Category Archives: Community

Berkeleyside wins SPJ journalism award for comprehensive homelessness coverage

Homeless person sleeps on Berkeley street. Photo: Ted Friedman
Print Friendly

Earlier this year, Berkeleyside joined more than 80 other media organizations in the Bay Area to publish a day of stories focused on homelessness in our midst.

Monday, that coverage was recognized by the NorCal chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as part of its 31st Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel and Emilie Raguso won in the explanatory journalism category, in the small division for print media outlets, “for their comprehensive coverage of homelessness in Berkeley using data and effective storytelling to identify problems, seek answers and analyze proposed solutions.”

Dinkelspiel and Raguso created eight in-depth stories that ran sequentially June 29 over a period of about seven hours as part of the San Francisco Homeless Project.

The SF Homeless Project to which Berkeleyside contributed also took home the contest’s Public Service Award: “Participating media organizations collaborated to publish and broadcast during one week in June more than 300 stories about various aspects of homelessness and efforts to address them. The SF Homeless Project is a sign of a new era in journalism in which news outlets join their forces to fight for a better society,” wrote the judges. A follow-up day of coverage is being planned for December. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

72K people participate in Berkeley’s ‘Great ShakeOut’

Kids participate in the Great Shakeout at LeConte Elementary School. Photo: Daphne White
Print Friendly

The principal did it. The janitor did it. The students did it. At 11:20 a.m. last Thursday, everyone at LeConte Elementary School in Berkeley participated in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill. They dropped under the nearest table, covered their heads, and held on tight.

The purpose of the annual ShakeOut event is to raise awareness of the need for preparedness and to remind people to practice actual earthquake survival behaviors.

“Your past experience in earthquakes may give you a false sense of safety,” the ShakeOut website notes. “You likely have never experienced the kind of strong earthquake shaking that is possible in much larger earthquakes: sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second will cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, and every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.”

Berkeley had 72,000 registered participants in the Great ShakeOut, including the city of Berkeley, UC Berkeley, Berkeley National Lab, Alta Bates, seven schools and 18 neighborhood groups.

“The event gave us an opportunity to test out the Berkeley Emergency Notification System (BENS),” said Dave Brannigan, the Berkeley Fire Department’s assistant chief for special operations. “We don’t get to use the system very often, and it’s a fairly complicated system. The more we practice using it, the better.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Video: Fallen tree on College; apparent cause is wind

A fallen tree on Alcatraz and College. Photo: John Holland
Print Friendly

Local resident John Holland captured dramatic photographs and video of a 50-foot tree that fell down Monday at College and Alcatraz avenues in Berkeley, apparently due to wind.

The tree fell shortly before 3:30 p.m., on the west side of the street just above 3170 College.

Holland went live on Periscope to document the situation. Watch the video below.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko confirmed, at about 4:35 p.m., no one had been hurt by the fallen tree, and the Berkeley Police Department was on the scene. Traffic was moving through the area, and city forestry staffers were investigating the cause of the damage, he said.

He said shortly before 5 p.m. that wind appeared to have been the culprit.

Holland said the tree appeared completely hollow inside. One car appeared to have been damaged by fallen limbs, he said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Urban Adamah opens 2-acre farm in West Berkeley

Families make pickles at the Urban Adamah opening celebratoon. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

By Frances Dinkelspiel and Sylvia Paull

Urban Adamah, an urban farm inspired by Jewish beliefs but open to all, moved into its new Berkeley home at Sixth and Harrison streets on Sunday and threw a huge party to celebrate the occasion.

Kids and adults petted goats and chased chickens. They braided flowers to create a sukkah, a temporary shelter for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They made pickles, wax candles and leaf prints, listened to Klezmer music and ate salads made with greens grown at the farm’s former location at 1050 Parker St.

The opening of Urban Adamah right by Codornices Creek further transforms what once was a quiet, dead-end street in West Berkeley. Now it is bustling with people and activity. Fieldwork Brewing Company has a popular tap room across the street from Urban Adamah, and on Sunday people were relaxing at its outside patio bordered by galvanized planters. Kosher winery Covenant sits directly across from the farm, too. Maker’s Work Space is also across the street. UC Berkeley’s University Village in Albany is connected by a footpath.

“It’s a dream,” said Adam Berman, Urban Adamah’s executive director, who raised millions to transform the once-barren U.S. Post Office land into a farm complete with places to gather, play and sleep. “We’re going to do so much here.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

After years of deferred maintenance, Berkeley asks nonprofits to pay for fixes

The Berkeley Rowing Club recently signed a 15-year lease with Berkeley for minimal rent in exchange for redoing the roof for. Photo:Berkeley Rowing Club
Print Friendly

After years of neglect, Berkeley has begun requiring nonprofit organizations renting buildings from the city to undertake and pay for long-deferred maintenance and capital improvements. About one dozen nonprofits have entered into lease negotiations with the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department over the past few years. While a few of those leases have been signed, many have dragged on for two to four years and are still unsigned.

The nonprofits are facing a combined estimated repair budget of more than $2 million for their leased buildings – and some of them say they cannot afford to pay for the repairs. These deferred maintenance costs are separate from the more than $25.5 million needed to repair city-owned and occupied buildings and facilities.

All the leased facilities are located in city parks and rented by nonprofits such as the Berkeley Art Center, TheaterFIRST, the Youth Musical Theater Company, Ala Costa Services, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, the Berkeley Paddle and Rowing Club, The Berkeley Yacht Club, and the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

How quirky is Berkeley? DIY quirk on Peralta Avenue

Print Friendly

I often feature quirky yards with high production values — collectors or professional sculptors or painters who are gifting their art to the street. They are fine and good, but there are other types of quirk. Quirk is not one-size fits all. There are the high-produced examples, and then there are the DIY front yards, such as this one. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Crowds gather on Shattuck Avenue during Sunday Streets. Photo: Ted Friedman
Print Friendly

SUNDAY STREETS Last weekend’s showers occasioned a scramble to reschedule Berkeley’s fifth Sunday Streets celebration. This Sunday, Shattuck Avenue will be closed from Haste to Rose — 17 blocks — in a celebration of local businesses and organizations. Storefronts will be unobstructed, and business owners are encouraged to promote commerce and visibility by setting out seating on the street, hosting activities, and otherwise inviting interest and community. There’s a bewildering variety of activities planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including plenty of live music, children’s activities, and sports and fitness. This year’s Sunday Streets also includes Salsa Sunday on Center Street in the downtown and the Vine St. Block Party in the Gourmet Ghetto. Participants are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transit to Sunday Streets. Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23. … Continue reading »


Berkeley honors community activists, artists and students at its ‘Outstanding Women of the Year’ ceremony

Moni Law accepting her award from the Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: James Knoz
Print Friendly

By Delency Parham & Maya Cueva

More than 50 people gathered at City Hall on Tuesday night to commemorate outstanding women who serve as leaders in the community and who advocate for improving the conditions of young Bay Area women. The event was held by the Commission on the Status of Women, which awarded six women and one local organization with a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Trailblazer Award, a Young Woman of Achievement and Leadership Award, and an Outstanding Organization award.

Among these awardees was Moni Law, a former attorney, community activist, and legal housing counselor. She received the Trailblazer Award for her leadership and commitment to helping youth of color, students, and residents understand their legal rights pertaining to rental housing.

Law is a filmmaker, a member of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP, a member of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, and is deeply engaged in civic activity. As a housing counselor for the Rent Stabilization Board, she counsels low-income people of color, seniors, students, and people with disabilities who are looking for housing in a city with spiraling rent costs. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Op-ed: Berkeley must change the way it provides shelter to the homeless

Print Friendly

The people who run the center for providing Berkeley’s homeless services (the HUB) write on their website: “Since 1970, Berkeley Food and Housing Project has been a compassionate provider of homeless services.”

Forty-six years! The plight of Berkeley’s homeless is arguably the worse for all that time and effort. Isn’t it time to try a different approach?

Berkeley passed an emergency shelter ordinance almost a year ago, then sat on its collective bureaucratic fanny for the entire spring and summer. So here we are once more, with the homeless facing rain, wind, and cold with nowhere to go. Isn’t it time to try a different approach?

We know how to end homelessness – provide people with homes. We know what homeless people want – a roof over their heads; a secure room or two; no one kicking them out after a night or three. Or twenty. Just what anyone wants – a place to call their own. Isn’t it time to try it? … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Black Panthers focus of new UC Berkeley exhibit

Members of the Black Panthers lined up at a Free Huey (Newton) rally in DeFremery Park in Oakland. (Photo by Stephen Shames/Polaris)
Print Friendly

By Kathleen Maclay
UC Berkeley News

Oct. 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers. While the group is closely identified with Oakland, the Panthers also had roots in Berkeley. For a time they had their headquarters on Shattuck Avenue. Steven Shames, a history student at UC Berkeley, met Bobby Seale, one of the Panther founders, in 1967 and went on to take thousands of photos of those involved in the movement. 

Five decades after the founding of the Black Panther Party, an exhibit of two dozen photos taken from the front lines of the history-making, activist organization rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area opens Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The “Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers” exhibit in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography at North Gate Hall stirs memories of the Black Power movement for those who remember it, and instruction for those who don’t.

It also offers a bracing backdrop to current national dialogue and tensions around race as seen in reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement, protests following fatal police shootings of black men and boys, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, and more.

Ken Light, the journalism school’s Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism, said the photos by Stephen Shames “bring history alive and show the power of photography to record and share the Black Panthers’ social consciousness with generations that have only heard about them. Millennials and Gen Xers who are marching in the streets and raising their voices can share in the power, the pride and the struggle that was started over 50 years ago and come away with a renewed sense that Black Lives Matter.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

How Quirky is Berkeley? Art Ratner’s miniature buildings

Art Ratner. Photo: John Storey
Print Friendly

Art Ratner has been fixing Japanese cars in Berkeley for more than 30 years. His energy, intelligence and humor make him liked. The best-in-the-Bay work done by his shop, Art’s Automotive on San Pablo between Russell and Oregon, make him sought-after. Many know him, but not many know of his staggering collection of miniature souvenir buildings.

It reminds me of the 1987 episode of Miami Vice when Crockett and Tubbs visit the apartment of their partner, Lawrence “Larry” Zito, who has been killed by a heroin overdose. They discover a large collection of snow globes and Crockett observes that you can know somebody for years and years and still not know what makes them tick. Wisdom from Miami Vice applied to Art Ratner! … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Eve Ensler, Kevin Powell poised to discuss Trump, rape culture, race at Uncharted in Berkeley on Saturday

Eve Ensler and Kevin Powell  will be in conversation at Uncharted this Saturday. Photos: Brigitte Lacombe
Print Friendly

Last Friday’s leak of the Access Hollywood video plunged Donald Trump’s presidential campaign into crisis, but it also brought to the forefront of national coverage attitudes towards women and sexual assault.

Activists Eve Ensler and Kevin Powell were alert to the issues long before Friday, which is why they agreed nearly two months ago to title their Uncharted Festival conversation “Violence or love? Rape culture, race and building social movements.”

Exactly one week before the video leak, Ensler had published The Undeniable Rape Culture of Donald Trump on Huffington Post.

See who else is on the program + get tickets to Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Festival.

“It’s kind of amazing that all of this is out now,” Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day, said this morning, in a call to Berkeleyside with Kevin Powell before Uncharted kicks off on Friday. “We are talking about a toxicity that is so rampant, that is so sickening. But in a way we all now know what we’re fighting.”

“I’ve been sharing Eve’s article with everyone. It foreshadowed the madness of this weekend,” said Powell. “We have to speak very candidly about where this country is going or could go.” … Continue reading »


How Quirky is Berkeley? Magic (sculpture) garden on Heinz

Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley Calif, on December 30th, 2015.
Print Friendly

In the 1980s and 1990s, 729 Heinz Ave. was home to Magic Gardens, a wonderful and, yes, magical nursery. It is long gone now, and after some years of farrow fields, the Magic Gardens space is once again a fertile garden, now housing a changing cast of sculpture. The Artworks Foundry is there. It is one of the nation’s leading foundries for the production and restoration of bronze sculptures, reliefs and monuments. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,