Category Archives: Community

Ralph Nader speaks at rally to save Berkeley post office

Ralph Nader spoke out against the planned sale of the Main Post Office on Allston Way at a rally on July 29. Photo: Charles Siler
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Longtime political activist Ralph Nader spoke Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration at the downtown Berkeley post office on Allston Way in support of the on-going fight to stop the U.S. Postal Service from selling the 1914 building.

“This is not just a matter of stamps or delivery on Saturdays, important as that is,” Nader said to the crowd. “This is a fundamental institution that binds the country together.” … Continue reading »

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Community

In memoriam: Eva Bluestein, Holocaust survivor, teacher

Eva Bluestein
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Eva Bluestein, a Holocaust survivor, teacher, social activist and loving mother and grandmother, died June 12, 2104. She was 90.

Bluestein came to the United States after the war, earned a degree in sociology from UCLA, raised her family in Beverly Hills, and moved to the East Bay after her husband died to be closer to her grandchildren. She became very involved n numerous social, cultural, and civil causes.

Read an obituary of Eva Bluestein in Berkeleyside’s Obituaries section. … Continue reading »

Homeless move to railroad tracks after Gilman ‘clean-up’

Gilman homeless railroad encampment. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Homeless individuals — many relocating from Albany or other parts of West Berkeley — have set up camp along the train tracks south of Gilman Street in recent weeks.

Although a few people have lived near the tracks for years, the population expanded after the residents at the Albany Bulb were evicted in May, neighbors say. Several new encampments have appeared following a city of Berkeley clean-up of the Gilman/1-80 underpass on July 18, which caused the homeless living there to disperse. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Asphalt: New technology will reduce odors

Berkeley Asphalt plant on Virginia St. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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Berkeley Asphalt plans to invest in a new manufacturing process designed to reduce emissions and odors in its West Berkeley neighborhood starting in January, officials announced recently.

Its neighbors have complained about the noise, odors, and pollution from the plant for at least 20 years, most recently in June when a group questioned whether the plant has been violating its use permit with excess odors and noise.

What the company has decided to do is convert to a new technology called “warm-mix” asphalt, which produces paving material at a lower temperature than traditional asphalt, yet performs as well on the road and releases fewer pollutants into the air, according to company officials. The decision was the result of negotiations between the company and city staff that began last year.

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Tuolumne Camp vs Echo Lake camp: veterans compare

Photo: Mary Flaherty
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After the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp was destroyed in the August 2013 Rim Fire, the city created a “new” family camp at its Echo Lake camp. Families who had spent summers up near Yosemite have had to adjust to the new camp high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. How do the camps compare?

Berkeleyside contributor Mary Flaherty returned recently, and, for the most part, liked the new location.

“I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go to Berkeley’s Echo Lake Camp when I signed up,” said Flaherty. “My family had attended Tuolumne Camp for seven years and loved it more every year. We were heartbroken when it burned. Our experience at Echo Lake Camp was very different from Tuolumne – and yet the same in so many ways. “Out of body experience” my daughter called it, as we arrived in camp. I did miss the Tuolumne River a lot – but the incredible view helped make up for that. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley parks advocates push back after council drops bond from November ballot

The Berkeley rose garden pergola needs major repairs and has been closed to park visitors since April. Photo: Daniel Parks
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The public dismay was palpable last month when the Berkeley City Council decided, in a surprise move, to put a parks tax before voters this fall without a related bond measure that would have infused parks and pools around the city with much-needed cash, reversing an earlier vote on the items.

The $1.7 million parks tax, if approved by voters, would essentially maintain the status quo for maintenance and staffing needs, and cost the owner of an average-size home an additional $43 a year. (That same homeowner already pays about $240 a year for the existing parks tax.)

Had it gone to voters, the proposed $20 million parks bond could have helped re-open Willard Pool, improve the King and West Campus pools, put millions toward Aquatic Park, James Kenney Park and the much-loved rose garden, and repair tennis courts and ballfields around the city, in addition to addressing other significant needs. (See a financial breakdown of several possible iterations of the bond and tax proposal.)

The city estimated that the joint bond and tax measure would have added just $15 more than the tax alone to the bill for owners of an average Berkeley home, defined by the city as 1,900 square feet. … Continue reading »

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In Memoriam: Ron Cauble, founder of The Bone Room

Ron Cauble in The Bone Room. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Ron Cauble, who founded two iconic stores, The Bone Room and Vivarium, died unexpectedly July 19.

Cauble, who also went by the nickname “Old Bones,” was a brilliant scientist and natural historian, with a doctorate in chemistry, experience with rocket science, and 23 years in the study of herpetology. He was a treasure in the Bay Area community. He is survived by many of his loyal customers and friends, his devoted employees, and his loving long-time partner Diana. Read a … Continue reading »

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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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