Urban Tilth Celebrates 10 Years of Food Justice


Photo Essay, David Meza and Malcolm Marshall

Marking a decade of community gardening, about 225 people came from across the Bay Area to the Craneway Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 3 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the non-profit Urban Tilth.

The fundraiser included bus tours of some of Urban Tilth’s community gardens in Richmond, along with a seasonal harvest dinner prepared by the People’s Kitchen of Oakland. The event also featured live music and dancing, including a stirring a cappella performance by singer Jennifer Johns.

Urban Tilth works to put healthy and sustainable foods into the kitchens of Richmond and West Contra Costa County residents. Employing local youth, the group manages community gardens through the area — many in schools, where they grow and sell food and teach community members to cultivate their own gardens.

“What makes Urban Tilth so powerful is their commitment not just to healthy food or healthy land, but above all to healthy people and community power,” said Josh Healey, emcee for the evening.

“They put young people, black and brown people, at the center of the conversation about what food justice looks like in Richmond,” he said. “They have a bold vision. It’s not just about one little garden here or there; they’re on their way to radically transforming the whole food system in Richmond and beyond.”

Inside the Craneway, the event began with a screening of “Gaining Ground,” the new work from Portland, Oregon filmmakers Barbara Bernstein and Elaine Velazquez, which looks at both rural and urban farmers feeding local communities sustainably by changing their farming practices. Urban Tilth and its executive director Doria Robinson feature prominently in the film.

“Urban Tilth brings together youth organizing, environmental justice and urban agriculture in a totally unique, beautiful way,” said Healey. “As this drought continues in California, and climate change [continues] across the globe, they’re teaching all of us the skills we’ll need to thrive and survive as a community — and really, a species. I love Urban Tilth not just because they show me how to grow food and eat right, but because they really show us all how to live.”

Local Happenings October 2015


From the Pulse News Desk

Annual North Richmond Shoreline Festival

The North Richmond Shoreline Festival returns for its 12th year from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline park, featuring food, music, train rides, fire engine exploration, organized nature walks and bird watching led by the National Audubon Society.

Live entertainment includes blues musician Clarence Van Hook, gospel and jazz from Consonance, Latin sounds from Duamuxa and other performers. Those wanting to fish can bring their own equipment.

The event is hosted by the North Richmond Shoreline Open Space Alliance in partnership with the East Bay Regional Parks District and the cities of Richmond and San Pablo.

Parking is available on-site. EasyGo Transportation shuttle buses will also pick people up at locations including the North Richmond Center For Health, the Nevin Community Center, the Walter T. Helms Middle School and Parchester Village. For more information, go to www.northrichmondshoreline.org/festival/map2PointPinole.htm or email info@northrichmondshoreline.org.


Help Rebuild Kennedy Park

The city of Richmond has invited community members to help rebuild the John F. Kennedy Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Cutting Boulevard and 41st Street, as part of national Make A Difference Day.

The city hopes to attract more than 350 volunteers to complete the park restoration as part of the event, the largest national day of service involving millions of Americans working to improve their communities and the lives of others. Richmond Trees will also celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees and greening the park.

Built in 1968, the park will be renovated to meet the changing need of the neighborhood. For more information, call 510-620-6511. To volunteer, visit http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a45a5af2ca1fb6-john.


Picnic In The Point

Grab the family and head to Judge Carroll Park for the sixth annual Picnic In The Point from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17.

The event will include food activities for kids and live music from the Grammy-nominated Trout Fishing In America, along with Dana Louise And The Glorious Birds.

Admission is free, while advance tickets for food and games can be purchased through Oct. 16 for a discounted price of $20 for 25 tickets at the Up & Under Pub And Grill on 2 West Richmond Ave., and at Smith Office Solutions on 210 Washington Ave. Tickets will also be available at the event.

Proceeds from the picnic will benefit the Let’s Grow Richmond food nonprofit; the Point Richmond Business Association; the Washington Elementary School PTA; the Richmond Swims organization; and the local Parent Resources And More group.


Celebrate Food Day

The Richmond Food Policy Council will sponsor Food Day 2015 with a variety of activities Oct. 20 to 24.

The event will kick off with a Food Day proclamation issued by Richmond Mayor Tom Butt during the Oct. 20 Richmond City Council Meeting. Other events include the Richmond Main Street Initiative Downtown Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 13th Street and Nevin Avenue; and the Civic Center Farmers’ Market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. Both will feature lunchtime dance fitness, cooking demos and education tables about eating healthy on a budget.

The weeklong events will culminate with Food Day on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Richmond City Hall. The free event will include medical screenings, compost demos, produce giveaways and enrollment in the Calfresh supplemental nutrition program.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/RichmondFoodDay.

Local Happenings – Sept 2015

S&S 2015--Postcard English PRINT

From the RP News Desk

Spirit & Soul Festival 

The seventh annual Spirit & Soul Festival returns to downtown Richmond on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The outdoor festival is a celebration of Downtown Richmond and will feature live entertainment and a bazaar with artisan and craft vendors, food booths, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages for sale. Proceeds from drink sales and a silent auction will benefit Richmond Main Street Initiative’s mission to support the revitalization of historic downtown Richmond.

Musical headliners for the event include 2015 winners of the SF Carnival Festival, SambaFunk! And the Funkquarians; jazz, soul and R&B drummer Rene Escovedo & Fuze; Nicole Buttah Pearson & the Buttaluv Band; and guitarist Kenya Baker & the Kenya B Trio.

Officials with the Richmond Main Street Initiative will also honor several individuals who have been instrumental in giving of their time, resources, and expertise to support downtown Richmond’s revitalization efforts.

Admission is free and festivities will take place on Macdonald Avenue between Harbour Way and 13th Street. For more information, visit www.richmondmainstreet.org.

Electric Cars in Richmond

Join other Richmond residents to celebrate National Drive Electric Week, a nationwide push to raise awareness of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars. There will be experts on hand to answer questions and explain the technology of electric vehicles.

Richmond’s event will take place at Richmond City Hall (440 Civic Center Plaza) in the parking lot across from the Richmond Public Library, on Thursday, Sept. 17 and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. To register or volunteer, visit: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=450.

31st annual California Coastal Cleanup Day

Bring the family out and enjoy a day along Richmond’s shoreline, picking up trash and cleaning up the waterways for the 31st annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.

Adults should accompany children under 16 and volunteers are asked to bring a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, a bucket for trash, a hat, gloves and should wear closed toed shoes and layered clothing.

The District will provide snacks, water, disposable gloves and trash bags.

The cleanup is on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Point Isabel and Point Pinole regional shorelines. Registration is required.

To register, visit EBParksOnline.org or call 1-888-327-2757 option 2; mention the reference course number indicated on participating parks below.  Pt. Isabel is reference #10702 and Pt. Pinole is # 10703.

Gender Responsiveness Conference

Reach Fellowship International, a local nonprofit that provides services for women coming from jail or prison, is sponsoring an inaugural conference on gender responsiveness to discuss and identify action steps for how to better serve incarcerated women, and how to best facilitate their re-entry as productive members of the community in Contra Costa County.

Barbara Bloom, a Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies professor at Sonoma State University and co-director of the Center for Gender and Justice, is the keynote speaker at the event.

The conference will take place on at Richmond City Hall Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza, on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m.

To register visit: tinyurl.com/GRConference

Those interested in participating in the conference as a speaker or a panelist can email info@reachfi.org.

RYSE Center Ends Summer With a Jam


By Ronvel Sharper

The RYSE Youth Center in Richmond was filled with electric energy last month when over 200 people came out to enjoy free food and entertainment by local rappers, dancers and spoken word artists at its sixth annual Back 2 School Summer Jam.

“This was the most performers we’ve ever had at any summer jam,” said Molly Raynor, the music and performing arts program coordinator at RYSE. “The youth themselves really supported each other during the performances.”

The purpose of the event, which took place in the “RYSE Outside” backyard area of the center, was to create a space for people of all ages to celebrate Richmond’s community and youth expression. It also gave families and new prospective teens a chance to see all that RYSE has to offer. Scattered throughout the yard were representatives from various youth and community organizations, including Girls Inc., an organization that promotes female empowerment, and Stand for Families Free of Violence, which helps victims of domestic abuse. Also at the event was YES Nature to Neighborhoods, a community group that takes youth, adults and families living in the area into nature in the hopes of building self-confidence and leadership skills.

Aside from fun and entertainment, the jam also provided attendees an opportunity to connect with academic institutions like the Academy of Art University, which runs a high school program for aspiring artists called the Pre-College Art Experience and Game Theory Academy, an organization that teaches its students about the economy.

RYSE started in 2000 as a partial response to the number of homicides among youth in Richmond. Galvanized students organized community forums and worked with local officials on youth-identified priorities, ultimately resulting in the RYSE Center opening in 2008. Since it opened hundreds of Richmond youth have passed through its doors, and been changed by the center.

Performer Donte Clark who has worked at RYSE for five years, said his time at the center has significantly impacted his life, allowing him to take his art “more seriously and to expose how we’re hurting, and how to heal.”

And while RYSE staff and youth too often must deal with heavy, emotional topics the Summer Jam was a good respite from all that. It was fun and had everything a good party should — music, drinks, food and plenty of people.

It truly felt like a last fun summer day.

The Science Of The Sk8


Photo Essay, David Meza

Professional skaters and novices alike explored the physics of skateboarding during the #Sk8board in2 Physics! event for teens at Richmond’s Nichol Park Aug. 22.

About 50 people attended the event on the sunny Saturday, aimed at introducing young adults to the physics that guides the way they ride.

“We need to engage young people and let them know that science is something that they should be thinking about, and is also fun,” said event organizer Angela Cox, the Richmond Library’s teen librarian.”Science and technology are fun fields to go into.”

Kids and young adults heard from UC Berkeley Professor Daryl Chrzan, a skateboarder himself, who gave a talk about the physics principles behind skateboarding. Also on hand: the Science Exploratorium’s mobile skate park, to help attendees learn about the scientific side of the tricks and stunts they attempt to perfect on a daily basis.

Making a splash at the event was 9-year-old Minna Stess, the first girl in the three-decade history of the California Amateur Skateboard League series to take first place overall. Minna, who came with her brother Finnley, showed off her tricks and engaged with the community, letting everyone know that girls can skate too.

Local Richmond skater Angel Jacob, who’s been skateboarding for the past three years and was recently sponsored by clothing line World Class Frontrvnners, gave his best advice to all the young skateboarders: “Keep trying, get back up and stay strong.”

Sponsored by Friends of the Richmond Public Library and Sims Metal Management, the second annual event featured free Gatorade for participants and raffle prizes donated by 510 Skateboarding and CA iconic.

Richmond Day

Historian Laura Ackley speaks at the Richmond Museum of History.

Above: Historian Laura Ackley speaks at the Richmond Museum of History.


By Keisa Reynolds

It’s been a century since Richmond was honored at a world’s fair in San Francisco, and 110 years since the city was incorporated on August 7, 1905.

To celebrate the combined anniversaries — and the opening of a new permanent exhibit recognizing the fair — the Richmond Museum of History held a special event this year that included musical performances, a lecture and featured architectural historian Laura Ackley, an expert on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition — the fair that first honored the city — and author of “San Francisco’s Jewel City: the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

The PPIE was primarily a celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal. But, for businessmen and city officials, it was also a way to help San Francisco recover after the devastating 1906 earthquake. The fair opened on February 1915, and hosted 19 million attendees throughout its ten-month duration.

On August 7, 1915, around 3,000 Richmond residents ferried to San Francisco for Richmond Day, an event to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the city’s incorporation. Among the crowd, were children who were let out of school for the day to see the parade, and sing the Star Spangled Banner at the Liberty Bell, which was “visiting” the city for the occasion.

In addition to celebration and fun, many hoped the fair would bring more people and investments to the Bay Area. There were guidebooks on hand and trips given around the region, including to parts of East Bay.

“They wanted settlers, [saying], ‘We need people to buy land. We need people to come and invest in our state,” Ackley said. “I expect the same was with Richmond.”

And according to some experts, it worked.

“The exposition did a lot for the city of San Francisco,” said Evelyn Santos, a museum technician. “Back in the day, expositions were a big deal. People went to learn about the latest craze including technology, public transportation and fashion.”

After discovering a trove of items related to the fair in inventory, Richmond museum staff decided to open a PPIE related exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary. The exhibit is in the permanent gallery.

“[The exposition] helped recognize us,” Santos said. “The city was fairly new, and by ten years, Richmond had grown exponentially. It was a cool way to say, ‘We are here and representing our city.’”

Over 80,000 exhibiters with over a million objects, not including the art galleries, showed off their wares at the fair. Some of these, which Ackley describes as treasures, can be found in Richmond’s exhibit. Attendees will find glass jewels, ribbons, pins, fabric, postcards and other souvenirs.

For Santos, the PPIE exhibit brings to life people during that time. “It reminds me of an amusement park and how exciting it must have been to be there,” said Santos.


Richmond’s history museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is a dollar for students and free for children under 12.

Those interested can also visit California Historical Society and HistoryPin’s online exhibit, Mapping San Francisco’s 1915 World’s Fair. Other remnants of the fair can be found around the Bay Area.

Rosie the Riveter – Still Inspiring Women in Richmond


Story, Nancy DeVille | Photos, David Meza

They came from all over the Bay Area. Hundreds of women in navy blue coveralls, knee high red socks, black work boots and red and white polka dot bandannas. All to be a part of history and pay homage to the woman known as Rosie the Riveter.

The Rosie lookalikes gathered at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park to attempt to break a Guinness Book world record for the most Rosies gathered in one place since World War II. The previous record of 776 Rosies was set in Ypsilanti, Mich. last year.

For Yenni Velazquez, the Rosie rally was an opportunity to educate her seven-year-old daughter Yennell, who met one of the original Rosies at the event.

The original Rosies were workers at Richmond’s Kaiser shipyards who took jobs during World War II that were traditionally held by men. They earned the nickname Rosie the Riveter and worked as buckers, welders and electricians. The Rosies are renowned for redefining the women’s role in the workplace and inspiring women of all ages.

“The minute we got out of the car it felt like we were part of a scene back in the ‘40s, because there were Rosies everywhere,” Velazquez said. “It empowered my daughter for her to hear one of the original Rosies tell her, ‘You can do anything you want to do.’”

Ellen Seskin, a Richmond resident, said the event brought together a diverse group of women. “For just a few hours, there weren’t black women and white women and Asian women, old women and young women,” she said. “We were all just Rosie the Riveter, [coming] together for a common cause, just as I imagine the real Rosies did.”

Guinness must still validate the head count and ensure the women were dressed in the official Rosie attire before the record is official. But Rosie officials believe the record was broken because they sold more than 800 of the famed polka dot bandannas before the rally. During the event, organizers announced that 1,084 attended.

“It was important for me to get involved for something that was bringing positivity to Richmond,” added Velazquez. “We have some pretty awesome women that can come together and break a world record. It gave me hope that we can get together and continue to bring out the best in Richmond.”

Anna Deavere Smith Takes on School-to-Prison Pipeline


Review, Edgardo Cervano-Soto

Many students may not have heard of the “school-to-prison pipeline,” but they experience the reality up close. It is a series of steps the criminal justice and education system are taking to over-police, criminalize and punish students of color, specifically black and Latino students. This could include funding police presence in schools instead of providing therapists and counselors; resorting to suspensions and expulsions rather than mediation; expanding juvenile halls instead of improving public schools; or stereotyping certain students as “problem students”- a label that becomes racialized and near impossible for the student to shed.

Playwright, actress, documentarian and MacArthur “genius” award winner Anna Deavere Smith–known for bringing American testimonies to the stage–fixes her gaze on the this pipeline – and asks what we as the public can do about it.

The creator of critical works including Twilight and Fires in the Mirror (both of which highlighted racism in the United States), continues her investigation into the American condition reckoning with racism with her newest performance, Notes From The Field: Doing Time in Education, now playing at the Berkeley Rep. In this play, Smith utilizes her process of finding individuals closest to the narrative, interviewing and filming them, studying their mannerisms, memorizing their words, and ultimately, curating a showcase of those voices. In Notes From the Field, Smith filled Berkeley Rep with more than 20 testimonies from people impacted by criminal justice and education.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counselor of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, opens the performance, offering a frame by which inequities in education have skyrocketed in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the United States is investing in an infrastructure, says Ifill. According to Ifill, the nation chooses to invest the way it responds to poverty and low-achieving students by focusing on extreme disciplinary measures and expanding prisons and its role in schools. Smith’s inclusion of this view encourages the audience to view the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration as systemic and implicating all.

From there, the school-to-prison pipeline is an entry point to larger discussion on the state of education, the violence done to and felt by people of color, institutional racism, and America’s current investment in mass incarceration. Among the voices featured in Notes from the Field are Arnold Perkins, former director of the Alameda County Public Health Department; Michael Tubbs, councilmember of Stockton, Calif.; Kevin Moore, a Baltimore resident who filmed police abusing Freddie Gray; Linda Wayman, principal of a school in Philadelphia; and Stephanie Williams, an emotional support teacher in Philadelphia whose intensely emotional account of comforting an 11-year-old moved the audience to tears. Smith closed her show with a profound reflection from James Baldwin commenting on the grief that exists in humanity.

Yet, Smith was not the singular force of the show. At intermission, she organized facilitated discussion groups for the audience. In these discussion groups, theater facilitators asked participants to imagine a world where the school-to-prison pipeline was completely solved. Participants offered solutions to reforming criminal justice. Mentoring, volunteering at schools, donating to civil rights organizations, and participating in efforts to reform mass incarceration were all voiced ideas. During intermission, participants could tweet their own commitments and ideas to reforming criminal justice and mass incarceration. Tweets included “I commit to be more alert to detecting ways class and race assumptions distort the classroom experience of my students” and “I commit to writing my elected officials in support of increased funding for mental health and public education.”

Smith’s testimonies engaged with the audience so deeply on racism, police brutality, and the injustice of the American dream, that the energy at the end of the show was palpable, leaving all marked by the experience of a tremendous performance that required all to consider their own role in reforming oppressive systems.

If You Go: Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, The California Chapter runs through Aug. 2 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley.

For more info visit www.berkeleyrep.org.



The Night My View of Richmond Changed


By Ronvel Sharper, age 16 ­|Photos by Ann Bassette

On July 17, 2015, I joined about a hundred other people taking to Richmond’s streets for a Ceasefire night walk through neighborhoods impacted by gun violence. The weekly walks are the community’s attempt to lessen shootings in the city. Each week a couple of dozen regulars come out to walk in support of the cause, but the walk this week was different—it was the first of two larger citywide walks and, on a personal note, it was the first time I took part in something like this.

One of the first things that struck me was the diverse group of people participating, including Blacks, Whites, Latinos and Asians, all holding signs promoting peace. I felt as if we were all a part of one huge family, as if we are all indirectly related. It was empowering and made me feel as if I could contribute more to my community.

The atmosphere was positive; everyone was chatting with one another, singing, playing instruments and having a good time. As we walked, we chanted, “Ceasefire, Richmond” and, “Alive and Free.” Throughout our walk countless drivers responded to our “Honk for Peace” signs, signifying their support for our cause.

I was astonished to see people in cars waving and cheering for us. Going into this, I thought no one would have cared and would have just driven past. But they did care and hearing them blare their horns was breathtaking. The support they showed opened my eyes to the kind of people that live here in Richmond. There were people talking and hanging out, no one was alone or being a loner. Everyone was happy. They exhibited a different future for Richmond as a happier place to be.

Equally significant to what we chanted was where we were when we chanted, as Tamisha Walker, a frequent Ceasefire participant and founder of the Safe Return Project, a nonprofit that helps people in the area coming out of jail or prison, pointed out.

“We start in North Richmond and it’s really important to walk through Las Deltas projects to show folks that we’re around and we’re here for folks,” she said.

“Then to cross under the train tracks into the Iron Triangle, right in heart of Richmond, and be able to run into folks who’ve lived in Richmond honking and saying, ‘Thank you, we really need this’…and be able connect Richmond to say, ‘We can cross these barriers and feel safe,’ it was just amazing.”

Leaving the experience, I feel as if Ceasefire walks make a difference in the community, or at least can in the future. The sheer number of participants signifies that people are willing to make a change.

Luckily, I wouldn’t say the violence in Richmond has affected me directly, but before this I always thought that no one would help. That if something did happen, you and a small group of friends would have to tackle it alone. Participating in this event has shown me otherwise. Being a part of the walk has opened my eyes to what Richmond can be, if we continue these nonviolent events. Richmond can be a peaceful, safe and friendly community—a town with a bad past, and overall horrible environment, can become a safe and beautiful place.

At this rate, I think, it’s only a matter of time before Richmond becomes a city no longer plagued by a bad reputation and negative stereotypes. Perhaps in Richmond we will see a prime example of the powerful impact people can make when they come together and push for change.


Catahoula Coffee Hosts Customer Appreciation Event


Photo Essay, David Meza

Catahoula Coffee, a local go-to caffeine spot in Richmond since 2008, opened its doors last Sunday to say, “thanks,” to its many loyal patrons with a customer appreciation day.

The 6th annual, “Party in the Parking Lot,” featured free coffee, live music, classic cars and furry friends. In appreciation of its patrons, the locally owned coffee shop also dished out free hot dogs and other yummy snacks, including a fan favorite: Japanese Mochi Bread, made at its sister location in Berkeley.

To many in Richmond, Catahoula is close to the heart simply because it’s close to home. The shop’s owner, Tim Manhart said he started the event to celebrate the community and its support of local businesses.

DSC_0164“If you’re going to have a business, you might as well have fun with it,” Manhart said, at the event.

Among the local businesses present was Urban Tilth, a non-profit gardening organization that is expanding its retail portion, offering deep cleansing soap bars with used Catahoula coffee grounds in the ingredient list. Also embracing community, by selling local honey, was the owner of Richmond Gold and Vice President of the Alameda County Beekeeper Association, Catherine Edwards.

“This is great stop on a bike ride,” said local photographer Mindy Pines as she stopped by the event for a bag of coffee beans.

A family favorite of the day was the Little Explorers Petting Zoo featuring Kanga the rabbit, Duchess the pig and Bella the goat.

Adam and Jinny Pagle, of Pagle Homestead, who grow food and sell custom planter boxes and homemade jam, have been bringing their children to Catahoula for years. The couple said they admire the friendly atmosphere and like many others, enjoy the company of neighbors while supporting a thriving local business.