Category Archives: Community

Photo Gallery: Uncharted 2014 — a festival fit for Berkeley

Ken Goldberg with Quentin Hardy by Pete Rosos
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How do you sum up the essence of a two-day festival of ideas like Uncharted?

Festivalgoers were exposed to, and engaged in, such a wide range of conversations, covering the gamut from robotics to food movements, from aging to cloning, from technology to language, and from race to equality… that capturing the spirit of the event, which also included many inspiring musical performances, as well as dazzling bay views from the Uncharted party deck, is near-on impossible.

KQED Arts did a good job in a story published Wednesday, writing: “Uncharted gave … ideas … an ecumenical airing. In the parlance of [Uncharted speaker] Brian Christian, it was full duplex — open channel cross talk like in a bar — not the reductive half duplex talk of one-at-a-time messaging, which is what a robot can handle. In such as atmosphere, easy problems may still be hard … But hard problems are at least easy to talk about.”

One festivalgoer said simply that the experience of Uncharted reminded her why she loved to live in Berkeley, a city known for people who are curious, hungry for knowledge, and not afraid to challenge the status quo.

Here we present a visual record of the event, with stunning photographs by Pete Rosos and Nancy Rubin, two photographers whose work we are always honored to publish on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Photo essay: Berkeley, a city consumed by a soda tax

2-McDonalds
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On Nov. 4, Berkeley voters will show where they stand on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax. The proposed tax on sugary beverages has been one of the most hotly debated Berkeley issues in the city’s history, and certainly one that has brought in record levels of campaign expenditure. The No on Measure D lobby has spent $2.3 million in an attempt to defeat the tax, according to campaign finance reports. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has contributed $432,071 in support of the soda tax. (That includes $265,235 for network advertising for commercials during the World Series, $96,836 for cable ads, and a cash donation of $170,000 to the Yes on Measure D effort.) UC Berkeley’s Robert Reich has been vocal in his views — writing a blog post about the issue titled “In its battle with Big Soda, Berkeley may once again make history,” and shooting a video on the same subject.

Read Berkeleyside’s detailed coverage of Measure D

Gael McKeon has spent several weeks documenting both sides of the campaign with his camera to create this photo essay of a pivotal moment in Berkeley’s political history, one that may set the stage for change nationwide. We publish it exclusively on Berkeleyside. (The ‘No on D’ campaign declined to participate in this story.) … Continue reading »

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Little Free Libraries are popping up all over Berkeley

Little Free Library. Photo: Colleen Neff
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What are these structures popping up along the sidewalks of Berkeley? Big birdhouses? Doll houses? Or are they homes small enough to actually be affordable in this crazy real-estate market? Nope. None of the above. They are actually part of a worldwide phenomenon called Little Free Libraries.

Berkeley now has over 20 of these charming mini-libraries that have become neighborhood meeting spots for book lovers of all ages. The idea is simple: take a book, return a book. … Continue reading »

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More than 2,500 protest Bill Maher’s speech at Cal

More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
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Update: Oct. 30. The Chancellor has determined Maher will speak. See our update here.

The selection of TV host Bill Maher to deliver a December commencement address at UC Berkeley has come under fire from people who believe his views on Islam are racist.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking that the university withdraw its offer. The petition also suggests people boycott the address, now scheduled for Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. … Continue reading »

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Woman killed in South Berkeley remembered as artist, humorist, lover of plants and pets

Nancy McClellan. Photo: David Gallagher
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On Russell Street a tree is blooming. Tibetan prayer flags are strung across its branches in a rainbow of color. White paper tags that flutter, holding messages of hope and healing, are its blossoms. Looking closer, one might notice laminated photographs and Buddhist passages hanging from the boughs, bouquets of flowers at its base.

The tree stands outside the Berkeley Zen Center, a Buddhist meditation group whose roots date back decades in South Berkeley. The memorial was created to honor Nancy McClellan, the zen center’s head gardener, who was mortally stabbed after leaving a wedding at the center in mid-September. McClellan died in October after being removed from life support when she failed to recover from the injuries she sustained the sunny Friday afternoon she was attacked less than a block from her beloved garden at the zen center.

Having just lost a friend to illness, McClellan spent much of the wedding telling those around her that she loved them, friends recalled.

Friday, Oct. 24, the 18-year-old man who has been charged with trying to kill 72-year-old McClellan after a failed carjacking is set to enter a plea in that case. Kamau Berlin of Richmond — a student at nearby B-Tech — has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with attempted murder and attempted carjacking. Berkeley police said, after McClellan’s death, the charge would likely be upgraded to murder.

Sunday, the Berkeley Zen Center held a memorial for McClellan to allow for “final goodbyes” from members of the meditation community, as well as others who knew McClellan.

This month, close friends of McClellan who live around the Bay Area have grappled with their grief, particularly as some thought at first she might recover from the brutal attack.

“I’ve had a hard time getting her out of my mind these last few weeks,” said Karl Anderson, a Castro Valley man who knew McClellan for more than two decades. “She probably looked like an easy target but, in fact, she must have fought back and that was what happened, knowing her. I can imagine she’d say, ‘Oh, no you don’t.’ She would not give in.”

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Out of Darkness walk aims to end silence around suicide

Two people at the Out o Darkness Walk stop in front  of a makeshift remembrance of those who have committed suicide. Photo: Vivian Liu
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By Katherine Griffin

Nine years ago this month, Dale Boland’s son Gulliver took his own life. He was just 14.

In the months that followed, Boland, a  music teacher in Berkeley, remembers her family’s grieving being compounded by how hard it was to talk openly about the way Gulliver died. “People don’t talk about suicide,” she said. “It just has such a stigma.”

That’s beginning to change.

On Saturday Oct. 18,  Boland, her 17-year-old daughter Marielle, and several friends, were among more than 600 people who gathered before dawn at Lake Merritt for the sixth annual Out of the Darkness walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The walk, one of several hundred held each year around the country, is intended to give survivors of suicide loss a way to grieve and publicly remember their loved ones — and to help end the silence and shame that still keeps suicide hidden. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Animal mailboxes

Duck mailbox at 1748 Marin Avenue.  Photo: John Storey
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The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is not as old as you might think — early 20th century, born of the advertising industry’s grasp of the importance of visualization.

Thus it is with the quirky animal mailboxes of Berkeley. There isn’t a lot to be said about them that the images don’t say. So – here are a baker’s dozen of the better ones. … Continue reading »

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg donates $85,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax

Michael Bloomberg
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fought unsuccessfully to establish a cap on the size of soda portions sold in that city, has donated $85,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign.

His contribution – the largest the soda tax advocates have gotten to date – is one of three significant donations made by national groups in recent days, according to Josh Daniels, the co-chair of the campaign. The American Heart Association recently gave $23,000 and the Center for Science in the Public Interest kicked in $15,000. … Continue reading »

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A Berkeley artist turns 50, creates 50 pieces about light

Clothesmaker Cari Borja was inspired by Milan Kundera's Impossible Lightness of Being when she made these pieces. Photo: Deb Durant
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When Berkeley artist Deb Durant thought about how to celebrate her 50th birthday, she decided she didn’t want an over-the-top party with champagne and colorful hats.

Instead, Durant wanted to savor the transition between her 40s and 50s and use the time to connect with others. So she launched the 5050Light project – a yearlong endeavor to create 50 art pieces – 25 by herself and 25 in collaboration with other artists.

The results of Durant’s efforts were on display Sunday Oct. 12 in the cavernous space on Shattuck Avenue that once held Black Oak Books (which, as reported on Berkeleyside, will soon become Books Inc.). As Sunday Streets took place outside, dozens of people wandered through the building to admire Durant’s pop-up art exhibit, which will be on display until Oct. 28.  … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley police rule cyclist responsible for fatal crash

Kurt Wehner. Photo via Facebook
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Authorities have found a 62-year-old Berkeley cyclist at fault for the crash with a vehicle that ultimately took his life about three weeks ago.

In response to repeated inquiries from Berkeleyside, police said Tuesday that Kurt Wehner rode through a stop sign and crashed into a 2008 Volkswagen in a North Berkeley intersection Sept. 21 shortly after 8 a.m. at Spruce and Eunice streets.

Wehner, a longtime Berkeley resident, died the following day at Highland Hospital.

Berkeley police investigators said Tuesday in a prepared statement that Wehner had been riding his mountain-style bike south on Spruce toward Eunice, where there was a posted stop sign for southbound traffic.

“Just prior the bicyclist was passing vehicles on the wrong side of the roadway at an unsafe speed in violation of the posted 25 mph speed limit,” police wrote.

The Volkswagen — driven by a 63-year-old Berkeley resident whose name has not been released — had stopped on Eunice facing east. The driver had proceeded into the intersection when, police say, Wehner crashed into the vehicle.  … Continue reading »

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Noose at Berkeley High raised concerns over past suicide

Noose at BHS. Photo: anonymous
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Berkeley High administrators considered whether a noose found hanging in a tree earlier this month might have been in some way related to the suicide in February of a 21-year-old man on the BHS campus, according to Berkeley Unified Assistant Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi.

On Oct. 1 at around 2 p.m., a thin rope tied in the form of a noose was found in a tree on the campus green at Berkeley High School.

Berkeley police were called to investigate the incident, and worked with school safety officers.

Eight days after the discovery, on Oct. 9., Berkeley High Vice Principal Jorge Melgoza sent an email to the BHS community detailing what actions the school was taking in the wake of the noose’s discovery.

Melgoza described the noose as an “act of hate” and said it was “a clear and stark reminder that racism is alive and well in this country.”

Administrators also wondered whether the noose might be in some way related to the suicide on Feb. 17 on the campus of Michael B. Hamilton, who was not affiliated with the school, according to Scuderi, who, until last year, was principal of Berkeley High. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Berkeley revels in 3rd annual Sunday Streets

Sunday Streets 2014. Photo: Gina10
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Sunday Streets was back in Berkeley for a third year this weekend, taking over Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose, and attracting thousands of strollers on what turned out to be a hot fall day. Several of our regular contributing photographers captured the day of festivities, which included song, dance, great food, yoga, games, cooking, meditation, crafts, and lots of activities for kids. … Continue reading »

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Video: 36 hours in Berkeley, California

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This week, the New York Times turned its attention to Berkeley for its regular “36 Hours in…” series. It’s not the first time the city has been viewed through this lens. It was also featured in 2003.

This time, however, they also created a video to give readers a sense of life in the city (scroll down to watch it).

Many favorite local businesses and organizations are featured it the video and the accompanying article, including the Tilden Steam Train, the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley’s Hearst swimming pool, Alchemy Collective, La Botella Republic, Cheese Board Collective, Chez Panisse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Comal, Ici, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Ippuku, Elmwood Café, Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, and the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. (Prizefighter cocktail bar also sneaked in, although it is actually in Emeryville.) … Continue reading »

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