Looking for 168 Good Campers

This Saturday, Oakland Parks is looking for another 168 good campers to spend the night at Joaquin Miller Park.  There’s plenty of room left on the Great Meadow for your family.

As part of this year’s Great American Backyard Campout, you would join more than 20,431 campers (as of last count) across the country.

Just bring the family, some clothes and a tent.  You’ll have time to commune with Mother Nature, including these beautiful hikes in the Park.

For $8.50/person, Oakland Parks will serve you snacks, dinner and breakfast.  That’s camping in style, without any heavy lifting.

At this late date, I would reach Stephanie Benavidez at 510-867-0669.  You can also pay online.

Oakland’s Goats Prevent Fires

This morning, I noticed hundreds of goats hard at work.  They are quickly munching through brush and grasses – and getting rid of the tinder that spreads fires.  As you drive on Rt. 580, glance over to the hills near Knowland Park.  You can’t miss the munching workers!

These goats actively tour the area.  Last month, I spotted them on a field between Rts. 238 and 880.  I wondered when they would make their next appearance, and am glad they have returned.

According to the Governator, fire season is “all year” now.  Of course, the 800 fires raging through California are mind-blowing, and very early this year.

For the Oakland Hills, let’s hope the Hiller flare-up is our 2008 fire story.  We have to be realistic, though, about the continued risks from man-made and natural sparks.  Thus our goat workers are welcomed allies, beforehand.

Our Ducks Are City Slickers

Montclarion ducks seem to be city slickers, who are quite used to meeting visitors at the park.   Click on the image (or right here) – and watch what they do!

The video story of two Montclair ducks goes something like this:

  1. They are on dry ground, seeking sustenance.
  2. They have no trouble getting close for bread.
  3. They pant like dogs while waiting for treats.
  4. They grab for more, shocking the videographer.

What happened to genteel ducks who knew their place?  Who calmly ganged up on you, but kept their distance in the water?  They’re not in Montclair anymore.

Montclair is Feltre, Italy

Through Flickr, I recently discovered a European woman who shared photos of her U.S. travels.  Vittoria had visited with her Montclair friends, and loved the morning fog and clear days here.

“It reminds me of an American version of a little town in Italy called Feltre. For those of you who know Feltre have a look at the other photos and tell me if you agree.” Vittoria Vieceli

Feltre is a sub-alpine town located in Northern Italy, halfway between Venice and Innsbruck. The hills do look strangely familiar.

European places have long histories, and Feltre comes with the requisite walled city, cool churches, and frescoed homes.  The town has been under French, Austrian and Italian control over the years.

The most famous son was Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446).  He’s a well-regarded educator, who believed kids from all economic strata should be taught together.

According to Vittorino’s biography, “Many of his methods were novel, particularly in the close contacts between teacher and pupil and in the adaptation of the teaching to the ability and needs of the child.”

All in all?  We’d be honored to call Feltre our sister city.

Celebrating New Civil Rights

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that same-sex couples can now be legally wed in California.  Gays may experience the rights and responsibilities of wedded bliss.

Our city rep, Jean Quan, says that District 4 is “home to one of the largest concentrations of LGBT residents, couples and families in the country.”  So she has arranged a local tribute this weekend.

Everyone is invited to a civil rights celebration and teach-in:  Sunday, from 4pm-7pm, at Velvet Lounge (3411 MacArthur Blvd, map).

The celebration will feature speaker Emily Doskow, a noted expert in lesbian and gay domestic matters.  A potluck dinner is also planned, so bring a contribution or two.

Doskow specializes in LGBT family law, helping couples with partnerships, parenting, adoption and other legal rights.  She has written several books for Nolo Press, including co-authorship of A Legal Guide fo Gay and Lesbian Couples.

I think Emily’s take on the continued morass will be very interesting to hear.  The airwaves have been filled this week with confusion.  With marriage, what rights have actually been granted by the State?  How do these conflict with other jurisdictions?  Time for the teach-in.