Saturday: Bring Your Little Monsters to Cortland for Halloween

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For tens of thousands of years, the merchants of Cortland Avenue have opened their doors during the evening hours on October 31st and put out candy baskets for children, so that families in Bernal Heights can introduce their kids to the rituals of Halloween in locavore safety and style.

This year, that ancient tradition continues, and Neighbor Darcy from Heartfelt brings the details:

Bernal Heights Halloween festivities take place on Saturday, October 31st. The merchants on Cortland start giving out candy for the wee crowd at 4:30-5:00 p.m.

Please take note that Cortland is not closed off to vehicle traffic. Please talk to your trick or treaters and ask them to abide by some basic safety rules:

  1. Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established
    crosswalks wherever possible and please use the sidewalks
    do not walk in the street.
  2. Carry a flashlight and/or put reflective tape on your costume.
  3. Trick or treat with friends or adults.

Have a super time, it is a wonderful night in Bernal and we hope this is a grand one.

Love,
Darcy, aka the queen that night

Looking for some last-minute costume ideas? Check out these greatest-hits galleries of Bernal costumes from 2012 and 2013. But it may be tough to beat the incredible, interactive video costume Neighbor Dan Rosenfeld created:

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ALSO, please share your photos of Bernal Halloween 2015 costumes with us during the weekend, so we can do a greatest hits costume roundup for this year too.  Send your costume photos to bernalwood *at* gmail dot-com.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Goldilocks and Two Bears, spotted on Cortland Avenue during Halloween 2013. Below, Big Head Dan. All photos by Adrian Mendoza. 

Sunday Morning: Rogue DIY Easter Egg Hunt for the Kiddies in Holly Park!!

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The Easter Bunny is coming to Bernal Heights.

On Sunday morning, April 5, a bunch of Bernal neighbors plan to go rogue to create a magical Easter Egg Hunt in Holly Park. But as Neighbor Evie explains,  if you want to participate with your kids, you have to help make it happen:

The Holly Park Hunt takes place on Easter Sunday, April 5. I don’t have any official role in the hunt. In fact, I think maybe nobody does, at least not any more. Here’s how it works:

Hiders (parents) come hide eggs at 9 am. The kids come later and the hunt begins in a big frenzy at exactly 10 am. Kids meet to begin the hunt at the top of the hill near the baseball field.

It’s super-fun and I don’t think anyone really organizes it. We just all show up and do it. I plan to show up this year and I’m guessing I won’t be alone.

A crucial component: Each parent should plan to hide exactly as many eggs as you allow your child(ren) to collect. That way, no children come and leave with nothing. We usually show up with one or two dozen and then, after my daughter has found that many, she can either stop or do a find-and-replace game, where she re-hides the same number that she finds.

PHOTO: Special cameo appearance by the Easter Bunny in Holly Park, 2012, by Bronwyn Ximm

Saturday! Viva la Noche at the Leonard Flynn Elementary School Fundraiser

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Hear ye! Hear ye! Neighbor Daniella invites you to the annual PTA fundraiser bash at Leonard Flynn Elementary School on Saturday night, March 21:

On Saturday night, March 21st, the Leonard R. Flynn PTA will be hosting its 4th annual “Viva la Noche” fundraiser with music, hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a silent auction.

Bid on all manner of Bernal local favorites and food, gift certificates, vacations, wine, massages, and more!

Saturday, March 21, 2015 -


 7:00pm until 11:00pm
@ Mission Rock Resort, 817 Terry A Francois Boulevard, SF, CA 94107

Tickets are $25 in advance/ $30 at the door.

About the PTA and the School:
Flynn is the elementary school that borders on Precita Park. We serve close to 500 students from Kindergarten to 5th grade in both Spanish immersion and English language programs.

The mission of our school is to promote excellence in education and create a nurturing learning environment for our students. Over 65% of our students come from low-income families who qualify for free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch.

Donations to the PTA fund the programs that the district is not able to provide — things that many of us would consider essentials for a decent education for our kids:

* Physical Education – a program that promotes physical health and social development
* Sciences – programs in partnership with Mission High School, plus gardening, and water conservation
* Arts Enrichment – Visual arts, dance and music education

Your donation is fully tax-deductible. Leonard R. Flynn PTA is a non-profit tax-exempt organization as defined by IRS code section 501 (c)(3) and our non-profit tax I.D # is 56-2587473.

PHOTO: Neighbor Daniella

Precita Park Playground to Close for Repair, Repainting, and Reglamorization

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Sorry, pre-literate Bernal kids. The big sign in front of the Precita Park Playground says the playground will be closed beginning today, February 17, until March 6.

That’s a long time! So what’s the fuss all about?

Neighbor Demece, the hgh priestess of the dashingly effective Prectia Valley Neighbors group, says it’ll be worth the wait:

The Childrens’ Playground is finally getting repainted and repaired!  For the next three weeks from 2/17 – 3/6, the Recreation and Parks Department has listened to our requests and has closed the Children’s Playground so they can do their much appreciated painting and repair magic.

Please visit Garfield Playground in the meantime or the many other fantastic parks we are so lucky to enjoy!

PHOTO: Precita Park Playground, Feb 16, 2015 by Telstar Logistics. Hat tip: Neighbor Linda

Bernal Youths Complete Waterway Project in Precita Playground

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Neighbor Ledia reports that with help from the recent rains, the Bernal Heights Junior Civil Engineering Corps has completed an important new infrastructure project in Precita Park:

Children have been working night and day for weeks building a navigable channel from Lago Precita Park Playground to the Precita Park Cafe.

Attention, SF Department of Public Works: These kids are ready for an internship.

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PHOTOS: Neighbor Ledia

This Is What It Looked Like at Fiesta on the Hill When Bernal Neighbors Discovered Their Inner Race Car Drivers

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Sunday’s Fiesta on the Hill was rather exceptionally fantabulous.

For 2014, Bernal’s traditional street fair on Cortland got a thoughtful makeover, with a strong emphasis on local character and creativity. The generic street fair vendors and beleaguered farm animals were gone, and in their place Fiesta 2014 gave our neighborhood fest a more homespun feel, with smiling goats, and historic surrealist Doggie Diner Heads, and happy parents steering happy children on mechanized ponies by remote control:

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It was a Main Street USA celebration of 21st century urbanism, and the crowds on Cortland were bustling:

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People looked like they were having a good time. There was even dancing in the streets. REPEAT: Confirmed dancing in the streets!

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Truth be told, however, your Bernalwood editor was unable to make his usual quasi-journalistic rounds at Fiesta on the Hill, because as part of this new 2014 emphasis on local flavor, I was recruited to babysit the two mutant race cars operated by the Bernal Dads Race Team.

So for most of the day, I was parked on Cortland, right in front of Andi’s Market.

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Playing chaperone for America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon and a Alfa Romeo disguised as a cookie was a hindrance to my wanderings. But it turned out to be a great way to meet a lot of awesome Bernal neighbors.

In particular, it was fun to watch Bernalese of all ages as they sat in the Volvo and visualized the adrenalin-fueled excitement of driving the car in wheel-to-wheel combat on a race track.

Here are some of the dashing future racers I met:

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Thanks to everyone who made Fiesta on the Hill 2014 so much fun. Bravo, stay sexy, and can’t wait until 2015.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

TEDDY BEAR ALERT! Owner Sought for Well-Loved Bear Found Near Bocana

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Neighbor Jenny on Bocana found this teddy bear on a Bernal Heights street, and she wants to help it get back home:

I found this teddy bear the other day, face-planted at the side of the street like a victim in some fuzzy version of CSI. He was found near the corner of Eugenia and Bocana. I turned him over and melted a little bit: he’s filthy from his time on the street, but obviously well loved. Given my own daughter’s attachment to her stuffed BFF – a linen-pants-wearing toad named Lewis – I decided to pick up the bear and try to get him his family back.

If this was your teddy bear, please contact the Bernalwood Lost Stuffie Hotline at bernalwood at gmail dot com to restore wholeness to the universe.

PHOTO: Neighbor Jenny

Bernal Neighbor Creates Absurdly Cool Outdoor Adventure Program for Little Kids

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Neighbor Regina recently enrolled her kid in Wonderbugs, and she now thinks it may be the the coolest outdoor education adventure camp for toddlers and preschoolers in the universe.

The program was created by Hilary Blum, another Bernal neighbor, so Regina wrote Bernalwood to gush about it:

Neighbor Hillary has a seriously glamorous job.

She runs a nature program called Wonderbugs that helps kids, preschoolers and toddlers explore the wonders of San Francisco city parks. The group gathers in various parks, depending on the nature theme of the day, to do a nature hunt, art project, story time and song. Special guests include wild Blue Herons and Banana Slugs that just happen to show up when Hillary references them.

The educational/ scientific content is outstanding. I’ve even seen parents’ minds blown over some of her nature facts (Fact: Did you know the little red spot on seagulls’ beaks is the spot chicks peck to get the parent to regurgitate their food?!). Then, when you think Hillary can’t get any cooler with her scientific teaching, she whips out a ukulele and plays an original song about ducks.

One day I ran into her on Cortland and, after getting over being star-struck, I finally got the nerve to ask her about her background and how she came to create Wonderbugs. Turns out, it started on Bernal Hill.

Before moving to Bernal, Hillary studied education and anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, spending a year in the Middle East “on a dig” and teaching at an outdoor school in northern Israel. She was hooked on outdoor education and returned to work at an environmental education nonprofit in Palo Alto for almost seven years.

Hillary moved to Bernal to start her family and, after having her first daughter, she started a mini Bernal nature club with hikes on the hill. Wonderbugs was launched in 2008.

Today Wonderbugs offers Summer classes (starting in May!) and a School Science Adventures program that brings hands-on ecology and science programs to preschool and kindergarten classrooms. They also offer nature discovery field trips to school groups.

At the end of every program, the kids gather in a circle and put their hands in the middle. What follows is the official Wonderbugs nature pledge. Repeat it after me, Bernalwood:

I promise (your turn)

To learn from (say it!)

And to take care of (that’s right)

(really loud) Nature!

PHOTO: via Wonderbugs

Today: Bernal Kids Will Present Spoken Word in Bayview

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Tonight, several of Bernal’s most distinguished junior street poets will be in Bayview for a spoken word performance. Neighbor Maya Sussman provides the preview:

I’m an Elsie Street native and current resident. I work at Performing Arts Workshop, a 49-year-old arts education nonprofit that provides performing arts classes at schools and community centers around the Bay Area.

On Thursday, March 20th, some of our students from Bernal’s Paul Revere K-8 School will be performing their original spoken word pieces at the 3rd on Third community arts and culture celebration in the Bayview.

What: Beats of the Bayview: FREE live spoken word and Afro-Peruvian dance performances, featuring young artists from Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy and Paul Revere K-8 School

When: Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 5:30-8pm

Where: 3rd Street, between McKinnon and Palou, San Francisco, CA 94124

Contact: For more information, visit our Facebook event page.

Lost: Young Aviator Seeks Assistance in Aircraft Recovery Effort

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Well, independent of anything else that may be going on in the world right now, I think we can all agree that this is no fun: Neighbor Nasen got his remote-controlled airplane stuck in a tree over the weekend:

Hello. This is Neighbor Nasen. I’m eight years old and I live in Bernal. I just got a new remote controlled airplane called the Firebird Stratos. I accidentally flew it into a tree at St. Mary’s Park on Sunday morning. This was it’s first-ever flight. If you see it on the ground or if it’s possible to get it down, please contact me. Here’s a video of how it happened:

Rats. As the young aviator is heard to say on the video, “That stinks.”

Totally. Please keep your eyes out for Neighbor Nasen’s spiffy airplane if you happen to be near that tree in St. Mary’s. As an added incentive, Bernalwood and BASA will gladly offer a grateful reward to anyone who recovers Nasen’s lost aircraft.

PHOTOS: via Neighbor Nasen

How To iPlayDate: Bernal Neighbor Creates App to Connect Local Families with Kids

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The Citizens of Bernalwood should be proud of our locavore technologists. They build many amazing things, many of which are inspired by local conditions. The newest piece of amazing locavore software is an iPhone/iPad app called KangaDo, which is a kind of hyperlocal personal organizer/social network  for parents. It was created by Neighbor Sara, who says:

I am a NW Bernal resident (Winfield Street since 1999), tech professional, and mom of 2 active boys (8 & 11). Now I’m also the co-founder of a mobile startup. Over the years I’ve tried pretty much all the different variations of working from home, part time, taking time off for the baby, working full time at the office, etc.… and I’ve concluded that the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true. We love our Bernal village on the hill.

I’m excited to share our free, newly released iOS app: KangaDo. It’s designed to help busy parents connect with their  “village” of  friends and family in local communities. KangaDo makes it easy for busy parents and  trusted friends to instantly organize  kids’ activities – without the endless email trails and text messages.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find and connect with local parents/friends you trust.
  • Instantly set up playdates, childcare, carpools, or whatever you need. Offer your help if you can (eg. “Anybody need milk? I’m at the Good Life store..”)
  • Friends are notified via the app when friends send them messages or requests, and they are reminded of events or requests they have accepted. KangaDo with your iPhone’s calendar.
  • Share requests by email with friends outside the app.
  • Free texting, photo & location sharing.

Download it from the App Store.

Clever! Impressive! Very cool! Plus, it’s fun to imagine how we’d describe KangaDo at a pitch meeting for Bernal Heights venture capitalists:

“See, it’s kind of like Twitter goes to a yoga class with TripIt then bumps into Uber and the BernalHeightsParents mailing in the playground behind the Bernal library.”

There you go. Done deal.

Enterprising Bernal Kid Sells Adorable Plush Meats at Avedano’s

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Junior Neighbor Takouhi is a nine year-old from Winfield Street who has mad skillz with a sewing machine. Her dad tells Bernalwood that Junior Neighbor Takouhi is now selling some of her carnivore-themed pieces at Avedano’s on Cortland:

Our daughter Takouhi has been sewing for close to 3 years, and she has some cool news about her latest creations. Takouhi likes to make her own “stuffies” as well as clothes for herself, and now she’s started a little business called Stuffy-A-Fluffy (“Cuteness You Can Squeeze”) to sell her work. Takouhi’s stuffed T-bone steaks are now available for sale at Avedano’s. She’s making two types: A little keychain T-bone and a larger “just a stuffy T-bone.” Her words.

Here’s the merchandise:

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Bernalwood has been assured that Takouhi’s work is grass-fed, free-range, and hopefully hormone-free for at least a few more years.

PHOTOS: Stuffy-A-Fluffy