Noe Valley Voice June 2008

Short Takes

Harvest Comes in October

It's that time again. Noe Valley Harvest Festival organizers are scouting for volunteers to help make the fourth annual festival on 24th Street as successful as the last three. The crafts, food, and music extravaganza will close down 24th between Church and Sanchez from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, but friends and neighbors can help before the big date, too.

Also, the fair is looking for young designers (18 or under) who might want to enter the festival's logo contest. The winning design will be used on all advertisements and promotional materials. To get details about the contest, e-mail nvhf@ or call graphic design consultant Mary Teahan-Duffy at 244-6145. Potential volunteers should contact the Harvest Fest Committee, chaired by Kathy White, at

The festival is co-sponsored by the Noe Valley Association (the community benefit district on 24th Street) and neighborhood groups including Friends of Noe Valley, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

City College Summer Signup

Want to learn conversational Italian? How about French? Summer session for City College of San Francisco's satellite campus in Noe Valley starts on Tuesday, June 17. The Castro/Valencia campus, located at 1220 Noe Street within James Lick Middle School, will offer 20 seven-week classes, including art, foreign languages, English, music, speech, theater, and women's studies.

Classes meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9:45 p.m through the end of July. Most courses offer three units credit; the cost is $20 per unit.

For a catalog or to register online, go to You may also attend the first class, and if there is room, the instructor will give you a code to register late.

City College, which has a dozen campuses around the city, is open to anyone 18 and up. The Castro/Valencia campus has been holding a variety of credit and non-credit classes at James Lick since 2000. For information, call 550-4500.

Roadmap for Better Streets

Since last summer, more than 500 people have attended 25 community meetings to contribute their ideas for a "Better Streets Plan," a set of pedestrian-friendly guidelines for San Francisco's roads and walkways.

The meetings identified a number of goals the city should steer toward:street designs that slow traffic (such as curb extensions or more visible crosswalks); safer and more accessible sidewalks and intersections; more trees and greenery; better maintenance of streetscape elements; and better enforcement of laws related to cars parking on sidewalks, bicycles riding on sidewalks, and cars parking near corners.

Now, the Better Streets committee has come up with a draft plan, which it wants you to review at a new round of meetings. First, on Thursday, June 5, the proposals will be unveiled at a special event at Mint Plaza, Fifth and Jessie streets between Market and Mission, noon to 2 p.m. (Starting June 2, the Draft Plan can be downloaded from the city's website,

Next, residents are invited to attend a community meeting on Saturday, June 7, which starts with a walking tour: Meet at the Glen Park BART Station at 11 a.m. A presentation and comment session follows at noon at the Crocker-Amazon Senior Apartments at 5199 Mission Street at Geneva.

Then on Thursday, June 12, the Better Streets Plan, along with several local groups including the San Jose Guerrero Coalition to Save Our Streets, will host a session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at St. Luke's Hospital, 3555 Cesar Chavez Street at Valencia Street.

After receiving feedback from residents at these and other meetings this summer, city planners will tune up the plan. Eventually, it will be incorporated into the Better Streets Policy, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in February of 2006.

To get on board, call 558-6405 or e-mail

Getting Nostalgic for Music?

The Noe Valley Music Series will present four diverse concerts this month, including a show featuring a lineup of 30 people singing on a single theme.

First, finger-style guitar virtuoso Peppino D'Agostino will play Saturday, June 7. Readers of Guitar Player magazine recently voted D'Agostino Best Acoustic Guitarist, and he's often put in the same league with John Fahey and Leo Kottke.

On Friday, June 13, former NPR commentator Merle Kessler (also a founding member of Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre) and his equally creative sidekick, comic/musician Joshua Brody, will host "An Evening of Song." Produced every few years or so, this event is the closest thing Noe Valley has to American Idol. This time, the theme will be memory/nostalgia, and the singers will each perform a song, with the backing of Brody's Experimental Love Orchestra.

The next night, Saturday, June 14, another award-winning jazz guitarist, Mimi Fox, will give an intimate solo concert featuring her own original pieces and selections by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Hoagy Carmichael.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, June 28, the "post-folk" a cappella band Moira Smiley & Voco--known for its lush harmonies backed by cello, accordion, and banjo--will take the stage following a set by Keith Terry (Crosspulse) and Evie Ladin (Stairwell Sisters), a duo playing on box, bells, banjo, and body.

Musician Larry Kassin started the Noe Valley Music Series in 1981, and has since drawn in a wide range of music, from bluegrass to jazz to Indian classical flute. All performances are 8:15 p.m. in the upstairs sanctuary at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street. Go to or call 454-5238 for more information. Tickets run $16 to $20. Advance tickets, which are $2 cheaper, can be bought at Streetlight Records on 24th Street.

Making Clay for the Mud Bus

Ruby's Clay Studio, a neighborhood fixture since the 1960s, will host "Ruby's in the Park," a benefit show featuring more than 20 artists, on Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15. Proceeds will go to the studio's Mud Bus outreach program to underserved communities.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, artists will display high-fire and low-fire sculptures--from nudes to bowls--at the Golden Gate Park Hall of Flowers at Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. Admission is free, and artists will host hands-on clay-making classes for children while their parents browse. (Sorry, no kiln-firing.) Attendees can enter a raffle to win selected clay work.

The Mud Bus is a mobile clay studio that takes artist-teachers to places like the Tenderloin Children's Playground and Mercy Senior Housing Center. After showing participants how to create their own ceramics, the artists then fire the work back at Ruby's and later return the finished pieces of art.

Ruby's, named for its founder Ruby O'Burke, opened its doors at 552A Noe in 1967. The studio fosters work by artists and encourages art appreciation through exhibits, classes, and clay resources.

For more information, call Ruby's Clay Studio at 558-9819 or visit its website at

Picnic for Pawsability, Take II

Last year, a group of San Francisco dog lovers put two puppies behind bars, and on Saturday, June 14, they hope to do it again.

Picnic for Pawsability, a picnic held in Glen Park Canyon, raises funds for two canine-related programs: Puppies Behind Bars, a New York­based program that provides opportunities for prison inmates to raise and train service and guide dogs; and Pen Pals, a San Quentin State Prison program in which inmates learn to socialize and train dogs for placement with families.

Last year's event, which raised over $5,000, sponsored two dogs, Kayla and Quentin, in the Puppies Behind Bars program, and also donated funds to Pen Pals.

The picnic, scheduled from 1 to 3:30 p.m., will feature food donated by local businesses, live music, a raffle, a jumpy-house for kids, and lots of friendly dogs. Suggested donation is $20.

To get the real scoop, visit www.picnic

The Home of Homeopathy

How many times have you walked by the northeast corner of Sanchez and 25th streets and wondered what goes on in the pale-avocado storefront with "Lipton's Tea" and "Homeopathy" in the window? Well, now is your chance to find out.

The Pacific Academy of Homeopathy is inviting the neighborhood to an open house on Wednesday, June 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. Academy Director Richard Pitt will give a short talk on homeopathy, which he describes as a "green" alternative to traditional medicine.

The evening will also give visitors a chance to meet students and teachers in the academy's three-year homeopathy training program and to learn about its low-cost community clinics in both San Francisco and Berkeley.

There will be light refreshments and "lots of time to have your questions answered," Pitt says. For more information, call the school at 695-2710 or e-mail

Focus on Irish History

On Tuesday, June 24, the two authors of Irish San Francisco, a photo history of one of the city's most prominent ethnic groups, will be the guest speakers at a meeting of the San Francisco History Association at St. Philip's Church.

Historian John Garvey and archaeologist Karen Hanning will also sign copies and introduce some special guests from the pages of their book, published by Arcadia Publishing in March. Irish San Francisco has more than 200 vintage photographs tracing Irish footsteps from the 1850s to today.

Doors at the church, at Diamond and 24th streets, will open at 7 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 8 p.m. The cost of admission is $5.

To find out more about the association, described by the San Francisco Bay Guardian as the "Best Place to Meet Senior Hipsters," call board president Ron Ross at 750-9986 or visit the group's website at

This month's Short Takes were written by Heather World, Rosie Ruley Atkins, and Sally Smith.