Tag Archives: Youth Spirit Artworks

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.
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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 »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Hand2M1
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SHOTGUN’S BLAST FESTIVAL Berkeley’s Shotgun Players have launched a new festival, BLAST, with the goal of “exploding the limits of possibility in theater.” The intention is for BLAST to be an annual celebration of difference — a month-long festival of new ideas and visions. “BLAST aims to explode the boundaries of the stage with performances by local and national theater artists. We think life is dynamic, changing, ephemeral, strange, and beautiful. Theater should be too,” says the theater. On Saturday and Sunday you can see My Mind is Like an Open Meadow, by Portland’s Hand2Mouth ensemble. A mixture of lighting, pre-recorded voice, music, dance and scenery, the piece is based on one year’s worth of recordings Erin Leddy made of her fascinating grandmother, actress Sarah Braveman (watch the trailer). BLAST runs through March 6 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Free parking in the Ashby BART parking. Tickets: $15 advance/$20 door. Blast Pack tickets available for multiple performances. See full program at Shotgun Players’ website. … Continue reading »

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Community helps plan new South Berkeley parklet

YSA mural. Photo: Kathleen Costanza
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After months of deliberating and design tweaks, last Thursday youth and community members put the final touches on plans for a new parklet alongside Alchemy Collective Café on Ellis Street and Alcatraz Avenue in South Berkeley.

Gathering in Youth Spirit Artworks, an arts and job training program that serves homeless and low-income youth, the meeting was the last of four community meetings and two workshops which hashed out a number of neighborhood concerns. The group plans to submit the parklet designs and apply for a city permit in the coming weeks.

Read more about the story of Berkeley’s parklets.

“We want the parklet to show what the South Berkeley community can produce,” said 17-year-old Rayven Wilson, one of several Youth Spirit Artworks youth leaders who took part in the planning process. Wilson said that, for YSA youth, the most important aspects of the parklet’s design was that it was colorful, versatile, and that it tied into the mural behind it that depicts South Berkeley community members and musicians.

“We want it to look like us,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley finds fund to expand homeless services during wet weather

Volunteers from Night on the Streets Catholic Worker serve food to the homeless. Photo: Matt Werner
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Berkeley’s homeless population will now have more places to take shelter from the inclement weather after city officials directed extra funds to extend and expand shelter and outreach services.

The city has committed to opening a new overnight emergency shelter at the North Berkeley Senior Center and is working to expand the hours at two daytime drop-in centers, according to Councilwoman Linda Maio, who worked with an ad hoc group of homeless advocates in recent days to develop the plan (the updated list of city homeless services is here).

The extra effort means that there will be beds available the next few nights, including Christmas, according to JC Orton of Night on the Streets Catholic Worker, which runs a shelter during inclement weather. The First Congregational Church has agreed to open its doors on Christmas night, which it had not originally planned to do, said Orton. Berkeley is also opening the North Berkeley Senior Center tonight and Sunday for people to sleep in.

“The city came to the rescue,” said Orton. “The First Congregational Church came to the rescue.”  … Continue reading »

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Friends of Adeline: ‘Our future shall be determined by us’

Community members discussed issues and concerns related to the city's Adeline Corridor revitalization plan during the Friends of Adeline's third community forum, held at the Black Repertory Theatre on Saturday morning. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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Tensions arose Saturday between community members and city staff at a Friends of Adeline forum focused on Berkeley’s Adeline Corridor revitalization project, with members of the group expressing doubt about whether the city will truly prioritize the needs of the neighborhoods.

Held at the Black Repertory Group’s theater on Adeline Street in South Berkeley, longtime residents of the area as well as local activists, business owners and organizers gathered to make sure their voices are heard in the upcoming months. Since January, residents have expressed concerns that the Adeline Corridor project would gentrify the area, threatening the diversity and culture of the historic neighborhood.

Attendees of the forum also addressed concerns over proposed developments, such as a 6-story residential project at Adeline and Russell that has spurred growing comments of gentrification and the “pushing out” of the area’s remaining black residents. About 100 people attended the meeting.

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Berkeley council meeting ends abruptly during testimony

City officials moved the city council meeting to the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School because they anticipated a crowd. The room was full for much of the night. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night after officials could not agree to extend deliberations until midnight.

The meeting at Longfellow Middle School shut down at 11:30 p.m. in the middle of a lengthy discussion about regulating short-term rentals. Many of the people standing in line to speak expressed incredulity that council could leave the issue hanging without explaining what was going on. Presumably, council will pick up the discussion at its next meeting on June 23.

The bizarre end was, in some ways, a reflection of a meeting that was ruled by incivility. Members of the audience repeatedly shouted out catcalls and slurs at council members, interrupted their discussions and expressed contempt. One speaker, Rozalina Gutman,  twice turned her back on the council to address the audience directly, saying she had no faith in Berkeley’s elected representatives. And, after Mayor Tom Bates told her twice that her time was up, she turned to him (though she had vowed never to talk directly to council again) and told him his time as mayor should have been over long ago. … Continue reading »

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Prayers, songs and lie-in during faith group protest against proposed Berkeley homeless laws

Protesters from various faith groups join hands at the start of the protest against proposed new laws on street behavior. Photo: Ted Friedman
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An estimated 60 members of faith groups gathered at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Thursday night to protest proposed new laws that they claimed would “criminalize the homeless.” Prayers and speeches were followed by a small number of the protesters lying down to spend the night sleeping in the plaza.

“Jesus probably would be criminalized by these law if he lived in the City of Berkeley,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center, who gave the opening prayer at the protest. “The era of criminalizing people need to end. We’re still using old tactics to deal with modern problems.”  … Continue reading »

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Faith groups to sleep on street to support city’s homeless

BART and the city of Berkeley plan to overall the downtown Berkeley plaza. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A group representing more than 40 Berkeley religious congregations will gather tonight to show its support for the city’s homeless population in the wake of proposed new laws that they say would criminalize the homeless, as well as an incident, caught on video, in which a downtown “ambassador”  assaulted a homeless man last month.

Some participants plan to sleep overnight on BART Plaza alongside homeless people. The “Interfaith Actions in Solidarity with Homeless People” protest includes the blessing of a meal and an interfaith service. The event starts at 5 p.m. at BART Plaza at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

“We are deeply concerned at the way the city is handling the homeless,” said Sally Hindman, Executive Director of Youth Spirit Artworks, a Quaker, and one of the organizers of the protest. “This is not in the spirit of [Berkeley’s] traditions. We are one of the richest countries in the world and it’s appalling that we have dozens of people sleeping in doorways.” … Continue reading »

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Youth artists bring vibrant mosaics to Berkeley school

Youth artists created two mosaics to increase visibility at the busy intersection near Malcolm X. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Two new lively mosaics — one in warm reds and yellows, the other in cool blues and greens — greet passers-by on either end of the Ashby border of Malcolm X Elementary School.

It’s the block where a kindergartener was hit by a car while she was walking to school in 2009. After receiving surgery on her fractured skull, the girl miraculously survived, but the incident shook the community and marked the Ashby and Ellis Street intersection as a danger zone.

Five years later, young artists from Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) placed the final tile on the colorful structures designed to promote safety in the area and notify drivers that they’re near a school. … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Octopus kites at the Berkeley Kite Festival. Photo:
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KITE FESTIVAL The 29th annual Berkeley Kite Fest will take place Saturday and Sunday in César Chavez Park. The free festival will feature kite making and flying lessons, as well as food and craft activities. A traditional Japanese kite-flying team will also be there to showcase their technique. The festival begins at 10 a.m. each day and continues until 6 p.m. Parking in the Berkeley Marina will cost $15. Parking space is limited and the Berkeley Police Department encourages you to take public transit to the event. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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YOUTH SPIRIT ARTWORKS Youth Spirit Artworks is moving a few doors down to a new, bigger location in the Lorin District at 1740 Alcatraz Ave. on Oct 1. Executive Director Sally Hindman said the new spot will be shared with a startup company, but that there will still be a great deal more space for the group’s participants. Youth Spirit is a nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income youth from around the Bay Area get involved in crafting studio art and selling it through an enterprise program called the Art Cart. The organization will host a grand opening for its new location in early November. Individuals interested to learn more about the program’s work can drop by for the unveiling of a new mural painted by the center’s youth at Alcatraz and Sacramento Street this Saturday, Sept. 28, from noon to 2 p.m.

THE SAGE CENTERS A new co-working space for people over 50 called The SAGE Centers — not to be confused with the David Brower Center-based SAGE organization, which stands for Sustainable Agriculture Education — is opening at 1454 Sixth St. in West Berkeley. The organization had its grand opening party Sept. 21, but will open its doors officially Oct. 1. The SAGE Centers plans to operate as a business incubator and shared workspace that is “more focused on building relationships between people, rather than human to computer.” The facility also doubles as an educational space where members and non-members can take classes such as “Checking out Your Inner Entrepreneur,” “Vibrant After 50 Support Group” and “Delicious Gluten-free Cooking,” as well as other sessions that deal with brain science, how relationships change, exercise and music. Learn more on The SAGE Centers website. … Continue reading »

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New talks on homelessness in Berkeley start Thursday

Derrick Coetzee
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Thursday evening, the Berkeley Task Force on Homelessness will begin a new community-driven process designed to explore homelessness in Berkeley, and how it might be addressed thoughtfully and humanely.

Initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the task force was created “to continue the much-needed conversation on homelessness after Measure S, which would have banned sitting on commercial sidewalks, narrowly failed last fall,” according to a statement released by Arreguín’s office Wednesday. The task force arose as an alternative way to address homelessness.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Faculty Club. Photo: Daniella Thompson
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CYPRESS TREE STUDIOS OPEN HOUSE  Spend an afternoon at Cypress Tree Studios this Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The studio’s open house will include artwork by Sarah Winkler, Bob Bechtol, Pat Sonnino, Patricia Bruning, Thomas Richardson, and more, as well as live music from GIO, Gary Garrett and KOCH starting at 4 p.m. Food will be provided by Elite Eats Hot Dogs. More info at the event’s Facebook page. Cypress Tree Studios, 1450 Fourth Street.

RISK EXHIBITION AT THE BERKELEY ART CENTER  The Berkeley Art Center’s annual juried exhibition will open to the public this Saturday, June 29. Apsara DiQuinzio of the Berkeley Art Museum and Kimberly Johansson of the Johansson Project have selected 34 artists from a pool of nearly 250 applicants. Their work, all of which centers around the idea of risk – creating it, examining it, or even being made under circumstances of it – will be shown at the Berkeley Art Center. The exhibit runs from June 29 to August 24 at the Berkeley Art Center at 1275 Walnut St. For details, visit the Berkeley Art Center’s website.  … Continue reading »

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