Sunday Morning: Renegade Bernal Heights Easter Egg Hunt


Shhhhhhh! There’s word on the street that the Easter Bunny may hide some eggs in Holly Park tomorrow morning:

Bernal’s unofficial, unauthorized, unorganized, nondenominational EGGZELLENT Hide & Hunt in Holly Park

Date Sunday, April 20
9:00 for hiders.
10:00 for hunters.

North steps of Holly Park

9:00 am. Meet at the top of the north steps of Holly Park for the hiding parent. (rules and chatter until around 9:15 and then 30 minutes of hiding. NO Kids until 9:45am please…)

Around 10:00 am we’ll go over the rules (quickly) for the kids and then start. The rules will be made up on the spot. They depend on how many people show up, the age range, and the weather.

– at least 12 nicely colored eggs; chocolate or plastic. Also, there have been multiple requests for more stickers/plastic dinosaurs/ikea finger puppets/whathaveyou and less candy!
– a basket for your kid to carry eggs.

– eggs with candy, crackers, tattoos, toys, confetti– what ever you like as long as its safe.
– there will be separate areas designated for toddlers and bigger kids so hide eggs accordingly.
– In previous years the outer areas were for the older hunters and the baseball field was reserved for the younger hunters (toddlers, babies,etc).

– watch your kids when they open the eggs. Make sure what is inside them is appropriate for your kid.
– If hiding eggs in the baseball field, please try to make sure they are more age appropriate
– ***please do not take more eggs than you came with***

– Light rain or shine… we hide and hunt…. same time same place.
Downpour, forget about it.

This is a word of mouth event that is open to the community, but at risk of losing it’s charm and appeal if it gets too big. All welcome, but it doesn’t need to be majorly publicized. Thank you.

PHOTO: Hunting for eggs in 2012, by Bronwyn Ximm

Sunday: Rock Your Face Off with Bernal Kids at the Rock Band Land Album Release Party


This is Neighbor Odin. He lives with his parents on Montcalm in Bernal Heights, and as you might have guessed from the photo, he ROCKS.

Specifically, he rocks with Rock Band Land, a ridiculously awesome music education and storytelling program based in The Mission. Odin’s mom is Neighbor Kristen, and she tells Bernalwood:

Odin is a master shredder. He’s a guitar player and super-duper positive vibe-giver. He loves Rock Band Land. Listens and plays guitar to the program’s songs all the time. After every class my son is on cloud nine. Full of energy and happy.

Neighbor Odin is not the only Bernalese to rock at Rock Band Land. Bernalwood’s own Cub Reporter also participates in the program. She gravitates toward the vocals, though she’s also dabbling with keyboards:


This Sunday, March 2 at the Verdi Club (2424 Mariposa at Hampshire), the Rock Band Land crüe will host a glamorous party and live show to celebrate the galaxy-wide release of the program’s new album, which was performed under the guise of a band called Rainbow Beast:

Rainbow Beast is a band born from the minds of children, embodied in the lives of professional musicians, and straddling the border between the imaginary (but very real) world of Rock Band Land and the real (but often fantastical) city of San Francisco, California. The band consists of Marcus Stoesz (Vocals, Guitar, Keys), Brian Gorman (Drums), and Jen Aldrich (Bass). The members of Rainbow Beast act as interpreters, mentors and curators for Rock Band Land, and all of the music that the band records and performs was written with the Rock Band Land rockers. To date, the band has produced over 150 original songs and stories with kids 4-8 years old.

Tickets for the big show on Sunday are selling fast, so rockers of all ages are encouraged to buy quickly before they’re all gone.

If you want to hone in on the contributions from Bernal’s Rockers, we’re told  that Odin helped helped write and played on “The Little Big Easy,” “Fish Wife,” “Cracking Up at the Goat Joint,” and “The Ballad of Annabelle and Sam.”

Meanwhile, Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter helped write and sings on “Party Killer.” It’s a song about a monster who stumbles into a rowdy party in South America, then tries to break it up because he mistakenly thinks the celebration is a form of fighting. It’s also a song which, I can honestly say, I still love to hear, even after several zillion listens.

Hope to see you rocking on Sunday, but until then, here’s a little taste:


NPR Spotlights Science Education for Bernal Students


National media alert! On NPR’s Morning Edition this week, a group of students at Bernal’s Paul Revere School were the focus of a story by Eric Westervelt about Mission Science Workshop, an innovative program to make science education more unboring:

On a recent afternoon in San Francisco, 9-year-olds from Paul Revere Elementary in the Bernal Heights neighborhood are captivated by a large Van de Graaff electrostatic generator — and the prospect of gently zapping a reporter. They implore me to put the metal part of my microphone on the machine — all in the name of science, of course.

It’s semi-controlled chaos here, but that’s the point. This is free-form explore time at the Mission Science Workshop in San Francisco. The program works with low-income and underserved public elementary schools to get kids excited about science. The program does it by mixing lots of hands-on learning with specific experiments that teachers can continue back in their own classrooms.

There are a lot of live reptiles, whole animal skeletons and a handful of project stations throughout the room, a large former high school auto shop-turned science lair. Think mad scientist meets Willy Wonka, with limited impulse controls. Fourth-graders Matthew Rivera and Jamal Damon gently tussle over two pythons while teacher Sarah-Jayne Reilly stands by.

“I grew up in Ireland and really didn’t do science until I was much older,” Reilly says. “And when I came here the first time, my mind was like, ‘Wow! I just love the way the children are learning to think.’ ‘

“We always tell them, ‘Don’t just believe me, try it for yourself, test it for yourself. It’s OK to be wrong. It’s OK to say what you’re thinking,’ ” she says.

For teacher Sam Haynor, the science workshop is about using imaginative experimentation to spark learning, and to counter the idea that science is a set of known facts that students should sit back quietly and receive from on high.

PHOTO: Student at Mission Science Workshop, via NPR

What Happened to “Breakfast With Enzo?”


Breakfast with Enzo is a weekly show of children’s music and storytelling created and performed by Enzo Garcia. Held at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center for the last 11 years, Breakfast with Enzo was much-loved by local children… and their parents.

Last week, however, Breakast at Enzo’s long run at BHNC came to an end. In a note to his mailing list, Enzo Garcia alleges that the closure stemmed from a significant increase in the rental fees BHNC charges to use the space:

This year a new housing director was hired by BHNC. The housing director is my contact for the rental of BHNC’s dining room. In February I received notice from the housing director that the rent I pay to use the space would go up 50%. Since I had never been subject to a rent increase in my tenure at BHNC, I made no waves and agreed to pay the increased rent and continue to use the dining room.

On December 2nd, I received an email from the housing director that my rent would increase an additional 66%, up from the 50% increase beginning January, 2014. I can not sustain the increase without passing the cost along to you, the patrons of the show. I am terribly concerned that attendance will be negatively affected.

Breakfast with Enzo is a live music performance for families in the San Francisco bay area. Although I consider the show to be a performance it is routinely referred to as a class by parents who attend. Most organizations offering music classes for infants and toddlers here in the bay area require pre-registration, cost over $20 per class and are taught by underpaid teachers (I speak from experience). At $6 per person and no pre-registration, Breakfast with Enzo is a more affordable service for the community.

Having been at the BHNC for many years now I have seen personnel there come and go. Breakfast with Enzo has remained. I would like to continue serving families with live music at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

In a note to Bernalwood, Neighbor Christina vented:

A weekly tradition, Breakfast with Enzo has been an incredible resource to the neighborhood, not just because young kids are getting a social outlet and musical education at the incredibly reasonable rate of $6 for 2 hours of super, jump-around, mind-enriching, fun. But Bernal businesses are benefitting by having families from other neighborhoods come in to see Enzo, and then spend the afternoon having lunch, going to the library, and shopping in Bernal.

The BHNC is a City subsided space, which is supposed to be supporting the surrounding community. Their main focus is at-risk teens, and low-income elderly, so apparently they don’t value what has been happening there on Saturday mornings for the last 11 years. Egos, miscommunication, and who knows what is at work here, resulting in Bernal kids are no longer getting to have their music time. And guess who’s moving into Enzo time slot — no one. They’re booting Enzo out for no one.

It’s really sad.

Bernalwood reached out to BHNC to get their perspective on the closure of Breakfast with Enzo. BHNC housing director Amy Beinart writes:

Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is a neighborhood-based nonprofit organization that provides services for low-income seniors and youth, organizes members of the community to advocate for their needs, and develops and operates affordable housing for low income people. We support this work through extremely constrained funding sources, including fee-for-service contracts, foundation grants that are restricted for use to serve our programs, and membership and donations. We stretch these dollars as far as we can to support the programs that address our core mission. We are able to supplement our budget in a very small way by renting our space for community uses and private events. This is one of very few options we have to secure the money we need for upkeep and repairs to sustain this valuable community resource.

Many evenings and mornings, the downstairs multipurpose space and the upstairs conference room are used by 12-step recovery groups. Periodically, private individuals reserve the space for birthday parties and baby showers. Additionally, we have been happy to have Enzo rent the room on Saturday mornings.

As Enzo has described to you, for many years the rent rate was flat; he paid $30 per Saturday, or $10 per hour. Last year, he agreed to an increase to $45 per Saturday morning, or $15 per hour. This year, in considering our budget for the year ahead, our ever-increasing overhead costs, and need for repairs to the building, we recognized that we had to look carefully at all possible sources of income to support BHNC. Earlier this month, I sent Enzo an email proposing a new rate of $75 per Saturday, $25 per hour. The proposed rate is lower than our standard private event/business rate; and well below the $70 per hour charged by SF Rec and Park to rent the center behind the library.

In my email, I asked him to contact me to discuss if he had concerns about the amount. He emailed me back that this rate would be too high, and I responded that it was not our intent to price him out and invited him to suggest an increase that he could support. It is clear, however, that we cannot keep rates for private events flat while our expenses continue to rise. While we agree that Breakfast with Enzo is a fun event, it is not a program of BHNC, and we are not able to raise funds to subsidize his use of the space.

This is an evolving situation. We’ve been in conversation with Enzo about a workable compromise, and continue to be open to finding a solution.

Bernalwood hopes that a way will be found to keep Breakfast with Enzo on Cortland, and we will update this story accordingly.

PHOTO: via Yelp

Will Last Night’s Blackout Bequeath a Bernal Baby Boom?



Darkness fell on Eastern Precitaville last night, as a PG&E transformer bit the dust near the intersection of Alabama and Precita, causing a prolonged blackout.

The Bernalwood Action News Satellite Uplink Miata rushed to the scene to investigate, where a PG&E worker confirmed social-media reports that the outage may have been caused by an errant children’s balloon.

Neighbor Kent used the darkness as an opportunity to get cosmic…

… while Neighbor Sarah pondered other ways to keep busy:

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Sunday: Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos Celebration at J. Serra Elementary School


Neighbor Kristen invites you and your junior zombies to the Halloween festivities taking place on Sunday at J. Serra Elementary:

J. Serra Elementary at 625 Holly Park Circle will be having its annual Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos celebration from noon to 3 p.m. this Sunday, October 26, 2013.

Parents are compiling amazing raffle prizes and there will be the following activities and events:

Activities: Cooking class—ceviche, Loteria or bingo, Beauty salon, Pumpkin patch, Face painting, Ponies/farm, Photobooth, Fortune teller, Games (free and paid), Crafts and Food/beverages

Events: Student performance, Costume contest, Raffle.

Aztec dancers will perform at 1 p.m..   Our parent liaison at the school is one of the dancers; they do it for us every year and it’s pretty amazing.


Beloved Precita Playground Satellite Spinner Back in Action After Emergency Gyro-Stabilization Repairs



Astute observers and nearly all north slope children have long grumbled about the failing condition of Precita Playground’s much-loved (but very old) penultimate satellite spinner.

Fortunately, an emergency effort was undertaken to repair the satellite spinner and return it to service. This required the complete removal of the iconic spinner hull, however, which was upsetting to many Bernal Heights observers. Bad enough that the spinner was broken; Scenes of the spinner resting pathetically on the back of a crane truck were heartbreaking.


Once the spinner was gone, would it ever come back?? In a note to Bernalwood, Neighbor Victor summarized these anxieties well:

I suppose other neighbors have perhaps written to the blog directorship about the spinner’s recent disappearance from the playground in Precita Park, replaced by two city cones of purgatory orange. I wonder if anyone knows if this is a permanent loss, the first step (years in the making in the hearts of the least sentimental?) to make way for something quite different. Or will it remain a vacant mini lot of sand? Or will the spinner rise again like a phoenix from the dust?

These were not trivial questions.

Luckily, Neighbor Demece, Lead Warrior Princess of Precita Valley Neighbors, was on the case. Through her contacts deep inside the Recreation and Park bureaucracy, Neighbor Demece determined that the beloved satellite spinner was receiving a complete refit in preparation for a return to service.

Today she brought some very good news:

The spinner should be delivered today! Joe Padilla, Paint Supervisor at SF Recs and Park, personally painted the spinner and had it fixed. I have been told by SF Rec and Park staff that it is BEAUTIFUL!!!

Of course, it’s the spinner, and by definition a thing of beauty.

Yes yes, the spinner is now, officially back. Neighbor Gleeco immediately recognized the momentousness of its return:

The freshly repainted (Rasta edition?) and overhualed saucer is back. Been too long. Hopefully it’ll be good for a few more generations of kids!

Hopefully, indeed. And fair point about the paint job; it does seem rather rasta:


Irie, mon! Nevertheless, when Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter visited the spinner after its return, she declared her fondness for the new livery.

“I like it,” she said.

“Those are awesome colors.”

So the critics are pleased. The most important thing, of course, is that the satellite spinner is back, and working, and right where it belongs. To infinity… and beyond!

PHOTOS: From Top, Then, by Neighbor Shane. Now, by Telstar Logistics. Spinner on truck, by Neighbor Paul.

Tomorrow: Dunk a Teacher at the Junipero Serra Elementary School International Carnival


Neighbor Kristen invites Bernalese of all ages to the Junipero Serra Elementary School International Carnival Celebration, happening tomorrow, Saturday, May 4, from 11 am to 3 pm at the school, on the southwest side of Holly Park:

This rockin’ event will feature a jumpy house, homemade food from our diverse parent population, a dunk tank so we can dunk our principal and various teachers, dancing, a beauty salon, games and an impressive raffle (drawing will be at 2 p.m., need not be present to win!). Come on down and support your local elementary school. 625 Holly Park Circle, Bernal Heights, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It takes a village to raise our amazing students!

Fashionable Bernal Heights Mini-Citizens Shake Their Groove Things at Gala Community Celebration


It was quite the happening scene at the Bernal Rec Center on Saturday. The Junior Citizens of Bernalwood jumped, splashed, goat- and chicken-petted, munched, and rocked out as the Bernal Library’s new Cortland- and Moultrie-facing murals sparkled in the sun.

Among the musical guests were Jonathan Bayer, who duly kicked out the jams for kids and parents alike (despite an initial lack of amplification). For those who missed it, here’s a snippet of Bayer’s original “I Rhyme,” performed with Ben Chinn.

See if you can guess all the clever words you would have heard if only my phone hadn’t run out of space three seconds before the end of the song:

Saturday: A Kid-Friendly Bernal Heights Community Celebration Party


Miss Darcy from Heartfelt is spreading the word about a special event for the Junior Citizens of Bernalwood that’s happening on Saturday at the Bernal Rec Center behind the library:

The BBA and the Bernal Library Art Project task force are sponsoring a childrens event behind the library this Saturday March 16th from 11-3. Free Ice cream, hot dogs, face painting, miniature golf, a jumpy house, a fire truck, music, and lots of fun. We also just got word that Gregory Gavin is going to set up a Riveropolis!

Parents of Future Kindergartners, You Need a Drink! Drown Your Anxieties During ‘SFUS-D-Day’ at the Lucky Horseshoe

lottery.jittersAs the ides of March draw near, anyone planning to send their kid to public school in San Francisco is getting a bit nervous right about now. For those not in the know, the school district will soon tell parents which school their child will attend this fall. Might be a school you requested; might not be. You just don’t know.

But know this, parents: You are not alone. So line up those nanas, nannies, or sitters now, because you’re coming (we hope) to the all-too-aptly-named Lucky Horseshoe on Cortland to cele-miserate “SFUS-D-Day” on Thursday, March 14.

I am sure we do not have to remind you that this date is nominally the night before the district computer drops the fate of your future Einstein or Earhart into the mail with all the clatter and clang of a latter-day Linotype machine… and exactly as much empathy.

We’re hoping the good folks at the Horseshoe will offer a custom cocktail lineup featuring such classics-for-one-night as:

  • The First Choice Fizz (champagne, egg white, and Goldschläger)
  • The CTIPsy Gypsy (rose water and smokey scotch)
  • The Dual Immersion Bender (a jigger each of two bottles picked blind from the top shelf)
  • The Attendance Aria (shot of PBR dropped into half-pint of vodka)

…and perhaps some nonalcoholic counterparts as well. But whether it’s for the water or the whine, come on down and look your competition in the eye one last time as equals!

We’ll try to come up with a mechanism for gathering some anecdotal information from attendees, but this is really about forging a moment of defiant collective non-silence in the face of a dehumanizing and exhausting process that, for better and worse, is soon to come to… well, only the first of many notional endings.

WHERE: The Lucky Horseshoe, 453 Cortland Avenue

WHEN: After the kiddies are tucked in bed

WHO: Pre-K parents and those who love them

PHOTO: Aaron Ximm

Junior Science Team Explores Puddles at Precita Playground

Last weekend’s heavy rains were good new for flowers, foliage… and small children. During a lull in the rains on Saturday, Neighbor Kristen led a team of aspiring Bernal Heights scientists on a mission to the Precita Park playground:

Neighbors Max and Kennedy confirm that this morning’s Precita Park puddles meet toddler approval for depth and breadth.

As you can see, these junior researchers conducted their experiments very thoroughly:

PHOTOS: Neighbor Kristen

Ballot-Stuffers Wanted to Help Bernal Mini-Artist Win Library Card Design Contest

The San Francisco Public Library is holding a contest to crowdsource some new library card designs, and aspiring Bernal Heights artist Mia submitted the drawing shown above. Neighbor Julia writes:

You might be interested to know that a Bernal resident is one of the finalists in the SFPL library card design contest. Mia’s design is in the “2nd grade and under” category. Mia’s submission is called “Reading,” and if you are a Camp Mather regular, you might recognize the hammock scene.

Anyone with an email address can vote. My disclaimer: I’m biased, because I’m her mom. Here’s the link if you’d like to vote.