Fork on an empty plate

Feed People in Need

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! The number of people relying on food help every day has doubled since the pandemic began. In Silicon Valley 1 of 10 people receive assistance from Second Harvest, one of the largest food banks in the nation. Second Harvest feeds nearly 500,000 people each month.

Feeding America found that due to the coronavirus 50 million Americans may face food insecurity in 2020, including 17 million children. 

How you can help:

Donate to your local food bank

Monetary donations are always welcome. 

Due to COVID-19 there might be restrictions for food donations, please check with your local food bank. Our CSA, for example, doesn’t allow for self harvested fruits anymore, but might allow for Village Harvest to harvest for you. Rules change quickly these days. In our neighborhood people started to sell their fruit and donate the proceeds to CSA.

People sorting apples for Village Harvest.

Volunteer

If you can help out in person I am certain your help will be highly appreciated. Make sure to check requirements, for example volunteers over 65 or people in a risk group might not be allowed to perform certain tasks. Nonetheless there might also be virtual options to help out. To find opportunities check out VolunteerMatch, Idealist, AllForGood, or HandsOnBayArea.

Fundraise

The holidays are coming, do you want to gift something special this year? Consider setting up your own fundraiser: https://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/fundraise-for-feeding-america

Do you have ideas on how to feed people in need?

You might also be interested in my post about Village Harvest: Harvest some Community Fruit.

Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Little Free Library

Pick out a Book from a Free Library

Walking around the neighborhood, as we all do, you might have noticed a box offering books. Little Free Libraries are not a new invention. All started in 2009 by the late Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin. He built the first Little Free Library as a tribute to his mother. Friends and neighbors liked the idea and inspired him to build more and he gave them away. The idea took over and in 2020 they surpassed the 100,000 mark with more than a 100 countries worldwide participating.

You can find a Free Little Library near you from the Free Little Library website map, but not all free libraries are registered. 

Little Free Library

If you feel inspired to build your own free library the Little Free Library offers library boxes and also advice for building your own.

You do not need to leave a book in order to take one. I know a lot of people have decluttered their homes recently, but there was also higher demand on these books while your favorite book store was only online. 

Little Free Library with succulents on top.

Considering the pandemic some free libraries now switched the books to offer canned food. Others made a seed library, so we can all start to grow our own vegetables.

Free libraries not only are a great way to share goods, some are also very creative little boxes.

Have you picked up a book from a little free library?

Interesting read about a a phone booth at the Los Gatos library: Call me Ishmael

Smoke from the CZU fire.

Help the Fire Victims

Wildfires are part of living in California.  This year the wildfires have been especially early and are the worst yet. In awe I looked at the lightning the morning of August 17th that sparked hundreds of fires in Northern California. 

My heart goes out to all the people who lost their home and their belongings. Many people had to leave their homes and evacuate, not sure what they will find when they return.

If you’d like to donate you might consider one of these sources:

Meals of Gratitude and World Central Kitchen– Provide meals to frontline workers in the COVID pandemic, firefighters, evacuees, and volunteers

Santa Cruz Fire Respond Fund – Supports victims of the Santa Cruz Mountain Fires

Emergency Fire Relief Fund for South Coast Families – Puente’s mission is to build a healthy, inclusive and sustainable community. 

Give to your local food bank, e.g.: Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, Community Action of Napa Valley, or Tri-Valley Haven are a few examples.

Redwood tree.

Sempervirens Fund – Big Basin Recovery Fund and Santa Cruz Redwoods Restoration Fund

I hope everyone is safe and stays healthy!

Resources:

CAL Fire – See the status of the fires

There is a wonderful link list from the Magical Bridge Foundation.

Just as a reminder if you’s like to support Black Lives in the Bay Area you can get some inspiration here.

Posters from Oree Originol honoring People of Color killed by law enforcement

Support Black Lives

“Please, I can’t breath.” It’s been a week of protest and anger. A wave has swept this nation. A powerful series of waves, like water will grind down the land. Now is the time to rise.

Justice for George Floyd an illustrations by Oree Originol

Protests are just the beginning. In order to change the systemic racism we have to be aware of privilege, come together, enable change, listen, and act. 

Here is a list of things that will help to make sure Black Lives Matter.

Action cards

The most creative approach to the question on what to do about racial injustice comes from the Oakland Museum of California with their Take Action cards. Check out their Instagram feed to see the cards (instagram.com/oaklandmuseumca). 

Donate money to the cause

Bail and legal support:

Flyer on how to support #BlackLivesMatter

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/)

Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund (https://rally.org/ARCbailfund)

San Francisco National Lawyers Guild (NLG) (nlgsf.org/ways-to-contribute/)

NAACP (https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=15780&_ga=2.22006142.412847870.1591227461-53649289.1591227461)

ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/give/now)

Non-emergency support:

Black Lives Matter (https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019)

East Oakland Collective (http://www.eastoaklandcollective.com/)

People’s Breakfast Oakland (https://linktr.ee/PBO)

Planting Justice (https://plantingjustice.org/)

Roots Clinic (https://rootsclinic.org/)

Restore Oakland (http://restoreoakland.org/)

Oakland Indie Alliances (http://www.oaklandindiealliance.com/repair)

Anti Police Terror Project (https://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/)

Volunteer

Rock the Vote (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/)

A list of actions against racism by the UN: Let’s fight racism (https://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/)

Vote

President Obama weighted in lately on how important voting is (https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067) and to move a step further you can read the report and toolkit from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights developed by the Obama Foundation (https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/Toolkit.pdf)

Black Future Lab (https://blackfutureslab.org/)

Track progress of legislations

Campaign Zero let’s you track the progress state legislations against police violence (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#action)

Make a call

To contact your representative just got easier, just download the 5calls app (https://5calls.org/)

Sign Petitions

Poster from the 'Black Panthers at 50' exhibit at the OMCA: Unity is the Solution

Color of Change (https://act.colorofchange.org/signup/state-emergency-black-people-are-dying)

NAACP (http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=27063)

Join a group

Showing up for Racial Justice (https://www.surjbayarea.org/community.html)

Educate yourself about racism

General reading list on how to be an antiracist, put together by the San Francisco library:

https://sfpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/433865467_sfpl_readersadvisory/1494408919_be_an_antiracist

Truth be told is a podcast from KQED (https://www.kqed.org/podcasts/truthbetold).

Corrine Shutuck wrote a list of 75 things white people can do for racial justice (https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234)

Great resource list especially for kids from DC Area Educators for Social Justice (https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/resources)

Buy from black businesses

BAOBOB is a directory listing for black owned businesses in the Bay Area (https://baobobdirectory.com/)

The Official Black Wall Street app lists black-owned businesses (https://officialblackwallstreet.com/app/)

For black-owned restaurants download the EatOkra app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/eatokra/id1175921760)

Black Nation app (https://www.blacknation.app/)

We Buy Black (https://webuyblack.com/)

Buy art that matters

The Tracy Piper has a vibrant print at the Voss Gallery. Proceeds go to Black Lives Matter (https://vossgallery.art/collections/the-tracy-piper/products/black-lives-matter)

Black Table Arts, a Minnesota based initiative to help community through art (http://www.blacktablearts.com/)

Kyle Harder donates proceeds from his print RISE! to Reclaim The Block (https://kyleharterart.bigcartel.com/product/rise)

How do you support black lives?

Resources:

https://www.7×7.com/black-lives-matter-bay-area-resources-2646147346/get-directly-involved-with-black-lives-matter

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13881199/5-ways-to-show-up-for-racial-justice-today

A pair of red-tailed hawks at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward.

Meet some local wildlife

The Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward is not only an educational facility – thousands of school kids and adults learn about local wildlife and domestic animals each year – it’s main purpose is the rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife found by the public.

Owl at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.

On my visit I was able to see a couple of owls, some red falcons and a golden eagle. And that’s just the outside volaris! Inside the center are snakes, frogs and spiders.

The owls were hard to spot, kind of a where is waldo game. It was harder for me to find the first snake and talked to a staff member. He assured me the snake is comfy in its hiding place. When I understood that concept I was able to spot some more creatures.

Who made this nest? display, Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward.

There is also a display of animal skulls and one of different nests.
Saturdays and Sundays (10 am – 3 pm) you can take advantage of the Animal Lending Library. If you ever wondered what it would be like to own a mouse, hamster, rat or guinea pig here you can rent them for a week ($28, cage and other equipment is provided).    

Golden Eagle at Sulphur Nature Center, Hayward.

Opening hours are from 10 am – 4:30 pm, admission is free, but a donation is encouraged. $3 a day for two to three months could rehabilitate a baby racoon, or $2 a day for one month could help a baby rabbit. There are multiple ways to donate, not only the cash box at the entrance. Check out their amazon wishlist, bring by some items like dog food or trash bags (see list on the website), or adopt an animal.

How close have you been to local wildlife?

Reach & Teach store in San Mateo

Buy something at Reach & Teach

If this is your year to become more sustainable maybe Reach & Teach in San Mateo can help. They were awarded the 2014 Sustainability Awards from Sustainable San Mateo.

Store front of Reach & Teach, San Mateo

This small store has everything from games to books to fairtrade tea. It is a great place for buying a gift. You could even fill out their gift advisor form online. But if you go by the store and need some advice, they are happy to help and might even play some games with you! Most of the games are unique titles that are not usually found in other game stores, teaching the players about peace, equality and sustainable living. One of the games is their very own invention: CIVIO – A civil rights game.

Games you can try out at Reach & Teach, San Mateo

Their slogan is: “transform the world through teachable moments”. Reach & Teach got founded as a subsidiary of Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi’s award-winning educational consulting company, WKMN Training, LLC. If you like to learn how you can make a difference in this world, best to stop by the store and get some ideas.

How will you be more sustainable in 2019?


Attend an event at the Menlo Park library

Attend an event at the Menlo Park library

Me giving a presentation at the Menlo Park libraryLast Tuesday I presented ‘Unexpected things to do in San Mateo County’ in the Menlo Park library. I forgot to mention there that one unexpected things to do in San Mateo County is to go to your local library and attend an event.

John Weaver introducing me at the Menlo Park libraryThere were about 16 attendees. I was very grateful for the knowledgeable audience. We had a wonderful exchange about all the interesting things to do in San Mateo County. From the notetaking I gathered that I also gave great suggestions. As soon as I have 50 things to do in San Mateo County I will publish this on my 50 things to do page and update this post.

Whiteboard announcing my talk and the December events at the Menlo Park libraryLast month was all about storytelling at the library. The December event list includes ‘A Visit with Rosa Parks’ and ‘The American Advertising Calendar Plate’. They also offer regular scheduled programs like knitting and board game meetups.

You can find the adult program here:

https://menlopark.org/543/Adults

Event coordinator John Weaver does an excellent job keeping the events diverse and engaging. Thank you John for inviting me!

Another ‘Thank you’ goes out to my husband for helping me with great suggestions and taking the photos. And to Sharon, who by the way, reads and edits every post, and has always great advice. Both coached me through this presentation.

Have you ever attended a library event?

 

Picking apples at the Gentlemen's Orchard in Filoli in Woodside

Harvest some community fruit

One of the apple tree's in the Gentlemen's Orchard at Filoli's in WoodsideVillage Harvest is a great volunteer organization that picks fruit, mostly in neighborhoods, and donates it to local food banks. I went three years ago with my brother-in-law to pick some apples in an old orchard in San Juan Bautista. It was a different sightseeing trip for sure! A Mountain backdrop – we met the couple that owns the place – very enjoyable! This San Juan Bautista event is coming up again, October 13th, 2018 9am – 12:30pm.

I finally got around to help out a second time. This time was even more special: Filoli’s in Woodside Gentlemen’s Orchard. The varieties in this orchard are insane. There are about 400 different apple, pear and grape varieties, plus some more uncommon fruits like medlars, quince, and shan zhas.  I am happy to say if you help picking you are welcome to try the fruit. I enjoyed a variety of apples and the chatting with other volunteers that occurred around the trees. Being greeted by wild turkeys was a highlight too.

Sorting the applesAfter the picking you gather around and sort the apples. You are encouraged to take the ‘bad apples’ home – and yes there will be apple crumble at my house soon. Afterwards we were treated to a walk around Filoli. The three crates full of apples in the entrance of the estate proved that I hardly ate or saw all the apple varieties while I was in the orchard.

One of the three apple crates in the entrance hall at Filoli's in Woodside.If you are a location junkie, like me, you might enjoy the Gentlemen’s Orchard. The people you meet while picking the fruit are very special, with their hearts in the right place. Village Harvest also has neighborhood events, where you pick fruit in multiple front and backyards.

Filoli does tours of their Gentlemen’s Orchard. The next tour is 10/7/2018 from 11am – 12:30pm. Please check their calendar for available dates.

Have you ever volunteered with Village Harvest?

 

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

One thing I miss during Christmas season, besides my family, are the Weihnachtsmarkets in Germany. Always a true sign that Christmas is coming, a great place to buy local gifts and drink some Gluehwein.

Every blood donation "counts" treeA surprising ‘christmassy’ event is Christmas in the Park in San Jose. This year they broke the world record for most decorated Christmas trees!  600 decorated trees can be seen on Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Some trees are decorated in memory of lost ones, there is a Grinch, and a Dracula advertising the mobile blood drive December 22nd from 12 pm to 5 pm, at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

 

 

LED ornament

My favorite trees were the Mentor Trees, showcasing the mentorship program between some colleges and elementary, middle and high schools in the area with some LED ornaments that glowed in different colors and patterns and the Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree, which has some inspiring reasons why to wear glasses!

Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree

 

The 40 animated displays is probably the reason why there were so many babies and young children during the day.

Caribbean Christmas animationThe one that made me smile the most was the Caribbean Christmas, a bunch of frogs playing a Christmas song in Caribbean tunes.

 

There is also a community stage and you can go see Santa.

This tradition is open through January 7th, 2018 and free with donations.

How are you decorating your tree?