Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Current favorites

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees got lost under the bed for a while, and I really missed it. Who says there's only one way to dance? You just need to hear the right music. That said, the dance the giraffe ended up doing looked like a regular dance to me.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown: I liked this one because it was a quirky book about greening the city.

Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting was my favorite. It is the Runaway Bunny but with humans and the baby bunny goes on a pirate ship, and everyone, including the pirates is really nice. We might, and this is saying something because we have too much stuff, need our own copy.

Mr. Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham: we read a couple books in this series and really enjoyed them. I like it because everyone misbehaves like themselves and then they all want to be together again the next day.

Piano Piano by Davide Cali hit close to home. I wasn't forced to take piano, but my sister was. She doesn't play anymore. But what if she'd been offered another instrument? It might be too simple a solution; I don't know

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sunnyside Safeway renovation

Last year, we wrote the following letter regarding the proposed renovation to the Monterey Boulevard Safeway in Sunnyside. Later, I noticed the information posters came down in the Safeway, and I could not find more information the project for a while (perhaps I was not searching for the right words on the internet, though). I noticed recently that the renovation posters are back up at the Safeway and took a couple photos so I wouldn't lose the link again.

It appears that the proposal has been scaled down significantly which is terrible news. If our neighborhood is going to endure significant construction impacts, we should at least get a good project out of it. I stand by my suggestions below. Apparently Safeway's architect did not get my message. I strongly and respectfully urge them to take this design back to the drawing board. Good examples for inspiration are the Whole Foods on Ocean and the under-construction Safeway in Rockridge.

Sent: Wed, April 10, 2013
Subject: Monterey Safeway

Dear ...

I live a 4-minute walk from the Safeway, and I shop there several times a week. I understand the issue at stake right now is the trucking route, but I don't have an opinion about that other than from a practical standpoint -- Monterey Blvd is the most direct route and is only congested during commute hours. Phelan is congested with pedestrians, cars and cyclists most of the day. Midday-only
delivery would make the most sense on Monterey Blvd.

That said, I'm dismayed by the proposed design of the new Safeway. It is suburban-looking and automobile-centric. I bought my house in Sunnyside, instead of the East Bay, because I wanted to stay in the City. I want my daughter to grow up in a pedestrian-friendly, safe environment that is inviting and vibrant to walk, bike, and ride transit. Economic vitality follows good urban design --
Safeway will bring in more business if it is inviting to walk into.

* The parking should be all but completely invisible.
* The side of the store against the sidewalk should be completely transparent (windows).
* The building should be mixed-use -- preferably with housing on top. Other storefronts to lease in the building would be even better.
* The main entrance to the Safeway should be from the Sidewalk.
* The front of the building should be varied and not monolithic -- as should the top of the building.
* The design should allow for a relationship between the sidewalk and the store, for example, sidewalk tables and/or tables/chairs that look out onto the sidewalk.

I could go on, but I think that's enough for now. The construction impacts of this project on our neighborhood will be significant. I don't think the project is worth doing -- no matter how ugly the Safeway is now -- unless the outcome will be beautiful and inviting for pedestrian shoppers. I understand you must have gone through a process with the community already, but many of the houses have turned over in the past few years, and we, the new residents, want an urban, rather than suburban, design for the Safeway.

Thank you.

Sunnyside resident

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Favorites now

I've had a hectic past few weeks at work and gotten behind on my book updates. Of course, we are still going to the library, and my daughter still gets bedtime stories. I just haven't been returning our favorites or blogging about them.

As you know, we randomly select books off the library shelf. Well, not entirely randomly. I reject books that have too many or too few words in them. I reject books that are thematically inappropriate (like "My teacher is having a baby" which seems focused on a particularly event, for example). But that's about it. Since we will go through a lot of books throughout my daughter's childhood, I try not to miss any by going shelf-by shelf, and the library organizes these shelves by author's last name.

Today, we're planning to return some favorites because we have had them for a while:
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen -- this is the story of a strong and competent little girl doing something extraordinary .... things don't go exactly as planned.
Hannukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown -- my daughter loved this one because a swing figured prominently. I loved it because it involved some of my favorite things: nature and natural events, Alaska and Hanukkah.
Mouse and Lion by Rand and Nancy Ekholm Burkert -- I remember this one from my childhood. The drawings are just beautiful and the story of kindness repaid is nice.