Category Archives: Community

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

Photo by Patti Meuer
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IBD.squarespace.com_INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY Books and Berkeley: never did two words fit more easily together. Saturday, April 30, is a day to celebrate independent bookstores as 420 bookstores around the country, including many in Berkeley, will host authors and readings and other events. Famed and funny science writer Mary Roach will appear at 3 p.m. at Pegasus Downtown at 2349 Shattuck Ave. Roach will do an AMA (based on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” series). “Science quandary keeping you up at night? Want to know what happens when you place a chameleon on a mirror?… Mary Roach can answer your non-pertinent questions. “You can get homemade dog treats at Mrs. Dalloway’s all day, become your favorite literary character by dressing up in costume (provided) and taking your picture at Books, Inc., at 1491 Shattuck Ave., or join in the unveiling of the large transportation collection at Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue — and hear songs about trains. Check the website of your local bookstore for more details. … Continue reading »

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New incubator signals growth in city’s tech ecosystem

The Batchery occupies a 12,000-foot space on the third floor of 2036 Bancroft Ave. Photo: The Batchery
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Michelle Calloway is standing in front of a group of potential investors holding a microphone. The rules of the pitch are strict: no videos, no samples, nothing in fact that could make it simple to describe the product she plans to launch onto the market. Instead, she has the simple power of words.

So Calloway takes a deep breath and launches into a description of the augmented-reality greeting card company Revealio that she and her husband, Jerry Bowden, hope will disrupt the greeting card industry. People are craving connection, she tells the group, and a personalized, emailed video card could shorten the emotional distance between a soldier overseas and his sweetheart, for example, or a grandmother and grandchild.

“It’s a printed card that comes alive before your eyes,” says Calloway. “It’s amazing.”

Read more about Berkeley startups.

Calloway was giving her practice pitch at The Batchery, Berkeley’s newest tech space, located at 2036 Bancroft Way, near Shattuck Avenue. Calloway was hoping the feedback provided by The Batchery’s partners – all of whom have deep experience either starting or running companies – would refine her delivery. … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? The two sisters of Walnut Street

Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. on February, 11th, 2016.
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You have perhaps seen this bench on Walnut Street just south of Live Oak Park, one of three benches on the block. Penny Brogden made the bench, and the five tiles. … Continue reading »

The riches of Rag Theater: Nacio Jan Brown’s Berkeley

Photo: Nacio Jan Brown
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For decades, Telegraph Avenue has been the Boulevard of Unconventional Berkeley — a Bohemian enclave, then the Free Speech Movement, anti-Vietnam War, People’s Park, hippies, punks, street people. Before the Big Changes of the late 1960s, on Telegraph you could buy out-of-town and foreign-language newspapers, croissants, espresso drinks, Turkish cigarettes and Gauloises.

You could watch foreign-language films at the Cinema Guild and Cinema Studio, and read what Pauline Kael had to say about the movies, and play chess, and everywhere was Baroque music and folk music. There were boutiques and haberdasheries and art galleries and mom-and-pop grocery stores. And the used bookstores! What a world! We were Athens, this was our Bleecker Street, our Boulevard Saint Michel with a touch, perhaps, of Bourbon Street and Dylan’s Desolation Row. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley post office protesters cleared out in early morning raid

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Just before 5 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. Post Office inspectors cleared the protester encampment on the steps and on the side of the downtown Berkeley Post Office. Protesters from First They Came for the Homeless and the Berkeley Post Office Defenders had occupied part of the post office property for over 17 months.

“Since November 2014 we’ve been giving out information, providing materials saying you can’t stay,” said Jeff Fitch, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We’ve been encouraging people to not camp there. The decision was made to come in this week and conduct the operation.”

Read more about the Berkeley Post Office.

Fitch said eight people were removed from the site and four federal misdemeanor citations were issued, for obstructing access and for not following instructions from authorized postal security officers. No arrests were made.

According to Mike Wilson, an organizer of the Post Office Defenders, protesters had been assured that they would not be removed for trespassing. He said there were five protesters at the post office overnight and a number of homeless people not associated with the protest in the garden on Milvia Street.  … Continue reading »

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Neighbors, police vow new push on crime prevention

Community members and police met Monday night to discuss crime prevention efforts. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley community group focused on crime prevention pledged to up its game Monday night, and representatives from the Police Department said they plan to ramp up their own collaboration with neighbors.

Those efforts may be particularly important given the double-digit increase in crime Berkeley saw in 2015. Berkeley police officials reported in March that overall Part 1 crime — a federal designation for the most serious incidents — was up 16% in 2015 compared to the prior year. Violent crime increased 20%, especially in the area of robberies, while property crime was up 16%. There was a 28% increase in vehicle thefts as compared to the prior year.

And, already this year, there has been an unsolved series of high-profile sexual assaults and at least half a dozen shootings.

The group that met Monday, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), has worked for some time to provide a city-wide scope to, and coordination about, block-level crime concerns. It meets monthly with police and sometimes takes positions on public safety problems, primarily through letters to council and other city leaders. But active participation in the organization has languished, and its board is working to re-energize the group, which has more than 100 people on its email list.

What’s your neighborhood group? Please let Berkeleyside know.*

One way the BSNC hopes to revive itself is through Facebook: The group has launched a new Facebook page to help neighbors connect. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who helps oversee the BSNC, announced the Facebook page Monday night. Dean said the board is committed to a “coordinated approach” that involves all the city’s Neighborhood Watch and disaster preparedness groups that want to join forces. … Continue reading »

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After latest shooting, neighbors talk public safety

The corner of Delaware and San Pablo, the site of three shootings in recent years. Photo: Emily Dugdale.
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“How much is too much?”

The question lingered in the air as folding chairs were put away following what was described as an “action plan” meeting Saturday convened by Berkeley Councilwoman Linda Maio held at the Adult School in West Berkeley. Long-time residents joined young families, as well as a representative from the Berkeley Police Department, to discuss potential neighborhood changes following the March 15 shooting of a 28-year-old man on the corner of Delaware and San Pablo Avenue outside of Bing’s Liquors.

“I know you feel the same way I do,” Maio told an agitated crowd of approximately 40 neighbors who shared accounts of witnessing substance abuse, public defection and “sleaze” centered on a small strip of bustling San Pablo Avenue. “This is not new,” she said.

March’s incident marks the third shooting in the area in as many years. In February 2013, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. Six months later, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Frank Moore’s Curtis Street home

Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. on February, 11th, 2016.
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The front yard of 1231 Curtis Street is ultra-Berkeley Quirky — peace signs, bright colors, tie-dye motif, happy words.

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Berkeley launches first ‘Resilience Strategy’ in Bay Area

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Never one to shirk a challenge, the city of Berkeley has come up with an ambitious plan designed to take on everything from racial and social inequity to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

And, no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Friday, the city released its “Resilience Strategy,” a 56-page document that attempts to look at “some of Berkeley’s most pressing physical, social and economic challenges, including earthquakes, wildfire, the impacts of climate change and racial inequity.”

The effort is the culmination to date of work Berkeley is doing as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities network,” or 100RC for short. The city was among the first 33 places in the world — along with San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — chosen to participate in the network back in 2013. (Alameda later lost the grant.) More than 1,000 cities have applied to take part.

Leading the charge in Berkeley is Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs, who was already working for the city with its Climate Action Plan efforts when he was selected for the gig.

A community event led by Mayor Tom Bates, along with Burroughs, is scheduled to take place Friday from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the launch. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.) … Continue reading »

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Albany to become Berkeley’s 9th council district

Berkeley's new council district map
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Update, April 2: This was indeed an April Fools’ Day story. We hope you enjoyed!

Original post, April 1: In an early morning press conference hosted jointly by the Berkeley and Albany city councils, it was announced Friday the city of Albany is on track to become Berkeley’s ninth council district.

“Albany has always been thought of as the northern suburb of Berkeley,” explained Albany Rotary Chamber Chair and U.C. Professor of Geosociology Aileen Wright. “The two cities have common historical roots: If not for a misunderstanding about garbage disposal in 1909, Albany would never have been incorporated as a separate town. In fact, Albany’s original name was Ocean View, same as the Ocean View that became part of Berkeley. Culturally, the two cities have become more-or-less indistinguishable.”

“I’m tired of having to explain to people from all over the U.S. that I have nothing to do with that city in upstate New York,” complained Mayor Pete Maass of Albany. “From now on, I’ll be a Berkeley politico, and everyone the world over knows exactly what that means.” … Continue reading »

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Sports

Photos: Police take the win in Berkeley Twilite battle

Twilite baskeball game, Friday, March 25. Photo; Berkeley Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood
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Scoring two 3-pointers in the final minute, a team of Berkeley Police officers narrowly bested teen players from the Young Adult Project’s Twilite Basketball program in the “Battle of Berkeley” Friday night. The officers will now get to display a large trophy commemorating the win, at least until the teams face off again this summer.

The youth team was down by 12 points at half time, then fought its way to a 1-point lead with less than 2 minutes to go. Officer Kelvin Gibbs, who played professional basketball in Europe for nine years, scored two baskets from behind the arc in the final minute to claim the victory. … Continue reading »

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What am I supposed to do after an earthquake?

Berkeley residents Linda Worthman, Azimat Schulz, Susan Brooks, and Margaret Goyette at a Berkeley disaster preparedness training. Photo: Eli  Wirtschafter
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By Eli Wirtschafter / KALW 

We all know we’re supposed to prepare for earthquakes, but how many of us really have a plan?

I was aware that after a catastrophic earthquake, I shouldn’t count on first responders and the fire department. They’re going to be overwhelmed, maybe for days. Still, I didn’t have any kind of plan for the inevitable — until recently, when I moved to a new neighborhood in Berkeley.

Read more about disaster preparedness in Berkeley.

On a sunny afternoon shortly after relocating, I see a troop of my neighbors doing an emergency drill. They have clipboards, hard hats and bright yellow vests. They seem to know what they are doing. I’ve lived in several different neighborhoods in the East Bay, and I’ve never seen a block so well prepared.

The drill is taking place three doors down from me. I find out that after a serious earthquake, my neighbors and I are supposed to gather there to do triage. … Continue reading »

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