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This 'n' That
By Laura McHale Holland
As November dawns, we arise in darkness to prepare for our days. We make sure our hats and scarves are at the ready to keep out the wind. We gather 'round crackling fireplaces and in cozy kitchens to pass the long autumn evenings. We switch on lamps and chandeliers to read or work by. And we hope for news of other lights, ones that illuminate us from within and help us smile. Here are some of those other lights glowing in our neighborhood.
Day Street resident Michael Siani-Rose, a biomedical researcher by day, spends his spare time running through Golden Gate Park and around Lake Merced. Why? He's preparing for his first marathon on Dec. 8--in Hawaii.
"People come from all over the world to run there just because, you know, it's Hawaii," says Siani-Rose. But he's running the 26.2-mile 30th annual Honolulu Marathon for a different reason. It is also the National AIDS Marathon, and Siani-Rose is set on raising at least $3,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. So far, he has raised $2,100.
"The money will allow the Foundation to continue providing AIDS services and support needle exchange programs throughout the Bay Area to help stop the spread of HIV. Proceeds will also fund a new initiative to support vaccine preparedness and HIV treatment in the developing world. This part I like since I'm hoping that an effective vaccine will be possible--it will be particularly relevant to the developing world," he says.
To make a donation on Siani-Rose's behalf, visit www.aidsmarathon.com. He is runner number 1213. You can also call him at 821-2988.
It wasn't money two schools raised recently. It was spirits. The Alvarado Elementary School and the Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA) communities each found their own way to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on our soil.
Paul Lanier, artist-in-residence at Alvarado, said this about the school's Sept. 11 ceremony this year. "We wanted to mark the day, and our principal, David Weiner, decided that it would be positive, nothing sad, nothing about dying, but that it would be about thinking about our families, people we love, people that are very special to us. The whole school wrote either a prayer, a poem, or a thought on a piece of paper, and we made a 200-foot banner of multicolored paper and stretched it across the yard. My idea was to plant trees, too. I researched and found out that the olive is a symbol for peace; the pine tree is a symbol of longevity, and the bamboo is a symbol of perseverance because it bends in the wind, but doesn't break. So we planted one of each, and it's nice to have some trees in the schoolyard now."
Under the guidance of art teacher Marybeth Tereszkiewicz, ICA students began work on a series of murals for their cafeteria within weeks of the terrorist attacks. The murals were dedicated on the anniversary this year.
"The two largest murals contrast and blend unconscious and conscious visions and memories of the death and destruction of September 11," notes ICA staffer Lyn Isbell. "On the left side, the rays of the sun penetrate blue and gray images of nightmare fear and grief. On the right side, the moon presides over conscious images in bright colors. Two female figures, one an earth spirit, the other an angelic being, flank flowers growing out of flames and fish swimming in a peace symbol. Four smaller murals circle the room. One of these, adjoining the east door, incorporates in its design flames, the American flag, and the dove of peace." The murals' blessing service included poetry, photography, music, dance, and excerpted texts from the world's great religions.
ICA graduate Nora Morehead, who now attends San Francisco State University and works at Isa's Hair Salon on Castro Street, was one of a dozen students who worked on the murals. "Painting the mural was a meditative experience which gave me time to reflect not only on the political landscape after September 11, but also on my senior year as I was about to enter a world that seemed increasingly chaotic," she says. "It gave me a calming and hopeful center during a stressful year."
A local merchant who has helped women relieve stress and increase vitality through sports and fitness is Lori Shannon, owner of See Jane Run, a specialty retail store designed to meet the needs of active women.
In recognition of Shannon's service to the community and to her success, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center named her Established Entrepreneur of the Year this October. Renaissance is a nonprofit organization in the city that provides training and support services to small businesses. They give two awards to graduates of their programs each year, one for an emerging and one for an established entrepreneur.
"Before I started my business, I took Renaissance Center's business planning class. It's a very intensive three-month program that's been referred to as a mini MBA. I also took a class called action and growth planning," recalls Shannon. "Renaissance has been an incredible resource for me. They've taught me a great deal, and it's very exciting to be honored like this."
Shannon opened her women's athletic wear store on 24th Street in April 2000. Her monthly sales swiftly rose from $20,000 to $125,000. She opened a second store in Oakland's Rockridge District in December 2001, and despite the sluggish economy, See Jane Run is thriving.
"Our heartfelt goal is to encourage women of all sizes and ages to get out, do sports, and use our store as a launching pad for their efforts," says Shannon. "We carry all sizes, and probably have the best selection of athletic apparel and footwear for women in the Bay Area. We also support women's causes and make that a big part of our mission, to support causes that affect women such as breast cancer and other women's health issues."
Not bad for a former computer scientist with a vision, who quit her corporate job, then sold her car and used other creative financing to come up with $12,000 to open her first store.
Another person with vision is making waves in the neighborhood--sweet sound waves, that is. Elizabeth Street resident Missy Roback's debut CD, Just Like Breathing, was released Oct. 22, on her own record label, Hear Kitty Records. The release party will be Nov. 3 at the Make-out Room, 3225 22nd Street, between Mission and Valencia streets. The show starts at 9 p.m.
"The CD features my vocals [which have been compared to Aimee Mann and Emmylou Harris] over cool atmospheric arrangements," says Roback. "It was produced by my husband, songwriter Steven Roback of Rain Parade, and mixed by Tim Mooney of American Music Club. Both are legendary California bands. The CD wouldn't exist without Steven. As the producer, he was responsible for the sound, and he played many of the instruments. He also encouraged me to write my own music and record it. Until then, I was just happy to be playing Lucinda Williams songs in my cover band. We describe the music as psychedelic alternative-country, but it easily fits in rock/pop, alternative-country, Americana, folk-rock, and psychedelic/space-rock formats," she adds.
"Compass," one of the songs on the CD, is also on the soundtrack to the hit TV show Felicity. The show is now in syndication, airing daily on the Women's Entertainment Network. For Felicity fans, the song is in a scene from the second season, where Felicity and David, her grad-school, art-student friend, are walking down the street, holding hands.
If you miss the release party, you can buy a CD online at www.hearkitty records.com or at Streetlight Records on 24th Street.
While you're on our main drag, you might want to stop in at Cover to Cover Booksellers or Phoenix Books and Records to request a book by a neighbor whose office is on 24th Street at Castro. Psychotherapist Elaine N. Aron's latest book, The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them, was just published on Oct. 8. Her prior books, The Highly Sensitive Person, The Highly Sensitive Person Workbook, and The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, have been phenomenally successful.
"I joke that I'm not going to write The Highly Sensitive Pet, The HSP Diet Book, or Gardening for the HSP. I think this is the last book, but each book has been written in response to a need, or to a lot of requests," says Aron.
Her first book in this series was published by Carol Publishing, a small press that has since gone out of business. It became a bestseller in the Bay Area due to word of mouth and sales at independent bookstores. Aron says an article about her that appeared in the Voice helped as well (March 1998). Now over a quarter million books have been sold in English, and the book has been translated into six languages: Chinese, Japanese, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Greek.
According to Aron, about 20 percent of people are born highly sensitive. They are more reflective and process information from their five senses more carefully. This makes them creative, intuitive, and conscientious. The downside is that they are overwhelmed more easily than others. (Think you're an HSP? Visit www.hsperson.com to take a test to see if you're right.) While researching children, Aron found that highly sensitive youngsters share many adult HSP traits, such as being very sensitive to pain, startling easily, and being bothered by noisy places. Highly sensitive children also learn better from a gentle correction than from a harsh punishment. They don't tend to do well with big changes, and they often ask deep, thought-provoking questions.
"Highly sensitive children are prone to big problems if they are parented wrong," says Aron. "Sensitive adults who've had bad childhoods, especially bad family lives, are far more likely to be depressed, anxious, or shy than non-sensitive people with the same bad childhood. But sensitive adults with good enough childhoods are not more depressed, anxious, or shy than other people. So childhood is important.
"Every trait has a positive and negative way of looking at it," she continues. "Persistence is a good thing; stubbornness is a bad thing. Boldness is good, but impulsiveness is bad. We almost don't have a good word for sensitive children. We have a lot of negative words like inhibited, shy, and fussy. That reflects our culture. In China, sensitive, quiet children are the most popular. But sensitivity is not the ideal in this culture. So it's difficult to raise sensitive children with high self-esteem. And it's difficult to know what to do when your child behaves differently than other children. You want them to behave just like the others, but when you try to make them do that, and the child can't, then the child feels ashamed, and you feel like a failure as a parent. That's bad, so there's an enormous need for this book, I think, and that's why I wrote it. I wanted to prevent some of the problems I see in adults because it's so hard to change adults who are ashamed," Aron says.
One group of proud adults is the congregation at the Noe Valley Ministry, the Presbyterian church at 1021 Sanchez Street. They have created a labyrinth on their sanctuary floor, and it's open to the public the second Sunday of each month from 7 to 8 p.m., complete with music, candlelight, and a brief introduction to enhance the experience.
"The Ministry has been part of a renewed interest in the labyrinth as a walking prayer or a tool for walking meditation. The resurgence began with Grace Cathedral. They have a large labyrinth in the narthex at the back of the church," says Keenan Kelsey, the Ministry's pastor.
The Ministry's congregation began exploring the idea of having a labyrinth in April. After drawing labyrinths on the floor with chalk, having visitors display canvas labyrinths for them, and visiting labyrinths in the area, they decided to paint their own.
"We wanted a permanent one, not a canvas one that you take up and down. We chose a classic Cretan labyrinth. It is a seven-ring design which first appeared on coins from Crete as early as 430 B.C. The same design has appeared in cultures throughout the ages, from the Native Americans in Arizona to Scandinavia, Sumatra, Romania, Wales, and Ireland. The mythologies around the walking design may differ, but the Cretan design seems universal."
The Ministry's labyrinth, located on the floor in the upstairs sanctuary, is cream and burgundy-colored on a gray background. It looks like a maze, but it has only one path that winds around into the center. To leave, you turn around and follow the same path out.
"Basically it's a journey. As a walking meditation it provides a place to transform moods, or change your perspective. It can be walked slowly or swiftly, playfully or solemnly, purposefully or meditatively. The point of a labyrinth walk is to lead a person into a deeper relationship with God or with other people," says Kelsey. "It's a gift to ourselves and a gift to the world. We just want to make this kind of sacred space available to everybody."
This space in the Voice isn't sacred, but it's available to you if you have a milestone to share. Warm our hearts in December with news about your charming babies and toddlers (come on parents, we see you pushing strollers around the 'hood), academic honors, athletic achievements, engagements, weddings, professional awards, book publishing parties, art show openings, literary salons, and any other good personal news worth sharing with your neighbors.
E-mail leads to firstname.lastname@example.org, mail them to the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, or leave a phone message at 821-3324. We keenly await your news.