Category Archives: Non-profits
Berkeley Fire Station #2 on Berkeley Way was filled with an unusual sight on Saturday morning: a sea of grocery bags. Firefighters and dozens of volunteers filled the bags with chickens, fresh fruit and vegetables, and canned food, for delivery to Berkeley seniors.
The annual event is organized by Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts (BRFA), Berkeley Firefighters Association, the Berkeley Fire Department, San Francisco Fire Credit Union, Berkeley and West Berkeley Lions Clubs, and the City of Berkeley. Donations came from Grocery Outlet, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl, Ashby Plumbing & Heating Supply and private citizens. … Continue reading »
Veteran writer and editor Katrina Heron — who has done stints at The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, and Wired — was recently named the new director of The Edible Schoolyard Project, the nonprofit started by school food champion Alice Waters which seeks to promote edible education and reform the National School Lunch program.
While taking the reins at the school cooking, gardening, and lunch advocacy organization is a departure from Heron’s journalism career, she has long been associated with the group and reported on a range of food matters for high-profile outlets.
Heron began working with ESYP (then the Chez Panisse Foundation) 11 years ago as a volunteer, joined the board of directors in 2003 and served until 2010.
“When I learned, on quite short notice, that the director role was open, it just seemed like the right time to assume a more active role in advocating for edible education,” said Heron, who follows in the footsteps of several short-lived leaders of the institution, most recently Quinn Fitzgerald, Francesca Vietor, and Brian Byrnes. Prior to that, the post was held by Carina Wong, who departed to work for the Gates Foundation in Seattle. … Continue reading »
When Edna Helmrich was pregnant with her second child in the 1950s, her doctor recommended she take a new drug, DES, to prevent miscarriages. Edna followed her doctor’s advice and gave birth to Susan on Nov. 14, 1955.
For 21 years, Susan thrived. Growing up in Kingston, NY, she worked hard in school, swam on the high school swim team, and went to swim competitively at Syracuse University. But when Susan was just 21, she received a devastating diagnosis: she had cancer, most likely from the DES her mother had taken to promote her survival.
That diagnosis was just the start of a long journey for Helmrich, a Berkeley resident, a PhD, and a health and wellness coach. She went on to be diagnosed – and survive — two other different cancers.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, 35 years after her first cancer diagnosis, Helmrich will join 200 others – including 12 Olympians — at Swim Across America, an event that will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer researchers at Children’s Hospital Research Center in Oakland and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. … Continue reading »
By Hannah Long and Natalie Orenstein
During the past four years, city council members have used money from their city budgets to donate $99,999 to various charities, such as the Juneteenth Festival, UC Berkeley student associations, local business groups, and non-profit arts and community organizations, according to public records.
These donations range from $100 to a few thousand dollars, and, while some city council members are big spenders when it comes to supporting community organizations, others choose to use their money elsewhere.
District 7′s Kriss Worthington is consistently the most liberal with his donations. According to public records, he donated $7,807 to community organizations in the 2012 fiscal year. His $4,332 donation to the Northside Merchants’ Association to buy Christmas decorations was more than the total donations of any other council member in 2012. Other large contributions include $1,000 to Youth Spirit Artworks and $700 to San Francisco LGBT Pride, where Berkeley had its first parade float this year. … Continue reading »
By Phil Catalfo
Over the last two months, a small cadre of volunteers has fanned out across Berkeley to enroll their neighbors in an effort to support the work of the Berkeley Food Pantry and help feed hungry families in our community. Since 1969, the Pantry, a project of the Berkeley Friends Church, has been combating hunger, feeding about 700 families a month by utilizing food obtained from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other sources, and donations. The new effort, dubbed the Berkeley Neighborhood Food Project (BNFP), aims to supplement the invaluable work that the Pantry, the food bank, and others have been doing—and to provide Berkeley residents with a more immediate way to help the hungry in our town.
The design of the project is brilliant in its simplicity: People are asked to buy one extra non-perishable item each time they go grocery shopping. These items are saved up in a reusable green shopping bags (emblazoned with the BNFP logo) until they are collected by project volunteers (who replace them with empty bags for the next collection). The bags are picked up at donors’ homes every two months, always on the second Saturday of an even-numbered month. … Continue reading »
An animated short produced by the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) that’s not afraid to address the climate-altering effect of cow farts may do more for the Meatless Monday campaign than any blundering by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Readers may recall that the USDA recently pulled the plug on an inter-office memo that suggested employees could cut their environmental impact by choosing vegetarian options once a week.)
“The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers“, which launched last week on the non-profit’s new I Files channel, takes a detailed look at the real price of cheap beef — and we’re not just talking about Americans’ ever-expanding waistlines. The video also explores the environmental and economic costs of raising cows for industrialized meat production in a country where the average person consumes three burgers a weeks. This fast-food nation, the piece also notes, chows down on three times more meat than any other country.
In its first week live, the video has been viewed more than 58,000 times. The cartoon on cows — which got picked up by outlets from ”Marketplace” to Mother Jones — follows on from CIR’s previous animated short, the award-winning “The Price of Gas”. A 7.5 minute short, “The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers” combines entertainment and journalism to deliver an abstract, data-heavy subject for the YouTube crowd. … Continue reading »
The Helios Building, a new addition to downtown Berkeley, is in the very final stages of construction and the scientists for whom it has been built are expected to move in over six weeks, starting on July 30.
The $133 million, 133,000 sq ft building, which stands five stories high on a two-block lot bounded by Oxford, Hearst, Berkeley Way, and Shattuck, is home to UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute, a collaborative project between Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois. BP (British Petroleum) has committed $500 million over the next 10 years to the institute, whose mandate is to explore the application of modern biological knowledge to the energy sector. Scientists working in the building will be exploring cellulosic fuels and bio-products among other things, including developing non-food crops to produce fuel and power.
The wedge-shaped building — which is now formally known as the Energy Biosciences Building – will also house Cal’s Synthetic Biology Institute, whose bioengineering research focuses on applications for health, food and the environment. … Continue reading »
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Carmen Francois was on a mission.
“We’re supposed to say hi to 60 people in 60 minutes,” she said.
Francois, one of Berkeley’s downtown “ambassadors,” didn’t have any trouble meeting the quota. She ducked into businesses and greeted employees by name, asking if they had any safety issues. She waved to police officers and directed tourists. She hugged homeless panhandlers, asking if they had gotten in touch with the Berkeley Mental Health Center counselor she had recommended the previous week. She pointed others toward the nearest public shower.
For the last three years, Francois has been walking up and down Shattuck Avenue interacting with those who spend their days sitting on blankets or leaning against walls, part of a larger effort to make downtown a more amenable area. But her stomping grounds have now become the center of a new debate: whether or not Berkeley should adopt a measure that makes it illegal to sit on the sidewalk in a commercial district between 7 am and 10 pm. … Continue reading »
The meeting was held in San Francisco earlier this week at the offices of SPUR, a nonprofit created to promote good planning and good government. The focus of the discussion: an ambitious plan to overhaul Oakland Unified School District‘s inadequate and antiquated school food service. But the driving force behind what could be a model program for re-imagining school lunch in large school districts around the nation is a Berkeley-based nonprofit that has quietly been rethinking school lunch for many years.
No, not that nonprofit. The Center for Ecoliteracy recently released a detailed feasibility study that, if implemented, would amount to a massive makeover for the OUSD school food program. It includes recommendations for a newly outfitted, green central commissary with a 1.5-acre edible farm in West Oakland, refurbished existing kitchens, and the development of 14 school-based community kitchens dotted throughout the school district, which serves 38,000 students at 101 schools, 70% of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The community kitchens are envisaged as places where budding edible entrepreneurs and local organizations with a food focus could work, for a fee, during after-school hours. … Continue reading »
When Kenneth Brower was finishing up his freshman year at UC Berkeley, his father – the famed environmentalist David Brower – recruited him to work on a project: a book featuring stunning photos of the Big Sur coast entwined with the poetry of Robinson Jeffers.
Never mind that Kenneth Brower, born and raised in the hills of Berkeley, was still in his teens. Never mind he had never edited anything before. The younger Brower moved into the home of famed photographer Ansel Adams in Carmel and started to make forays into the studios of other celebrated photographers.
The result was Not Man Apart and when it was published in 1965 it became one of the most popular of the large-format nature coffee table books that the elder Brower produced. Kenneth Brower went to work on or edit 14 books in the series, including one on the Galapagos Islands during his sophomore year at Cal, before launching his own career as a noted nonfiction writer.
2012 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of David Brower, widely considered to be one of the greatest environmental activists of his time, and second only to John Muir in calling attention to the critical need to preserve America’s wilderness areas. … Continue reading »
For the past three years Sarah Nelson has run free cooking classes for low-income families under three different names. While working as a special projects coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market she brought the program then known as Operation Frontline to the Bay Area.
That effort, a national initiative sponsored by the nonprofit Share our Strength, changed its name to the more apt Cooking Matters in October 2010. Last August, when Nelson left the farmers’ market, she took the cooking class concept with her and now heads up the non-profit organization Three Squares, which is holding a fundraising brunch at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom this Sunday.
Name changes aside, the core concept of this program remains the same: six weeks of cooking instruction that focuses on kitchen skills, fresh foods, and meal planning for those in need. Three Squares is a lean operation: in addition to Nelson, 31, the staff includes three AmeriCorps members and relies on 400 volunteers to teach about 15 classes a week in the Bay Area, typically two each week in Berkeley. … Continue reading »
By Ilana DeBare
As a child, Aimée Baldwin spent Saturday mornings learning about the wildlife of Tilden Park in its junior ranger program.
Now her own wildlife is about to be displayed there.
Baldwin, 36, is a Berkeley artist who specializes in what she calls “vegan taxidermy” – extraordinarily lifelike sculptures of birds made by hand from crepe paper, wire and Styrofoam.
On Thursday May 10th, her work will be exhibited at the Brazilian Room, in the center of her old Tilden haunts. The one-night show is part of a silent auction and dinner to benefit Golden Gate Audubon Society, the local Audubon chapter covering San Francisco, Berkeley and neighboring communities.
“Bird people really appreciate what I do and all the effort I put into making things realistic, versus people who can’t tell the difference,” Baldwin said. … Continue reading »
The week before last, the city of Berkeley took time to honor two of its citizens. Laura Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson were issued with a proclamation and words of praise from Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio, among others, at the April 3 meeting of the City Council. The following night, PBS Newshour ran an eight-minute segment on the couple’s work (watch it below). Six months ago, Diane Sawyer introduced Stachel as “Person of the Week” on ABC World News Tonight. Also in October, the pair appeared on CBS after winning the Nokia Tech Awards as part of the San Jose Tech Museum Tech Awards.
Such plaudits have come to the couple, who live with their kids near College Avenue in south Berkeley, because they are literally helping to save people’s lives on a regular basis, and are doing so through a combination of smarts and sheer determination. … Continue reading »