“Six Feet of Separation” Is the New Newspaper by Bernal Heights Kids


Bernalwood blog… ACTIVATE!

We interrupt this pandemic to bring you an essential update from Bernal Heights, where celebrity author and youth wrangler Chris Colin shares this update about “Six Feet of Separation,” the newest newspaper in our neighborhood:

Did you feel that? That was the media landscape shifting!

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the first-ever Bernal Heights young people’s free pandemic newspaper, Six Feet of Separation! Unless there were others I don’t know about!

After a nailbiter of a vote on what to call this thing, “Six Feet of Separation” prevailed as the most popular title, and so it shall be. (RIP “Bernal Butts.”)

Please read Six Feet of Separation and share widely. Any design/layout blunders are the fault of the publisher, all excellence is the fault of the amazing contributors, ages 2-17 (with one 19-year-old thrown in for good luck). Here’s a tasty sample:

Thanks to everyone who wrote, drew, dictated and otherwise submitted something to this first issue of Six Feet of Separation. We are now accepting submissions for issue #2. Editorial policy is: Yes.

By the kids, for the kids. Check out Issue 1 of  Six Feet of Separation!


Sunday: Earth Day Festivities at the College Hill Learning Garden

The College Hill Learning Garden Photo: Courtesy of Danny Palmer

The College Hill Learning Garden is a outdoor education facility for kids located on a patch of land within the grounds of the  College Hill Reservoir. The garden at  336 Elsie (near Santa Marina) is operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and it opened in 2016.

This weekend, on Sunday, April 22, Bernalese of all ages are invited to the  College Hill Learning Garden to partake of an Earth Day gala. Program manager Danny Palmer tells Bernalwood:

We’re spreading the word about the second annual Earth Day Garden Party at College Hill Learning Garden. We’ve got a full day of family activities happening in, and around, the garden this Sunday, April 22, from 10:00am-3:00pm and 7:30pm-8:30pm.

We’re located at 336 Elsie Street, between Cortland and Holly Park.

More details in the poster below:

Saturday: Families Invited to Frolic at the Paul Revere Elementary Schoolyard

There’s a gorgeous schoolyard at Paul Revere Elementary School in South Bernal, and this Saturday morning, Bernalese of all ages are invited to come celebrate and enjoy it.

Sharon Chung from the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project tells Bernalwood:

We’re hosting a large community event at Paul Revere Elementary on Saturday, Nov. 4 and welcoming families and kids to come have a great time with us under the sun.

The San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project is a non profit organization that works to open schoolyards across the City for public use on weekends. Our mission is to provide every child and family in San Francisco an accessible space to gather and play within walking distance.

We hope everyone in the Bernal Heights community will be able to utilize Paul Revere’s schoolyard more readily with this opening.

WHAT: Schoolyard Opening at Paul Revere Elementary School
WHEN: Saturday, November 4, 11 am – 1 pm
WHERE: Paul Revere Elementary, 555 Tompkins Ave.
RSVP: Via this website

Cortland Merchants Will Have Halloween Treats For Your Little Monsters

For many tens of thousands of years, the shopkeepers of Cortland Avenue have put out candy baskets for children during the evening hours on October 31st, so that families in Bernal Heights can partake of Halloween in locavore safety and style.

That tradition continues again this year, and Neighbor Darcy from Heartfelt brings the details — along with some ancient wisdom:

Our Halloween celebration for the wee ones on Cortland Avenue will start at 4-5 pm onHalloween night, Oct. 31 and wind down when the candy is gone.

Here are some Halloween suggestions:

  • Stay in a group and communicate your route to each other.
  • Have a spot in the neighborhood to meet if you get separated
  • Carry a cellphone if possible
  • Use the sidewalk and cross at cross walks…no diagonal street crossings please.<
  • Never assume you have the right of way. One car might stop, but the next might not.
  • Have a great time in a great neighborhood!

PHOTO: Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter with her best friend Eddie, learning about Halloween on Cortland in 2009. (Now much bigger, she’ll be on Cortland this year once again.) Photo by Telstar Logistics

Saturday Eve: Sing Along With Disney’s “Moana” in Precita Park

The mythical island of Motonui is a loooooong way from Bernal Heights, but you can go there during a free screening of Disney’s “Moana” in Precita Park on Saturday evening.

Neighbor Dan works for California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), and he tells Bernalwood there’s a sing-along film screening of Moana happening:

Yes, it’s that time of the year again—Movies in the Park.

California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) will again host the annual family movie night in Precita Park.

“Moana” will be shown on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Precita Park, at 7 pm

The first 250 attendees will receive a special goodie bag (one per family).

Kids are invited to dress in costume and join the movie fun. Grab your picnic blanket, pack some snacks and join us for a family night of fun!

Visit our website for more details.

IMAGE: Photo illustration by Bernalwood

SF Chronicle Reports on Bernal Family’s Struggle With Housing Shortage


A few weeks ago, Bernal neighbor and Bernalwood contributor Heather Hawkins sent a sad email announcing that she was having a garage sale. “As the struggle becomes too real to be worthwhile for us any longer,” she told Bernalwood, “our family is calling it quits from the City and heading for the hills (Truckee, to be exact).”

Bernal Heights is famous as a great place to raise children, in part because our neighborhood is packed with single-family homes and open spaces. Yet the median price of a single-family home in Bernal now hovers at around $1.3 million, and that’s way more than many middle-class families with kids can afford.

In this morning’s paper, reporter Heather Knight at the San Francisco Chronicle introduces Neighbor Heather Hawkins in the context of San Francisco’s ongoing housing shortage, and the toll it takes on young families:

San Francisco has no official definition of “family housing,” but Heather Hawkins knows what it isn’t.

It isn’t the little two-bedroom flat in Bernal Heights that she paid more than $4,000 a month to rent, where her baby slept in the closet of her sister’s room, and where space was so tight she knew the number of steps between every point. Seven steps from her bed to the toilet. Thirteen steps from her bed to the girls’ room.

Hawkins, her husband and girls, like so many other San Francisco families, have packed up to head for the hills — well, the mountains. Her family is renting an apartment in Truckee while they look for a house to buy. They’ll probably get twice as much space for half the price of anything they could find in San Francisco.

“It’s hard when your kid comes home and says, ‘But I love my little blue house!’ It’s this sinking feeling of, ‘This isn’t yours. This isn’t ours.’ That’s never going to happen for us in this city,” said Hawkins, a 42-year-old consultant in the health and outdoors industry whose husband works in tech. “I roll my eyes when people say it’s the techies. Nope! We’re leaving too.”

San Francisco notoriously has the smallest percentage of kids — 13.4 percent — of any city in the nation. But while San Francisco officials sweat and bicker over affordable housing, they rarely talk about family housing.

Read the whole thing at the San Francisco Chronicle.

PHOTO: Neighbor Heather preparing for her garage sale. Photo by Lea Suzuki from The Chronicle

New Preschool Opening on Cortland Today


There’s a new preschool opening at 610 Cortland today (right next to the Wells Fargo banking robot), and it’s called Little Angels Nursery School. Neighbor Jen’s child has been attending Little Angels at another location, and she bring the 411 on the new Cortland facility:

Little Angels nursery/preschool will be opening their 610 Cortland Avenue location on January 3rd, 2017. School founder Rabab and many of the students’ families are very excited!

Little Angels will accept children aged 18 months to 6 years, and has a sister school in Sunnyside for infants. The Bernal location has two main play rooms including an invitingly cozy reading nook by the Cortland-facing windows, a new play kitchen, and enough blocks, train tracks, and Magna-tiles for everyone.

In the back, there’s a good-sized yard with a redwood playhouse and a large sandbox, all shaded by a generous avocado tree. My personal favorite thing about the school is the full kitchen: Rabab and the other teachers do fun baking projects and make tasty, healthy, homemade lunches for the children. (They got my picky kid to happily eat vegetables and soup! I can’t express how amazing that is to me.)

Bernalese grow-ups can expect to see the kids at the local library, playground, and around the neighborhood. There was an open house at Little Angels before the holiday break, and it had a ton of walk-in traffic, so I expect the school will fill up quickly — if it’s not full already. This is a great neighborhood for kids. If anyone wants to ask Rabab questions or apply, the school’s site is here.

PHOTO: The Little Angels on Cortland, courtesy of Neighbor Jen

Parents Invited to Tour Flynn Elementary School on Precita Park


Neighbor Peter invites Bernal parents with kids entering the San Francisco public school system next year to come tour Leonard Flynn Elementary School, near Precita Park. Neighbor Peter says:

Come Tour Leonard R Flynn Elementary!

Nestled in between Bernal Heights and the Mission on the corner of Harrison and Cesar Chavez, next to Precita Park.

This diverse school has both English and Spanish immersion tracks. There’s an award-winning staff, a comprehensive approach to these primary years, and a dedicated PTA.

Tours are every other Wednesday.

The next dates are:
Oct 19; Nov 2, 16, 30; Dec 14; and January 4, 2017

PHOTO: Kids at Flynn, courtesy of Neighbor Peter

Saturday: A Free Street Party for Little People


Neighbor Jen invites kids of all ages to Little Angels Preschool’s (slightly early) Summer Festival happening this weekend, on Saturday, May 7. She says:

The festival is a free event happening in Bernal Heights from 10 am -3 pm on Saturday, May 7 on Jarboe between Moultrie and Anderson.

This is a family-friendly event with a jumpy house, and much more. The fire and police departments will attend and emergency 911; all will bring their trucks and police cars and do a demonstration. Home Depot and Target have a free workshop all day for all kids and the Bernal Heights librarian will come to do story time with kids.

There’ll also be a BBQ and bake sale to help fundraise for the school. Should be fun! I am personally making some very delicious lemon-currant scones for the bake sale.


Autistic Boy, Missing From Concord, Found by Bernal Neighbor Alice Caruthers


An autistic 11 year-old boy who went missing from his home in Concord, California was found near the Alemany housing project in Bernal Heights last Friday after Bernal neighbor Alice Caruthers noticed that the boy looked lost.

ABC-7 carried the story:

Zachary Jordan-Smith, an 11-year-old boy with autism, walked out of class on Friday and hopped a BART train to San Francisco. He’s now been safely reunited with his family because of one woman’s instincts. […]

He was found in the 900 block of Ellsworth in San Francisco in front of a head start school.

Somehow he squeezed through a fence at Holbrook and took a path to the North Concord BART station, which is nearby, and managed to get on BART train without money.

Fortunately, he was found safe.

“A sigh of relief. An absolute sigh of relief. Words cannot describe it. We were just so nervous and all of a sudden, such relief,” his father, Chris, said.

“I want to go get my son,” his mother, Christine, added.

That’s exactly what the Jordan-Smith family did. They got in the car and drove to Concord, bound for San Francisco.

Jordan-Smith was found next to I-280 by a woman who held him there for police, and the first officer on the scene happened to be a family friend.

There were hugs and happiness all around.

“I said, ‘Lord, give me favor right now. Clear this freeway so I can get this kid.’ I said, ‘Are you lost?’ and he said, ‘Yes I’m lost.’ I said, ‘Where do you live?’ and he mentioned a street I’ve never heard of. He mentioned Concord and I said, ‘Concord, how did you get here?’ He said, “BART,’ so I said, ‘Oh, so you’re missing. I’m going to get you safe and I promise you I’m going to get you to your parents,” San Francisco resident Alice Caruthers said.

Wow. Neighbor Matt shared this detail:

My daughter’s schoolmate saw the boy running somewhat erratically down Andover and across Cortland.

Previously she and a classmate were on the J Church going outbound and had seen the boy get off on Church St. So somehow he managed to get from BART to Muni and ended up on Andover above Cortland.

What a story!


Of course, anyone who knows Neighbor Alice will tell you that her role in this Good Samaritan tale should come as no surprise: Alice Caruthers is also president of the Alemany housing project residents association and she’s served on the board at the Alemany Farm. And now, on top of all that, she’s also a superhero.

Here’s the ABC-7 video report:

PHOTO: Montage by the San Francisco Police Department

Young Bernal Actors Perform in Downtown Production of “American Idiot: The Musical”


Neighbor Martha reports that three young Bernal actors play prominent roles in a downtown production of “American Idiot the Musical,” and you can see them perform later this week.

Neighbor Martha (Sydney’s mom) tells Bernalwood:

Three born and raised Bernal teens are performing in Young Peoples Teen Musical Theater Company’s production of American Idiot the Musical. The Bernal teens are Sidney, Olivia, and Lufton.

Lufton plays Tunny who joins the army, gets wounded, suffers serious injuries and loses a leg. During his rehabilitation, he falls in love with his nurse, and she returns home with him. Olivia is Extraordinary Girl, Tunny’s rehab nurse:


Sidney’s plays an angry teenager:


Come see Young Peoples Teen Musical Theater Company production of American Idiot the Musical

Performances Thu – Sat, February 11-13, @ 8pm
Eureka Theater
214 Jackson St, SF

More information here.

Get tickets here!

AI Poster

Saturday Afternoon: Let Your Kids Frolic in the Junipero Serra School Playground


Casey Berkovitz, an organizer with the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project, invites one and all to the grand opening of the Junipero Serra Elementary School playground, weekend edition:

We’re organizing an event at Junipero Serra Elementary School (625 Holly Park Circle) on Saturday January 16th, from 11 am to 1 pm.

Our organization, the Shared Schoolyard Project, has worked to make the schoolyard there available to the public on weekends, and we are hosting an event to celebrate that and inform people in the neighborhood.

Join Supervisors David Campos and Mark Farrell and the San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project at Junipero Serra Elementary School on Saturday, January 16th for an exciting kick-off event marking the schoolyard’s grand opening.

The community-driven event will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony, free lunch, and activities for the whole community. Activities will include painting a mandala with Little Artistas, books with the Bernal Heights branch library, and soccer and poetry with America SCORES! Find out more and RSVP right here.


PHOTO: Junipero Serra Elementary School playground, courtesy of the Shared Schoolyard Project

Hot Pink Shark Mural Inspires Aspiring Local Artist


Opinions about the bold mural on the side of the “Helipad House” at the top of Folsom in North Bernal have been polarized practically from the instant when muralist  Casey O’Connell first put down her paintbrush. Nevertheless, the mural recently provided a muse for one emerging local artist, as shown in this image shared by Eric Silman.

It’s awesome, and even more so when you compare its fidelity to the original: