Refuse Refuse: Building Community One Piece of Trash at a Time

Refuse Refuse is a volunteer community effort to keep the city clean, founded by San Francisco resident Vincent Yuen in 2021.  In the first two years, the organization removed 526,110 gallons of trash from our neighborhoods. With a background in sales and marketing, Yuen became a stay-at-home Dad to two young children during the pandemic.  Recognizing the need to get them out of the house, he took them for daily walks for exercise and fresh air.  After spending time on the streets in his own neighborhood, he realized that refuse was a problem. Yuen believes that…

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Censorship and Book Banning

Libraries across the country are under threat, with a significant rise in censorship and book banning.  Library directors, individual librarians, and community leaders have all been under attack, including calls for resignation, and even bomb threats and other acts of violence. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library, San Francisco 2010 Two of the principal reasons for banning books are titles with LGBTQI content, or books deemed to include sexual content, especially those written for children and youth.  Books written by women of color are also a frequent target.  During the school year…

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Celebrating a New Year

Twenty twenty-four has a certain ring to it, one that rolls easily off the tongue as we enter a new year.  It sounds like a promise of a good, solid year.  But life can be volatile and unpredictable.  Let us hope for continued economic prosperity and democracy, a healthy planet, and a more just and peaceful world. To celebrate the New Year, I hung out last week with family in our national Capitol, Washington, DC.   My grandson, 19-months old, woke up each morning in the next room, chattering to himself.  A sleeping cat occasionally shared the…

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Driverless Cars

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), or Driverless cars, have been testing their performance in San Francisco for many months, at first with drivers at the wheel to trouble shoot.  With its steep hills, crowded streets, distracting views, and large numbers of pedestrians, the city is notoriously difficult to drive in, making it a good test ground.  That is, good for the profit-making company sponsors, including Google, GM, Amazon and others, but so far, not so great for San Francisco residents. The AVs went truly driverless just a few weeks ago.  In a totally unscientific survey, I asked a…

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I Left My Heart in San Francisco

When Tony Bennett sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” my heart sang along with him.  Although he recently left us, at the age of 96, he immortalized a song that previously had had little traction.  And along the way, that old-time New Yorker became a permanent icon in the hearts of San Franciscans. It was not my intention to live my life in San Francisco.  I grew up in suburbs, and had my eyes on the temperate climate of Berkeley, CA, home of “Cal,” my alma mater.  Or perhaps Mill Valley, a beautiful town…

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Capitol in Bloom

Gardens and landscapes are alive and colorful in Washington DC, with the Capitol in bloom.  Flowers on full display this summer include the peony, gladiolus, milkweed, hydrangea, and clematis, among others.  Among the native perennials are sage, goldenrod, blue violets, beebalm, echinacea, and columbine.  Spring and fall are great times to visit the Capitol, and during our early summer visit, I enjoyed all of the gorgeous colors. Home garden, Washington DC NE An abundance of large trees provide shade from summer heat and humidity, and we were fortunate to experience moderate days with a slight breeze. …

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Summertime in New York
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Summertime in New York

It is summertime in New York, and things are coming back to life.  Restaurants are open, both indoors and out, subway and street traffic are picking up, and more shops are open.   New Yorkers took last Tuesday’s election very seriously.  It was a primary election for Mayor and City Council in Brooklyn.  Due to ranked choice voting, final outcome of the election may take weeks to be determined.  Along the busy corridors of 7th and 8th Avenues in Park Slope, near the YMCA on 15th Street where early voting was taking place, candidates and their…

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Pandemic Puppies and Other Pets
Napoleon, Lilah, Cassidy and Roxie

Pandemic Puppies and Other Pets

Relief from stress is never far away when aided by the recent rise of pandemic puppies and other pets.  A few chewed shoes or slippers, a few accidents on the new carpet become nothing as these puppies become part of the family.  Until a few years ago, Napoleon, a shaggy, sandy little ball of fluff, was the only dog on the block.  True to his name, he ruled his small cul-de-sac, roaming from house to house, yard to yard, smelling the flowers and the scents left behind by other dogs, and occasionally, skunks or raccoons.  But…

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Politics and Pandemic

Land's End, San Francisco At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over.   Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon.   With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.  Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy.  It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. …

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Dear Family & Friends: A Holiday Letter by Eileen Shields

Dear Family & Friends, Yes, you read that right. This is a “Dear Family & Friends” holiday letter.  Before I get into the nits and grits that tells you all about the wonder that is me, I thought I should do a bit of research about how best to approach these broad swinging missives.  Surely there are rules laid down for writing one all-encompassing letter to Everyone I Know.  I’m not quite sure what has possessed me to undertake this wholesale approach to communication and it remains a bit of a mystery of how I actually…

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