Category Archives: Community

Berkeley Spark 2.0 lights up Civic Center Park

The second Berkeley Spark! festival was held Saturday at Civic Center Park. Photo: Darius Wekwerth
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Civic Center Park was turned into a Burning Man west (of sorts) Saturday as hundreds of people came to enjoy food, music, crafts, sculpture, performance, dance and art at the second Berkeley Spark festival.

One of the highlights of the festival was a giant metal bear with a moving arm made from recycled metal. Named “Ursus Redivivus” by its creators, most of the bear’s parts came from an escalator at an old Ross Dress for Less store. … Continue reading »

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Rodents, trash prompt city of Berkeley clean-up of homeless camp on Gilman; residents ‘scattered’

Police officers visit the homeless camp on Gilman Street in West Berkeley daily to provide outreach for residents. Photo: Drew Jaffe
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Citing concerns about garbage and rodents, both dead and alive, the city of Berkeley sent in a team to clean up Gilman Street beneath Interstate 80 where homeless people have been living in recent months, city staff said Friday.

At least one advocate for the homeless criticized the effort, saying no one was told in advance about the operation, which dispersed residents and will make it harder to provide important services to them, he said.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Friday shortly before noon that the operation to address ongoing sanitation problems on Gilman under the freeway had gone smoothly. He estimated that perhaps a dozen people were on site when the city arrived Friday morning. … Continue reading »

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Don’t forget: Share your Telegraph Avenue pics to win

A stilt walker at Sundays on Telegraph Avenue street festival. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Sundays on Telegraph kicked off in Berkeley last weekend, and returns to the avenue every Sunday through Sept. 21. The car-free street party began with a mellow vibe, great music and attendees of all walks of life.

For the next two weekends, Berkeleyside and Mayor Tom Bates’ office invite visitors to the event to submit their photographs of the party for a chance to win very cool prizes: theater tickets for adults and other items for youth 17 and under.  … Continue reading »

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Announcing Uncharted 2014: 2 days spent with the great thinkers of today to find out what’s coming tomorrow

Uncharted 2013-3
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Today, Berkeleyside announced the initial speaker line-up for Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas 2014. Among those headlining the festival are Nobel prizewinner Randy Schekman, Pulitzer Prize composer John Adams, marriage equality pioneers Kris Perry and Sandy Stier,
social psychologist Claude Steele, author Adam Mansbach — as well as dozens of other “dangerous thinkers.”

Uncharted, which takes place on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, aims to bring participants together with some of the world’s great thinkers for two thrilling days of discussion, debate, and workshops designed to engage and inspire. Much more than a series of lectures, Uncharted is a festival of ideas.

Uncharted is offered at a fraction of the cost of other “ideas festivals.” Right now, those who register to attend can save $100 over 2013 prices.  … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley gives Gilman Street homeless a reprieve

Police officers visit the homeless camp on Gilman Street in West Berkeley daily to provide outreach for residents. Photo: Drew Jaffe
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The city of Berkeley, which had planned to remove the personal possessions of the homeless living on Gilman Street under Interstate 80 on July 15, has backed off its insistence that the homeless encampment is a public nuisance.

City Manager Christine Daniel sent out a memo July 9 saying the city is terminating its public nuisance determination. Berkeley just learned that the East Bay Community Law Center is working with city agencies to find temporary housing for the Gilman homeless. The city wants to give everyone more time to find new arrangements, Daniel said.

Daniel emphasized, however, that the encampment is posing a health hazard and the city’s patience is limited. … Continue reading »

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Tilden Little Farm, merry-go-round re-open to public

Cow Barn at Tilden's Little Farm which has reopened to the public after 10 months. Photo: EBRPD
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Nearly 10 months after it closed in order for necessary sewer work to be done, Tilden’s much-loved Little Farm has reopened to the public. The park’s vintage merry-go-round is also spinning again, after being taken over by new management.

The timeline for the sewer construction project was originally five months, but the scope of the work became increasingly large, said David Zuckermann, Supervising Naturalist at East Bay Regional Parks District.

“We originally thought we would be reopening in February,” he said. “But then we had to keep extending that month by month.”

Zuckermann said that it was only when crews began trenching the area that the scale of the job became apparent. “The sewer system is as old as the park, and Tilden, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is one of the three original East Bay parks,” he said. (The other two are Sibley and Lake Temescal.)

During the work, several areas other than the farm were also closed, including Indian Camp parking lot, picnic area, play structure and restroom, and the Big Leaf picnic area and restroom. … Continue reading »

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After Stephen Colbert mention, local author Edan Lepucki’s world explodes

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Today is the most important day of Edan Lepucki’s professional life.

Just a month ago, she was an average debut writer, anticipating the July 8 publication of her dystopian novel California. Even though her publisher, Little, Brown had high hopes for the book – it printed 12,000 copies, a large number for a first-time novelist – there was the disturbing fact that Amazon was in a fight with Hachette, the parent company of Little, Brown.

The squabble meant that Amazon had disabled all the “pre-order” buttons on forthcoming Hachette books. It was taking Amazon two to four weeks to deliver Hachette books, instead of the regular one to three days. That did not bode well for Lepucki. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Spark 2.0: Art, innovation and a kinetic bear

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On Saturday July 19, Berkeley’s Civic Center Park will be filled with artists, idea makers, entrepreneurs and techies from around the Bay Area for the second annual Berkeley Spark, a festival of creative and technological splendor.

From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., these innovators will host an array of activities and share their ideas with the public. At the event’s “tech corridor,” representatives from All Power Labs will showcase their biomass-fueled power generators. ArtIsMobilUs, Frankentrikes and Infinity Boxes will be there too. Attendees can also participate in a letter-writing project by Letters to the Universe, or share their work at a hip-hop open mic.

For the foodies, organizers are bringing in Drake’s Brewing Co., Dan Cook of The Mead Kitchen, Amy Murray from Revival Bar + Kitchen and Tamales Acapulco to share their specialty drinks and food dishes. … Continue reading »

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Snapshot: Evening in a southwest Berkeley neighborhood

The African Rain tree in Jeanne Pimental's South-West Berkeley neighborhood which appears pleasingly diverse on the eve of July 4th. Photo: Jeanne Pimental
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By Jeanne Pimentel

Wednesday, 8 p.m. Time to catch up on today’s World Cup results, but first some exercise before the sun sets.  

I walk up the block to Strawberry Creek Park, but instead of turning left to the creekside lawns where birds, children, and dogs prevail, I turn right to the series of sports courts that line the rear of the block of apartment houses uncharacteristic of our neat, single-family-home neighborhood, and sometimes called the projects or the “barri-ghetto.”

On the first open basketball court, just vacated by Berkeley Youth Alternative’s “Twilight Team” of local, mostly African-American schoolgirls, is a middle-aged white woman practicing Tai-Chi. On the second, a local father and son are shooting hoops. In the first of the enclosed courts it’s soccer, played on asphalt partly covered with the shredded remains of green surface material. … Continue reading »

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Dog owners beg City of Berkeley to remove dangerous foxtails at César Chávez Park

Mary Barnsdale with her dog Rusty, who is wearing a facemask for protection from foxtails. Barnsdale says she has spent almost $4000 on surgery removing foxtails.
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Berkeley dog owners are pleading with the city to clear the off-leash dog area at César Chávez Park of foxtails, an invasive grass whose barbed seed heads can cause serious injury to dogs.

The Berkeley Animal Care Commission sent a letter to City Council which was circulated at their June 18 meeting urging for a “regular, frequent, preventative schedule” of mowing. According to city spokesman Matthai Chakko, the letter will be reviewed as a communications item at the Council’s July 8 meeting. The Council cannot take action on communications items.

Dog owners say that the state-wide drought has made the foxtail situation at César Chávez Park on the bay particularly bad this year. Claudia Kawczynska, editor-in-chief of Bark Magazine, and former city waterfront commissioner, was at the ACC’s June meeting. She said the off-leash area needs an emergency mowing.

“The foxtails are the worst they’ve ever been. This is the worst year for foxtails throughout California. We’ve had a horrible season, the hottest ten months on record.” … Continue reading »

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How quirky is Berkeley? The art of Conny Bleul-Gohlke

148 Marin.  Photo: John Storey
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Coming up Marin Avenue, just before Colusa Avenue on the south side of the street, you will have seen the collection of folk art: the garage door, the bench, the pigs in the ivy and the mailbox. They were designed and created by Conny Bleul-Gohlke, an autodidactic artist who came to Berkeley from Berlin with her husband in 2002 for an 11-month work assignment which has turned into 12 firmly entrenched years here. … Continue reading »

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Much loved Berkeley nursery closes doors after 30 years

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Last Saturday, the Yabusaki family shut the doors of the Dwight Way Nursery for the final time after 30 years of serving the Berkeley community. Kenneth Yabusaki made the decision to close the business following the untimely death of his sister Emi Yabusaki from cancer in late April.

The space at 1001 Dwight Way in West Berkeley has been a nursery since before World War II, according to Ken Yabusaki, who said it was owned by Italians until 1946 or 1947, when a pair of Japanese brothers took over. Yabusaki’s parents bought the business from the brothers in 1984. Then Kenneth and Emi began running the nursery together after the death of their father, Frank, from cancer in 1998.

In the last few months, after Emi’s death, Kenneth Yabusaki had been running the nursery with his mother, Tomoko Yabusaki. He has two sons aged 22 and 6 but, he said, the older one wasn’t interested in taking over the nursery. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Marion Fredman’s Tunnel Rd art

Local found-object sculptor Marion Fredman. Photo: Tom Dalzell
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It is only natural that Marion Fredman would infuse her home and garden with whimsical art, given her long association with MOCHA, the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland.  For years, Fredman worked at MOCHA; she still serves on the board. Over the years she has collaborated with her children and seven grandchildren to use mosaic tile, tiny statues, ceramic plates, stones, and other found objects to create art around her home at 22 Tunnel Road.

As you walk up Tunnel Road, across the street from the Claremont Hotel and the Berkeley Tennis Club, you might notice a hint of Fredman’s well-executed artistic quirkiness.Continue reading »

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