Noe Valley Voice February 2002

Short Takes

Words on War and Peace


"We use our voices to bridge what on the surface look like gaps between different cultures," says Pireeni Sundaralingam of the spoken-word group Dhaia Tribe. Members of this multicultural group of poets and musicians will perform Wednesday, Feb. 20, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Noe Valley Library. Admission is free.

"The idea behind our shows is to pick a theme, such as 'Weaving Our Ancestors' Voices' or 'The Body Beautiful,' and then we each tackle this from our own perspective. In addition to solo pieces, we also do spoken-word choral duets, as well as orchestral pieces," Sundaralingam notes.

The theme for the upcoming show is "War and Peace," and participant poets will include Sundaralingam, originally from Sri Lanka; Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a Sicilian-American; John Tunui from the Cook Islands; and Delia Tomino Nakayama, who is of Japanese ancestry. They will be accompanied on violin by the Tribe's resident composer (and Sundaralingam's husband) Colm Ó Riain, who is from Ireland. Tunui, Sundaralingam, and Riain reside in Noe Valley.

"We want to stress that this is not an anti-American or anti-government piece about warfare. We've all had experiences of living through different wars, so we're bringing our separate voices together to paint one picture," says Sundaralingam.

Formed in June 2001, the group has performed throughout the Bay Area, including at Intersection for the Arts and the Main Library. The Noe Valley ­ Sally Brunn Library is at 451 Jersey Street between Castro and Diamond streets. For more information visit

Big Bucks from Starbucks


As this paper goes to press, there's still time to meet the Feb. 8 deadline for Starbucks' second annual Bay Area Grants for Giving program. This year the Seattle-based giant that joined the San Francisco java merchant community in 1992 is awarding eight grants to nonprofit and charity groups in each of four Bay Area regions: San Francisco, the North Bay, the East Bay, and the Peninsula/South Bay. Each region will receive one $25,000 grant and one $50,000 grant.

"We're looking for outstanding groups that support better futures for youth and families," says Robyn Bennett, manager for the Grants for Giving program.

Recipients of last year's awards in San Francisco were the Environmental Traveling Companions, a group that provides disabled and low-income youth with environmental adventures, and Bay Area SCORES, a program that inspires excellence in at-risk youth through both soccer and creative-writing instruction.

"There's really no right or wrong way when it comes to applying for a grant," says Bennett. "Just give us as much detailed information as possible."

Instruction sheets on how to apply can be found at our local Starbucks at 24th and Noe (or any other Bay Area Starbucks), on the web at, or at the toll-free number 1-866-535-GIVE.

On Odd Monday Evenings


The Odd Mondays series at the Noe Valley Ministry isn't odd. It got its peculiar moniker because it meets on odd-numbered Monday evenings. But the series' genesis is a bit unusual.

"One day in late November a woman walked into my office and said she was very concerned about the need for community, especially after the tragedy of September 11. She said she wanted to start a series at the Ministry," says Ramon Sender, the Ministry's administrative director. "I told her I thought it was a great idea. It was similar to an idea I'd had to start something like a guest speaker series."

They set a date for the first meeting and split up organizational tasks. The woman agreed to make a flyer. But Sender hasn't seen or heard from her since, despite several calls to the phone number she gave him. He now jokes, "I'm not sure she's real."

Sender decided to go ahead with the series, and his wife, Judith Levy-Sender, offered to help him. Since then, the series has blossomed under the couple's guidance. It features distinguished guests and explores a variety of themes including education, human rights, intentional community, and unusual spiritual paths.

Coming up on Feb. 11, educator Effie Kuriloff will present the documentary film "Scenes from a Nursery School," and on Feb. 27, poet Louise Nayer will read from her published and forthcoming books. Meetings begin at 7 p.m., and admission is free. The Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street. For more information, call Ramon Sender at 282-2317.

The Grass Is Always Bluer


San Francisco's third annual Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival will be raising the roof at venues in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Mill Valley from Feb. 8 through Feb. 18. One festival event featuring Darol Anger's American Fiddle Ensemble will take place at the Noe Valley Ministry on Feb. 16. The concert is also part of the Noe Valley Music Series.

The American Fiddle Ensemble is a group that includes long-established as well as promising young musicians. According to the festival web site, Anger and his main collaborator, guitarist Scott Nygaard, are renowned for their "virtuosic improvisation and intricate arrangements." The American Fiddle Ensemble "fulfills the promise of modern string education, blending skills from the folk, classical, and jazz worlds within a new frontier of American music."

Also on the bill will be Rayna Gellert, a second-generation old-time fiddler from Asheville, N.C., and Eric and Suzy Thompson, who have been part of the Bay Area's roots music community for 30 years. The Thompsons currently perform in the group Bluegrass Intentions.

The Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street (at 23rd Street). Doors open at 7 p.m. for this 7:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 at the door. You can get tickets at Streetlight Records, 3979 24th Street; at all Bass outlets; by phone at 510-762-BASS; or online at For more information about the festival, visit

Calling All St. Paul's Alumni


St. Paul's Grammar School is celebrating its 85th anniversary on Feb. 24, and alumni from as far away as Arizona and New York are eager to attend.

"In addition to celebrating our anniversary, we're starting an alumni association," says Pat Rogan, the school's development director. "We haven't had one before, and we thought this would be a good time to get it up and running."

The celebration begins with a 12:15 p.m. mass at St. Paul's Church, at the corner of Church and Valley streets. Following that is an open house at the school, which is located next door to the church at the corner of Church and 29th streets. The festivities are expected to last until about 5 p.m.

"The school rooms will be divided into decades, for instance, 1940 to 1949," says Rogan. "We'll have graduates from as far back as 1922 or '23, on up to 2001." Each room will have photos and other memorabilia, as well as music from its designated decade playing in the background.

"This will give people a chance to meet with their classmates," says Rogan. "Then we'll serve refreshments downstairs in the parish center, which also serves as the school's gym."

While the St. Paul's community is actively seeking alumni to attend, the event is open to everyone -- friends and relatives of graduates as well as interested neighborhood residents. For more information call Rogan at 415-648-7248.

Women's Football in Glen Park


If you resolved to get in better shape in 2002 and you're a female at least 18 years of age, the San Francisco Women's Flag Football League (SFWFF) may be the perfect challenge for you. The league currently has eight teams and wants to more than double that number this year.

"Once you start playing, you fall in love with the sport, and you just don't leave," says SFWFF spokesperson Cheri Tsai. "It's one of those addictive, fun type things. You're outdoors, you're in the sun, and you get to let out your aggression in a healthy way."

Flag football differs from the football we see in the Super Bowl in several ways, explains Tsai. "We wear flags on our waists, one on each side, and you don't tackle the person with the ball, you just grab one of the flags. We don't wear pads either, and we use a smaller ball that's easier for women to catch and throw."

If you don't have a clue about football, don't worry. You can learn the rules of the game, pattern drills, blocking, and more at Football Boot Camp 101. It's happening each Sunday morning in the Glen Park playing field until spring season begins March 10.

To join, just show up at Glen Park (Elk and Chenery) any Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Or contact Judea Eden at 401-0197 or You can also check the group's web site,

Help for Older Caregivers


A new program for older adults called "Techniques to Wellness," sponsored by Bethany United Methodist Church, will begin its next 12-week session of classes on Feb. 26. The program provides computer skills and health education classes to grandparents (and other grandparent-aged relatives) who are the primary caregivers of children ages 5 to 12, as well as to the children in their care.

"After seeing the stress of grandparent caregivers as they face both aging and childcare issues, I wanted to develop a program to provide them with skills to improve their lives," says Jeannette Given, the program's director. "While there are some wonderful programs offering support for these families, there is a need to bring technology and health education together in one setting."

Caregivers and their children attend classes together on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Bethany Center, 580 Capp Street (at 21st Street). Bethany Center is a Housing and Urban Development facility for seniors and disabled adults that is supported in part by Noe Valley's Bethany Church.

"At a time when more and more resources can be accessed through the Internet, we need to ensure that everyone has basic computer skills and Internet knowledge. This program enables families that are often overlooked a way to learn and grow together," says Rev. Karen Oliveto, pastor of Bethany Church, at Sanchez and Clipper streets. "This is one of the most important ministries Bethany can offer in this new century."

Signup continues through Feb. 26. For information, contact Jeannette Given at 282-6721 or

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