Thursday, June 30, 2011

signs: Uptown Body and Fender

Uptown Body and Fender

Uptown Body and Fender is more than a auto repair shop. In 2010 they won the Oakland Indie Award for "Neighborhood Dynamo", in part for offering up their space to local organizations for fundraisers and art exhibitions. That's when I saw it, during the Art Murmur a couple of months back. This year, they won an award from the Chamber of Commerce for "Small Business Innovator". Congrats, Uptown!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein in France

Gertrude Stein is an Oaklander, probably best known locally for the phrase "There is no there there". She wasn't an Oakland native (she was born in what is now part of Pittsburgh, PA) and spent most of her life in France, but she spent her childhood growing up in Oakland. It was upon returning to Oakland as an adult to find that her childhood home had been torn down that she said the phrase. In any event, Gertrude Stein was a very interesting woman. She was an avant garde writer, a feminist, a lesbian, a Jew and an art collector and patron. She lived in France during WWII when several of those aspects could have gotten her killed.

More generally she's known for her writing, and for her relationship with Alice Toklas, immortalized in Stein's best-selling book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Much of Stein's writing is challenging to approach, to say the least. That's one thing our friend Dana likes about it -- you have to work at it, and even more than other literature, you see it through your own lens. Some people describe it as the literary response to Cubism in art. Some suggest it should be read aloud to be properly understood. Whatever else it is, it's unusual and interesting. I have to admit to not having read much, but I plan to check out more now that I know more about her. I probably won't start with her experimental works, but some of her later, more autobiographical works.

Henri Matisse: Woman With a Hat

There are several exhibitions going on in San Francisco about Gertrude Stein, and Dana was in town last week to visit her mom, so we all tagged along to check some of them out. First up was The Steins Collect at SFMOMA. In the early 1900s, Gertrude and her brothers, Leo and Michael, and Michael's wife Sarah lived in Paris. They were some of the first to recognize the genius of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Gertrude, Leo, Michael and Sarah had differing tastes, but were patrons and collectors of these artists back when they were unknown. While there was some praise for their work, there was considerable condemnation. One critic said of Matisse's work at the time "a pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public". These days the art is considerably more popular, and the exhibit was packed.

The second exhibit was at the nearby Contemporary Jewish Museum. The exhibit is titled "Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories". Rather than the art she and her family collected, it showed art about and by her, focusing on her life between WWI and WWII. Besides a variety of photographs of her, I found the recordings of her reading her "word portraits" of people like Henri Matisse particularly interesting.

If you're interested in Gertrude Stein, and want to learn more, or if you just want to see an amazing collection of art, I recommend both exhibits.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Given the long holiday weekend and the fact it's the First Friday of the month, there are a lot of upcoming events in Oakland. I love summer.

"Empowering Themselves" fundraiser - Tuesday, June 28, 6-9pm at SomaR. A fundraiser for Banteay Srei, an Oakland non-profit that works with young women who are sexually exploited. See more on the SomaR blog.

Downtown Oakland walking tours - Wednesday, June 29 in Old Oakland, Saturday, July 2 in Chinatown. Informative, fun and free! (free)

Oakland A's Root Beer Floats - Thursday, June 30, 10:30am-12:30pm at the Coliseum. A fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, A's players, coaches, and local celebs will be serving up root beer floats. See Oakland Magazine for more.

East Oakland Sports Center opening - Thursday, June 30, 4pm at the center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new East Oakland Sports Center. The center sounds pretty amazing. Mayor Quan is scheduled to be there, and I imagine CM Larry Reid will be there, too, since he was a driving force behind the project. Read more in the Tribune article and at Oakland North. (free)

EBYD Awards Gala - Thursday, June 30, 6:30-9:30pm at Numi Tea. The 3rd annual awards gala for the East Bay Young Democrats. Get the full story at Living in the O. ($30-$40)

Bites on Broadway - Friday, July 1, 5:30pm at 45th and Broadway. It's mobile food and fun, Bites on Broadway. See some pictures from last Friday's Bites on Broadway.

First Friday - Friday, July 1 in various locations. There's the Art Murmur, of course, but there's also the Midtown Arts District First Friday Art Walk. (free)

Dancing Under the Stars - Friday, July 1, 8:30pm at Jack London Square. The annual free dance lessons at JLS are back -- this week: The Hustle! (free)

Family Fun on the 4th - Monday, July 4, 11am-4pm at Jack London Square. Lots of fun stuff for kids on the 4th, with jugglers, face painters, food and more. Given the time, there won't be any fireworks. Read more on the JLS website. (free)

Pardee House Patriotic Picnic - Monday, July 4, noon-4pm. The annual Pardee House picnic includes food, a concert, games in the garden and more. See the Pardee House website for more info. ($5-$15)

Municipal Band Concert - Monday, July 4, 1pm at Lakeside Park. The Oakland Municipal Band kicks off its 100th concert season with a concert at Lakeside Park. Read more in Annalee Allen's Tribune column. (free)

Monday, June 27, 2011

new in Oakland

Ignite! Expo

On Friday I headed down to Frank Ogawa Plaza for the 6th annual Ignite! New Business Expo. It celebrates new businesses in Oakland, and is put on by Urban Fire, which provides entrepreneurship training for people in Oakland who want to start their own business. This year's was smaller than past years, probably reflecting the still struggling economy, but there were still some interesting businesses to check out. There were a number of service-oriented businesses like Mac Made Easy, which provides IT services for Mac users. There were several new food vendors, too, including Besto Pesto (which is hecka tasty; I came home with two containers of it) and Blackberry Soul Baking Co. (also hecka tasty; I came home with a blackberry cobbler in my stomach.)

There's a nice writeup on Oakland North about the expo. A complete list of exhibitors is on the Urban Fire site.

Lake Merritt realignment

On my ride over to downtown, it was such a beautiful day that I swung around Lake Merritt to enjoy it. I noticed that more of the road realignment has been implemented. Instead of having the main flow of southbound traffic continue on Lakeshore, now it's directed onto 1st Avenue. That was always an option before, but now it's the default. This makes it quieter around the lake, and eventually Lakeshore will dead end instead of connecting into 12th St. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to continue that way, though.

For more info and lots of pictures, check out Erik Niemann's great Oakland 12th Street Project site. For a different look, read Angela Woodall's recent column in the Tribune.

After the Ignite! Expo, I headed over to Commonwealth Cafe and Pub, where I hooked up with Clay Graham of welocally. I'd met Clay briefly at Code for Oakland, so it was no great surprise he wanted to talk about an app for supporting local businesses in Oakland. His company is working on a service that would be part Oakland Grown, part Yelp, part Foursquare, part Google Maps, and be fed in part by local blogs. I like the idea, not because Clay likes my blog, but because I'm a big fan of local in general and Oakland in particular.

East Oakland Sports Center

Something new in East Oakland is the East Oakland Sports Center. It's not far from the Habitat developments in Sobrante Park and Woodland (which is across the street from the new East Oakland Public Library). There will be an opening ceremony Thursday, at 5:30pm, with tours available. Read more in the Tribune article, and see some pictures on the AIACC website. Thanks to Zennie62 for the heads up on the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And last, a personal note on something new for me. Clay didn't recognize me at first because I currently don't look like my Twitter avatar, in which I'm sporting a beard (which I had when we met at Code for Oakland, too.) At the moment, I'm more or less clean-shaven. The beard comes and goes, depending my level of laziness about shaving.

That's some of what's new in Oakland, and enough for one post. You can see more pictures from the Ignite! Expo and some pics from Friday's Bites on Broadway here:
new in Oakland - June, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

photo journey 5: how green is my city

Green is a familiar color to most Oaklanders. It's one of the colors of the city flag, the A's logo, Oakland street signs, the AC Transit logo and numerous other things we see every day. Even now in summer, when there's no rain (well, until Tuesday, when there's a chance of thunderstorms!?), there are lots of green trees and plants around Oakland. And of course Oakland is going 'green' in the sense of making environmentally-friendlier changes. So it wasn't hard at all to find green things to photograph on my way home from church this afternoon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

signs: Lucky Tackle

Lucky Tackle

Isaw this sign first over on the wonderful photo blog, Oakland Daily Photo, then again on Oakland Local. I saw it in person a couple of weeks ago, north of Actual Cafe, and got this quick shot with the cellphone. Yesterday when I stopped at Actual Cafe, I got some more shots with the P&S. As Oakland Daily Photo points out, the business is long gone. It was an art gallery, and now is part of the East Bay Jazz Workshop. The sign is in mediocre condition, but the neon is in surprisingly good shape.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

bits and pieces 2

More bits and pieces. Today I was up to Berkeley to get a new charger for my electric bike. After nearly two years of faithful service, the charger died. Unfortunately I had to wait a week for a new charger to be in stock, but I was able to pick it up today. I celebrated back in Oakland by hanging out at Actual Cafe for a while, reading a friend's book about Gertrude Stein. But first I wandered around the area a bit to take some pictures.

The last is the latest addition to my Neighborhood Name Signs project. It's not bad as vinyl banners go, but it's still a vinyl banner in the end.

The full album:
bits and pieces 2

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

zoo news review

Ihave to admit being somewhat conflicted about zoos. On one hand, a good zoo can teach people a lot about animals and preserving the habitats necessary to support those animals. And most kids love zoos, at least for a certain age range. On the other hand, even a good zoo has the animals captive, and at best they live in an approximation of their natural habitats. In any event, Oakland has a pretty nice zoo.

The zoo has plans to expand. These aren't new plans; the zoo received permission from the city in 1998 and have been implementing pieces since then. However, the plans for the California! project, which will showcase California animals and plants, are pretty big. Ironically, the zoo has scaled back the plans somewhat, so they need to get city approval for the changes. The city planning commission approved the changes back in April, but opponents of the plan are fighting back -- their appeal is on tonight's city council agenda (I'm waiting for the #oakmtg to start as I write this post.) You can read more about the fight on A Better Oakland.

update: the city council voted unanimously to support the expansion.

The other zoo news is the their annual Walk in the Wild fundraiser. It's a somewhat expensive ($125-$150) event, but features food, beer and wine from Oakland, the East Bay and beyond, and is a fun opportunity to see some of the animals after hours. There are apparently still tickets available for the Saturday evening event. K and I went to this some years ago (I don't remember it being quite that expensive), and it was a lot of fun. This year's features a ton of yummy vendors, from Dashe Cellars to Plum.

Monday, June 20, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Sorry for the paucity of posts last week. It's not that there wasn't fun and interesting stuff going on in Oakland, it's that I didn't have time to get out and enjoy it and write about it.

14 hours, 14 branches: save Oakland libraries - now, June 20 at City Hall. Concerned citizens are having a read-in to show support for the Oakland libraries, which are facing huge potential cutbacks. Local authors and celebrities will be reading from different works. Read more on A Better Oakland. (free)

Tasty Summer Delights - Tuesday, June 21 at Mandela Foods Coop. Part of a 3-part summer nutrition series put on by Mandela Foods. Jason Harvey (aka Chef Grahamcrackah) will show how to make simple, tasty, nutrient dense salads. (free)

Oakland walking tour - Wednesday, June 22: Churches and Temples, Saturday, June 25: Uptown. I've enjoyed all the walking tours so far, and I loved the Uptown one. (free)

added: new business expo - Friday, June 24, 11AM-3PM at Frank Ogawa Plaza. The 6th annual Ignite! New Business Expo, celebrating new local businesses.

Bites on Broadway - Friday, June 24, at 45th and Broadway. It's mobile food and fun, Bites on Broadway. Sounds like they've worked out some of the problems experienced at the first one. Read more on Cooking with the Single Guy.

Dancing Under the Stars - Friday, June 24 at Jack London Square. The annual free dance lessons at JLS are back. Coming up July 1: the Hustle! (free)

Pacific Fine Arts Festival - Friday - Sunday in Montclair. It's the annual fine art festival in Montclair Village. Featuring artists from the East Bay and beyond, it's a juried event featuring a wide variety of art. (free)

Vegan Bike Tour - Saturday, June 25. A new event (or at least new to me), with a bike tour around various Oakland neighborhoods showing off vegan food options, and includes a catered (vegan) lunch by Lake Merritt. If you think of it as lunch, it sounds expensive. If you think of it as lunch plus an all-day activity, it sounds more reasonable. ($30)

Summer Solstice Music Festival - Saturday, June 25 in the Laurel. It's the 6th annual Summer Solstice Music Festival. (free)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

signs: Miss Pearl's Jam House

Miss Pearl's Jam House

In Jack London Square is Miss Pearl's Jam House, a restaurant with Caribbean-style food which also features live music and comedy. It started over in San Francisco in 1989, but moved to Oakland in 2008. Read more about why they moved on The OakBook. Although it's been around a long while, and in Oakland for 3 years, I've never been. Have you? How was it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

signs: Jackson's Liquor

Jackson's Liquor

Ilove this sign. I'll even skip my "why do liquor stores have so many of the great signs?" rant. I came across it the other week when I was shooting the heart sign on East 12th. Like many bars, it includes a drink glass, but it does them one better. The glass is filled by swirling neon poured out of a bottle of XXX. The 'party service' neon is long gone, but the rest of the neon appears to be in good shape. Anybody know if they still light it up at night?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

a Random party

One of the fun things in Oakland yesterday was a Random Party. It was partly to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the Linden Street Brewery (congrats, Adam!), and partly a fundraiser for Random Acts of Kindness, a non-profit run by Oakland firefighters to help the people of Oakland and make positive experiences for the firefighters.

Random Acts brought the parade rig fire engine and fire hats for kids, plus there was a bounce house and various toys, and one of the food vendors featured chocolate, so it was a very kid-friendly event.

For drinking there was Linden Street Beer, naturally, but also Drake's Beer (San Leandro), Numi Tea, and Periscope Cellars wine.

For eating, El Taco Bike was on hand, sporting some of its new paint job. Adesso had a grill going, and for those with a sweet tooth, the Oakland Chocolate Company had a booth as did PieTisserie.

No agenda, just people hanging out and having a good time. I saw a bunch of people I know from Random Acts, but other familiar Oakland faces, too, including Fraggle from Beer Revolution, Nancy Nadel from both the Oakland city council and Oakland Chocolate Co., and others. And as you can see, we even had great weather for it.

more photos:
Random Party

Further reading about Random Acts of Kindness:
- OF Random Acts website
- 2011 awards
- Cora "Mom" Green

Friday, June 10, 2011

signs: Rexall Drugs

Rexall Drugs

This sign on the corner of International and Seminary has been on my list for a while. I saw it some time back and got a quick shot, but with riding the e-bike to and from Habitat I hadn't been this way recently. Today I drove, so I went home a different way so I could shoot the sign.

It's no longer a drug store, but El Mercadito ("little market".) Rexall used to be a large chain of drug stores across North America, mostly individual franchises. They weren't able to compete with the corporate-owned chains like Eckerds and Thrifty Drugs, and by 1977 had largely ceased to exist except a few stores. The name lives on in some Rexall branded products sold at Dollar General stores. I remember Rexall because it was the only drug store in the town I grew up in back in Michigan, and the family who owned it had a son a year or two ahead of me in school.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Another week, another load of fun and interesting things to do in Oakland.

History of (very) Early Fruitvale - June 9 near Mt. View Cemetery. An Oakland Heritage Alliance lecture on the early history of the Fruitvale and historical figures Antonio Peralta and Henderson Luelling. ($10-$15)

Bites on Broadway - June 10 at 45th and Broadway. The first (of hopefully many) weekly food events on Broadway. Food, fun, music and more. Check the Bites on Broadway website for more.

A Random Party - June 11 at Linden Street Brewery. Take OF Random Acts, one of my favorite Oakland non-profits, add Linden Street Brewery, one of my favorite Oakland businesses, add some fun, and it's a party! It's a fundraiser for OF Random Acts, and will have the parade fire engine and a bounce house for kids, along with food from El Taco Bike and Adesso. ($10)

RPS Cupcake Bakeoff - June 11 at Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective. The 3rd annual Cupcake Bakeoff. For $5 you get to judge, plus they'll have cupcake-themed crafts and activities. ($5)

Downtown Oakland walking tour - June 11 in Jack London Square and June 15 at City Center. I've enjoyed all of the Oakland walking tours so far. (free!)

East Bay Open Studios - June 11-12, all over Oakland. There are hundreds of artists participating, all over Oakland and the East Bay. Check the handy map for locations. (free)

Temescal Street Fair - July 10 in Temescal. The 8th annual Temescal Street Fair. Food, fun, arts and crafts in Temescal.(free)

For even more, check the Oakland Local calendar.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

save Oakland ___

Seems like all sorts of things in Oakland are under threat these days, and not all because of the budget mess. That certainly isn't helping, as there just isn't as much money to go around.

If you haven't heard, Mayor Quan has proposed 3 budgets, known as Scenarios A, B and C. Scenario A is the most drastic, and is referred to as the "all cuts" budget. It assumes no concessions from the public safety employees (possible) and the $80 parcel tax doesn't pass (quite likely, given past misuse of such funds). Some people think Scenario A is "political theater", to help at the bargaining table with the unions and to scare people into voting for yet-another-parcel-tax.

libraries - This is a big one to a lot of people -- libraries are important to them, especially for their kids. People turned out in droves at the last council meeting to show their support for the libraries. Under Scenario A, all but 4 of the libraries would be closed, and those 4 would have substantial service cuts. It's not just about books, it's about internet access, too. See the Save Oakland Library website for more.

tool library - Oakland has a great resource in the tool Lending library at the Temescal branch. Tools can be expensive to buy or rent, and this makes them available at no cost to all Oakland residents. But it's part of the library system and therefore under threat as well. See the Oaktown Art website for more.

adult literacy - Partly because of the library cuts, but partly because of statewide budget cuts, there's very little left of adult literacy programs in Oakland. Two years ago they served 25,000 students; last year it was less than 2,400. See the East Bay Express article for more.

public food in public spaces - Phat Beets distributes food as both CSA (we've loved our box) and via farmer's markets. But it also produces some of the food right here in Oakland, in gardens in public spaces. Some of those gardens are under threat. But this isn't a budget issue -- Phat Beets receives no city funding, and has done lots of work to improve the park. See the Phat Beets site for more.

Can everything under the budget ax be saved? No, there just isn't enough money to cover everything, even if the public safety employees make concessions. But make your voice heard for the things you believe in.

Monday, June 6, 2011

photowalk with @yourwaitress

One of the too many things I did the past few days was hook up with Oakland photographer your waitress, aka Valerie Cochran. I mentioned her and the great photo exhibit she had in my review of Commonwealth Cafe and Pub. Six friends, old and new, joined her for her last photowalk around Oakland before she moves to Missouri.

We met at The Trappist to give everyone a chance to get there, and had a beer while we waited. Thankfully the rain held off, though we had flat, gray lighting for most of our walk. After a quick stroll around the block in Old Oakland, we wandered through Chinatown. Even on a gray Sunday afternoon, there's a lot of color in Chinatown and a lot going on, so it makes for an interesting place to take pictures.

Valerie was flexible on the route, but did have some definite things she wanted to do, like get a treat at one of the many Chinese bakeries (I'm guessing there will be fewer in Missouri.) We also walked with the vague destination of the Oakland Museum, either to check out a photo exhibit or to wander around the museum grounds. The fact it was the first Sunday and free was an added draw.

One of the great things about shooting with other photographers is that different people see differently, different things catch their eye, and they choose to shoot a subject differently. So you can have 7 people walking through the same area and come up with 7 different views of a thing. After you've done this a number of times, you get to know what a person is likely to shoot, but this was my first time shooting with any of these people.

We have some things in common (e.g., we're all interested in photography), but only some of us live in Oakland, some shot film (which "sees" light differently) and some shot with digital, and so I'm looking forward to seeing more of the photos the others took. I'll update this post as I get links to more. And I'm looking forward to future photowalks with them, even if Valerie will be a less frequent participant after her move.

more of my photos:
your waitress photowalk

Check out some photos the others took:
Dave 1, 2, 3
Valerie 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Code for Oakland

Today was an exhausting but hella fun day. I spent it at the Code for Oakland, a one-day event to bring together programmers, designers, and various organizations to design some apps devoted to looking at local datasets of use to people in Oakland, particularly those without regular web access.

There were roughly 100 people in attendance, with a wide variety of backgrounds. We started by introducing ourselves and throwing out any ideas we had. Those ideas were added to ones that people came up with in community listening sessions from the weeks before the event. A rough vote of interest narrowed the field, and some people took 'ownership' of the resulting ideas. We then broke up into groups based on interest in the idea, while some people stayed in the main group to discuss open data sets that are available, and how the city of Oakland can make things more accessible.

Our group was small but mighty. We focused on connecting people in Oakland with better sources of food, particularly in the various 'food deserts' in West and East Oakland. The idea is simple from a user standpoint: near this location, where can I find this food, and the best/healthiest version of it? If there are multiple sources, they're listed based on distance, sourcing (local, organic, fair trade, etc.) and cost. For example, our hypothetical user was searching for tomatoes near them, and got back 3 listings including a local market, a farmer's market, and a community farm. Or the search could say tomatoes aren't in season. After initial seeding of the data, further data updates would come from the local food producers themselves. Users can also sign up for alerts about different foods being available (e.g., when plums are in season).

Other ideas included getting people with limited access better access to things like, better job searching for people parolees with limited web access, getting students hooked up with after school activities, and more. Some really great ideas, that my descriptions can't do justice to. What was really amazing is how far some of the groups got in prototyping their ideas. The 311 service: Citizen feedback on local issues had quite a bit working, as did the job searches for parolees.

The event was organized by Susan Mernit of Oakland Local, and Amy Gahran helped facilitate it. A bunch of Oakland orgs and businesses helped sponsor the event. Thank you all! And a big thank-you to Michael, who did the lion's share of the work to put a prototype of our group's idea together.

Check out the video from Zennie62 of Oakland Focus. He was one of the judges, and not surprisingly, showed up with video camera in hand. Our project is featured about 10:30 into the video, but it's all worth watching to get a better idea of what Code for Oakland is about. And check out his blog post.

There's also a great post on Huffington Post by #codeforoakland participant Tanja Aitamurto. Her group was working on the better job searching for parolees project.

collecting ideas

refining our idea

sticky note = whiteboard

after party!

Friday, June 3, 2011

signs: Mother's Cookies

Mother's Cookies

Mother's Cookies used to be an Oakland institution. It was founded in 1914, after Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day to be a national holiday. It hummed along for many years after that. My dad (who was born in Oakland and raised in Oakland and Berkeley) has always been a Mother's Cookies fan. Especially the oatmeal raisin cookies, whether the small ones (my favorite) or the full-sized. As late as 2004, Mother's had 10% of the U.S. cookie market.

But after various sales, mergers, etc., the cookie crumbled. Without warning, the owners in 2006 laid off the 230 workers in Oakland and moved operations elsewhere. Within two years, the parent company was bankrupt. Kellogg's bought the Mother's Cookie assets, and by mid-2009, had reintroduced Mother's Cookies to stores.

I don't know if they have any corporate presence left in Oakland, but on 81st Ave., across from the Sunshine Biscuit factory, and just down the street from where the Mother's Cookie factory was, there's an office building with the distinctive Mother's Cookies logos painted on it and a sign in front.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

food+drink: Farley's East

This guest post is by my lovely and talented wife, K. Her website for her spiritual direction practice can be found at Sleep on the Hearth. She also blogs on spiritual matters.

Farley's East

On Monday I headed for Farley's East to work on my novel. It being Memorial Day, parking was free and easy. Easy because things were so quiet—only a few people were abroad in Oakland, and I think half of them were actually in Farley's. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Before going in, I took a detour and walked down to the Cathedral of Christ the Light at Grand and Harrison. I wanted another look at the healing garden that opened in 2008 in remembrance of those who have been sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

healing garden

The first time I visited this tiny, simple garden, a flower was growing from between the cracks in the center of the rock. That was powerful, but seeing the artwork as it is now, without anything growing in it, probably more deeply reflects the truth of what is being remembered. It's a plain, hard truth, and this piece of art is both plain and hard. Kudos to the artist, Masatoshi Izumi.

An article about the healing garden on SFGate points out that the memorial being outside the church is part of its symbolism: many victims of clergy abuse cannot, and will never, enter a church again as long as they live. For similar reasons, the garden has no religious symbols or artwork. It just is what it is.

After I'd taken a few photos and sat by the rock for a while, I headed to Farley's, which is a healing garden of a more joyful sort. The walls are usually covered with art. Eclectic magazines are for sale. Artistic-looking people sit at tables drinking coffee and typing on MacBooks. I like to imagine that some of them are working on creative endeavors, as I am.

Twice now I've gone to Farley's to write, and both times I had a latte that was both delicious and beautiful. I also got some good writing done. Farley's has a great vibe for doing creative work, and it's energizing just to sit there and soak it in. I'll definitely be going back. They also have delicious sandwiches.

lovely latte