Category Archives: Non-profits

Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.

“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.” … Continue reading »

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Sylvia McLaughlin, co-founder of Save the Bay, dies at 99

Sylvia McLaughlin, founder of Save the Bay. Photo: David Sanger/Save the Bay
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Sylvia McLaughlin, the last surviving member of the three Save the Bay co-founders, died in her Berkeley home Tuesday at the age of 99.

In 1961, McLaughlin, Catherine “Kay” Kerr and Esther Gulick, distressed over a Berkeley plan to pave over 2,000 acres of San Francisco Bay, formed Save the Bay. The trio, all wives of prominent UC Berkeley faculty members (Kerr was married to Clark Kerr, the president of the university), not only stopped Berkeley’s plans, but helped launch the modern environmental movement.

Mayor Tom Bates lamented McLaughlin’s death Wednesday and praised her work.

“If there were a Mount Rushmore of Bay Area environmentalists, Sylvia should be there,” Bates said in a statement. “I trust that her indomitable spirit and persevering vision will serve as an enduring source of inspiration for those who seek positive change against overwhelming odds.”

“Words are hardly adequate to convey her profound influence on protecting the environment, restraining runaway development around the Bay and providing a powerful role model for those whose power is based not on wealth or inside political connections but on determination and a just cause,” he wrote. … Continue reading »

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Reminder: Berkeleyside Holiday Party, Thursday, Dec. 17

Spats
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All tips from the evening — as well as proceeds from a raffle with enticing prizes — will go to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

The raffle prizes include: two tickets to see Alvin Ailey American Dancer Theater at Cal Performances; a $50 gift certificate for brunch at Penrose; two certificates from Keter Salon for a haircut or color treatment; a $50 gift certificate for Sports Basement; a $50 gift certificate for YJM Gallery of Fine Arts; two $25 certificates from Caviar; as well as more from PIQ, Hotel Shattuck Plaza and Grove Salon.

Let us know you’re coming to the Holiday Party.

Berkeleyside staff will be behind the cash bar, together with Spats employees and a number of “celebrity guest” bartenders from the Berkeley community. … Continue reading »

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Oakland’s Roots of Change: Food policy with a twist

roots of change
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By Shelby Pope

What’s the difference between free range and organic chickens? Should I eat quinoa? And tell me again why organic spinach is twice the cost of conventional? Given the complexity of contemporary food systems and their related issues, it’s not surprising that some consumers latch onto simplistic answers to these confusing series of questions: GMOs = always bad! Small, organic farms = going to save the world! Big ag = the enemy!

The Oakland-based organization Roots of Change avoids this kind of easy thinking through their groundbreaking policy work, educational initiatives, and their engaging social media presence. They post a steady stream of topical articles on their Facebook page — with added commentary — which attracts varied opinions from their fans. These well-intentioned commenters occasionally reduce complicated issues into black-and-white, “good guys vs. bad guys” arguments.

Roots of Change genuinely wants to change this dynamic. Their social media manager diplomatically steps into these online debates by gently pointing out hidden facets of the convoluted processes that shape our food systems — thus encouraging a more balanced discussion. … Continue reading »

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New museum gets ready to open in the heart of Berkeley

BAMPFA DSR 15-09 5655
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The staff moved in to their offices in September, planning for its inaugural exhibition is well underway, and construction is almost complete on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), which is set to open in January 2016.

Anyone who passes through downtown regularly will have, over the past months, had the chance to observe the gradual transformation of the Deco Moderne former UC Berkeley printing plant into a striking structure sporting a gleaming silver roof, a cantilevered section that juts out over what will be the museum’s entrance on Center Street, and a gaping rectangular space on the Addison Street side that will soon be a giant canvas for screening images and films.

Read more about the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The inside of the new museum offers a mix of large white exhibition spaces, several enticing open-plan areas for public events or where visitors can simply hang out, and stairwells and a womb-like café painted a deep shade of chili red. The new building is 20% smaller than it predecessor, the Mario Ciampi-designed concrete structure on Bancroft Way, but it has more usable space. The new building totals 83,000 square feet, with 25,000 square feet of gallery space. The $112 million project was funded through a philanthropic capital campaign and private sources.

Aside from some difficulties with the installation of the distinctive stainless-steel roof (see below), there have been no significant delays on the museum’s timeline, according to the museum’s owners, UC Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Long-time local supporter of the arts Archana Horsting honored with Berkeley Community Fund award

Archana Horsting, co-founder of the Kala Art Institute, will receive the Berkeley Community Fund's Benjamin Ide Award this year.
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Archana Horsting, director and co-founder of Kala Art Institute, has spent four decades committed to what seems like a paradoxical concept: providing a shared space for artists — precisely the type of people who stereotypically are known as fiercely individual workers.

But Horsting has been proved right with her vision, and serious artists gravitate to Kala in West Berkeley where resources and equipment are shared to cut costs.

So successful has she been, in fact, that Horsting is to be awarded the Berkeley Community Fund’s (BCF) prestigious Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal, or “Most Useful Citizen” award, at their annual dinner fundraiser on Oct. 8.

Previous award honorees include Berkeley notables Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Foundation, and counterculture activist Wavy Gravy.

Horsting, along with co-founder and artistic director Yuzo Nakano, founded Kala more than 41 years ago in a dark, cramped garage in San Francisco “with just one press and a hot plate,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Number of books weeded from library system under dispute

The Board of Library Trustees officially appointed Sarah Dentan, far left, as acting interim library director on Sept. 10. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The new acting interim director of the Berkeley Public Library pledged Wednesday night to reinstate some of the input and authority that librarians and staff lost under former Director Jeff Scott — but one of her staff members also suggested that the total number of items weeded out under Scott’s authority may have been closer to 19,000 rather than the 39,000 widely reported.

At a Berkeley Board of Library Trustees meeting, Sarah Dentan presented a report about the collections management process – a report that Scott was scheduled to present until he abruptly resigned on Aug. 31.

Dentan characterized the weeding process as more considered and thoughtful than has been portrayed by a group of former and current librarians. They have led a series of protests in the past few months to bring attention to what they saw as “draconian” book weeding. Along with City Councilman Kriss Worthington, they also raised questions about Scott’s truthfulness. For many weeks, Scott insisted that only 2,200 books had been weeded. However, after Worthington visited Scott in his office in mid-July and, with a few keystrokes, pulled up a list that showed that 39,000 books had been weeded, Scott acknowledged that the higher number was accurate. His change of tune made many, including members of BOLT, lose confidence in him. … Continue reading »

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IKEA donates ‘makeover’ to shelter for homeless families

The "after" picture of a living room at BOSS furnished with Ikea furniture.
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The families living in the McKinley Family Transitional House in Berkeley now have a lovely space from which to plot their move out from homelessness.

IKEA, the Scandinavian furniture store with an outlet in Emeryville, recently donated $10,000 worth of furniture and design services to McKinley House, located at 2111 McKinley Ave. in central Berkeley. The home, which is operated by BOSS, or Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, won the IKEA Life Improvement Challenge.

Now the living room has a comfortable blue plaid couch, lamps, a desk and shelving area, and new art on the wall. The bedrooms have wood dressers, beds and throw rugs. There is also new outdoor furniture on the lawn.

McKinley House is hosting an open house today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to show off the redecorated facility.  … Continue reading »

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ICE frees Berkeley man facing deportation to China

Photo: Ecology Center
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By  / KQED News

In what appears to be an abrupt reversal, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have released a Berkeley recycling program director from detention.

Daniel Maher, a convicted felon who has lived under threat of deportation to China for nearly 15 years, was released from ICE custody Friday morning after spending over two months in various immigrant detention facilities around California, according to his attorney, Anoop Prasad with the Asian Law Caucus.

ICE detained Maher in early June as part of a broader crackdown on Chinese nationals subject to deportation, and undocumented immigrants with prior serious criminal convictions. Maher, who immigrated legally to the United States from his native Macau when he was just three years’ old, fit both descriptions and was suddenly faced with the possibility that he’d be sent to a country he’s never known. He speaks neither Mandarin nor Cantonese. … Continue reading »

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UC Theatre project gets boost with $1.3M matching grant

The push to renovate the UC Theater got a huge boost in July when a major philanthropist made a $1.3 million matching grant. Photo: UC Theater
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One of the Bay Area’s biggest philanthropists has given a $1.3 million matching grant to spur completion of the renovation of the UC Theatre in Berkeley.

Tad Taube, who made his millions in real estate and through his connection to Joseph Koret, a women’s clothing manufacturer, announced this week that he will back the $5.6 million project, scheduled to be completed this fall.

“Music and the arts are gifts that should be accessible to everyone,” Taube said in a press release. “David Mayeri and his innovative team at the Berkeley Music Group have developed a contemporary vision for the UC Theatre that will both enrich our community and broaden youth engagement in the arts. Supporting this project presents an opportunity for our community to engage in an endeavor that will have a broad, diverse impact on music, culture, education and quality of life in our community.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police hope bike registry will deter thieves

Wet bicycles at a rack in Berkeley. Photo: Marc Zuo
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Many cyclists in Berkeley know the all-too-common pain of losing a bike to thieves. Far fewer have experienced the opposite: the rare joy of a reunion. The Berkeley Police Department wants to change that, with the help of an independent bike registry called Bike Index.

The police department’s struggle with unregistered bikes manifests itself in the large number of bikes sitting in its property room. Without a police report on file that includes a serial number, it’s next to impossible to connect a stolen bike to its owner.

Many owners don’t bother to record the serial number before a theft, so finding a bicycle again is unlikely, especially if the stolen bike has crossed city lines. As a result, recovered bikes pile up in BART and police storerooms to be eventually auctioned off, donated or repurposed.

Other times, the bikes aren’t recovered at all. According to Sgt. Spencer Fomby, the supervisor of the Berkeley Police Community Services Bureau, there are instances when police stop a suspect and can’t determine whether a bike is stolen because its serial number hasn’t been recorded in the system the department uses for reports of stolen goods.

If the department can’t find a record, officers have begun turning to Bike Index, an independent bicycle registry that anyone can search by serial number.

“Bike Index can fill the gaps,” Fomby said. … Continue reading »

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Staffer at Berkeley’s Ecology Center faces deportation for two-decade-old felony conviction

Photo: Ecology Center
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Berkeley nonprofit employee Daniel Maher is being held in detention awaiting a possible deportation to China, where he lived for the first three years of his life, because of a felony conviction from more than two decades ago.

Maher, 41, is the recycling director of the Ecology Center, where he has worked for nearly ten years. He leads a recycling crew and teaches at-risk youth about recycling in the center’s Youth Environmental Academy.

“I have been ripped away from my family and loved ones,” Maher said in a statement read over the phone to Ecology Center Deputy Director Debbie Beyea. Although he was not born here, he said, “I feel as American as anybody else who has felt the satisfaction of contributing to it.” Maher cannot read, write or speak Chinese.  … Continue reading »

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