El Cerrito poet’s winning entry at the San Mateo County Fair

“In the Cupboard,” a poem that Evie Groch of El Cerrito wrote and entered in the San Mateo County Fair poetry contest, swept its division, winning first place and best of show.

    In the Cupboard

On the table among the New Gamboge,

Winsor Lemon, and Permanent Rose

lie brushes pointed and rounded

near water cups of Prussian Blue

and Jasper Green.

We paint with broad strokes

and detailed attention

the broccoli heads and tangelos

slinking across the models’ table.

We remember to color wash

and define by negative space,

we focus on the table

and suffer no distractions

Until the teacher opens the cupboard

to reach the empty yogurt containers

and I espy a pair of red and white stilettos –

stilettos with 4-inch heels, which rest perpendicularly

on the shelf and whisper for someone to set them free,

take them out and dance hard.

I cannot shift my eyes.

Broccoli can wait.

Who left the shoes?

In a cupboard of discards which

patiently wait their turn to prance and spin,

they plead for mercy and move me like no

tangelo can.

— Evie Groch


United Way of the Bay Area and Wells Fargo launch financial counseling network

(from left to right) Amisha Patel, District Manager, Wells Fargo; Raminder Somal, Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo; Greg Morgan, North Bay President, Wells Fargo; Molly Carter, Development Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christa Brown, Community Mobilization Officer,  United Way of the Bay Area; Christine Poremski, Sparkpoint Marin Director, United Way of the Bay Area

(from left to right)
Amisha Patel, District Manager, Wells Fargo; Raminder Somal, Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo; Greg Morgan, North Bay President, Wells Fargo; Molly Carter, Development Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christa Brown, Community Mobilization Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christine Poremski, Sparkpoint Marin Director, United Way of the Bay Area

RICHMOND — Sparkpoint West Contra Costa County was one of five Bay Area locations awarded $450,000 by Wells Fargo as part of an effort to provide financial counseling for low-and moderate-income households, Wells Fargo announced Tuesday.

The money is part of a five-year, $5 million partnership between Wells Fargo and United Way to provide households with financial education, training and access to financial services.

“Wells Fargo is committed to providing communities more access to financial support services they need,” Greg Morgan, president of Wells Fargo’s North Bay market, said in a prepared statement. “We want more people in the Bay Area to feel empowered to take charge of their financial situations.

In addition to the Richmond Sparkpoint, four other area locations sharing the $450,000 are: SparkPoint Oakland, SparkPoint Solano, SparkPoint American Canyon and SparkPoint Marin.

Created by United Way of the Bay Area, SparkPoint Centers are financial education centers that help individuals and families with a range of services, including creating step-by-step personal financial plans.


Housing fair in Richmond June 15

press release:

The 2013 Richmond’s HOUSING FAIR

The City invites residents to participate in this educational one day event that features four housing related tracks:
Track 1 (Ownership)- Home Improvements, Resources and Know-how
Track 2 (Ownership)- Distressed Properties, Foreclosures, Modifications, Options
Track 3- (Future Ownership)- Pre-purchase counseling, Resources, Know-how
Track 4- (Tenants)- Tenants Rights, Legal Assistance, Fair Housing.
The FAIR is a private-public partnership between The City of Richmond and NID-HCA (National Investment Division-Housing Counseling Agency).
Since 1985 NID-Housing Counseling Agency has been a leading provider in housing counseling and community development services. NID-HCA is a diverse network of advocacy groups and individuals, organizations, housing counselors, real estate professionals, community groups, civic organizations and faith-based organizations committed to ensuring fair housing opportunities for all in urban/minority communities throughout the country. As an advocacy, communications, education and resource network, NID-HCA works to provide its partners and the communities they serve with information to assist them in their advocacy efforts to address issues ranging from increasing access to quality housing and mortgage products and eliminating housing disparities.
The vision of NID-HCA is to provide housing related counseling to all persons and entities with housing and community development needs.
The vision of the Housing and Community Development Division is to enhance neighborhood beautification through housing stability.
June 15, 2013
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Official Kick Off: 10:00 a.m.
Civic Center Auditorium
403 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond CA 94804
We respectfully invite elected officials, community leaders and the media to participate in the kick off ceremony at 10:00 on June 15, 2013.
Ana Cortez (510) 231-3078
Jene Levine-Snipes (510) 307-8179
Nancy Rivera (510) 268-9792


New Richmond Latino political group to debut at Cinco de Mayo event



May 3, 2013

Contact: Rosa Lara, President RLLPAC


New Richmond Latino Leadership Political Action Committee Kicks Off with Major Voter Registration Drive at Cinco De Mayo Festival

RLLPAC engages Richmond’s Latino community to support civic engagement

RICHMOND, CA –The Richmond Latino Leadership Political Action Committee (RLLPAC), a newly launched political action committee, will kick off the group’s efforts with a groundbreaking voter registration drive at Richmond’s 7th Annual Cinco De Mayo Festival. RLLPAC volunteers are staffing a booth at the festival and conducting outreach to event attendees to sign-up new voters and provide information about the importance of voting and civic engagement.

The goal of RLLPAC is to increase civic awareness, register and educate voters, and advocate for public policies in Richmond that support job creation and economic development, improve public education and increase public safety by reducing crime.

“We will promote and encourage Latino candidates and work to empower the Latino community in Richmond,” said Rosa Lara, President of the RLLPAC. “We intend to be a political force in the community, working to motivate Latino voters to learn about the issues that have a profound impact on our families and encourage them to advocate for action on the local, state and nation level.” Lara also serves as President of the 23rd Street Merchants Association.

In the coming months, RLLPAC will engage voters to raise the profile of issues critical to the success of Latino families in Richmond and actively support candidates in upcoming elections who will get the job done for the community.

“We are encouraging everybody to get involved and help us achieve our mission of engaging Latinos in civic and public service. Together, we can help our community thrive with excellent public education, high paying jobs and safe streets,” said Lara.

The Board of the RLLPAC includes: Rosa Lara, President; Hernando Ramirez, Vice President of Communication; and Rigo Mendoza, Vice President of Finance.

Those who want to get involved and join the organization can do so by signing-up at the RLLPAC Booth at the Cinco De Mayo festival or by emailing rllpoliticalaction@gmail.com.



The Goodtime Washboard Three and the “Oakland” song live on in El Cerrito

Record Store Day was April 20 and El Cerrito had two locations celebrating. Both Down Home Music on San Pablo Avenue and Mod Lang on Fairmount Avenue sell vinyl records.
Among the selections available at Down Home is an album by The Goodtime Washboard (they added an extra member), an expanded version of The Goodtime Washboard Three, the trio of former UC Berkeley students who recorded the song “Oakland” 50 years ago this year. The song, a tongue-in-cheek salute to the city that isn’t San Francisco, received considerable airplay in the 1960s. The group even appeared with Bing Crosby on the ABC TV variety show “Hollywood Palace.”
As the lyrics go,
Now where did all the people go
when Frisco burned?
They all went to Oakland and
never returned.

The album available at Down Home is a later version, pressed 11 years after the original, but copies still sealed in shrinkwrap (we can’t call them “new” when they are almost 40 years old) are $9.98 each, a high price for 1974, but a bargain today.

A nice article on the Goodtime Washboard Three and the song that brought their greatest fame can be found here.

Incidentally, the GTW3 performed at the 50th anniversary party for Arhoolie Records, founded by Down Home Music owner Chris Strachwitz, and appear on the label’s anniversary box set.

In case you can’t wait and just want to hear the original version of the song, click here.

The latter day version is here: