Wildflowers Showing Off At the Museum

Rather than hike in the Sierras, here’s a lazy way to appreciate the spring profusion of wildflowers.  All you have to do is head to the Oakland Museum of California (map) – and see colorful evidence at the 40th Annual California Wildflowers Show.

The show officially opens this Saturday from 10am – 5pm, and Sunday from 12 noon – 5pm.  There’s also a preview party on Friday night from 5pm – 10pm.  Or start now and gawk at the beauty right here.

Purple Mouse-ears

(Purple Mouse-ears)

Seep Monkeyflower

(Seep Monkeyflowers)

Indian Warrior

(Indian Warrior)

Cliftons Fawn Lily

(Cliftons Fawn Lilies)

Fresh from the foothills, the wildflowers will be showing off their best colors at the show.  There will be full displays, microscopes available to study them closely, and botanists around to describe the flowers.

Various lectures take place at the museum, about the wildflowers and even how to cook them!  Here’s the schedule for Saturday and Sunday:

  • In the Shadow of Darwin –  Dr. Richard Beidleman – Sat, 11:00 am
  • Sierra Nevada: A Celebration of Wildflowers – Dr. Linda Vorobik – Sat, 12:30 pm
  • Sustainability and the Living Roof of the New Cal Academy – Dr. Frank Almeda – Sat, 2:00 pm
  • Native Plants for the Garden – Glen Schneider – Sat, 3:30 pm
  • Invasive Plants:  A Serious Threat to California Wildflowers – Bob Case – Sun, 1:00 pm
  • Slide lecture about cooking with native plants – John Farais – Sun, 3:00 pm

The Wildflowers Show takes place through support from the California Native Plant Society, the Jepson Herbarium, the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, and Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour.

More info:   The Oakland Museum of California is located at 1000 Oak Street (map).  Admission to this weekend’s show runs $8 for adults and $5 seniors/students with ID.  It’s free for kids age five and under, City of Oakland employees, and museum members.  For questions, please call 510-238-2200.

Officers Can Respond In The Hills

Last night, I stopped into our Thornhill 7-Eleven on the way home from work.  It was after 11pm or so, and I needed some pita chips and peanuts to make it through the night.

Every so often, I run into police officers around there or the gas station.  It’s been a while since I was complaining about ridiculous gas prices with some cops.  Late Tuesday, I entered the store while cops were picking up their sustenance too – and we discussed the hills scene.

Old 7-Eleven Promotion

These two officers patrol the hills at night, and cover a very large area.  Based on my chat with one policeman, I can say that he seemed really caring and clued into what’s happening around Montclair.  We are concerned about getting things stolen, and he knows all about it – and noted that perps come from Contra Costa as much as Alameda county.

After listening to this officer, two pieces of advice seemed useful to pass along.  First, please call the police with anything you might see that’s suspicious.  Don’t decide it’s “not worth it” because you just never know.  Second, identify who you are and your location.  This makes it easier for police to respond or investigate things.

These police want to help.  While they are short-handed, they generally patrol the main arteries through Montclair.   If someone is snooping around or trying to steal something, the thinking goes that perps will eventually exit down canyon roads like Broadway, Thornhill, Shepherd, Ascot, etc.  (They also patrol based on recommendations from our local North Hills and Montclair neighborhood councils.)

When you have heard noises or spotted a stranger around, no one will accuse you of paranoia for calling the cops.  You may not get instant follow-up, but it still helps to call and fully identify yourself and location – as this improves the chances that your place or block will get checked out.  What’s the downside, really?

Some CORE Needs To Survive

Like many other city services, CORE is destined for the chopping block soon.

For first responders, Oakland’s CORE program helps extend their reach when disasters strike.   CORE, which stands for Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies, teaches residents how to respond effectively in the first 72 hours…after an earthquake, fire, mudslide or other calamity.

Oakland’s Fire Department started CORE in response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and ramped up after the 1991 Oakland Hills fires.  CORE has developed a full curriculum related to personal safety, home protection and even pet care when the big whatever hits.

CORE Program

Montclair Safety’s Nick Vigilante believes that some CORE needs to survive regardless of budget cuts.  At tonight’s Public Safety Council Meeting, down at City Hall, he will propose “that CORE and all its current assets be retained and merged with Neighborhood Watch and the Neighborhood Watch Division.  If the City intends to eliminate CORE, this will give them a workable way for keeping CORE in place and going strong.”

Around Montclair, many people have become block captains who have learned some things from CORE – or Montclair MONS – training and practices.  How will more advanced knowledge be shared if CORE shuts down?  I think this is where volunteerism comes into play, because we know it’s just a matter of time for Mother Earth to deliver her next blow.

Evening Update: Nick Vigilante returned from the Public Safety Council Meeting with good news.  “There may be some cuts in the CORE Program and/or the CORE Program may be moved to the Neighborhood Services Division,” explained Vigilante.  “However, I do not think it will impact the delivery of CORE Program services.  All of this is still to be determined.”

It Works: Bike Parking In Town

Lest you think everything is irrevocably broken in our faire city, Oakland does have its act together about bike parking – and the rules and locations make sense for our commercial districts.

As a prime example, here’s a map showing rack locations currently installed or planned for Montclair Village.  If you think there should be additional locations, then pass your requests to the Oakland administrators.

Montclair - Bike Parking

Bike Racks, Bike Racks

Oakland’s bike parking regulations have changed with the times.  When individual parking meters were replaced by parking kiosks last year, most of the bike parking evaporated.  The city left two meter poles behind on each city block, to accommodate bike parking on a temporary basis.

This year, Oakland Public Works began installing bike racks around eight commercial districts.  These “inverted U” racks can’t be missed, and you see them around Montclair now.  Public Works is supposed to complete their planned installations soon, though we haven’t confirmed city-wide progress.

If shopkeepers want to attract bicycle traffic, they may apply for racks near their businesses.  For the past ten years, the CityRacks program has installed bike racks around the city.  This program seems straightforward, but we’re not clear how they decide the winning locations.

Bike-Friendly Aspirations

Props to all the city bicycle advocates, who work tireless to make Oakland as bike-friendly as possible.  The big fish here is Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, which works through a large agenda related to bike routes, public transportation and generally getting folks off their duffs.

We have a few things in our favor when it comes to bicycling, starting with that climate we all take for granted.  Oaklanders also live in a two-wheeler culture, ranging from scraper bikes to sleeker models.  Yet we can only aspire to bike-first lives like Amsterdammers and their brethren.

Unfortunately many Oaklanders make long daily commutes to the office, and literally scatter to the four winds in their gas-guzzlers (guilty as charged).  Yet when we are home, at least we can jump on our two-wheelers and head to the village – and park with ease.

More info:   Neighborhood Bicycle Parking PlanBicycle Parking RegulationsBicycle Parking OrdinanceOakland Bicycle Parking InfoOakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities ProgramWalk Oakland Bike Oakland SiteWOBO NewslettersEast Bay Bicycle Coalition SiteEBBC Newsletters

Where Was The Tribune Report?

While I enjoy the Oakland Tribune, something happened today that made me really sad:  zero mention about a new candidate for the Oakland mayoral race next year.  This little news item was published by the San Francisco Chronicle instead.

According to the Chronicle, Robert Bobb will join the mayoral candidate race.  After serving for many years as Oakland city administrator, Bobb threw his hat into the ring and plans to return home from his temporary Detroit gig.

Now there are three unofficial candidates counting Jean Quan, our Montclair-Laurel city council rep;  presumed front-runner Don Perata, the former state senator; and newest arrival Bob Bobb.  Most Oaklanders assume that current Mayor Ron Dellums will retire after his single term in office.

Tribune Mirror Reflections

Back to the Oakland Tribune’s miss, though. It’s one thing to drop extra or non-essential coverage.  Or forego unaffordable investigations, Pulitzer prizes be damned.  (Though I felt that State of Play, the new flick featuring Russell Crowe as the investigative journalist, was bittersweet.)

When city news isn’t broken by Oakland’s official paper of record, that’s quite noticeable to locals.  Although the Tribune was scooped by the City across the Bay’s gumshoe, you would think the item warranted some mention today.  We figure it will get printed tomorrow.

In the meantime, let’s take a moment here and shake our heads…no, no, no.