Noe Valley Voice February 2011


Stop, Drop and Enroll

Get ready for disaster with Upper Noe Neighbors and the San Francisco Fire Department in a six-week emergency-­response training program Feb. 24 to March 31 on Thursday evenings at the Upper Noe Valley Recreation Center.

Attendees will become Neighborhood Emergency Response Team members trained in everything from how to wield a fire extinguisher to gauging which medical conditions warrant an emergency room visit and which can wait.

“We’re training people to be responders but with their safety in mind,” says Lt. Erica Arteseros, program coordinator.

Sessions will run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and start with details about fire behavior and how to search a building for survivors. The final two sessions let NERT members practice the skills they have learned. To give some real-life flavor, volunteers from Lowell High School and prior NERT programs are made up to look like victims, Arteseros says.

“Maybe they groan, maybe they pass out,” she says. The exercise gives the team practice in stressful situations, and it also helps former NERTs sharpen their skills, she says.

Noe Valley has not hosted a training in two years for want of a space, Arteseros says. She hopes at least 30 people will attend, though the enthusiasm seen in neighborhoods like the Haight and Glen Park seems to be missing from Noe Valley and some other areas of the city, she says.

“There’s been some complacency,” Arteseros says.

To fight complacency and register, please email or call 415-970-2024. The rec center is located at Day and Sanchez streets.


Retrieve Your Lab Here

Find a Lab to love Saturday, Feb. 12, from noon to 3 p.m., when the Noe Valley Pet Company hosts Golden Gate Lab Rescue (GGLR) adoption day at its store, 1451 Church Street at Cesar Chavez.

All the dogs up for adoption will be part Labrador, and there may be a couple of purebred dogs, too, says Paula Harris, owner of the store.

“Labs are smart and friendly,” she says. “They have a great temperament, they’re good with children, and they’re very trainable.”

Harris speaks from experience. She adopted Jolene, her Lab/beagle mix, from the group.

“GGLR saves some of the most needy dogs from places where animals don’t get neutered and spayed,” Harris says. Jolene hails from Bakersfield and was very close to being put down, she says.

Harris would like to host more pet adoptions, though rescue agencies tend to be too short on volunteers to bring the dogs, cages, and other equipment needed for the event. “Noe Valley is such a neighborhood of dog lovers,” she says. “We’re very excited because there are so many dogs who need help.”

The adoption may be postponed if there is rain, so in case of gray skies, call the store at 415-282-7385 to see if the event is still happening.


Starry Nights

What do field trips, pencils, and a science teacher have in common? These were just a few of the resources covered by the proceeds from Alvarado Elementary School’s auction last year.

With this year’s auction—themed “A Star Inside”—approaching March 12, the community is at it again, soliciting donations from summer camps, neighborhood shops, and friends with benefits: boats, cabins, and culinary skills. (Enchilada dinner delivered to your home, anyone?)

Why stars? “There is a star in every single student just waiting to shine in the light of a good education,” says PTA co-president and Noe Valley resident Anna Burke. And while the evening itself is an adults-only event, its creation is the work of the children, parents, and staff. Every year, individual classrooms produce handmade art that is then bid off for as much as $5,000 a piece.

“The school comes together on the night of the auction, yes, but the entire process is a community-building event,” Burke says.

Alvarado hopes to include the wider Noe Valley community as well by selling raffle tickets at the Saturday Farmers’ Market. Video Wave at 1431 Castro Street and Patxi’s Pizza at 4042 24th Street will also carry tickets in their stores.

Raffle tickets cost $10 each, with a price break on blocks of five or 10 tickets. Winners will get a Sony Bravia 46-inch LCD TV, an iPad, or a Flip UltraHD 8GB video camera, though they can always opt for the cash prizes of $750, $300, and $150, respectively.

The auction raised $150,000 last year, allowing the Parent Teacher Association to implement a literacy support program, hire a science instructor, pay the artist-in-residence, and buy all supplies.

Tickets to the March 12 auction cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and include food, beer and wine. Neighbors, friends, and prospective Alvarado parents are all invited. The party runs from 6 to 11 p.m., at the Janet Pomeroy Center, 207 Skyline Boulevard.

For more information, tickets, or to ­donate an item, visit You are also welcome to contact Alvarado School, 625 Douglass Street, at 415-695-5695.


A Garden Demonstration

A local nonprofit named Plant*SF is looking for Noe Valley homeowners who might want to showcase a garden on their sidewalk.

Jane Martin, who heads up Plant*SF, says the group received a Community Challenge Grant from the city that has enabled it to plant a limited number of professionally landscaped demonstration gardens on sidewalks in Noe Valley.

Plant*SF will handle the design, permits, materials, and installation. In exchange, the homeowner will pay a one-time cost of $750 and contribute volunteer hours if they are able.

Martin points out that the project, called the “Noe Valley Uplands Stormwater Infiltration Demonstration Gardens,” will feature drought-tolerant plants suitable for the neighborhood’s micro-climate and pedestrian walkways.

“Well-designed sidewalk gardens can not only make our streetscapes more beautiful but also help reduce rain loads on the sewer system,” Martin says.

Interested homeowners should email their contact information and property address to by 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7. (If you miss the deadline, send your email anyway. There may be a second group later in the year.)

For more information, call Martin at 415-431-2777.


Nursery School Grows Up

You can swing with the Noe Valley Nursery School at a “Big Night”  fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 26, featuring the jumping rhythms of the Stompy Jones band.

That’s dance-floor swinging, not playground swinging. The preschool co-op complemented its move to a bigger space this year with a bigger fundraiser that is adults-only rather than kid-centric.

“We’re hoping to get people to come out, have fun, and bring their friends,” says Meghan Heather Ford, a parent at the co-op. “It’s also about dancing and having a few drinks and enjoying some good food and all of it supporting a school.”

High-end restaurants, including the Little Chihuahua in Noe Valley, Oola, and Baker & Baker, will contribute hors d’oeuvres. Ice cream dessert comes compliments of Humphrey Slocumbe. Auction prizes include dinner for two at Twenty Five Lusk and a one-night stay at the Asilomar Hotel in Pacific Grove. A $20 raffle ticket buys a chance to win a wine cellar. Each co-op family has pledged to donate one good bottle, and there are about 30 families, Ford says.

The school hopes to raise $30,000, about double what it has made in past years. Ford says part of that need stems from its move from the Noe Valley Ministry up to Diamond Heights, where rent is more expensive. The school now operates out of the Recreation and Park Department’s clubhouse at Christopher Playground.

Except for price, the move has been fantastic, Ford says. This is her first year at the co-op, but she has heard veteran parents say the space may be an improvement over the school’s home in the Ministry, where it lived for 40 years.

“It has expanded the space the kids have access to,” she says. The children play in Christopher Playground and regularly walk down into Glen Canyon where they learn about flowers, trees, coyotes, and butterflies, she says.

The school has added a second full-time teacher and is staffed by five parent volunteers each day, she says. They plan to add after-school and summer programs as well.

The Big Night party kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Verdi Club, located at 2424 Mariposa Street near Potrero. Tickets cost $25. For more information, visit or call 415-987-6842. For the scoop on the new programs, ask for Mimi Chiu.


Museum Comes Out

From lesbian sex wars to gay bar life, the GLBT Historical Society has outed its extensive archive collection for two debut exhibitions in its new home on 18th Street near Castro.

The Society has been collecting artifacts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender life for 25 years. “Great Collections of the GLBT Historical Society Archives” lays out examples from each of eight collections—such as a display of four posters from the group’s 5,000.

“It’s meant to illustrate the depth and breadth of the collection,” says Paul Boneberg, the Historical Society’s executive director.

It’s also meant to include visitors in the process of recording history. Boneberg says personal photographs from albums and scrapbooks are as prized as professional photos.

“We’re trying to break down the distance between the community archive and the community,” he says. “This is your museum.”

The second exhibit divides GLBT history into 23 themes. “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History” includes television clips, books, pamphlets, diaries, clothes, photos, and memorabilia. Topics include the GLBT marketplace, erotica, military matters, HIV/AIDS, and bathhouses, as well as profiles of crusaders like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

The museum opened in January and has 1,600 square feet of gallery and program space built to the specifications of the Historical Society. It will host events like author talks, lectures, and films, and be open to all, Boneberg says.

“There will be a cost [to rent space], but we haven’t worked that out yet,” he says.

The group is also digitizing its audiovisual collections and putting them on the Web. The first offering is the entire run of the 1980s radio series The Gay Life. To see it, visit

Located at 4127 Castro Street, the museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission costs $5 and is free for members and for everyone on the first Wednesday of each month. The society’s archives and reading room for researchers remain at 657 Mission Street. For more information, call 415-621-1107.


Cheat for a Good Cause

You can test your wits against the Vanna Whites, rocker Thao Nguyen, and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Michael Chabon at “A Spelling Bee for Cheaters” Thursday evening, Feb. 17, to benefit 826 Valencia, a creative arts workshop for city kids.

“Attendees with a latent penchant for knavery can form teams with other like-minded hustlers to raise sponsorship money and then compete,” declares Margaret McCarthy, volunteer events coordinator for 826 Valencia.

Contestants form teams (Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, for example) and raise money through sponsorships. The money is then used to cheat during the spelling contest. Stumped spellers can buy a letter for $500 or skip a word for $5,000, among other cheats. Those who raise $25,000 advance directly to the final round.

The winner gets “an almost embarrassingly large trophy,” says McCarthy.

The evening, co-hosted by City Arts & Lectures, starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Avenue, across the street from City Hall. Sponsorship money and ticket proceeds go to funding free programming at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 in their writing and academic pursuits.

For tickets and more information visit or call 415-642-5905.


Antenna Alerts Now Required San Francisco has a new law that prevents wireless companies from installing most cell phone antennas on public utility poles without first alerting residents.

The Board of Supervisors approved the legislation Jan. 4. Mayor Gavin Newsom returned the measure unsigned—a move that allowed it to automatically take effect in February.

Supervisor John Avalos introduced the legislation in the wake of long-standing complaints from Noe Valley and other neighborhood residents about the quiet proliferation of cell phone antennas in public spaces.

Cell phone companies now must obtain a special permit in order to put in the largest type of antennas. The companies also will need to notify nearby residents, who can contest installation of new antenna equipment.


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