Noe Valley Voice March 2005

Short Takes

Boogie Like Jane Austen

Shake your tail feather like the English of old at Bethany United Methodist Church, located at Clipper and Sanchez streets. An English Country Dance series happens there on the second Saturday of every month from 7:30 to 10 p.m., and everyone is welcome to join in the fun. The dances are easy to learn, and the trio Bangers and Mash provides music on traditional acoustic instruments.

Feel free to come with or without a friend. "Our custom is to ask a new partner for each dance," explains Craig Johnson, who plays piano at the event. "Our series is community dance--you dance with a partner, but also with everyone else in the set." He says the callers try to minimize gender-based instructions. Also, you don't have to arrive on time, and you don't need a fancy outfit. Just wear shoes and clothing that you can move freely in, Johnson says.

According to Johnson, the series, sponsored by the Bay Area Country Dance Society, began in 1993 at another location, and moved to Bethany in 1996. The next English Dance will take place March 12. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for students.

For more information, visit www.bacds .org or contact Johnson by calling 821-2654 or e-mailing

Meet the Birthing Pool Inventor

Natural Resources, the Noe Valley retail store and information center for parents and parents-to-be, will present French doctor Michel Odent in a lecture at the Noe Valley Ministry on Monday, March 21, from 7:45 to 9:45 p.m.

Odent is known as the obstetrician who introduced birthing pools and home-like birthing rooms. He is the author of The Scientification of Love, The Farmer and the Obstetrician, and The Caesarean.

"[Odent is] one of the leading people in the natural birth movement," says Natural Resources Manager Alexandra Tower. "He really supports midwives and the knowledge and care they bring. He's tied together that birth is the first experience that we have as humans and it's the first place that we can give a nurturing experience to the infant and mother."

Tower says she's not sure what Odent's topic will be, but that he's a fascinating and dynamic speaker. "He could talk about paper bags, and it would be interesting," she laughs.

Tickets are $20, but seats are limited. You should reserve one by calling 550-2611. Or you can drop by Natural Resources, at 816 Diamond Street off 24th Street. The Ministry is located at 1021 Sanchez Street near 23rd.

Tea and Sympathy for Brides

If you're getting married and don't know where to start, you might want to attend Ribbon & Tie's afternoon tea party on Sunday, March 6, at 3 p.m.

Wedding planner Christine Koenig, founder of the wedding firm Ribbon & Tie, will be opening her home at 2721/2 Jersey Street near Noe Street to brides-in-waiting. Koenig has also invited some former brides to talk about their experiences. She promises tea, cookies, and lots of advice about all the things that go into planning a wedding.

"The idea occurred to me when I realized how much brides love to talk about their wedding plans," says Koenig, who hopes the tea will allow her guests to network with each other. She plans to host these teas on a regular basis, and will also offer events for both gay and straight couples in the future.

The fee for the tea is $15 per bride, and a reservation is required. Contact Koenig at 370-4771 or send an e-mail to

Do I Hear $50,000?

The Alvarado PTA is holding a doozy of an auction on Saturday, March 19, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Fort Mason. "Last year we raised $42,000," notes Auction Chair Caroline Scott. The school boosters hope to do as well or better this year, with an amazing array of items for sale.

At the Not-So-Silent Auction, bidders can choose from meals at restaurants like Firefly, Incanto, and Lovejoy's; classes such as martial arts or yoga; getaways to locations including Oregon, the Russian River, and Florida; tickets to museums or the zoo; and an array of gift certificates from retail stores. Scott says a highlight of the event is a live auction of artwork done collaboratively by classes at Alvarado Elementary, located at Douglass and Alvarado streets.

For musical entertainment, the local Tex-Mex band Familia Peña-Govea will play from 7 to 8 p.m. Tasty appetizers will be provided by parents of Alvarado students. The beer will come from Lagunitas Brewing Company, and wine will also be served.

Just what does the auction support? A whole lot. The money goes to the general fund for the PTA--an organization that foots the bill for visual and performing arts instruction, literacy support, kickball and yard supervision, school supplies, and field trips.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. The party will be held in the conference center in Fort Mason's Landmark Building A. For more information, call 563-6238.

Life in the Slow Lane on
San Jose/Guerrero

The San Jose/Guerrero Coalition to Save Our Streets boasts some impressive accomplishments. In November 2004, the group received a total of $100,000 in grants from San Francisco agencies to create a neighborhood development plan. Organizers have already lobbied successfully for narrower streets, bike lanes, and a new traffic light at Duncan and Guerrero streets--improvements that will be completed in the coming few months.

Now these folks are doing door-to-door surveys in the neighborhood (which straddles Noe Valley and the Mission and is centered on the Guerrero Street/San Jose Avenue corridor) and holding workshops to find out what safety and landscaping improvements are most important to local residents. Some ideas they're floating are "pocket" parks, wider sidewalks, and a median strip with flowers.

The workshops will be held on Sunday, March 6, from 1 to 4 p.m., and on Monday, March 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Fairmount School, 65 Chenery Street at Randall Street. Everyone is welcome. Food, childcare, and simultaneous Spanish translation will be available.

For more information, contact the San Jose/Guerrero Coalition to Save Our Streets at 285-8188, or e-mail contact@ Information on the traffic improvements, as well as on the neighborhood plan, is online at

Keeping Kids Healthy

Valencia Health Services, a nurse practitioner-run health clinic, will host a free Community Health Fair and Open House on Wednesday, March 16, from 2 to 5 p.m., at 1647 Valencia Street.

Each child attending the event will get a free, brand-new book, donated by Barnes and Noble and the Reading Tree, a literacy organization. Titles will be available for children of all ages, in both English and Spanish.

California Pacific Medical Center will make smoothies on-site, staff will pass out other healthy after-school snacks, and a storyteller from the San Francisco Public Library will entertain adults and kids alike. Children will also get to participate in exercises, drawing, games, dental health demonstrations, and more.

Parents will receive gift bags containing nutrition calendars, recipe ideas, oral-care products, children's books, and other fun items, according to Project Assistant Adam Christensen. Organizers will also raffle off bigger prizes, and rumors are afoot that San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano will make an appearance. Christensen says organizers expect about 200 kids and 100 adults to attend.

To find out more, call Valencia Health Services at 502-6763.

Summer Camp Cornucopia

Choosing a camp isn't as easy as it used to be. These days, kids can attend camps that focus on the arts, sports, the environment, you name it. They can even go to old-fashioned "traditional" camp the way folks did a generation or two ago.

Since there are so many choices, Sports Basement and are hosting a camp fair for kids and their parents on Saturday, March 19. The fair will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Sports Basement Presidio store at 610 Mason Street next to Crissy Field Center. If you can't attend, look up a listing of the exhibiting camps at

The Crissy Field Center itself will offer a variety of summer day camps for kids 6 to 11 beginning June 20. Campers can explore the outdoors in the Golden Gate National Parks and use the Presidio center's art, computer, and ecology labs. Options include Animal Camp, Fabulous Food, Eco-Explorers, Junior Rangers, and more. For more information, visit or call 561-7690.

Women's Day Action

Activists are planning a variety of events in observance of International Women's Day on March 8, including a discussion of women in Iraq, a rally against poverty, and a briefing on women and HIV.

The Bay Area Radical Women Freedom Socialist Party will host a dinner and discussion on women in Iraq on Saturday, March 12. According to activist Toni Mendicino, some Iraqi women are working hard to fight the U.S. occupation of their country, as well as the repression, rapes, and kidnappings of women by a number of political factions.

The evening's featured speaker is Huda Samir, a representative of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq. Other activists will also speak, including Nancy Reiko Kato and Andrea Weever. A Middle-Eastern dinner will be served at 6 p.m. ($8.50 donation or $4 for children), and the discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. ($3 to $5 donation). Work exchanges are available. The celebration will be held at New Valencia Hall at 1908 Mission Street near 15th Street. For more information, visit, e-mail, or call 864-1278. Please call three days in advance to arrange for childcare or a work exchange.

A Global Women's Strike will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, at San Francisco City Hall. Participants march to the jail at 850 Bryant Street in support of ending poverty and war as well as promoting a global living wage. For more information, call 626-4114 or e-mail

Also on March 8, the Women's Global Health Imperative will present a briefing on women, poverty, and HIV. The event will be held at the Green Room in the War Memorial Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with a reception afterwards. The keynote speaker will be Kathleen Stack, of Freedom from Hunger.

This month's Short Takes were compiled and written by Erin O'Briant.