Category Archives: Non-profits

Op-ed: The politics of hospital closures

Print Friendly

Despite its summer resolution opposing the closure of Alta Bates Hospital, the City Council’s failure to plan for the medical needs of Berkeley rests squarely upon the shoulders of its majority members and their appointees to the Planning Commission and Zoning Adjustments Board.

Planning and zoning are fundamental obligations and powers of government. However, the Bates-dominated council abdicated these responsibilities when it rezoned the Herrick Hospital site without any serious thought as to what this might mean to the future … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley program offers tech tips, connections for seniors

Ivy Duncan, a student at the Center for Accessible Technology. Still from a short video about the senior program there by Alex Orlando and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou
Print Friendly

By Alex Orlando and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Charlie Falk touched the glossy surface of his Android smartphone with trepidation. After several minutes of swiping up and down, he raised several weathered fingers to his forehead and sighed deeply.

“Where do I go to find my login?” the 74-year old retired taxi driver asked, his voice cracking slightly with frustration.

Assistive technology specialist Jennifer McDonald-Peltier leaned over and placed a hand on his screen. Step-by-step, she helped him connect to the building’s wifi network. After giving Falk’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze, McDonald-Peltier stepped to the front of the classroom and began her class on smartphone basics.

“When you unlock your phone, the very first thing that you see is your home screen,” she explained.

Her students studied the rainbow-colored iPhone screen projected on their monitor. Ivy Duncan, a retired foreign service secretary, leaned forward and narrowed her eyes in concentration.

The class at Berkeley’s Center for Accessible Technology was part of Senior Connects, a free program that provides Bay Area residents over the age of 65 with hands-on technology training. During their sessions, seniors learn how to use computers, smartphones and tablets so that they can become more connected in their daily lives. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Urban Adamah opens 2-acre farm in West Berkeley

Families make pickles at the Urban Adamah opening celebratoon. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

By Frances Dinkelspiel and Sylvia Paull

Urban Adamah, an urban farm inspired by Jewish beliefs but open to all, moved into its new Berkeley home at Sixth and Harrison streets on Sunday and threw a huge party to celebrate the occasion.

Kids and adults petted goats and chased chickens. They braided flowers to create a sukkah, a temporary shelter for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They made pickles, wax candles and leaf prints, listened to Klezmer music and ate salads made with greens grown at the farm’s former location at 1050 Parker St.

The opening of Urban Adamah right by Codornices Creek further transforms what once was a quiet, dead-end street in West Berkeley. Now it is bustling with people and activity. Fieldwork Brewing Company has a popular tap room across the street from Urban Adamah, and on Sunday people were relaxing at its outside patio bordered by galvanized planters. Kosher winery Covenant sits directly across from the farm, too. Maker’s Work Space is also across the street. UC Berkeley’s University Village in Albany is connected by a footpath.

“It’s a dream,” said Adam Berman, Urban Adamah’s executive director, who raised millions to transform the once-barren U.S. Post Office land into a farm complete with places to gather, play and sleep. “We’re going to do so much here.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

After years of deferred maintenance, Berkeley asks nonprofits to pay for fixes

The Berkeley Rowing Club recently signed a 15-year lease with Berkeley for minimal rent in exchange for redoing the roof for. Photo:Berkeley Rowing Club
Print Friendly

After years of neglect, Berkeley has begun requiring nonprofit organizations renting buildings from the city to undertake and pay for long-deferred maintenance and capital improvements. About one dozen nonprofits have entered into lease negotiations with the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department over the past few years. While a few of those leases have been signed, many have dragged on for two to four years and are still unsigned.

The nonprofits are facing a combined estimated repair budget of more than $2 million for their leased buildings – and some of them say they cannot afford to pay for the repairs. These deferred maintenance costs are separate from the more than $25.5 million needed to repair city-owned and occupied buildings and facilities.

All the leased facilities are located in city parks and rented by nonprofits such as the Berkeley Art Center, TheaterFIRST, the Youth Musical Theater Company, Ala Costa Services, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, the Berkeley Paddle and Rowing Club, The Berkeley Yacht Club, and the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Berkeley congregation shows resilience in wake of fire

After a fire Sept. 30 at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, a sign thanks firefighters for their work. Photo: Fred Werner
Print Friendly

Five days after a three-alarm fire tore through the roof of a building owned by the First Congregational Church of Berkeley on 2345 Channing Way, causing an estimated $2 million in damage, the church’s senior minister, Molly Baskette, sat in The Musical Offering Café on Bancroft Way waiting to talk to members of her congregation. Baskette, who only became senior minister at First Church, as it is known, five months ago, has been holding meetings with intimate groups of five to eight people since her arrival, to “really learn their stories on a level of depth and intimacy.”

Wednesday, Baskette was poised, during her regular open office hours, to provide support and answer any questions about Friday’s devastating fire.

“I’m charged with reading the emotional affect of the congregation,” she said. Given that the congregation is very diverse and spans multiple generations, Baskette suggested there was an arc of grief and emotional needs.

There has been an outpouring of support from church members and the greater East Bay community since the fire. Many have asked what they can do to help the institution that has contributed so much to the local community. The church’s website and Facebook page have posted regular updates about the fire and its aftermath — including how it has affected events scheduled on the church campus — and, already, a crowdfunding campaign set up to raise money for the church has raised over $6,000 as this story went to press. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeley Community Fund celebrates 25 years of supporting young scholars with party at UC Theatre

The 27 Berkeley Community Fund High Hopes scholars. Photo: Courtesy BCF
Print Friendly

Saturday Oct. 8 the Berkeley Community Fund will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a big party at the UC Theatre in downtown Berkeley.

“We wanted to do something really special to mark the anniversary,” said BCF Executive Director Joleen Ruffin.

The evening includes a sit-down dinner prepared by Chef Dov and California Rose, wines curated by Narsai David, live music and an awards ceremony.

Read more about the Berkeley Community Fund on Berkeleyside.

The BCF certainly has much to celebrate: its principle mission is to provide $16,000 needs-based scholarships to motivated Berkeley youth from lower income families. In June, it honored its latest cohort of 27 Berkeley High seniors with scholarships. A total of $432,000 was awarded to the students who will receive the funds over the course of the next four years. In all, the BCF has given out $2.68 million in scholarships between 2008-2016, and has 107 active scholars as of this Fall.  73% of its scholars come from families earning less than $50,000 a year, and 90% of them are first-generation college students. … Continue reading »

Tagged

Local church offers sanctuary to those facing deportation

Sanctuary flags at University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley on July 13, 2016. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Print Friendly

A Berkeley church on Wednesday announced it would provide sanctuary to local residents seeking refuge from deportation, and it unveiled a newly created apartment designed for that purpose.

University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley (ULC), at 2425 College Ave. (at Haste), held a press conference and ritual blessing to launch the initiative, which is supported by more than a dozen local congregations and was orchestrated in partnership with the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The City of Berkeley also supports the move. Last month it passed a resolution of support for sanctuary to refugees and migrants. It was put forward by Councilman Kriss Worthington, who attended Wednesday’s event.

“Today is a day of victory for compassion and a day of victory for courage. Most importantly, it is a victory for common sense,” Worthington said, addressing the roughly 100-strong group that gathered for the announcement. It included, along with members of the press, several congregational leaders from around the Bay Area. Worthington condemned what he said was the “unprecedented level” of raids on migrants. “It’s a deportation dragnet that is scooping up and deporting people unceremoniously, and often illegally,” he said. “Berkeley is saying: ‘enough is enough.'” … Continue reading »

Second Bay Area Book Festival fills downtown Berkeley with literati, kids’ events, ideas

The Lacuna installation at the Bay Area Book Festival. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Print Friendly

The second Bay Area Book Festival took over downtown Berkeley on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5. Tens of thousands of book lovers filled 11 different venues, as well as the open-air kids’ stage, the Lacuna book installation in Civic Center Park, and scores of publisher booths.

According to festival founder and organizer Cherilyn Parsons, nearly 10,000 tickets were issued, which guaranteed seats at events, and thousands more participants were “walk ins” for the free sessions with authors.

“What really stands out this year was the excellent literary quality of the festival,” Parsons said. She also cited the popularity of the kids’ stage, the literary-themed movies at the Pacific Film Archive, and the international authors.  … Continue reading »

Tagged

24-hour East Bay giving blitz to help 500 nonprofits

East Bay Gives
Print Friendly

Get out your phone. Ready your finger. Open up your wallet. Don’t worry, it’s all for a good cause.

On Tuesday, May 3, hundreds of people are expected to participate in East Bay Gives, a 24-hour online giving blitz in support of 500 nonprofit organizations throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It’s the third time the East Bay Community Foundation has organized the fundraising campaign as part of Give Local America. The event has raised $850,000 in the last few years.

“We are excited to once again rally thousands of people to raise money for the local nonprofits that make the East Bay a special place to live, work and thrive,” said James W. Head, CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation. “This year, we are aiming to ignite the generosity of even more donors and inspire them to give back and give local.” … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Berkeley homeless activist Frances Townes celebrates her 100th birthday and a day named in her honor

Frances Townes blows out the candles on her birthday cake. Townes turned 100 and Berkeley named Feb. 13 Frances Townes Day in honor of her community involvement.
Print Friendly

At age 70, most people are looking forward to retiring, traveling, or enjoying a slower pace of life. When Frances Townes reached that milestone, she founded the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless and opened a new chapter in what continues to be a life of activism and advocacy for people who are homeless in Berkeley.

Thirty years later, dozens of people packed into the First Congregational Church in Berkeley on Feb. 13 to celebrate Towne’s 100th birthday, as well as the first-ever official Frances Townes Day in the City of Berkeley. Friends, family, and community members shared memories from different chapters of Townes’ life of social justice work, as Townes laughed and listened alongside on stage. And, fittingly for a life of 10 decades devoted to helping people, her 100th birthday party doubled as fundraiser and silent auction for Youth Spirit Artworks, an arts and job training program for homeless and low-income youth.

“With more activists like Frances, we’d have a stronger, more stable Berkeley,” said Angel Peréz, a senior artist and print-tech at Youth Spirit Artworks, adding that he was inspired by Towne’s determination in her activism throughout her life — even at difficult times. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Authors’ Dinner raises funds for Berkeley Public Library

BPLF 2016 Authors Dinner.  Photo: Richard Friedman
Print Friendly

On Saturday night, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation hosted its 14th annual Authors’ Dinner, a fundraiser which this year will help remodel parts of the Central Library, especially for the use of teenagers.

Hundreds of guests mingled with 32 local authors who were honored at the event, which is always one of Berkeley’s most popular social occasions. Attendees proudly recite their library card numbers and bid for silent auction items to raise money for their favorite local public institution.

Read more stories and op-eds on the Berkeley Public Library.

The honorary chair was Frances Dinkelspiel, co-founder of Berkeleyside, whose bestselling book, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California, was published in 2015. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , ,

New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , ,