Budget Matter: Keep CORE Alive

This Oakland budget cycle is pretty nasty, and the metaphor that comes to mind is getting blood from a stone.  One head shaker for all Oaklanders should be our CORE program, which stands for Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies.

With the first responders getting hit in the Fire Department, it seems even more important to keep our CORE program live.  As you likely know, CORE trains citizens to help themselves.  Further, we are talking about a rounding error for the City of Oakland.

Oakland CORE

Who is behind the scenes?  The CORE program is essentially run by the Emergency Planning Coordinator, Kaity Booth.  Many folks have communicated with Oakland City Council members already, and there are plans afoot to speak up at tonight’s council meeting.  Even at this late stage, I think it’s worth sharing how one volunteer feels:

We are now organized, we are now focused and we now have the knowledge and confidence to effectively take care of ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our fellow Oakland citizens WHEN (not if) disaster strikes as first responders.

Oakland has a winning program in CORE and a real jewel in Kaity Booth.  As one of the recent graduates of the CORE program, I have seen Kaity in action.  She is knowledgeable, organized, supportive of the participants and her colleagues, articulate and 100% responsive.  She is the glue that holds all the great pieces of this program together.

I am impressed enough with her leadership and the CORE program that I have already volunteered as a victim and have indicated my interest to lend my training expertise to the program.

It’s a tough time, and every interest group is going to try to “save” their special areas.  The CORE program seems like a low-cost insurance policy which supports neighborhoods and blocks – plus contributes to overall civility.

June 5th Update:  Kaity Booth and her emergency planning coordinator position will not be cut by the City of Oakland.  Also the Fire Department will have some firefighters offering additional training around our city.

Why Live In Montclair?

As a local blog, we get to see the search terms that people use to find us and they reveal many interests.  Someone visited Today in Montclair yesterday, after googling:  Why live in Montclair?

I’m imagining that this searcher is deciding to move to Montclair Village, because it seems like a strange thing for a current villager to search online.

Oakland Berkeley Hills Deer

For all you wanna-be Montclarions, you need to hear from us (and not your realtors).  Here are some of the pros and cons of our place:

Montclair Pros:

  • Still has folks who have been here forever
  • Still aspires to Berkeley intellectualism
  • Still feels like a village, but has a canine mayor
  • Still has a dress code of sweats and t-shirts
  • Still lets driven people hide in plain sight

Montclair Cons:

  • Not where hipsters mingle or thrive, like in SF or DTO
  • Not a normal family spot with garage, flat lawn and 2.5 kids
  • Not immune from city ills, as you need to lock up
  • Not quite the city, as wild animals may eat your cats
  • Not well known like Peninsula or Contra Costa suburbs

Recently I went to an Oakland blogger meet-up which attracted everyone who writes about our faire city.  I still felt a little cowered by the cool factor, but was welcomed to the fray – and think that’s really the reason for being here.

Save Our Live Oaks

We live in Oakland, after all.  The Oaks are a symbol of our area, and one of the true natives surviving in Montclair and the hills.

We could end up losing these natives, according to a trained botanist who lives in town.  It turns out that many Oaks are stressed and need a bit of calcium to stay healthy.  To get started, here’s the preventative treatment for trees on your property.

Oak in Oakland

What are we preventing?

Sudden Oak Death, which can strike when a fungus (p. ramorum) runs amuck.  Threats come from ecosystem problems including a “loss of food sources for wildlife, a change in fire frequency or intensity, and decreased water quality due to an increase in exposed soil surfaces.”

Yes, there’s a threat from fire changes.  When Oaks live in a natural environment, they are able to control this fungus due to fires.  The ashes then become a source of phosphorus and calcium. Yet we live in a place where fire suppression is a top priority.

How can you help?

There are several ways to make a difference, by monitoring nearby oaks and identifying if they have problems.  If you are lucky enough to have oaks on your own property, consider feeding them a bit of calcium.  Also make sure their root systems aren’t disrupted or upset by nearby construction.

Take the time to read through “more info” below, since UC Berkeley has incredible resources devoted to Sudden Oak Death.  It hasn’t hit our area yet, but it can be devastating and quickly wipe us out.  Marin has suffered already, and we can learn from experience.

More info:   Homeowner’s GuideTreatment VideoOak Mortality Task ForceAlameda Specialists

Our Picks For Mother’s Day

For many families, Mother’s Day represents another opportunity to cherish the maternal line. It’s a reason to buy cards and gifts, and go out for a good meal. Sometimes kids attempt to take care of their mothers as well.

While mothers appreciate all the family attention, we had an inkling that this special day could be even better. Through our ultra-secret poll, we asked Montclair moms what they would like to do most – if only for that day.

Peaceful Desert Rocks

Mother’s Day 2009: Top Ten Plans

  1. Visit a peaceful desert, without the family
  2. Get together with friends and eat tapas
  3. Shut down chauffeur services for parents and kids
  4. Go to a yoga retreat up north
  5. Catch up on my work and work emails
  6. Visit three museums, on free access day
  7. Hit the theater for chick flicks sans guilt
  8. Sleep without interruptions
  9. Devour all the candy delivered to me
  10. Obsess about my kids anyway

Having said all that, you don’t have to suffer this weekend with your loved ones.  Around here, you can keep things low-key by taking the family to the Chabot Space & Science Center, where Sunday admission is free from 11am-5pm.  Plan on eating brunch at their Celestial Cafe, from 11am-2pm – for a reasonable $8/mom and $10/others.

New moms and moms-to-be can also check out the Best from Belly to Baby Fair on Saturday, from 10am-5pm.  The Tulip Grove is luring all comers with offers of free food and massages, over on Antioch Court.  Or if you are so inclined, then indulge in a mini-mommy makeover too.

Have a great weekend, wherever you end up chilling out.

Montclair Snail Welcomed, Post-Rains

Here’s a local snail that appeared the other day.  This specimen seems a bit out of sorts beyond the garden, but is a welcomed sign – it emerged after the storms.  At least this guy isn’t wreaking havoc on your vegetables and flowers.

Montclair Snail

Most of the time snails are seen as the scourge of gardeners, who try to make sure they don’t see the light of day.   In Oakbook, Ruby Blume recently advised readers to drown these destructive devils:

The best hope you have is to interrupt their breeding cycle.  Put on your headlamp and go out to your garden every night for two weeks to pick them off of the plants.  They mostly feed at night when it is cool, and if you water at dusk, more the better for snail hunting.  You can kill them by drowning them and they may then be added to your compost.  For a truly evil act, export them to your worst enemy’s garden.

For years, gardeners have tried to banish snails from local gardens.  They can destroy an entire plot!  Yet there’s something kind of sweet about this lone snail up on the concrete, just trying to catch a few rays like us.