Saturday, October 28, 2017

I Want to Be a Witch by Ian Cunliffe

When and where I grew up, we learned that witches were wise and powerful women who were persecuted for it. We sang this song:

So, imagine my delight when we pulled this book off the shelf. It's about a little girl who wants to be a good witch. My kid and I both highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman

Is your daughter horrifying you with her obsession with pink floaty princesses? If yes, then this might be just the book your family needs. The main character, Grace, is like your daughter (and mine): she loves princesses. But because of an upcoming parade, conscientious caregivers, and a teacher who is paying attention, she learns a more inclusive, multicultural, and adventurous perspective on what a princess can be.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea

A small western town has the usual problems with local outlaws. But in this case, the new sheriff comes with an expertise in dinosaurs. This story is clever and laugh out loud funny. The artwork is also particularly wonderful.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

This book tells the classic three little pigs story, but in this case they defend themselves with martial arts. Unlike the original, where using good building materials is critical, this tale rewards training and hard work.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields

A royal princes loses her favorite tutu the morning of her family's formal portrait painting. It's a crisis! The Queen reminds her daughter that cleaning up may help find her tutu. First, cupcake finds many favorite toys that she thought had been lost. ...Do I give away the end? I bet you can guess how it ends.

The About the Author indicates that Fields writes children's books in response to the lack of titles featuring African American characters. Our library is good about carrying books with an assortment of character types. Cupcake is a special favorite because she is a princess, because the books are pink, and, while this is the only in the series we have read, because it has a message parents want conveyed to their kids (clean your room!).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Unofficial Sunnyside Bicycle (and Pedestrian) Plan (a work in progress)

I've been biking, walking, driving my car and riding Muni around the Sunnyside neighborhood for about four years now. I've noticed some limitations -- some of which could be easily fixed with some paint. Others are a little more complicated. But before I get bogged down in implementation, here's what they are:

Monterey Boulevard needs "sharrows". In the bike network, Hearst is supposed to be the bike route here, but Hearst is significantly hillier. No sane bicyclist would ride Hearst instead of Monterey unless they're going short distances. The cars are pretty clueless, many just having come off the freeway and still driving in their own bubble. I have to remind myself that safety requires I take the lane. Sharrows would provide a gentle reminder to both bicyclists and automobiles that bikes are allowed full use of the lane and that safety requires they take it here.

Intersection Stop modifications
Some bicyclist may still use Hearst for shorter distance trips. The intersections at Hearst and Congo, and Hearst and Baden are two way stops so that folks using the bikeway have to stop. These connecting roads (Congo and Baden) are steep and sometimes hard to see fast-driving through traffic. Both of these intersections should be either 4-way stops or 2-way stops where the bikeway does not stop.

Contraflow Lanes
The neighborhood has a couple one-way streets that prevent bicyclists from using the least hilly route or accessing critical infrastructure. Edna between Monterey and Hearst allows folks going towards City College to avoid the hill towards Monterey and Foerster, but it's one-way the wrong way. It needs a contraflow bike lane. Similarly, Edna between Judson and Havelock (2 blocks crossing Marston) is direct access to the pedestrian (and bicycle) overpass over 280 to Balboa Park and the BART station, but it's also one-way and needs a contraflow lane for bicycle access.

Intersection Redesign
I noticed that the intersection of Judson and Edna was tricky before a woman was hit and killed there a few years ago. It's a 4-way stop with ladder-painted crosswalks, but somehow the hills still make it hard for folks to see each other. People want to blame that fatality on distracted driving, but I believe you can design you way to safety. I recommend a raised, textured intersection. But the specific design treatment could depend on what is decided regarding the next paragraph.

Judson between Edna and Foerster, after City College, is ridiculously wide. This is a stupid waste of space. Let's put a park on some of this roadway!

There's a beautiful piece of open space on City College property south of Judson at Foerster. I love walking through it towards BART. But City College should allow access through it's campus here rather than the fence they currently have erected which prevents pedestrians from accessing the roadway around the soccer field this way.

That's it for now. This list is a work in progress.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Family Representation

I recently submitted the following letter for consideration to some decision makers:

“What does a San Franciscan get for his fifth birthday?

“A new home in the suburbs.”

You’ve heard the joke. Everyone has. It could be depressing. I feel a little depressed thinking about it as my child just started kindergarten and many of her friends’ families prepare for The Move. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I don’t think it has to be like this. San Francisco has world class public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, many excellent schools, museums and cultural institutions on par with the world’s best. Shouldn’t it be easier for families with children to stay?

The Move happens for lots of reasons. The costs of housing and childcare are often mentioned, but another huge one is that the transportation system (and the associated democratic process for planning it) could do a better job of meeting the needs of children, people traveling with children, and pregnant women.

San Francisco can be a family-friendly city, and you have the power to make it so. Last year, a group of us gave a talk at SPUR “Can Families Get Around in San Francisco?” (Tuesday, May 26, 2015). After which, the Transit Riders Union had the foresight to create the Families Working Group. But we’re not sure it’s the right mechanism to have the most opportunity to improve the City’s transportation system for children. So, I’m writing to you now to ask you to help us. How do you think families with children can have a stronger voice in the democratic process? Here are a few ideas we came up with:
  • All public meetings should take place between 5 and 7 pm, with a defined end time, and provide childcare on site (like PTA meetings currently do).
  • Survey responses and thoughtful letters should have a larger impact on public decision making. (Sidenote: I can’t tell you have many times I have written a long thoughtful letter only to receive a response that I should attend a meeting which I cannot attend because I have a young child.)
  •  All CACs should include member representatives who are parents with children of a variety of ages.
  • SFMTA (and BART) could create a Families CAC along the lines of the Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC). We have a draft proposal for this available upon request.
  • The Department of Children, Youth and Their Families could create a Task Force with the SFMTA.
What ideas do you have? We look forward to discussing the possibilities with you. Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this critically important issue.