefully it will be cleaned up a lot,” said principal planner Deborah Chernin. “It will be easier to maintain and it will be safer.” … Continue reading »
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center is planning to lay off 358 employees at its Berkeley and Oakland campuses and shutter its skilled nursing facility and infusion center.
The layoffs, which include 133 positions at the main Berkeley hospital on Ashby Avenue and 33 at its Herrick Hospital campus, will affect part- and full-time positions across the board, said Alta Bates Summit spokesperson Carolyn Kemp.
The cuts were initially intended to go into effect on Friday, after Alta Bates Summit gave the requisite 60-day notice in November, but the hospitals applied for an extension. “This is a slow process and it’s done very thoughtfully,” Kemp said. … Continue reading »
After complaints about the swimming pool at Berkeley High went ignored for years – including reports of hair loss and eye irritation in swimmers – the Berkeley Unified School District last month decided to overhaul its system of monitoring the pool, shifting responsibility from the school administration to the district’s offices.
The change came after numerous parents expressed concern about the pH balance of the pool, the city of Berkeley closed it down twice, and the coach repeatedly pleaded with the school district over four years to fix numerous problems, including reports of unbalanced chemical levels, rust, and algae in the water. Many of the problems went unaddressed.
In November, Berkeleyside filed a public records request with the district. The documentation turned over by BUSD – dozens of emails and memos adding up to hundreds of pages – revealed an extensive history of unaddressed maintenance issues both big and small and lax oversight of the pool. … Continue reading »