Category Archives: Green
Berkeley has been selected as one of 33 cities worldwide in the first group of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Cities network.
The designation is for cities that, according to Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, “have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.”
One-third of the inaugural group are U.S. cities — including San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — with the other 22 distributed around the world.
The Rockefeller Foundation will now provide Berkeley and the other cities with at least two years of funding for a full-time chief resilience officer. According to City Manager Christine Daniel, the chief resilience officer will coordinate implementation of the draft Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, advancement of local climate adaptation strategies, and other efforts related to disaster preparedness and response. … Continue reading »
Something rather special is happening today at noon on the UC Berkeley campus. The bells of Sather Tower will ring out to the first ever participatory concert of its type at Cal.
The performance has been conceived as a novel way to communicate about climate change. And, if you show up with your cell phone, tablet or laptop and an internet connection, you will be one of those creating the musical score.
“It’s warning people about sea level changes,” said Professor Greg Niemeyer, explaining the thinking behind the event. “But it’s not a fire alarm. It’s more of a thoughtful, slower approach.” Niemeyer is professor of new media and art practice, and faculty co-director of the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative, and one of the key players behind the project. … Continue reading »
A group of local residents is asking the city to raise funds to turn an old, fenced-off railroad bed in south Berkeley, called the Santa Fe Right of Way, into open space with community gardens and a trail that connects to the Ohlone Greenway.
The challenge is that the parks department is already seriously underfunded. Officials are considering a measure for next November’s ballot for a tax increase of at least $20 on average, just to keep from having to lay off park maintenance workers.
Last Wednesday night, the Park Commissioners discussed the ballot measure. About 14 supporters of the Santa Fe project and several Willard Pool advocates urged the commissioners to fund these large projects, as well.
“We want to make sure that the Santa Fe Right of Way should be among the key — if not flagship — projects on ballot measure,” said John Steere, president of Berkeley Partners for Parks. … Continue reading »
Bettina Limaco created Green11: The Refill Place in 2010 to provide an alternative to single-use plastic containers. She plans to open a new store in a shipping container at 3017 Sacramento, north of Tyler Street, along with a distribution center in a second container. Customers will be able to bring their own containers into the shop to refill them with a range of environmentally and health conscious products, from shampoo and dish soap to laundry detergent. Limaco, 41, already has two outposts in San Francisco, where she lives.
Limaco and her husband, Marco Pietschmann, and their 3-year-old son, plan to move to Berkeley when they open the new branch. They intend to live in a house on the same lot, and Limaco plans to rent out space in “Green11 Village” to perhaps five small food businesses or retailers. A publicly accessible roof deck is planned on the second story. She aims to keep it local, she said, with independent businesses as tenants rather than corporate chains.
Limaco, who grew up in the Bay Area and the Philippines, came out of the corporate world to launch Green11. Previously, she said, she worked in finance for Gillette, in Boston, and later Clorox, in Oakland. Those experiences gave her an awareness of the economics of the industry. … Continue reading »
[Editor's Note: Several local neighborhood groups have been buzzing recently about problems around their homes related to wildlife. One local resident, Phil Price, offered these tips based on experiences he and his wife, Juliet Lamont, have had in North Berkeley.]
By Phil Price
A few people in recent weeks have mentioned deer depredations and other issues with birds and wildlife causing problems with landscaping. My wife and I have a lot of experience with these issues.
About 15 years ago we removed all of the ivy, Himalayan blackberry and Algerian ivy that made up the understory of our backyard, and replaced it all with native plants. … Continue reading »
Berkeley nights could have a slightly different hue next year if the city is successful in its plans to replace all 8,000 of its streetlights with LED fixtures.
The project would save money, improve lighting quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the city.
LEDs are already being used in Albany, El Cerrito, Hayward, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Los Angeles and other cities around the state. Oakland is in the process of converting all its fixtures to LEDs, the city reported. … Continue reading »
Last month a local veterinarian had a Berkeley client bring in a very sick chicken.
“It was almost dead,” said Dr. Lee Prutton, of the Abbey Pet Hospital in El Cerrito. Prutton said he put the chicken to sleep and, wondering if it had a contagious disease, sent the body to the state lab for testing. The results: heavy metal poisoning, mainly lead.
The vet is now concerned that people are raising chickens in lead-contaminated urban soils, unaware that the lead can enter the chickens’ eggs that we eat.
Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, miscarriage, high blood pressure and learning and behavior problems, and is especially problematic for growing children, according to the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department.
Last October, the New York Times reported that “…a New York State Health Department study show(ed) that more than half the eggs tested from chickens kept in community gardens in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens had detectable levels of lead, unlike store-bought counterparts.” … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley has reduced community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 8% since 2000 despite a 10% increase in population, the city announced in an annual report mailed last week to residents and businesses throughout the city.
The mailing is the most comprehensive public report produced by the city to date on its progress toward Climate Action Plan goals established in 2006. The city has set a target of a 33% reduction in emissions by 2020, and an 80% reduction by 2050.
The latest annual report, centered around the theme of sustainability, is “a way to look at a broad swath of what city government work is,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko, “how departments all come together, even if they seem to be working separately, toward a common goal.” … Continue reading »
Electric bikes will soon be easier to rent in Berkeley.
City CarShare, the organization that lets members use cars for cheap for short periods of time, is launching a pilot electric bike-sharing program in Berkeley and San Francisco next spring.
Modeled on the car-sharing system, members will be able to use 32 electric bikes from about eight different places around Berkeley. People will be able to reserve bikes online, with a mobile app, or by telephone. But unlike the bike-sharing program that’s so popular in New York and Paris, the bikes can’t be dropped off just anywhere. They must be returned to the place from where they were rented. … Continue reading »
Founded by children’s book author, illustrator and Berkeley resident Thacher Hurd and his wife, Olivia, in 1983, Peaceable Kingdom is a manufacturer of stickers, greeting cards and cooperative games for kids. Berkeleyside intern Julia Hannafin spoke separately with the company’s creative director, Sueellen Ehnebuske, and marketing manager, Tara Barnes, at its headquarters in Berkeley.
What is your mission?
Barnes: Our mission is, in short, to make good, do good, and be good.
Ehnebuske: Our mission is to provide connectivity. A way for children to connect with art that is non-licensed with some creative fun involved in it: to connect children to children. … Continue reading »
When Pauline’s Pizza opened in San Francisco in 1985, owner Sidney Weinstein says small organic farms up and down California were “in their hey day.”
As bigger names came in and started to buy up independent farms, she said, the best produce became harder and harder to find. So Weinstein started to grow more of the restaurant’s produce herself, all in the backyard of her Berkeley home — eventually supplying other Bay Area restaurants, too, with her hyper-local harvest.
Today, Weinstein’s production has grown tremendously. And even as she and her husband oversee a multi-acre ranch in the Sierra foothills of Calaveras County, they are still growing a number of staples among the winding paths of their Berkeley garden. … Continue reading »
By Varya Simpson
In many people’s minds, Berkeley is synonymous with alternative lifestyles. So it should not be surprising that Berkeley currently is home to 17 yoga studios with a wide array of classes to choose from.
Originally, hatha yoga was only one part of a complex system of self-discipline in India, which lead to union with the divine. Over the last 20 years, it has achieved mainstream world-wide popularity as a healthy and accessible form of exercise. Berkeley has, once again, kept up with the times. … Continue reading »
Just behind Berkeley’s John Muir Elementary School, there is a special place tucked away: Harwood Creek. On the banks of the creek, children can be found working on art projects, participating in hands-on science experiments, writing in journals, or just playing a fun game of hide and seek. Described by parent and former creek coordinator Judy Forth as “a magical place,” the creek has been a staple of the school that’s provided joy to kids, parents and teachers for many years.
But 20 years ago, the creek was inaccessible. It was enclosed in a tiny area inside a locked gate, covered in fallen trees and garbage. The area was overrun with blackberry, ivy, and acacia trees. It was not used by the school at all. … Continue reading »