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Rumors Behind the News: Getting Involved in the Neighborhood
GOOD RELATIONS between James Lick middle schoolers and local shopkeepers are blossoming this spring as a result of initiatives begun earlier this year.
As you Voice regulars know, hostility between some merchants and the Lick students burst onto the front page of the paper last fall. What followed was a barrage of letters to the editor about friction between the two groups.
To defuse the situation, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association sent representatives to Lick in January. They met with the staff, students, and parents, "and talked about ways to communicate better and do more together," reports the school's family newsletter. "The meeting was a good beginning, and everyone agreed to observe more carefully what was going on between them."
School Principal Michael Eddings adds that "the students and merchants also said they'd try to trust and show more respect for one another."
Since then, the merchants have formed a Student Relations Committee chaired by Dennis Weaver, a Downtown Noe Valley lawyer. And the group has continued to meet monthly at the school.
One topic they've been discussing is the Student Mentor Program, created so that merchants and other outside adults could help the kids develop business and fundraising skills. The fundraising tips should come in handy, since Lick is trying to send about 60 students on educational field trips to Mexico and Egypt.
Dennis says that "seven or eight merchants have already linked up with individual students and they are working together now. This has been fantastic, and we hope to link up many more."
The Lick students are getting it together, too. About 30 seventh- and eighth-graders left April 25 for an eight-day excursion to Mexico. Sixth-graders are planning a field trip to Egypt in early June.
To meld into the mentoring, call Dennis at 641-0700.
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NOE VALLEON Vanessa Watt, who lives (since '86) and works here (since '93) as a licensed marriage, family, and child counselor, is looking for families in Noe Valley willing to host high school students from foreign countries for either five- or ten-month stints.
Vanessa says she's taken on the project because of her love for children (she has two of her own) and her interest in widening her cultural experiences. She's doing it through a nonprofit organization called Face the World in San Rafael, and thinks Noe Valley and foreign-exchange students make a perfect match. "I feel that our neighborhood will offer the friendly family atmosphere we want the students to experience," says Vanessa.
She adds that host families can be "childless couples, a couple with teens, or a couple with small children -- even a single person." So, if you want to influence Noe Valley's foreign policy, give Vanessa a call at 821-7517.
Meanwhile, former Voice staffer Leslie Phillips, who now works for Senator Joe Lieberman in Washington, D.C., sends word that Noe Valleons can sign up to take in Kosovar refugees by calling 1-800-727-4420. Hurry, she says, because the line has been jammed lately.
If you can't get through, drop by and say hi to Mervyn Mark and his customers at What's for Dessert, who recently raised $1,000 to be donated to Doctors Without Borders. These docs are heading for the Balkans, where their help will be needed for a long time to come. Maybe you can still add to Mervyn's kitty.
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UPDATING the Noe Valley Neighborhood Parks Improvement Association's efforts, leader Dorthe Deubler reports that the group, with help from Supervisor Mark Leno, has gotten assurances from Rec and Park chief Joel Robinson that Douglass Playground is on the top of the list to receive some new, donated play equipment. "Rec and Park is telling us this could happen as soon as the end of July. But I would be thrilled if it happened by the end of the summer," beams Dorthe.
Dorthe is proud that "we've raised over $8,000 ourselves, put in new water fountains, and installed benches and new bulletin boards," with help from B.J. Droubi, Zephyr Real Estate, the Noe Courts Coalition, and the East & West of Castro Club.
"But the actual play equipment has been around since the 1950s, and there's a lot of splintering wood. About 150 kids use that park every day, so we feel it's time for the city to upgrade the park itself, with playground equipment that is safe and ADA-accessible [approved under the Americans with Disabilities Act]."
She points out that Douglass doesn't have too far to go, since the playground already has a level entrance (at 26th Street), ramps to the clubhouse, and revamped bathrooms in place. Thus, the city could finish the job with just a little more investment.
Stay tuned for further updates.
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UPPER NOE NEIGHBORS had more than 50 people show up at their April 22 meeting at the Upper Noe Rec Center. Smiling UNN prez Vicki Rosen says, "We had fun, and a lot of old-time residents showed up!"
One topic that came up during the evening was the dogs vs. kids debate at Upper Noe park. A "subcommittee on park priorities and peaceful co-existence" was formed, with the resolve to accomplish what its name suggests.
Other big news in Upper Noe Valley is that Star Bakery is set to reopen by the end of May. Hooray! Rumors were circulating that the bakery, which had been a neighborhood fixture since 1899, would go poof and turn into another restaurant.
Noe Valley native Charles Walter is returning to Star, where he was head baker in 1979 and 1980. "The bakery will be a neighborhood treat ... something lost and found again," Charles says confidently.
The interior might be remodeled and the name changed, to distinguish it from the previous Star Bakery (which its last owner, Laura Catapano, closed and then "moved" to Van Ness a year ago), but the old Star Bakery traditions will remain, like inside table seating and that famous Irish soda bread. (For St. Paddy's Day, Charles baked up several hundred loaves for Drewes Market across the street. The bread flew out the doors when word of its availability spread.)
The coffee brand has yet to be determined. I vote for the only coffee roaster that has yet to appear in Noe Valley: Caffe Trieste. (I still have to commute to North Beach for my favorite blend.)
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SHORT SHRIFTS: The 24th Street shop 21st Century Video is setting up a home delivery service, so you can phone in your movie orders, to coincide with your pizza delivery. Ah, life in Noe Valley ... Misha's Antiques has closed, and Misha reportedly has opened a shop on Post Street near Union Square ... The old Cover to Cover storefront on 24th near Sanchez has had its windows covered for weeks, with remodeling going on inside. Rumor has it that the shop will be filled with home furnishings and artifacts from Indonesia, where the new owner has reportedly been buying his stock and trade.
Changes are on tap for Rabat clothing Owner Patty Woody tells me that after 20 years in the small shop at the corner of Noe and 24th, Rabat will expand into the space formerly occupied by Yankee Clipper, the last in a series of travel agencies that have done business next door. By the way, Patty originally opened Rabat in 1973 down 24th Street, where Isa's hair salon is now.
Tuggey's Hardware (which has been at the same location in Downtown Noe Valley since 1898!) is bemoaning the loss of store clerk Ron Peetz, who after 20 years on the job recently took a leave of absence for some hip surgery. Tuggey's owner, Denny Giovannoli, says he's looking for a retired hardware store employee or handyperson to help out in the store on a regular basis. Any takers?
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COVER TO COVER BOOKS, which is ensconced in its new location at 3812 24th St., will host at least two book parties for Noe Valley authors this month.
The first will celebrate the release of Mother's Nature: Timeless Wisdom for the Journey into Motherhood, a "guidebook and inspirational companion" co-authored by Noe Valley resident Andrea Alban Gosline and illustrator Lisa Burnett Bossi. The party starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, and both Andrea and Lisa will be there to do readings from the book.
Mother's Nature features more than 270 reflections on motherhood -- from Princess Grace, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ursula LeGuin, Carl Jung, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama, among others. "I got the inspiration for creating the book while I was pregnant with my daughter," says Andrea, who wrote some of the affirmations herself. Sounds like the ideal Mother's Day gift.
Appearing at Cover to Cover on May 14, also at 7 p.m., will be Noe Valley photographer Robert Dawson. He'll be signing copies of his latest work, Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream (co-authored by Gray Brechin). The book examines the history of and alternatives to the destruction of California's environment, and contains 200 Dawson photographs. A selection of these photos are also on display at the Oakland Museum. The exhibit, titled "Awakening from the California Dream: An Environmental History," runs through Sept. 12.
Robert Dawson teaches photography at both Stanford and San Jose State. He lived in Noe Valley from 1982 to 1988, then moved to the Excelsior District. ("That was a mistake," laughs wife Ellen.) They moved back here in 1996.
Let's all go down to Cover to Cover and welcome him back.
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THAT'S ALL, YOU ALL. Have a great May and an eventful Mother's Day (or noneventful, if you prefer). Ciao for now.