Bernal Heights Celebrates Landmark Supreme Court Victory

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Neighbor Valerie just shared these photos; they’re a perfect way to celebrate today’s landmark Supreme Court decision that establishes nationwide legal status for same-sex marriage.

“Love always wins,” Neighbor Valerie says, and that right there is some pitch-perfect punditry for this most glorious Pride Week.

Congratulations, San Francisco! This took a long time, and lots of people worked very hard for it, but all that makes victory even more sweet.

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PHOTOS: Neighbor Valerie

YES! City Funds Secured to Restore Esmeralda Mini-Park

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Nice work, people.

Thanks in no small part to your vigorous nagging activism, Supervisor David Campos’s office reports that City funds will be made available to restore the endangered trellis at the Esmeralda-Winfiend Mini Park:

We are thrilled to report that we were able to secure funding for replacement of the Trellis through the City’s budget process. Thank you so much for bringing this issue to our attention. It has been a pleasure to see to the neighborhood so united over a common treasure and we really appreciate your advocacy. DPW has assured us that as soon as the funding is allocated to the department, it will replace the Trellis. The original structure is set to come down next week. The final City Budget is approved on July 21st. We will be working closely with DPW to make sure the replacement structure is built as soon as possible.

That’s fantastic news, so let’s all join hands for a collective woo-hoo:

Wooooo-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!

This is also a fitting tribute to the scrappy group of Bernal neighbors who rallied to build the trellis (and the secret Esmeralda slides!) in the first place, almost 40 years ago.

But who were these energetic Bernal ancestors? Who created the gift that is the Esmeralda-Winfield Mini-Park?

That’s them, in the world-famous photo up above.

Many Bernalese will recognize the photo, because to this day it stands as a defining symbol of Bernal Heights activism, engagement, volunteerism, and neighborly solidarity. The image is a magnificent time-capsule, so Bernalwood encourages you to zoom and enhance it at your leisure from the safety and comfort of your own computer screen to explore all the wonderful details it reveals.

The photo was taken in 1978, just as work on the slide and mini-park was wrapping up. Back then, Neighbor Michael Nolan was one of the chief organizers of the project, and you can see him in the photo on the far left:

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Today Neighbor Michael still lives in Bernal, where is often seen leading the pom-pom squad for the Elsie Street Glee Club and contributing to the Bernal Heights History Project (among many other things):

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To help modern-day Bernalese understand all the dedication and bureaucratic wrangling it took to create the Esmeralda Mini-Park in the first place, Bernalwood nagged asked Neighbor Michael to give us a behind-the-scenes view of the project’s creation-story:

In the wake of a fun-filled though unsuccessful run for District Supervisor in 1977, I threw my surplus civic energy into making the Esmeralda Mini-Park happen.

I won that campaign. The Northwest Bernal Block had worked mightily for years on the project, believing that between Precita and Holly Parks, there was no area for children to play. But various bureaucratic and legal snafus had stymied the project, even though there was sufficient city funding and support.

Getting the Board of Supervisors to “vacate” what was still officially a “street” and turn it into a park was crucial, because that’s what was required to limit the potential liability of adjoining homeowners and win their okay.

I convened a dedicated crew of nearby neighbors who worked with landscape architect Andrew Butler and Planning Department liaison Lu Blazej .  Tom Chiosso of DPW brought tools, materials, and community development grants from the City.

Bernal neighbors volunteered to prepare the land, build the double slide, erect a play structure, and install the planter boxes and trellis on the Winfield Landing.

We’d hoped that our popular Mayor George Moscone would inaugurate the double slide, but we lost him and Harvey Milk in the tragic assassinations of that fall. In early 1979, Mayor Dianne Feinstein and District 9 Supervisor Lee Dolson did the honors.

Here’s what that moment looked like, when Di-Fi took an inaugural slide:

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So that brings us to today.

Though our funds are (fingers-crossed) secured, we still have a ways to go until the Esmeralda-Winfield Mini-Park is restored to its proper glory. Let’s stay focused, let’s stay engaged, and let’s do whatever it takes to make sure this mini-park remains glorious for another 40 years.

Friday: Last Call to See Bernal Artist Bernie Lubell’s Beautiful Homemade Airship

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A few weeks ago, Bernal artist Bernie Lubell reached out to the Bernalwood News Desk to tell us he was  building an airship in his Bernal Heights garage.

Normally, that would be a shocking! revelation! But it’s to be expected from Neighbor Bernie, who was last seen in 2014 constructing a giant Rube Goldberg machine in his Bernal Heights garage. So the manufacture of an airship came as little surprise.

Anyway, Neighbor Bernie’s airship is the centerpiece of a new show called Up in the Air at the fabulous Southern Exposure Gallery in the Mission:

From June 13-27, artist Bernie Lubell installs his workshop and collaborates with visitors to create new work. Lubell creates wood mechanical metaphors for the human condition. Gears, pulleys, bellows, valves, levers, human force and sophisticated engineering power his interactive wooden machines. As an artist who has lived and worked in the Bay Area for 40 years, his influence is felt in the work of many local artists.

Collaborate with Bernie as he sets out to build an airship in the gallery at Southern Exposure. In two workshops and ongoing studio hours, visitors and Bernie will work together to create an air powered flying machine inspired by Frederick Marriott’s 1869 airship Avitor, expanding on Bernie’s ongoing research into breath and the force of air.

The show is winding down, but don’t panic! You can still see the work.

Neighbor Bernie tells us there’s a glamourous closing party happening tomorrow evening, Friday, June 26, from 6 – 8 pm at Southern Exposure… and of course you get in free if you show the top-secret Bernal hand signal:

Closing Party for Up In the Air
Join Southern Exposure for a celebration of Bernie Lubell’s work and everything that was created together over the past two weeks during his exhibition Up In the Air.
Friday, June 26, 2015, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Southern Exposure (3030 20th Street, SF)
FREE

PHOTO: Neighbor Bernie’s airship at Southern Exposure on Sunday, June 21, 2015. Photo by Bernie Lubell

Bernal Neighbor Witnesses Dramatic Bee Swarm Rescue on Cesar Chavez

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Neighbor Miles was on the scene yesterday as a group of volunteers rallied to help rescue a hive of bees that had become stranded near the corner of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Valencia Street.

Here with an exclusive Bernalwood Action News report, let’s go to Neighbor Miles:

First time I’ve ever seen one of these! What struck me was the brief, random, yet intense intersection of the people on the scene.

At 4:30 yesterday afternoon in front of St Lukes, a cloud of bees surround three men and a woman as they carefully positioned a large cardboard box on the sidewalk. The box was crawling with bees, and the largest man is gently dust panning more bees into the box. The bees were everywhere yet no one was getting stung.

One man went to get a roll of tape, while the large man took a plastic water bottle and sprinkling the bees.

The woman explained the bees are looking for a new hive. (Editor’s Note This video of the incident tells us the queen bee was the main passenger in the cardboard box.)  The woman said she keeps bees herself, and she was smiling broadly.

She didn’t not know the fist two men, but explained that they were from Slovienia (?!) and will be taking the bees north with them as they are heading past Marin. The third man, who was at one point, he tells me, covered all over his head and chest with bees, is like me: ignorant about the business of bees. His eyes were wide with shock and thrill.

“No,” he said, “I’ve never had 50 bees crawing on me.”

The tape arrived, and people became fully relaxed and happy, and they began Instagramming pictures. A security guard from the hospital came out to thank everyone.

The men climbed in their work van with the bee box, pulled a U-turn, and were gone.

PHOTO: Miles Epstein
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Save the Date: The 2015 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale Happens on August 8

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Dear Neighbors, the Season of The Purge is almost upon us.

On Saturday, August 8, 2015, Bernal Heights will hold the annual Hillwide Garage Sale, during which all the Citizens of Bernalwood will have the opportunity to sell-off all the worldly crap treasures that now clutter and oppress your closets and garages.

The Hillwide Garage Sale is a Bernal Heights tradition, and we’ll have more details soon on how to register your home to appear on the magical High-Tech Treasure Map.

But for now, just mark your calendar, and start sorting through your surplus stuff to figure out what you want to unload. Because you’ll feel so much better when you do.

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