Month: April 2015

Amid Liminal Influence

Often, I find myself wondering how the symphony of each moment, situation, biophysical and other conditions have shaped me into who I am today.  Particularly, I am curious about the “anxiety of influence,” a concept reviewed by contemporary literary critic Harold Bloom, whose central thesis was that poets in their creative work are often hindered by the ambiguous relationship they maintain with their precursors.  In his book “Anxiety of Influence” Bloom argues that in order truly to be an original poet, it is necessary to rid oneself of the influence derived from the works of the poets who came before.  He then offers six pathways to achieve this goal. How is Bloom’s concept applicable to the influence that our immediate environment exerts on us continuously?  Where does the scepter of discrimination draw a line between my boundaries and the other’s, the inner from the outer?  And what should be the guiding principle for choosing what to keep and what to discard or leave unnoticed?  Does influence stop at hindering or can it usurp the complete …

Urban Explorers Meet the MIDI

When my kids ask me to plan for the weekend they often use “if” (if it rains, if it’s nice out), as some days may be bleak and foggy and others offer uninterrupted sunshine. After living in SF for more than 10 years we have come up with a plan for the overcast and unpleasant weekends. We go on an urban trek. We pick a neighborhood to explore. We pack, we prepare and we’re off. Even after all these years, there are still a few pockets of the City we haven’t scouted. Our recent favorite has become Middle Irving, or MIDI, between 12th and 18th avenues.  You can get there on the N Judah from downtown. You can also ride your bike if that makes you happy! Exploring is more than looking and taking pictures. The urban explorer eats, greets, drinks and speaks her way through a new environment.  One must connect with the local wildlife. San Franciscans are very serious about their coffee, and every neighborhood has a favorite cafe where locals and explorers …

East Bay Regional Parks District, ebrpd

Trail Hop East Bay Regional Parks

The weekend’s odd trail challenge had me hitting three of the East Bay Regional Parks in one day, a combined feat in hiking, photography and navigation. I was making up for a couple of weeks of sloth, a few too many quesadillas and a delayed Earth Day. Signing up for the Trails Challenge meant I got a groovy trails guidebook and the ability to log my miles and trails. For more social media-motivated hikers, the Challenge offers apps and ways to share and encourage friends. For real, not digital, social good times, the guidebook highlights the many free, guided hikes tailored to different skills and interests. In other words, I have no excuses. BayMozaic launched with a dual mission: to highlight Bay Area folks and organizations improving our lives, while also revealing ways to connect and be attentive amid the din. The parks represent both. They provide a common good (brought to you by us, the taxpayers of Alameda and Contra Costa counties) that benefits our environment and our health, including our mental health. If you’re …

You Belong Here, Part 2

We continue Raeshma’s interview with Jason Wyman of #wheredoyoubelong. We left off with Jason previewing the April 11th “You Belong Here Event”(photo above) RR: What’s upcoming for this project? JW: The April event is just one thing happening in a slew of things. It will be the culminating event for Izza and the interns. This event will be a point that will be connected to other events and plans. So it’s both a culminating and continuing effort. RR: You have lots of youth experience, how is it different from approaches you’ve taken in past? JW: I laid myself off of the nonprofit system. Because of the grant cycles and how projects were funded, I would have to continual lay myself off. I did a lot in youth development. I didn’t like where it was going. Due to the recession, things moved toward community school models which I don’t 100 percent believe in. I saw the power that youth development had in the late 90’s, I did AmeriCorp then and other things and I saw direct outcomes …

Meshtrip

The founders of Meshtrip believe in home away from home. They say, the finest nuance of culture becomes available when one has a chance to peek behind the curtains: the everyday life of a local, stay in an apartment furnished by a local, and witness all typical things specific to that location. Each of the three in the Meshtrip team, transplants from three former Soviet Republics; Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, have made SF their home and enjoy every aspect of life in this beautiful city. Their talent is well topped with a great sense of humor, which rather quickly turned the interview into a fun hangout. (Gohar)

Imprint City Aims to Activate the Bayview

Change happens from the street up. The founders of Imprint City believe that street art can unlock the potential of the Bayview neighborhood’s farthest reaches.  They take us through their vision for a global art festival and the means to sustainable, positive change for an area plagued by neglect and the stigma that comes with it. Tyra Fennell, Shawn Bullen and Andrew Casteel bring more than vision, they bring the social capital and tenacity it takes to get ideas off the ground. Tyra commissions murals for the San Francisco Arts Commission, Shawn is making his mark painting murals, while Andrew has co-founded a new Bayview business, Laughing Monk Brewery. (Interview with Tyra Fennell and Andrew Casteel) HH: Tell me how the Imprint City idea got started. TF: I had commissioned Shawn (Bullen) to do a mural and so had Andrew. My vision for an arts festival happened to be in the area where Andrew was doing business, and Sean connected us. HH: Andrew, talk about how your business (Laughing Monk Brewery) grew alongside the idea …

Loud Neighbors

I’m writing at the kitchen table, in complete stillness. Maybe not. No, I hear some sounds: the neighbor’s wind chime, birds, a passing car, the low hum of a freeway four miles away. Now a dog far off barks. Ah, the neighbor with three Harleys has arrived. As Sofia wrote this week, those sounds that “we let in and what remains outside” shape our individual experience. What about our collective experience? As citizens in urban, suburban and rural Bay Area, how is our soundscape shaping us? Who lets the noise in and who keeps it at bay? The Bay Area continues to pack in more people and cars. Among other impacts, the increase in noise pollution threatens our health and sanity. It’s not a rural or urban thing. The sound in our environment communicates the presence or absence of care in our collective space. I want to know who’s doing what about noise.  (Crane photo, Royce Bair) Name your noise. Maybe construction, traffic, electronics, television monitors have you down. For a bigger list of potential …

I See Sound

communication (n.) late 14c., from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication), from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” from communis (see common (adj.)). Sound surrounds. It diligently delivers the raw data of our perception field. Simply, it communicates the basic properties of nature, location and nuance of physical existence.  Sound is the raw testament to the dynamic range and pulse of life processes, cueing us to the trickling mutations in our personal, manmade and natural spheres. We are the chosen addressee for the sounds on the street, the shifting seasons, our internal dialogue – all in constant motion – they depict, emphasize, fight for a place in the ear of the beholder, inviting us to pick our moment’s residence among a myriad of possible worlds, some familiar, others taking our attention to lands undiscovered. Sounds can captivate us, scatter, leave us inspired, heartbroken, frozen or frazzled. Hidden within basic air pressure displacements …