Noe Valley Voice December-January 2001

Short Takes

A Real Deal Meal


A savory lunch -- chicken cacciatore, herbed pasta, minestrone soup -- is served every weekday at 12:15. But what seniors and some of their younger friends may enjoy most about the Noe Valley Senior Center is its relaxed atmosphere.

"You don't have to join officially," says Wendy Cohen, the center's site coordinator. "You can just give us a call and make lunch reservations. People are welcome to come absolutely any time, and they can participate in what they feel they want to."

In addition to eating well-balanced meals provided by Project Open Hand, Noe Valley Seniors organize holiday and birthday parties throughout the year, attend exercise and nutrition classes, and even get free haircuts from Cohen.

"I like to come here for friendship. It's nice to have a place where you can hang out a little bit," says Gerald McGarity, who has been coming to the center for over 12 years. "My wife's been in a convalescent home for three years, so when I leave here, I go home for a little while, and then I go see her."

The center is located within the Noe Valley Ministry at 1021 Sanchez near 23rd Street. People over 60 years old are asked to donate $1.25 for lunch. Those under 60 are required to pay a mere $3.25. For reservations call 648-1030.

"It's conversation. It's laughter. It's an extension of your home. Really, come join us," says Cohen.

Let It Shine


On Sunday, Dec. 9, the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, you are invited to Noe Valley's first public menorah lighting at 5 p.m. at the corner of 24th and Noe streets (in front of Washington Mutual Bank). The event is co-sponsored by the gift store Just for Fun and Chabad of Noe Valley.

Chabad is an international organization dedicated to broadening awareness of Jewish traditions. In the past decade, one of Chabad's successes has been in staging large-scale public menorah lightings.

"There's a big menorah lighting in France by the Eiffel Tower every year, and one in Israel by the Wailing Wall. There's even one in Russia now," says Rabbi Gedalia Potash, director of Noe Valley Chabad. "Our success is due to the significance of the menorah. It has eight branches that symbolize the diversity and individuality of the people in society. But unifying them is one candelabra, one source of light to foster working together in a way that spreads the warmth of peace and harmony in the world," he says.

If you arrive at 4 p.m. with $3 in hand to pay for supplies, you can make your own menorah. Festivities will also include music, balloons, draidles, hot latkes, a free raffle, and the chance to join Chabad of Noe Valley's monthly crafts club. For more information, call 821-7046.

You've Got a Friend


Friends of Noe Valley will honor neighborhood activist Claire Pilcher at its annual holiday party and toy drive on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Latvian Hall. Joining the group will be city supervisors Mark Leno and Aaron Peskin and former supervisor Sue Bierman. The party begins at 7 p.m., and neighborhood residents, including children, are invited to enjoy the music, toasts, and surprises in store.

"Great neighborhoods don't happen by accident," says Friends president Dave Monks. "Claire has had an enormous impact on the beauty and village quality of Noe Valley. She has educated hundreds of neighbors on the planning process."

Pilcher was among those who founded Friends in 1971 and has spearheaded many of the group's successes. She helped obtain funding to refurbish Noe Courts, initiated the first major tree planting in the city, pioneered a neighborhood recycling program, and helped save the Noe Valley Library when it was slated to be closed. An attorney, Pilcher also helped draft legislation to create a Special Use District on 24th Street that placed limits on bars and eating establishments to ensure a diversity of businesses.

Latvian Hall is at 425 Hoffman near 24th Street. Free tickets for the party must be reserved by calling 821-4087 or e-mailing friendsofnoevalley@hotmail. com. Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for the S.F. AIDS Foundation Toy Drive. No stuffed animals, please. Gifts for older children, including store certificates, are especially appreciated.

The Evolution of Life Itself


Life Itself, a documentary film by Todd Herman and Francis Kohler, will premiere at the San Francisco Library's Main Branch on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 7:45 p.m. Admission is free.

According to its makers, the film offers a glimpse into the lives of three artists from Creativity Explored, an art studio for adults with developmental disabilities.

Herman and Kohler, both graduates of the San Francisco Art Institute, currently co-direct Creativity Explored and teach art classes at its two 16th Street studios. The studios serve both mildly and severely impaired students from throughout the city. Herman and Kohler are also award-winning filmmakers.

"We worked on the film for four years, and we just completed it in September," says Herman. "We asked a large cross-section of people what love meant to them, and we have reels and reels of videotape of answers to that question. But it was when we asked Allura Fong, one of our students, to answer the question that we found our focus, and Life Itself evolved from there."

The Main Library is at 100 Larkin Street, at the Civic Center. The film will also be shown Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m. at the Exploratorium. For more information, contact the filmmakers at or

Quilt Benefit for Two Girls


The Noe Valley Ministry is raffling off a handmade quilt to raise scholarship money for Lilian and Lisbeth Escalante, two young sisters who live with their mother in Antigua, Guatemala. The Ministry is committed to raising $5,000 for the girls, whose father died several years ago of untreated diabetes.

The scholarships are administered by Foundations for Education, an organization that identifies poor students from native Indian tribes and matches them with groups that are willing to provide all or part of their school costs.

"The quilt would fit on top of a twin-sized bed without going over the sides," says Ministry member Irene Asturias, who made the quilt from hand-embroidered panels sent from Guatemala. "The panels are traditional pieces done by Guatemalan Indian women with embroidered pictures of birds native to the area."

The quilt is on display at the Ministry at 1021 Sanchez Street. Tickets are $1 apiece or six for $5. They are available in the church office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or on Sundays before and after the 10:30 a.m. service. The drawing will be held during the Ministry's 6:15 p.m. meditation service on Dec. 19.

Child Entering Public School?


For families of San Francisco preschoolers, it's never too early to start learning the ins and outs of the city's public school system, and in December Parents for Public Schools will offer two seminars to help parents get up to speed on the school district's application process and language-immersion programs.

On Friday, Dec. 7, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Eugene Garcia, dean of education at U.C. Berkeley, will give a talk on language-immersion programs. Garcia will describe how parents can best prepare their child and how they can decide whether language-immersion is right for their child. The seminar will take place at Monroe Elementary School, located at 260 Madrid Street.

The following week, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 7 to 8:15 p.m., Parents for Public Schools will cover the public school enrollment process. The program will be held at Fairmount Elementary School, at 65 Chenery Street. Parents with children currently enrolled at Fairmount will be on hand to discuss their experiences. The application deadline for children entering public school in Fall 2002 is Feb. 1.

Parents are encouraged to register in advance by calling 468-7077. Childcare will be provided for those who call ahead.

Parents for Public Schools is a national organization of grassroots chapters dedicated to recruiting students, involving parents, and improving public schools. Information is available on the group's web site at www.

Pink Triangle Groundbreaking


On Monday, Dec. 10 -- the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- a groundbreaking ceremony for the Pink Triangle Park Memorial will take place at 11:30 a.m. The park is located at the western side of the intersection of Castro, Market, and 17th streets.

The memorial will be made of 15 granite pylons cut in Minnesota and set in Pink Triangle Park by artists Robert Bruce and Susan Martin. It commemorates the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims of Nazi Germany's World War II ­ era concentration camps.

Formerly a lot overgrown with weeds, Pink Triangle Park now contains a rose garden. The transformation of this city-owned parcel has been a joint project of neighborhood residents and businesses, the Department of Public Works, and the Mayor's Neighborhood Beautification Fund.

For more information, visit www.evpa. org or e-mail

Turn on the Heat


Did you know that owners of apartment buildings equipped with central heat are required by the San Francisco Housing Code to provide heat at a minimum of 68 degrees from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 3 to 10 p.m. daily? If you are without adequate heat (or if your roof is leaking or you have electrical or plumbing problems), the Code Enforcement Outreach Program (CEOP) of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection can help. The program was established in 1996 to improve living conditions for residents of rental property. It provides support to tenants and owners so that the city and community can bring housing into code compliance as quickly as possible.

CEOP works through community partners. Contacting one of them is the first step toward resolving a code violation problem. For the closest partner near you, call Building Inspection at 558-6220.

Just Say Ray


"It's kind of like Steinbeck meets the three stooges," says Ron Jones about Say Ray, an unusual show premiering at the Marsh on Jan. 10 and inspired by Jones' award-winning novel of the same name.

Performed by Jones and Michael Rice, and directed by David Ford, the work tells two true stories simultaneously: the story of Ray Fernandez, a mentally disabled man abducted to Mexico and forced to rely on himself for the first time, and the story of Jones' and Rice's friendship. Rice spent his youth at Napa State Hospital for the mentally disabled, and Jones works at the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, where he and Rice met 25 years ago.

"[The play is] like a jazz exchange between two individuals. There's storytelling, poetry, and improvisation," notes Jones. "I think in a controlled literary way, and Michael communicates through a lot of feeling. The audience is going to be refreshed through meeting him because it's like seeing a soul on stage."

The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays, Jan. 10 through 19. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($12 if you buy a gift certificate) and available through the Marsh box office, 826-5750. The Marsh is at 1062 Valencia Street, between 21st and 22nd streets.

Don't Run from the Runoff


The municipal runoff election between Jim Lazarus and Dennis Herrera for the office of city attorney will be held Dec. 11, 35 days after the general election Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"We strongly, strongly encourage people to come out and vote. This runoff is just as important as any other election, but traditionally turnout is a little lighter," says Cindy MacKenzie of San Francisco's Department of Elections (DOE).

If you need to vote my mail, the last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Dec. 4. Requests can be faxed to 554-4372 or mailed to the Department of Elections, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 48, San Francisco, CA 94102.

You can also vote early at City Hall right up to election day (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends).

To find your polling place, call 554-4375 or visit

Be a Hum Bug


Jazz vocalist, composer, and vocal teacher Bonnie Barnett returns to the Noe Valley Ministry on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. for Millennium Hum III, a cybercast, participatory vocal event that will honor the victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. You need no prior singing experience or musical skills to join in this free event.

Barnett says a "hum" is a public vocal meditative ritual that is rooted in sacred chanting traditions from around the world. Barnett has produced 67 hums since 1981, when she produced her first in San Francisco in a small pedestrian tunnel near Ocean Beach. Hums have included satellite-linked, multi-sited events, live radio events, videophone-linked events, and global cybercast events.

"By singing together in a community, we can actually create a community, and a climate of positive change," says Barnett.

You can participate in Millennium Hum III live at the Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, or by link to the cybercast at For more information, call Ramon Sender at the Ministry at 282-2317.

This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland.