Saturday Night: Watch “Zootopia” in Precita Park

There’s a rather fantastic family movie night happening in Precita Park on Saturday evening for creatures of all ages. Courtesy of SutterHealth CPMC 2020, there will be a free outdoor screening of Zootopia in Precita Park starting at 7 pm on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Our friends at Precita Valley Neighbors tell us:

Get ready for Zootopia!

Grab your blanket and snacks and join us for this great family film at 7pm., Saturday, October 1st.

Movie Night is brought to us by SutterHealth CPMC 2020. The first 250 attendees gets a free (pretty cool) goody bag!

Come out, meet your neighbors, and enjoy the film!

FWIW, your Bernalwood editor took the Cub Reporter to see Zootopoia earlier this year, and we both loved it. It’s  good one!

Action! The 2016 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema Starts on Cortland TONIGHT


It’s that red carpet time of year, Citizens of Bernalwood. The 2016 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival gets underway TONIGHT!

Yes, it’s the time of year when the streets of Bernal Heights are paved with red carpets, as celebrities jet in to see and be seen during the world-famous Bernal Heights Outdoor Film Festival.

Check out the complete 2016 BHOC schedule for details, but here’s an overview of the events:

Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema announces its 2016 schedule of short films and videos for four nights of free screenings in a wide array of indoor and outdoor settings. The line-up features a broad selection of mini-docs, narratives, animation and comedy produced by established, emerging and young filmmakers. Live music kicks off most evenings with performances by local musicians. Here’s the 2016 Schedule:

Friday, 9/9, 7:00 pm., Film Crawl on Cortland Avenue
from Bennington to Ellsworth Street:

  • Progressive Grounds, 400 Cortland, films at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 pm
  • Bernal Star 410 Cortland, films at 8:00 and 9:00 pm
  • Kingman Young Photography, 416 Cortland, films at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 pm
  • Bernal Public Library, 500 Cortland, films at 7:00 and 8:00pm
  • Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, 515 Cortland, films at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 pm
  • Inclusions Gallery, 627 Cortland, films at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 pm

Check the schedule for details on the films in Friday’s lineup

Saturday, 9/10, 6:30 pm: Under the Stars. Precita Park
Folsom Street and Precita Avenue. Music by Latin HEAT. Here’s the Saturday film lineup

Thursday, 9/29, 7:00 pm: Best of Bernal. Bernal Branch Library
500 Cortland Avenue. Music TBA, with encore screening of the three award-winning films: Best of Bernal, Spirit of Bernal, and Good Life Audience awards

For more information, visit

All venues are FREE. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets, low-back lawn chairs and warm clothing for outdoor venues.

Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema gratefully acknowledges its sponsors: Zephyr Real Estate-Noe Valley, San Francisco Arts Commission, Architect Mason Kirby, Good Life Grocery, Keller Williams Realty, Paragon Real Estate Group, Vanguard Properties, Fit Local Fit, PSAV Presentation Services.

PHOTO: Top, BHOC in Precita Park, 2013, by Telstar Logistics

Use Your Smartphone to Swim Underwater With Bernal Author James Nestor


Through the miracle of modern media technology, you can go scuba diving with Ellert Street neighbor and celebrity journalist James Nestor as he dances with dolphins deep below the ocean surface. Right now.

Neighbor James is the author of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves, an acclaimed book about people who dive deep in the oceans without using external oxygen tanks. More recently, he wrote a beautiful article for the New York Times about what scientists are learning about how dolphins and whales communicate with one another. Now, as an added bonus, the Times has produced a stunning virtual-reality version of that story that lets you use you use your smartphone to experience what it’s like to explore a sunken ship and swim underwater with whales.

Neighbor James tells Bernalwood:

Since Deep came out, people keep asking me what it was like to have your body vibrated by the click vocalizations of sperm whales, the world’s largest predators. I’d usually offer up a few clumsy adjectives, then shake my head and say, “Oh, you just needed to be there.”

In November, the NYTimes approached me and director Sandy Smolan with the idea of developing a virtual-reality (VR) piece based on Deep, specifically focused around cetacean freediving research. “The Click Effect” is the result. We just premiered it at Tribeca Film Festival.

I’d never seen VR before working on this film. I suspect most VR will be used for video games and porn, but it’s also a cool way to bring people into a world they’ll never see to get face-to-face animals they may not have known existed.

VR really is the closest thing to freediving deep and communing with these majestic, watery beasts that I’ve seen. And the best part about it? You don’t even have to hold your breath.

Tongue-in-cheek comments aside, The Click effect really is an amazing thing to experience. It’s optimized for VR rigs like Google Cardboard, but it also works as a simple 360-degree video that you can watch and explore simply by moving your phone to look around. (Headphones strongly recommended!)  As an added bonus, Neighbor James makes a cameo in a wetsuit. Raaawr!

The Click Effect is available for iPhone or Android, and you can experience it by following the download links at the top or bottom of his article. Try it!

PHOTO: Screengrab of Neighbor James Nestor in The Click Effect. Raaawr!

Bernal Hill Is Backdrop for NY Times Article on New Housing Politics


In case you missed it over the weekend, Sunday’s New York Times described the shifting dynamics of housing politics in San Francisco, as a new generation of activists seeks to fight displacement and sky-rocketing rents by building more housing for everyone in San Francisco, more quickly.

The article is an interesting read for anyone who cares about affordability in San Francisco, but the online version of the story opens with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Twin Peaks and Noe Valley as seen from Bernal Hill during a perfect golden sunset.

From our hill, the City’s multitudes are revealed.

When you’re done bathing in the fullscreen warmth of that image, the article goes on to frame the housing debate as a struggle between old-guard San Francisco ideologues and a younger generation of activists who are priced out of the housing market:

Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype.

In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change.

[Sonja Trauss from the Bay Area Renters Federation]] is the result: a new generation of activist whose pro-market bent is the opposite of the San Francisco stereotypes — the lefties, the aging hippies and tolerance all around.

Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.

Those groups oppose almost every new development except those reserved for subsidized affordable housing. But for many young professionals who are too rich to qualify for affordable housing, but not rich enough to afford $5,000-a-month rents, this is the problem.

Adding to the strangeness is that the typical San Francisco progressive and the typical mid-20s-to-early-30s member of Ms. Trauss’s group are likely to have identical positions on every liberal touchstone, like same-sex marriage and climate change, and yet they have become bitter enemies on one very big issue: housing.

The Times article also includes some nifty multimedia audio and a cameo from our D9 Supervisor David Campos, so check out the whole thing.

Check Out the Phonographic Memories Podcast, Recorded in Bernal Heights

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We’ve said it before, and we know we’ll say it many more times to come:  Phonographic Memories is pretty special. Produced by Neighbor Corey Bloom and held monthly at the Bernal Heights Library on Cortland, Phonographic Memories is a live event for first-person storytelling about the relationships people have with the vinyl records they love.

You should check it out at the library, but now you can also enjoy Phonographic Memories from the safety and comfort of your favorite podcast streaming device. Cory  Bloom tells Bernalwood about the new Phonographic Memory podcast :

We here at Phonographic Memory used 2014 and 2015 to lay the foundation for our program, and really establish our live events at the Bernal Library and beyond. In 2016 we’re building up and expanding!

The podcast is our first step in that direction. We will be curating the episodes, selecting our favorite story and song combinations, and packaging them in easy to digest 10-15 minute episodes. We will release episodes every other week, so be sure to subscribe via iTunes. People can always stay up on our current happenings at, or on Facebook.

If you’re interested in presenting, please shoot us an email at Our next event is February 24th at the Bernal Library, starting at 7:00 PM.

As always, thanks for the support.

Your Bernalwood editor listened to Episode 1, and it’s really really good. Want a preview of what to expect? Here’s the teaser for the series:

Bernal Filmmakers Producing “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” Headed to Sundance Screenwriters Lab


Bernal Heights filmmakers Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails just got some more good news about The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the feature-length film they’re now producing after completing a successful crowdfunding campaign last year.

They’re going to Sundance!

Specifically, they’re going to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, which is a huge deal in a pre-production sort of way.  Team LBMSF writes:

Our script was just accepted into the Sundance Screenwriters Lab!!!! This is HUGE. Over 5 days, we will workshop the script with industry mentors that Sundance has selected for us at the Sundance Resort in Utah. Past attendees include Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Ben Zeitlen (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and many, many more. From there, we will go to the Sundance Film Festival and Joe will be joined by producers, Khaliah Neal, Carlton Evans, Michael Kontomanolis, and Natalie Teter to meet with other industry players as well as potential crew. (Between us, there are a couple DP’s we have our eyes on.) Beyond all those wonderful things, being selected for the Labs is one of the most coveted seals of approvals in the industry.

Big red carpet congrats!

To track the progress of The Last Black Man in San Francisco as it makes its way to the big screen, like the Facebook Page or sign up for their glamorous mailing list.

Neighbor Jeanne Carstensen Reports on the Refugee Crisis on Lesbos


Journalist Jeanne Carstensen just returned home to Mullen Ave. in Bernal Heights, but not long ago she was on the Greek island of Lesbos, reporting on the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. A sample of the experiences she had there:

Asas doesn’t have enough money to pay the smugglers and worries how he will be able to work in Turkey, where Syrians have no legal status. Nour checks his cell phone frequently looking for a message from his contact. He shows me the life jacket under the table. He had expected to take a bus to the boat the night before but the hook up was called off due to iffy weather. Now he doesn’t know for sure when he will leave.

Yet they both insist on inviting me to tea. This detail — of hospitality offered in a moment of extremis — sticks with me. I had gone to the Basmane neighborhood with some trepidation. After all, it’s the center of human trafficking, as it’s called, the business of moving people illegally across borders. Looking around me I wondered who was who, who was a trafficker, or a middleman, or a refugee. But when I sat down to interview Asas and Nour and others with my microphone held close to their faces I quickly felt at ease.

I offered to pay for the tea but they would not accept. And when beggars came by our table, the refugees reached into their pockets for coins. No one was turned down.

In this video filmed on Lesbos, Neighbor Jeanne explains how the refugee situation there has unfolded:

Hat Tip: Neighbor Mark

PHOTO:  Scene at the Sindad Cafe in Lesbos, by Jeanne Carstensen