In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Life is an adventure in forgiveness. -Norman Cousins

1.   Last chance to keep SF waterfront from being sealed off
2.   Birds and their "Bugs" - GG Audubon program July 19
3.   Early Detection Networks: Protecting California from harmful invasive plants July 20, Los Altos
4.   Pacific Rod & Gun Club loses lease at Lake Merced
5.   Sunday Streets July 22 in Bayview-Dogpatch-Mission Bay
6.   Pier 70 Crane cover Park planning and design community workshop July 21
7.   Caring for California oaks, July 21 in Tilden Park
8.   Muir Woods & environs loop hike July 21
9.   Scraps of moon - Denise Levertov
10. Mistletoe - experiment proves important ecological concept
11.  Experienced rock climber?  New annual climbing event
12.  Examiner series on restoring Hetch Hetchy
13.  How to Become a SuperStar Student - teaching tips
14.  Family planning returns to the international development agenda
15.  Out to lunch.  Jogger stuck in mud four days

“An optimist proclaims
that we live in the best of all
    possible worlds;
and the pessimist fears
this is true.”
    James Cabell

1.  8 Washington Street - Wall Off The Waterfront:

We are about to embark on the most important days of our efforts. After years, it comes down to 3 days. Our work in these final days and hours will  determine if we succeed or fail to place a referendum on the ballot to stop the construction of 8 Washington.   It hasn’t been done for over a generation but I know we can do the “impossible” with your help.

Our opponents are frightened - this past weekend, they deployed dozens of signature blockers across the city to slow our efforts. We expect them to be out in full-force in these final days. Do not be discouraged. We cannot let their lame, undemocratic behavior thwart our efforts.

Important information:
All signatures are due Wednesday, July 18th by 8:00 pm. If you cannot drop off your signatures to 15 Columbus by then, call our office at 415-894-7008 to make arrangements.  Every signature matters, so please - return every last petition with ink on it. If you can’t drop it off, we will make arrangements to pick them up!
If you encounter signature blockers, call the office immediately to consult us. 415-894-7008
We need volunteers who will process signatures between now and Thursday. Come by the office for more information or call 415-894-7008.
If you haven’t gotten a petition come down and get one.  A few more signatures may make the difference.  Come down to 15 Columbus Avenue on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm and get a petition!

Make these last days count and have fun making history!


Louisiana White Eye
Birds and Their “Bugs,” Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

Featuring Jack Dumbacher

San Francisco: Thursday, July 19 – 7 p.m. refreshments, 7:30 program

The oceanic islands off the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea are biologically interesting and yet poorly known. Most of the significant ornithological expeditions took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and these visited only the largest islands. In 2009 and 2011, a team from California Academy of Sciences chartered a small sailboat and spent 14 weeks visiting large and small islands, surveying birds, and collecting samples for studies of bird evolution and avian diseases. Jack Dumbacher, the expedition leader, will take you on a virtual tour of the islands, introduce you to the birds, and discuss the scientific goals of the expeditions.

Jack Dumbacher has worked in Papua New Guinea since 1989, when he studied Raggiana Birds of Paradise and their mating behavior. After being bitten by a poisonous bird (the Hooded Pitohui), Dumbacher focused his PhD studies on chemical defense in birds. He worked at the Smithsonian Institution for six years studying bird genetics and evolution. Now, as the curator of birds and mammals at the California Academy of Sciences, he continues his work on these topics and is beginning new work to discover novel avian diseases.

Free for Golden Gate Audubon Society members, $5 nonmembers.

Location: First Unitarian Universalist Church and Center
1187 Franklin Street (at Geary), San Francisco

Early Detection Networks: Protecting California From Harmful Invasive Plants

A Talk by Dan Gluesenkamp. executive director of CalFlora
Friday July 20

Los Altos Library, 135 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos


4.  Pacific Rod and Gun Club loses its lease at Lake Merced.


 Sunday Streets 2012 is in full swing - July 22 in Bayview-Dogpatch-Mission Bay, August 5 in The Mission.

Enjoy Summer in San Francisco with two Sunday Streets in both July and August!

Sunday Streets transforms city streets into safe, car-free recreational space for walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, yoga, and other activities.Sunday Streets is a partnership between Livable City and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, other City agencies, and other program and neighborhood partners.

2012 Sunday Streets season kicked off on March 11 along the Embarcadero. The full lineup of events for 2012 are:

March 11: The Embarcadero
April 15: Great Highway and Golden Gate Park
May 6: Mission
June 3: Mission
July 1: Mission
July 22: Bayview – Dogpatch
August 5: Mission
August 26: Chinatown - North Beach
September 9: Western Addition – North of the Panhandle – Alamo Square
October 21: Outer Mission – Excelsior
Livable City has organized and fiscal sponsor of Sunday Streets since it began in fall 2008. We work with the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Mayor's Office, and various City departments, including the Shape Up Coalition and Health Department, as well as other nonprofit and community partners, like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the YMCA, and neighborhood and local business associations The program is made possible by generous program sponsors and in-kind support from city agencies – and by our amazing volunteers (to for information on volunteering, check out theSunday Streets volunteer page).

For information and updates, and to let us know what you liked about the events, or to give us your ideas about the events, use the Sunday Streetswebsite. Your generous gifts will help us continue to grow the program! To donate to Sunday Streets, use Livable City's secure web site, and check the 'Sunday Streets' box to let us know your contribution is for Sunday Streets.

 Creating a more resilient and sustainable San Francisco.

Transition SF Panel Discussion
Monday July 16, 7-9 pm
Gazebo Room of CPMC Davies Campus
Castro Street between 14th and Duboce.

TransitionSF is hosting a panel discussion led by Paul A. Lord, Jr. and including Debra Walker, Scott Edmonson, and Livable City's Tom Radulovich.

Paul, Debra, Scott, and Tom have deep experience in the San Francisco legislative process and are currently involved in projects that further local resilience and sustainability. The panel discussion will revisit the SF Sustainability City plan ( and discuss ways that some of the numerous recommendations in this plan could be assisted with legislative initiatives.

 Help design a great Market Street!

Public workshops for the Better Market Street project
Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 6:00 - 8:30 pm
Saturday, July 21, 2012, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Both meetings will be held at SFMTA headquarters, 1 South Van Ness, 2nd Floor Atrium.
above the Van Ness Muni Metro Station, and served by the Market Mission and Van Ness bus and rail lines.
valet bike parking provided.
for special accommodations and language assistance at the meetings, call (510) 285-6746 at least 72 hours in advance.

The City is holding two public workshops to explore design ideas for Market Street. The Better Market Street effort is a collaboration among five city agencies which seeks to improve Market Street as a walking, transit, and cycling street, and as a public place. Market Street is in need of major repairs, which offers the opportunity to rebuild it better than before. For more information about the Better Market Street effort, see the project's web site:

 Speak up for legislation on small corner retail and secure bicycle parking.

Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Economic Development Committee
Monday July 23, 1 pm
City Hall, Room 263

The Board of Supervisors' Land Use Committee will hear two pieces of legislation, Sponsored by Supervisor David Chiu with Livable City.

One ordinance exempts secure bicycle parking in buildings from Floor-Area Ratio (FAR) limits. Currently automobile parking is exempt, and this change will create parity for bicycle parking, creating an incentive for both voluntarily providing secure bicycle parking, and for providing more than the minimum required. The ordinance will also require secure bicycle parking for more types of large development projects. More secure bicycle parking at both workplaces and homes expands sustainable transportation options, and helps the city achieve its goal of 20% of trips by bicycle by 2020.

The other ordinance permits small, neighborhood-serving historic retail spaces in residential districts to be reactivated. Current law recognizes that neighborhood-serving retail spaces provide convenient walking access for nearby residents, eyes on the street, and affordable space for small businesses. These retail uses to continue indefinitely in residential districts, but once a retail space becomes inactive for three years, it cannot be reopened. Many of these spaces are ill-suited to housing, and can become dead spaces that detract from neighborhood vitality and walkabilty. This ordinance permits these spaces to be reactivated with a conditional use authorization, so they can once more serve neighborhood needs. These changes were endorsed by the Planning Commission, Small Business Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and San Francisco Architectural Heritage.

 Join or renew your Livable City membership!

Membership in Livable City is a small investment for more joy in your life and that of your fellow city-dwellers! Members help sustain our work, receive invitations to special receptions and regular opportunities to make a difference! Click here to join online.

Pier 70 Crane Cove Park Planning and Design Community Workshop & Site Tour.
Saturday July 21st 9:45 – 12:30: 699 Illinois Street (@18th Street).

Agenda:1. Introduction and Overview  (9:45 -10:00)2. Review of Park Concepts Alternatives (10:00 - 10:30) - same as presented at June 20th meeting. Walking Site Tour (10:30 -11:30) * See note below. Open House Q&A (11:30 -12:30)

* As a condition to participating in the Crane Cove Park site tour, all participants in the site tour will be required to sign a waiver of claims against the Port, City and its staff, officers, Boards and Commissioners resulting from the site tour; and acknowledging that dangerous conditions exist at the site. The waiver is available for review on the  Port’s Pier 70 Crane Cove Park web site listed below.

699 Illinois Street is accessible to persons using wheelchairs and others with disabilities. Informational materials will be available in large print upon request.  The Project site tour is not accessible to persons using a wheel chair, accommodations for those requiring: a) mobility assistance for the site tour; b) assistive listening devices; c) materials in other alternative formats, d) American Sign Language interpreters and other accommodations will be made available upon request. Please contact David Beaupre, 415-274-0539 or , providing at least 72 hours notice will help to help ensure availability.

The Meeting is near the MUNI Metro T line (Mariposa Street Station), MUNI bus lines serving the area are the 48 (20th and Third Street stop) and the
22 (18th and Tennessee) Bicycle parking will be provided. In order to assist the City's efforts to accommodate persons with severe allergies, environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivity or related disabilities, attendees at public meetings are reminded that other attendees may be sensitive to various chemical based scented products.  Please help the City to accommodate these individuals.  or



Blue oak (Quercus douglasii) acorns

Jocelyn Cohen, a strong proponent of caring for our California oaks, offers insights and understanding about how to keep them healthy in our urban gardens and landscapes. Drawing from and expanding on her two articles in the Manzanita newsletter (Fall 2010 issue), she will teach you what to watch for, easy cultural conditions to impose or refrain from imposing on oaks, and what maintenance they need to be healthy and safe. We will look at oaks via slides and in the field to help see and understand how oaks differ at their various stages and how their care changes as well. The daylong class begins with a walk in the garden looking at some oaks and getting a taste of topics we will cover. We will return to the auditorium for a slide and talk show that explores the oak’s life stage from acorn through juvenile, youth through early maturity, and maturity through senescence. A round table lunch follows for questions and answers before we spend the rest of the day in the field. You will leave with tried-and-true tips and techniques for general care, pruning, planting/companion planting, proper irrigation, and more (plus a handout). As a bonus you'll also learn how to care for your oaks when making changes to their environment, whether it be landscaping, construction,  or painting your house (also includes a handout). Oaks are some of the most important trees in California and in the landscape. The older they get, the more benefits they offer. Understanding them helps us be better custodians and guardians so they remain healthy and vibrant for several centuries to come.

Presenter: Jocelyn Cohen
Saturday, July 21, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., please bring a lunch
Regional Parks Botanic Garden visitor center, Tilden Regional Park
Fee: $50 member- $60 non member
Jocelyn Cohen is a Certified Arborist and Aesthetic Pruner who brings the eye of an arborist, ecologist, artist, and passionate advocate for trees to her Bay Area pruning practice, Poetree Landscapes and Arboriculture. First and foremost a hands-on pruner, Jocelyn also consults, writes preservation reports, and teaches.


8.  Farallones: From Canopy to Open Sea

WHAT: Muir Woods & Environs Loop Hike
WHEN: Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 10:00am to 3:00pm
WHERE: Muir Woods & environs, Mill Valley, CA
Enjoy a naturalist-led walk among coastal hills and valleys and Muir Woods, adjacent to the Farallones Marine Sanctuary. Explore connections between land and sea as you hike among some of the last old-growth coastal redwood forests on the planet. Wind up steep trails through several habitats – oak, chaparral, transition zones. Learn how coastal fog from the ocean sustains this ecosystem. Watch a flower dissection by a sanctuary educator. Pack a lunch and munch among the redwoods! Moderate/strenuous 4.5 mi loop hike.
Option to end the day at the Tourist Club to admire views of the Farallones marine sanctuary.
Price: $15 per person
Age Suitability: Teens and up
Phone: Erica at 415-561-6622 x 232,


Scraps of moon
bobbing discarded on broken water
but sky-moon
complete, transcending
all violation
Here she seems to be talking to herself about
the shape of a life:
Only Once

All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we'd do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every invitation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did not happen in our lives, our stories
are not drab with its absence: but don't
expect to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body-halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.

~ Denise Levertov ~

(The Great Unknowing)

10.  Ecology

Under the mistletoe

An experiment on a parasitic plant proves an important ecological concept

Jul 14th 2012 | from The Economist

THE magical properties of mistletoe will be familiar to any fan of Asterix. The hero of the series of comic books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo gains his superhuman strength from a mistletoe-containing potion brewed by the local druid. In the real world, mistletoe is less well regarded (except by those seeking someone to kiss at Christmas). It is a parasite that can damage trees. But an experiment conducted recently in Australia suggests this is only part of the story. For, in the woodlands the study investigated, mistletoe did indeed have wondrous properties. If it was removed, many other species vanished, too.

The study in question, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, was conducted by David Watson and Matthew Herring of Charles Sturt University, in Albury, Australia. Dr Watson and Dr Herring looked at patches of woodland in Billabong Creek, New South Wales, and sorted them into two groups: those where mistletoe was present, and those where it was absent. They then divided the former in two. Half the patches they cleared of mistletoe, and half they left untouched. Then they waited, to see what would happen.

Actually, that is not quite true. Before the experiment got under way, they surveyed the bird population in every patch of woodland each season for two years—in other words, eight times in all. Then, when three years had passed after the removal of the mistletoe from some of them (during which time they continued to cull any resurgent bunches of mistletoe from the trees in the experimental patches), they carried out another extended bird survey.
The results were intriguing. As would be expected, the one species that feeds almost exclusively on mistletoe berries, the aptly named mistletoebird, vanished from the culled woodlands. Species that make their nests in bunches of mistletoe also tended to disappear. But lots of other birds disappeared, too: around a fifth of them, compared with what had been in the culled patches before the culling.

Indeed, things were worse than that. In the patches of woodland where mistletoe was left in place, the number of bird species actually increased, probably because of the end of a prolonged drought in the area. Compared with the species diversity in these patches when the final count was made, the number of species in the culled patches of woodland was down by about a quarter. Mistletoe is thus acting as what ecologists refer to as a keystone species: it supports an entire ecosystem, and removing it has drastic effects for the whole.

Clearly, those effects are much greater than just a loss of berries and nesting sites. Most likely, mistletoe is enhancing the food supply of other birds by increasing the number of creepy crawlies available for them to eat. That could happen in two ways. First, mistletoe weakens (and sometimes kills) its host trees, opening them to infestations by wood-boring insects and similar critters. Second, mistletoe sheds a lot of leaves, which add to the depth of the leaf litter in a wood. Deep litter favours insects, and thus insectivorous birds.

Whatever the mechanism, though, this study provides what no previous study ever has: evidence from a controlled experiment that keystone species really exist. Remember that next time you catch somebody under the mistletoe at Christmas.


11.  Are you an experienced rock climber? Know anyone who is? Check out the newest annual climbing event: Muir's Climb!

Restore Hetch Hetchy adds Muir's Climb to our annual backpacking and hiking event in Yosemite called Muir's March. Join us on August 4th for a day of climbing, route-finding (and route-making!), and building on the beta, topos and photos that exist.*

Each climber is asked to raise or donate $100 and in return will receive:

· TWO nights of camping (Aug. 3-4) in Yosemite
· Dinner on Friday & lunch on Saturday
· Bling from Camelbak & Patagonia
· Hours of climbing on Saturday
· The satisfaction of helping to restore Hetch Hetchy!

Space is limited so register today! For more information, visit us online at or call Cal at 415-956-0401.

Last week the San Francisco Examiner printed a 5-part series on our campaign to bring the Hetch Hetchy Valley back to life.  While flawed in some ways it is mostly a fair evaluation of our effort. 


Click here to read
"San Francisco's Original Sin."

The tide is turning on this movement.  Fund this historic campaign today.

Mike Marshall
Executive Director

P. S. It's not too late to join us at Hetch Hetchy for Muir's March on August 4th.  Click here for more info on a weekend of hiking and camping in Yosemite.

7.  "An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."          
        --Carl Jung

Excerpt from blurb from The Teaching Company catalogue (COURSE #102):
How to Become a SuperStar Student
Professor Tim McGee, Worland High School

When a high school student has trouble learning a subject like math or history, the problem may lie not in the teacher's ability or the student's I.Q.  Instead, it is often simply because the student has never been taught how to learn.

From the high school in the little town* of Worland, Wyoming, comes a steady stream of honor students.  They win scholarships.  Get into top universities.  Even have their writings published while still in high school.

How come?  Because they are smarter than other kids?  No.  It's because they have been shown how to become SuperStar Students by a widely acclaimed SuperStar Teacher, Tim McGee.

Dr. McGee has found that many bright kids have trouble retaining what they read and get tangled up when trying to do writing assignments.  He teaches two simple yet powerful techniques that teach basic learning skills and will give students an edge not only in high school but in college and adulthood.

(I have not sampled this course, but I have taken many courses [mostly on audio CDs] from The Teaching Company--Greek Tragedy, Shakespeare's Tragedies, several Abraham Lincoln courses, the American Revolution, various history and philosophy courses, &c.  Without exception, the teachers have been top-rate, so I accept this blurb at face value.  JS)

Contact The Teaching Company at 800-TEACH-12 (800-832-2412) , www.TEACH12.COM

* JS:   I was born and raised (through high school) just across the Montana border from Worland, and we did not consider it a little town.  Our town had 476 people, and we thought that Worland was either a big town or a little city.

Contraception and development

Choice not chance

Family planning returns to the international development agenda

Jul 14th 2012 | LONDON AND OUAGADOUGOU | from The Economist  (excerpt)

AT THE Marie Stopes clinic on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, Juliette, who is about 30 years old, smiles up from the table where she is having an intrauterine contraceptive coil fitted. She says she has three children and does not want any more. Her husband, she admits, does not know she is having the procedure but she thinks he will not mind. To judge by the crowds, nobody minds. The two-storey building is swarming with mothers and children—it gets about 14,000 visits a month, says Sally Hughes, its director. A jeep has just pulled into the courtyard bringing back the doctor, midwife and nurse from their daily tour of the surrounding villages, where they take contraception to many more. 
Contraception is cheap by rich-country standards—but not for locals. Implants cost Marie Stopes International $25 each, but the charity can charge just $1.50. So donations and government help are needed to keep up with surging demand. Burkina Faso has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, with women likely to bear six children on average in their lifetime. But the number is falling. In 1990 it was seven and in Ouagadougou itself it is below five. Ms Hughes says: “Women use contraception because they want to work and they worry about feeding and educating the children. Men don’t worry about that… but they respond to arguments about their wives’ health and income.”

For more than a decade, family planning in developing countries has been carried on in clinics like this without much outside attention. Though national provision has been patchy—contraceptives are encouraged in some places, banned in others—international donors have steered clear of the issue. The last big United Nations conference on family planning took place as long ago as 1994. American politics plays a role. In 1984 Ronald Reagan withdrew American federal aid to groups that performed or advocated abortion. Democratic administrations have rescinded this policy and Republican ones reinstated it.
The term “family planning” dropped out of fashion—it was associated with coercive population controls—and was replaced by “sexual and reproductive health”. Many economists have argued that contraception anyway is largely irrelevant: demographic patterns, they claim, do not have much influence on economic growth and the important thing is broader socio-economic development. Others disagree. John Cleland of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calls the past 15 years ones of “horrendous neglect”.

So a summit on family planning, held in London on July 11th, represents a big change. The meeting, called by the British government and the Gates Foundation, a charity, won promises of $4.6 billion from donors and developing countries, to provide modern contraception (coils, pills, injectables, implants and condoms) to an extra 120m women by 2020. This would be a hefty increase on the $4 billion spent each year on family planning in those countries.

....This makes family planning cost-effective. The Guttmacher study reckons that for every $1 spent on modern contraception, developing countries would save $1.40 in maternal and newborn health care—to say nothing of the misery avoided. Family planning, says Mr Cleland, “ought to be one of the priority interventions for maternal health, neonatal survival and child health”. The London summit is a welcome, if shamefully late, start to that.


15.  Out to lunch

Jogger stuck in mud for four days
A missing jogger was rescued from a Florida swamp after spending four days stuck in the muck with only the waist-deep water to drink. Eddie Meadows, 62, left for a run in his lunch hour but did not return to his office.

(I lost the attribution for this item from my archives.  JS)

No comments:

Post a Comment