Alameda Group Speaks with Michael Moore

At a March 27 gathering organized by MoveOn.org, a group of Alamedans and other Bay Area residents spoke by phone with Michael Moore, the maker of  the recent film “Capitalism: A Love Story” and other movies. 

Moore called the group and those at about 24 other gatherings on Saturday as his latest film was being shown at 650-plus locations nationwide.

The aim of the events was to stimulate discussion, conversation and action.

The event in Alameda took place at the 1886 home of Lynn and John Faris near Franklin Park. Some two dozen residents of Alameda, San Francisco and other communities attended.

Moore said he was concerned with “where the country would be 40 years from now” as the level of corporate influence in politics continues to grow. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” he stated.

He said that the recently passed Health Reform Act, though flawed, “is few baby steps in the right direction. Let’s see if Obama can get on a roll and reform the banks!”

Moore also spoke to the group about the need for more than just demonstrations to foment positive change. “We needs some 21st Century thinking,” he said.

He also urged those present to reach out to younger voters and to build an agenda of what reform and change should look like: “We have to create our own agenda. Look at how many good things are happening in other places” around the globe.


Alameda’s Pippen Hill to Close Soon


If you’re looking for something for your baby or children to wear for Easter… or for the Alameda’s egg hunting events set for March 27, stop by Pippen Hill at 1356 Park Street.

The baby and children’s clothing boutique is closing its doors next week on March 31 and has an amazing sale going on. You better hop to it, as the last day for shopping is March 29.

It’s too bad that the Pippen Hill team — Angela, Melody, Nicole, Amanda and Abi — lost their lease and decided to close down. The shop has been in the area for more than five years, one staff member said.

Many of the store’s clothes are from France, Egypt and other overseas spots where looking chic begins at a very early age.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.  

For those of you who might wonder about the shop’s name, which is spelled out in ceramic tiles in front of the main entrance, Pippen Hill is a nursery rhyme:

As I was going up Pippen Hill,
Pippen Hill was dirty.
There I met a pretty miss
And she dropt me a curtsey.

Little miss, pretty miss,
Blessings light upon you!
If I had half a crown a day,
I’d spend it gladly on you.

At least one Internet source says the Pippen Hill is in Worchestershire, England.

Best of luck to the Pippen Hill staff … may blessing light upon you.


Alameda Theater to Give $5,000

The tally is in.

We don’t know how many romantic embraces there were after the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex hosted its February 13 gala “Valentine’s Rock,” but we do know how much money was raised for local and other charities: $5,000.

And on April 2, these funds will be given to the Alameda Education Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Alameda and the American Red Cross Haiti fund. 

Set to accept the donations are George Phillips, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Alameda and Ed Kofman, president of Alameda Hospital Foundation. 

According to the theater, major contributors to the event included R & B Cellars and Pappo Restaurant.


Alameda’s Got a Springtime Egret Colony

Many thanks to Ralf Stinson and members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection for news about Alameda’s Egret colony.

As the photo above shows, spring has sprung in one tree, for sure, with 24 inhabitants.

“I made over a dozen counts, and the best number I could come up with is 24 birds — about half Great Egrets and half Snowy Egrets,” explains Stinson. 

“The significant changes from last week is the addition of Snowy Egrets and the increase number of Great Egrets,” Stinson says. ” The most common behavior for both was breeding posture with raised feathers, and breeding colors.”

The second-most common behavior was nest building, according to Stinson, who saw some birds with twigs in their bills.  “There was some nest laying. However, I did not see any sign of tending eggs,” he explains. 

The bird lover captured a beautiful image of a Snowy Egret in breeding posture:


So, it looks like we can expect some more “action” a few months from now when some baby egrets are born and tended to.
And there could be more news this spring on a Cooper’s Hawk nest in town, though Stinson didn’t see any signs of habitation this week.

Happy birding!


Alameda’s Bladium Hosts ‘Kid Fest’ This Weekend

This Saturday from 12:30-3:30 p.m. kids are invited to stop by the Bladium Sports and Fitness Club at Alameda Point to try out the sports center’s facilities.

The club includes rock climbing, inline skate hockey, soccer and lots more.

The Bladium in Alameda and a similar club in Denver are owned by the Stapleton Family.

But the club in Alameda is 120,000 square feet while its sister club in the Rockies is 53,000 square feet.

For this event, kids can also enjoy a bounce house, inflatable obstacle course and other hands-on activities. 

Since many Bay Area children and adults visit the center for competitive events, this event gives the community a nice chance to check out all the Bladium has to offer.


Alameda’s Books Inc. Collecting Shoes for Haiti

Books Inc. on Park Street aims to help everyone on the Island with some spring cleaning.

Used shoes are being collected this month and will be donated to Haiti.

After the Caribbean Island’s devastating earthquake of January 12 that killed some 230,000 people, roughly 1 million Haitians are homeless and in need of supplies.

So, go through those closets and fill up an old bag or box with a few fairs of shoes. This is certainly one of the easiest ways we can help another island in need.

Thanks to Books Inc., at 1334 Park Street, for doing this. The shop is managed by Nick Petrulakis and hosts a story-time reading session at 11 a.m. every Saturday.


Alameda Point Bikeshop Offers Recycled Bikes, Friendly Service

Need a “new” bike to get around the Island this spring? Got enough air in your tires? Have bike projects to do?

Head on over to Cycles of Change, the Alameda Point Collaborative bike shop at 650 West Ranger, and you’ll find friendly folks like Jerrard Green (above) who’ll get you started.

Jerrard — a student at Alameda College — can walk you through the shop’s extensive selection of used bikes, which are priced above and below $50. There’re plenty of  bike tires available, too, as well as new bike lights and other accessories.

There also are staff like Barry (right, above) and Ebony to do repair work. But you can rent tools and bike stands to do the work yourself for $5 an hour.

Cycles of Change sells used bikes to fund its activites, which focus on helping youth and other community members at Alameda Point  pick up skills. In addition, it offers the community a great place to make donations of old bicycles.  It says these projects mean that 30,000 pounds of bikes and parts are diverted from landfills each year.

The shop is open from 12-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. It may start Sunday hours in the future.


Alameda Backyard Growers Get Organized

The first meeting of Alameda Backyard Growers, held last week at High Street Station coffeehouse, was quite a success.

“We counted about 30 people in attendance and received 23 completed gardening surveys,” report Amanda MacLean and Janice Edwards, organizers of the event.

According to Amanda and Janice, of those who turned out for the kick-off:

– 9 of 23 people were relatively new to gardening (less than two years experience)

– 3 of 23 had 2-10 years of experience and

– 11 of 23 had 10+ years of experience (about half the group!).

The majority of those surveyed, 18 out of 23, are interested in growing fruits and vegetables for themselves, family and friends, and they also want to learn how to garden or garden better. Many also would like to meet people in the community and grow food to share with non-profits that serve low-income Alameda residents, such as the Alameda Food Bank.

The backyard-gardening group has a website and can be reached at alamedabackyardgrowers@gmail.com.

“People are growing an amazing variety of fruits and vegetables here in Alameda, and the group generated lots of ideas for sharing gardening information and skills as well as for exchanging produce and recipes.” Amanda and Janice said.

“We are now in the process of figuring out possible events and workshops for the next couple of months.” The group sends a special thanks to guest speaker Paul Russell, executive director of the Alameda Food Bank.

Paul told the group that last year, two staff members and 50 volunteers distributed nutritious food, much of it fresh produce, to an average of 1,350 Alameda residents per month — and the need is growing.

Residents with surplus fruit on their trees or an abundance of vegetables should consider sharing some with the food bank, 1900 Thau Way.

A member of Alameda Backyard Growers, Christine Jones, will be heading the group’s donations and can be reached at rcjdwj@comcast.net.


Alameda’s Home to a Special ‘Cat’ … and It’s Longer than the America’s Cup Winner

Across the dock from the USS Hornet in Nelson’s Marine boatyard rests Cheyenne — another historic sea vessel.

The catamaran  doesn’t have the colorful paint job she had when she broke world records in 2001 and 2004 (shown above), but you can still recognize her.

Her two hulls are enormous. In fact, they are actually longer than the hulls on BMW-Oracle’s trimaran, which measures 113 feet and won the America’s Cup a few weeks ago in Barcelona.

Cheyenne’s two hulls measure 125 feet each, though they started out at 105 feet when the vessel was initially built in 1996-1998.  A re-build took place in 2000.

The catamaran’s mast, though, is 148 feet tall, quite a bit smaller than BMW Oracle’s wing tower, which measures 195 feet.

Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin designed Cheyenne, known earlier as PlayStation (and sponsored in part by Sony), back in the ’90s in Newport Beach, Ca. When the catamaran’s hulls were lengthened, along with the mast and boom, in 2000, the work took place in the United Kingdom under the supervision of a New Zealand naval architect.

The boat’s specifications are still posted online, as part of a website that celebrates the accomplishments of the late Steve Fossett.  

The adventurer, who died in a 2007 when his aircraft crashed in the Sierras, had her built to earn world records, and she did – for a time. In 2001, Cheyenne crossed the Atlantic in four days and 17 hours with an average speed of 27.8 knots. And in 2004, she circumnavigated the globe in 58 days and 9 hours at an average speed of 15-18 knots. (The website gives two different figures.)

If the next America’s Cup (the 34th such contest) does come to the Bay Area, Cheyenne could become part of a tribute to Bay Area boats and sailors…

Stay tuned for word on how Cheyenne got to Nelson’s and what the Alameda Point boatyard has planned for her. And feel free to share any knowledge on how Cheyenne got to the Bay Area and how she got her current name.


Alameda Coffeehouse Hosts Band, BBQ Tonight

From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight, March 13, the band Ocean Empire will be playing at High Street Station coffeehouse.

The event is family friendly, and the band will be playing tunes like those done by the Beatles, Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones.

The music is free — and guests can buy a BBQ dinner for $8.50.

Ten percent of the proceeds from tonight’s event will go to Meals on Wheels.

The organizers of the High Street Station event hope lots of residents will turn out.

 The coffeehouse is located at 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.