IN THE NEWS
Launch of the Downtown Listening Tour
As the Councilmember representing central Berkeley, improving our Downtown is one of my top priorities. The heart of our City should be an uplifting and unifying place for all, welcoming people from every neighborhood, background, age and ability. That is why I am embarking on The Downtown Listening Tour - a series of meetings to gather input and ideas from the community on how to improve the Downtown.
During the months of March, April and May, it is my hope to meet with as many neighborhood groups, faith communities, residents, businesses and organizations as possible. If your community or organization is interested in hosting a meeting of your members and being a part of this important discussion, please contact my office. I will join you at your normal meeting place at a time that works best for your group, make a short presentation, and then open up the floor to hear from you. Once a date has been established, my office will provide you with sample invitations to adapt and use for outreach to your membership, as well as help to organize and manage the event.
The Downtown Listening Tour is my way of bringing a critically important conversation to the people of Berkeley, and will ensure that investments made in our Downtown reflect the needs and aspirations of all of Berkeley’s citizens. Thank you in advance for joining me!
Council Meetings Temporarily Move to the Berkeley Unified School District Building
All City Council meetings between March 15th and May 31st will be located at the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) Board Room, located at 1231 Addison Street, near University Ave and Bonar St. This location is within a 5-10 minute walk of the the 51B, 52, 72, and 88 AC Transit lines. If entering from University Avenue, enter at 1222 University Avenue. If coming from the parking lot on Browning Street, enter at 1231 Addison Street.
Meet Me Downtown Day
The first ever Meet Me Downtown Day will be held on Sunday, March 20th from 12 to 5pm, allowing visitors to explore all that Downtown Berkeley has to offer. A variety of restaurants and cafes will be offering specials, and exciting new venues like the UC Theatre will be open to the public. Events include a Bluegrass and Country Jam at the Freight and Salvage, free yoga at the YMCA, outdoor movie shorts at BAMPFA, a raffle and beverage tasting at the UC Theatre, and the 2016 Teen One-Acts Festival at the Berkeley Rep. For a full list of participants and events, click here.
Paid Summer Jobs for Berkeley Youth
YouthWorks, an organization that places local youth in summer jobs, is currently recruiting for positions that will begin in early July. Berkeley residents between the ages of 14-25 seeking employment are encouraged to apply. Opportunities include working in computers and IT, office administration, biotech, law and government, tobacco prevention, graffiti clean-up, youth development, and more. Positions last up to 7 weeks for up to 30 hours per week, and earn a wage of $10 per hour. The deadline is April 1st and applications must be picked up in person. YouthWorks is located at 2180 Milvia Street on the first floor. Their hours are 8am to 5pm Monday thru Friday. For more information, click here.
YOUTH PERSPECTIVES: AN OP-ED BY BERKELEY HIGH STUDENT ABBY STECKEL
Although Hispanic and Latino students make up approximately 21% of the Berkeley High School student body, last year was the first in about a decade in which the school offered a Chicano Latino Literature Studies course. This lack of culturally comprehensive education was one of many factors that motivated a group of students in the Chicano Latino Literature class this year to found a new club called Chicano Latino United Voices (CLUV). These student advocates are working to create a safe space for Latino students to discuss their struggles as well as to celebrate their cultures and histories.
Desiree Perez, a BHS senior and one of the CLUV leaders, spoke with me about what issues the group is examining and how they are working to address them. According to Perez, a top priority is to create classrooms that are free of judgement in which everyone is present to learn and be included in the conversation. A large part of creating the “safe space” that CLUV aims for means having community dialogue about topics that are frequently ignored. “Because our school books don’t do it themselves,” said Perez, “we have to initiate this conversation that we hope for.” Per this mission, club meetings start with a leading question for discussion. Some past questions have included “What is something that you really enjoy about your culture?” and “When was there a time that you felt excluded from the classroom?”
However, conversation is never the end of the CLUV’s work on a topic. Juan Gallegos Salas, another of the club’s leaders, said “We don’t think that it’s appropriate to have a discussion on something and then dismiss it.” Hence, after taking time to talk, members move on to their to-do list. Currently, the group is working towards having Spanish translators at the school health clinic to ensure more accessible services. They would also like to provide tutoring and translation in the English Language Development classroom, where many recent immigrants appreciate help on their school work.
Finally, CLUV is in the process of creating club T-shirts. The proposed design depicts an Aztec symbol on one side and on the other reads: “I will overcome the tradition of silence.” This motto applies to the work of many student groups at Berkeley High who strive to break the suppressed quiet of marginalized groups, such as the Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, and Asian Pacific Islanders Club. For the sake of our community, I hope they speak as loud as possible.
Persian New Year Festival
Tuesday, March 15th, 6pm-10pm
2029 Durant Ave
You are welcome to join the ancient tradition welcoming Nowruz (Persian New Year) by jumping over bonfires, music & dancing, eating delicious Persian treats, and enjoying a host of vendors. This is a family-friendly block party held outdoors at the 2000 block of Durant Avenue, in front of the Persian Center Building in Berkeley, California. All are welcome, rain or shine. Admission is free.
Berkeley Strategic Transportation Plan
Wednesday, March 16th, 5pm-8pm
South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St
Help the City build our transportation strategy, which will prioritize improvements to our streets, sidewalks, bikeways and intersections. With your input, we can evaluate and prioritize those projects that address these essential needs. Presentations are at 6pm and 7pm, but drop by anytime between 5-8pm. For more information, click here.
Jesse’s Office Hours at Downtown Farmers Market
Saturday, March 19th, 10am-1pm
Center Street between Milvia Street and MLK Jr Way
As a way to connect with residents on a regular basis and hear what they care about, Councilmember Arreguin will be holding office hours at the Downtown Berkeley Farmers Markets each month. During these open office hours, we hope you will share your thoughts, comments, and concerns, or just stop by to say hello. We look forward to learning from you how to make District 4 even better. This event will be cancelled if it rains.
Meet friends and family in Downtown Berkeley for an afternoon of theatre, music, art, film, live performances, and food & drink. Featured venues include the new BAMPFA, UC Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Freight & Salvage, California Jazz Conservatory, and the YMCA. For a full list of participants and events, click here.
Join a coalition of community members as we discuss moving forward with the Tier Two Recommendations from last year’s Homeless Task Force Report. Updates will also be provided on the Berkeley Way Project. All are welcome.
Can You Dig This is the story of four unlikely gardeners in South Los Angeles who are planting to transform their neighborhoods and are changing their own lives in the process. Calling for people to put down their guns and pick up their shovels, these “gangster gardeners” are creating an oasis in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America. To reserve your free ticket, click here.
Volunteers from AARP will offer free tax assistance. Appointments are available every hour; walk-in clients may be served if there is an open time slot.
The Downtown Listening Tour is a series of meetings that will gather input and ideas from community members across the City on how to improve the downtown. Councilmember Arreguin will join various organizations and communities at their existing meetings to hear their thoughts. For more information, contact Brandi Campbell.
UPCOMING COUNCIL ITEMS
Multi-Departmental Homeless Working Group
Revolving Door Policy
For a complete list of Council agendas and minutes, click here.
Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin