Noe Valley Voice July-August 2009

Short Takes

By Heather World
(except as noted)


You are invited to dig into the dirt at Upper Noe Valley Recreation Center Saturday, July 11, from 9 a.m. to noon, to trim trees and bushes, root out weeds, and clean up debris in the park at Sanchez and Day streets.

Joan Lionberger, a park neighbor from Sanchez, hopes to make this a regular effort on the first Saturday of the month, though the July 4 holiday pushed back this month's date. If each volunteer nets one 13-gallon bag of litter and weeds, the health of the park will improve, she says.

"If enough people come out, it shouldn't be a burden to anybody," Lionberger says. "It should be fun."

She is also asking volunteers to brainstorm ideas for planting the corner at 30th and Sanchez streets, which has no source of water beyond rain. Sample clippings are welcomed.

Lionberger offered help to the city gardener in charge of the park, who now has a second park under his care due to budget cuts. She has long used the park, first for her children and for her dogs.

"I believe in paying forward," she says. "The new generation will have something nice to look at and will learn about service."

The city's gardener will open the gates and provide some tools, but volunteers should bring their own tools, gloves, and some water. Look for "Ladybug Gardener" signs directing volunteers to a sign-in desk where liability release forms are available. For more information, e-mail Lionberger at


The Noe Valley Music Series celebrates flutes and fiddles in two concerts at the Noe Valley Ministry this summer. First, on Saturday, July 11, the Manring Kassin Darter trio will play improvisational and new-age jazz in the church sanctuary while recording the group's second live album.

"The acoustics are ideal," says series director Larry Kassin, the group's flutist and the Music Series director. The show begins at 8:15 p.m.

Kassin's flute-playing has been compared to that of noted jazz flutists Rahassan Roland Kirk and Hubert Laws. Bassist Michael Manring has two gold records plus multiple Grammy nominations to his credit. Bass Player magazine recently named him Bass Player of the Year. Pianist Tom Darter's compositions have drawn praise from the likes of composer Aaron Copland.

At the second concert, on Friday, Aug. 14, three bluegrass bands will perform, hitting the stage early at 7:30 p.m. Kassin pulled together the evening's lineup around Colorado's Spring Creek, which played in the Ministry at the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival last year. Locals Belle Monroe and Her Brewglass Boys and the new all-star Black Crown String Band round out the evening.

Tickets for both events cost $15 in advance and $17 at the door. The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. Advance tickets can be bought at Phoenix Books, which has moved to 3957 24th Street, formerly the site of Noe Knit. For more information, see or call 415-454-5238.


The store Cooks Boulevard has expanded its community fare, adding a book club and farm-to-table drop-off service to weekly cooking classes and a well-stocked selection of kitchenware.

Owner Malcolm Haar expects the book club to meet and discuss a selected book about every six weeks, starting Wednesday, July 8, with Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater, by Matthew Amster-Burton. Conversation, tea, and snacks start at 7 p.m. in the store, 1309 Castro Street at 24th Street.

"It's getting people together who are interested in food," Haar said. He figured Amster-Burton's combination of parenthood and good cooking would have broad appeal in Noe Valley.

The store has also opened itself as a center for Community Supported Agriculture. Anyone interested in a weekly box of fresh fruits or vegetables delivered by one of three farms--Eating With the Seasons, Frog Hollow Farm, or Terra Firma Farms--can learn more and sign up at the store.

Summer classes, taught by employees Martha Quiteño and Sara Eddison, include "Fun and Easy Food for a Crowd" on Monday, July 27; "Gluten-Free Meals Your Kids Will Eat" on Wednesday, Aug. 12; and "Satisfying Summer Salads" on Thursday, Aug. 20. Weeknight classes start at 6:15 p.m. See for a complete listing.

Haar says patrons can suggest their own class ideas on a new "bulletin board" online. "Flour and Water: Simple Breads for the Home Baker," on Saturday, July 11, is the first class to originate from the board, he says.

Haar also notes the store is selling reusable, U.S.-made cotton lunch bags created by a Noe Valley mom, Susanne Maddux. Haar says the bags have been very popular, and he is considering adding other shapes and sizes of her Hero Bags.


"Staying in the City: Housing As We Age," a seminar hosted by the Older Women's League on Saturday, July 25, at the Main Library, will explore ways to grow old at home, the new old-fashioned alternative to nursing homes and retirement communities.

Three panelists will talk about communities that keep seniors independent as they age. Rochelle Goldman, of the Cohousing Committee at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, will describe cohousing, in which residents help design their own communal buildings and gardens, often near shopping districts. Jeanne Dunne will discuss the Swan's Market Cohousing Project in Oakland, where an abandoned grocery store and surrounding land were converted into housing. Pat Bourne will share news from North East Exchange Team (NEXT), a San Francisco group that has studied co-op communities that provide rides to the doctor and grocery store, plus other amenities.

The two challenges to aging at home are isolation and transportation, says Jonee Levy, a board member of the San Francisco chapter of OWL and the chairwoman of NEXT.

"In San Francisco, we're a group of little villages," she says.

Extensive public transportation and plentiful markets make the city ideal for the kind of co-operative living that has succeeded elsewhere, she says.

The panel, like OWL itself, is aimed at women older than 50, but anyone of any age and gender can attend. The event is free.

"I see it as a broad community project: mothers who need babysitters, someone who needs a dress hemmed--there are all sorts of things you can exchange or do for each other," Levy says.

The discussion runs from 10 a.m. to noon at the library, at 100 Larkin Street.

For more information, call 415-989-4422 or visit


The 14th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival at the Castro Theatre starts Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m. with Douglas Fairbanks in The Gaucho, followed by a 9:15 p.m. opening night party.

The next two days are morning-to-evening film, often with commentary from scholars and archivists. Two highlights are 1928 films: the French version of The Fall of the House of Usher and The Wind, starring silent film star Lillian Gish.

Saturday starts free with Amazing Tales from the Archives, the annual behind-the-scenes look at the work of film scholars and archivists. Joe Lindner of the Academy Film Archive screens rare film shorts and fragments and talks about archiving 28mm safety film. The festival closes with Lady of the Pavements, D.W. Griffith's final silent movie, made in 1929.

Live piano, organ, or orchestra will accompany the action on screen. The Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, was built in 1922 for silent film and has a Wurlitzer organ that rises to the stage.

Tickets cost $12 for members and $14 for the public for all films except opening and closing nights, which cost slightly more. There is a pass for $120 and $140 for all 12 films.

For more details, call 415-777-4908 or visit


Sunday Streets, the popular series of weekend street closures that gives free rein to the walking, biking, and playing public, seeks volunteers to work upcoming events through September.

The next event, July 19, will run along Valencia and 24th Street to Potrero Avenue, ending at Rolph Playground on Cesar Chavez Street. On Aug. 9 and Sept. 6, the route will connect Golden Gate Park to the San Francisco Zoo via Ocean Beach. Streets are closed to traffic and open to everyone else from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The most pressing need is for monitors who will shepherd pedestrians and cyclists through the lights at cross streets, says Lisa Taylor of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which is coordinating Sunday Streets' volunteers.

Shifts last about three hours, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the festivities, she says. Free lunch and T-shirts are also provided.

Based on a similar program in Bogotá, Colombia, Sunday Streets started in 2008 with two events that drew more than 15,000 people each. In '09, it grew to six.

"Everyone makes it their own," Taylor says. At the June 7 event in the Mission, there were dancing roller-skaters, bicyclists with speakers playing music, kids' yoga classes, and Aztec dancers.

For more information or to volunteer, visit


Cast members of Wicked and Beach Blanket Babylon make star appearances at the sixth annual San Francisco Theater Festival on Sunday, July 26, at and around the Yerba Buena Gardens complex in downtown San Francisco.

The free one-day celebration of live theater will present 130 drama, comedy, solo, and musical performances on eight indoor and six outdoor stages for an expected 8,000 to 10,000 theater buffs between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Thirty of the shows have been deemed family-friendly, and there will be juggling by Unique Derique.

Performances--some premieres, some classics, some one-act plays, some scenes--last less than 30 minutes, and stages are within a few minutes' walk of one another.

While the big names add a lot, the festival is mostly about the fun of discovering a new theater group or a new show, says Bill Schwartz, executive producer.

Sometimes the discovery isn't so great, but that's okay, too, he says. "It's free, it's short, and if you don't like it, you can tiptoe out."

Look for performances from the Marsh, 42nd Street Moon, BATS Improv, and No Nude Men Productions, among others. Local favorites Charlie Varon and Dan Hoyle will perform excerpts from their shows Rabbi Sam and Right?

Yerba Buena Gardens is located between Mission, Folsom, Third, and Fourth streets. The stages will be at Yerba Buena Gardens, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Zeum, the Metreon, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. For more information, visit or call 415-291-8655.


Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos will discuss the latest plans for construction of a new St. Luke's Hospital at a July 9 town hall meeting in Bernal Heights.

Local residents and community members are invited to provide their reactions to the new medical facility, scheduled to replace the aging current hospital on Cesar Chavez Street at the neighborhood intersection of Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, and the Mission District.

After community groups lambasted Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center's original proposal to close the 1912 facility as a full-scale hospital, a blue-ribbon panel came up with recommendations to build a modern hospital at the existing location.

The acute-care facility would have 80 to 85 beds, according to hospital spokesman Kevin McCormack. It would provide emergency room, obstetrics, medical and surgical services, and pediatrics, as well as senior and skilled nursing care.

Hospital representatives have been meeting with community groups and refining the plans since the beginning of the year. The latest revisions were unveiled in June.

The meeting gets under way at 6 p.m. at the Precita Valley Community Center, 534 Precita Avenue. (Corrie M. Anders)