MARiN’S BEST EVERY WEEK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Lynn Woolsey Mother Courage 17
NOVEMBER 30-DECEMBER 6, 2012
We called my favorite people, the paramedics.
[ S E E PA G E 9 ]
Andrée Jansheski A clean sweep for the environment 18
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›› LETTERS Maid to ordure To all the entitled dog walkers who leave their little blue, brown and green bags of dogsh--t along the Corte Madera/ Larkspur walking path: Who do you think is going to pick up your mess? The maid? For your information, there are these really neat, modern conveniences called trash bins for this purpose.So please, next time, use them! Michael Sapuppo, Corte Madera
Eel Friends a slippery bunch I am a big fan of Peter Seidman’s feature articles. Unfortunately, I believe he missed the story in his Nov. 2 piece [“Freight to the Finish”] on the lawsuits against the North Coast Railroad Authority. (Disclosure: I am both a former member of Friends of the Eel River and a past candidate for appointment by the Marin County Supervisors to the NCRA board of directors.) Peter failed to catch the obviously untrue assertion by the Friends of the Eel River executive director that his organization had “no problem with trains on the southern end of the line.” If that had honestly been their position, there would have been no point in suing to block service on the south end. Environmental law would certainly require a thorough analysis if there ever were a proposal to extend service into the Eel River Canyon. The issue posed by their suit is when that extremely expensive analysis needs to be done. In my opinion, there’s no need for that analysis now, as it is impossible to know if NCRA will ever be able to go there. It is clear to me that the lawsuits against
the North Coast Railroad Authority, including the one ﬁled by the city of Novato, were intended to kill NCRA before it had the economic strength to defend itself. (It has been penniless and weak since its inception.) As one who litigates to protect the environment, I am deeply troubled by this misuse of the law. David Schonbrunn, president Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund
We call rights to ‘My Other Car is R2D2’ bumper sticker! Regarding Peter Seidman’s article on the push in Marin for commuter trolleys [“Streetcars-desired?” Nov. 23]. By the time such a system was ready for riders, it could already be obsolete. Self-driving cars, should they become accepted, would have a huge impact on public transportation and taxicabs. Some company will launch a ﬂeet of self-driving cars or vans, programmed from a central location, traveling around Marin like jitneys. Door-to-door, summoned via your mobile device. My guess is that people will vastly prefer riding in eight-passenger vans that go anywhere, not buses or trolleys on ﬁxed routes. This system would revolutionize urban transportation the way the automobile did a century ago. Mike Van Horn, San Rafael
We hide our hollow-point bullets in the grand foyer... The attorney who took the case to represent Samuel Cutrufelli, who shot 90year-old Jay Leone in the face while robbing Mr. Leone’s home, should be hung by his b---s. This is a new low in the world of scumbag attorneys. ...It is a civil case, thus forcing Mr. Leone to hire his own attorney to defend himself, at his own expense. The only mistake Mr. Leone made in shooting Cutrufelli [after Cutrufelli allegedly allowed Leone to use the bathroom, where the homeowner had hidden a gun] was not using hollow-point bullets to make sure he died on the spot. Otherwise he did everything right. Marcia Blackman, San Rafael
Wheels on the bus don’t go ‘round and ‘round by themselves, folks! Dear Golden Gate Transit and Marin County bus drivers: Thank you for putting up with most, if not all, of everyone’s crap—especially during this holiday season. Thank you for listening to me whine when it is cold and raining and for putting up with my obviously high stress levels when I think I may miss the connecting bus. I understand that you do not control the trafﬁc on the 101. Every time you remember my face or when you just smile and wave it makes my day exponentially better. I would just like you to know that you are greatly appreciated!
Sweetwater to have a drink and check in. I really wanted to see the Hi Dee Ho ﬁlm about Village Music. Wow...it is great and the sound guy was giving a live narrative about all the great music. They have the best sound system to see and hear a great movie by Gillian Grisman and Monroe Grisman producer. It was a golden moment. Fun. Sunday I went to hear Moonalice free and got to see Dylan Sears (Pete’s son) and his new baby Ophelia. I always see friends, and I like that the Sweetwater is a hop, skip and a jump from Stinson and Bolinas. I just want to say thanks and share how lucky we are. My only worry is that I am sure I missed a lot of awesome music there. Vickisa, Bolinas
Don’t mess with a missionary man Dani Burlison’s article on Chief Marin is fascinating [“Who Was Chief Marin?” Nov. 23]! Thank you, [Chief Marin biographer] Betty Goerke, for not only dispelling myths but also for informing your fellow Marinites of this important history. Are there places in Marin where we can interact with Miwok culture today? Carol, Marin
Sincerely, clipper-card carrier, Clarissa Handy, Petaluma
Here comes a regular Is public ready for self-driving cabs?
It wasn’t just a ﬂuke. The ﬁrst time I went to the new Sweetwater it was to set up a memorial service for a good friend, Jon McIntire, and the space really worked. But more importantly, the people working there were so helpful and kind and they let us have at it and were very generous. In fact, one of the sound guys took the words I put on the wall to his sound closet for posterity. It was a perfect, comfortable place to do something very important. I admit I do not get out much, contrary to what people think, so when I do I want it to be GOOD! I celebrated an acoustician friend’s birthday with a delicious brunch and free good music. When we asked them to turn the music down a tad they did (amazing). The staff is warm, accomplished, accommodating (making a place for an injured music lover to sit and hear the music), and making me and others feel something rare, genuinely welcome. I especially feel cared for by Jonathan Korty, a great musician in his own right and also a together manager who I am always happy to see there. Since Jon’s memorial I have had a soft spot for the Sweetwater and have been there several times. I enjoyed El Radio Fantastique’s CD release party and after a long over-the-hill day I love to go to
Kule Loklo was created in the 1970s by folks from the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin.
Editor’s note: Yes, Carol. We recommend checking out the re-created Miwok village of Kule Loklo out near the Bear Valley Visitors Center south of Point Reyes Station (Kule Loklo is Miwok for “bear valley,” according to the National Park Service, which operates the center.) Kule Loklo has dwellings and sweatlodges similar to the ones that the Miwok people would’ve resided in for hundreds of years. There’s a ranger-guided walk every Sunday at 10:30am; Indian “skills” classes offered throughout the year; and a Big Time Festival held annually in July. Visit www. nps.gov for more info.
Someone not a fan of Culinary Institute of America... CIA should stand for “Can I Adulter!” Craig Whatley, San Rafael
Put your stamp on the letters to the editor at pacificsun.com NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012 PACIFIC SUN 7
The hunger games Marin strategizes on how to satiate rising ‘food insecurity’ by Pe te r Se i d m an
hanksgiving is over. Maybe there’s some turkey left for soup. Maybe there’s enough in the refrigerator to prepare a mini-Thanksgiving redux. But for a disturbingly large percentage of Marin families, there’s not enough to eat. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report issued in September, the number of low-income residents in Marin has increased dramatically. And those residents are having a hard time—continually— putting food on their tables. The census report looked county by county at the number of people at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The number of Marin residents at that income level in 2010 was 43,397, or about 17 percent of the county’s total population. In 2011, the number had increased to 51,247, or 21 percent of the population, an increase of 18 percent in just one year. The numbers show a clear indication that the Great Recession has hit those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder hard. Since 2008, the number of people at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level has increased by 54 percent. (In 2010, a family of four earning $41,000 a year was at 185 percent of the poverty level.) The 185 percent is an important benchmark. The San Francisco Food Bank, which merged with the Marin Food Bank
in January, sponsored a 2010 study with the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. Updated in July 2012, the study, “Coping with Accelerating Food Needs in San Francisco and Marin,” notes that when people are at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, they are at risk of hunger; people at that economic level, especially in afﬂuent counties like Marin, routinely miss meals, according to the study. Even with supplemental food programs from a variety of sources, Marin residents at or below the 185 percent income mark miss seven meals a week. Despite beneﬁts from CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps), free school lunch programs and other government assistance, including food from the Food Bank and other nonproﬁts, low-income and very-low income Marin residents ﬁnd their food budget just doesn’t stretch all the way through the week. Food insecurity among low-income populations extends across California and the country. According to a UCLA Health Policy Research study released in June, “Data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) suggest that the number of low-income adults in California who could not afford enough food increased from 2.5 million in 2001 to 3.8 million in 2009.” (The survey 10 >
by Jason Walsh
Schaefer’s motorcycle, in police headlights hours after the collision.
City of Novato settles suit with Osheroffs The city of Novato this week settled a lawsuit filed by the Osheroff family—whose 9-year-old daughter Melody was killed in 2009 when she was hit crossing San Marin Drive by drunken motorcyclist Edward Schaefer. The $675,000 settlement concluded with no admission of negligence from the city; the Osheroffs’ suit alleged the pedestrian line of sight was obscured in the crosswalk Melody and her father Aaron were using when Schaefer hit them. Aaron Osheroff lost a leg in the collision. In addition to the settlement, the city will also build a memorial to Melody, at a site to be determined. The Osheroffs had previously been awarded $1.4 million in restitution from Schaefer, but a state appeals panel struck down the order after Schaefer was killed by a fellow San Quentin inmate shortly after beginning a 24-years-to-life sentence for his crime. Chartered and chuffed—Novato debates North Bay Academy A national debate over the effect charter schools may have on student diversity has hit home in Marin, as a pair of Bay Area civil rights watchdogs have entered the fray over the proposed North Bay Academy in Novato. An application for the Academy’s charter was submitted last month by a local group called the North Bay Educational Foundation, which formed following district-driven changes to Rancho Elementary School, a longtime magnet school that became a 10 > 8 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
›› TRiViA CAFÉ
Bowling—it’s all fun and games until someone breaks her humerus... by N ik k i Silve r ste in
Jane picked up her ball and ran to the foul line. I’d seen her show off like this before. Something akin to the pro bowlers on TV who throw the ball while still in midstride. Only Aunt Jane cheated and her foot went over the foul line onto the waxed alley. Her front legs ﬂew forward as her body fell backward. Jane threw back her arm to soften her fall and landed on her side. Thud. Writhing in pain on the wood ﬂoor, my aunt whispered that she was hurt. I yelled for my uncle. We determined that Jane couldn’t make it to the car, so we called my favorite people, the paramedics. The 10 little party guests assembled to watch the uniformed ﬁremen and paramedics tend to Jane. “Don’t cross this imaginary line,” Brandon said, keeping the boys 5 feet away. “Did she break her leg?” a blonde boy asked. “We don’t think so.” “Did she break her arm?” another boy asked. “We think so.” “How old is she?” asked a third little guy. While the interrogation continued, I persuaded my 8-year-old cousin to get the home phone number of each paramedic without a wedding band. Unfortunately, her father, my grown-up cousin, put a stop to that pretty quickly. Finally, my aunt was loaded into the ambulance. I followed her to the hospital, leaving my cousin and his wife to deal with little boys and their big questions. Miraculously, there was no wait at Marin General and my aunt received immediate care. A shot of morphine, a few X-rays and a visit by the handsome ER doctor. Aunt Jane had broken her humerus and wrist. There would be a long, but complete recovery ahead. If one were to measure the success of a birthday party based on the excitement of little boys, this one was a winner. Heck, I was pretty excited. Firemen don’t just rank high on the kids’ list, I adore them too. By the way, I’m excellent in emergency situations, as evidenced by my assistance a few months ago to the cyclist at Blackie’s Pasture and my quick reaction to my aunt’s fall. If you ever need someone to call 911 for you and stand by your side until paramedics arrive, I’m your girl. Bonus points if you let me go to the ER with you and we get that charming doctor. After all, this single gal is always up for a good time on the weekend. < Email: email@example.com
BONUS QUESTION: In 2010, Englishman Vin Cox set a new Guinness world record after traveling 18,000 miles around the world in five-and-a-half months by what grueling method of transportation? Howard Rachelson welcomes you to live team trivia contests on Wednesdays at 7:30pm at the Broken Drum in San Rafael. If you have an intriguing question, send it along (including the answer, and your name and hometown) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
VCongratulations, Talya Klinger from Novato. Talya, a 13-year-old student, was invited to Johns Hopkins University last month for a special recognition ceremony where she received a medal honoring her outstanding academic achievements. We are duly impressed. Students compete for this national award by entering an academic talent search held by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. Talya’s medal represents her place among America’s top performing seventh- and eighth-graders. And she is certainly in excellent company. A former Center for Talented Youth student started Facebook and another was a Google co-founder. Go, Talya, go! You have made Marin proud. We wish you the best with your academics and look forward to hearing about your next success.
Answers on page 29
WTo the woman driving the dark-colored Audi on Montford Avenue in Mill Valley: “At least you were honest about tailgating me,” says Julie. Montford, a curvy road with hairpin turns, has a speed limit of 25 mph. Julie stayed at the limit, slowing when navigating tight turns. Ms. Audi was on Julie’s bumper until she was able to pull into a turnout to let the tailgater pass. Instead, the Audi pulled up beside her and the driver proceeded to yell that she wouldn’t tailgate if Julie would learn how to drive. Sadly, this scene unfolded in front of Ms. Audi’s young daughter, who was sitting quietly in her booster seat in the back seat. Zero Mommy, aggressive driving is dangerous. Put on the brakes. —Nikki Silverstein
s a self-proclaimed expert on the behavior of single women, I’d like to educate the happily married public on what unattached, childless 40ish gals do for fun on the weekends. In the morning, Pilates class, where we gently lengthen our muscles in hopes of adding height to our shrinking frames. Next, we stop by Peet’s for a cup of strong coffee and a warmed chocolate croissant. This provides the essential empty calories to satisfy our perimenopause-induced sugar addiction. Later, we get pedicures, shop for new shoes we probably don’t need, eat sushi dinner and catch a movie. On Sunday, we rest. Invite us to an event that might jolt us out of our ruts and we’re there. My cousin Brandon, his wife and their two extraordinary children live in Marin, offering me short respites from the doldrums of singledom. Recently, we celebrated my youngest cousin Jake’s sixth birthday at Country Club Bowl in San Rafael. Until you’ve experienced ten 6-year-old boys racing around a bowling alley and an arcade, you haven’t lived. Little boys enjoy putting their ﬁngers in front of the return chute as it spits out bowling balls. Testing gravity by dropping 6-pound balls on the ﬂoor is also great fun, even if tiny toes get in the way. Thank goodness, a bruised digit or two doesn’t impede pummeling video games and pinball machines. With all of this activity going on, you may wonder if any of the children sustained a more serious injury. Not at all. Ambulance rides to the hospital were strictly reserved for the party’s adult chaperones, namely my Aunt Jane. While the kids played in the arcade, Jane and I took advantage of our group’s empty bowling lane. I’m a darn good bowler, especially with a kid-sized ball and the side bumpers up to prevent the gutter from stealing my strikes and spares. I mocked my aunt when she claimed she would achieve a perfect 300 score. Even with her league experience and the gutter guards, the woman has 25 years on me and simply wasn’t blessed with my grace and coordination. “Beauty before age,” I said, picking up my carefully selected ball. I walked to the foul line and stopped. Eyeballing the target arrows and the head pin, I swung my right arm back, brought it forward and released the ball. Exactly as I planned, it banked off the rubber guards at the precise points necessary to knock down all 10 pins. “Beat that,” I said. “I will, baby. Just you watch.”
1. Of the 2 million Golden Gate Ferry riders last year, what percentage traveled by way of Larkspur, and what percentage by Sausalito? 2. What trivia game was the top-selling Christmas present in 1984? 3. Once known as Peak 15, what mountain was renamed in 1864 for the British surveyor-general of India whose first name was George? 5a 4. Released on Christmas Day 2009, what film with a “simple” two-word title starred Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin? 5. Pictured, right: They all have a “precious” name: 5a. The city featured in this film 5b. He eliminated an assassin 5c. Popular actress, who does have a clue 6. What four countries, emerging economic powerhouses of the past decade, are known as the BRIC countries? 7. What word related to elections comes 5b from the fact that Italian citizens used to cast their vote by placing a small pebble or ball into one of several boxes? 8. Steel bands (and the steel drum) evolved in what Caribbean nation, home of singer Nicki Minaj? 9. If you have one of each U.S. paper currency containing the image of a president located on Mt. Rushmore, how much money would you have? 5c 10. In terms of area, Alaska is the largest state. Name the next four in order.
by Howard Rachelson
Got a Hero or a Zero? Please send submissions to e-mail email@example.com. Toss roses, hurl stones with more Heroes and Zeros at ›› paciﬁcsun.com NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012 PACIFIC SUN 9
< 8 The hunger games used 200 percent of the federal poverty level as a benchmark.) “These individuals experienced periods during the year when they could not afford to put food on the table or had to forgo other basic needs to do so. During this period, the number of food-insecure adults in California grew by half (49 percent), ﬁve times the increase in California’s total population (10 percent).” The study notes that a similar pattern exists across the country. “The [California] data conﬁrms what we’ve been hearing from participants coming to our pantries,” says Paul Ash, Food Bank executive director. “Low-income people are among the last to see any beneﬁt from the economic recovery. Everybody focuses on the recession and coming out of the recession, but the increase in income inequality has continued.” The Marin Food Bank distributed meals in the county to 14,000 people last year. “It’s hard for many people to grasp the need,” says Ash. “You don’t know that the person mowing your lawn or working in the hotel is just getting by and is missing meals.” The term “food insecurity” comes from USDA nomenclature designed to measure hunger in the country. When people exhibit low food-security, they are consuming lower-quality food that has less variety in addition to “disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” The Food Bank offers fresh fruits and produce to bolster a food-insecure diet. According to the UCLA study, in 2009, there were 13,000 food-insecure residents in Marin. In that same year, there were 4,000 very low foodsecurity residents. The problems associated with very low food-security—not enough to eat—seem obvious. But the implications on emotional as well as physical health can cascade into serious conditions. And those conditions ultimately affect a wider community when people suffer the consequences of trying to decide whether to pay the rent, pay for heat, pay for child health-care or buy food for tomorrow’s dinner. Even with a bump in government assistance and nongovernmental programs offered by nonproﬁt organizations, the Food Bank report notes that “the number of missing meals rose by over 13 million meals between 2009 and 2010, and by over 17 million meals since 2007: This increase in need is due to the fact that the increases in underlying economic need substantially outpaced the growth in food assistance in both counties, a trend that was particularly pronounced in 2010.” To put a Marin focus on the picture, the Food Bank report notes that in 2010, county residents who fell at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline purchased just 37 percent of their food with their own ﬁnancial resources; another 17 percent came from government supplement programs. Nonproﬁts, such as the Food Bank, contributed 9 percent. That leaves 36 percent missing from a 10 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
food budget for residents at or below the poverty guideline. Getting supplemental food to residents who need it has been a challenge in Marin and across the state. “California has a bad success rate at getting eligible people into programs,” says Ash. State bureaucracy is part of the problem. Unlike other states that have uniﬁed supplemental food programs in which each county has the same procedures to sign up for assistance, California has left the details up to each county. That means people in different counties seeking supplemental food assistance must follow different procedures in what can be a complicated process. Ash says California manages to sign up less than 50 percent of eligible people for supplemental food programs; states that have uniﬁed eligibility systems can reach an 80 percent or a 90 percent success rate. According to the Food Bank report, only 30 percent of Marin residents eligible for CalFresh are enrolled. (CalFresh eligibility guidelines are set at 130 percent of the federal poverty level.) But that’s not from lack of trying, says Heather Ravani, social services director for the county. “Statewide in California, the penetration rate for CalFresh is deﬁnitely low. But it has increased.” Ravani says that according to a letter from the California Department of Social Services, “the statewide caseload increased 40 percent from 2009 to 2011. There’s deﬁnitely been a concerted effort on the part of welfare directors across the state to work on this county by county.” Marin is following a “no wrong door” strategy, says Ravani. When, for instance, seniors go to sites for social interaction and meals, the county assesses their situation “and lets them know that based on their ﬁnancial situation, they could be eligible for CalFresh.” County representatives also extend their hands to help residents with the eligibility application process. “We’re trying to reach targeted populations,” says Ravani. That outreach includes having a staff person work on eligibility issues through the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which is just one of many programs aimed at providing food assistance in Marin. Rather than simply offer single-target services at a site of county social service programs, the county is using a sort of triage strategy to identify residents who may be eligible for ongoing food assistance. “On the statewide level, I think the outreach will broaden even more as we start to look at health-care reform,” says Ravani. “When people will be calling in to a health exchange to see what kind of health insurance they might be able to get, they may be asked some questions to determine if they are eligible for food assistance.” During outreach to residents who may be unaware they are eligible for programs like CalFresh, county social service representatives often come across people who are reluctant to apply for assistance, a factor that most likely plays a role in the low
enrollment numbers in Marin. Despite the pervasive need for food assistance, a social stigma still exists in some quarters. And the disdain conservative politicians hold for food programs was evident when Republicans called for drastically cutting the food stamp program. “A lot of times, people don’t want to apply for beneﬁts because they don’t want to share all their personal information,” says Ravani. That’s particularly true among senior citizens. And some think enrolling isn’t worth the invasive trouble. The CalFresh beneﬁt isn’t huge for many seniors because the beneﬁt depends on family size. “If you’re a single person living alone, you’re not looking at a huge ﬁnancial gain.” And as with virtually all government programs, “there’s a protocol that needs to be followed,” says Larry Meredith, director of Marin County Health and Human Services. California is considering revisions in the protocol as the state tackles health-care reform, adds Meredith. That could mean a ﬂood of people lining up to apply for beneﬁts, “and at the same time, we’re not getting any more eligibility workers, so we’re going to have to simplify the process.” The goal will be to make it easier for people to sign up for health-care and food programs and make it “easier and less traumatic.” The merger of the San Francisco and Marin food banks has resulted in a welcome expansion of food access points, says Meredith. The county has been working with the Food Bank for a few years, he adds. The success of the pantries may be depressing the number of CalFresh enrollees. “You don’t need to disclose any per-
sonal information at the Food Bank. And you can have choice of food right there. I think that is acting as a bit of a disincentive” to enroll in the CalFresh program. In addition to working with the Food Bank, the county provides other food assistance programs, such as Meals on Wheels and “congregant meal programs.” Both of those programs avoid the kind of invasive eligibility requirements of CalFresh. Ana Bagtas, program manager at the Marin County Division of Aging and Adult Services, says the congregant program provides food at eight sites in the county, including locations in West Marin, Marin City, Mill Valley, Novato and the Canal in San Rafael. “We’re really targeting communities where these meals can really beneﬁt people.” In addition to providing a hot lunch, the congregant program offers social interaction. The county has been working to coordinate the timing of the congregant lunches with Food Bank pantry days, so people who come for the lunch can pick up Food Bank fare. Despite all the effort extended to help the food insecure, the stark fact included in the San Francisco and Marin food-need report is that a remarkably uncomfortable number of Marin residents still are food insecure. “We’re working on a kind of food coalition project,” says Ravani. “We’re bringing in all of our partners from the community as well as [county health and human services] to really look at the big picture and ﬁnd ways we can work on curbing food insecurity and couple that with healthy eating and active living.” It’s what Meredith calls “a full-court press.” < Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
< 8 Newsgrams neighborhood school at the end of the last school year. The proposed North Bay Academy would open next school year with about 550 students and feature a “core knowledge” curriculum. Founded in 1986 by E.D. Hirsch Jr., Core Knowledge emphasizes “solid, specific core curriculum” for each elementary school grade level, according to www. E.D. Hirsch Jr. coreknowledge.org; parent resource books include titles such as What Your Preschooler Needs to Know and What Your First Grader Needs to Know, etc. The campus of the former Hill Middle School has been suggested as a possible site. But this week the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area sent a letter to the Novato School Board outlining concerns that such schools that require an application and/or lottery for enrollment, ultimately draw a whiter and more affluent student body away from neighborhood schools, leaving immigrant and low-income populations, according to the letter, “more racially and socioeconomically isolated.” According to a report in the Marin IJ, the two civil rights groups were sought out for input by the group Save Our Novato Schools, which opposes the proposal for the Academy. The growing charter school movement has faced criticism across the country. While individual charter schools themselves have achieved varying degrees of success, critics say some family applicants are not attracted by a diversity of curriculum, but to avoid economically disadvantaged schools that may be within their neighborhood boundaries. The Novato Unified School District board will consider the proposal for the North Bay Academy at its Dec. 18 meeting.
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f anyone could convince Marin’s die-hard atheists that God does exist, it would be Anne Lamott. The Fairfax-based writer, now 58 years old and with two new books published this year, is as grounded in and honest about her faith as ever. Lamott makes religion look fun, fulﬁlling—the very opposite picture painted by some of the more conservative fundamentalists in mainstream media outlets. Most of all, her unwavering faith breaks down the walls of otherness for non-Christian readers. Whether one “believes” or not, Lamott helps us to all believe in one thing: that everything will be OK. But her faith doesn’t end at God. Her adoration for her family and life in Marin is almost holy, something even obstinate doubters can get behind. This awe and appreciation is the thread woven through her latest book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. “I was born and raised here so it’s really, really home. It’s the safest place on Earth,” says the Bolinas-raised Lamott on a recent morning in her cozy Fairfax home. “I’m constantly inspired by beauty and I am constantly inspired by what do-gooders we are in this community.” It is within this community—her church, family, friends and the beauty of Marin’s natural environment—that Lamott found her faith, which she shares in many of her 15 books and countless essays. In particular, Help, Thanks, Wow offers insights that readers can ﬁnd respite in; even in the darkest of times she smooths out the rough edges for us and reminds us to integrate a few moments of pause into our days. Lamott’s words are good medicine for the heart. Things haven’t always been sunshine and gratitude for Lamott. There was a time when she found herself summoning assistance through her ﬁrst “essential prayer,”—the “help” portion of her book—to lead her out of some difﬁcult circumstances. In 1980, Lamott published her debut book, Hard Laughter (Viking Press), a novel she wrote for her father while he battled brain cancer. Though the book wasn’t met with instantaneous best-seller success, she credits Elaine Petrocelli of Book Passage for giving her a break. “I think she really made my career because she bought, famously, 3,000 copies of Hard Laughter. She loved the book so much and it hadn’t sold particularly well. You know, [it was] a ﬁrst book by a 26-year-old and she was sort of the go-to source for Hard Laughter,” says Lamott. “And she gave me a job when I was dirt poor and had a little baby and she really paid the rent for years—by employing me—until Operating Instructions came out. She’s a guardian angel.” Despite the success of her sophomore novel, Rosie, Lamott continued to struggle with alcoholism and anxiety until sobering up in 1986. Shortly after, in 1989, she became a full-time single mother to her son, Sam. It was Lamott’s new-found sobriety and 12 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
One of the author’s closest advisors suggested titling the book, ‘Help Thanks Meow!’
Anxiety by Dani Burlison
Anne A nne Lamott’ Lamott ’s ‘essential’ ssential’ guide guide to to fording fording life’ life’s troubled troubled w waters aters new life as a single mother to Sam that ushered her closer to the spotlight. Her ﬁrst book-length piece of autobiographical work, Operating Instructions (Pantheon, 1993)—the journal of her ﬁrst year with Sam—won her a much-deserved spot on the New York Times best-seller list, and soon Lamott was off and running, publishing nearly a dozen books in the following two decades.
O O O O
FOR A WOMAN who writes so candidly about her struggles with anxiety, Lamott has an air of conﬁdence, of being so grounded that the playful self-deprecation she has become known for seems almost ironic as she sits casually in jeans and sage-green sweatshirt—her short dreadlocks springing out in a frame around her face—in her home ofﬁce. Though she insists that social anxiety still plagues her, it does so at a much lower level then it once did. A deep love and bond with her church, more than two decades of sobriety and, of course, the wisdom of time have all helped. “So much of our persona is stuff that we agreed to as very small children. We agreed to be perfect, we agreed to be such good, good girls—we were like little ﬂight attendants for the world—vaguely sedated,” she says. “It just gets knocked off in the crucible of raising kids, of being exhausted a lot of the time until your kids are really on their own.”
And though Sam, the co-author of her last book, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son (Riverhead, 2012), is now in his early 20s, Lamott’s home is not free of children and the responsibilities that come with them. Sam and his 3-year-old son, Jax, often spend several days each week at Lamott’s home. And, though Sam’s presence ensures that Lamott is not reliving the early days of juggling the chaotic mix of writing and single parenting, many of her days are just as full. “It’s impossible to write when a 35-pound person is hitting you on the head with a balloon,” laughs Lamott. “And my son is 23 now and he’s fabulous, but he’s still my son so that means he thinks I am still his mom and that I might do ‘mom-ly’ things for him. If I’m on deadline and I have Jax and Sam here, I am up very early and I don’t pretend to have any leeway. You know, because I don’t. Its just real life.” Lamott’s face lights up when she speaks about the time she spends with her son and grandson, though she admits that despite her best efforts, she does get less writing done when they are with her. So these days, she is as diligent as ever about scheduling time to write and get down to business before the boys and her two dogs, Lily and Bodie, are up and gazing up at the skylights that ﬁll her home. “I always knew my creative freedom was going to be about discipline, that I wasn’t
going to be someone who could decide what time would be a good time to get started on the writing. Ever,” she says. “I have never once had that delusion. So I am—everybody, I think—is so much smarter before the world gets its mitts on you.” She’s been careful, also, to master a ﬁne balance without crossing lines in her memoir writing—despite how intimately personal her stories may appear from the outside. Her trick? “I don’t air my family laundry,” she says. “I’m very, very private for such a confessional writer. Because I don’t write about it until I know it’s universal.”
O O O O
AND DISCUSSING UNIVERSAL truths is what keeps an enormous and growing fan base ﬂocking to her shelf in bookstores across the nation. Lamott has a gift for bringing delicate and human issues like loss and parenting and everyday struggles to the light in her writing. Although she remains humorous and candid in her tendency toward self-deprecation, a piece of her seems to continue growing into a type of loving self-acceptance and an ever expanding aura of gratitude for every single gift that has entered her life. “You lose a couple of people young and you go ‘wow,’ because in your 20s and early 30s you just feel like you’re invincible—
though not quite so much after you have kids—but you sort of get the wisdom that it is gone very quickly. Kids’ childhoods pass in a dream, in a ﬂash,” she says. “And by 50, enough people have died that [the] extreme shortness and preciousness of life is just sitting in the room with you when you wake up.” It is this loss that Lamott focuses on in her forthcoming book, a collection of previously published and new essays with the working title As In Life. Though she admits that focusing on such topics as grief may give her the label of being what she calls a “buzzkill” or “downer,” Lamott will surely bring her own unique wit and beauty to this work as she has done so many times before. But Anne Lamott is certainly neither a buzzkill nor a downer. She only transfers her own truths to the page and offers ways for readers to address life’s various
complexities with simplicity and grace. She reminds us that getting in touch with a higher power or engaging in spirituality need not be an extravagant ordeal. A simple word—help, thanks or wow—can get each of us in touch with something bigger than ourselves, which in turn, helps us to understand the most inner mechanisms of the human condition and gives us permission to live happier, richer lives. And what could possibly be so bad about that? “I am loved out of all sense of proportion and I have a very easy life now. I mean, I fought tooth and nail for this. I got one of those ﬁve golden tickets to be a career writer and I honor that and I am constantly in gratitude, Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know, the second great prayer; thank you, thank you,” she says. “I get to spend my life ﬁnding out about life!” <
sense of just how much wisdom Hass has to share. There are many favorites in this collection: His essay on Maxine Hong Kingston discusses the effects The Woman Warrior has had on feminism in America. “Notes on Poetry and Spirituality” dives into the diverse and ultimately indeﬁnable connections to religion and spirituality. “Families and Prisons” takes a compassionate look at the world’s imprisoned poets. What Light Can Do shows us that there is poetry in everything. But most of all this collection offers a glimpse into the mind and passions of one of America’s—and Marin’s—most beloved poets and is a collection I will refer to again and again. —Dani Burlison
Help, thank and wow Dani at dburlison@paciﬁcsun.com.
Local-Lit Roundup Boy meets world Beamish Boy by Albert Flynn DeSilver. The Owl Press, 2012. 261 pages. $20 Beamish Boy follows a young Albert Flynn DeSilver from early and chaotic beginnings in the bat-ﬁlled “Clock Tower” he called home in Connecticut to his current peaceful life in West Marin. But it is not a typical, happy-go-lucky coming-of-age tale that DeSilver shares with his readers. Instead, it is one of the dangerous lengths we sometimes go to in order to simply ﬁnd a place in the world. Through his early relationships with an abusive and strict “nanny” and an emotionally absent alcoholic mother, young Albert’s ideas about relationships with women— and himself—are painfully skewed. He soon ﬁnds alcohol a temporary ﬁx for his social awkwardness and insecurities about his place in the social groups he navigates through. From his East Coast high school, onto colleges in Ohio and Colorado, DeSilver displays frequent unpredictable and violent behavior—physical abuse of a girlfriend, emotional abuse of at least two others—and several self-induced blackouts from booze and ﬁstfuls of drugs lead him to life-threatening situations that he is quite frankly lucky to have survived. Fortunately, his rock bottom comes while still at a young age and his sobriety—and remaining unhealthy obsession with women and the constant search for community— replaces his ﬁts of drunken rage. He seeks
understanding in the most California Dreamin’ kind of ways: through a cult, through refuge in the wilds of Humboldt County, through the humorous and glorious Bay Area open mic scene and, ﬁnally, here at Woodacre’s Spirit Rock Meditation Center. None of it is perfect and DeSilver’s honesty and humorous insights about his own shortcomings, projections and high expectations about the world create a very human and sincere read. Beamish Boy is a beautiful and honest tale of the often gritty search for the light we all have inside. —Dani Burlison
The bard of the ‘Light’ brigade What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination and the Natural World by Robert Hass. ECCO/Harper Collins, 2012. 479 pages. $29.99 What other than magical prose could former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass deliver to his readers? His second book of essays, What Light Can Do, is a hearty collection of reﬂections, observations and wisdom for the soul. Hass writes on those subjects that should be brought to light, and he delivers insights into a vast array of topics from violence in literature to California writers like Jack London to the poetry of photography and onto the lightness and depths found in nature. His stories encourage critical thinking and invite pause for reﬂection and ﬁll the reader with a deep
The Capitalism Papers: Fatal ﬂaws of an obsolete system by Jerry Mander. Counterpoint, 2012. 257 pages. $26 You don’t have to look much further than the Big Events of recent weeks to see real-world illustrations of Jerry Mander’s arguments in his new book, The Capitalism Papers. Billions spent on election advertising chockablock with pants-on-ﬁre claims; a super storm on the East Coast that may be associated with manmade climate change—although global warming or the Earth and nature in general went virtually unmentioned in the campaign; yet more agitation for yet more wars in the Middle East; hordes of often obese Americans thronging to stores owned by mega-corporations to buy cheap foreign-made goods on Black Friday (and on Thanksgiving—soon to be re-named Black Friday Eve) while exhausted, minimum-wage clerks forgo their holiday and labor all night ringing up and re-stocking the soon-to-be-obsolete junk; and more than a hundred workers perishing in a ﬁre in a Bangladesh textile factory, shades of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Capitalism itself is to be blamed for massive environmental and social problems, Bolinas author Mander argues. Best known for his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Mander is a former advertising man who does his research and concentrates on the big picture to write serious but accessible books, and he makes a persuasive case for the unsustainability of a system that demands constant consumption and growth, growth and more growth in a ﬁnite world. Little tweaks won’t ﬁx it, he says, and he’s not talking about smallscale, local mom-and-pop kind of capitalism. “I am not a communist, or Marxist or
socialist, and never have been,” he writes. “You really don’t have to be any of those things to ﬁnd major ﬂaws in capitalism’s inherent design and begin to be alarmed about its downside performance. You just have to be awake.” —Julie Vader
Bringing it all back home Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are by Jack Kornﬁeld. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2011. 279 pages. $16.95 Not a book to be approached lightly, Bringing Home the Dharma is a terriﬁc resource for anyone looking to become more mindful or present in his or her life. Jack Kornﬁeld, the renowned and highly respected Buddhist teacher based at Spirit Rock in Woodacre (and author of numerous books on incorporating Buddhist teachings into our everyday lives), presents the principles of “how to awaken” and “the art of awakening” in a straightforward and clear manner. His approach is not simplistic and he is in no way condescending toward those of us who haven’t dedicated ourselves to Buddhist practice. Kornﬁeld knows it isn’t easy to calm the mind, but he says no matter where we are in our lives, it is possible to do so. And he emphasizes, especially through anecdotes about a number of his students, the importance of acceptance and starting right where you are. Moving to a monastery or forsaking all worldly goods isn’t necessary to attain wisdom and a sense of serenity. There’s far more to his teaching than lessons on meditation—it’s about “intention,” and living life in a mindful manner. No magic bullets, secret words, cults to join—just sage advice on becoming more conscious in everything we do. What a gift—especially at this hectic time of year. —Carol Inkellis
‘Holo,’ I must be going... A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. McSweeney’s Books, 2012. 312 pages. $25 Alan Clay is lost in a sea of vast emptiness. In A Hologram for the King, he has prepared a high-tech holographic presentation of an IT project for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. He is counting on landing this deal in the hopes that it will help him 14> NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012 PACIFIC SUN 13
Disorder in the Court Journalist Jill Kramer turns Marin Family Court drama into debut novel by Car o l I nke llis
ongtime readers of the Paciﬁc Sun know Jill Kramer, author of the recently published novel Criminal Decision, as an intrepid reporter who has covered a number of controversial local issues—in addition to interviewing a who’s who of famous and infamous Marinites. Over the years Kramer wrote a number of stories involving domestic violence, child abuse and child-custody issues. The ideas for this book percolated while she worked out how best to present this information without being dry—or sensationalistic. We recently spoke with Kramer about the book and how she came to write it.
O O O O
You’ve been writing for the Sun for a long time I was on staff for 14 years.
mer managing editor] assigned me that story [“Conﬂicting Stories,” April 18, 1994]. That was [my] ﬁrst taste of the tragedies that have occurred in Marin Family Court over the years. I mean, during all the years that I was on staff...there was one episode after another. There were three separate cases of women who took off with their kids, believing they had been molested. What made you decide to write a ﬁctional account? Well, at ﬁrst I thought I was going to do nonﬁction because that’s what I had always done. I’d never written any ﬁction in my life. ...That was a huge step for me. But once I started doing it I really liked it. I mean, it was really liberating, I suddenly was able to make stuff up, which was wonderful [laughing].
Are the characters based on people inAnd is Criminal Decisions based on any volved in the court cases you covered? stories you’d covered? Jack Stride [the love interest] was actuYeah, the interesting thing is that one of the ally the character that most closely resemvery ﬁrst stories I did...there was a case of a bled a real-life person and that was kind of woman who had taken off with her kid on the like a little gift to myself: I was writing this belief that the kid was being really grim story, a heartmolested—and she was on wrenching story, and I just CRIMINAL DECISION the run in Europe for years wanted to give myself a little by Jill Kramer before her husband was able relief from that. ...Everybody Available from Amazon for to track her down with the else is completely made up. Kindle; paperback coming aid of a private detective. soon, visit www.jillkramer. And they brought her back And the story is based on net for updates. to Marin and she was on trithe three cases? al. And Linda [Xiques, forIt’s actually more than the
< 13 Local-lit roundup change the circumstances of his life. Having left his home in suburban Boston, Alan arrives in Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Economic City (or KAEC as it is often referred to in the book), and is met with an unexpected amount of time on his hands as the king repeatedly blows off their meetings. It is during his time in the stretch of remote desert that he reﬂects often on the various conﬂicts he left back home: the never-ending tension between his beloved college-age daughter and his antagonistic, alcoholic ex-wife; the frustration and anger from his father for his role in outsourcing American jobs overseas; the memory of his neighbor, Charlie, walking to his death in a nearby lake. At 54 years old, he is plagued with these thoughts, yet meets each memory with an increasing sense of defeat and avoidance—until he gets his hands on some bootlegged moonshine 14 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
and begins spending his evenings alone in his hotel, giddy with ideas and curious about the strange growth on his neck. The only hint of conﬁdence or content is found during the times Alan spends with his driver, Yousef, and through email exchanges with the attractive local doctor who examines his enlarging neck protrusion. Eggers, a resident of the Ross Valley lauded for his previous books, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Zeiton and What is the What, among others, masters the sense of being lost, of the utter lack of fulﬁllment caused when we arrive at an empty destination with nothing much to return home to. He also paints a bleak picture of the rapidly changing times and the ills of the global economy, in which the American Dream can easily dissolve in a matter of moments. A captivating, yet lonely read, A Hologram for the King is a story of
three cases where the women ran away with their kids. There were all these other stories on missteps and tragedies in Family Court and they all kind of went into the mix. Over the years I just learned a lot about what can go wrong in Family Court, what are the problems, and so all of that went into the book. How long did it take to write? It took basically three years to write...two years for the initial draft and then I spent another year going over and making revisions. And then, there were another two years that passed while I was trying to get it published... and during that time I would periodically look back, and every time I looked at it I would something else I wanted to tweak, so...I was ﬁddling with it for almost ﬁve years. A huge commitment. So, do you have another book in you? I hope so [laughing]. I haven’t started one yet, but I hope so. Will the next book—if there is a next book—be ﬁction? Yes, I would like to do another ﬁction [book]. But a nonﬁction book is certainly a possibility too. That’s what most of my background is. So, I don’t know, we’ll see. ...Until I get this book off my plate I won’t be starting another one. ... I still haven’t published the paperback version. That’s coming soon. Tell me about the experience of writing this book... Well...when I was doing all those stories for the Sun about what was wrong with Family Court, I would get a barrage of phone calls
searching for one’s place in a rapidly spinning world. —Dani Burlison
Lo, and behold... Adaptation by Malinda Lo. Little, Brown, 2012. 400 pages. $17.99 Malinda Lo’s Adaptation is a teen sci-ﬁ masterpiece about a teenage girl named Reese Holloway. The story begins in an airport in Phoenix, where Reese and her debate partner David Li are waiting to ﬂy home to San Francisco. But when a pair of planes on the other side of the country crash after being hit by birds, all ﬂights across North America are canceled. Reese and David wait
from women all over the Bay Area who had had nightmare experiences in Family Court and they were just so grateful to see something in print that validated their experience because they all thought they were the only ones that this ever happened to. You know, people have a hard time believing that a court can make a mistake. We have so much faith in our judicial system, and we want to believe that our judicial system... always makes the right decisions. And when it doesn’t, we just kind of want to deny it. ... So when a parent believes their kid is being hurt and the court isn’t helping them and the parent loses custody when they’re trying to protect their kid, it makes them think that they’re crazy. You know—how can this be happening to me? And the worst thing about it is they start to feel like Job, because even their friends look at them and say, “Well, if you lost custody, you must have done something terrible, it had to be your fault.” It’s just a terrible experience. The reason I wanted to write the book is because I want people to know how this can happen, how things can go so terribly wrong. And that includes a lot of us—which could mean there’s a big audience for it. I think so. I think there are a lot of people out there who will feel very validated when they read this. But my real purpose is that I want this to reach people who this hasn’t happened to, the people who are reluctant to believe that anything can possibly go wrong. I want them to read the book and ﬁnd out how these things can happen. <
for hours before deciding to leave and drive home. While driving through the dark on the Extraterrestrial Highway, a bird ﬂies into their headlights, causing a terrible accident. Twenty-one days after the crash, they wake up on a military base and no one will explain to them how badly they had been injured and they are not granted permission to leave until they sign conﬁdentiality agreements. Once they ﬁnally arrive home, things really get strange, as they attempt to ﬁgure out what happened without breaking the agreement made at the base. Fairfax resident Lo’s story is ﬁlled with shocking surprises, astounding, unexpected twists and well-rounded, dynamic characters. Adaptation explores sexual orientation, conspiracies and one last thing that I can’t share without revealing a key plot point. I could not (would not) put it down the ﬁrst time I read it—and promptly went back for a second read. —Xenia Burlison-Craft, age 16
Cerebellum on the dock of the bay
Reading My Mind: A collection of essays by Roberta Cole. iUniverse, 2012. 131 pages. $14.95 Sausalitoâ€™s Roberta Coleâ€™s collection of 31essays, Reading My Mind, was published earlier this year. Itâ€™s a slim book and a quick read and many of the pieces are about the contrasts between New York and Sausalito. Cole grew up in Manhattan and Queens and worked as a radio program host and producer as well as an adjunct professor at New York University. These essays donâ€™t touch much on her work though, but more on the ordinary moments of everyday lifeâ€” dealing with death, with aging parents, raising a child, retirement. She describes a stay at the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center, visits to Paris and Italy, as well as memories of her childhood. And itâ€™s clear that one of the great loves of her life is Sausalito. â€œEasterners tend to have a love/hate re-
lationship with the West Coast, particularly New Yorkers,â€? she writes. â€œThere is the thinking that all this good cannot be good for you; that soul building lies in suffering and in knowing that darkness cannot predictably be relieved by light. But let me tell you, it can. And too much of a good thing can be very good! That is the dirty little secret.â€? â€”Julie Vader
Time after Time An Island in Time: 50 Years of Point Reyes National Seashore by John Hart. Mill Valley: Lighthouse Press, 2012. 151 pages. $29.95 With the state parks earning all sorts of press this year, for better or worse, and Marinâ€™s county and city parks getting a big thumbs-up last month from voters for Measure A, thereâ€™s probably no better time to salute the granddaddy of all Marin parklandsâ€”the Point Reyes National Seashore. In a new book released this month, An Island In Time: 50 Years of the Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin writer John Hart presents his â€œcelebrationâ€? of the ďŹ rst half century of what he calls an â€œincessantly controversialâ€? park. From the Miwoks and Sir
Francis Drake to Congressman Clem Miller (the force behind National Park legislation) and the land-use battles waged by â€œa lively and fractious local community,â€? the book is a much-needed update to An Island in Time, Harold Gilliamâ€™s 1962 ode to Point Reyes, published when its future as a federally protected land was still in doubt. As Gilliam writes in the foreword, â€œJohn Hartâ€™s book you now hold in your hands tells the rest of the improbable story.â€? Hart, though, would be the ďŹ rst to acknowledge that it really doesnâ€™t. As the book went to press this month,
the fate of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm had yet to be decidedâ€”and the controversy these past few years over whether an independently owned mariculture operation should be allowed on National Park land has, in Hartâ€™s own words, â€œproved radioactive.â€? (In his authorâ€™s note, Hart says he considered omitting the oyster dispute from the book entirelyâ€”and his various versions of the text led to original publisher University of California Press withdrawing from the project. But omitting the oysters, he says with far less hyperbole than youâ€™d think, â€œwould be a bit like writing about recent U.S. history with no mention of Afghanistan.â€?) Hart made the right decisionâ€”he even acknowledges that his own â€œjudgmentsâ€? will be evident. But, as photographer Richard Blairâ€”whose stunning photography, as well as that of Mary Knapp, is featured throughout the bookâ€” says in a credit-page statement, â€œSome of my opinions are different from those expressed in this book. However, Iâ€™m a ďŹ rm believer in free speech and public discourse.â€? And so should we all be. Hartâ€™s book may be coming out at a politically incendiary moment in West Marin butâ€”like its â€œislandâ€? subjectâ€” the real story is timeless. â€”Jason Walsh
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PRESENTING CHAMPION SPONSOR
“As you get older it is harder to have heroes—but because of that it is all the more necessary” —Ernest Hemingway
A Message from Umpqua Bank
Presented by Paciﬁc Sun and Circle Bank
ew have understood the need for heroes more than Hemingway, author of For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Though our Paciﬁc Sun readership certainly comes close. When we put out the call for nominations for our second annual Heroes of Marin awards—our salute, in partnership with Circle Bank, to the community members dedicated to bettering the county and its residents—we were ﬂooded with submissions championing the good works and worthy causes of an incredible spectrum of our friends, neighbors and community leaders. Marin is truly fortunate to have such a rich and varied ﬁeld of heroes from which to choose. Our panel of “hero” judges bestowed awards in eight separate categories. Recipients will be honored in the Paciﬁc Sun through Dec. 14, with feature stories highlighting their dedication and value to Marin. This week’s honorees include Marin-Sonoma Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who received our Courage award for her journey from struggling single mom all the way to Capital Hill; while Andrée Jansheski is this year’s Environmental Steward for cleaning up the streets of San Rafael—literally. —Jason Walsh, editor
T H E AT R E
Circle Bank now Umpqua Bank
The Presenting Champion Sponsor
t is an honor to sponsor the 2012 Heroes of Marin awards. In a county this rich in talent and tenacity, the selection of this year’s eight community “heroes” is a testament to their dedication to the county and its residents. This week’s issue salutes our Courage award recipient Lynn Woosley and our Environmental Stewardship recipient Andrée Jansheski. Here are a few reasons each was nominated, and deemed “heroes” by our panel of judges: Lynn Woolsey: Courage Lynn Woolsey, who represented Marin and Sonoma counties in Congress beginning in 1993, all but deﬁnes what the term “courage” represents. Some would say her courage was deﬁned by her early vote in 2002 against authorizing the invasion of Iraq, a position that many of her congressional colleagues would now wish they had also adopted. But others would point to her journey to Congress as an early indicator of courage and as the essence of her ethos. Lynn’s path to elected ofﬁce was not a simple one. Self-described as the “the ﬁrst former welfare mother to serve in Congress,” she was re-elected eight times, before retiring this year. While raising her three children, she became active in Sonoma County politics, serving on the Petaluma City Council before running for and winning the congres-
16 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
sional seat (Sixth District) held by Barbara Boxer, who successfully had run for the U.S. Senate. Since taking her seat in Congress in 1993, Lynn has been recognized for her work within the congressional progressive caucus. She has been active on congressional committees on education, workforce protections and energy and the environment. Andrée Jansheski: Environmental Stewardship For Andree Jansheski, who with her husband, John, operates Bellam Self Storage and Boxes in San Rafael, commitment to the environment is an essential element of the business. Six years ago, Bellam became both a Certiﬁed Green business and one that was entirely solar-powered. But that is only part of the story. Andree started her mission against litter by convincing the other organizations in her neighborhood to join her efforts. She then convinced the City of San Rafael to put more trash cans in strategic locations throughout the community, which has helped reduce the litter signiﬁcantly. A leader by example, she is known to put on her gloves and walk her neighborhood picking up trash. Recently she has taken it another step—with a campaign to clean up cigarette butts, both because they’re unsightly and because of their toxic impact on wildlife. The campaign, which has collected more than 100,000 cigarette butts, was recognized this year by the city for its effectiveness and innovative approach to solving an environmental issue.
2012 Heroes of Marin — Presented by the Pacific Sun and Circle Bank JULIE VADER
Lynn Woolsey Courage by Dani Bu rlison
s Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey approaches the ﬁnish line following 20 years as our local representative, her regrets are few and the achievements she’s attained are many. Since entering Congress in 1993 as representative for California’s 6th District (covering Marin and much of Sonoma County), Woolsey has become as known for her progressive politics as Marin is for hot tubs and peacock feathers. Currently serving her seventh year as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Woolsey, 75, has been as outspoken about her opposition to both the war in Iraq and the current war in Afghanistan as anyone in the House of Representatives. So how did this one-time struggling single mom work her way up from that low rung on the ladder of the American Dream to become what she describes as the “ﬁrst self-proclaimed former welfare mother to serve in the U.S. Congress”? “I think I have more energy than most people,” laughs Woolsey by telephone from her 6th District ofﬁce. And boundless energy she has indeed. Woolsey came to the Bay Area from her native Seattle in 1960 and, prior to being elected Congress, served on the Petaluma City Council, in addition to teaching at the College of Marin and Dominican University. But success didn’t come easily. Woolsey was, at one point, a single mother of three small children turning to government assistance to get back on her feet. “This is home,” she says of her decision to remain in the North Bay following the breakdown of her marriage. “I had a choice. After my divorce, I could have moved back [to Seattle] with my children, but it never even crossed my mind.” After several years of single parenting, Woolsey remarried and her new blended family consisted of four children, very close in age. After balancing parenting with her career in education and a stint on the city council in the early ’90s, Woolsey ran for the congressio-
nal seat of Senatorelect Barbara Boxer. The former welfare mother won—she elected to Congress on her 55th birthday. It was the beginning of a long stay in the House—she earned eight subsequent re-elections. Woolsey’s courage, of course, didn’t end with her rise from austerity. Throughout her career she faced uphill battles. She was the ﬁrst member of Congress to propose a troop withdrawal from Iraq, and has been vociferously outspoken against the war from the beginning—while offering support to our local veterans and their families. She has also been an advocate for education, protecting the environment and serving as an ally to local Native American groups. ‘I’ve been a pretty lucky woman,’ says Woolsey. Many of the issues she feels passionate about she continues to ﬁght for today. “Well, we’re still in Afghanistan,” she names that among the loose ends still dangling as she leaves her post. “And I’d + Congresswoman Woolsey was like to see the No Child Left Behind Act ﬁrst elected to the House of Rep14 > ﬁxed.” resentatives on her 55th birthday: Despite not winning every Nov. 3, 1992 battle on Capitol Hill, Woolsey is grate+ Woolsey was ranked the most ful for the successes she has had—both liberal member of Congress in 2012 professional and personal. “I’ve been a pretty lucky woman,” she + Woolsey was arrested in 2009 for says. “I can trust my own protesting genocide in Darfur good senses and can + She is a senior member of the follow my gut when it Committee on Education and the comes to making deciWorkforce sions. And life itself is pretty great.” <
+ Woolsey currently serves as president of Americans for Democratic Action + In June 2011, Woolsey announced that she would not run for reelection in the 2012 election. Jared Huffman, representing the new, redrawn 2nd District, takes her place in the House in January
NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012 PACIFIC SUN 17
2012 Heroes of Marin — Presented by the Pacific Sun and Circle Bank ROBERT VENTE
Andrée Jansheski Environmental Steward by Dani Bu rlison
ometimes an individual comes along creating a huge impact for an entire community through selfless and often less-than-glamorous work. One such selfless hero is San Rafael’s Andrée Jansheski. It didn’t take Jansheski long to feel at home in Marin after relocating from Southern California in 1989. Working alongside her husband at their Bellam Self Storage and Boxes business in San Rafael, the couple made their first notable impact on the Marin environment by becoming a certified Green Business in 2006. Soon, Jansheski’s green-business sense was becoming a lifestyle choice—and she began picking up litter in the streets. “One day I just said to myself, ‘This is it, I’m just gonna go out.’ So I got myself some trash bags—some big ones—and headed out, says Jansheski, from her offices at Bellam. “That day I filled up 11 bags of trash. Eleven big bags! And that was just down one short street.” And she didn’t stop there. Soon she had the post office convinced that it should clean up, too, and even funded part of the clean-up efforts. She had her husband follow her in his car while she walked through a small neighborhood, filling up bags of litter and piling them onto the car. Before long, she became a member of the San Rafael Clean Campaign, a community effort determined to tidy up the town, often funding outreach projects and printing costs to help raise awareness about their immaculate conception for the city—including brochures to inform business owners of their responsibilities and to encourage them to take part in cleaning up San Rafael’s streets. “When you get a business license in San Rafael, believe it or not, you are committing to take care of your trash. It is part of getting the license,” she says. “There are rules about how to dispose of trash and keep property clean, so we asked businesses to not only keep their
18 PACIFIC SUN NOVEMBER 30 - DECEMBER 6, 2012
property clean but add 6 feet to that. If everyone kept their property clean, and added 6 feet to the process, there wouldn’t be any litter.” Jansheski even included small bottles of hand sanitizer in her outreach materials with this clever label: Reverse Litter, It’s in Your Hands. “We got to the point when we were picking up all of the trash and one of the major things were cigarette butts and they’re not biodegradable. It’s a poison. There are thousands of chemicals in that one butt,” she says. “Little birds and so forth swallow them and can’t poop and they die.” So Jansheski came up with a plan and contacted St. Vincent de Paul, offering dining room patrons a penny per cigarette Andree, and her friend, at left, are enlisting the community in the war against litter. butt they retrieved from streets, parks and anywhere else. The program, Bounty for Butts, brought in around 238,000 cigarette butts in less than three months in San Rafael alone. The butts were then shipped + Bellam Self Storage and Boxes won to TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based Marin’s 2012 Green Business of the company whose goal is to eliminate Year Award and is completely solar waste. TerraCycle transformed the powered cigarette butts into ashtrays. + Downtown San Rafael is littered And aside from her work on the with more than 10,000 cigarette Clean Campaign and maintaining the butts every four days green certification at her business, Jansheski continues to walk through + Jansheski is the author of Don’t Pack neighborhoods, picking up what Me!, a guide to organizing while others throw out. packing and moving “You can do +7 Shades of Green, another of Janbusiness and not harm sheski’s Clean Campaign projects to the environment,” she encourage businesses to ‘”Go Green,” says. “So daily, we just includes seven steps to take in order think green.” <
to improve the environment of local businesses: 1. Waste: recycle and buy post-consumer recycled products 2. Water: Take measures to save water 3. Energy: Use energy-efﬁcient lighting 4. Cigarette butts: Stop before you drop! 5. Emissions reductions: Join Spare the Air programs 6. Pollution prevention: Use low- or non-toxic cleaning supplies 7. Home-based businesses: Request free water and energy audit
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