A news project: reinvent journalism


R ose Roll, a local resident and occasional contributor to the New Fillmore, is involved in creating the Bay Area News Project — a new nonprofit venture funded by neighborhood philanthropist Warren Hellman that is being heralded by some as a reinvention of journalism.

With The New York Times signing on as a partner, momentum seems to be building for the Bay Area News Project. Can you describe what it is in a nutshell?

The Bay Area News Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan publicly supported news organization. Our mission is to stimulate innovation in journalism, foster civic engagement and fill the gaps in reporting Bay Area civic news at a time when newspapers have had to make severe cuts in their coverage for economic reasons. We’re just getting started, but in time our professional newsroom will generate original, in-depth coverage of Bay Area topics including government and public policy, the arts and cultural affairs, education and the environment, as well as neighborhood news and events. Our primary channel will be online and mobile, but we expect also distribute our news through print (via The New York Times), radio and television. Our goal is to launch in late spring of this year.
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Rec center reopens

A neighborhood party today from 1 to 5 p.m. will celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated Hamilton Recreation Center. There’s a new and improved playground, tennis courts and basketball courts — plus a new swimming pool with water slides. The celebration will include food, entertainment and arts and crafts. Hamilton Rec Center is located at 1900 Geary between Scott & Steiner.

Urban forest gets local friends

The plum trees are blooming in Alta Plaza Park.

Friends of the Urban Forest will mark a major milestone in the neighborhood on Saturday, February 20: For the 1000th time, a team of volunteers will plant trees on city streets.

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill will address the volunteers when they gather at 9 a.m. at Rosa Parks Elementary School at 1501 O’Farrell Street, between Webster and Laguna. Hill famously lived in a Humboldt County redwood tree for two years to prevent a lumber company from cutting it down.

Approximately 85 trees will be planted this weekend. Nearly a third will go to Rosa Parks School, which won a “green makeover” contest among San Francisco public schools. Most of the trees going to the school are native to California, including California buckeyes, coast silktassels and western redbuds.
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No parking now. Easier parking later?

Parking has been banned on Fillmore this week as sensors are installed on the pavement.

Initial reports said parking was being banned on long stretches of Fillmore this week because a movie was being filmed starring Brad Pitt — or maybe it was Matt Damon. But it turns out something even bigger is in the works: easier parking.

A transmitter

Or so they promise.

City crews are installing sensors on the pavement at every parking meter and some nearby parking spaces. It’s part of an ambitious traffic management program designed to electronically signal drivers to available spots — with new meters that accept credit cards.

Already installed on the street lights are transmitters that will send transit officials data from the sensors and new meters on Fillmore and side streets from Jackson to McAllister. New meters will be installed in the spring, and the system is expected to be operating later in the year. Parking rates will go up in congested areas — like Fillmore Street.

Fillmore is one of several areas included in the pilot project, which has the ambitious title: “SFpark: circle less, live more.”

Local emergency teams join forces

A new group called 4 SF Heights combines emergency response teams from Pacific Heights, Lower Pacific Heights, Laurel Heights and Presidio Heights. In the wake of the disaster in Haiti, the group has scheduled monthly practice sessions.

“Our goal is to revitalize all four teams and build the critical mass required to respond more confidently and effectively, both as individuals and as a neighborhood team, when disaster strikes close to home,” says coordinator Barbara Graham. Continue reading

The stealth candidate

Assistant U.S. Attorney Abraham Simmons

By Chris Barnett

It was opening night at Uptown Joe’s, the new neighborhood clubhouse at the Majestic Hotel, and into the gold-and-white dining room strode assistant U.S. attorney Abraham Simmons. Heads turned, and not only because he had four massive briefing books under his arms.

“I’m going for it,” he announced to his dinner companion.

He had just come from a meeting with some political types. He had made up his mind to run for the District 2 seat on the Board of Supervisors coming open this year.
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The quote heard ’round the country

Perhaps the last word to come to mind on the leafy outer blocks of Jackson Street is “bitter.” Yet it was here, during an afternoon of fund-raising in the neighborhood on April 6, 2008, that Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama offered his observations about embittered blue-collar workers, stoking political debate around the country — and giving the chattering classes fresh opportunity to rail against elitist San Franciscans.