Saturday: Band Called “View From Bernal Hill” Is Not From Bernal Heights, But Will Perform Near Bernal Hill



The View from Bernal Hill is a “chamber-flavored jazz” group that used to be called the Camille Mai Trio, until recently, when they decided to change their name to “The View from Bernal Hill.”

This is confusing, because the musicians in The View from Bernal Hill do not live in Bernal Heights — they just think we’re rather sexy and inspiring.

Band member Camille Mai tells Bernalwood:

Well, we don’t live in Bernal, but I had an out of body experience for the first time while on that hill.. and Fred, who shoots our videos, lives there, so I spend a lot of time over there editing video and going to progressive grounds :) We actually just shot a music video on the hill too! It’s such a truly amazing place…

Still confused? Don’t worry, it’s not you — it’s just confusing. But so what. Let’s just roll with it. Because we’re famous like that, and we do this to people. Especially creative-types.

Anyway, The View from Bernal Hill will perform at 7:30 pm on Saturday, July 26 at the Red Poppy Art House (2698 Folsom at 23rd) — which also is not in Bernal Heights, although it is, admittedly, sort of nearby.

In the meantime, you can also listen to this beautiful song, which was originally recorded by the Camille Mai Trio but is now performed by The View from Bernal Hill, which is the same thing, only different and a little more confusing. Plus, there’s a Bernal name-check at around 02:16…

PHOTOS: Poster by Telstar Logistics. Band by The View from Bernal Hill.

Posted in Bernal Hill, Events, Music | 1 Comment

New Book About Bernal Library Mural Is Required Reading for San Francisco


Bernal Story 4.25x6 Postcard SMALL FILE

Bernal neighbor Beth Roy has written a short, must-read book about the challenges San Francisco faces as the city becomes polarized along the fault lines of new vs. old, Anglo vs. ethnic, progressive vs. centrist, forward-looking vs. backward-remembering, and high-tech vs. working class.

Blessedly, that’s not the subject of Neighbor Beth’s book. The subject of her book is the new mural that covers the exterior of the Bernal Heights Library on Cortland, and the intense mediation effort that was undertaken in 2010 to resolve the then-contentious question of whether the old, 1980s-era mural should be restored, or if the facade of the Works Progress Administration (WPA)-era building should returned to its original, mural-free appearance.

Neighbor Beth is a professional mediator, which is a handy thing, because her services were called upon in 2010 to help formulate a plan for the Bernal library that all parties in the controversy could support and feel good about.

That’s what the book is all about. The committee of neighbors who joined the library art committee began as antagonists and cultural rivals, but by the end of the mediation process —and with a lot of patient, hard work — they developed a plan for the library based on a very real, no-bullshit foundation of mutual respect and collaboration.  Even more impressive (if the general absence of substantial grumbling is any indication), the new library artwork that emerged from the process has also been a creative success as well. Trifecta!!!

In practical terms, the Bernal neighbors who participated in the library mural mediation a) got some actual stuff done while also b) learning to appreciate each other’s point of view, and c) moving beyond the theatrics and confrontationalism of direct action and political organization. San Francisco could use a lot more of that these days.

Neighbor Beth’s new book is called “The Bernal Story: Mediating Class and Race in a Multicultural Community,” and it was just published by Syracuse University Press as part of their Peace and Conflict Resolution series. Don’t let the academic pedigree and subtitle deter you —  this book is a highly engaging and insanely relevant read. Plus, you probably know a few of the main characters, because they’re your neighbors. Which is fun.

If you’d like a copy, you can get one as you congratulate Neighbor Beth at her glamorous book party this Saturday, July 26 from 5-7 pm at the Inclusions Gallery on Cortland.

Until then, here’s an excerpt from The Bernal Story that gives a good sense of what transpired:

Shortly before the meeting, Johanna called me for help formulating some feelings she was having about Mauricio and his campaign. She had caught a radio broadcast of an interview with him and others from his Save the Bernal Library Mural group. She was upset at what seemed to her to be a misrepresentation of the process we were in, as well as some harsh rhetoric she feared would rekindle flames of opposition just as we were coming together to craft a shared solution.

I supported her to speak her mind and coached her to formulate what she felt in the forms I had taught. When we gathered at the Neighborhood Center the evening of February 24th, Johanna opened the dialogue by addressing Mauricio with her “Held Feelings” and “Paranoias”. Mauricio heard her respectfully, demurring that the sharpest rhetoric had come not from him but from others in his group. Brandon joined the conversation with the “Paranoia” that it nonetheless represented what Mauricio thought. Mauricio validated that such language once might have come from him but he was seeing the value of a non-abrasive approach.

What was true, however, was that, as we approached consensus, he was uncertain how to turn the organizing campaign he had initiated in the direction of collaborative problem-solving. He suggested it was a bit too soon; his people needed more tangible evidence that their voices were in fact being heard before they’d be willing to lower the volume. With all the sweetness and authority at his command, Larry urged Mauricio to accept both the influence he had on his community and the responsibility to use it to support the mediation process.

Once again, this pivotal exchange helped focus the group’s good will on crafting a viable solution, helping to convince people that Mauricio was indeed on board. Terry led off the discussion. He had come into the mediation grounded in his knowledge of the library’s history and wishing it restored to the WPA façade. Now, however, he declared full support for the direction we were taking, looking forward with an historian’s eye to making new art. “What we have here,” he said, “is an opportunity to do a significant event in the neighborhood. This is the time people will look back to fifty years from now, just as we look back fifty years to the original painting.”

Giulio, who had spoken so vividly for the restoration of the mural, now said, “The library’s history is so much about struggle. In the new work, we can incorporate the WPA struggle as well.”

Each person spoke in turn about their hopes for the new work. People imagined plazas reaching to the recreation center, improvements to the playground, and more. With the keen eye of a practical visionary, Mauricio again re-focused the discussion on the library walls.

I very much appreciated the spirit of the meeting. Clearly, every individual in the room leaned toward a creative conclusion. But I knew that there were still major disagreements as well. We had formed a direction in theory, but we still had not truly come to agreement about the thorniest issue: the Cortland wall. Now, as we began to craft the final details of the agreement, I once again named that elephant in the room. I worried that the waves of good feeling might sweep people into an agreement that hadn’t deeply enough addressed the conflict. That was the dynamic that had happened at the end of the second session, and I could well imagine it’s happening again now. I wanted people to look squarely into the face of division and emerge with a stronger consensus.

The group rolled up their collective sleeves and proceeded to take my draft statement apart, line by line. Now and then the discussion stalled on a particular point: on a range from restoring the mural to eliminating it, where should we fall? Would the walls end up mostly bare with a few pale remnants of what was now there? Or would we reproduce the current mural, only in a smaller scale that better respected the architecture? Each time we hit one of those hard disagreements, someone – often Michael or Monique, the two participants least fixed in a position and therefore most able to access creative new ideas – suggested something that re-opened the sense of possibility and re-engaged the group in collaboration.

Michael, for instance, fantasized free-standing objects illuminated at night, perhaps even with changing images projected in space. Monique nudged the discourse away from old-timers and new-comers, or Anglos and Latinos, reminding us of all the young uncategorizable people in the community who were not well described by those terms: same sex families, multi-racial couples, returned descendants of generations-old residents.

As we proceeded, we changed words, substituting, for instance, “Revitalizing the Mural” for “Updating the Mural”. We adjusted the emphasis to focus on meanings of the work and the process by which it would be produced, resisting our own creative imaginings of the artwork itself. “Leave the artwork to the artists” became the motto of the group, even though it was difficult to restrain the flow of creativity released by our process. Finally, we all agreed that the consensus statement should end by quoting the statement Terry had made at the beginning of the evening: We were making history right along with art.

PHOTO: Top, Cortland facade of new Bernal Library artwork, 2014, by Telstar Logistics

Posted in Books, Events, Politics | 2 Comments

Chuck’s Grocery Closes, But Neighborly Gratitude Remains



Chuck’s Grocery on the corner of Cortland and Bocana has been an institution since just about forever. Yesterday was Chuck’s last day of operation, though, and Neighbor Michael Nolan shared this lovely appreciation:

Chuck’s Grocery Store, also known as Reliable Grocery, is scheduled to close after 40 years at its Cortland & Bocana location. I’ve known and enjoyed this incredible Palestinian-Chilean-San Francisco family for most of that time. I’d like to thank Chuck for letting me run a tab when money was scarce and I needed milk for the family. And to Vera for the tasty homemade salsa she would give me. And to Antoinette for providing an evening social center when I was feeling lonely and unappreciated. Thank you, Lama Family, for lifting my spirits. Por favor, let’s stay in touch!

Special bonus! Neighbor Michael also snagged this amazing photo of Vera Lama and her children leaving Santiago, Chile for San Francisco in 1973. In birth order: Tony, Antoinette, Claudia, Mauricio, Alejandro and Nadia.


PHOTOS: Above, Chucks Grocery and the Lama family on July 24, 2014, by Telstar Logistics. Below, courtesy of the Lama family

Posted in Cortland, Merchants | 7 Comments

City May Offer Svanemyr Family $15 Million in Fatal Holly Park Hit and Run Settlement


The Examiner has an update on the tragic case of Christy Svanemyr, the woman who was killed in Holly Park after she was run over by a San Francisco Rec and Park department truck last September. The Examiner says Svanemyr family is pursuing a lawsuit against the City:

San Francisco may be required to pay $15.13 million to the family of the mother who was fatally run over by a municipal pickup truck at Holly Park last year. A Recreation and Park Department gardener, Thomas Burnoski, remains on trial charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with the hit and run incident.

The pending settlement comes nearly a year after 35-year-old Daly City resident Christine Svanemyr was fatally run over while lying on the grass with her 11-month-old child and small dog in the Bernal Heights park. The child and dog were not injured.

The Recreation and Park Commission on July 17 recommended approval of the proposed $15.13 million settlement of the legal claim filed last year by the victim’s husband, Vegar Svanemyr, according to a Recreation and Park Department official. It would ultimately require approval by the Board of Supervisors.

The Examiner also reports that the felony vehicular manslaughter charges filed against Thomas Burnoski, the Rec and Park employee who was driving the truck that killed Christy Svanemyr, are also underway. A pretrial conference took place earlier this week, and Burnoski is scheduled to return to court on September 4.

PHOTO: Flowers at the site where Christy Svanemyr was killed, photographed on Saturday, Sept 7, 2013 by Telstar Logistics

Posted in Calamity, Cars, Crime, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Register NOW for the 2014 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale!


Attention Bernal Heights pack-rats and craphounds treasure-seekers!  This is the announcement YOU have been waiting for. Now is the time to sign up to participate in the  2014 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale, taking place on August 9, 2014. Hurry!

Neighbor Michael brings the details:

Hillwide 2014, quite possibly San Francisco’s largest single day neighborhood garage sale extravaganza, is coming up on Saturday, August 9th from 9am-3pm.

Register your garage sale at and get on the map.

This is your chance to empty out the garage or storage shed, recycle old toys and tools, and part with your least favorite knick knacks, doo-dads and thingamabobs.

The Hillwide is a Bernal Heights and San Francisco tradition – last year we had over 96 houses register for their goodies for sale.

Promote your sale by posting pictures of your soon-to-be goldmine of gear on Twitter, Facebook, Instragram or whatever floats your social media boat using hashtag #Hillwide2014.

To get your garage sale on the map, all you have to do is register at We have three levels for donation this year:


Last year we raised over $1,200 for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. Their mission is to preserve and enhance the ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity of Bernal Heights and surrounding neighborhoods.

Register today to get on the map!

Got questions? Send Michael Minson an email at

Thanks for participating and see you at the Hillwide!

Posted in Events | 3 Comments

Boozy Miscreants Use Dormant Home as Million-Dollar Party Shack




It is 2014 and San Francisco is booming, housing is scarce, real estate is ridiculously expensive, and Bernal Heights is officially the sexiest neighborhood in the entire galaxy. And yet, somehow, in the middle of all this, it’s still possible for a million dollar home to become a semi-abandoned party shack where local miscreants can get drunk, enjoy the view, and trash the joint.

The party house is that Tahoe-style ski chalet that came up for sale on Mullen last March. The place sold for $950,000 in April, but since then it has had no regular occupants — except some errant local youths.

Neighbor Ian explains the rest:

The house that recently sold on Mullen Ave has sat dormant since the sale, encouraging locals to break in and party. It’s unclear who the culprits are, but there have been many gatherings of youth on the open space next to the house. Police responded a few weeks back and apparently nabbed a few people, but the partying continues. The next morning, dog walkers typically find liquor bottles strewn about, (along with the security caps found on higher-end booze.)

Neighbors have not met the new owner, but workers have come from time to time to add new plywood to the facade, only to have it pried off within 24 hours. I took these pics from outside, but I could have easily entered this million-dollar fixer-upper. Neighbors worry that these gatherings will continue. What is the obligation of the new owner to prevent these break-ins?

On the bright side, this can only mean Bernal has not yet gentrified to the point of becoming like Greenwich, Connecticut. Woo hoo!

PHOTOS: Neighbor Ian

Posted in Calamity, Crime, Real Estate | 20 Comments

This Kid Sold Us Some Fabulous Homemade Jam in Precita Park


Your Bernalwood editor was raised in a small town surrounded by cornfields, vegetable farms, and locavore M&Ms, so trust me what I say… small town life in the Big City doesn’t get much more tasty than this.

Last Sunday, Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter and I encountered this junior entrepreneur selling homemade jam for $5 a jar from a table in Precita Park. The jam was a plum-cherry blend, and he said it was made right here in Bernal using plums gathered from neighbors’ trees.

Of course we bought some. Because locavore. Plus, junior entrepreneur.

For breakfast on Monday morning, we took the jam for a test drive. I had mine on a slice of toasted Sour Flour bread, and it was… exceptionally delicious! Nice work, kid. Great product. See for yourself:


PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Food and Drink, Locavore | 6 Comments