Estuary-Lake Merritt Channel Moves Forward

On Friday, Feb. 22, City of Oakland officials opened a channel that should eventually connect the Alameda-Oakland Estuary with Lake Merritt via the Bay Trail.

The 750-foot-long channel that was opened had been dammed for more than 100 years. Other obstacles remain, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle: a culvert, a pumping station and a low bridge.

The opening of the channel and other improvements in the area are being paid, in part, by Measure DD, a $198 million bond measure passed by Oakland residents in 2002.

“This is the first time anyone has sailed down this channel in 140 years,” said Mayor Jean Quan, according to the Chronicle.

Kayakers and other water enthusiasts should be able to enjoy more water experiences once the Lake Merritt channel is connecting with the Estuary and Bay Trail, officials say.

The recent project cost $47 million, with further extensions to the channel expected by this summer.


Coast Guard Auxiliary at Grand Marina

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12-1 offers members of the Alameda boating community free safety information and inspections from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Grand Marina, 2099 Grand St.

The group says that each year it works with local boaters by providing educational and other services, including safety checks.

It carried out this same program in August 2012, when some boat owners were able to get a Vessel Safety Check sticker for their vessel.

The USCG Auxiliary says that walk-up visitors are welcome, and family participation is encouraged.


Library Talk to Focus on ‘Girl with Pearl Earring’ Art Show

The Alameda Free Library will share a talk on the newest exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis,” which is on display through June 2.

Museum docent Marsha Holm will introduce some of the show’s highlights to the Alameda community from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Main Library. She will share images of and information on 35 paintings from the 17th- Century Dutch Republic, which are owned by the Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis, at the Hague.

Some of the masterpieces featured are “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer, “The Goldfinch” by Carl Fabritius and “Vase of Flowers” by Rachel Ruysch. The free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Alameda Free Library.


Garden Group Celebrates 3 Years of Community Service

This afternoon, the Alameda Backyard Growers is commemorating its three-year anniversary at the Main Library with a special event from 1-4 p.m.
At today’s event, the group will be showing a film, “The Economics of Happiness,” sharing gardening information and other materials, and offering refreshments.

The group draws 50 or more guests to its events and has an e-mail list of more than 400 individuals. It gave more than 2,050 pounds of locally grown fruit to the Alameda Food Bank in 2012, up from 845 pounds in 2011.

In addition, the gardening collective won first place in its category at Alameda’s Fourth of July Parade last year. It also has formed a board and is on its way to becoming a non-profit corporation. Talk about cultivating a community!

“It’s been about people connecting with people, one veggie at a time,” said Amanda Bruemmer, who co-founded the group in early 2010 with fellow Alamedan Janice Edwards. “Janice and I thought: There a lot of land around, food being grown and people in need of it. That’s what made this blossom.”

The two women say that thanks to a core group of about 30 members, Alameda Backyard Growers has been able to spread the word (and the produce). In fact, the group’s growing popularity prompted it to move its gatherings from High Street Station to Rhythmix Cultural Works about a year or so ago.

Over the past three years, strong relationships have developed between the group’s members. “It’s been great to watch the friendships grow,” as people share gardening plots, said Edwards. “And there have been couples who met through the group, too.”

Thanks to the efforts of the co-founders and other members, Alameda Backyard Growers now has over 20 local partners, including Ploughshares, Alameda County Master Gardeners, Project LEAF (Local Edible Alameda Farm), Alameda Backyard Chickens, Alameda Backyard Beekeepers and Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA).

“We would be thrilled for everyone to attend. Our philosophy is about access for all,” Edwards shared.


‘Dirt’ Talk at Library

Alameda Backyard Growers will present a “down-to-earth” chat at the Main Library tonight.

Alameda County master gardener and soil scientist Marion Adams Yoxall will deliver the talk at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12. It is entitled: “The Dirt on Dirt, Soil Science and Soil Fertility Basics for the Home Gardener.”

Those attending the lecture will learn where soil comes from, what it is made of and how it is formed. They will also hear about soil texture and how texture affects plants, soil biology, fertility, nutrients and fertilizers.

At Tuesday’s event, the local gardening group—which will celebrate its three-year anniversary at the library on Sunday, Feb. 17—will have a silent auction for a worm bin.


Forum on American Society Takes Place Tonight

Alameda Public Affairs Forum presents author and philosopher Richard Lichtman today–Saturday, Feb. 9–at the Alameda Main Library. Lichtman will lead a discussion on American society and its challenges in the wake of the killings in Newtown, Conn.

The guest speaker will focus on the ideas of psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (who wrote “The Sane Society”) and how they can be applied to understanding acts of violence today, as well as to socio-economic inequality and feelings of hopelessness. He will also discuss alternative views, such as those of Martin Luther King, Jr., and others who have fought for hope and a new America.

Visitors are invited to come to the library at 6:30 on Saturday with snacks to share and to socialize. The discussion will go from 7 to 9 p.m., with donations requested at the door. For more information, call 510-814-9592 or go to its website.


Sailor Hurt in Boat Blast at Grand Marina

On Thursday, Feb. 7, Josh Sailer, 30, was badly burned aboard a Newport-28 sailboat from what appears to be an on-board explosion.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the Nevada native was living on the boat, at least part time, and had done so for the past two years, while also working in construction.

Sailer suffered burns on about 20% of his body, mainly to the hands and knees, but not to the eyes or lungs, according to Mardy Valentine of Grand Marina, who spoke with Latitude 38. He was flown by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

His brother, Jacob, said the galley stove was the likely source of the explosion. It wasn’t clear if the stove was powered by propane or alcohol.

At the time of the blast, Andy McKinley, a former harbormaster at the marina who now works at a nearby canvas shop, said more than a dozen people helped extinguish the blast.

The Alameda Fire Department is investigating the incident.