Reasons to be thankful: A Berkeley Thanksgiving A to Z

A blur of runners during November's first-ever Berkeley Half Marathon. Photo: Christian Kreibich
A blur of runners during November’s first-ever Berkeley Half Marathon. Photo: Christian Kreibich

Berkeleyside has an erratic tradition of alphabetizing our thanks each year. More than 26 things struck us this year, but, within the constraints of an A to Z, here’s Berkeleyside’s Thanksgiving alphabet. Let us know what you’re thankful for in the Comments. And Happy Thanksgiving! See you back here Monday morning.

A Ambassadors: The Downtown Berkeley Association’s Hospitality Ambassadors are a key element in the continuing improvement of downtown.

Torpedo by Sici
The new Torpedo Room, a beer-tasting mecca. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

B Beer and wine: The opening of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Room caps a year when Berkeley’s provision of both good beer and wine has been growing apace. West Berkeley’s Drinks District is becoming a real force.

C CalJulia: Several Berkeley neighborhoods are in the process of regeneration, but perhaps the most encouraging work is occurring in the Sacramento Street corridor, led in part by the CalJulia neighborhood group


UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. Photo: John Blaustein
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. Photo: John Blaustein

D Dirks: New UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is still in his honeymoon, having arrived over the summer. But he’s already brought a welcome air of modernity and informality to California Hall.

E Emergency services: Berkeley Fire Department has a new chief, Gil Dong, and marked the departure of Debra Pryor after 27 years with the force

F Freight: The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse celebrated its 45th anniversary this year with a clever series of performances, showcasing local families with multi-generations of performers.

G Goat Rodeo: One of the special events brought to Berkeley by Cal Performances this year was Yo Yo Ma’s Goat Rodeo Sessions, which filled the Greek Theatre on a wonderful night in August.

All generations in the half marathon. Photo: Ira Serkes
All generations in the half marathon. Photo: Ira Serkes

H Half Marathon: Berkeley’s inaugural half marathon brought thousands of runners to the streets last Sunday.

I Innovation: Berkeley has a great history of innovation, but too rarely have breakthroughs been turned into businesses here. The Berkeley Startup Cluster and the Skydeck incubator are at long last changing that record.

J Joining forces: Cooperation can help independent, local businesses to thrive, which is why a group of West Berkeley home improvement businesses came together to create the West Berkeley Design Loop. Perhaps its work can prove a model for others.

Ages ranged from seven months to 89 years at a surprise farewell party for a local mail deliverer. Photo: Rob Adair
Ages ranged from seven months to 89 years at a surprise farewell party for a local mail carrier. Photo: Rob Adair

K Kindness, acts of: Berkeleyside is privileged to cover scores of local acts of kindness, but one stood out — the surprise party for mail carrier Mack Paige, after 23 years of service.

L Libraries: After years of work, renovation and new building work on all of Berkeley’s library branches will be completed by the end of this year.

M Murals: It was a good year for murals in Berkeley. The Ohlone mural was restored and rededicated in October, La Peña Cultural Center unveiled its Song of Unity mural and a new Sacramento Street mural honors two neighborhood civil rights leaders.

N No Man’s Land: Two British acting knights, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, riveted audiences at the Berkeley Rep this summer, performing in Sean Mathias’ production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land. If you missed it, you can see it now in New York, playing in repertory with Waiting for Godot with the same two central actors.

O Out of this world: The vistas from all over the city, whether you’re in the hills overlooking Berkeley and the Bay, in Cesar Chavez Park, right by the glistening waters, or walking through the UC Berkeley campus.

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A Painted Redstart in Berkeley. Photo: Cal Walters

P Painted Redstart: The Elmwood neighborhood found itself an object of fascination for birders from around the Bay Area, when a Painted Redstart popped up just off College Avenue in November.

Q Quality of our restaurants: We have quality and quantity in Berkeley, where it’s possible to eat in a different restaurant every day of the year. Among the new quality arrivals in 2013 were Easy Creole, Pathos, Caravaggio, Eureka, Take Five Cafe, Slider Bar, Iyasare and many more.

R Rosa Parks solar installation: A new solar installation at Rosa Parks Elementary School proved an ideal complement to an educational program that focuses on environmental science.

S Schekman: Randy Schekman is UC Berkeley’s latest Nobel Prize winner — but the first for medicine — for “his role in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in our cells.”

T Technology: A wealth of world-leading technology comes out of Berkeley Lab. The Berkeley-Darfur stove, developed by the Lab together with women in Darfur, won top prize at this year’s Tech Awards.

The Uncharted party at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. Photo: Pete Rosos
The Uncharted party at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. Photo: Pete Rosos

U Uncharted: Can we blow our own horn a bit? The inaugural Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas brought hundreds of idea mavens to downtown Berkeley for two days of conversations, workshops and a kick-ass party. Make sure you’re at Uncharted 2014 (date to be announced soon)!

V Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage: Shotgun Players has only completed the first two plays in Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia trilogy, but we’ll be eagerly awaiting Salvage in 2014.

W Willard garden: King’s Edible Schoolyard is often in the limelight, but Willard Middle School’s cooking and gardening program is another one of the many thriving in Berkeley schools — despite fighting seemingly endless battles against funding cutbacks.

X Xcuse me: Okay, inspiration failed us for this one letter. Any suggestions, dear readers? Update, 8:05pm: OK, here we have a totally inspired suggestion from Ira Serkes (for whom we are very thankful!): XX XX, XY XY: Marriage Equality!

Y Yellowjackets: The Lady Yellowjackets, Berkeley High’s girls basketball team, played its third consecutive state final this year.

Z Zero waste: The long march to becoming a zero waste city took an important step forward with the end of single-use plastic bags at packaged food stores this year.

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