All posts filed under: Change

News vs. Entertainment

The Bay Area can be regarded as one of the most important economic and cultural regions in the nation, a region generating news about politics and society because of its role as a center of change. It hosts a few broadcast news channels and newspapers. But do these media outlets help people understand the reality of critical situations here and around the world? Jamal Dajani is a San Francisco based Peabody Award-winning news producer, journalist, filmmaker and Middle East analyst. He is the co-founder of Arab Talk Radio. His Twitter and Facebook page have become a trusted news source for a large number of followers and the numbers are growing each day. This is the reason we reached out to him in this short interview: G.B. As a journalist what drives your curiosity? J.D. The lack of global news covered on mainstream media. TV coverage tends to be US-centric. Look at what you currently see on CBS, CNN, FOX, etc. these days…more than 50% of the coverage focuses on Donald Trump, while we a have a refugee …

Positive Change is On the Way!

When my employer, Netflix, recently announced a pioneering approach to parental leave laws, I felt someone there must have been watching my struggle. I’d drafted a post about my difficulties with coming back to work after baby, but never published it. Why? Maybe I thought it would make no difference, women have had to buck up and deal with limited (or no) parental leave forever. Maybe I was too exhausted from work + baby. Maybe I didn’t want to admit anything could be possibly be wrong with my decision to commit to my profession and to being a parent. With all the debate about “women and tech”, I had to use my words carefully not to affirm anyone’s wrongly held prejudice that women cannot be equal players. So here goes. In late 2013 I found out that I was pregnant, something we had been hoping and praying for for many years. From that moment on, life got much more beautiful and meaningful. I was very fortunate to have a job I really liked as a …

Congressman, can you please fix this housing thing?

I thought I would sit in the back and listen to the Congressman talk at us. I came to hear Congressman Mark DeSaulnier tell us what was up and what he planned to do about it. Sitting back passively was my idea of participation. But I’d come to the wrong event. This was the Congressman’s “mobile district office hours” which meant each one waiting in the library lobby would have a one-on-one opportunity to air grievances, request help, chat. Now I understood why the freshly showered guy next to me held a dossier, and why the lady next to him clung to a thick packet of paper with sticky notes. They had real business to discuss. I had not come to a town hall. I reread the flyer I picked up on the way in: Congressman DeSaulnier will be available to share thoughts and to answer questions on federal legislation, and to assist with issues related to Social Security, the Veteran’s Administration, passports, or other federal agencies. Well, why not? I had questions and thoughts. …

mobile clothing boutique free clothing

Build the Model, then Give it Away

To be in awe. To stand in amazement. In the case of White Pony Express, a food rescue organization in Contra Costa County, the generosity of (donor) vendors and volunteers inspires awe. We pick up our conversation (begun here) with Erica Brooks and Vincent d’Assis, with the group’s core value of delivering with love. The Free General Store Erica: Presentation of our items, whether they’re food or clothing, is really important. That’s a big part of our Free General Store, too. We could just have people come in here and pick out clothes, like in any thrift store. The important thing is how we present things. When people come to a mobile boutique to get clothes or toys, we would never want to give something that we wouldn’t give one of our family members. This is something our founder was huge on. And the food is the same way. We have volunteer personal shoppers that help people pick out and try on, they’re stylists! We take the clothes where people are. We rent these 14 …

SFMade manufacture

Manufacturers Stand Up in San Francisco

On my end of the phone, I apologized for the humming refrigerator. On her end, Janet Lees, Senior Director of SFMade, apologized for the clanging in the tech shop.  We talked about the origins of the organization aimed at supporting manufacturing in San Francisco at the nadir of the recession and its rapid expansion since then. The SFMade journey, expanding membership and programs We started in 2010 with 12 local manufacturers who were iconic brands in San Francisco, including Anchor (Brewing), McRoskey Mattresses, one of the oldest manufactures in the city, more than 100 years old, Ritual Coffee, Rickshaw Bags (founded by former head of Timbuk2, Mark Dwight). Mark created the SFMade logo, he was the founder of the brand. (Executive Director) Kate Sofis and I started to build the organization around the brand. Both of us come from economic development backgrounds, and we knew each other from our previous jobs. I worked for the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center and Kate at Pacific Community Ventures. Kate has a background in supply chain and she used to …

Remember Hiroshima, the Bay’s nukes

The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan seventy years ago today. The Bay Area continues to play a central role in our nation’s nuclear shame. Smack in the middle of a residential area, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory dedicates more than 85 percent of its budget to nuclear weapons development. The lab’s legacy includes poisoned soil, water and workers. It may seem hard to believe, as we drive by on our way to work, on our way to Target. Not everyone is driving by. For more than thirty years, a movement of savvy, commitment advocates has been taking on the nuclear weapons complex, racking up victories for democracy, for security and our region. We owe much to TriValley CAREs (Communities Against Radiation) and to their many affiliates and supporters. This morning, on the anniversary of the dropping of the bombs, they gather before the gates of the lab in Livermore, along with whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Learn more about the lab’s legacy and very current reality and the people who watchdog an …

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 …

hunger food loaves and fishes contra costa

Much More than a Hot Meal

“In feeding the hungry, there’s a need for more than just a meal.” David Gerson retired as a Silicon Valley lawyer, knowing he wanted to work next on the social safety net.  As the executive director of Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa, he is struck daily by the state of the two worlds he occupies. He moves between the affluence of Lafayette where he lives with his family, and the day-to-day interactions he has with people in need. DG: What’s been most dramatic, has been the change in wealth distribution. It’s hard to rationalize. How can all this success exist alongside seniors who are struggling to make ends meet? Those over 55 face a a myriad of challenges. There’s no future for them in this economy. One third of our clients are homeless. The rest are just getting by. With the housing crunch, they are left to pay market rent, then other bills. Food is one thing they can’t go without.  We’re the only agency from the central to eastern part of the county …

student food cooperative coop coFED

Nourishing Community

I met with Farzana Serang, the executive director of CoFED, at their offices in Oakland’s Impact HUB.  Our conversation covered cooperative business models, CoFED’s national reach and ditch digging. FS:I never saw myself as a “coop” person. I grew up in a house with all my aunts and uncles, and we lived cooperatively. We all pitched in, the house was co-owned. Later when I was working, I felt really removed. I was talking about “Change” that had to happen at a high level (policy) and was disconnected from what was happening on the ground level. So, I took time off and traveled to Argentina and was there during this huge coop movement. I worked in Cordoba in the first women’s collective construction company that was going to build the first women-owned textile business, and they were also going to have housing there. I spent three months with them, drinking lots of mate and they asked what are you, this Indian woman, doing helping with coops in Argentina? I had never been a part of building …

bus transportation

Trains, Pains and Bay Area Automobiles

Get around, I get around. The song’s been in my head since seeing Love and Mercy, the Brian Wilson story. I get around by train, bus, ferry, by car. Over the years my commute pattern has spanned the map. First, it was an easy walk + Emery Go Round. Then, I had another easy one: AC Transit, alternating with bike. Things got complicated when I had to cross the Bay from Oakland to Fort Mason and, then, to the Presidio. That commute was not only long, it was expensive, relative to what I earned. Now, thanks to the flexibility of my work, I have no commute. But I’m also far away from convenient public transport, the kind that doesn’t add hours to my day. I think of how transit options have changed and for whom around the Bay Area. Lack of reliable, affordable transport keeps the income inequality gap gaping and adds to our climate woes. A few weeks ago, we posted a mega list on what to do with kids this summer, and each …