Happy New Year! Goodbye 2020

Recap 2020

What a year this was! 

Goodbye 2020.

Never have I been happier to see a year go.

Grab & Go
Holds Pick up
Physical Distancing Required
Enter from Prarking Lot

I’m thankful for all the hard workers that risk their life daily. I hope you will be vaccinated soon! Sad for all who lost loved ones this year, pandemic related or not.

2020 taught me a lot: 

  • gratitude for modern technology that allows me to stay in contact with friends and family 
  • it opened my eyes wider for the privileged life I live
  • I enjoyed discussions about racism and reflected on my own white fragility
  • It made me realize that we are all social ‘animals’ and we need each other. I’m looking forward to gatherings small and large again when this is over!

I also kept busy while being confined to a shelter in place order for most of the year.

I am happy to share with you my YouTube channel.

My lists on where to go exploring keeps getting longer. Wanderlust for local spots will always be my passion.  To document this I started putting this in a book. Yes, this is as much a teaser as it is a motivation for me to finish 😀 

Highlights of 2020

Anyway, in this COVID ridden year there were a few highlights, or at least hope for something better to come. 

Justice for George Floyd. Art by Oree Originol.

After the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor  people took to the streets in mass protests for BLM. Here again is my list on how you can make sure that Black Lives Matter: Support Black Lives.

VTA essential trip?

Do you want to contribute to record the history we are currently living, please check out my post Share your COVID-19 Experiences.

And let’s not forget about people that lost so much this year. While wildfires raged through most of the Bay Area and people lost their houses (Help the Fire Victims), the pandemic was the reason a lot of people lost their jobs and are in need of food relief programs (Feed People in Need).

Exit with error pointing.

Welcome 2021!

I wish you all a great start into the New Year and hope everyone will have a happier life.

Keep on fighting the good fight.

Peace, Justice, and Joy!

Until Suburbia! 

Fork on an empty plate

Feed People in Need

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! The number of people relying on food help every day has doubled since the pandemic began. In Silicon Valley 1 of 10 people receive assistance from Second Harvest, one of the largest food banks in the nation. Second Harvest feeds nearly 500,000 people each month.

Feeding America found that due to the coronavirus 50 million Americans may face food insecurity in 2020, including 17 million children. 

How you can help:

Donate to your local food bank

Monetary donations are always welcome. 

Due to COVID-19 there might be restrictions for food donations, please check with your local food bank. Our CSA, for example, doesn’t allow for self harvested fruits anymore, but might allow for Village Harvest to harvest for you. Rules change quickly these days. In our neighborhood people started to sell their fruit and donate the proceeds to CSA.

People sorting apples for Village Harvest.

Volunteer

If you can help out in person I am certain your help will be highly appreciated. Make sure to check requirements, for example volunteers over 65 or people in a risk group might not be allowed to perform certain tasks. Nonetheless there might also be virtual options to help out. To find opportunities check out VolunteerMatch, Idealist, AllForGood, or HandsOnBayArea.

Fundraise

The holidays are coming, do you want to gift something special this year? Consider setting up your own fundraiser: https://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/fundraise-for-feeding-america

Do you have ideas on how to feed people in need?

You might also be interested in my post about Village Harvest: Harvest some Community Fruit.

Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Little Free Library

Pick out a Book from a Free Library

Walking around the neighborhood, as we all do, you might have noticed a box offering books. Little Free Libraries are not a new invention. All started in 2009 by the late Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin. He built the first Little Free Library as a tribute to his mother. Friends and neighbors liked the idea and inspired him to build more and he gave them away. The idea took over and in 2020 they surpassed the 100,000 mark with more than a 100 countries worldwide participating.

You can find a Free Little Library near you from the Free Little Library website map, but not all free libraries are registered. 

Little Free Library

If you feel inspired to build your own free library the Little Free Library offers library boxes and also advice for building your own.

You do not need to leave a book in order to take one. I know a lot of people have decluttered their homes recently, but there was also higher demand on these books while your favorite book store was only online. 

Little Free Library with succulents on top.

Considering the pandemic some free libraries now switched the books to offer canned food. Others made a seed library, so we can all start to grow our own vegetables.

Free libraries not only are a great way to share goods, some are also very creative little boxes.

Have you picked up a book from a little free library?

Interesting read about a a phone booth at the Los Gatos library: Call me Ishmael

Smoke from the CZU fire.

Help the Fire Victims

Wildfires are part of living in California.  This year the wildfires have been especially early and are the worst yet. In awe I looked at the lightning the morning of August 17th that sparked hundreds of fires in Northern California. 

My heart goes out to all the people who lost their home and their belongings. Many people had to leave their homes and evacuate, not sure what they will find when they return.

If you’d like to donate you might consider one of these sources:

Meals of Gratitude and World Central Kitchen– Provide meals to frontline workers in the COVID pandemic, firefighters, evacuees, and volunteers

Santa Cruz Fire Respond Fund – Supports victims of the Santa Cruz Mountain Fires

Emergency Fire Relief Fund for South Coast Families – Puente’s mission is to build a healthy, inclusive and sustainable community. 

Give to your local food bank, e.g.: Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, Community Action of Napa Valley, or Tri-Valley Haven are a few examples.

Redwood tree.

Sempervirens Fund – Big Basin Recovery Fund and Santa Cruz Redwoods Restoration Fund

I hope everyone is safe and stays healthy!

Resources:

CAL Fire – See the status of the fires

There is a wonderful link list from the Magical Bridge Foundation.

Just as a reminder if you’s like to support Black Lives in the Bay Area you can get some inspiration here.

Posters from Oree Originol honoring People of Color killed by law enforcement

Support Black Lives

“Please, I can’t breath.” It’s been a week of protest and anger. A wave has swept this nation. A powerful series of waves, like water will grind down the land. Now is the time to rise.

Justice for George Floyd an illustrations by Oree Originol

Protests are just the beginning. In order to change the systemic racism we have to be aware of privilege, come together, enable change, listen, and act. 

Here is a list of things that will help to make sure Black Lives Matter.

Action cards

The most creative approach to the question on what to do about racial injustice comes from the Oakland Museum of California with their Take Action cards. Check out their Instagram feed to see the cards (instagram.com/oaklandmuseumca). 

Donate money to the cause

Bail and legal support:

Flyer on how to support #BlackLivesMatter

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/)

Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund (https://rally.org/ARCbailfund)

San Francisco National Lawyers Guild (NLG) (nlgsf.org/ways-to-contribute/)

NAACP (https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=15780&_ga=2.22006142.412847870.1591227461-53649289.1591227461)

ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/give/now)

Non-emergency support:

Black Lives Matter (https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019)

East Oakland Collective (http://www.eastoaklandcollective.com/)

People’s Breakfast Oakland (https://linktr.ee/PBO)

Planting Justice (https://plantingjustice.org/)

Roots Clinic (https://rootsclinic.org/)

Restore Oakland (http://restoreoakland.org/)

Oakland Indie Alliances (http://www.oaklandindiealliance.com/repair)

Anti Police Terror Project (https://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/)

Volunteer

Rock the Vote (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/)

A list of actions against racism by the UN: Let’s fight racism (https://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/)

Vote

President Obama weighted in lately on how important voting is (https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067) and to move a step further you can read the report and toolkit from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights developed by the Obama Foundation (https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/Toolkit.pdf)

Black Future Lab (https://blackfutureslab.org/)

Track progress of legislations

Campaign Zero let’s you track the progress state legislations against police violence (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#action)

Make a call

To contact your representative just got easier, just download the 5calls app (https://5calls.org/)

Sign Petitions

Poster from the 'Black Panthers at 50' exhibit at the OMCA: Unity is the Solution

Color of Change (https://act.colorofchange.org/signup/state-emergency-black-people-are-dying)

NAACP (http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=27063)

Join a group

Showing up for Racial Justice (https://www.surjbayarea.org/community.html)

Educate yourself about racism

General reading list on how to be an antiracist, put together by the San Francisco library:

https://sfpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/433865467_sfpl_readersadvisory/1494408919_be_an_antiracist

Truth be told is a podcast from KQED (https://www.kqed.org/podcasts/truthbetold).

Corrine Shutuck wrote a list of 75 things white people can do for racial justice (https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234)

Great resource list especially for kids from DC Area Educators for Social Justice (https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/resources)

Buy from black businesses

BAOBOB is a directory listing for black owned businesses in the Bay Area (https://baobobdirectory.com/)

The Official Black Wall Street app lists black-owned businesses (https://officialblackwallstreet.com/app/)

For black-owned restaurants download the EatOkra app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/eatokra/id1175921760)

Black Nation app (https://www.blacknation.app/)

We Buy Black (https://webuyblack.com/)

Buy art that matters

The Tracy Piper has a vibrant print at the Voss Gallery. Proceeds go to Black Lives Matter (https://vossgallery.art/collections/the-tracy-piper/products/black-lives-matter)

Black Table Arts, a Minnesota based initiative to help community through art (http://www.blacktablearts.com/)

Kyle Harder donates proceeds from his print RISE! to Reclaim The Block (https://kyleharterart.bigcartel.com/product/rise)

How do you support black lives?

Resources:

https://www.7×7.com/black-lives-matter-bay-area-resources-2646147346/get-directly-involved-with-black-lives-matter

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13881199/5-ways-to-show-up-for-racial-justice-today

Rows of gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Master your Gift Giving

If you belong to a church group, your kids are in boy scouts/girl scouts, or some similar groups, you might have your volunteer schedule for the holidays covered.

If you are still looking to give back this season I might have an idea for you.

Holiday Wish Drive cards from Family Giving Tree.

Have any of your coworkers displayed Family Giving Tree wish cards? Please grab one of these cards and give the gift of giving. I know that some large companies in the Bay Area have cards like these in the reception area and you would drop off your purchased gift with them.

You can also lead a drive. This means you will pick up these cards from Family Giving Tree and post specific wish cards in a well-traveled area, or give them out to your coworkers, friends, or family members . Then you would collect the gifts and drop them off at the warehouse. I don’t know why they don’t call it something like elf helper? 

Little girl wrapping a gift at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Since 1990 the Family Giving Tree (FGT) has provided more than one million gifts for Bay Area children, low income families and seniors. Their promise is to give an exact gift. If a person only gets one gift in the Holiday season, an exact gift, something he or she really wanted, can make all the difference.

Little boy playing with the gifts while his dad is wrapping gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.


Last year I answered the call of FGT to help out at a warehouse in Santa Clara to wrap gifts. This was a two hour shift in a cold warehouse, but you just joined some people, made new friends, and shared some scissors and wrapping paper and off you went to beautify these gifts.

It was amazing to see all these volunteers; the volume of gifts warmed my heart.

Please consider volunteering this Holiday season.

You could also shop with an intend to give back. Check out my post on the Homeless Garden Project.

A pair of red-tailed hawks at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward.

Meet some local wildlife

The Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward is not only an educational facility – thousands of school kids and adults learn about local wildlife and domestic animals each year – it’s main purpose is the rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife found by the public.

Owl at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.

On my visit I was able to see a couple of owls, some red falcons and a golden eagle. And that’s just the outside volaris! Inside the center are snakes, frogs and spiders.

The owls were hard to spot, kind of a where is waldo game. It was harder for me to find the first snake and talked to a staff member. He assured me the snake is comfy in its hiding place. When I understood that concept I was able to spot some more creatures.

Who made this nest? display, Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward.

There is also a display of animal skulls and one of different nests.
Saturdays and Sundays (10 am – 3 pm) you can take advantage of the Animal Lending Library. If you ever wondered what it would be like to own a mouse, hamster, rat or guinea pig here you can rent them for a week ($28, cage and other equipment is provided).    

Golden Eagle at Sulphur Nature Center, Hayward.

Opening hours are from 10 am – 4:30 pm, admission is free, but a donation is encouraged. $3 a day for two to three months could rehabilitate a baby racoon, or $2 a day for one month could help a baby rabbit. There are multiple ways to donate, not only the cash box at the entrance. Check out their amazon wishlist, bring by some items like dog food or trash bags (see list on the website), or adopt an animal.

How close have you been to local wildlife?

Reach & Teach store in San Mateo

Buy something at Reach & Teach

If this is your year to become more sustainable maybe Reach & Teach in San Mateo can help. They were awarded the 2014 Sustainability Awards from Sustainable San Mateo.

Store front of Reach & Teach, San Mateo

This small store has everything from games to books to fairtrade tea. It is a great place for buying a gift. You could even fill out their gift advisor form online. But if you go by the store and need some advice, they are happy to help and might even play some games with you! Most of the games are unique titles that are not usually found in other game stores, teaching the players about peace, equality and sustainable living. One of the games is their very own invention: CIVIO – A civil rights game.

Games you can try out at Reach & Teach, San Mateo

Their slogan is: “transform the world through teachable moments”. Reach & Teach got founded as a subsidiary of Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi’s award-winning educational consulting company, WKMN Training, LLC. If you like to learn how you can make a difference in this world, best to stop by the store and get some ideas.

How will you be more sustainable in 2019?


Attend an event at the Menlo Park library

Attend an event at the Menlo Park library

Me giving a presentation at the Menlo Park libraryLast Tuesday I presented ‘Unexpected things to do in San Mateo County’ in the Menlo Park library. I forgot to mention there that one unexpected things to do in San Mateo County is to go to your local library and attend an event.

John Weaver introducing me at the Menlo Park libraryThere were about 16 attendees. I was very grateful for the knowledgeable audience. We had a wonderful exchange about all the interesting things to do in San Mateo County. From the notetaking I gathered that I also gave great suggestions. As soon as I have 50 things to do in San Mateo County I will publish this on my 50 things to do page and update this post.

Whiteboard announcing my talk and the December events at the Menlo Park libraryLast month was all about storytelling at the library. The December event list includes ‘A Visit with Rosa Parks’ and ‘The American Advertising Calendar Plate’. They also offer regular scheduled programs like knitting and board game meetups.

You can find the adult program here:

https://menlopark.org/543/Adults

Event coordinator John Weaver does an excellent job keeping the events diverse and engaging. Thank you John for inviting me!

Another ‘Thank you’ goes out to my husband for helping me with great suggestions and taking the photos. And to Sharon, who by the way, reads and edits every post, and has always great advice. Both coached me through this presentation.

Have you ever attended a library event?