Noe Valley Voice November 2009

Short Takes

By Heather World

Noel Stroll Comes with a Hayride

Get holiday happy on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the fourth annual Noel Stroll, when Noe Valley merchants stay open late to offer bargains and bites--all to the backdrop of carolers and roving musicians.

This year, merchants have added a hayride that starts at Walgreens on Castro at Jersey Street and runs along 24th Street down to Church and back. You can jump on between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Santa will spend the day at Zephyr Real Estate, 4040 24th Street, offering good cheer in the evening and posing for free photos with kids from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Last year, Fima Gelman of Fima Photography handed out more than 100 photos in paper frames marking the event, says Gwen Sanderson, of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

Sanderson says volunteer elves, including carolers and musicians, are still needed. Call her at 415-509-6261 or email videowavesf The Noel Stroll begins officially at 4 p.m.

A Site for Shakespeare

The Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library has won a second award for historic preservation of its 1916 Beaux Arts building following its two-year $5.7 million renovation and seismic retrofit.

Almost a year after receiving a similar award from the state's Office of Historic Preservation, the branch won a Preservation Design Award from the nonprofit California Preservation Foundation.

Librarians Alice McCloud and Susan Higgins were caught unawares by the news, but both agree that library traffic has increased dramatically since the library reopened in March 2008.

"The branch is busier than it used to be--three times as busy," says McCloud. Most come and take advantage of the WiFi, but Higgins says more than a few people who once lived in Noe Valley have come in to admire the renovation.

The original library was one of many funded by Andrew Carnegie, a 19th-century steel magnate. Architect Alice Carey of Carey & Co. preserved the main room, restored woodwork and fixtures, and added new lighting, an elevator, and accessible bathrooms.

Under the vaulted ceilings this month, Parents for Public Schools will present a Public Schools Enrollment Workshop on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 4 to 5 p.m. Attendees will learn about the school enrollment and assignment process. Veteran parents will discuss their experiences with their children's schools.

The following week, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's touring troupe, Shakespeare on Tour, will stage an abridged version of Hamlet on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m.

The show may be short, but the production is full-blown, complete with period costumes, a set, props, and a recorded soundtrack. A question-and-answer session with the actors will follow. The one-hour performance is free, and no ticket or reservation is needed.

The Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library is at 451 Jersey Street near Castro. The branch is open six days a week. For information, call Branch Manager Alice McCloud at 415-355-5707.

Southern Sounds Abound

Bluegrass and country music dominate the November lineup at the Noe Valley Music Series, starting Friday, Nov. 20, with two-time Grammy-winner Jim Lauderdale.

Lauderdale, a frequent Grand Ole Opry performer, picked up his first Grammy for a recording with the godfather of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley. Known for his songwriting and harmonizing abilities, the North Carolina-born Lauderdale recently played with Elvis Costello, in a gig that will air Nov. 7 on Austin City Limits. He also has written hits for George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. Tickets for the Ministry show are $20 in advance and $22 at the door.

The Americana continues on Saturday, Nov. 21, when the Bay Area-based Houston Jones band celebrates the release of its new CD Jericho Road. Playing rock, bluegrass, folk, and country, the five-piece group is led by Glenn Houston, named "Best Guitarist" for 2009 by the Northern California Bluegrass Society. Tickets cost $15 and $17.

The series shifts gears Nov. 27 and 28 when Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong of The Books put on a multimedia music performance. The band incorporates "found sound"--samples from speech, the radio, or from instruments they create themselves--to make their own rhythm.

"They also show a video while they're performing, [which] is kind of an added visual element to their presentation," says Larry Kassin, the music series director. His own jazz trio, Manring Kassin Darter, will open the show. Tickets are $16 and $18.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, British acoustic guitar legend Adrian Legg will return to the Ministry. Legg weaves stories into his guitar-playing, making him "quite a character," Kassin says. German acoustic finger-style guitarist Teja Gerken will open the show. Tickets cost $18 and $20.

The Noe Valley Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. For ticket information, go to or call 415-454-5238. Advance tickets are also available at Phoenix Books & Records, 3850 24th Street.

Raking in the Leaves

There are plenty of opportunities to spiff up the neighborhood by gardening this fall. The Ladybug Gardeners hopes new volunteers will join them Saturday, Nov. 14, at 9 a.m., to pull weeds, trim trees, and plant flowers at the Upper Noe Recreation Center at Day and Sanchez streets.

The group meets at the tennis courts the second Saturday of the month and has attracted half a dozen people since starting this summer, says organizer Joan Lionberger. This month, the Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center will serve coffee and treats as further enticement.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works has launched "Turn Brown Leaves Green," a campaign to fill up neighborhood compost bins. Using a registry of complaints and a map of mature trees, the department targeted individual streets in five neighborhoods: Noe Valley, the Marina, Pacific Heights, the Richmond, and West Portal.

"That's where we have the most heavy leaf drop," says Christine Falvey, a DPW spokesperson.

Green bins were tagged with flyers encouraging residents to sweep and compost leaves. Though beautiful, leaves can clog storm drains and, in some cases, cause flooding. When they're swept up and disposed of properly, everybody benefits, says Liz Lerma, of the city's Bureau of Urban Forestry.

"It's a wonderful cycle of recycling we have when we compost," Lerma says. Farmers use the compost to grow food, which city residents later buy at farmers' markets. "Recycling your leaves makes you part of that beautiful cycle."

The campaign also invites residents to participate in DPW's Adopt-a-Street Program. Through the program, residents receive free brown leaf bags to collect yard waste.

New Page for Eureka Library

The newly renovated Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library is now open (Oct. 24), and the library's gas fireplace is already aglow amid expanded LGBT and children's sections.

Children's Librarian Pam Ow, who worked two days a week at the Noe Valley Library during Eureka Valley's 18-month-long renovation, says she and a parade of visitors are smiling about their more spacious surroundings.

Both the book collection and the physical space grew, thanks to an addition at the rear of the 1961 building. There are three computers, WiFi access, more seating, and a study desk. A special area has been tailored for youth.

"It's more of a real space that says 'teens,'" Ow says.

The main physical improvements involved seismic and accessibility upgrades, but the branch also has new furniture, shelving, and fixtures.

"The structure of the building hasn't changed, but it feels completely different," says Branch Manager Dominic Scappaticci. "It's brighter, more open, and it's easier to get your bearings."

Patrons can browse the expanded LGBT interest collection and enjoy their books near the fireplace. Long dormant, the fireplace was converted to gas during the renovation and can now be used. There is an outdoor courtyard, and the well-known Benjamin Bufano torso sculpture remains in place at the branch's entryway.

The project is funded through a $105.9 million library bond measure passed by voters in 2000. The furnishings come courtesy of the Eureka Valley Library Campaign, which has been busy raising $500,000.

Open Monday through Saturday, the Eureka branch is located at 1 José Sarria Court (3555 16th Street) near Market Street. To find out specific hours, call 415-355-5616 or see page 43 in this month's Voice.

Tree Reps Sought

The group Friends of the Urban Forest hopes to expand the city's tree canopy through a grassroots effort at the neighborhood level.

"I'd like to put together teams of people who are interested in seeing more trees," says Greg Harrell-Edge, a community outreach coordinator at FUF. "We want them to help pick where we go."

The idea is that locals know the area's bald spots. They can suggest plantings and rally their neighbors, as well as act as liaisons with FUF. FUF plans to meet with the neighborhood representatives every six months to find new places to plant trees, Harrell-Edge says.

"The work they do spreading the word means more trees in the neighborhood on planting day."

The teams will be defined by zip code. Harrell-Edge says a meeting to organize 94114 residents will convene sometime during the week of Dec. 7 at a location to be announced.

In the meantime, applications are due Nov. 9 for a Dec. 12 tree planting in sections of Glen Park. For information, contact the FUF community outreach coordinators at 415-561-6890, ext. 101, or email or

Set Down the Cigarettes

Smokers across the country will snuff out their cigarettes for one day on the Great American Smokeout Nov. 19, and those hoping to quit forever can get a free introduction to the QuitSmart Smoking Cessation program in the Noe Valley office of Lori Feldman.

Feldman will discuss the QuitSmart strategy, which includes hypnosis, non-chemical cigarette substitutes, and books. The free information hour begins at 5 p.m. Call 415-285-9770 for details or to register.

Feldman says setting a date to quit is an important part of any stop-smoking strategy.

"The more carefully you plan, the less likely you are to be sidetracked by some unexpected roadblock," she says.

The American Cancer Society has held the nationwide Smokeout since 1977. The California Department of Health also offers counseling and support through the California Smokers' Helpline at 800-NO BUTTS.

Immaculate Employment

Immaculate Conception Academy on 24th Street at Guerrero hopes businesses in Noe Valley will join Bay Area companies that are hiring the school's students as part of a work-study program.

Once a week, students leave the school with chaperones to commute to a range of firms, from corporate giants like Wells Fargo Bank to nearby non-profits like Women's Initiative on Valencia Street. All of the jobs are entry-level positions, mostly clerical.

Student earnings then reduce their tuition to $4,000 a year, says Elizabeth Garvin, assistant director of development. The average cost of educating an ICA student is $18,000 a year, she says.

The school implemented the program by joining the Cristo Rey Network, a work-study model now adopted by 24 schools across the country that has been praised for reversing the trend toward shuttering Catholic schools in the inner city.

The school honored its many corporate and nonprofit sponsors at a gala in October where ICA students like senior Jessica Lucha spoke about their work experiences.

"I find myself wanting to put more effort into what tasks I'm given because it's not just being done for myself," she told the audience. "Other people depend on the quality of my work."

For information about the program, contact the school at 415-824-2052.