Richmond: Salesian College Preparatory celebrates Native American Heritage Day


The students, faculty and staff of Salesian College Preparatory gather in the school’s gym to honor the Native American. This Heritage Day celebration brought together representatives from 8 tribes. Special activities included Fancy Shawl dancing by Lakota Holder (Lakota, Tlingit, Navajo), drumming by Michael Bellanger (Sac and Fox/Kickapoo), storytelling by Jessie Riddle (Pit River/Apache), corn husk doll-making by Diane Dierking and a special guest, Tommie Postoak, from the The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Also, Richmond resident Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney (Cherokee) offered a beautiful Cherokee prayer song. The governor of The Chickasaw Nation, Bill Annouatubby, sent a flag to the school in support of this event.
“It’s important that we keep the Native American spirit alive and thriving,” said Salesian senior and event organizer Ellissa Thompson, an enrolled member in the Chickasaw Nation. “By doing so we help preserve this vital culture and help others understand the richness and vitality of the Native American way of life. With November designated as Native American Heritage Month, it was important that the culture be brought to life, and not brushed off as another notation on a calendar.” Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation sent a Chickasaw flag and a letter of support in recognition of the event. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)


Fancy Shawl dancer Lakota Holder mesmerized the audience as she demonstrated various kinds of powwow dances. Michael Bellanger, Bay Area drum teacher and singer, accompanied Holder while she danced, beating traditional powwow music. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Jessie Riddle regales the audience with her vibrant Native American tales. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Tommie Postoak from the Department of Culture and Humanities flew out from Oklahoma to share the rich culture of the Chickasaw Nation. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney ended the assembly with a Cherokee blessing song. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

The performers pose together after the sharing of Native American culture (left to right: Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney, Jessie Riddle, Carol Thompson, Tommie Postoak, Ellissa Thompson, and Lakota Holder). Both Carol and Ellissa Thompson wear “traditional regalia” from the Chickasaw Nation, including beaded tribal collars and dresses that were adopted by the tribe just after the era of Indian removal in 1837. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Ellissa Thompson and student helpers serve traditional Chickasaw “pashofa” (cooked cracked corn, a staple of the Chickasaw tribe for thousands of years) and fry bread tacos for lunch. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Diane Dierking (Pit River/Apache) sets up a table to teach students how to make corn husk dolls. Although commonly referred to as “Pioneer dolls”, this type of doll was first made by Indians and then shared with the settlers. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

One of the many student-recreated pieces of artwork that were on display throughout the hallways. This piece is representative of the Tlingit tribe. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Photos and text courtesy of Carol Thompson and Salesian College Preparatory.


West County can give transportation priority input at call-in event tonight

West County are being asked to help shape transportation priorities in the county by taking part in a Telephone Town Hall call-in event from 6-7 p.m. today, Nov. 12.
To join the discussion and learn planning efforts now taking place, call toll-free to 877-229-8493 and enter access code 112664 when prompted.

The event is hosted by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.

High-capacity transit provides substantially higher passenger capacity than local transit. It is the type of transit that people often use for their daily commute to work. This 15-month study will evaluate public transportation options and identify funding opportunities to improve the quality and effectiveness of transit in West County and expand alternatives to driving on congested streets and highways.

During the Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event, you’ll learn more about the Study and concurrent planning efforts. Experts will be on hand to answer questions. You’ll also be asked to respond to a few quick polling questions through the touch of a button on your phone.

The Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event will be the first of several opportunities to provide your input. The first round of public meetings will be held in February, with a second round anticipated in Spring 2016.
To stay involved with the project, sign up to get future emails about upcoming ways to participate, visit www.WestCountyTransitStudy.com.


Richmond’s Salesian High raising funds for Middletown High School students in Valley Fire

Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond is raising funds for its counterparts at Middletown High School in the aftermath of the Valley Fire and is asking for community support. Salesian made the following announcement Thursday on the school’s Facebook page:

Salesian College Preparatory sends its thoughts and prayers to our long-time friends and sports rivals at Middletown High School who were affected by the Valley Fire. In order to show our support, the Salesian community members are organizing a fundraising drive for Middletown High. We are accepting cash or check donations and will be sending 100% of our collections to Middletown High School. We will be accepting donations throughout the end of day tomorrow and once again during the week of Triduum. Let’s join together to help our friends at Middletown High School.
For more information on how to give, contact us at (510)234-4433. Thank you for considering to help our friends in need.


Point Richmond presenting string band and slide guitar at free show Friday

Slide guitar artist Dennis Johnson.

Here is the lineup for the next show in the Point Richmond Music concert series from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Sept. 11 on the outdoor stage at Park Place and Washington Avenue:

Friday, September 11th
The Rusty String Express (Bluegrass) www.facebook.com/therustystringexpress
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
The Rusty String Express (RSE) celebrates string band traditions of the past while stretching into the unknown, creating original music with unique and familiar flavors. The RSE is an exciting mash up of acoustic excitement, bubbling creativity, and excellent musicianship, with Aaron Balano on dobro, Alison Bailey Streich on violin, Greg Dunn on bass and Morgan Cochneuer on guitar. These four magnetic musicians are masterful wielders of their instruments, and their music ranges from sensitive and soulful interpretations to wild and unexpected music you’ve never heard before.

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers (Slide Guitar) www.dennisjohnsonslide.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
Slide guitarist Dennis Johnson is one of the elite slide guitar players performing today. Drawing comparisons to Robert Johnson and Roy Rogers, Dennis Johnson masterfully elevates the art of slide guitar across many genres of music including Blues, New Orleans, Rock, and Swing. Dennis Johnson and his band, The Mississippi Ramblers, deliver stirring live performances that move audiences and get people dancing!

This year’s series concludes with this concert on Sept. 25:

Soji & The Afrobeats (Nigerian) www.sojisoundz.com
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Nigeria’s legendary guitar master and singer Soji Odukogbe was the lead guitarist for the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s groundbreaking Afrobeat band. Odukogbe draws on an extensive background in Nigerian Afrobeat, highlife, and spiritual music, bringing a unique sensibility to his highlife guitar interpretations. His Afrobeat Band features guitars, drums, and horns. He and the band set the dance floor afire with a churning, polyrhythmic style that he simply calls “authentic original Afrobeat like Fela’s type of music, the traditional Afrobeat that nobody does” in a world of endless Afro-fusions.

Sol (Latin) www.solrocks.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
SOL’s infectious Latin beat warms the souls of all audiences and gets people dancing to the rhythms of Salsa and Funk and Soul. Led by the versatile vocalist Myrna Farias, SOL covers popular songs from Santana to Celia Cruz and Tito Puente to Tower of Power. The high energy band is driven by a hard rocking rhythm section, Latin percussionists, and four horn players. Based in San Francisco, The SOL musicians bring a diverse blend of influences from Latin, Rock and Jazz to create their own unique mix of Latin music for the 21st century.


Richmond Rosies saluted by their counterparts in Michigan

congrats richmond rosies

Richmond is home to the national tribute to the World War II home front and on Aug. 15 the city set a new world record for a Guinness Book world record for the most women dressed as Rosie the Riveter gathered in one place at one time since the war.
That has earned a salute from the women who previously held the record, accomplished last year at the famed Willow Run Michigan plant that built bombers during the war.
They also issued what amounts to a challenge and could become an annual event.

Sincerest congratulations to the ladies of Richmond, CA on beating our Guinness World Record for the Most Rosie the Riveters. The contribution of Wendy the Welder and other women shipyard workers was essential to victory in WWII, as was the contribution of homefront workers across the nation in every imaginable job. Thank you, Richmond, for joining us in honoring “Rosie” and her sisters. Of course, we hope to bring the record back to Michigan soon, but for now it is in good hands in California!


Richmond: Urban Tilth offering fresh produce market stand at Catahoula Coffee on July 5

Agriculture group Urban Tilth will host a market stand offering fresh locally grown produce and plant starts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 5 at Catahoula Coffee Co, 12472 San Pablo Ave.

Celebrate your independence day weekend by getting your share of our locally grown bounty! & thank you as always for supporting our non-profit.

Veggies: Lettuce!, Kale, Swiss Chard, Onions (YUM!), & Herbs

Plant starts: cabbage, kale, lettuce, sticky monkey flower, & echinacea

Garden products: herbal bath salt, lavender & sweet orange hand salves & our Garden Party Soap & our

Freshly harvested and made this week:


Get some of our special small batch jam while it lasts!

happy 4th!


Richmond: Catahoula Coffee hosting Urban Tilth farm stand of locally grown produce May 24

Richmond community agriculture group Urban Tilth (www.urbantilth.org) will hold a farm stand outside Catahoula Coffee Co., 12472 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond, on May 24 starting at 9 .m.

The group will offer “organic veggies to go with those burgers or to make that heathly and delicious salad you were dreaming of” for the Memorial Day weekend. Offerings will include Freshly harvested lettuce, Swiss chard, dino kale, and herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme.

Urban Tilth will also have vegetable starts for planting, including lettuce, tomatoes and sticky monkey flower; seed packets (decorated by students of Verde Elementary) of “Las Tres Hermanas” (squash, beans, corn) and fava beans; and herbal garden products such as bath salts and hand salve.


West County Ed. Fund scholarship winners will be celebrated at April 30 ceremony in El Cerrito

The West County Ed. Fund has announced this year’s scholarship winners. Recipients will be recognized at a celebration on April 30 at El Cerrito High Schoo,.

Celebrating Excellence in Education:
Honoring Scholarship Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Ed Fund, West Contra Costa County’s Public Education Fund, managed an extremely competitive scholarship application season this year. A total of 243 applications were received and reviewed by 66 volunteers to choose the top students with the grit and passion it takes to succeed in college and give back to their community. With the generous support of College Futures Foundation, Irene S. Scully Family Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Schroeder Family Foundation, and Whittier Educational Foundation, $160,000 in scholarships will be awarded over the next academic year to 68 West Contra Costa Unified high school seniors to realize their college dreams.

The 2015 scholarship recipients from the West Contra Costa Unified School District will be honored and celebrated at the Ed Fund’s 27th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration on Thursday, April 30 from 6:30-9:00PM at El Cerrito High School’s Performing Arts Theater at 540 Ashbury Avenue in El Cerrito. One of the highlights of the evening will be hearing from two of the scholarship recipients speak to how they overcame all obstacles to become college-bound students. Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase your ticket, visit the Ed Fund website at www.edfundwest.org or call Zuhair at 510-233-1464.

You can also make a donation in tribute to a student to the Help a Student Soar to Excellence campaign at https://www.crowdrise.com/edfundscholarships/fundraiser/edfundwest. The campaign will culminate the night of the event.

Full list of 2015 Scholars
College Futures Foundation
Carlos Arauz-Hernandez, Kennedy High School
RaTrail Armstead, Kennedy High School
Lavonia Bobo, El Cerrito High School
Monet Boyd, El Cerrito High School
Saidy Brizuela, Richmond High School
Casina Butler, Kennedy High School
Astrid Flores Castillo, Richmond High School
Matthew Chamberlain, Middle College High School
Quincy Chapple, Pinole Valley High School
Alexis Garcia, Pinole Valley High School
William Garcia, Pinole Valley High School
Evelyn Corral Gonzalez, Richmond High School
Alexander Hagan, De Anza High School
Tyler Ho, Pinole Valley High School
Richard Howard, Vista High School
Tareke James, De Anza High School
Michael Jameson, Richmond High School
Jose Jimenez, De Anza High School
Latisha Katigbak, Hercules High School
Luis Ledesma, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Maggie Li, El Cerrito High School
Alfred Machacon, De Anza High School
Kenyatta Marcelous, El Cerrito High School
Christian Medina, Richmond High School
Andrea Munoz, Pinole Valley High School
Adrian Navarro, Richmond High School
Linda Ngo, De Anza High School
Luis Nunez, Kennedy High School
Francisco Ortiz, Kennedy High School
Mareiana Pembrook, El Cerrito High School
Cristina Pham, De Anza High School
Hannah Pham, Richmond High School
Yann Picouleau, Pinole Valley High School
Martin Ponce, De Anza High School
Andrew Preston, Richmond High School
Eva Arias Ramirez, Middle College High School
Serena Saelee, Middle College High School
Kimiko Satterfield, Middle College High School
Jay’La Donaville Smith, El Cerrito High School
Kimaree Solomon, Hercules High School
Nasario Sylvester, Kennedy High School
Ashley Tejada, Middle College High School
Keith Thomas, El Cerrito High School
Juliana Valencia, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Vanessa McMillon Vanbuskirk, Hercules High School
Deisy Villalobos, Richmond High School
Hero Vo, De Anza High School
Akeilah Ward-Hale, El Cerrito High School
Frederica Webster, De Anza High School
Brandon Wong, Hercules High School
Maria Zavala, Middle College High School

Ed Fund
Nanette Thompson, El Cerrito High School
Roberto Vega, Richmond High School

Irene S. Scully Foundation
Joan Binalinbing, Kennedy High School
Antonio Gonzales-Romero, Richmond High School
Dennis Pimentel, Richmond High School

James Irvine Foundation
Chi Chung, Hercules High School
Jing-Yi Chung, Hercules High School
Jasmine Gill, De Anza High School
Maria Nunez, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Jesus Pedraza, Richmond High School
Justin Rodriguez, El Cerrito High School
Brittany Tran, Pinole Valley High School

Schroeder Family Foundation
Lauren Darnell, El Cerrito High School
Jomoris Stewart, El Cerrito High School

Whittier Educational Foundation
Luis Perez Rodriguez, Kennedy High School
Daniella Vela, El Cerrito High School
Brizjon Wilright, De Anza High School


El Cerrito: Historic adobe lost in arson fire 59 years ago today

The building once considered to be the most historic structure in Contra Costa County was destroyed in an arson fire on April 21, 1956.
Just 11 days earlier a city council member’s bid to preserve the landmark Castro adobe had been rejected by his colleagues as because it was considered an impediment to the construction of the planned El Cerrito Plaza shopping center. The developers were adamant that the center could not be constructed with the ancient building on the property.
In the days before the fire a petition drive led by Kensington pharmacist Louis Stein was being mounted to rally the public for saving the adobe.

Here is the coverage of the fire from the April 21, 1956 Richmond Independent, along with some pictures posted earlier on this blog that were taken the day after the fire by Cynthia Cameron, then a young girl who lived two blocks away.
Note that the article on the fire also mentions the recent demolition of the Alvarado adobe in San Pablo.

adobe fire 1956

castro adobe bid to save 04 10 195604212015_0000
Richmond Independent story 11 days before the fire.

castro adobe fire 04 21 1956a104212015_0000

castro adobe fire 04 21 1956b04212015_0000

castro adobe fire 04 21 1956c04212015_0000

castro adobe fire 04 21 1956d04212015_0000

castro abobe history a

castro adobe history b04212015_0000

The fountain added to the Castro adobe in the late 1930s by El Cerrito gambling boss Walter “Big Bill” Pechart as seen after the April 20, 1956 fire in this photo by Cynthia Cameron.

The fire, which witnesses said broke out in five locations at the same time, destroyed the wooden second story.

The adobe and surrounding grounds. A police car is to the right.

rancho shopping center 1958


Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society of the adobe in happier times.