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SF filmmaker Judy Irving at the Richmond Library, June 30

Local filmmaker Judy Irving, whose documentaries have shown in theaters and on PBS stations, will screen some of her favorite shorts at the Richmond branch library on June 30. She is probably best known for her award-winning film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Irving will show two short films, followed by a Q&A session. 19 Arrests, No Convictions: A portrait of George Farnsworth (30 mins.), follows a legendary bar owner with a fishy night life who redeems himself as a San Francisco Bay open-water swimmer, “escaping” from Alcatraz to the mainland.

Christmas at the Bait Shop (6 mins.), is a short film celebrating the friendship between Keith Fraser, a San Rafael bait shop owner and his avian buddies, Ahab, a Heermann’s gull, Nasty, a great blue heron and Wee Willie, a snowy egret.

The free event begins at 6:30pm at the Richmond branch library, 351 9th Avenue.

Sarah B.

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 6:16 am | Posted under Events, Movies | Comments Off

Free Spanish classes at the Richmond District Neighborhood Center

“Hola. Me llamo Sara.” Those were the first words I learned in Spanish. I progressed well beyond that but every now and then, I still throw out a few phrases just to stay on my toes.

This summer, the Richmond District Neighborhood Center is offering free Spanish classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Drop in to learn the language or just brush up on your skills.

Classes meet from 6:30pm until 8:30pm at the RDNC, located at 741 30th Avenue. For more information, call 532-7181.


Sarah B.

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 12:03 pm | Posted under Community | Comments Off

The “Impressionism at Twilight” winners are…

Congratulations to the winners of our “Impressionism at Twilight” giveaway, courtesy of the de Young Museum: Alona D., Kelly O., Steve Z., and Mei L.

I hope you all enjoy the Birth of Impressionism exhibition and the French prix fixe menu in the museum café.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. If you’re keeping score at home, the correct answers were:

1) The Birth of Impressionism exhibition includes the painting commonly known as “Whister’s Mother”. What is the real name of this famous work?
Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1; Portrait of the Artist’s Mother

2) The Birth of Impressionism exhibition will be replaced in the fall by the second touring exhibition from the Musée d’Orsay. What will that exhibition be called?
Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Beyond: Post–Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

Sarah B.

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 9:12 am | Posted under Art, Golden Gate Park | 2 comments

The Whale Bus beaches at the Richmond Library, June 30

On Wednesday, June 30 at 2pm, the Richmond branch library will host The Whale Bus, a fun educational program put on by Marin’s Marine Mammal Center.

Many species of marine mammals frequent the California coast, including seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales and dolphins. With the Whale Bus on site, kids can explore marine mammal life with real specimens like bones, pelts, and baleen, and participate in hands-on activities.

Kids will also learn about the lives of marine mammals as well as the bigger picture of caring for the marine environment. Designed for ages 6 to 11.

Catch the Whale Bus at the Richmond branch library, 351 Ninth Avenue.

Sarah B.

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 8:21 am | Posted under Kids | 1 comment

Chinese film “The Message” playing exclusively at the 4-Star

Beginning this Friday the 4-Star Theater (2200 Clement Street at 23rd Avenue) will begin playing “The Message (Feng Sheng)”, billed as one of the top 10 Chinese films of last year. It won five nominations and the Best Actress award at the 46th Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan.

Variety magazine had this to say about the film that took in $10 million in its opening weekend in China:

Golden Age Hollywood meets Chinese period melodrama in “The Message,” a full-bore WWII spy whodunit that plays like an Asian cross between “Clue” and “Now, Voyager.” Laden with homages to classic Warner Bros. dramas and tips of the hat to mystery writers like Agatha Christie, this star-laden monster-mash will prove too rich a mixture for most Western palates. But for those prepared to go the distance (and fans of popular Asian cinema), it’s an exhilarating, intensely cinematic ride.

The movie is set in 1942. Following a series of assassination attempts on officials of the Japanese-controlled puppet government, the Japanese spy chief gathers a group of suspects in a mansion house for questioning. A tense game of “cat and mouse” ensues as the Chinese code-breaker attempts to send out a crucial message while protecting his/her own identity. (IMDB)

Sarah B.

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 6:30 am | Posted under Movies | 3 comments

Frustrated about the oil spill? Join “Slash Oil” at Ocean Beach, Saturday

In 2007, San Francisco writer / activist / taxi driver Brad Newsham organized “Beach Impeach Project” on Ocean Beach. Over 600 people gathered to lay down in the sand to spell out the word “IMPEACH!” which was photographed overhead by helicopter and beamed out across the internet.

Fast forward 3 years and we’ve got something much worse on our national plate than an unpopular President. It’s been 64 days since an explosion ripped through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and unleashing over 4 million gallons of oil into the ocean, DAILY. And there’s no end in sight.

Brad Newsham is “taking it to the beach” again this Saturday for “SLASH OIL”:

On Saturday morning, June 26, approximately two thousand people will gather at 10 a.m. on Ocean Beach in San Francisco for a peaceful exercise in democracy and community. We will lie down on the sand, arranged into a sprawling “Slash Oil” image which will be photographed from an overhead helicopter.

To be a part of the Slash Oil event, be at Ocean Beach on Saturday by no later than 10:30am. Newsham is hoping to gather 2,000 people for the photo.

Meet at lucky Stairway 13 on the beach, where Fulton intersects with the Great Highway. Find out more on the Slash Oil website.

Sarah B.

[via SFist]

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 10:30 pm | Posted under Events, Green | 2 comments

Green Energy Fair in Golden Gate Park, June 26

Curious about green energy alternatives? Stop by the music concourse in Golden Gate Park on Saturday from 10am to 3pm for SF Environment’s Green Energy Fair (event flyer).

Learn how solar, wind, and energy saving improvements can help your home or business protect the environment, increase your comfort, and save you money on your utility bills. There will be free workshops, activities for kids, music, information about the city’s financing program, GreenFinanceSF.

The event is also sponsoring solar water heating tours. You can tour 3 local solar water heating installations by biodiesel bus or on your own. Bus tours depart at 10:30 and 11:30 from Bandshell. Check in at the SF Environment table to reserve a bus seat or to get a map of the tour sites.

For more information on the Green Energy Fair, visit the website or contact Jade Juhl, SF Department of the Environment at 355-3780 or jade.juhl@sfgov.org.

Sarah B.

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 2:12 pm | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park, Green | Comments Off

Fulton Playground renovation plans nearly complete

The city is not resting on the laurels of its recent achievement of completing the Lincoln playground renovation. Waiting in the wings is a total overhaul of Fulton Playground, located in a lot that spans between 27th and 28th Avenues, midway between Cabrillo and Fulton Avenues.

About a year ago, the Recreation & Parks Department began working with a committee of residents and parents to redesign the playground. Since then, a small group of about six residents that all live near the park have been meeting, emailing and Yahoo! group-ing about every detail of the renovation.

Wendi Digerness has been taking her children to Fulton playground almost daily for the past seven years. She’s been involved in the planning process and says, “I’ve been very pleased with the amount of input that we’ve had as members of the community. I was very surprised that we got to contribute so much to the plans.”

The small committee has been working with Edward Chin, a landscape architect with Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering. He provided catalogs of playground equipment and many of the parents, including Wendi, used their own kids to test drive equipment at other playgrounds. “I think we’ve been to 12 or 14 playgrounds in the city,” Wendi said.

Current play structures at Fulton Playground

Wendi says the group took a lot of design inspiration from Julius Kahn Park in the Presidio, Lincoln playground, and Moscone playground in the Marina. Like Lincoln playground, there will be an area dedicated to smaller kids in the version of Fulton Playground. The “toddler area”, designed for ages 2 and under, will include four bucket swings and a play structure with slides and things to climb.

The centerpiece of the new Fulton Playground will be a large, multi-piece structure that via rope and net bridges, connects the structure in the toddler area with a big kids structure at the other end of the play area. Kids will have plenty to climb, swing and slide on.

The final third of the new play area will include see-saws, the popular net whirl ride (photo), 9 foot swings, and a “blazer” which was described to me as “three motorcycle type seats that bounce up and down and are connected together in the center.”

Current play structures at Fulton Playground

But Fulton Playground is about more than just slides and see saws. “The basketball courts get used as much or possibly more than the children’s play area,” Wendi said. So it was important to residents that they maintain both the full and half basketball courts currently on park grounds. Both courts will be repaved during the renovation work.

In addition to fresh basketball courts, the project also includes a full renovation of the playground’s tennis court.

The layout of the park will change as well, with the children’s playground moving into the center and the basketball courts moving to border the 27th Avenue side. The tennis court will remain along the 28th Avenue side.

Not everything is being completely redone at the park. The playground’s Clubhouse, determined to be a historical resource by the San Francisco Planning Department Preservation Team, will get a bit of a makeover during the renovation. Exact plans are unknown at this time but expect lots of cosmetic upgrades and the addition of a seating area close by for visitors, birthday parties and other gatherings.

I asked Wendi if there were any difficult hurdles the group faced when trying to design a brand new playground. “At some point I felt sorry for [the planner Edward Chin] because everybody wanted something different,” Wendi responded.

Group members debated over what the major play structure should be, with some preferring to duplicate what was installed at Lincoln and Hamilton playgrounds. But in the end they decided to offer something different, reasoning that families can always head to Lincoln playground for a change of pace.

Wendi said sand or no sand also inspired a lengthy debate and in the end, they decided to eliminate it altogether. The surface planned for the play area will be rubber matting, similar to Lincoln playground.

The historic clubhouse at Fulton playground

In addition to all the new equipment, re-surfacing and Clubhouse upgrades, the renovation will also include new seat walls and landscaping.

The committee has also been reviewing sculpture proposals and just last week, chose artist Moto Ohtake, who earned his BFA and MFA in San Francisco. Chosen for the kinetic energy and movement in his sculptures, residents are looking forward to Ohtake’s sculptures becoming a centerpiece of the park. These will be Ohtake’s first sculptures in San Francisco.

Construction on the 40,586 square foot park is scheduled to begin in April, 2011, with plans to re-open in Spring, 2012. The total budget for the Fulton Playground renovation is $4.2 million, 100% funded by the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park Bond passed by voters.

You can review the budget and follow the project’s progress on the Rec & Park Department’s Capital projects website (click 1. Richmond to get started).

Special thanks to the Wendi Digerness and the Fulton Playground Yahoo! Group for the information and plans (and for all their hard work!).

Sarah B.

Plans for the new Fulton playground. Click to enlarge.

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 6:42 am | Posted under Parks | 9 comments