Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Sidewalk actions today

I found out about this late, but you may still have time to catch some of the sidewalk activities being organized against the proposed sit/lie ordinance. The activities, from lemonade stands to sidewalk sales to a comedy show, are happening throughout the city to protest the proposed ordinance, which would enable police to cite people who are sitting or lying on city sidewalks.

The ordinance was proposed following a series of columns in the Chronicle by C. W. Nevius fomenting against bullying street punks in the Haight who were said to be intimidating shoppers and merchants.

Mission Street Food needs backers

A few days ago Mission Mission broke the news that Mission Street Food, the weekly happening where a chef takes over a crummy little Chinese takeout kitchen and produces a strange and wonderful gourmet meal, is getting its own place, to be called Commonwealth.

But it’s not all in place. They are looking for backers so they can buy kitchen equipment. Using the Kickstarter micro-granting site, you can donate a small amount which, combined with donations from hundreds of others, will fully equip their hearth. Plus, they promise to donate half of what they get through Kickstarter to charity after they’ve been open a year. Plus, the whole restuarant project is a non-profit charity-benefitting thing. You can’t go wrong.

In Bangalore, Newsom inks Sister City agreements

On his trip to Bangalore, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed several “memorandums of understanding” (or “MoUs,” as the Indian paper has it) with our Indian sister city. The agreements, in the areas ranging from health care to culture and fashion, are intended to strengthen the relationship between the two cities. Here’s the news release from Newsom’s office.

Don’t forget, Bangalore is a Metblogs city.

Related: I visited Bangalore for a week in April 2007 and blogged my impressions of the city of six million.

Celebrate Thanksgiving like a native

The annual Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz happens at, yes, sunrise on Thanksgiving. Boats ($14) leave Pier 33 beginning at 4:45 a.m. for the Rock, where attendees will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz by (what were then called) American Indians.

Summer fairs (the good ones)

zine_fest_09It’s deep summer, which means neighborhood street fairs — the usual long rows of booths with obscure nonprofit groups, greasy food, and crafts of questionable provenance, with a stage at either end cranking out music that is quickly swept off by the strong breeze.

Two events which should be different:

The Street Food Street Fest, which will happen Saturday from 11 to 7 on Folsom St. between 25th and 26th. Why there? It’s the block where you’ll find La Cocina Community Kitchen, a four year old nonprofit business that incubates community food-oriented businesses run largely by immigrant women. Among the food vendors will be Sabores del Sur and Laiola.

On Saturday and Sunday, visit the San Francisco Zine Fest from 11 to 6, at the Hall of Flowers (known also as the County Fair Building) off Lincoln Way and 9th Avenue in Golden Gate Park. Not just an exhibition, the event features panels of all kinds for DIY publishers, journalists and artists. Admission to the whole event is FREE.

Nonprofit of the day:, a San Francisco nonprofit with international reach, connects westerners with disposable income with entrepreneurs needing microloans — typically, a few hundred dollars to expand a home-based business. Kiva’s website features pictures of would-be recipients and allows would-be lenders to finance their projects. According to the group, ninety-seven percent of loans are repaid on time; the total default rate is less than 1%.

kyrgyzstan_farmersUntil this summer, Kiva focussed on lending (what in the U.S. are) small amounts of money for third-worlders (pictured at left, a group of farmers in Kyrgyzstan). Kiva was so successful that in December they actually ran out of people to lend money to and had to turn away lenders. So starting in June, the group began allowing American entrepreneurs to solicit money on the site. This has led to a backlash as some Kiva lenders protest that Americans don’t need the money bad enough.

Whatever. There are still plenty of deserving third world people on the website who need your money, and will pay it back with interest.

Nonprofit of the day: Donors Choose

When I was a high school teacher in the mid-80s, each of the teachers was allowed x number of copies per semester. I had 5 classes of about 28 kids each. Want to know how many copies I was allowed to make for the whole semester? 150. That’s right. 150 impressions on the xerox machine. So I figured out how to run the ancient blue-chemical mimeograph machine in the corner of the Social Studies Resource Room.

Another vignette: One day during a summer school session, I broke up a fight in the hall. My shirt was torn, and frankly I couldn’t afford to buy too many shirts in those days. I went to the principal and reported the incident, and asked naively, “How do I get reimbursed for my shirt which was torn in the line of duty?” Instead of laughing out loud, the patient man said, “There is no budget for that, but tell you what: I’ll open up the supply closet and you can take a box full of stuff.” Yes, that was the compensation for my torn shirt: the principal unlocked the supply closet, which was normally shut tight. That’s the kind of poverty mentality that pervades the public schools. And if you think it’s gotten better since the 1980s, you haven’t been reading the newspapers.

So I’m a little ambivalent about the Donors Choose thing. On the one hand, it allows you to give direct help for specific purposes to classrooms in your town. And they are super good, almost too good, about accountability. Not only do you get an acknowledgement of your donation, you get pictures of the happy, happy kids using the art supplies or whatever you have donated.

On the other hand, there’s a certain pathetic quality about the requests. $200 for 70 copies of a book for kids to read. $250 for a set of math resource materials. $700 for a classroom set of dictionaries.

Dictionaries, people. There are elementary school classrooms in this country without enough dictionaries. How many millions of dollars did that Michael Jackson memorial cost? What the fuck are we doing as a country?

If you can see the website through your tears of rage, I suggest using it to find a worthy project, something you can make a difference on, and giving them money. And then, when you get back the thank-yous and the pictures and all, consider forming a permanent relationship with the school or the teacher you helped.

Nonprofit of the day: Friends of the Urban Forest

There are more than a dozen trees on my block now; when I bought my house, on the edge of Bernal Heights a few doors from Cesar Chavez St., there were only three. Each of those trees was put in for free, planted by volunteers from Friends of the Urban Forest, a San Francisco nonprofit that’s planted tens of thousands of trees on San Francisco streets since its start in 1981. You can see a gallery of San Francisco street trees on their website, which also links to a map of city flora. The Chronicle did an article on the tree map recently.

Not only will they come and plant a tree in front of your house for free, they’ll maintain it for free, replace old trees which have lived out their lives, and employ young people while they’re at it. They involve neighbors and homeowners in their Saturday planting days, because when people help plant the tree in front of their house, they’re more likely to care for it. I love the two trees in front of my house, each now more than ten years old.

They’re planting in Noe Valley this coming Saturday. Contact them and help out.

Inna Gadda da Vida on Bernal Heights

Chris Carlsson has a fantastic post about walking around Bernal Heights and encountering an Edenic enclave of gardens, stairways, fruit trees and wildlife.

Funny to think of San Francisco as a windswept, barren, sandy and flea-ridden peninsula. These days it’s starting to look like a garden oasis, and if you spend time walking on the hills, behind Noe or Eureka Valleys, on Telegraph Hill or Russian Hill, Bernal or Potrero, you are in for a treat!

His Nowtopian blog is solid on my RSS feed.

Save a City College class!

Eight hundred City College classes are being cancelled during the next school year due to the California budget disaster and the generally crappy economy, but you can save a class and have it named after you by donating $6000 to the school.

Just find the cancelled classes in their online schedule — the Music Department, for example, looks like this, with the cancelled classes highlighted in red:


As a late Father’s Day present, how about choosing something your Dad loves, and naming a City College class in the subject after him? For example, The A.E. Pritchard class in electric organ. (I don’t think they have a class in electric organ, but you get the idea.) Does the $6000 sound a little pricy in this economy? How about getting your friends to chip in? Maybe your writing group would like to sponsor a “Basic Writing” class. Because it’s time to stop making fun of people who can’t write and do something about it.

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