Category Archives: Community

Parents, students rally for more inclusive Berkeley schools

PCAD ralley outside BUSD board meeting 5/20/15 Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Parents, students and community members held a rally at this week’s Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education meeting to urge board members to provide a more inclusive district for students of color and with disabilities.

Announced by the faith-based activist group Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA), the rally was led by education groups Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD) and Allies in Special Education. An estimated 25 people gathered before the meeting began at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20.

Participants, both young and old, claimed BUSD has long “walked the walk” on inclusion but now needs to take action. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

New Berkeley Humane shelter plans approved

Project renderings of the proposed Berkeley Humane building on Ninth Street. Image: Noll & Tam Architects
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Berkeley Humane won approval last week to construct a new facility on Ninth Street, and the organization is hoping to get the community involved to help make the project a reality.

The city’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved the permit for the new building May 14 to allow demolition of the agency’s existing facility and future construction of a new 2-story, 13,211-square-foot replacement building at the same location, 2700 Ninth St. in West Berkeley. The permit was approved on consent, and neither board members nor members of the public discussed the project during the meeting.

The approval comes five years after a deadly fire destroyed most of the existing building, killing 15 cats. Since reopening in 2011, the nonprofit — officially named the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society Inc. — has operated out of only a small portion of the salvaged building. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Marcia Donahue’s amazing world

Marcia Donahue garden. Photo: John Storey
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Marcia Donahue has lived at 3017 Wheeler St. for 37 years. She has gardened there for 37 years, exquisitely and creatively, favoring lush and jungle-like plantings that change with the changing sunlight of the day. She has created art there for 37 years. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley launches public meetings on health inequalities

Age Adjusted Diabetes Hospitalization Rates by Zipcode in Berkeley. Graphic: Berkeley's 2013 Health Status Report
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Berkeley is gearing up for a series of town hall meetings about the state of public health in the city to allow community members to share their thoughts and concerns regarding the improvement of city-wide health priorities.

The discussions are envisioned as a collaboration between Berkeley’s Public Health Division and the community in a “shared effort” to realign public health resources to communities with the greatest needs.

Berkeley released a Health Status Report in 2013 that outlined issues of health inequities between different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups in the city, prompting a report to the Berkeley City Council recommending that the health division prioritize work to diminish these disparities. It was the city’s first health status update since 2007.

“One of the challenges that we give to ourselves is how can we be sure that even though we’re small, we’re doing the very best that we can to address the health issues in Berkeley that are of top concern to the community, and to us,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s director of public health.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s new soda tax panel begins its work

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A new Berkeley “panel of experts” charged with allocating money collected from the city’s recently implemented soda tax convened for the first time Tuesday night, electing Jennifer Brown and Xavier Morales as chair and vice chair, respectively.

Brown, a parent and soda tax activist, and Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, will lead the nine-person panel, officially titled the “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts,” in bi-monthly or monthly meetings that will establish the direction of funding from Berkeley’s new sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which was approved by voters in November.

“This moment right now is probably the biggest moment we’ve ever been in,” panel member and health activist Joy Moore said to her peers.

A small group of community members were present at the meeting, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, including Berkeley City Council members Laurie Capitelli and Linda Maio, and Berkeley School Board Member Josh Daniels.

“We’re all in a fishbowl built out of a magnifying glass,” Capitelli told the panel of activists, health professionals and parents, referring to the national attention the soda tax has garnered and the strong community interest in the work about to be done. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Waterside Workshops is a community bicycle sop and youth education program  oeprating since 2007.  Photo: Waterside Workshop
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WATERSIDE WORKSHOPS The West Berkeley community bike store and education center is opening a new bike repair shop and has a newly renovated rental shop. It will hold a Grand Opening to showcase both on Saturday, May 30, 12-6 p.m. at 84 and 90 Bolivar Drive. The event will also serve as a bike drive: bring a bike to donate and receive a gift card from Waterside Workshops’ list of sponsors. Waterside Workshops began offering wooden boat building and bike mechanics classes for local youth in 2007, and expanded to include a bicycle store and rental facility in the following years.”The creation of Waterside Workshops served a two-fold purpose, addressing the need for vocational training as a part of a healthy community and revitalizing a highly under-used urban park,” the organization states on their webpage. The weekly Public Shop event where mechanics assist attendees in fixing their own bikes, will take place in the new building at 90 Bolivar Drive. Retail sales and bike rentals will continue to operate from the old site at 84 Bolivar Drive. Visit the Waterside Workshops website and connect with them on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Soda tax raises $116,000 of revenue in first month

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati Indah Citrawireja
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Berkeley’s soda tax has generated $116,000 in revenue in the first month of its operation, according to Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who announced the figure at a press conference May 18 in front of Old City Hall.

The money was sourced from 36 different sugar-sweetened beverage distributors, and is on target to raise $1.2 million in its first year, according to Capitelli.

Proceeds from the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which was passed overwhelmingly by Berkeley voters with 75% approval in November, go into Berkeley’s General Fund. They will be allocated by a newly appointed panel of experts, operating with input from the community. The panel will hold its first meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 19, at 6 p.m.

Read more on Berkeley’s historic soda tax.

“We’re well on our way to a smooth implementation,” Capitelli said at the press conference. “We wanted to get it right.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley author Marissa Moss says goodby to Amelia, a character that has delighted readers for 20 years

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By Michael Berry

After 20 years and more than 5 million copies sold, Marissa Moss‘ “Amelia’s Notebook” series has arrived at its concluding chapter.

The Berkeley writer is bringing her feisty, hand-drawn creation back to its small-press roots, publishing “Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook” through her own children’s press, Creston Books.

Moss, 55, said she took her inspiration for Amelia’s story from a composition book she originally intended for one of her three sons. Although she had already published a number of picture books, she decided to experiment with a new combination of hand-written prose and pictures to tell the story of a fourth-grade girl trying to figure out a move to a new school. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High students allege BUSD refused access to federal investigators over sexual harassment

Students from BHS Stop Harassing put up posters in campus, alleging BUSD has been refusing OCR investigators access to students. Photo: Jaya N.S.
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After BUSD officials allegedly refused to let federal investigators interview students about sexual harassment claims at Berkeley High, students plastered posters in campus hallways last month stating, “You are being silenced,” and “Your civil rights are being violated right now.”

Students and parents of the activist group BHS Stop Harassing, who alerted the Office of Civil Rights about alleged sexual harassment at the high school, contend that the school district has obstructed OCR’s efforts to collect materials and speak to students. The district has not turned over requested papers and documentation; refused to allow OCR to distribute an anonymous survey asking about sexual harassment in classrooms; failed to alert students that investigators were there to conduct interviews; and did not send permission slips for those interviews home, according to parents of BHS students. One of the parents was Heidi Goldstein, who filed the complaint to the OCR last December. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Bike to Work day set for Thursday, May 14

Bike to Work Day will take place this Thursday, May 14th - get out there! Photo: Bike East Bay
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The wheels are set in motion for Berkeley’s annual Bike to Work Day on Thursday, May 14, which is being organized in conjunction with the local Walk and Roll to School Day.

The event, hosted by Bike East Bay, will feature a number of two-wheel-friendly events, including the “Mayor-Palooza Bike to Work Day Ride,” featuring two visiting mayors from Europe, and a pop-up bikeway on Milvia Street.

Bike East Bay and Berkeley High School will also host a morning energizer station at Berkeley City Hall from 7:30-9:30 a.m. serving tasty pick-me-ups from La Note Restaurant and snazzy cyclist swag bags.

“We’re expecting a record-breaking turnout,” said Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director at Bike East Bay. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley’s new donation boxes obfuscate underlying issues

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It’s no accident that the newly launched “Positive Change Donation Program”, a partnership of the Downtown Berkeley Association, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, and City of Berkeley, was introduced at the same time that new anti-homeless downtown measures were passed. Donation box programs are in vogue, with similar programs in Indianapolis, Denver, Pasadena, and Orlando, used as a karmic counter-balance when stricter anti-homeless enforcement is implemented. (And while Berkeley aggressively pursues legal enforcement of its own stricter anti-homeless measures, … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Julie Partos Clark raises the quirky bar on Webster Street

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At 2634 Webster St., just west of College, there is a regularly changing themed sidewalk art installation. “Regularly” might not be the perfect adverb there, though, because there is no schedule for changes, no plan for changes, not sketches for the next one – just changes when the moment is right to change.

The artist behind these installations in Julie Partos Clark, a Jewish Australian-Hungarian artist who first came to Berkeley with her mother in the early 1960s. Today she is the matriarch in a multi-generational family compound of houses on the corner of College and Webster. She is a working artist who describes her work as collage, although she may use the term “collage” a bit differently than you or I might. … Continue reading »

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Neighbors outline demands for Adeline Corridor grant

About 100 South Berkeley residents gathered Saturday to discuss community demands for a plan to revitalize the area. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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About 100 neighbors gathered Saturday morning at the South Berkeley Community Church to work on a document outlining their hopes for the city’s revitalization of the Adeline Corridor.

It was the second meeting of Friends of Adeline, a community group created after the city was awarded a $750,000 planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission last year. At a public information session hosted by the city in January, many residents said they were concerned the project would threaten the diversity and history of the neighborhood.

With the encouragement of Councilman Max Anderson, neighbors convened for the first time in April to begin to draft a “manifesto” to present to the city and MIG, the Berkeley-based project consultant that will oversee the grant.

“We are a resident-led group here,” said Chris Schildt, who facilitated Saturday’s meeting with planning commissioner and Berkeley native Ben Bartlett. “I think it’s important to recognize that, while the city is creating this process for us, we need to make sure that we know, and as a collective voice can say, what neighbors want.” … Continue reading »

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