Noe Valley Voice July-August 2008

Short Takes

Demos Do Health Care

The politics of national health care and a fundraising bash will take center stage this summer at two events hosted by the Noe Valley Democratic Club.

First up in July is a panel discussion on national platforms for health care. Speakers from four groups--the Democratic presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the Republican presidential campaign of John McCain, the California Nurses Association, and the San Francisco Health Department--will present their views on the topic.

The forum is set for Wednesday, July 16, 7:30 p.m., at St. Philip's Church, 725 Diamond Street between Elizabeth and 24th. Parking is available in the lot behind the church off Elizabeth Street.

There will be considerably less gravitas at the club's monthly meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 13, when the venue shifts to the French bistro Le Zinc, 4063 24th Street between Noe and Castro streets. That's where the club will holds its fifth annual Celebrate Summer Bash, for two hours starting at 6:30 p.m.

The party is also a fundraiser, underwriting the club's political action activities and election door-hangers. Members and guests can enjoy wine, appetizers, and a raffle of prizes donated by Noe Valley merchants, including gift certificates to restaurants, spas, or a dinner with your favorite politician.

Tickets for the event, which is open to the public, cost $35. For advance tickets or to get more information, call or e-mail Molly Fleischman at 398-4140 or

Feed the Kids

The San Francisco Food Bank is asking for donations to supply healthy food to children this summer, particularly those who are used to getting free or low-cost lunches during the school year. Summer costs parents' extra money, as anyone searching for childcare or paying higher grocery bills knows, and donations of money, food, or time will be a boon to students, the organization says.

Each $10 donation will pay for meals for 40 children, points out Marguerite Nowak, the Food Bank's advocacy and education manager. She says the 21-year-old non-profit reaches out to families during the summer by advertising a summer lunch program run by the city's Department of Children, Youth, and Families and by donating fresh fruit, cheese, and juice for snacks. It also stocks pantries in places where families might come together, like Boys and Girls Clubs and community resource centers.

The Food Bank's role has become even more important as donations of staple foods, like rice and tuna from the federal government, have dropped 60 percent in the past five years, Nowak says.

Call 282-1907 or visit for more information.

Friends Seek Tree Lovers

Want the chance to meet your neighbors, do something green for the Earth, and celebrate with a potluck lunch afterwards?

If so, you might want to sign up to plant a tree along your block this summer. The non-profit Friends of the Urban Forest is helping to organize a tree-planting in the southern end of Noe Valley, and both homeowners and renters can take part. (Renters can get involved by putting Friends in touch with their building owner.)

Participants can either plant trees in a sidewalk basin or in a front-yard area. The trees are available at a lower cost when a certain number of people on a block sign up. Friends shares its tools, labor, and advice on tree choices. The group also welcomes donations to fund trees for people who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

Each year in San Francisco, Friends plants more than 1,500 trees, which help beautify the streets, slow the wind, gather rain, and diminish the amount of runoff. "The trees also give everyone a place to rest on the way up the hills," laughs Fiona Smythe, a 28th Street resident working to enlist her neighbors in the planting. "A little known fact, which I just discovered, is that Noe Valley is home to the first Friends of the Urban Forest tree in San Francisco, planted in front of where Fresca is now some 10 years ago."

To get involved, visit or contact Smythe at or 642-3243.

Art in the Abstract

Little Tree Gallery, a block or so down the hill at 22nd and Guerrero streets, will feature abstract and conceptual art in this year's Summer Student Show on display from July 16 to Aug. 23.

The first artist in the annual series will be San Francisco Art Institute student Sehwon Min. Her show, "Inside Of," will be exhibited July 16 to Aug. 2, with an opening reception on Saturday, July 19, from 6 to 9 p.m.

According to gallery owner J. Brent Large, the images in Min's abstract watercolors and oil paintings bear a resemblance to densely layered bark. He says he and his wife Forest, who is co-curating the show, had a visceral reaction when they first saw the work. "The abstract themes have this great meditative quality about them," he said.

From Aug. 6 to 23, the gallery will be transformed into the Mafia Social Club, a conceptual work by Andrew Tosiello and curator Clare Haggarty, both recent graduates of master's programs at California College of the Arts. They will take surveillance photos and record conversations, then broadcast the results to podcasts and the Web. Their opening reception will be Saturday, Aug. 9.

Both receptions serve free beer and are open to all. Little Tree, a gallery that aims to make reasonably priced contemporary art more accessible to local residents and artists, is at 3412 22nd Street and is open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. or by appointment.

For more information, call 643-4929 or visit

Jewish Film Fest at the Castro

This summer's 28th edition of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival will be the largest ever, with 70 films from 19 countries being shown on screens at the Castro Theater and four other venues around the Bay Area.

The screenings kick off with films at the Castro July 24 to 31, followed by films through Aug. 11 at San Francisco's Jewish Community Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, CineArts in Palo Alto, and the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

The films, which include several by Bay Area filmmakers, range from comedy and drama, to serious discussions of the Holocaust and Israeli-Palestinian relations. The movies also look at issues affecting gays and women.

One movie getting early buzz is Arab Labor, about a controversial new show on Israeli television that takes comedy to new heights. In one vignette, an Israeli-Arab who wants a "less Arab car," trades in his beat-up Subaru for a Land Rover, and is amazed to find himself now waved through Israeli checkpoints. Arab Labor screens at the Castro Wednesday, July 30, at 9:30 p.m.

Bay Area contributions include Four Questions for a Rabbi, and My Olympic Summer. Four Questions, begun by Stacey Ross and completed after her death by Jay Rosenblatt, explores profound issues, including such questions as, What is the Jewish soul? In Olympic Summer, San Francisco­based director Daniel Robin uses home movies from the '70s to examine his parents' relationship and Robin's failed marriage.

More than 30,000 are expected to attend the screenings. Prices for most shows are $11 for the general public and $9 for festival members. Movie dates, locations, and a capsule description of each film can be found at

This month's Short Takes were written by Heather World and Corrie M. Anders.