All posts filed under: Explore

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 …

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 …

burgers Grazzy restaurant

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 …

City Harmonious

During my family’s first trip to Denmark two years ago, we fell in love with pastries, furniture design, simplicity in lifestyle, attention to detail, and the endless summer nights. Three weeks ago we returned to Copenhagen with the same excitement for familiar things and new adventures. Copenhagen is a city you can explore alone, with family or friends. Whether you walk the streets or bike the specially designed bike routes, the city will slowly unfold its fairytale charm.   After living in California for more than 15 years and spending a good amount of time stuck in traffic, Denmark seems like heaven.  Cities belong to pedestrians and cyclists, not cars. Children are equal members of society. The city planners in Denmark have dedicated a vast amount of parks and playgrounds for their youngest citizens. Designated areas for kid’s play in every courtyard helps visiting little ones like mine enjoy their stay, as well. I found Danish children not at all spoiled by all this official attention. They seemed polite, well behaved and overall adorable! Copenhagen …

app technology Swyft Urban Engine

Easing Transit Agony

In this week’s earlier post on transit and commute pain, I didn’t mention Uber or Lyft. Many people are writing and fighting about them. Instead, I want to pick up a different thread, the transit app. How are tools, conceived in the Bay Area, helping us through the dreaded commute or the long, slow schlep to a fun event across town and across the Bay itself? Fast and Cheap, Swyft Swyft is a free app for BART and Muni users that instantly measures travel times and costs across major transit options, selecting the fastest and cheapest way to reach your destination (interface graphic above, Swyft). The app takes into account urban transit as multi-modal, where people move across the map through a combination of “public transportation, rideshare, carshare, bikeshare, skootershare, walking” and envisions a future where all kinds of modes fold into its model. The idea is that the user community will generate data to pinpoint what’s working, what’s not and how to do better. Their twitter @SwyftApp also updates the latest changes in transit …

john muir land trust conservation

Land Conservation Playbook

A few weeks ago, driving back to the Bay from Sacramento, I took in the passing hills and wetlands and thought…things could be worse.  Years ago, as developers began tearing into the land and building shopping outlets and tract housing on I-80, I doubted any patch of land would survive. Despite the build-up, though, some areas are more beautiful than ever, thanks to land trusts surrounding that stretch of highway. This conservation thing doesn’t just happen. Savvy groups protect land and its resources, including water, through persistent fundraising and advocacy. John Muir Land Trust, formerly Muir Heritage Land Trust recently unveiled its Saving Contra Costa campaign to raise $25 million. “We have already protected over 2,000 acres of prime Contra Costa open space that would have otherwise been developed. With this campaign, we aim to more than double that number,” said Linus Eukel, Executive Director of JMLT. The campaign began with efforts to acquire a 44-acre property called West Hills Farm, immediately adjacent to the Mount Wanda section of the John Muir National Historic Site …

BayMo reads book review

BayMo Books: God’s Hotel

My friend Tanesia in Albuquerque just sent me birthday wishes. I miss her. Years ago, we became friends commuting between our MFA program at San Francisco State and our homes in Oakland. Among this eclectic crew of students, we relearned the value of human connection – each of us for her own reasons. Any night of the week, we were in some corner of the Bay, attending readings or concerts at cafes, bars and apartments. Most of the time we haunted the foggy corners of the Sunset. We often passed Laguna Honda Hospital. It was just a place. A hacienda for the mentally ill, we thought. One of the last asylums, we writers imagined. Not true, I discovered after reading God’s Hotel, by Victoria Sweet. Laguna Honda began as an almshouse, a hospital for San Francisco’s indigent population, the last of its kind. Indigent, almshouse, these are words from centuries past. As Sweet describes her journey as a physician at Laguna Honda, she is also chronicling the journey of a hospital and of medicine from …

kids summer activities

Attention, Little People

Summers when I was 9 in Aurora, IL, we were out in the street on our own. Our parents said go outside and find something to frickin’ do. We had a lot of freedom. We played in each other’s yards, on the street, we rode our bikes, roller skated, ran through sprinklers, slid on the Slip’n Slide. For a little more structure we would take cheap kids classes at the parks and rec. Many times these were at the neighborhood grade school.  Then there was the bookmobile that would come out. We would take our wagon, stick my smallest sister in it and wheel off for a mega haul of books. Now I face the summer as Number 1 Auntie to two little girls. They don’t do the things I did the way I did when I did them so many years ago. Life and play are so much more planned, protected. Allow me to brainstorm my way through a list (that’s how I sort out life) of things I might do with these two …