My city council rep, Jean Quan, has a great set of 25 Ways to Keep Oakland Green. One huge one she doesn't list is going meatless one day a week. Just one day a week makes a huge difference -- equivalent to switching from a 22MPG to 50MPG car. I've been vegetarian (still eating a little fish and dairy) for about 10 years, and it gets easier all the time. One day a week should be a snap, so give it a try. To get you started, Becks over at Living in the O has a nice run down of some vegetarian restaurants in Oakland.
future home owner Emma Navarro and house leader Gary Struthers
There's a nice article in the Oakland Tribune about where I've been the last couple of days, the 2009 Habitat for Humanity East Bay build-a-thon. I'm working on the house of the future homeowner quoted in the article, Emma Navarro. She worked along side the rest of us (homeowners have to put in 500 hours of sweat equity in lieu of a down payment, then make regular payments after that), and is very excited about having her own home. She and her husband and 2 daughters live in a 1 bedroom apartment currently. I've got more pictures and info on the Habitat East Bay Thrivent Builds blog.
There wasn't much good to come out of the horrific shooting death of the four Oakland police officers last month, but one good thing was that officer John Hege continued to serve even after death. He was an organ donor, and his heart, kidneys and liver are helping save the lives of four people. His skin and tendons will help others in the months to come. And his action has helped raise awareness of organ donation. In California, it's easy to register to become an organ donor in the event of your death. If you didn't already do it when getting your driver's license, just go to the Donate Life California website.
You can help save lives before you die, too. Just take 30 minutes or so out of your day and donate blood at the Red Cross Oakland Blood Center on Claremont Ave. The need for blood is continual, and it will help save a life. Make donating blood a regular part of your calendar. You can donate whole blood every 56 days, and go on saving lives. I've no doubt John Hege would be proud.
Finally, to honor the four Oakland officers and donate to help their families, donate and join in the 45-mile Step Confidently Ahead walk. Two Vacaville police officers and one firefighter will be walking from Vacaville to Oakland to raise funds, then meet with supporters at Fentons Creamery on Piedmont, who will be donating proceeds from a special sundae.
For my birthday, my wife and I went to a matinee of Coraline at the Grand Lake. The movie was creepy and fun, and visually stunning.
After that, we strolled over to Sidebar for dinner. Our timing was such that the only seats available were at the bar or at the counter next to the kitchen. We opted for the latter, and it was a great choice. We spent a great deal of time watching executive chef Barbara Mulas at work along with the rest of the kitchen crew. The food was great, as was the service.
My only (small) complaint is a relative lack of vegetarian options, but since it's mostly small dishes and I still eat some fish, I found plenty I could eat. We shared roasted portabella panini, grilled trout salad, the baked pasta, and the tomato soup. For dessert, we shared a special, the cornbread poundcake which was an awesome way to top off the meal. After dinner, the manager, Anne Marie Adrain, came by and asked how our evening was. All in all, it was grand -- we'll be going back again. It seemed very busy for a Tuesday, so that's a good sign it'll be around to future visits.