Category Archives: Community

Live Oak Park Fair is leaving Berkeley after 44 years

A glimpse of the 2011 Live Oak Park fair through a display of hula hoops. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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One of Berkeley’s most treasured outdoor celebrations, the Live Oak Park Fair, is leaving the city after 44 years.

Jan Etre, the producer of the fair since 1988, is moving it to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and turning it into a benefit for the radio station KPFA. It will still be a fair focused on the arts, but the June fair may be twice as large and will be known as the KPFA Summer Arts Fair.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Etre, who has worked on the fair for 27 years. “It’s been a joyful community garden party every year. We are sorry Live Oak is ending. We are all kind of sad but we see this is as a bigger, better picture.” … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Schools need to stop our friends from making us fat

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Obesity is contagious. If I am obese, my friends, my friends’ friends, and my friends’ friends’ friends are more likely to be obese.

These obese social networks are growing, as evidenced by American children being three times more likely to be obese today than they were in the 1980s. How do we combat this staggering trend?

Implementing national nutrition and cooking curriculum standards in schools would be a start. This would promote healthy relationships with food among social networks, as … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley: Bowling balls as garden art

Bowling balls
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I find the use of bowling balls as lawn art to be undeniably quirky. For me, that starts with the premise that bowling itself is whimsical — an antithesis for the social isolation of our era.

Today, Berkeley has only one bowling venue, one which must be seen as at least a bit eccentric. … Continue reading »

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Community effort may see Berkeley’s Oaks Theatre reopen with Bakesale Betty on board

The Oaks Theater at xxxx Solano Ave. has been empty for several years. New plans may see it reopen if a deal can ben reached. Photo: Ian Ransley
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The Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue may have a future after all, after five years of sitting vacant. Jim Whitty, a Berkeley local and his non-profit group, From Little Acorns Grow, is working with Gordon Commercial Real Estate Services to lease and re-open the theater in what will be a true community effort if it succeeds.

Speaking at the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA) meeting Thursday night at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church Auditorim, Whitty, a veteran Oakland firefighter and Secretary Treasurer of the Oakland Firefighters’ Union for the past ten years, said he was well down the path of negotiations with John and Kevin Gordon who were being very supportive of the initiative.

“The rental negotiations are up in the air, but we are not too far apart,” said Whitty who said he was well used to negotiating as a union leader. He is at the “letter of intent” stage, he said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley reports possible case of measles exposure

Electron microscope image of the virus responsible for measles (paramyxoviridae)
Photographer: Alain Grillet
Copyright Sanofi Pasteur
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The City of Berkeley has issued an alert after an adult with measles visited La Mediterranée restaurant in Berkeley on the evening of Friday February 20.

The city is advising that patrons at the Elmwood neighborhood restaurant during that time should monitor themselves for symptoms until March 13.

The person, a San Mateo County resident, was at the restaurant on 2936 College Ave. from approximately 6:45 to 8 p.m. that Friday, the city said in a release about the incident issued at around 8 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 26.

“The measles virus can linger in the air for up to two hours, so those at the restaurant until 10 p.m. could have been exposed. The risk is very slight for those who have received the recommended two doses of the vaccine,” read the statement. … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog: Kindness of strangers ends the tale

photo credit Melani Schweder
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This is the third and final part of the barber’s dog story. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a Fella. He’s filthy, smelly, and appears to be neglected. Smith starts visiting the dog in her lunch-hours, playing with him through the chain-link fence and bringing him treats. Her ministrations are noticed, and, eventually, she is asked if she wants to take Fella home. Smith can’t bring Fella to her own home so sets out to try to find someone who can. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

Oakland, a week before Christmas. The wind is insane and the sky spews giant marbles we’re supposed to believe are raindrops. All I can think of is the barber’s dog, seeking cover under the truck or crouched at the back of his door-less doghouse, no bedding or insulation of any kind. My only solace is knowing that this miserable stretch for him has an expiration date.

I call him the barber’s dog because he lives on a cement lot next door to a barbershop, but if you want to get technical, Fella doesn’t belong to the barber. The owner of the shop — a young woman — rents the space from the dog’s legal owner, a man who doesn’t even live in Oakland. It’s through her that I leave notes for this absent guardian, offering to walk his dog or drop off flea powder. And she’s the one, back in September, who gives me the only message I’ve ever gotten back: “You can have Fella if you want him.”

I want him badly, but my house is at capacity, animal-wise. So the search is on.

It’s early December when Nancy emails, asking if I’m still looking for a home or group to take the barber’s dog. Nancy runs one of the most highly-regarded pit bull-focused rescue and advocacy organizations in the nation — ColoRADogs — out of Fort Collins, Colorado. We’d met in person only a couple of times, but she’d been following his story. … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog, it turns out, has another friend

Fella, the neglected dog, on a lot behind a fence in Oakland. Photo: Leslie Smith
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This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Read Part 1.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a dog who, as she describes it, is filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. Smith takes pity on the sorry-looking dog. She identifies its owner as the barber whose shop is on the lot where Fella, the dog, spends his days. She begins visiting Fella, bringing him toys. But, when she asks if she can walk him occasionally, she is turned down. Read the final part of the story tomorrow. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has fleas.

This is a recent development and the situation has begun to impact our time together. We used to while away the lunch hour playing a game. (I toss a treat through the fence. He sniffs around earnestly to find it. Repeat.) These days, he’s only good for a few tosses before he goes back to biting at his hind legs. Or wriggling on his back against the gritty cement.

When he’s close enough for me to assist, I reach in and scratch that flea-infested dermis. I doubt a veterinarian would say that’s the healthiest approach for him in the long run, but I’m desperate for the barber’s dog to know some relief.  … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog, and one woman’s bid to save him

Through the fence. Photo: Leslie Smith
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Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day, while walking in Oakland, Smith stumbled upon a dog who, as she describes it, was filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. He relished her attention, however. Below is the first part of the story of what happened after Smith took pity on the sorry-looking dog. We will publish the next two parts over the next few days, serial-style. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has no hair. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But there are big bald patches on his back and hind legs and his right eye is practically crusted shut. The dog is so filthy I can smell him in the open air from behind the chain link fence. I reach my hand close enough for him to sniff. He’s shy at first, almost disbelieving, but pretty soon we’re pals. He makes pig-like, happy cooing sounds as I pet him. I make happy cooing sounds too.

It’s early in the morning and a woman on a bike stops at the curb and looks at us.

It’s awkward, so after a moment I ask, “Do you know this dog? Do you know who he belongs to?” … Continue reading »

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Neighbors petition to rename Berkeley’s South Branch Library after civil-rights leader

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opened in May 2013. Photo: Richard Friedman
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The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was remodeled two years ago, and soon it might be rechristened too.

On Feb. 10, the city council passed a proposal to rename the library, at 1901 Russell St., after Tarea Hall Pittman, a civil-rights leader who lived in South Berkeley and died in 1991. The Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) will have the final say on whether the change will be made.

Pittman “was just a pillar in the community,” said councilwoman Linda Maio, who sponsored the item. A community petition in support of the name change garnered over 2,000 signatures. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s West Branch first ‘net zero’ library in the state

West Branch Library. Photo Richard Friedman
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The West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, which opened in Decemeber 2013, produced more energy that it used in 2014, and it has been officially anointed as the first “net zero” library in the state and only the third municipal building of its kind in the nation.

“Libraries embody a community’s values,” Jeff Scott, the Director of Library Services, said in a press release announcing the energy savings. “It’s fitting that the Berkeley Public Library’s West Berkeley branch brings together City values of education and sustainability. This is an amazing accomplishment by Berkeley voters, library patrons, a dedicated group of Berkeley Public Library staff and our local design firms and contractors.”

The announcement comes shortly after the release of the library’s annual report, which was full of interesting user statistics, and the library’s major annual fundraising event, the Author’s Dinner, put on by the Berkeley Public Library Foundation (see a photo gallery of the evening below). … Continue reading »

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Update: Missing man found safe in Oakland

Missing Berkeley
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Update, 10:22 p.m. Police announced shortly after 10 p.m. that the missing man has been found safe in Oakland.

Original post, 8:46 p.m. Berkeley police are asking the community for help in locating a missing “at risk” person.

Willie Maxie Powell, an 86-year-old man, is described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall and 162 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen in the 2600 block of Shattuck Avenue (between Carleton and Parker) on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 6:20 p.m.

At that time Powell was wearing a yellow short-sleeved polo shirt and blue jeans.

Powell suffers from dementia and other medical conditions.

Police ask anyone who has seen, or sees, Willie Powell,  to call the Berkeley Police Department at 911. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley close to deal for long-empty Telegraph lot

Ken Sarachan, who owns multiple properties on Telegraph Avenue, bought 2501 Haste St. in 1994. The Berkeley Inn was located there until a fire destroyed it. The mural was recently removed. Photo: Ted Friedman
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UC Berkeley and property owner Ken Sarachan are close to a joint-venture development deal for the long-empty lot at the north-east corner of Haste and Telegraph, which means that new student housing might be in place there by August 2017.

“We are in negotiations, deep negotiations,” said Robert Lalanne, UC’s Vice-Chancellor for Real Estate. Lalanne said he would like to think they are getting very close to a deal.

The university would take over Sarachan’s entitlement of the proposed development for the site: a six-story Moorish, palace-like structure inspired by Italian hill towns, Tibetan forts and the rock-cut architecture of Petra in Jordan. The university would then turn over the project  to a developer, who would build the structure. Lalanne declined to name the developer as a contract had not been signed. … Continue reading »

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Community

How Quirky is Berkeley? Science and art on Cedar Street

Science and art
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Two smart scientists live at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar. Dan Werthimer is an astrophysicist who conducts research for several SETI (Search for Extra-Terresetrial Intelligence) programs. Mary Kate Morris is a virologist who has researched HIV since a Peace Corps tour in Africa in the 1980s.

Two great artists live at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar. Mary Kate Morris is an auto-didactic artist. Dan Werthimer is good at engineering things. After buying the house in 1984, they were inspired by the garden, and garden art, of Marcia Donahue and began presenting art to the street, sometimes their own and sometimes art of others. … Continue reading »

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