Noe Valley Voice October 2011

Short Takes

By Heather World

Save Green by Going Green

San Francisco has chosen Noe Valley as one of two neighborhoods to pilot a group discount on green construction, which could translate to a $9,000 savings per house when added to state and local rebates.

The state program, Energy Upgrade California, rewards Californians who hire certain contractors to increase the energy efficiency of their homes by at least 15 percent. The city program, SF Home Improvement & Performance, shares federal stimulus funds. The group discount program would save Noe Valleyans even more money, so long as they work as a group with one contractor chosen from a city-vetted list. “We’re trying to get 20 families to commit to doing the program,” says Todd David, president of the group Friends of Noe Valley.

A committee from the Friends will narrow down the list of contractors to one or two, and then the city will help find participating homes, says Friday Apaliski, outreach coordinator for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

Though the group idea is new, the rebate program began in October, Apaliski says. About 50 homeowners have participated, saving an average of $5,000. The average job cost has been $10,000, she says.

“The low-hanging fruit are insulation and air-sealings,” Apaliski says. “I have two handfuls of people on my list who did only insulation and air-sealing and are paying about $1,500 out-of-pocket total.”

The goal is to upgrade 500 homes by June when the money runs out, she says.

For more information, visit To participate in the Noe Valley group assessment, contact Friends of Noe Valley at


From Blacktop to Treetop

Friends of the Urban Forest, volunteers, parents, and students will plant a garden and 12 trees at the Kate Kennedy School site at Noe and 30th streets Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The school is home to Mission Education Center, a program for Spanish-speaking immigrant children. The work, which has already included the installation of an amphitheater and giant boulders, is being paid for by money from a 2006 bond to upgrade public schools. The children are already enjoying the new terrain, says Deborah Molof, the MEC principal. “They jump from rock to rock,” she says.

The planting is part of a larger planting in Noe Valley and Glen Park, and Kate Kennedy will serve as home base, Molof says.  

FUF planting manager Sally Bentz says the school’s trees will include two western rosebuds, four California lilacs, one strawberry tree, one fruitless olive tree, and four pineapple guava trees that will bear fruit.

To volunteer, call 415-561-6890. The school is located at 1670 Noe Street.


Lullaby for the Big Kids

Adam Mansbach will read from his children’s book parody Go the F**k to Sleep at Small Frys (4066 24th St.) on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m.—an adult coda to the child-centered Harvest Festival on the same day.

The New York Times bestseller is a rhyming lullaby to parents weary of fetching “one last glass of water” or reading “one last book” for a wakeful child. Each page starts like in a familiar nighttime book, with animals settling in for the night and lights being extinguished. And each page ends with what many parents are thinking. “The way I look at it, you read the first two lines to your child and the next two lines to yourself,” says Small Frys owner Carol Yenne.

Yenne says the wildly popular book has sold 100 copies since she began stocking it in July, and she has another 100 on hand. (The book is kept behind the counter, away from young readers.) At her daughter’s urging, she contacted Mansbach’s agent, who had booked the author for a reading at City Lights Bookstore and the Jewish Community Center.

Mansbach, a prize-winning author of more standard novels, will sign copies of his book as well.

“We’re really thrilled,” Yenne says.


Tango and Talk

The Noe Valley Chamber Music’s 19th season of afternoon concerts starts Sunday, Oct. 9, with a piano and string “tango salon” preceded by a talk with violinist Karsten Windt. “Southern Sounds” will feature Windt on violin, David Kim on viola, Angela Lee on cello, and Jeffrey Sykes on piano, playing selections of tango music by composers Manuel de Falla and Astor Piazzolla, among others. The program will be anchored by Turina’s Quartet Op. 67 in A minor.

The next six concerts, running November to May, will feature a cappella, baroque chamber music, and opera. All shows start at 4 p.m.

The pre-concert talk—a chance to learn more about music and musicians from the artists themselves—will also happen before the March and April performances, featuring the child-friendly Rhythm Sisters and two musicians from the S.F. Symphony, respectively.

Series organizers will host a cocktail party fundraiser Saturday, Nov. 5, from 7 to 10 p.m. at a private home, featuring cellist Emil Miland. Music, conversation, wine, appetizers, and dessert will cost $40 per person.

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church is located at 455 Fair Oaks Street between 25th and 26th streets. Tickets cost $20; $15 for seniors and students. They can be purchased online at or by phone at 648-5236. Those interested in volunteering in exchange for a concert ticket, please contact


H-o-w-d-y, Partner!

Reading Partners is looking for volunteers with at least one hour a week to help Alvarado Elementary School students advance their reading levels over the coming school year. Last year, the nonprofit netted seven volunteers who read about the program in theNoe Valley Voice, says Glennis Coursey, last year’s site coordinator.

The 11-year-old program uses a curriculum designed by the Stanford School of Education, and 88 percent of students advance an entire grade level after 25 hours of tutoring, says Beej Shah, program manager for San Francisco Reading Partners.

Students receive 45 minutes of tutoring twice a week, ideally with the same tutor both days. Alvarado’s new site coordinator, Tracy Le, says a tutor’s one-on-one attention is just the boost some students need.

“If they are behind in the classroom, they don’t get individualized attention, and they’re always going to be behind,” Le says. “We start at their reading level rather than their grade level and build it up from there.”

To date, Le has 20 tutors matched up with 20 fourth- and fifth-grade students, but she expects a flood of new faces when she is done assessing which third-grade students need help. The goal is to help at least 50 students this year, she says.

Reading Partners also works with students at nearby Sanchez and Flynn elementary schools, as well as six other schools across the city and in Marin.

Volunteers ages 14 and up can choose hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays to Thursdays. Visit for more information or to sign up. For any questions, contact Glennis Coursey at or 415-713-6163.


World-Class Acrobats at Ministry

The Noe Valley Ministry is hosting a family-friendly evening of dinner theater and acrobatic circus delights on Wednesday, Oct. 19, starting at 6 p.m.

“Mangia del Arte” will feature magic, music, twirling, and clowning from the likes of Jeff Raz, founder of San Francisco’s Clown Conservatory; magician and acrobat Calvin Kai Ku of Nanjing Circus fame; and foot juggler Wang Hong, bearer of a gold medal from the World Festival of Circus in France.

The evening starts with dinner and a roving magician who will perform table magic. SoVoSó, an a cappella vocal band assembled by Bobby McFerrin, will provide music, and Raz and others will entertain with the modern kind of circus that looks more like Cirque du Soleil than Ringling Brothers.

“It’s a mini teatro in our own neighborhood,” says Reverend Keenan Kelsey, noting that the event will be the last party in the Ministry building before it closes in November for a two-year renovation.

Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for children, $45 in advance for adults ($50 at the door), and $75 for VIP seating. The Noe Valley Ministry is located at 1021 Sanchez Street at 23rd Street. For more information, call 415-282-2317.


Make Your Stamp in the Castro

Collect stamps designed by Bay Area artists on Sunday, Oct. 23, at Castro stores and eateries during Passport 2011, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery’s annual do-it-yourself art-collecting walk.

From noon to 4 p.m., art seekers will take to the streets following a three-square-block route to collect stamps from 13 artists, including LGBT icon Dan Nicoletta, Michelle Tea, and Margaret Tedesco. As in previous years, when the event was held in the Mission and in Hayes Valley, the tour will meander through the cafes, shops, and parks that define the neighborhood’s character.

“It’s not just about the artists, but the fabric of the city that inspires their work,” says SFAC Gallery Director Meg Shiffler.

Other artists making stamps are Tiffany Bozic, Elisheva Biernoff, Monica Canilo, Jaime Cortez, Chris Duncan, James Gobel, Pablo Guardiola, Alison Peb­worth, Michelle Pred, and Jennifer Wofford. Favorite Castro outposts such as Café Flore, Cliff’s Variety, the Castro Theater and more will host stamping locations.

Passports can be purchased in advance for $25 at the SFAC Gallery, 401 Van Ness Ave., or online at The day of the event, collectors can buy maps at the art fair’s “home base,” the Eureka Valley/ Harvey Milk Library at 16th and Market. An after-party beer bust will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Q Bar, 456 Castro St.

Proceeds from Passport 2011 benefit SFAC Gallery’s shows and programs, which are dedicated to supporting San Francisco artists. For more information, call 415-554-6080 or visit


A Closer Look at S.F. Schools

Are our schools in decline? Are test scores worse? Are teachers’ unions too powerful? A panel of education experts will tackle these and other questions facing the city’s public schools in a forum sponsored by the Noe Valley Democratic Club at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The forum, “San Francisco Public Schools: A Microcosm of the Country?”, will be held at St. Philip’s Church, 725 Diamond St., between Elizabeth and 24th streets.

Panelists are Hydra Mendoza, president of the San Francisco Board of Education; Ken Tray, a teacher at Lowell High School and political director of the United Teachers of San Francisco union; and Heather World, a Noe Valley Voice contributor and an involved parent from Alvarado Elementary School.

All are invited to attend. For information, contact Molly Fleischman at or 415-994-4610.