Fifteen Minutes For Our Eco-Volunteers

Restoring and preserving natural habitats is a long-term, altruistic pursuit for many Montclarions.  There are many locals who show up, ready to dig, pull, clear, re-plant and otherwise care for our nearby canyon and creek ecosystems.  Depending on where you live, you may be well-acquainted with Beaconsfield Canyon, Butters Canyon, Shepherd Canyon, or other nooks and crannies.

Now one of our success stories, Shepherd Canyon, will get the Hollywood treatment.  The National Science Foundation has funded videographers who will visit the site tomorrow morning, along the Oakland Museum and The Friends of Sausal Creek.  They intend to document all the ecological progress made through the years.

To greet them, the Shepherd Canyon Eco-Pullers and Planters will celebrate “Creek-to-Bay Day” a week ahead of other Oaklanders.  Mike Petouhoff, president of the Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association (SCHA),  has invited anyone and everyone who’s ever worked in Shepherd Canyon to join them.  “This is a great opportunity for an SCHA eco-puller’s alumni reunion,”  he explained.

If you show up tomorrow, then you should be prepared to work from 9am – noon.  Meet up at Escher Gate, ready to pull or plant under the expert guidance of Adrienne and Herb Bryant.  You might get your fifteen minutes of fame, whenever that happens.

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Interfaith Group Honors 9/11 Here

We are headed into the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Yes, there’s something you can do to mark the anniversary.  Something more than sitting and soaking up all the TV documentaries.

On Sunday, from 10am to noon, you’re invited to an interfaith service with neighbors.  The Montclair Presbyterian Church (map) will play host to the Kehilla Community Synagogue and Islamic Cultural Center, in a celebration of local spirit.  Even if you’re not religious, why not join them?

These Christian, Jewish and Muslim houses of worship have a lot in common.  After all, congregants reside in Oakland and want to live in peace and harmony (let there be peace on earth, but we digress).  Take a look at these invitation excerpts:

So much violence, hatred, and estrangement is carried out in the name of religion.  Often overlooked, however, are the reconciling efforts made at local levels between people of various faiths who truly have a lot in common.  On 9/11 we will mourn all that has gone wrong, but will also celebrate all that contributes to peace and understanding among us.  Rabbi David Cooper and Imam Rahim Nobahar will join with Pastor Beth Buckingham-Brown in leadership.

The September 11 attacks of ten years ago were a work of hatred designed to drive people apart from each other and foment intolerance and discord.  Too much of the response to the violence of 9/11 has furthered intolerance and hatred.  

Both spiritually and pragmatically, ending the cycle of violence and hatred must begin with ourselves and what better way to do so than to pray as Muslims, Jews, and Christians together.

We pray that we should understand that prayer is not enough and that we will need to work and struggle together and also, play and celebrate together if we are to be effective in making peace a more likely reality and also if we are to be the change that we seek.

On Sunday, this Montclair service seems like a simple way to commemorate the Al-Qaeda attacks — and how we should work, struggle, play and celebrate together.  It’s an opportunity to reach out.

Walking Our Stairways, This Sunday

Oakland Urban Paths is coming to our Village this Sunday morning, to introduce and share our hidden charms with all Oaklanders.  Even if you already use your local stairs, here’s a chance to learn more about them.

Paul Rosenbloom, a tireless advocate of Oakland’s bipeds, has organized this tour up Oakland’s steepest and woodsiest stairs.  He told us the stair hike features the multiple cases from Thornhill through Lower and Upper Merriewood, as well as the risers from Mountain to Cabot. Shepherd Canyon also makes a brief appearance, as an optional trail loop.

We know you can get exercise from ascending these stairways, so wear study shoes.  The walk meets up at Montclair Library (map), and runs from 10:00 am through high noon.  It’s a great way to jump-start your Sunday.

Where Restoration Plans Came True

This weekend, the Oakland Heritage Alliance offers a first-ever walking tour through Shepherd Canyon.  When the trains stopped running, decades ago, the State considered and abandoned highway development plans.  It’s time to imagine what might have been, and to appreciate how long-term, low-impact plans came true.

In 1975, the City of Oakland prepared the first Shepherd Canyon Corridor Plan and Environment Impact Report.  The documents covered a wide range of development and criteria for the canyon.  Some 12.6 acres were set aside for the Railroad Trail, along with another 5.4 acres allocated to the Shepherd Creek Trail.  There’s been slow, but steady, restoration progress since then.

Mother Nature has pushed projects along this year, especially to improve driving and walking conditions.  In 2011, the City has been installing necessary storm drains along with guard rails.  Some openings in the rails, for walker access, are getting cut soon.  Even with budget crunches, Oakland’s Measure B made this nearly three-quarter million spend possible.

The Shepherd Canyon Park and trails have come alive through local volunteers, like all of our Montclair nature-scapes.  Beyond the actively used soccer play fields, there have been efforts to remove trash, clear brush, build benches, install signs and create welcome gates.  The trails are (always) a work-in-progress, yet are very nice already.

The Oakland Heritage Alliance (OHA) has awarded Shepherd Canyon with a Partners In Preservation award, especially for its interpretative signs and improvements.  For their Saturday tour, they have asked Mike Petouhoff to lead a two-hour tour on the trails.  As Shepherd Canyon Homeowner Association (SCHA) president, Mike is our resident expert on all-things Shepherd Canyon — and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot!

More info: The Shepherd Canyon walking tour takes off from the Montclair Recreation Center (map).  You will need comfortable walking shoes, though it’s not a difficult trek.  This tour runs from 10 am-noon, and may end up with a lingering lunch in the Village.  Please show up a few minutes early to register.  As an OHA benefit, donations are requested:  $15/non-members; $10/members; $5/kids; free/kids under 10 years old.

Update: Our Oakland took the Shepherd Canyon walking tour and reported it here. Also check out all the accompanying photos.

Great Replacement For Wine And Jazz Festival

Since the Montclair Wine and Jazz Festival is but a distant memory, we offer a local replacement that sounds even better:  the first-ever Oakland Jazz Festival on Saturday afternoon.

This jazz concert takes place on the lawn, at Dunsmuir Estate (map).  Starting tomorrow at high noon and running all day, you may revel in the beauty and beats.  Elation will set you back about $60/head plus parking — and prepare to spend more on drinks and food, once inside the gates.

Here’s the line-up:

  • KEM — Blending Gospel, R & B and Jazz, KEM’s unique sound is sophisticated and hypnotic.
  • Boney James — Billboard ranked, as the No. 3 Top Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Decade.
  • Will Downing — A velvet voice, a sultry sound, and a vocal range of seduction.
  • Lalah Hathaway — Daughter of 70’s soulster Donny Hathaway, a “textured and layered” singer.
  • Ray Obiedo — Ray and his Latin Jazz band are guaranteed to get your hips and feet moving.
  • Lloyd Gregory — The Bay Area’s own ultra-talented jazz guitarist.
  • Rick & Russ Show — Spinning in-between each set, creating a real party atmosphere.

If you are in a musical frame-of-mind, then we think this variety of jazz singers and players is worth the money.  Don’t you agree?

Singing For Food, At Montclair’s Farmers Market

Today, things were hopping in Montclair Village.  Visiting artists displayed their works at the Fine Arts Festival, while farmers and bakers sold their edibles at the weekly Farmers Market.  We also heard some orphans made quite a scene.

Yes, Oliver and his fellow orphans left their Woodminster hillside home and ventured into Montclair Village for Food, Glorious Food!  See the photographic proof above, snapped by onlookers.

Woodminster Summer Musicals will soon kick off their 45th season with Oliver   The performances run July 7th (preview), July 8-10th, and July 14-17th.  They all begin at 8pm, so you should remember to bring layers for the evening chill.

You may buy reasonably-priced tickets online here, or else call 510-531-9597.  Remember kids are free with paying adults, which is always a good deal.  Beyond the Oliver!  performances, My Fair Lady plays in August, and Finian’s Rainbow wraps the season in September.

How can you go wrong with this Broadway-in-Oakland tradition?

Make Oakland Better Now Visits Montclair

Last year, concerned Oaklanders got together to discuss city priorities and raise questions for the mayoral candidates.  Since the election, this Make Oakland Better Now group has evolved and now focuses on the city’s fiscal situation and 2011-2012 budgeting progress — for the rest of us.

Make Oakland Better Now, or MOBN! for short, plans to make a special visit to Montclair this week.  MOBN’s Bruce Nye, a local lawyer, will describe the city’s budget options along with the latest activities in City Hall.  We like that Nye and other volunteers have taken time to understand and clarify options, as independent citizens with neither special interests nor axes to grind.

“Pencil in” this Thursday evening, to hear about the our budgeting progress and ask a couple questions if you’re so inclined.  Nye will meet with Montclarions on Thursday, from 8-9pm — at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive (map).

Many thanks to our local safety group, Montclair Safety and Improvement Council, which invited MOBN! to their monthly meeting.  Their regular safety meeting starts at 7pm, for those who are neighborhood watchers.