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Alameda, a newcomer’s perspective

This blog, Desperately Seeking Root Beer (not sure what the title’s about), has a post up, Alameda: An Introduction. The post details a newcomer’s impression of Alameda (there’s lots of nice visuals), and the the writer, Andy M., notes things people said to him when he was moving to Alameda:

I’m not sure I’ve ever been there. I hear it’s nice though.
Sure Andy, I’ll meet you in Alameda. Umm, how do I get there?
How long does it take you to get to Oakland?
I’ve been to Alameda for breakfast, but it’s a bit out of the way.”

As well as comments people have made since:

It’s kind of stuck in the 50s, but at least that means good diners.
Fogue-town.
[as in old fogies]
It still feels like a military town.
It’s over-policed.

I know the nine years I’ve lived here make me a newcomer in many people’s eyes, but it is interesting to be reminded of those sorts of reactions to Alameda. And to see they still exist—even nearly a decade after I made the move to the Island.

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Take a visit to the “The Island” blog

For those who haven’t already made a habit it of it, there’s lots of good Alameda info coming out of The Island, a blog run by Michele Ellson, a former print reporter gone Internet (though she’s got a piece on current golf course developments in Tuesday’s Journal).

Recent posts include one about Knife Catchers, a biting little blog offering running snarky commentary on Alameda real estate. Another gives voice to the news that maybe, just maybe Clif Bar, will settle in town.

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In Alameda: Life on the Bay

I was off-grid a bit more than I expected last week. Colorado! Home of high mountains and lots of greenery. But I’m back, and ready to live, once again, the Island life. The weekly column I write for our home-town press the Alameda Journal is up online line. This week it’s “Soaking up life on the Bay.”


Past “Life on the Island” columns
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

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Life on the Island: Where do the children play?

This week’s column, “Fear can limit the joys of childhood,” is now up. You can find all Alameda Journal stories online, too.


Past “Life on the Island” columns

June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

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This Week’s Alamedan: Catie Hembrow

CatieHembrow

Lived in Alameda: A little over a year
Age: 37
Originally from: South Lake Tahoe
Occupation: Registered Nurse, Trauma, Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Family: Partner, Beth Ochsner, nonprofit fundraiser; son, Sam, 4 months

Why Alameda?
It’s just a very nice place. It’s very kid-friendly and we knew we wanted to have kids—it’s friendly, affordable and safe.

Like best about Alameda?
Alameda is a small community with all the advantages of a big city—we’re so close to San Francisco, but if you forget to lock your door at night you’re OK.

Would like to change about Alameda?
I can’t think of anything!

Alameda favorites
Dan’s Produce, Java Rama, and Central Cinema has a babies night—babies in arms are no charge. It’s fun to be able to go to the movies and Sam gets to see other babies.

Read all This Week’s Alamedans here.

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Save the music in Alameda

savethemusicEver since music was axed from grades one, two and three in the last round of Alameda Unified budget cuts, parents at Bay Farm Elementary have been working hard to raise enough money—about $200,000—to fund those elementary music classes district wide.

So far Bay Farm parents and their PTA have raised a total of $10,375 (which includes the 1,210 rolls of coins pictured left) as well as cash and check donations of $7,300.

There’ll be a SAVE THE MUSIC benefit concert on May 2 at Kofman and other schools are working on fund raisers as well. Bay Farm parent of two Lorri Garrett:

It’s no use saving music for just our school if we don’t save it for the whole district. We’re unified with the district. We have a strong fund raising community at Bay Farm, and we want to save music for the district. We are motivated and together we can do it.

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This Week’s Alamedan: Laurie Wagner

lauriewagnerLived in Alameda: Since 1995
Age: 47
Originally from: Los Angeles
Occupation: Writer (published books on marriage and motherhood) and writing teacher (teaches at Writers.com and “Wild Writing” out of her home)
Family: Husband, Mark Wagner, artist; Children, Ruby, 12, and Zoe, 10
Activities: Racquetball, speed walking with girlfriends, “Tiki at Tiki

Why Alameda?
We were living across the High Street bridge in the Vulcan Foundry, which had been turned into artist studios. We’d cross the bridge to Alameda to shop and to run. We loved the trees here, how they changed seasons so beautifully. When I got pregnant in 1994 we knew we had to move because the parking lot where we lived was littered with needles and condoms from the local nightlife. One day my husband told me that he’d found us a house in Alameda. We rented it for a few years and then we bought it.

Like best about Alameda?
I like being a member of the Farmstead wine club because I don’t know much about wine and so I feel like a little connoisseur when I pick up my monthly allotment. I like Penny the dressmaker because she turns things around really fast and she’s nice, a little like a mother. I like Nick and his crew at Books Inc. because they all read and their selection of books is really interesting. I like that we have real friends here, people who will take our kids if we want to go on an overnight and who take our dog when we go out of town.

Would like to change about Alameda?
I’d like to see more trees on streets like Lincoln. I’d add more groovy places to buy clothes. Whole Foods.

Word to the wise
If you’re considering remodeling your home, make sure you have an appetite for lots of beans and rice, which you will be eating for a long time, at least until you pay back your loans.

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This Week’s Alamedan: Dawna Dowdell

dawnaLived in Alameda: Since 1993
Age: 45
Occupation: Personal Banking Officer, Bank of Alameda
Pets: Two cats, Scooter and Fatters
Activities: Volunteer for the Alameda Police Department’s VIP program; Avon Walk for Breast Cancer volunteer crew; American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteer crew; member, Bayview Women’s Club; President-elect Alameda Kiwanis Club

Like best about Alameda?

I like the small-town community feel. I love all the restaurants in the downtown area and on Webster Street, too. I love eating! I love that you can walk to anything in Alameda, and that people are really involved in the community here.

Would like to change about Alameda?
Some of the small-minded mentality—that Alameda should always stay a certain way. We all need to grow; everything needs to grow and change. For a city to succeed, it needs to change. I’m glad that the parking structure is there. I think it’s a good thing for downtown and a good thing for Alameda.

Word to the wise
Alameda isn’t as racist as everyone thinks it is. It’s not. It’s what you make of it. I’m comfortable wherever I go, and I want people to be comfortable wherever they go. I want people to know it’s OK to talk about things—whether it’s the war or cancer or race. It’s OK to have an opinion and for people to have different opinions.

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April 27: Alameda Circus for Arts in the Schools

Alameda will once again host the Circus for Arts in the Schools. The show is Sunday, April 27 at Kofman Auditorium. Jeff Raz, who I had the pleasure of interviewing a couple weeks back, will be serving as ringmaster. You can check out a short profile of him here. Buy tickets to the two shows (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) online or at the always-fabulous Toy Safari on Park Street.