Month: July 2015

food rescue food security food waste Contra Costa County

Creating Paths of Abundance

Rotting lettuce finally made the news. Media coverage of food waste generated several headlines this summer, with European advocates making progress on laws forbidding stores from destroying food that has past its sell by date. (We featured this video from the PBS NewsHour on our Friday Flicks). According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, close to forty percent of America’s food goes to waste. Students, designers and policymakers puzzle through the means to make the most of our shrinking resources through circular models.  While some food businesses move toward a circular economy, most are far from it. Food rescue bridges the gap between a closed-loop food business design (our businesses are not there, yet) and ongoing waste. In Contra Costa County, White Pony Express, an all volunteer food rescue organization, closes the loop one delivery at a time. Seven days a week. I met with Erica Brooks and Vincent d’Assis to learn more about the inspiration, values and structure behind the organization. Since its inception in September 2013, White Pony Express has delivered more than …

Path and Patterns in Art, Spirit and the City

I saw Paz de la Calzada’s labyrinth installation at the de Young not that long ago and couldn’t keep her name or the art out of my mind. By chance we went to the same event hosted by Burning Man’s Black Rock Arts Foundation in San Francisco and had an opportunity to chat a bit about her work and life. She’s doing an artist residency in Crete and will be back in SF end of August. I’m looking forward to new installations by the artist.  We corresponded by email: You have explored hair in your work. What does hair signify for you?  For me hair is an icon and a reference of the human body. I have a special interest in patterns, both in nature and in the industrial world. Hair is an organic natural pattern that I have used to create a dialogue with the urban architecture, questioning sometimes the rigidity of its forms. In this sense I have used mostly feminine hair to cover a building or to playfully engage with it. I …

Home for John Muir’s Outdoor Mind

The last time I passed through the entrance at John Muir National Historic Site, I was in fifth grade. Admittedly, our overnight trip as a class, a co-ed sleepover, had us less interested in the legendary figure than in pre-teen pranks. My worry, then as now, was where to find the bathroom in the middle of the night. Despite these distractions, I left with an admiration for Muir, a Santa Claus of the parks. My feelings would grow as I earned my Junior Ranger patch in Yosemite that summer. Wandering through the rooms of his grand Victorian, I see that face everywhere. Muir appears a kind of holy man, a seeker who after a time in the isolated wilds of Yosemite Valley came to stay in one place to ranch, live a family life, and write. And fight. From the “scribble room” upstairs, Muir created the intellectual and emotional grounds for an environmental movement that would span the continent and beyond. While he took trips to the wilderness, including his beloved Sierras and Alaska, he …

love theft entanglements Palestine film Palestinian

Love, Theft and Other Entanglements

An Interview with Rami Alayan, writer and co-creator of Love, Theft and Other Entanglements. Set in the West Bank, the film is about a car thief who backs into a crime much bigger than he expected. How is the film connected to the Bay Area? The first job I got out of college (in Boston) was in the Bay Area. I studied computer engineering. The minute I got the job and was set to move, I went to do what I really wanted to do, I signed up for my first screenwriting class at UC Berkeley Extension before I even landed in San Francisco. At the same time my brother, who is five years younger than me (Muayad) wanted to do film school – he wasn’t buying into the whole Palestinian family push for science and engineering. So he came here and started in San Francisco, he was doing film and I was doing screenwriting and that’s how it started. As Palestinians (we are from East Jerusalem) we wanted to do something that makes a …

technology youth hack the hood coding kids

Hack the Hood’s Youth Coders

I got to know Susan Mernit’s technology bent when I shot occasional photos for Oakland Local’s urban planning stories. After wrapping short films for the online news site’s OakTech series, I began hearing about programs to help kids code. Susan and partners went on to found the lean startup Hack the Hood. The young initiative aims to train low-income youth of color in marketing and technology skills. Last summer, I filmed their graduation event at the Impact HUB in Oakland. Hackers had just completed a Boot Camp, building websites for small businesses in Oakland who could use the visibility. It was a party. Families, educators, techies, policymakers gathered together to learn and to cheer. Since then, Hack the Hood has expanded across campuses and cities from Oakland to Richmond, San Francisco and East Palo Alto. “We’re so thrilled to work with such amazing organizations who really know their community inside out the way we know Oakland. That is critically important for success,” said Zakiya Harris, Co-founder and Chief Education Officer of Hack the Hood. “Together …

bayview san francisco youth media

Movie Monday – Who is Endangered?

What do Bayview youth and the Clapper Rail (bird) have in common? Home.  Today we feature Endangered, a short film produced by youth living in the tough Bayview neighborhood. They share a moving look at what its like to grow up there. With empathy and attention, they draw parallels to the plight of the Clapper Rail, a native bird struggling to survive in the area. Only the youth that live here could tell this story. Through BAYCAT, they have the tools and the voice to make it happen. Based in the Bayview, BAYCAT trains youth for the digital media workforce, while also producing films and providing studio amenities for paying clients. As a social enterprise, its business model aims to build out “cloners” or clients who then become donors. They also receive grants for specific project (Metta Fund, supported Endangered). The film and BAYCAT show that the Bayview is an asset to San Francisco. Unleashing its potential takes attention and an engaged community (as we’ve written here).

Gathering to Build a Resilient Bay Area

In the second of our two-part interview with Bay Localize, we learn more about its definition of resilience and about upcoming action to build resilient communities. (Kirsten Schwind) The next iteration of our tools is the Map your Future Toolkit. That is mapping the future of your community but also mapping your personal future. We designed it with youth groups, thinking that if we can make something with youth, especially at-risk youth, then we can design something that’s fun and interesting and engaging for anyone. We’re going to start with our more difficult audiences, and if they like it, then the adults will be fine, too. That is the re-imagining your community as well, it is an asset mapping program and it lays out certain ways for people to go into their community and collect information on how people are already resilient on different levels. We’re defining resilience as: 1) Safe and Stable Homes. Having safety in your home, structural safety (is it going to collapse, come down in flood), social and economic safety (will …

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Artful Pairing

Q is a man of many interests: acting, writing, motorcycling, cooking, entrepreneurship.  After leaving his home in Iran more than 35 years ago to get a degree in the US (BS in agriculture, MA in Agricultural Engineering), Q has made the Bay Area his home. How would you describe yourself? I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve always had my own business. I’ve done so many things. Worked as a general contractor, opened a garage on 98th street in East Oakland. Back then the situation was pretty bad. My business partner and another owner of a gas station got shot. That got me to move out of that area and open my first café in Berkeley. It was a place to hang out. Everything was happening at the café; painting classes, cooking classes, history class, lot’s of partying. We did “open café” nights where people would bring their own drink and food to share and talk politics, art, history, etc. Back then there was no Facebook or Twitter, people loved to hang out and meet new members of …