Noe Valley Voice December-January 2008

Short Takes

By Heather World

Higher Education

The Noe Valley satellite of City College of San Francisco, operating out of James Lick School, has grown this spring to include two new women's studies courses and a child development class.

When school starts Jan. 12, students will have an opportunity to study "Women Through Art History," examining the historical role of women as artists, patrons, and subjects of art; a child development class focusing on children with special needs; and a class that explores issues central to the development of lesbian identity, culture, and relationships.

Debra Porter, assistant to the dean of the Castro/Valencia Campus (as it's known officially), notes that the course offerings have increased in popularity each year since City College came to Lick in 2000.

"We've had a very successful relationship with the middle school and neighborhood," she says.

Porter says the campus has about 20 classes a night, four nights a week, with an average class size of 30 students.

In addition to the three new classes, the college will offer courses in writing, theater, health, and six foreign languages, including Mandarin and Russian. Classes are chosen based on demand, Porter says.

Registration begins Dec. 11 for the spring semester, which runs until May 21. Credit courses are $20 per unit. Non-credit courses, such as tai chi, are free.

There is free parking for CCSF students in the lot behind the school, located at 1220 Noe Street between 25th and Clipper streets.

Applications, a schedule of classes, and online registration are available at Questions? Call 239-3127 during the day or 550-4500 evenings.

Toys R Noe

Drop off new unwrapped toys at Hill & Co. Real Estate's sunny Noe Valley location, and a San Francisco firefighter will help spread your holiday cheer to children in need.

The realty agency has been collecting toys and donations for the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program for seven years, thanks to local Realtor Michelle Long and her father, retired Capt. Bill Long of the San Francisco Fire Department.

"The parents bring a wish list that their kids fill out to a local fire station in their neighborhood, and volunteer firefighters donate time to collecting toys, putting out bins, and wrapping presents," she says.

Not to be confused with the U.S. Marine Corp's Toys for Tots, the San Francisco program is run through the local firefighters' union. It began in 1949 when a handful of firefighters repaired cast-off broken toys and bicycles for a dozen needy children. Thanks to community support, widespread drop-off locations and an all-volunteer effort, last year the firefighters gave about 200,000 toys to about 40,000 children.

The firefighters also work with community organizations such as shelters for abused women and children, inner-city schools, pediatric hospital wards, and neighborhood groups to distribute gifts.

Long's father and grandfather were born and bred in Noe Valley and the nearby Mission District, and it was she who found the building for Hill two years ago. Last year, the bins overflowed with donations, and the realty agency also made a cash donation to the program, she says.

Through Dec. 18, gifts appropriate for tots to teenagers can be dropped into the red barrel at Hill & Co., at 3899 24th Street. You can also leave toys at any firehouse. For more information, to volunteer, or to make a donation, call 777-0440.

Meet Santa at the Stroll

If you shop Noe Valley at the third annual Noel Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 5 to 9 p.m., you can scoop up holiday discounts while enjoying festive libations, live holiday music, finger foods, and a sit with Santa.

Hosted by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, the stroll along 24th Street--and Castro Street and Church Street--is a fun community event, says association co-president Gwen Sanderson, owner of Video Wave on Castro Street.

The stores will be strung with white lights, a caroling group will sing holiday songs, and a roving musician will stroll the street while playing guitar. Noe Nest owner Sheila Ash will serve latkes from the sidewalk, and shops will offer wine, spiced cider, cocoa, and goodies to eat. Both Qoio, at 24th and Noe, and When Modern Was on Church Street will host holiday parties that evening.

"It's a holiday mingling on the street," says Sanderson.

This year, strollers will have three chances to hear a reading of a Christmas story by actor Emmanuel Williams. Williams will share the Dylan Thomas' classic A Child's Christmas in Wales at Cover to Cover Booksellers, 1307 Castro Street, at 5:30 p.m., and then read it once more at Fima Photography, 1414 Castro Street, at 6:30 p.m. Next, he will perform Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, at 7:30 p.m. at When Modern Was, 1504 Church Street near 27th Street.

Santa and his Noe Valley elves will be available for photos and holiday wishes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and again from 5 to 8 p.m., at Zephyr Real Estate, 4040 24th Street.

Though the event is uniquely Noe Valley--boutique shopping, music, and food--Sanderson hopes residents from other neighborhoods will come, too.

"We really want to show the city what the neighborhood is about during the holidays."

For more information, go to or e-mail

Food Is the Gift of Love

The San Francisco Food Bank makes helping hungry people easy this year by sponsoring food drive events throughout the holiday season.

San Francisco businesses, as well as local residents, are participating in this worthy effort.

Shoppers can stock up on holiday food at Whole Foods Market on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Five percent of sales that day will go to the food bank.

Shoppers who enroll in Macy's "Thanks for Sharing" program, for a $25 fee, will receive a 10 percent rebate on holiday purchases. Macy's will donate a portion of the fee to the food bank.

Closer to Noe Valley, the Elbo Room at 647 Valencia Street will host a night of music to benefit the food bank on Dec. 17 from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Pirate Radio, the Burning Embers, the Earl Brothers, and Bob Harp will play. Tickets cost $6 to $10 and will be available at the door.

The food bank says non-perishables can be dropped off at grocery stores and many San Francisco schools. (Lucky Stores in San Francisco has pre-packed grocery bags with the most essential supplies, so buyers don't have to search for them individually.)

Other drop-off locations include Bethel Lutheran Church, 2525 Alemany Boulevard in Glen Park, and St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, 101 Gold Mine Drive in Diamond Heights.

The number of families unable to make ends meet has grown this year due to rising food costs and the financial crisis, according to Marguerite Nowak, the food bank's advocacy and education manager.

The San Francisco Food Bank distributes enough food to serve 66,000 meals a day. To learn more, call 282-1900 or visit

J.D. Souther and Ramblin' Jack in Town

This year's Noe Valley Music Series holiday lineup includes satirical songs and a rare appearance by J.D. Souther, who helped form the Eagles and the band's California country-rock sound.

Popular songwriter Roy Zimmerman, will perform "PeaceNick" Saturday, Dec. 6, at 8:15 p.m. Described as "pacifist-humanist-seasonal" satire, Zimmerman's music riffs on everything from unwrapping presents to the wrapup of the Bush administration. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $17 at the door.

On Saturday, Dec. 13, J.D. Souther makes a rare appearance after a 25-year hiatus from performing. Souther co-wrote some of the Eagles' most famous songs, like "New Kid in Town" and "Best of My Love." He has written songs for the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, and the Dixie Chicks, among many others. A performer, too, Souther formed the Souther Hillman Furay Band with Poco's Richie Furay and the Byrd's Chris Hillman, but he left the stage in 1985. April Smith, whose witty retro pop music has appeared on MTV television shows, will open for Souther at 8:15 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for this double performance.

Finally, Ramblin' Jack Elliott starts the new year on Saturday, Jan. 3. The part-time cowboy, truck driver, and pilot is a full-time musician whose style influenced a young Bob Dylan.

Elliott has roamed the country since the '60s, putting humorous storytelling lyrics to the beats of country, blues, bluegrass, and folk music. He often accompanies himself on harmonica. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $22 at the door.

Advance tickets for Noe Valley Music Series performances can be purchased at Streetlight Records on 24th Street. All shows are at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. For more information, call 454-5238 or visit