Friday, January 24, 2014

Bayview holidays spirited

Whether you saw the bell-shaped lights along part of 3rd Street, attended a "Winter Wonderland" event on Mendell Plaza and at the Bayview Opera House, joined a community organization sharing its own holiday expression, or just hung out with residents who took the time to dress themselves, their homes and their blocks for the season ... Bayview was showing its spirit throughout the holiday season.

The Winter Wonderland event at the end of 2013 on Mendell Plaza and at the Bayview Opera House was a rollicking good time. 

After years of attempts, Winter Wonderland emerged as the first City-supported event in the neighborhood that drew a real crowd. It had some folks talking about Bayview's "tipping points." It had others who might have talked about such things just having fun for a change.

Stalwart public officials, long-committed to the Bayview neighborhood's transformation, were thrilled. They had thrown a lot of parties over the years, and sometimes wondered why they bothered since the neighborhood so often failed to show up.

Local businesses vended their wares both inside the Bayview Opera House and in a tent on Mendell Plaza. Entrepreneurs have been connecting through efforts that go by various names and that "pop-up" at various locations.

Bayview Mercantile, Market on Third, Bayview Underground Food Scene, International African Marketplace, Andrea Baker Consulting, Bayview Merchants Association ... whatever the name, it's probably the same folks finding a fresh focus and reshaping the neighborhood's business network.

Congratulations to all the organizers!

Broader Bayview expressed the spirit, too! Signs of the holidays could be spotted far from 3rd Street. Silver Terrace neighbors decorated their homes together, and children made a holiday tree out of the fig tree in the Quesada Garden.

Youth services providers gathered at the Southeast Community Facility for a pot luck holiday gathering. BMagic brought them together, as the organization has done in all sorts of ways for years, to support justice causes and the neighborhood's commitment to children, youth and their families.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Butterflies in Bayview

Gulf fritillary at Bridgeview Garden.  Photo: Footprints
by Jeffrey Betcher

On a recent afternoon in the Bridgeview Garden, Mary McClure pointed out a butterfly I couldn't recall having seen before. Even at the Bridgeview Garden, which for me is one of Bayview's most beautiful places, this butterfly stood out as quite the charmer. I was compelled to take its picture.

Later that day, a bit of online research turned up information about the gulf fritillary which likes Passion Flower leaves. Voila! The creature I photographed was not more than 5 feet from the rambunctious Passion Flower plant vining up the garden fence.

Still, I'm no expert at identifying insects, and thought I should check with someone who is. Peter Brastow, Senior Biodiversity Coordinator for Department of the Environment, responded to my questions about Bayview butterflies immediately.

"You are correct about the passion flower vine and the gulf fritillary which is actually, interestingly, our only non-native butterfly," he wrote in an email.

"Regarding butterflies specifically in Bayview," he went on, "the Sandhill Skipper flies in the saltmarshes since its host plant is saltgrass, and the western pygmy blue flies there as well since its host plant is pickleweed."

Though my mystery was solved, I was happy to hear from another local luminary in the world of butterfly experts, Liam O'Brien.

Western Pygmy Blue at Yosemite Slough.  Photo: Liam O'Brien
"How fortuitous!" Liam began. "I walked Yosemite Slough TODAY diligently dedicated to learning my birds and, boom! A female Brephidium exile: the Western Pygmy Blue. Our only Lycaenid (blues, coppers & hairstreaks) that overwinters (if you can call what we are experiencing "winter"?...) as the adult before you. A real find and quite Germaine to this conversation."

Beauty, it seems, comes naturally to Bayview, and often in small sizes and unexpected places.

See more information in the archives of Nature in the City.

Wild Bayview - Then and Now

by Amy Clark

When I moved to the Bayview in 2008, I discovered that my dog Danny and I could walk two blocks down Van Dyke to the end, pick our way around the ever-present illicit garbage dump, slip past the fence and the junkyard with its cats, and find ourselves in a beautiful wild area on Yosemite Slough. It didn’t have a name for me then, it was just “the wild area at the end of the street where I take my dog.”

The path led through beautiful and abundant wildflowers which I picked for my kitchen table, by the abandoned boat perched on a small rise in the grass, past the concrete jetty where teenagers came to hang, the occasional homeless camper and an abandoned community garden, all the way to the “Under Environmental Investigation for Hazardous Substances—KEEP OUT” sign posted on the barbed-wire fence.

The path circled back again, through an open area where I discovered dog-owners came regularly to let their friends run free. Several abandoned warehouses hunkered there, in precarious condition, with bold graffiti art splashed across imposing walls. Twice, on a Sunday in the early dawn, I found happy and still partying ravers, their cars parked in the grass, holding their red plastic beer cups.

I met a chef who showed me pictures on his phone of his underground locovore restaurant. I met a young couple, clearly still in love, and their enormous, jolly black dog. I ran into one of the many artists from the studio across the street (Cataclysmic Megashear Ranch), and occasionally a friendly neighbor whose name I regretfully never learned. There was a frightening Rottweiler-Pit mix, off-leash, whose owner did not seem to have control or responsibility for his companion. But the area was wonderful for the sense of freedom, a convenient place two minutes away from my door. Danny ran free, chased rabbits, and smelled the flowers.

I looked out on the inlet and saw abandoned tires, a destroyed boat, random concrete pilings and enormous growths of rebar exposed at low tide. There were (and are) the several housing projects across the water which I know are oppressed by high cancer rates likely due to the Naval Shipyard Superfund site with its buried plutonium treasures and toxic construction waste. They are framed in the background by the luxury condos built on the hill behind, and the City Park Restoration Area at the top of Key Street where once I had been startled by a bobcat.

It was a striking place to be, particularly at sunrise and sunset, with the light and the silence and the green, the neighborhood using it peacefully and with pleasure.

The area has become the San Francisco Estuary Project in partnership with California State Parks. According to their website:

The two-phase restoration of Yosemite Slough will create the largest contiguous wetland area in the County of San Francisco. The project will help restore essential wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and prevent erosion along the shoreline of the City of San Francisco—an area of the bay where tidal wetlands have been most impacted and suffered the greatest loss due to urbanization.

So no more off-leash dog walks. But I wonder, could this be a milestone in the environmental cleanup of the neighborhood, and a gift to the entire Bay Delta?

Dog-owners still visit. The garbage at the cul-de-sac is mostly gone, for now; all buildings have been removed, and there are no more wildflowers or invasive pampas-grass. The ground has been ploughed under, leaving a hard corrugated effect that is a danger to my dog and his bad knees. But that is what comes with phase one of the project, and what creates the foundation for the landscape to come.

A gravel road runs through, and (thank goodness) they have spared one beautiful tree next to which is a dumpster with the tag “radiation tree.” The tree is still very beautiful, and intelligent. It anchors the place for me.

The coastline is carefully delineated and re-formed, so the tides will flow cleanly and create new homes for migratory birds and sea-life. The slough is part of the underground water system that runs from the Bayview to the Presidio, where the indigenous Ohlone once had summer camps. If all goes according to plan, soon there will be a visitor center and disability access, and the land will be actively protected and maintained.

I have taken my students to the other end of the system and to Heron’s Head Park many times. It is interesting to imagine the network of water that runs under the city, and the river that rushed down what is now 18th Street.

I’m glad that Yosemite Slough has been adopted. While I’m sad that Danny has lost an off-leash playground, I know that, with all the other parks in the area, he and I will do fine. I do wonder how the project fits in with other projects, projects that focus on people as well as the birds. I wonder how many other neighbors know about the project, and what their perspective might be.

What is certain is that, in the four years since I moved here, much has changed, and much has stayed the same.

India Basin Neighborhood Coalition at Speakeasy

Photo: IBNA
The India Basin Neighborhood Coalition will host its annual General Meeting on Saturday, February 1st beginning at 4pm at Speakeasy Ales and Lager (1195 Evans).

IBNA's Sean Karlin describes India Basin as "that small strip of neighborhood between 3rd and the Shipyard."

It may not be big, but it's in the middle of some big changes at Hunters Point and all along the waterfront.

One highlight of the upcoming meeting, Sean tells Footprints, is a screening of a video done to advocate that the City acquire the Shipwright's Cottage. Other topics of interest to IBNA is the completion of the Blue-Greenway bike path and the improvement of sidewalks and utilities in the area.

The group will also review past accomplishments and future plans. Supervisor Malia Cohen is expected to speak. And, since the meeting is being held at Speakeasy, drinking beer made the agenda.

Email Sean for more information
and visit IBNA online.

Bloom of Bayview

Diversity in Bayview includes plants
Did you know the roots of the coast redwood tree (scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens) don’t go deeper than 12 feet into the ground, even though they are the tallest trees in the world? (San Francisco City Hall = 308 feet; Tallest redwood = 379 feet)

Being so top heavy, redwoods must intertwine their roots with other nearby trees so they don’t blow over when the wind kicks up. On the other hand, some plants choose to go deep instead, such as the garden-variety carrot (Daucus carota), which can push its thin, hair-like taproot into the soil up to 7 feet deep for stability.

Then there is mycelium (pronounced mahy-see-lee-uh-m) – the white thread-like bits you find when digging in moist topsoil. As it turns out, nearly every plant on earth has a special relationship with fungi where its root-like mycelium delivers water and essential nutrients to the plants’ roots in exchange for the carbs the plants make through photosynthesis.

Just as there is a huge diversity in the way plants make and use their roots, there are as many types of gardeners here in Bayview. Some gardeners like to plant in rows, others plant where there is a need for color.

Personally, I’m a lazy gardener, allowing many of my plants to grow until their seeds mature and reseed for the next year. Some of my neighbors on Silver Terrace seem to keep after their backyard gardens more actively. I can see plants that look like they have received regular attention: a walnut tree, rose bushes, nopales, citrus, chickens, and a host of other vegetables, fruits and flowers.

While most of us enjoy simply going ‘our own way’ in our gardens, perhaps we can be more successful if we join forces - just like the redwoods that support each other and the mycelium that shares its resources with nearby plants.

I recently attended a few SEFA urban agriculture-focused events, and at each there was a call by 94124 gardeners for more sharing of resources so we don’t keep “reinventing the wheel.” Thus, a few of us 94124 gardeners have decided to use existing local resources to help address this need.

To start, Bayview Footprints is hosting this monthly garden-related column, which will include garden and event spotlights, local news, seasonal planting guides, interviews with residents, and more. Quesada Gardens’ neighbors are also working on getting a bulletin board or virtual “Trading Post” on the community portal website so that we can all post garden-related items we need or have to share.

We also would like to invite you to be a part of the first in-person “Trading Post.” Starting on February 6th, we will be hosting a table once a month at the Bayview Underground Food Scene Pop-Up Market, where southeast gardeners can meet, share resources (Got extra greens? Got a truck to haul compost? Got a sore back? Yeah, me too!), and discuss what is or isn’t working in our gardens. We expect to have occasional expert special guests. Bring your pruning shears to the February 6th event. We’ll have a file you can use for sharpening.

Please note that, while a variety of vendors are at the Bayview Opera House every Thursday from 5 to 7:30 pm, we will be there only the first Thursday of the month. If all goes well, we hope to start meeting once a month at a different Bayview garden to give a helping hand while sharing and learning together.

Come join us at the first Trading Post on February 6th – and just like those redwood trees, let’s stand tall and support each other. Welcome to the Bloom of Bayview.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The kids return to Quesada

We have reported that the active outdoor play of children on Quesada Avenue is happening for the first time in decades. But gardening? That's usually a tough sell.
Ava likes bugs.  Except spiders.
Not anymore. New(ish) Quesada Gardens hero Patrick Rhodes has not only been making the center section of the urban median strip garden something special, but he has won over a crowd of youngsters who can't wait for the next time to work with him.
Dylan and David on Quesada.
"I love gardening," David told everyone who was listening last Saturday.

It takes a village to get that wagon uphill fast.
"I found the biggest squash EVER," Dylan said.

"I like bugs, except for spiders that aren’t Daddy Longlegs," said Ava, whose friend Meah doesn't like bugs as much but thinks they can be pretty when inside a jar.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Visiting pooch wins Bayview hearts

David and DaMaya, brother and sister who live at the Quesada Gardens, are spreading the Bayview love with Nina, a Poodle/Maltese mix, who visited the Gardens for the holidays.

Nina is a gentle creature who doesn't mind exchanging kisses with new human friends or tail-wags with other dogs.  Nina has been slowing pedestrian traffic in the heart of Bayview as most everyone who passes stops to be introduced.

Landmark art project rises on waterfront

Transfiguration, the Pier 92 art project by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan is complete.  The new column of color rising from its location at Amador near 3rd Street is drawing far more attention than what had been a relatively inconspicuous grain silo not long ago.

See more about the art project.

The All Hallow's Church steeple in the foreground got a fresh coat of paint earlier this month.

Transfiguration, just a few weeks ago.

8th Annual Kwanzaa returns

The Village Project and the Bayview YMCA are leading the local Kwanzaa celebration again this year.

The 8th annual San Francisco Kwanzaa celebration kicked off at City Hall on Dec. 26th at an event including a celebration of life for Bayview hero Linda Brooks-Burton. YMCA of San Francisco District Vice President Gina Fromer will contributed a special presentation at the Westbay Community Center.

Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration that highlights seven principles.  This year's Kwanzaa events included Yeni Lasero (pictured left) at the Bayview YMCA on December 27th, and IMANI (faith) on Tuesday January 1st at 2pm at the Bayview Opera House.

Ceremonies were led by Brotha' Clint, Kwanza Morton and Malik Seneferu. Each event included a candle lighting and pouring of libation ceremony, live entertainment, and a feast.

For more information, visit Kwanzaa San Francisco online, or call 415.424.2980.

Bayview's holiday spirit

Anyone who has been part of a Bayview community planning process in the past 20 years or so has probably heard someone suggest we bring back holiday decorations on 3rd Street.  Longtime residents remember those annual decorations fondly from decades ago when the Bayview Merchants' Association worked with 3rd Street businesses to make the corridor jolly.

Kudos to the organizers who made the festive bell-shaped lights on 3rd and around Mendel Plaza and the Bayview Opera House happen after all these years!

The Christmas tree on Mendel Plaza is the second annual tree.  So pile the kudos higher!  A tree-lighting event was held on Friday, November 22nd with support from the historic Bayview Merchants' Association, the City's Third on 3rd, Supervisor Malia Cohen, and the Bayview YMCA. More about last year's tree.

While 3rd Street may not resemble the North Pole, Bayview's spirit and drive to restore its historic luster are up in lights for all to see.

NaVorro Bowman hosted a toy drive yesterday for over 200 kids at Hunters Point.  The popular 49ers player was working through the 49ers Foundation in partnership with the Bayview YMCA and Urban Ed Academy.  According to his publicist, Bowman was interested in helping because he is himself a product of a boys and girls club.

Bayview's holiday spirit is just as evident in the many holiday celebrations that businesses and community groups are hosting this time of year.

49ers, Candlestick Park leave Bayview

"The Stick," photographed from Silver Terrace, December 22nd, 2013.

The San Francisco 49ers football team is not just leaving San Francisco for new digs in Santa Clara, it's leaving the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.

Folks in Bayview have loudly and colorfully loved their team since the 49ers put down roots at Candlestick in 1960. 

But that and the City's attempt to redevelop the Candlestick site around a new 49ers stadium weren't enough to keep the team from sliding south.  Bayview's 49ers fandom is sure to suffer.

On Sunday, Ken Butler was looking forward to Monday Night Football and the last time the 49ers would play Candlestick.  Ken lives across from the Bridgeview Garden, where the stadium has been part of the view since it was built.

"Going to games has been a family tradition," he said.  "We've had tickets for 20 years."

If Bayview's love affair with the 49ers isn't ending, it is on the rocks.  

Renderings of new Candlestick development: Lennar Urban.
The Butler family isn't buying seats at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.  They're too expensive.  And the luxury of passing the line of cars while walking back from a game can't be replaced.

Locals who have worked at Candlestick have been told they would have to reapply for their jobs, and that those jobs would pay less since San Francisco's minimum wage is higher than Santa Clara's.

Some heavy machinery to clear the site after the old stadium is demolished in February is already in place.  Plans for a new mixed use development are in place too.  And the reshaping of San Francisco's southeast corner continues.

Images of Bayiew's holiday spirit

Homes on Silver Terrace, linked with holiday spirit.

Fig tree at Quesada Gardens gets into the season with help from Meah, Ava, and a lot of their neighbors.

Band on Mendell Plaza plays as part of Winter Wonderland event.

Ice skating in Bayview?  Yup!

The line to sit on Santa's knee was long at times, but no one minded.

Olivia, Sophie, Teresa, and Lisa pause at the Bayview Merchants market at the Bayview Opera House.

Bayview youth serve up the eats.  Note Malik Seneferu's artwork in the background.

Antoinette Mobley dresses for the occasion, and for the upcoming 49ers game.

Santa's helper guards Santaland with a smile.

A pile of real snow, like the snow ball this youth is holding, was one of the most popular attractions again this year.

Barbara Ockel is about to leave for Germany, but not before bringing a traditional German-style market to Winter Wonderland.  Danielle Satinover, with the festive red bow, was taking a break from the popular snow pile she coordinated again this year.

Click here to see more about last year's snow fest!
Entrepreneur Heather Jones, Andrea Baker (Andrea Baker Consulting) and LaShon Walker (Bayview Merchants' Association) take a break from commerce in the outdoor market at the Winter Wonderland event.

Lyslynn LaCoste (BMagic) helps Winter Wonderland's emcee keep the spirit warm with a wave and smile.

The tree on Mendell Plaza was lit for the occasion.
Locals Jim Ansbro and Diego Sanchez enjoyed the Wonderland scene.

So were the holiday bell lights.

BMagic's holiday pot luck at the Southeast Community Facility was well attended by youth service providers and the community that loves them.

Lyslynn LaCoste at the holiday pot luck for BMagic (which she directs).

Ted Fang talks about the Green Initiative for Asian Families which is developing an Asian-themed open space project in Bayview.

Lyslynne poses with City Attorney Jeff Adachi and Supervisor Malia Cohen.

The children of Quesada Gardens hang a message from the garden's holiday fig tree.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quesada Gardens General Store is OPEN!

On the heels of a promotional "teaser campaign" in social media, the Quesada Gardens General Store opened today. The General Store is an ecommerce site created for the sale of products from San Francisco's southeastern corner.  A portion of General Store profits will benefit the nonprofit Quesada Gardens Initiative

Products now on the shelves of the new online store include Quesada Gardens very own line of jams and honeys, T-shirts and tote bags.

One early customer, QGI Board Member Leah Pimentel, said, "the honey is the best I've ever tasted."

Quesada Gardens' Bayview Jams are getting good reviews too.  Three varieties ... strawberry, plum and peach ... are available.  They are made from berries sourced at the SF Wholesale Produce Market, just a few blocks from the gardens, when those berries are too ripe for sale but perfect for immediate jam-making.

The workers behind store development are Jeffrey Betcher and Brandon Oldham.  Both have put down roots in Bayview, and are part of Quesada Gardens Initiative.  They are also business partners in a new local apparel business called YamStreet.

"YamStreet is our skin in the game," Jeffrey said at December's Quesada Gardens Initiative meeting at the home of Board Member Kathy Looper.  "Thirty percent of YamStreet's profits through the store will go directly to maintaining the store and the community building projects of Quesada Gardens in the heart of Bayview."

While Bayview and Quesada Gardens stand to gain from the new ecommerce site, all of the start-up costs associated with the General Store are being paid from an equity line Jeffrey has taken out against his house.

"We've tried most everything except product sales to fund Quesada Gardens' work," Jeffrey said.  "Governmental and foundation grants are tough for community emergent projects like ours to land.  And while every donation from a Member feels great, let's face it, the neighborhood isn't known for wealthy people."

YamStreet's first product, Yammies ... PJ bottoms for local living, is in production for sale in the coming weeks. Yammies and other apparel products now in development will be promoted leading up to Valentine's Day when the company will launch more formally.

Longer-range plans for the Quesada Gardens General Store include opening a T-shirt aisle for the sale of community-based organizations' T shirts, participating in pop-up store events, and working toward establishing a public benefit corporation (B Corp).

In the New Year, the project organizers plan to add other businesses from the southeastern part of the City to grow the store into a collective of makers.  They are curating the General Store to eliminate product duplication, ensure businesses are in production and meet all the requirements that come with doing business in San Francisco.  

The Quesada Gardens General Store has been under construction for months, and has had the support of key pro bono contributors such as global apparel merchandising expert Jeff Harlowe, Hult International School graduate Mohammed Shaharil Makol Abdul, Bayview YMCA's Gina Fromer and Neal Hatten, SF Wholesale Produce General Manager Michael JanisBayview Hunters Point Foundation's Jacob Moody and Kim Shine, Matt Wujek and other University of SF service-learning students, and apparel business leaders who are part of the local trade association PeopleWearSF.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Quesada Gardens Initiative wins environmental award

QGI looks to the future.
Quesada Gardens Initiative just got word it will receive a 2013 Environmental Achievement Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region.

Quesada Gardens Initiative is the only San Francisco organization to be selected, and is one of eight awardees in the Pacific Southwest. The award recognizes exceptional work and commitment to protecting the environment and supporting communities.

"Award winners are leaders who are going above and beyond to make big moves to protect the environment and support local communities,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in today's press release. “Work by these groups will leave a positive, lasting impact on us all for years to come."

Quesada Gardens Initiative and the organization's director Jeffrey Betcher were nominated for the award by Dr. Toye Moses, Executive Director of the Southeast Community Facility

The award is not a monetary award.  A presentation event is yet to be announced. 

More information:

Monday, December 2, 2013

SF Brown Bombers dance to nationals

Photo: SF Brown Bombers
Two San Francisco Brown Bombers Youth Dance teams won first place at the Norcal Cheer and Dance Championships.  That means those teams have earned the right to advance to the American Youth Football and Cheer National Championships in Orlando, Florida next month.

Congratulations to the young dancers and the all-volunteer Bombers' staff who have been working since September to prepare for the competition.

The cost to attend the national competition is about $1,000 per person.  Donations can be made by check ("SF Brown Bombers") mailed to PO Box 880697 SF CA 94188.

Center for Youth Wellness on the move

Photo: CYW
The Center for Youth Wellness has moved to its new location at 3450 3rd Street, Building 2, Suite 201.  The organization is hosting a celebratory reception on December 10th from 9:30 to 11am.

The Center for Youth Wellness is a health organization imbedded in a primary care pediatric home serving children and families in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. It was created to respond to an emerging understanding of how early adversity harms the developing brains and bodies of children.

Kiva Zip helps Bayview businesses

by Amy Lambert
Kiva Zip Fellow
Organizers from Kiva Zip, a non-profit online crowd-funding platform for socially impactful and underserved small businesses, have brought Kiva's brand of innovative business financing to Bayview Hunters Point.

Among the entrepreneurs and groups Ziva Zip has helped are Cristina from Hey Boo who took out loan in October to attend a food exhibition, and Macio from Lyons Transportation and Logistics Corp. who raised funds in September to purchase fuel, maintenance supplies, and cleaning for his business equipment. Teresa at Old Skool Café hired a Chef last April. 

Kathryn from Feve Artisan Chocolatier bought a stove. And Earl, from Earl's Breads just funded a loan for the purchase of a new oven and equipment to increase his bread production. Each loan was for $5,000.

Other organizations in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood are launching partnerships with Kiva Zip to further expand economic development in their community including Quesada Gardens Initiative, All Good Pizza, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, the Bayview YMCA, Osiris Coalition, Andrea Baker Consulting, and Bayview Merchants Association.

Kiva Zip is a non-profit that provides socially impactful and underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs $5,000 loans at 0% interest to start or grow their businesses. All loans are crowd-funded through their online platform, creating an organic community of support, a useful means to increase brand awareness, and an infusion of capital into communities.

Kiva Zip is excited about these accomplishments that are helping connect and build the BVHP community and to create positive grassroots change for those who live, work, and play here.

More information: email Amy Lambert and check out this overview.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faz Poursohi (left) applauds one of the students at the Y.
Iranian-born restaurateur and caterer Faz Poursohi has partnered with the Bayview YMCA to provide students the tools they need to succeed as entrepreneurs and food industry professionals.

A new program at the Bayview YMCA is taking advantage of a recently installed institutional kitchen at the site on Lane and Revere.  Primed and Prepped: A Hospitality Management/Culinary Arts Mentoring and Job Training Program will give young men of color, ages 15 through 17, an up close and personal look at the restaurant industry.

The program founder and director is Kelly Armstrong.  Kelly reached out to Faz, a longtime friend, when she began creating the Primed and Prepped program.  It was a fruitful call.

"I had no clue of what pots and pans and other supplies we would need,” Kelly said recently. “But I knew who did.  Not only did [Faz] make sure we got the top-of-the-line equipment, he hired one of our youth to work in his Oakland location."

Faz was excited by the opportunity to help young people advance in the workforce, something he has extraordinary personal experience with.  His first job was as a dishwasher.  Now he owns restaurants in Oakland, Danville, Sunnyvale, Pleasanton and Palo Alto.  Another restaurant is due to open soon in Santa Clara.

As a child, Faz worked at his father’s Tehran restaurant and on the family farm.  That instilled in him the importance of using only the freshest ingredients in homemade items.

The use of fresh ingredients is important to Gina Fromer, District Vice President and Executive Director of the Bayview YMCA.

"The new Community Learning Kitchen will be hosting a wide range of programs geared toward overall wellness,” Gina said.  “For example, emphasizing healthier habits, exploring cultural traditions, and bringing families together through such special events as movie nights, a jazz-and-blues club night, and other activities that help strengthen connections and build community.”