Wheeling Around: How Do Benicians Ride? Mother's Day Made Simple: Gifts Mom Will Love Art Enhances Kid's Learning
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Matthew Turner kids Send 1,000 Paper Cranes to Japan 6 Editor
Benicians Get Their Bike On 7 Editor's Pick: Fun Finds Around Town 9
Samuel J. Adams Mario Giuliani Mary Marino Adriene Rockwell Sue Sumner-Moore
Mother's Day Gifts that are Sure to Impress 10 How Art Impacts Children 13
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Feedback 9 Solano Style 9 What's new at beniciamagazine.com 15 Interview with Antiques Importer & Mom Katie Zilavy 16 Looking Back 20
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Should Benicia Have a B.I.D.? 20 Calendar of Events 22 Cover: Farnsworth custom bike, photographed by Jerry Bowles in the Benicia Arsenal Photo left: Ed Brennan's studio; Center: Bike hoops; by Jerry Bowles Photo right: Fred Camargo, Arts Benicia Family Art Day
All opinions expressed in this magazine, including articles and paid advertisements, are those of the authors alone. Benicia Magazine does not endorse any product or service in editorial content or advertisements, and can not be held liable for their use.
From the Editor Mother’s Day celebrations should not necessarily be easy, but they should be simple. Most moms I know work hard at home and at work, and would like to celebrate in meaningful ways that are uncomplicated. I get to be lazy on Mother’s Day, lounging around reading newspapers, while my family makes brunch. Mike is inspired by the season’s offerings, and expertly executes my favorite—eggs Benedict—with lots of spinach and a side of grilled asparagus, while the girls cut fresh strawberries and decorate the table. Spring’s palette of soft greens and blues inspired our creative team to assemble great gifts for mom in “Mother’s Day Gifts That Are Sure to Impress.” We’ve taken the gift guesswork out of the equation, leaving you with more time to spend with family. For active moms, you could also plan a bike ride—and if the weather cooperates, take a picnic. On the website you’ll find information on bikeable trails in Solano County, along with ideas for a picnic lunch.
Speaking of bikes, this month’s feature story delves into the myriad ways Benicians ride. With one, two or three wheels, we are a biking town despite the hills. If you’ve got a great picture of yourself on a bike, send it to us, we’re collecting photos for a gallery on the website. Our favorite pic wins a Benicia Magazine t-shirt. Also on the website: our Business Directory is 1500 listings strong and growing, including 150 Bed & Breakfast Inns for upcoming weekend trips. There’s also an entire travel section on Wine Country and Tahoe. For Benicia and county-wide events, our online calendar boasts over 100 items each month. And if you want the inside scoop about giveaway contests for fantastic merchandise and services from local stores, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy the sunshine, Jeanne Steinmann Add your bike photo to our web gallery—send pics to email@example.com
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Matthew Turner Elementary Students
Honor Japanâ€™s Disaster Victims By Samuel James Adams Over 5,000 miles of the Pacific separate us from Japan, but on March 11, that distance felt uncomfortably close. On that cataclysmically awful day Eastern Japan was struck by an 9.0 Earthquake, a towering tsunami, and the terrible beginnings of Nuclear disaster. In this state it wasnâ€™t just the sailors in Santa Cruz watching their toppled yachts who felt a grave moment of pause when nature struck the island nation with the same seismic phenomena scheduled for our state. Thankfully, many took that pause as a call to action, including some very small but sincere voices at Matthew Turner Elementary. Julie Seymourâ€™s classes had just finished a reading unit on natural disasters the day the quake broke. Initially, Ms. Seymour had to do some damage control, assuring kids that the waves wouldnâ€™t hit here. Ms. Seymourâ€™s pupilsâ€”most of them earthquake drill veterans since Kindergartenâ€”were awestruck. But as soon as worry abated, they surprised her with their genuine concern. â€œThese kids really touched my heart. They want to do everything they can to help,â€? she said. Ms. Seymour teaches fifth grade and co-directs student council, and soon after the quake, the council decided to hold a bake sale. The sale eventually made over $400, which Gene Pedrotti of Beniciaâ€™s Ace Hardware matched and contributed to the Red Cross for disaster relief. But the students still felt like there was more to do. The school decided to honor the victims with an art project and students commenced a Paper Crane Folding Party, with the eventual goal of folding 1000 paper cranes. The inspiration for the Cranes comes from the story of Sadako Sasaki, a real life Japanese girl best known in America through Eleanor Coerrâ€™s Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes, a staple in elementary School libraries. Sadako grew up in a Hiroshima still haunted by the effects of war, where â€œthe atom bomb diseaseâ€? of Leukemia claimed frequent victims. Happy and athletic at the bookâ€™s beginning, she soon began to experience the dizzy spells signaling the onset of the disease. While hospitalized, she started to fold what she hoped would be 1000 paper cranes. She died at twelve, and a statue commemorating her stands in the Peace Park in Hiroshima with a constant supply of fresh paper cranes from visitors. And at Matthew Turner, a thousand cranes will honor Sadakoâ€™s simple wish for safety and peace. B
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www.ci.benicia.ca.us Tree Tip: How do I find a Certified Arborist near me? The International Society of Arboriculture can help!
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A Bike Town for Bikers and Bikes of all Stripes
Photos by Jerry Bowles
By Samuel J. Adams The bicycle is a chameleonic item: a bike can be a hobby for a rich man, or a necessity for a poor one, and its basic design will look about the same. A bike can be a demure conveyer of sedately paced beach rides, and aggressive ascender of ramps that sends to dizzying speeds and heights (and the occasional hospital gurney). It is the vehicle at the center of green living and the slow growth movement, and generally a good place from which to broadcast one’s idealism. But the bicycle equally serves the pragmatist who tires of paying high gas prices, or simply prefers to do his exercising outside the gym. Regardless of where you stand, a versatile item like a bicycle deserves a versatile city, and Benicia, a city with a waterfront, a skate park, a bridge, and some powerfully steep hills does a fine job of accommodating—and challenging—a wide swath of riders. Recently, the town’s reverence for bicycling and “smart growth” development had a screeching collision with the downtown’s celebrated old timey feel when the city installed black hoop racks along First Street. These egregious, if useful, products will be relocated to schoolyard settings, where the premium on historical cohesion is a little more lax. But this minor kafuffle doesn’t undermine sincere efforts on the City’s part to make the town more bike friendly. Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, an avid cyclist, says, “Bicycle safety has long been part of our general plan. We’ve come a long way with bike lanes and other projects. Back in the 1990’s, a huge number of concerned citizens lobbied BCDC for a bike lane on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Since completion of the bike lane, bike traffic in the state park has increased significantly.” Patterson would like to see funds from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, as part of the Intermodal Train Station project, used to in a “major education program” to increase the level of awareness for safe cycling. She would also like to see more kids encouraged to bike to school. “One way to see a breakthrough in kids riding their bikes is to help parents find a comfort level with bike safety, particularly parents who don’t ride themselves.” And not all the good biking occurs on regular roads. The state park offers a wonderfully smooth ride for both beginning riders and speed demons. Further, the whole provenance of the park has been expanded since the path paralleling the onramp connected the park’s middle to Rose Drive, thus segueing two once distinct neighborhoods. Rose Drive might be a little steep for the novice, but it and other pronouncedly vertiginous hills of Southampton have tidy bike lanes and those who can climb them are rewarded with calves that look like they’re smuggling bricks. Of course, many don’t always want to go in for this torture, and their wishes have been accommodated by modern technology. The Bakers, a family living in Southampton, boast a garage with a variety of bikes. Joey Baker, consultant and mother of two, conventionally rides for fun and errands (including taking her son to school on a tandem bike), but as an active resident of Southampton, she’s smitten with her Pedego Electric Bike. “There’s no place in Benicia you can’t go on this bike…it’s pure genius.” The bike can reach speeds of twenty mph purely on the strength of its battery, allowing riders to ascend steep hills and travel large jaunts without breaking a sweat, or eliciting snickers from kids on the school bus. Ms. Baker’s not the only member of her family with a reverence for variations on the bicycle. Her husband rides a unicycle for exercise in their cul-de-Sac and suits up like a power ranger for the daily commute to Alameda he makes on his Ducati Motorcycle.
But biking isn’t purely a physical activity; it’s a practice, and the classic bike design offers much for the mechanically minded to work with, and still honors and accommodates the amateur tinker and the true independent craftsmen, and there’s a growing specialty market to keep this passion financially afloat. Ed Brennan custom produces bikes under the Farnsworth brand name, a nickname assigned by a family member to make light of his “reserved personality…which seemed English [to the family member].” Mr. Brennan is wellspoken and cordial, but it’s hard to imagine him breaking out into a rendition of “Make ‘em laugh.” And the products of his patience and orderliness are proudly displayed all over his workshop in the Lincoln Street building he fittingly shares with artists and architects. Mr. Brennan works with Italian suppliers, uses steel tubing rather than carbon fiber, and makes vehicles that emphasize their metallic roots, sometimes in humorous ways: one of his custom built pieces is called Spare Change and has quarters and nickels rounding off the bolts around the fork crown. He also specializes in Investment Cast Lugs that join the tubes together in an aesthetically pleasing manner. He catches up with other enthusiasts and shows off his work at the rotating North American Handmade Bicycle Show. But his prototypes aren’t museum pieces. Mr. Brennan makes occasional rides to Walnut Creek for work. Speaking of biking to Walnut Creek—and beyond—May 12th is National Bike to Work Day, and a great occasion to take that bike in the garage on a maiden voyage across either of our bridges. For those looking to blow off some steam post-work, there’s the X Park. The park may lie near an elementary school, but its fiercely high ramps and dizzying transitions don’t exactly court the patronage of the novice riders. In fact, the X Park is technically only open to bikes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for bicycle-only sessions. Nevertheless, the park has a reputation among the BMX community, and the owner of STFBMX in Martinez occasionally brings out crews who ride for Volume, S&M Bikes, or other reputable brands to ride the ramps and commit their moves to film. The new park differs dramatically from the old, which was basically a series of cement Twinkies arranged around a parking lot. While it’s heartening to know how much community support went into creating the X Park (commemorated 2007), there’re plenty of folks of my generation who feel a pang of loss every time they think of the old park. One of these is my friend Johnny Higgins, who as a young lad bucked the mountain bike frenzy that overtook his elementary school peers and calmly requested a BMX for his birthday present (he keeps the ‘78 Diamond Back frame mounted in his garage). Now the father of a two-year-old daughter (and nimble tricyclist), he remembers the glory days of BMXs, when crews from Vallejo would “ride in by the herd, 15-20 guys bombing toward the skate park in one big group…Occasionally you’d be sitting there watching one of them and suddenly someone would yell ‘train!’ and the whole crew would take loops around the park riding right next to each other.” He’s since become unmoored from the BMX community, and regards his bike purely as a hobby that keeps him healthy. And that, commuting aside, is the beauty of biking. In a world trying to cram as many activities as it can into a smart phone, the bicycle is a resistant party that requires you to be there, be alert and pedal—at least until the battery kicks in. And it’s a healthy town that bikes a lot. B
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Wonderful Place to Live With each issue, this beautifully produced periodical captures the thriving energy and multitude of resources that makes Benicia such a wonderful place to live. Weâ€™re fortunate to have Benicia Magazine â€Ś in our community. â€“Robin Stanton
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Nurturing Creativity: Arts Integration and Academic Achievement By Adriene Rockwell Pablo Picasso believed that all children are born artists, and that the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Most of us lose our inner artist because we run out of time to nurture our creativity, and that problem is starting much earlier in life these days. Bonnie Weidel, director of Art for Kids in Benicia, has observed, after 40 years teaching art to children, that it’s getting increasingly difficult to engage kids in art. “There is too much going on in children’s lives,” she says. “They are so rushed. There is no more time for quiet space.” Making time for creativity is especially important in early childhood because the arts stimulate both sides of the brain. In Weidel’s classes, children are able to develop an idea over a course of weeks: mixing colors, layering, sequencing, and using tools that build motor-skills, hand-eye coordination and a strong sense of independence. “I believe art is reflective of our lives. It allows us a process of relating to our environment, the people around us, and a way of orienting ourselves to the world,” says Wiedel. This is not a process that can be rushed at any age. Pat Hall, an art teacher at Benicia Middle Sc School, says that often youth come to art classes with a belief that they can’t do art because they were not born with talent. But creativity, says Hall, Hal is not something you are born with— it’s something you develop develo with practice. “Sometimes kids are “Som failing everything except my class,” says Hall. “I’m not easy. I expect a lot from them, but bel once they believe in themselves they learn that with practice the they can do things they never dreamed they could do.” Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian who wh founded Waldorf believ in teaching the Education in the early 1900s, believed he whole child by engaging the head, heart and hands. He th curriculum fosters believed that putting arts at the core of the a lifelong love of learning that applies to all areas of knowledge. storytellin Painting, illustration, poetry, storytelling, movement art man creative practices (eurythmy) and crocheting are among the many nurtur in Waldorf education with a focus on nurturing the child’s own l h than h on textbooks b k andd testing. Studies show way off learning rather that these children graduate with great success in life academically, spiritually, socially and creatively. Many believe that creativity is as important as literacy in schools, and studies show that children who make art are stronger readers and get better grades in math and science. “Crocheting is one example of how art can be basic science, math or physics,” says Weidel. “Through this work with your hands you learn sequencing,
pattern making, numbering, and geometry.” “There are many values to children’s art,” says Larnie Fox, Executive Director of Arts Benicia. “The most striking value is that children’s decisions are honored and then they can take credit for the results. There are no right or wrong decisions when making art.” There is also more than one solution to a problem. Fox says this gives kids a boost of confidence that carries over into other parts of their lives. Elisabeth Gulick, a teacher and arts educator for 30 years, says that it’s important that children understand that they may go into the art process with one intention and come out with another— and that’s okay. And, if the child doesn’t like what they created, just accept that. It’s always okay to start over. The sense of accomplishment should come from within, so how we praise children is important. “When you praise a child too much it shuts down their own emotional responses,” says Gulick. “It doesn’t engage their thinking or feeling because you have made the judgment for them.” Fox suggests giving specific, rather than general praise when observing the child’s work. For example: “That’s an interesting black jagged line you made there. That makes me feel a little frightened.” Or, “I like the way you are mixing your colors in this part.” Gulick uses Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) when looking at art in museums or galleries, which uses open-ended questions to engage children and allow them to express their own perceptions. For example: “What can you tell me about the people in this picture? What shapes do you see in the painting?” You don’t have to know what the artist intended in the work, she says, and it’s always okay to change your mind. As our elementary school teachers struggle with increasing class sizes and state testing requirements, even the most creative teachers have little time for the arts. It’s becoming even more important that parents nurture creativity at home. Gulick encourages families to get outside for walks and to look at the world around them creatively. She suggests collecting objects like leaves or stones and examining the details together. And she says: “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with your children!” “Children always surprise me with new ideas, interpretations, and ways of looking at the world that I never would have thought of,” says Wiedel. “It’s part of the great pleasure of my work.” Perhaps Picasso was suggesting that we keep our magical childlike perspective of the world, and that no matter where we are in our life’s journey, it is never too late to embrace our inner artist. For children’s art resources, visit beniciamagazine.com. B Arts Benicia’s Family Art Day Photos by Fred Camargo
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This Month at
Beniciamagazine.com Benicia Magazine Monthly Contests —what can YOU win? Event tickets CONTEST WINNERS
BLOGS Find out what’s happening in town—read & comment on our Style, Happenings, Sustainability & Travel blogs
PARTY PICS & VIDEOS Who’s who in Benicia? Photos & videos of parties & events
PHOTO & POETRY CONTESTS April’s winners are on the COMMUNITY tab Congratulations to Diane Van Blake, who won a handblown art-glass ornament from Lindsay Art Glass Diane Ruhe was treated to a free hour of design consultation with Benicia’s premier interior designer Michael Trahan
BUSINESS DIRECTORY Find thousands of businesses, with contact info & map, in four counties
CALENDAR Hundreds of calendar listings for Solano, Napa and Contra Costa Counties
An Interview with
How did you meet your husband? One day I went with a friend to the Alameda Flea Market, and we rounded the corner and I saw my husband. I literally had the feeling of having the breath knocked out of me. My friend thought I was having a heart attack. It was a physical sense of, “Oh, there you are.” It was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had—he just felt like home. So, of course, I ran the other direction. My friend talked me into going back to his booth, and we talked and I ended up buying a little stitched leather horse for $20. He gave me a good deal, so I thought maybe he was interested. I emailed him the next day and we started a friendship. … Later we started dating. So now I always tell people that you never know what you’ll find at the Alameda Flea Market.
You worked on “Scream” and “George of the Jungle” before going to MTV. Did you think then that some day you would be primarily a stay-at-home mom? By Sue Sumner-Moore From the outside, Katie Zilavy’s life may look slightly unconventional. She and her husband, William Berg, are raising two preschool sons in the artists’ area of the Arsenal. Quinn, who has Down syndrome and turns five next month, and Remy, three, are growing surrounded by vintage and antique items their parents collected over the years for themselves and for their business. But from the inside, Katie’s life feels pretty traditional to her. While William works in refinery maintenance, Katie’s days revolve around preschool, swim lessons and library time for both boys, speech therapy and reading lessons for Quinn, and Kindergym for Remy. She manages the business, William’s Antiks and Vintage French, as time permits and writes about life and motherhood on her blog, kwqr.blogspot.com. She scrambles each weekday morning to get to Happy Hearts preschool. “We have to find the clothes, find the shoes—there’s a lot of running around in the morning,” says Katie, 41. Quinn attends three mornings a week, while Remy is there two mornings. “Usually the one you aren’t dropping off is the one who wants to stay.” Katie’s life now is worlds away from her earlier work in television and films. “I was in production, keeping people organized,” she says now, laughing at the irony. She started out in 1992 at KQED after graduating from UC Santa Cruz. She worked primarily on cooking shows with well-known chefs Jacques Pépin, Martin Yan and Mollie Katzen, then made the transition to feature films and moved to Los Angeles. Katie landed a job at MTV in 1999 in the production office for pilot programs, but left the channel after working on “Spring Break Cancun.” “I had great friends, great camaraderie on the set, but it was not what I wanted to be putting into the world,” she says. So she returned to San Francisco to work on a cooking show. And then, just before she turned 32, she fell in love.
No. My younger self would have thought I’d be a pilot or photographer or director, maybe something that involved international travel. … There are many things about my life now that my younger self would never do. I have a minivan, and I love my car. I’ve learned to never say never because it’s the next thing you’ll do.
What would most surprise your younger self about your life now? Finding the chaos of everyday life to be so normal, or how comfortable I can be in such chaos. There’s always someone crying or yelling or running around. Some days are harder than others, some days are easier.
What’s it like raising children in the Arsenal? Not having a yard is a challenge, but my mom has four acres in Guerneville so they get to experience that. We do a lot of park time and do our best with a sandbox and water table out front. It’s been easier than I thought it would be. They love it here—we have a swing in our living room.
What have you learned since your sons were born? In the past year, I’ve come to see being a parent not just as my job, but as a privilege and a gift. I’ve realized these are two amazing little creatures that I get to parent. It’s not that I have to parent them, I get to parent them. And I’m recognizing that this is not a permanent state. … Another thing about motherhood for me is that it’s softened my eyes to the world in general. When I come across someone who’s difficult, I
think more about why this person is difficult. Also, it can be easy to get caught up in what’s hard. If you see where there is abundance, where there is that bright spot, that’s what you’ll continue to see.
Who’s in your support system? We have a good support system in my family. My mom will take the boys when we have a show. Nicole Perry—Perry Family Daycare—has been my life raft, plus my friends and neighbors. The Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area is a great resource for us. They’re in Danville and they offer parent support, play groups. They’re just amazing advocates.
What have you learned as the mom of a child with Down syndrome? I’ve learned to keep expectations high. You never know how he’s going to surprise you next. Last summer, we went to the fair in Sonoma County. There was a little pony ride and we weren’t sure about putting Quinn on a pony. Would he cry? What would he do? But Remy wanted to go and so we put Quinn on, and he rode like he’d been on a horse all his life. Disney World this spring was the same way. We thought he might be overstimulated, and he loved it. We went to see The Lion King and it’s dark in there and we worried about that, but he loved it and was part of the parade at the end, banging a drum as he marched around with the other kids. Don’t count this kid out.
What’s it like to be on this journey? It’s incredible. It’s frustrating. It’s joyful. It’s an incredible learning experience. It’s not a journey I would have chosen for myself, but I’m glad it was chosen for me. The motto of Down Syndrome Connection is “More alike than different,” and that’s what I’ve learned. Once Remy was born, I realized that a lot of my frustrations and challenges were so much the same as I experienced with Quinn.
What advice would you give a new mom? Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. You can’t do it all by yourself. See your child first. Quinn is not Down syndrome, Quinn is Quinn. There are so many other fears and needs, you need to see your child, love your child. For people in town who see Quinn or see us: Don’t be afraid of people who are different. Before Quinn, I would see a family with kids with special needs and I would feel sorry for them. I know now that I don’t need to feel sorry for them —they have a lot of joy, just like any other family. Quinn is just a boy. We are just a family. There’s no need to be afraid. B
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