Month: December 2015

Christmas Gifts with a Difference

  The feeling of excitement and Christmas joy has somehow disappeared from my life a few years ago. I don’t go through the mad shopping spree, the long lines at the cash register, the gift wrapping, etc. But I do look forward for the holidays and to hanging out or doing fun things with my kids. They don’t spend a lot of time on their iPads but I prefer minimizing it by engaging them in arts and crafts activities so they can make gifts and Christmas cards for their cousins and friends.  A few days before the school holidays start, I browse the web in order to find hands on activities for my daughters and here’s what I’ve found so far. Most of these activities can be made by recycling used or old things, like socks and sweaters, old toy cars and mason jars, etc.          

Middle School, Reimagined

As a parent of school age children and as someone who values the importance of good education, I share the anxiety of a lot of parents out there  touring schools in hopes of finding a fitting environment for the much feared transition to middle school. My eldest daughter, a product of San Francisco public schools, is a sophomore at Lowell, and my youngest is a fifth grader at Ulloa Elementary. Honestly, neither of us parents nor my eldest daughter can see Maia, the youngest, in a big school setting, and that’s the reason we are looking at private schools with small size classrooms. Helen, a good friend of mine, and a mother of a fifth grader, suggested I look at Millennium School’s website and attend one of their pop-up sessions. We went to one such session with the whole family. It was a pretty exciting and informative experience that took place at the studio of EHDD Architects, the same studio that is designing the future school site. The main concern of all attending parents was a need to find an engaging …

Omiiroo Gallery art events oakland

Omiiroo Gallery in the Sweet Spot

I met Githinji Mbire in a parking lot while interviewing aerosol artist Desi Mundo in front of the Alice Street mural. I’d asked Desi who he’d recommend I interview next. “That guy right there walking by,” he pointed to a fast-moving Mbire.  Last week (unannounced) I dropped by the Omiiroo Gallery  in Oakland on a stretch of 15th street that was abandoned when I lived in the area. Now, it’s lined with art spaces and art businesses. Mbire describes himself primarily as a sculptor/painter who has also moved into film and performance. He kindly obliged a spontaneous chat. What drew you to this block? Omiiroo has been in the space about a year now. Before, we had a gallery on Franklin and 14th. One of my friends had moved in here. And one day I was passing by here as they were working on the block and I thought, I want one of these. Another day when I was on 15th, she (my friend) just opened the door and I was like “WHAT?” She happened to …

Kids of Incarcerated Parents Speak Up

Millions of children live with one incarcerated parent. We don’t see what’s missing in their lives. We don’t hear what they need from the adults around them. Until, Project WHAT! (We’re Here and Talking), family members, teachers, lawyers, social workers and doctors lacked the children’s view of how best to support their specific needs.  I sat down with Project WHAT! alum and Program Associate Alisha Murdock to learn more. (Photos by photographer Ruth Morgan from the Sentence Unseen exhibit, running through January 23rd at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland) How did Project WHAT! come to your attention? Alisha Murdock: Both my parents were in and out of prison a lot. My friend told me about it because she was in the program, and she learned about it at school. She was going to El Cerritto High. From being in the program, I hear that people find out about it from school counselors or word of mouth. For me, staying connected with Project WHAT! has meant a lot because it is a family.  …