Noe Valley Voice March 2003

Short Takes

A City Built for Bicycles

Whether you ride a bike or not, you're invited to take a spin through a city-sponsored planning workshop, to be held Wednesday, March 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the San Francisco Women's Building. Workshop participants will focus on ways to improve bicycle routes, safety, and access in Districts 8 and 9. That includes Noe Valley and the surrounding Mission, Glen Park, Bernal Heights, Twin Peaks, and the Castro neighborhood.

Representatives from the city's Department of Parking and Traffic, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be on hand to present plans for new bike lanes, bike parking facilities, and other ideas for enhancing bicycle safety, education, and law enforcement.

"This is a huge planning event and a way for residents of Noe Valley to help shape their streets," says Amy Panella, community outreach coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition.

The Women's Building is located at 3543 18th Street, near Valencia Street. For more information call 431-2453, ext. 27, or 585-2453; or visit www.bicycle.sf or

Something for Everyone, a Comedy This Month

The Bethany Theatre Project has mounted its fifth and largest production, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Directed by Dexter Fidler, the show opened Friday, Feb. 28, and runs through Sunday, March 9.

A musical with lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim, Forum sent Broadway audiences into paroxysms of mirth in 1962. The plot revolves around Pseudolus, a slave in ancient Rome, who will do almost anything to gain his freedom. Zero Mostel played Pseudolus on Broadway and in a subsequent 1966 film, but in Bethany's production Julie Ponsford, a woman, takes the lead.

Also of note, three neighborhood residents are in the cast: Kathryn Guta plays Domina, Tim Mayer plays Erronious, and Antoine Zapata plays a eunuch.

"This is the first production for which we have designed all of our own costumes instead of borrowing or buying. We also have a small orchestra," says Bethany's artistic director (and music director for this show) John Lehrack. "The cast and crew are totally gung ho, and they don't hesitate to put in extra hours and work hard at promoting the show."

Tickets, priced at $15 general admission and $12 for students and seniors, are available at the door. However, reservations are recommended. Call 701-7011 or e-mail to reserve yours.

Showtime is 8 p.m. on (Feb. 28) March 1, 6, 7, and 8; and 2 p.m. on March 2 and 9. Seating is open. For more details, visit

The Bethany Theatre Project is hosted by Bethany United Methodist Church, 1268 Sanchez Street at Clipper Street.

Slugs of Spring

How do you get the good insects to stay in and the bad ones to stay out of your garden? Is installing an irrigation system something a person can really do without professional help? What sort of wildlife would help a Noe Valley garden thrive?

The San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) will provide answers to these and other questions at two free workshops held this month at the Garden for the Environment, on Seventh Avenue near Lawton Street.

On Saturday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can learn the basics of integrated pest management, focusing on the least toxic ways to deal with pests and diseases. You will also learn to turn your garden into an ecosystem that attracts wildlife and a diversity of beneficial insects that help prevent pest problems.

The following Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is all about installing your own irrigation system. Members of SLUG and the Urban Farmer Store will reveal the most effective ways to deliver water to your landscape with minimal waste.

Preregistration is required for both programs. Call 255-4493 to save your spot.

Meanwhile, SLUG is also offering an introduction to the art of urban beekeeping, on Saturdays, March 8 and 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The workshops will cover the biology of honeybees, beekeeping equipment, hive management, honey production, and bee diseases. Visits to working hives for hands-on experience will also be included.

The class costs $50 for members of SLUG or the San Francisco Beekeeping Association. Non-members pay $65. Pre-registration at 255-4339 is required.

For more information about these and other programs offered by SLUG, contact Stacey Parker at 285-7584.

One Lively Museum

The Josephine Randall Junior Museum continues its perennially popular "Saturdays Are Special" activities and one-of-a-kind workshops this year. Offerings include hands-on art and science experiences that will appeal to toddlers up through adults.

Drop-in workshops in March are all about making things: March 8 participants will make masks for a fantasy Mardi Gras festival; on March 15, the task will be constructing triangle mobiles using sticks, wire, and other objects; the March 22 workshop will provide a chance to hew newspaper castles using everyday recyclables and basic physics; March 29 participants will learn to use a stylus to design copper-foil frames for favorite photos. Workshops run from 1 to 4 p.m., and the fee per person is $3.

Also, the opening reception for "Reflections 2003: Signs of Courage" will be March 15, at 1 p.m. "Reflections" is an exhibition of photography, drawing, and painting by San Francisco public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The show will be up until April 12, during regular museum hours, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another coming attraction is "Animal Story Hour" with children's book author and illustrator Barbara Bash. On Saturday, March 29, at 11:30 a.m., Bash will read from two of her many books on natural history written especially for children: Desert Giants, about the saguaro cactus in the Sonoran desert, and Ancient Ones, about the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. This event is free.

The Randall has many other free and low-cost events and exhibits including live animal feedings, family ceramics, and the Golden Gate Model Railroad. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.

The museum is at 199 Museum Way, off Roosevelt Street. For more information, and to find out what spring-break classes and summer camps the Randall has in store this year, call 554-9600 or visit

Volunteer at the Nightline

A training begins March 6 for new volunteers at the city's AIDS/HIV Nightline. A program of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, the Nightline provides help to those dealing with HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis C, be they patients, caregivers, family, or friends. Volunteers are needed to answer phones every night from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.

"We are a national line and we talk to an unbelievable variety of people, representing all types of social, cultural, ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds," says Rolph Shanabruch, Nightline program director. "It can be very inspirational to better understand someone who is living a lifestyle that may be totally unfamiliar to the volunteer."

Training includes an overview of counseling styles and crisis-intervention techniques. "We don't attempt to provide advice or take responsibility for solving callers' problems. We try to be understanding, non-judgmental listeners, to allow people a safe place to vent their thoughts and feelings," says Shanabruch.

For more information or to set up an interview, call 984-1902.

How to Make a Legacy

If you love the arts and are intrigued by oral history, Legacy, a program of the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, might be a good match for you. The museum is the largest archive of the performing arts in the United States west of the Mississippi.

In a presentation on Wednesday, March 5, from 6 to 7 p.m., program manager Alyson Belcher will discuss the history and mission of Legacy, its volunteer opportunities, and its upcoming five-day summer training workshop. The program was founded in 1988 to record and preserve the performances as well as personal recollections of individual artists. The collection covers the complete spectrum of performing arts--from modern dance and ballet to vaudeville and musical theater.

"We train people in all the skills they need to do an oral-history interview," says Jeff Friedman, Legacy's director. "That includes the actual interview skills, as well as the editing skills for creating transcripts that researchers will eventually use in the library. People come from all over the country for this training, so we specifically reserve a certain number of discounted places in the workshop for our local volunteers." (The full fee is expected to be about $400.)

This summer's eighth-annual training will be from July 9 to 13. Both the introductory presentation and the training will take place at the museum, located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue. For more information, call 255-4800 or go to

Say Hi to Sangha

Monday evenings have gone Buddhist in the Castro. This is due to a new series at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), titled "Q-Sangha, Mindful Mondays at MCC." "Q" stands for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and its allies. "Sangha" is a Buddhist term for spiritual community.

Rev. G. Penny Nixon says the new series is historic for two reasons. "First, a Christian church is establishing this Buddhist ministry, and second, this new Buddhist ministry is 'queer.' We recognize and celebrate diverse spiritualities and traditions. As we expand to include the practice of mindfulness, we hope to promote peace and bring new healing into the world. All are welcome."

The weekly services will be led by MCC's new minister of Buddhist spirituality, Ji-Sing Norman Eng, a student of the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. A spiritual counselor, artist, and musician, Eng has collaborated with Bay Area spiritual teachers, including Matthew Fox and Christian de la Huerta, in leading retreats and rituals for a variety of churches and groups.

Services will incorporate tai chi, chanting, meditation, Buddhist scripture readings, Dharma teachings, mindful movement, and sharing.

Mindful Mondays run two hours, 7 to 9 p.m., at the MCC church, located at 150 Eureka Street. There is no admission charge, but voluntary contributions are welcome. For more information visit

This month's Short Takes were written by Laura McHale Holland. All phone numbers are in the 415 area code.