Category Archives: Non-profits

Non-profits

Bay Nature: Restitches our connection to natural world

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No matter how grand the “internet of things” becomes, all the digital wizardry in the world will never rival the unsurpassable majesty of nature.

Applied to the Bay Area, this global truth spears the soul four times a year as it arrives in the unassuming vehicle of the quarterly magazine Bay Nature.

Marking the 15th anniversary of a publication dedicated to the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area, the magazine, whose offices are in Berkeley, has flowered into 53 consecutive editions, an informational website, “Bay Nature on the Air” videos, and free naturalist-led hikes.

At the helm of the independent nonprofit organization, Bay Nature Institute, sits publisher and editor David Loeb. Or rather, Loeb hikes, animal-watches, kayaks, cycles and otherwise explores water, land and sea while searching for the next story, the next gorgeous photograph. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley honors Eleanor Shapiro during final year of Jewish Music Festival

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Eleanor Shapiro still remembers the first time Klezmer music struck her soul.

It was 1996 and Shapiro was auditioning for a part in a dance troupe that planned to perform to a Klezmer piece. Shapiro was asked to sing “Ale Brider,” a traditional Yiddish folk song reinterpreted by the band, The Klezmatics.

When Shapiro heard the lilting, rhythmic melody inspired by the music coming from Eastern European shtetls, she was deeply moved.

“It was so clear it was speaking to my heart,” said Shapiro. “I felt like I had come home.”

Previously Shapiro had thought that the future of Jewish culture lay in Israel, where she had spent nine years, and the expansion of Hebrew. But her worldview shifted in that moment. She suddenly realized the power of Jewish music. That led her to volunteer for the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, started in 1986 by Ursula Sherman, who had fled Nazi Germany with her family when she was a teenager. By 1998, Shapiro was co-director. In 2004, she became the sole director of the festival, now in its 30th year. … 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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Shotgun Players to create studio at old Serendipity Books

Shotgun Players are transforming the old Serendipity Books on University Avenue into a rehearsal space. Photo: Google Images
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Berkeley’s Shotgun Players has purchased the building on University Avenue that once housed Serendipity Books and will turn it into a new rehearsal and shop space.

A large gift from an anonymous donor allowed Shotgun to buy the 5,200-square foot building at 1201 University (at San Pablo) in March 2014. The Board of Directors and other donors have contributed $1.6 million to renovate the space. Shotgun will now look to the broader community to raise an additional $175,000.

“I am humbled and awed by the outpouring of support from the Shotguns community,” Patrick Dooley, the theater’s artistic director, said in a press release. “The generosity of our supporters is truly inspiring. After years of being nomadic, Shotgun realized the secret to longevity is not just in great theatre, but also in long term investments like real estate.” … Continue reading »

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YMTC ‘Fiddler’ cast learns lessons from Holocaust survivor

YSam with  Aya Nakashima, Rachel Cornejo, Laurel Schweidel, and Alana Goldberg, all cast members of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo: Courtesy of YMTC.
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What is Fiddler on the Roof? A charming love story (several love stories, really)? A family drama? A tale of religious/ethnic persecution?

To Jennifer Boesing, the director of the upcoming Youth Musical Theater Company’s production, it is all of these and much more. In her program notes, she says that it is “about the one constant in all of our lives: change. Resistance to change, despair about change, revolting for change, and celebration of change. It is about the necessary challenge of loss and rebirth. It is truly a celebration of what it means to be human.”

Celebrating what it means to be human met its greatest challenge of the 20th century in the years of the Holocaust. As part of the in-depth approach to theater that marks Boesing’s directorial style and that she encourages in her students, she invited Sam Genirberg, a Bay Area Holocaust survivor, to talk to the cast of 7th through 12th graders in the midst of their rehearsals Jan. 23 at their spiffy new rehearsal space on the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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Pioneering needle exchange program reduces health risks

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By Noelia González

Every week, at three different sites in Berkeley, volunteers set up a table with a few boxes of intravenous needles, some cotton and some disposal containers, and wait for people to drop by. They are part of a pioneering needle-exchange program the type of which, until 2000, was illegal in California.

In fact, Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution (NEED), a nonprofit that seeks to reduce infectious disease risks for East Bay intravenous drug users, was born a decade before such programs were legalized, as an underground program run by HIV positive people, people in recovery, and health activists.

NEED is one of 37 programs in California that provide syringe exchanges to reduce harm among drug users in the state. All of them are based on the premise that using clean needles and syringes reduces the risk of HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis C infection. … Continue reading »

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Emma Goldman: Still too hot to handle? UC Berkeley set to pull plug on anarchist’s archive

Emma Goldman in a mug shot taken in 1901. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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By Rebecca Spence / J Weekly

As UC Berkeley celebrates the 50th anniversary of the free speech movement this month, a long-simmering feud over funding for the Emma Goldman Papers — an archival project dedicated to the life and work of the iconic Jewish radical and free speech advocate — is coming to a head.

After 34 years of UC Berkeley affiliation, and more than $1.2 million of funding spread across the decades, the project could be reaching the end of the line. … Continue reading »

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4 Berkeley buildings to get upgrades after library lawsuit

Ashkenaz will use a $27,000 grant it received from the Berkeley Preservation Trust to seismically upgrade its building and help fund a new roof. Photo: Joe Balestreri
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A bell tower constructed in 1878. A nursery school built in 1927. An import-export warehouse converted into a music venue. A prefabricated panel cottage put together in 1887.

These four Berkeley structures will soon be improved, thanks to $87,000 generated by the settlement of a lawsuit between Berkeley and Concerned Library Users, a group that protested how some Measure FF library bond funds were to be used. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley program, teens learn the law, leadership

Meea Sheard spent her summer interning at the General Counsel's Office of the Peralta Community College District. Photo: Nancy Schiff
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Jay-Z and Beyoncé are working out their relationship problems. The celebrities — impersonated uncannily by two 17-year-olds — are pretty angry at each other. But eventually they restore their romance, thanks to the help of an articulate 16-year-old mediator.

Mediation role-playing is just one sliver of the Summer Legal Fellowship Program at the Center for Youth Development Through Law. Each summer, the non-profit offers 30 disadvantaged youth from Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond paid internships and training in law and leadership.

This year’s program ended with a graduation ceremony last week. The teenagers worked hard until the end, juggling their internships at various government agencies and non-profits, attending college prep and constitutional law classes, and preparing their resumes for mock job interviews. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High junior brings code to Cambodia

Kids meet at Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate (FLOW). Ming will be teaching code there. Photo: KhodeUp
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Ming Horn is as excited about her summer plans as anyone. Over the next few weeks the Berkeley High junior will be teaching web design and other computer skills to orphans in Cambodia. The classes are part of KhodeUp, which is entirely Horn’s creation.

While organizing such an ambitious project is a tall order for a busy high-school student, Horn has risen to the challenge. At the time of writing, KhodeUp’s crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo has raised 97% of its $15,000 goal in under a month, the initiative won $1,000 at the Thiel Summit’s first under-18 pitch competition, and, last week, it was featured on Tech Crunch.

“I don’t get a lot of sleep anyways,” said Horn, talking about the challenge of creating and running a major overseas educational program while balancing the everyday priorities of high school. “It is hard, but it’s definitely worth it.” … Continue reading »

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New Pints for Paws fest will benefit Berkeley Humane

Berkeley East Bay Humane society at 9th and Carleton. Photo: Jasper Burget
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Cats, dogs, and beer don’t often come up in the same sentence, but that could soon change thanks to a unique fundraising event for Berkeley Humane.

The Pints for Paws beer festival on June 7 at the Urban Adamah farm at 1050 Parker St. will bring together many well-loved elements: dogs, cats, humans, and brewer’s yeast. There will be a selection of 80 craft beers from more than 20 breweries, and attendees are encouraged to bring their (on leash) dogs.

Highlights from the festival include the chance to meet local artisanal craft brewers, cider makers, and wine makers and a wide range of delicious food will be provided by local food trucks and vendors. There will also be live music to bring the whole event to the next level. … Continue reading »

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At the Write Home Project, the young homeless are heard

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By Victor Casillas Valle

Nestled behind St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, on Bancroft Way in Berkeley, is one huge set of steel steps covered in rust and foliage. Walking up them, there’s a feeling of urban beauty, something that is calming with a rush of city excitement. Reaching the top, you enter a high-ceilinged auditorium with huge windows and an airy sense of natural light. Every Monday, the room is filled with conversation rising from the writing workshop, or occasional open mic, provided by the Write Home Project.

Conceived and run by two UC Berkeley alumni and working poets, Gabriel Cortez and Natasha Huey, The Write Home Project facilitates creative arts work by homeless youth (under 25). Write Home provides an outlet for its participants to be heard while they tell stories about, and create a dialogue around, the state of homelessness. … Continue reading »

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Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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