Category Archives: Community

National Night Out comes to Berkeley on Tuesday

Berkeleyans are coming out in record numbers for this year's National Night Out celebration. (Scroll down for the interactive map.) Image: Google Maps
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It’s by far the biggest year yet for National Night Out in Berkeley, with nearly 100 neighborhoods and organizations signed up to hold block parties and other events Tuesday night.

And police say it’s not too late to sign up. If your neighborhood, business, church, association or community agency would like to participate, download the registration form and send it to Officer Stephanie Polizziani at spolizziani@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

The nationwide annual event is in its 32nd year. It brings local police, firefighters, city officials and other city staffers into the neighborhoods to mingle with local residents who hold block parties and get to know each other in the interest of building community and neighborhood safety.

According to the city, the primary goal is “to help communities build relationships with their local public safety department and raise awareness about crime prevention. In general, neighborhoods participate in National Night Out by turning on their lights and having porch or street side conversations” and “strengthening neighborhood bonds.”

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UC Theatre project gets boost with $1.3M matching grant

The push to renovate the UC Theater got a huge boost in July when a major philanthropist made a $1.3 million matching grant. Photo: UC Theater
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One of the Bay Area’s biggest philanthropists has given a $1.3 million matching grant to spur completion of the renovation of the UC Theatre in Berkeley.

Tad Taube, who made his millions in real estate and through his connection to Joseph Koret, a women’s clothing manufacturer, announced this week that he will back the $5.6 million project, scheduled to be completed this fall.

“Music and the arts are gifts that should be accessible to everyone,” Taube said in a press release. “David Mayeri and his innovative team at the Berkeley Music Group have developed a contemporary vision for the UC Theatre that will both enrich our community and broaden youth engagement in the arts. Supporting this project presents an opportunity for our community to engage in an endeavor that will have a broad, diverse impact on music, culture, education and quality of life in our community.” … Continue reading »

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Community

Families of four balcony victims say ‘Thanks’

Hundreds gathered in Civic Center Park Sunday night for a "Month's Mind" to honor and remember those killed in the June 16 balcony collapse. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The families of the four Irish students who remain hospitalized with injuries suffered after a balcony collapsed at 2020 Kittredge St. on June 16, killing six and injuring seven,  have issued a statement of thanks.

Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Hannah Waters and Niall Murray are all being treated at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. This statement, released Monday through the city of Berkeley, is from their families:

“As traumatic and difficult as the past five weeks have been for Aoife, Clodagh, Hannah and Niall, our constant thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and friends of Eimear Walsh, Ashley Donohue, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eoghan Culligan. May they rest in peace. … Continue reading »

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Photographs: An ode to the shuttered Berkeley pier

The Berkeley pier by Dorothy Brown
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By Dorothy Brown

There is something mysterious and perhaps even romantic about abandoned spaces. The rust and decay can have a certain kind of beauty, and can engage our imaginations as we wonder what the place might have been like in its prime. Movies often employ a time-fade technique where decrepitude is gradually replaced by the life and color of earlier years. A different time.

How strange, then, to witness the day the change happens. The day a familiar site goes from lively to off-limits.

On July 22, 2015, without warning or ceremony, the Berkeley Pier was fenced off and closed to the public. The pier has long been a favorite spot for fisherfolk, runners, strollers, and anyone who appreciates a knockout view and a breathtaking sunset. I always found it a friendly place. … Continue reading »

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Rent increase may force Poetry Flash to move

Richard Silberg and Joyce Jenkins stand in the offices of Poetry Flash on Fourth Street. The 43-year old publication may have to find a new home because the landlord wants to raise the rent more than 70%. Photo: Francesca Paris
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Poetry Flash, a Berkeley-based poetry magazine established in 1972, faces a threat to its existence from a rent hike that could be as high as 27%.

According to editor and publisher Joyce Jenkins, the landlord has sent her a letter stating that he intends to charge “market rate” and increase rent as much as $600 per month. Jenkins has not yet received final details about what the rent will be. … Continue reading »

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Community

Citing structural problems, Berkeley closes historic pier

The historic Berkeley pier has been closed to the public due to structural problems. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The city of Berkeley has announced the closure of its historic municipal fishing pier due to “considerable structural damage” that has made the popular walkway unsafe for the public.

Damage to the concrete decking and support system of the pier was found during an assessment earlier this summer. Signage and fencing have been posted in the area to cut off access pending the repairs, but where the money will come from to fix the problem remains an open question. The city did not respond Thursday to a request for additional information.

The announcement, in a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council, was posted online Thursday. It comes after a decision earlier in the month to prohibit heavy trucks on the pier due to the structural issues. As a result, the city paid $7,900 to set off its Fourth of July fireworks from a barge rather than using the historic walkway, which juts out into the San Francisco Bay at the end of University Avenue.

The city discovered the structural damage prior to July 4 when it began looking into proposed repairs that would have made the pier smoother for wheelchairs, a city staffer told the Parks and Waterfront Commission earlier this month. … Continue reading »

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A visit with David Goines: Berkeley’s legendary letterpress printer and lithographer

David Goines Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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In the second of a three-part series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, Melati Citrawireja, a summer 2015 photography intern for Berkeleyside, visits St. Hieronymus Press, the workspace of David Lance Goines. (Read Citrawireja’s first story on Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Bindery.)

You may recognize David Goines by his distinctive handlebar mustache and deep, chocolatey voice, or you may know him by his letterpress and lithography artwork. Several pieces that have awarded him widespread attention include a collaborative book with Alice Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse, called 30 Recipes Suitable for Framing, and posters for well-known Bay Area spots, like Acme Bread and UC Berkeley.

Curious to meet the man behind these beautiful pieces that I’ve seen my whole life when thumbing through cookbooks in the kitchen, I ask to visit his workspace and Goines politely invites me over. … Continue reading »

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Community

What are Berkeley’s values? What does the future hold?

Books Inc estimated the crowd at 150-200 for the "Why Berkeley?" event on Monday July 20, 2015.
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On Monday July 20, the newly relocated Books Inc. on Shattuck Avenue was packed to the rafters for a discussion titled “Why Berkeley?”

Hosted by Malcolm Margolin, executive director of Heyday, a number of invited speakers reflected on what Berkeley meant to them, its values now and in the past, and the city’s possible future. Below the fold, we bring you highlights from our live coverage of the event on Twitter. … Continue reading »

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After brouhaha over Berkeley racism incident, Kamau Bell does comedy in his new hometown

Kamau Bell
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With two young daughters — Sammy, 4, and Juno, 7 months — W. Kamau Bell needs to be home early these days. Hence the name of his new stand-up show, “Home by 10,” running at The Marsh in Berkeley through Aug. 22.

The comedian, who is known for his unfettered jokes about race and racism — he hosted the FXX TV series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” and his new CNN show, “United Shades of America” has just finished shooting — has supplemented his repertoire with funny stories about parenting and kids.

On the second night of the run, Bell riffed about the fine line between being a father and being a friend to one’s child, and related how he and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, picked a preschool for Sammy after they moved to Berkeley from New York about six months ago. (They are so happy with their choice that a portion of the proceeds of the show is going to Heart’s Leap Preschool on College Avenue.)

But race surfaces often: He also touched on how strangers wax lyrical about how beautiful his kids are — something he believes is likely an overcompensation through praise by white people to the fact the children are bi-racial (Hudson Bell is white).

“Why are we making such a great deal of it?” Bell asks rhetorically a few days after the show, as he sits drinking coffee at Au Coquelet in downtown Berkeley. He knows from the reaction of the audience, however, that this joke hits the spot. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds gather in Berkeley to remember balcony victims

Hundreds gathered in Civic Center Park Sunday night for a "Month's Mind" to honor and remember those killed in the June 16 balcony collapse. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A month after a fifth-floor balcony snapped off the façade of 2020 Kittredge St. in Berkeley, sending six people in their 20s to their deaths and injuring seven others, hundreds of people gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Sunday to honor them.

The event was a “Month’s Mind,” a traditional Irish requiem mass held a month after a death, according to Philip Grant, the Irish consul general in San Francisco. It is meant to remember and honor the deceased. There is a moment of silence for reflection.

“It’s a moment of reflection on what happened and where we’ve come,” said Grant. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? The fence of doors on Ashby Ave

"Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on May 7th,  2015."
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Ashby Avenue above College is not exactly where one would expect a major manifestation of quirky material culture. The houses are large, stately, well-heeled, and well-landscaped. But, after all, we are Berkeley, and quirk can and is anywhere and everywhere.

Michael and Becky O’Malley have lived at 2910 Ashby Ave. since 1973. Their names are well known in Berkeley. In 2003, they began publishing the then-shut-down Berkeley Daily PlanetMichael was listed as publisher, and Becky as executive editor. Under their guidance, the paper won a number of awards from the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association and other organizations, including first prizes for its opinion page, which publishes lengthy reader-written commentaries, and the editorial cartoons of Justin DeFreitas. Becky is known for her years of political activism, and Michael for a career in software, specializing in text-to-speech conversion technology. … Continue reading »

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

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BERKELEY SPARK FESTIVAL The Berkeley Spark 3.0 Arts and Innovation Festival will bring artisans, innovators and nonprofits to Civic Center Park on Saturday for a community-based, participant-driven event that aims to connect the great East Bay. The festival features local independent makers with a focus on sustainability and originality. It also serves as a place for fans of the Burning Man culture to gather, and for those who are heading to the desert to stock up on gear and accessories. Civic Center Park is at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Center Street. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more at berkeleyspark.org. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council approves new laws for building safety

A balcony at Library Gardens in downtown Berkeley collapsed Tuesday, killing six. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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After a deadly balcony collapse in June that killed six and injured seven in downtown Berkeley, the City Council voted Tuesday night to change several laws to improve building safety throughout the city.

Council voted unanimously to require periodic inspections of all existing weather-exposed exterior building elements, including balconies, stairs and decks. Those elements now need to be inspected within the next six months, and every following three years.

City planning director Eric Angstadt said 6,000 buildings in Berkeley would be affected by the new program, which he said covers “anything exposed to weather that could have water intrusion, [and] yield deterioration.”

An investigation by city building inspectors identified wood rot as the sole contributing factor in the June 16 collapse of a fifth-floor balcony at the Library Gardens apartment complex. … Continue reading »

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