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Panhandling: A Sticky Issue
"Working Well as a Community" is the theme of a Town Meeting sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association to be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Noe Valley Ministry's Community Room. All interested residents and neighborhood groups are invited to attend.
"The idea came about at the September meeting of the Merchants, as we discussed how to deal with panhandling," notes association member Sandy Sohcot. "We realized there was more to this issue when police officers who were addressing us explained that often panhandlers return to places where they receive money from passing pedestrians, and that many of the panhandlers in our neighborhood are actually receiving upwards of $100 per day."
Speakers will include a representative from the Mayor's Office on Homelessness, Noe Valley's two beat police officers, and Keenan Kelsey, pastor of the Noe Valley Ministry. The forum will offer time for questions and discussion.
Meeting organizers hope to provide information that will lead to a better understanding of the conditions that support panhandling. They also hope to find ways to be more effective in helping people who may be homeless.
Friends of Noe Valley and the East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club are among the groups participating in the event. The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street. For more information, call Kathy Zucchi of Edward Jones Investments at 282-4079.
A Walk in Glen Canyon
Families with children ages 7 and up are invited to join naturalist Paul Belz on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Glen Canyon Park to explore its nooks and crannies from 10 a.m. to noon. This event is sponsored by the Crissy Field Center in the Presidio, an organization dedicated to helping people see the connections between urban and natural environments.
"One of the things the center does is encourage people to experience their own neighborhood parks and to learn about the natural ecosystems in their own backyards," says Grier Mathews, associate director at the Golden Gate National Parks Association. "Our parks here, even our national parks, are different from a Yellowstone or a Yosemite because they're in an urban setting, so it's a different way to experience nature and, hopefully, get people to want to support it."
Participants in the Glen Canyon walk will observe flora and fauna and learn how to find animal tracks and hidden waterways.
The event is $6 per person, but scholarships are available for those in need. Advance registration is required, and a map with meeting instructions will be mailed to participants upon registration. For program information and to register, call 561-7752.
Mysterious Book Signings
Most people dread a job layoff, but Diane Kudisch is an exception to the rule. Proud owner of the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore for the past several months, she was delighted when she recently lost her full-time job in the reinsurance industry.
"I can now devote more time to the store, get our web site up and running, and do the things that I've wanted to do in the store," says Kudisch. "We'll be holding book signings and also forming a reading group, and a writers' workshop coordinated by mystery writers Cara Black of Noe Valley and Michael Kurland of Napa."
On hand Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. will be J. L. Abramo, author of Catching Water in a Net, a mystery about Internet-savvy bounty hunters set in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was selected best private-eye novel of 2000 by St. Martin's Press and the Private Eye Writers of America.
On Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m., Jonathan Harris will sign copies of his recently published thriller Seizing Amber. The book was inspired by the legend of the "Amber Room," which was adorned with riches belonging to the last czars of Russia and presumably destroyed in World War II. Many people believe, however, that the treasures still exist in private collections throughout the world.
"There's a sign-up sheet in the store for the writing workshop, and so far we've got about eight people interested," says Kudisch. "It will be Thursday nights from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and will start sometime after the new year."
For more information, call 282-7444 or visit the store at 4175 24th Street, between Diamond and Castro streets.
Glass and Clay on Display
Noe Valley residents Rae Dunn and Bonita Cohn will be among the 125 artists featured at the San Francisco Clay and Glass Festival, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 and 4. The art show and sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fort Mason Center's Herbst Pavilion.
Sponsored by the Association of Clay & Glass Artists of California, the festival showcases the work of California's most prominent ceramic and glass artists. Works on view will include both useful and decorative items, such as dishes, platters, bowls, teapots, jewelry, and sculpture.
Rae Dunn works in clay, and her wares are sold nationwide. She finds beauty in simple shapes, natural forms, and found objects, and says that "today, more than ever, I think we all need to slow down and grasp that which is honest, real, and personally satisfying."
Bonita Cohn makes stoneware pottery for daily use. "My tea bowls are made of a naturally occurring California clay from the site of an old gold mine near Nevada City," she notes. Her work is sold throughout the Bay Area.
Festival admission is $6 for adults; $5 for seniors; children under 12 free. A $1 discount coupon is available at www.acga .net. Fort Mason Center is at Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard. For more information call 507-9909.
How to Buy 'Surreal Estate'
Carol Lloyd, the "Surreal Estate" columnist for Sfgate.com, is offering an intensive seminar titled "Buying Your First Home in the San Francisco Bay Area," on Monday, Nov. 5, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
"I'd been researching and reporting on our heinous real estate market for a couple of years before I realized that aside from hearing a lot of gruesome stories, I was also learning a lot about how people could avoid the usual pitfalls of buying in the Bay Area," says Lloyd. "In the meantime, I was shopping for a home too and making all sorts of terrible mistakes. Basically, I was my own worst guinea pig, and I wanted to create a class that I wish I could have taken."
Geared toward low- to middle-income people who want to educate themselves or just explore their options, the seminar will include such topics as tenancies-in-common, mortgage assistance, first-time home buyers programs, Habitat for Humanity's home-building program, school ratings, and which neighborhoods are affordable. It will also cover how to find a good real estate agent or loan broker, and what to do if your credit is bad.
The class costs $39 and will be held at 483 Guerrero Street near 16th. Preregistration is advised because enrollment is limited to 25 people. You can mail a check to Carol Lloyd, 1213 York Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, or call 643-8118, ext. 2 (e-mail email@example.com).
James Lick Kids Want to Talk
The next meeting of the James Lick Student-Merchant Alliance will be held on Friday, Nov. 30, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the James Lick Middle School library at 1220 Noe Street. The meeting is open to all members of the Noe Valley community, and pizza will be served.
Established three years ago in response to articles in the Voice about friction between James Lick students and shopkeepers on 24th Street, the group meets monthly and provides a forum for middle schoolers to discuss student-community relations with Noe Valley residents, merchants, and businesspeople.
"The purpose was and continues to be community building, or bridge building," says Keenan Kelsey, pastor of the Noe Valley Ministry and current facilitator of the meetings. "The first year, we sponsored a mentoring program to help individual kids raise money for a summer foreign exchange program. Last year, the Alliance enabled the hanging of student art in various stores. We have also talked about how stereotypes -- of students and of adults and merchants -- could be broken down."
Kelsey says the students are eager to listen to more neighbors speak their mind. They'd also like Noe Valley to learn about some of the positive school programs at James Lick.
For information, call Kelsey at 282-7798 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Self-Defense Tips at Lovejoy's
Here's your chance to get into Lovejoy's Tea Room without a reservation, support a good cause, and flex your muscles at the same time. On Friday, Nov. 9, Lovejoy's is hosting a fundraiser for Bay Area Model Mugging (BAMM), a group that has been helping to empower women and men through self-defense courses in the Bay Area for many years.
Lovejoy's owners, Muna Nash and Gillian Briley, are both graduates of BAMM courses. "Gillian and I have often thought, what a different world this would be if every young woman had the opportunity to experience this program. We were delighted to hear that BAMM has developed a program targeting the youth of the Bay Area," says Nash. "We will be donating a portion of our proceeds on November 9th to a scholarship fund for a Bay Area teen to participate in the course."
BAMM representatives will be at Lovejoy's all day from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to discuss the program and answer questions. One of them will be dressed in protective padding to role-play a mugger. For a small donation, you can learn and then practice a "knee to the groin" maneuver on the "mugger."
Lovejoy's is at 1351 Church Street, at Clipper Street. For further information, call 648-5895.
Bring a Teddy Bear
On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m., Cover to Cover Booksellers invites everyone who owns a teddy bear -- including adults who have an old pal tucked away in a trunk -- to meet and be part of a group photo with renowned Noe Valley artist Beth Van Hoesen. Van Hoesen, 75, will be accompanied by several of the stuffed animals featured in her latest book of art works, Teddy Bears: Beth Van Hoesen, published by Fair Oaks Press.
Van Hoesen, who has lived and worked (alongside her husband, artist Mark Adams) on 22nd Street for four decades, began the teddy-bear project several years ago after she injured her arm. "I wanted to draw something that would stand still," she says. "I usually draw live things, animals and people." (One of Van Hoesen's most famous works, in fact, is a life drawing of "Sally," a French lop-eared rabbit.)
"It's amazing that most of the bears [I've painted] belong to people who are from 50 to 70 years old," she notes. "I was surprised that of all the toys, if they kept one, it was usually their teddy bear."
Van Hoesen asked each person whose bear she portrayed to write something about the bear; their remarks are included in the book.
Tracy Wynne of Cover to Cover says Van Hoesen and Fair Oaks Press make a high-caliber combination. "They've created something that transcends the 'cutsie' idea people tend to have about teddy bears," says Wynne. "I love that these are worn, loved things. Some have limbs that are sewn back on, and eyes that have popped out. I love how much affection, but not sentimentality, comes across in her artwork."
The book signing and photo session will take place at Cover to Cover, 3812 24th Street near Church. For more information call 282-8080.
This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland.