New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Section 2 - Section 2

April 2, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Snow on the
East Foothills

are falling

Roofs and hills
are covered

ice rink?


Native Ribes


Nahat's Juliet


Thai White
Rock Cafe

Read Across

At McCollam

Lunch at

At Chavez


Tech Show


Logos Pastor
Isaac Neal


Rafikis closed!
Peet's maybe?

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Regional Medical Center Profile

Emiro Burbano, MD, elected Hospital Chief of Staff

By Victoria Emmons, VP Public Affairs & Marketing

Dr. Emiro Burbano walks the hospital halls with determination these days. Elected president of the Medical Staff at Regional Medical Center of San Jose for the second time in his career, Burbano, 62, will serve in that leadership role and as a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors for the next two years.

“I am very proud of the accomplishment because you are selected by your peers,” says Burbano of his new position. He first served as Chief of Staff in 1985. “[The Medical Staff] is bigger now and things have changed a lot. I want to get more physicians to participate, encourage young people to come to committees and get involved.”

Leaving his parents and seven siblings, an adventuresome young Burbano emigrated to the U.S. from his native Colombia in 1973. “I always wanted to come here,” he says. “I knew more history of this country than any other. I was mesmerized by the U.S.”

Burbano graduated from the Universidad Nacional De Columbia Facultad de Medicina in 1968 and completed his residency in Medicine at Hospital San Juan de Dios Bogota in 1973. The same year, he came to the U.S. to begin an internship in medicine at Lutheran Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, followed by a Pulmonary Fellowship at State University of New York at Buffalo.

“My preference originally was to be a psychiatrist,” explains Burbano. “But there was an open spot in pulmonary medicine because it was the most difficult fellowship to attain and that’s what I went for.”

A Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a pulmonologist for more than 30 years, Burbano has also served as head of Respiratory Service at Regional since 1995. He has served on many professional committees and has been a member of many different medical and community organizations throughout his long career.

Burbano is married with three grown children and speaks proudly of his family, one daughter an actress, his son a sound engineer, and his daughter and son-in-law who are both physicians. In his free time, he and his wife like to wind surf at Shoreline, snow ski, and roller skate five to six miles. “I learned all of these things when I was really old,” he smiles, indicating ‘old’ to mean age 40.

Burbano is quick to name all the things he hopes to accomplish in his new role as Chief of Staff. “I want to emphasize participation. I do represent the medical staff and want everyone to be active.”

“This has been my hospital,” he says proudly. “I’ve never wanted to go elsewhere.”

Click here for a photo of Dr. Burbano. Click here for the Regional Medical Center Web site.

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NNV Briefs

bulletFrom Birding to Snorkeling - Snorkeling in Alum Rock Park? by Richard Brown
bulletCounty Is Drafting Ordinance for “Historic Preservation” - Could your house qualify?
bulletDennis Nahat Awarded Artist Fellowship Grant
bullet"Ready, Set, Play" - Children's Faire Celebrates "Month of the Young Child"
bulletPresentation High School’s 40th Annual Scholarship Benefit Fashion Show 2006
bulletChildren's Book Sale at Cruz/Alum Rock Library by Joyce Baker
bulletTalented Stanford Grad Now “Communicating” for ARUESD
bulletSome Ideas for Secure Mailboxes from Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch Members
bulletNeighbor Kate Gates Runs for Toddler Liver Transplant Recipient
bulletLike to Paint? Sculpt? Want to Hobnob With Eastside Artists? by Sally Holt
bulletSanta Clara County FireSafe Council Revs Up Wildfire Prevention Program
bulletStarry Safari in Alum Rock Park - Telescope viewing for the whole family
bulletPoetry Event - Haiku in the Teahouse by Alum Rock Park Ranger Roger Abe
bulletNeighborhood Newsmaker: Mama Maniac receives Freedom Fighter Award by Darlene Tenes
bulletAfter Rafiki's - Help us get Peet's Coffee here! by Kirsten Nelson
bulletMad March Weather Brings Out NNV Photographers - Snow, sleet, hail, rain
bulletConference on Nonviolence - Hear Arun Gandhi speak – be a builder of peace
bulletEast Side Music Students to Perform in City Hall Rotunda!

From Birding to Snorkeling

Snorkeling in Alum Rock Park?

By Richard Brown

Sue and I went on our first actual birding trip with a group last fall, spending a week at Point Reyes with Elderhostel. This is a beautiful area and we spent each day at a different location, often hitting several spots in a single day. Over the course of the week, we covered a broad area extending from the coast to well inland. It was our first experience with this group and we weren't sure what to expect but we found the days sufficiently filled. Elderhostel, as you may surmise, caters to those among us who've attained some chronological seniority. We found this to have no discernible effect in the manner one might expect on the extent of activity. After a day spent hiking through the various bird habitats, there were those, often older members, who after dinner were ready for the nightshift, a late evening's watch on the owl community. And back up again and ready to go at 6:00 AM.

There were a number of encounters not of a birding nature. One of the more pleasant of these was our meeting with Margarite. We met her a short way into the woods as she was coming out. She and our guide knew each other well and as they chatted she opened her pack to reveal her newly acquired cache of Chantrelle and Cauliflower mushrooms. Even before we laid eyes on her find, the aroma preceded them and saturated the air around us. When I eventually brought up Sue's love for mushrooms, she gave us the whole kaboodle, claiming her greatest joy is in finding them. Back at the hotel that evening, I mentioned them to our chef, Michael and he was happy to turn them into a dish, one dish with wine sauce and one with brandy, exquisite morsels and everybody got a taste.

We had two excellent guides for our tour, both quite impressive in their knowledge and abilities. You don't always see the creatures in the forest but I don't recall a single sound that passed unidentified. For those interested, here are their websites:

David Wimpfheimer 

Ken Burton

I have David's wife, Susan, to thank for introducing me to a new awareness of a type of life we might easily pass by. At Pierce Point Ranch in the northern tip of Point Reyes, she suggested I might want to try 'snorkeling.' I had no clue what she was talking about but, curiosity piqued, I was eager to learn. We encountered a wooden fence that was just teeming with life and Susan demonstrated how you can observe all these tiny living things by inverting your binoculars and using them like a microscope. In this way, you've opened the door to another world and passing over the surface in this fashion creates an effect very much like snorkeling.

You can find all manner of life in Alum Rock Park, but have you really looked closely? Here's another snorkeling adventure. I've taken my macro lens to the communities of life clinging to the concrete bridges in the park and I invite you along to enjoy it with me.

Click here for Richard's Snorkeling in Alum Rock Park photos.

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County Is Drafting Ordinance for “Historic Preservation”

Could your house qualify as a “heritage” property?

Are you sure about that?

It’s not too late to give your input to help shape the document which will delineate the guidelines for properties in unincorporated Santa Clara County which might be deemed “historic” and fall under the regulations of the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The Santa Clara County Historic Heritage Commission (HHC) is soliciting public comment on the draft of the ordinance which they have been working on for a couple of years. The parameters they consider are such things as age of the property (for instance should houses be deemed “historic” if they are fifty years old?) the historicity of the property (did someone of significance ever live there?) and whether property owners should get to decide whether their home is officially classified as a “heritage” property and subject to certain standards vis a vis remodeling or preservation.

The commissioners, with the help of county staff, and hopefully with input from citizens whose properties could be affected, will make these decisions and the ordinance could go into effect at the end of August.

Would you like the commission to hear your opinion on the rules which might impact your property? You can be heard at the Historic Heritage Commission meeting on April 20th at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Building, 70 W. Hedding Street, at 6:30 PM.

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Dennis Nahat Awarded Artist Fellowship Grant

Artistic quality, originality, community impact cited

Dennis Nahat, the Founding/Artistic Director of Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley heads the list of four influential Bay Area choreographers to receive Arts Council Silicon Valley’s Artist Fellowship Grants for contributions to the field of Performing Arts (Choreography). Three well-known glass and ceramics artists were also recognized in the field of Visual Arts (Ceramics & Glass). Arts Council Silicon Valley annually awards Artist Fellowships in rotating categories to recognize local professional working artists and to enable them to continue to pursue their creative work.

All seven artists were selected by a notable panel of experienced judges based upon artistic quality and originality of work, community impact during the past three years within Santa Clara County and professional development by demonstrating continued exploration of the art form by the applicant.

Arts Council Silicon Valley is the only funding agency south of San Francisco that awards artists unrestricted grants for career accomplishments. On March 16th, the Arts Council, in partnership with the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, honored these seven recipients at an evening reception at the museum. A total of $24,000 was awarded to the following artists: Artist Fellows: Performing Artists (Choreography), Dennis Nahat, San Jose; Maria De La Rosa, Santa Clara; Gary Masters, San Jose; Bih Tau Sung, Sunnyvale; Visual Artists (Ceramics & Glass), Susan Longini, Fremont; Una Mjurka, San Jose; Stan Welsh, Santa Cruz.

Dennis responded, "I am proud to receive such an honor and acknowledgement of my work. This confirmation inspires me to continue making innovative and creative ballets. This grant will be applied toward future ballets that I am creating for the next couple of seasons at Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley. In receiving funds to support my choreographic work, I can incorporate the elements I need to make a premium ballet."

Here’s Eastsider Dennis’ bio: Dennis Nahat has been the Founding/Artistic Director of Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley (formerly San Jose/Cleveland Ballet) for the past 35 years. After majoring in Dance and minoring in Music on full scholarship at Juliard, Dennis danced professionally for the Joffrey Ballet and later as principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre working with choreographers such as Agnes de Mille and George Ballanchine. His extensive career as a choreographer includes major works for American Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet, the London Festival Ballet and Ballet Nuevo Mundo de Caracas, as well as choreographing several Broadway shows including the Tony award-winning musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona and choreographing ballet sequences in the motion picture The Turning Point. In addition, Dennis has choreographed for the NY Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Opera, NY City Opera, Lenox Arts Center and the Seattle Opera.

Click here for a photo.

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"Ready, Set, Play" - 18th Annual San José Children's Faire Celebrates "Month of the Young Child"

Free hands-on activities for children aged 2-12

"Ready, Set, Play" is the theme of the 17th Annual San José Children's Faire held on April 29th to celebrate the "Month of the Young Child." The Children's Faire features over 50 activity booths sponsored by organizations and businesses with services and/or products for families with young children at Discovery Meadow from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Each booth offers a free, hands-on activity for children aged 2-12, as well as child development resources for parents and caregivers. Family entertainment, special attractions, exhibits and food are also offered.

San José Children's Faire is the climax of a series of events and activities held in honor of national "Month of the Young Child," which strives to raise the awareness of the needs of families with young children, particularly the need for high quality, accessible, and affordable early care and education.

Outstanding Contributor to Child Care awards will be presented during the noon hour on the Faire's main stage. The four awards recognize excellent services to children and families through family child care homes, center-based child care, a Smart Start San José child development program, or volunteerism in any program that directly serves children.

Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate for the annual "Month of the Young Child" Second Harvest Food Bank drive.

For more information, visit or call (408) 808-2617.

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Presentation High School’s 40th Annual Scholarship Benefit Fashion Show 2006

Thirteen Eastside senior girls will be among the models

Presentation High School will hold the 40th Annual Scholarship Benefit Fashion Show, Time after Time, Friday, April 7 at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. The fashion show is the major fundraising event to support Presentation High School’s financial aid scholarship program.

Presentation seniors, faculty, board members, alumnae and senior boys from area high schools will be the models for the show. Last year’s event contributed more than $120,000 to the school’s scholarship program which enables qualified young women to attend Presentation High School, regardless of their financial means. Sponsors for the show include Presentation families, businesses, alumnae and friends of the school.

Fashion partners for the event are Eddie Bauer, Tommy Bahama, Caché, Club Monaco, Indigo Palms, Lucky Brand, Talbots, Eli Thomas for Men, Trudy’s, Urban Outfitters, Lacoste, Barbarella, J. Jill, Lucy and Fox. For the fifth year James Craig Hair Color and Design of Saratoga will be providing hair styling, and new this year, MAC Cosmetics of Valley Fair will be providing make-up for all of the models.

The luncheon tickets for Time after Time are $85 per person. Dinner tickets are $150 per person and include dancing to the sounds provided by King Raffi.

Presentation High School is an all-female Catholic college preparatory founded in 1962 to educate young women to their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Offering a challenging academic environment in a caring and respectful atmosphere, the school offers young women opportunities to develop their minds and skills, develop self-confidence, explore their interests and talents, grow in their faith and open their hearts to those less fortunate than themselves. The school is located in Willow Glen and has a current enrollment of 750 students.

For more information, please contact the Presentation High School Development Office at (408) 264-5110, ext. 2447 or visit the school’s website,

Click here for a photo of participants from our area.

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Children's Book Sale at Cruz/Alum Rock Library

Got kids? Get 'em books! Buck-a-book!

By Joyce Baker

Do you have children? Do you have grandchildren? Do you know children? Then you definitely want to mark April 8th on your calendar. There will be a sale of children's books at the Alum Rock Library on that day (from 10 to 2). Some books are brand-new and others lightly used, mostly for ages pre-school through sixth grade. The price is right at $1 per book and the proceeds go toward library programs. So stock up and have books to read to the children, or give to the children, or bring the children with you! One member of the Friends of the Library buys them and takes them to a local elementary school! What a guy.

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Talented Stanford Grad Now “Communicating” for ARUESD

Albert Gonzales – teacher, writer, educational consultant, dad

Al Gonzales is the man behind the press releases which now pour forth from our elementary school district. At this point, he’s a “quarter-timer,” working just ten hours per week to “expand communication” from the district. Those are obviously well-spent hours – he gets a lot of quality information organized and out to the public in this limited time. Visit

Al’s been on board at ARUESD for just five months. His position is so new, he says, that he doesn’t even have a business card yet. If he had one, it would read “Albert R. Gonzales - Communications Support.”

Why is he devoting just ten hours per week? It seems this is all the time he wants to spend away from his ten-month old son, Teo, for whom he is an enthusiastic stay-at-home dad. Teo’s mom works fulltime at Intel as an Industrial Hygienist (that’s the person who makes sure a company’s environment is safe and healthy). She is a Cal graduate and earned her Masters degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins.

Al is an ex-Los Angelino who fell in love with the Bay Area while he was an undergraduate at Stanford majoring in American Studies. He’s been here ever since his 1992 graduation working for non-profit organizations and teaching. He earned his teaching credential at San Jose State. He is technically “on leave” from teaching sixth grade at Stipe Elementary School in the Oak Grove School District. NNV asked Al if he plans to return there when his leave is up. It could be ARUESD’s good luck to have this dynamic young man teaching our East side kids.

Click here for a photo.

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Some Ideas for Secure Mailboxes

From Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch Members

Regarding the replacement of current mailboxes to locking mailboxes, there are some issues to consider when making an investment in a new one. Think "long-term" solution if you're going to go to the trouble of purchasing and installing a new mailbox.

  1. The post office delivers mail via truck to our neighborhood, expecting to deliver to curbside mailboxes. Ours is not a "walking route," and the postal carrier is not required to leave the mail truck. So, mailboxes attached to the house or delivery to mail slots in a house/garage door are not viable options.

  2. Our current mail carrier is a very supportive and accommodating individual. Her willingness to place a master lock on a mailbox to secure the door is not a USPS requirement. If she is changed to a different route, and we get a grumpy mail carrier who doesn't care to mess with padlocks then we are back to unsecured mailboxes.

  3. USPS does not require mail carriers on our route to place items one by one into the mailbox. The width and depth of the slot on the mailbox should accommodate bundled mail (i.e., rubber-banded stacks). Also, some of the locking mailboxes do not have slots wide enough for magazines, large envelopes, and small boxes.

  4. I remember an issue of New Neighborhood Voice within the last year that reported on mail theft up the hill in the Highland neighborhood. The thieves took a hammer to all the locking mailboxes.

  5. A lock will only keep out the honest people. A new mailbox has to be very sturdy in construction, so that it can't be pried open with a crow bar or slammed open with a hammer.

I went to Home Depot because I heard locking mailboxes were sold there. There were a few options on the shelves. One was an attractive cast aluminum mailbox that was USPS approved. But I could fit my hand and lower arm into the slot, reach to the bottom, and retrieve any paper within the mailbox! The locking door on the side was not that sturdy and I could imagine someone prying the door open. Too bad, because it was only $149.99 including the post. Many of the locking mailboxes I found on the internet were closer to $400.

Here's another option brought to our attention.

To prevent mail theft you can get a mailbox with a "SmartLock" system. With SmartLock, you close the door to your mailbox and lock it. The door can now be opened just once more without a key, so your postal carrier doesn't need a key to open the door and deposit your mail. But once the door is shut again, only a key will gain you access. (This model also has a small slot for feeding single letters.) SmartLock is a simple but very effective way to protect your mail. The aluminum Lexington style mailbox is available in both basic and brass upgrade models in a variety of colors.

The company also offers a less expensive steel mailbox model, called the Newport, which can be upgraded with the SmartLock door feature.

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Neighbor Kate Gates Runs for Toddler Liver Transplant Recipient

Meet Kate, sign her shirt, send her off with a donation

Friday, April 7, 6 to 9:00 PM, Foothill Presbyterian Church

On Monday, April 17th, neighbor Kate Gates, an RN and mother of three high school children, will be running in the 110th Boston Marathon. In October, Kate was selected to be a member of the Run for Research team running for and raising funds for the American Liver Foundation, the nation's leading non-profit organization promoting liver health and disease prevention. Most team members are matched with patients who have suffered from liver disease. Kate is running on behalf of a 20 month old boy named Angus from New York who was born with biliary atresia. Angus recently had a liver transplant and has suffered many post operative complications associated with the transplant and the medications needed to prevent rejection.

"Having a patient match helps me to appreciate the health of my children. Angus has had many hospitalizations, many procedures, many trips to the emergency room. Just recently, Angus underwent general anesthesia six times in three weeks!" says Kate.

The Run for Research team has over 250 members from all across the United States. Kate is one of seven team members from California. The team is based in Boston and is supported by a team physician, two coaches, a nutritionist and a runners council. Runners train with e-mail communication from the coach before the Boston Marathon in April. Kate runs about 50 miles per week and cross trains with areobics, kickboxing and weight resistance training to prepare for Boston. The hills in the Hillcrest neighborhood are similar to the slope of some of the up and down hills on the Boston Marathon course. She also trains in Alum Rock Park and Rancho San Antonio. A typical week includes five 5 to 7 mile runs and a long run on the weekends.

The Boston Marathon will be Kate's eighth marathon. In 2005, she completed the Boston, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, New York and Honolulu Marathons. On Sunday, March 19th, she ran in the Los Angeles Marathon to help prepare for Boston. "Running in the LA Marathon was a great experience. It helped me to judge how to pace during Boston, I know that miles 21 through 25 are going to be the toughest."

On Friday, April 7th, Kate will be holding a Silent Auction and neighbors will have the opportunity to sign the shirt that she will wear while running the Boston Marathon. Her shirt will have a picture of Angus, her patient match, on the back. She hopes that the shirt signing will help to raise awareness of liver disease. Any donation is accepted for the shirt signing. Her goal is to run in April with 300 signatures.

The Silent Auction/shirt signing will be held at the Foothill Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall on Friday April 7th from 6 PM to 9 PM.

Says Kate about her recent run in L.A.: “Running in the LA Marathon was a great experience. The crowds were very energetic and supportive, lots of kids handing runners orange wedges, bananas and ice along the way. I finished in 5 hours 28 minutes, slower than expected because I am a registered nurse and helped two runners with medical situations along the way. Unfortunately the LA Marathon had two deaths and one heart attack this year. I am a CPR instructor and feel fortunate to have the skills necessary. It was very sad to be passing by emergency crews performing CPR.”

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Like to Paint? Sculpt? Want to Hobnob With Eastside Artists?

You’re invited to come meet the group, see their work

By Sally Holt

East Valley Artists are enjoying their new meeting place at Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road. Demonstrations of various techniques and opportunities to show artists’ work are some of the activities this group enjoys. Members can bring in a painting to be juried by those attending.

Come and join us on the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 PM. Contact Sally Holt at 926-4338 if you have questions. Click here to see three paintings which were juried at the March meeting.

Click here for photos of their recent work.

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Santa Clara County FireSafe Council Revs Up Wildfire Prevention Program

Department of Homeland Security Grant

East Foothills and San Jose will benefit

In late February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the latest round of recipients in their Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program and a small, little-known Santa Clara County non-profit could not have been more pleased.

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (SCFSC), a group that focuses their efforts on wildland fire prevention, is one of 39 grantees in the fifth round of funding for this program. The Council was awarded $87,580 to reach out to residents (with a particular focus on children and seniors) living in the Wildland Urban Interface areas of Santa Clara County. The focus of this outreach will be to educate residents about the need to create defensible space zones around their homes and teach children about the dangers of wildfires.

The Council, a partnership of members from local fire departments, utility companies, park and open space districts and resident groups, has been working to prevent an Oakland Hills fire storm from ever occurring in Santa Clara County.

“This grant could not have come at a better time,” said council president Patrick Congdon, general manager of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. “Frankly, we’ve had an uphill battle to gain momentum and get our message out to residents living in the hills on either side of the valley. With more people moving to these areas and the build up of fire prone fuels it is just a matter of time before we have our own fire disaster. In addition, we are excited about the prospect of bringing more federal funding into Santa Clara County.”

The council will now have an opportunity to turn its attention from surviving as an organization to fulfilling its mission to educate the public, develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans and conduct Hazardous Fuel Reduction projects. SCFSC members will be out in force over the next year speaking to residents at homeowner association, service club, and other small meetings as well as some larger events such as home and garden shows and other community events. Council members also will be reaching out to Santa Clara County kids at community events and at area schools in attendance areas that are prone to wildfires.

Residents may contact the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council at (408) 975-9591. More information is on the SCFSC Website at The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve California's natural and man-made resources by mobilizing the people of Santa Clara County to make their homes, neighborhoods and communities "Fire Safe."

Click here for some photos.

NNV Note: Some of the funding from this grant is targeted for the East Foothills and other fire prone areas east of San Jose. This grant will also benefit fire prone areas in the southern part of Santa Clara County.

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Starry Safari in Alum Rock Park

Telescope viewing for the whole family

YSI’s amateur astronomers will lead participants in a short discussion and activity time followed by telescope viewing if the weather permits. The scopes will be focused on the Moon, Saturn, Mars, the Orion Nebula and more. This is appropriate for adults and children of all ages (with chaperone). The “safari” will be on Tuesday, April 4th from 7:15 to 9:15 PM at the YSI Nature Center in Alum Rock Park. Registration is necessary - call (408) 356-4945 ext. 10. The fee for adults is $12. For students (high school and under) it’s $6.

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Poetry Event - Haiku in the Teahouse

Alum Rock Park’s Ranger Poet invites our community

By Roger Abe

Think of haiku, those short, pithy poems based on Japanese aesthetics. It’s Spring and the essence of Spring is the cherry blossom. Are you thinking pink, bright, light, ethereal Spring? Well, think again when you encounter the urban haiku of Fay Aoyagi. budding trees/a stone bird’s eyes/locked to the sky; a firm handshake/from the female lawyer/red quince blossoming; a dinosaur egg/at the top of the stairs/Easter dawn. Aoyagi, originally from Tokyo, now a San Franciscan, says she writes haiku from within, starting with feelings, emotions and personal history. From her personal themes her haiku reach out to traditional topics. The results are startling, unconventional haiku that have won her awards and recognitions both in Japan, as a leading member of the prestigious haiku group, Ten’I, and in the U.S.

Fay Aoyagi and Wendy Wright will be the featured poets on Saturday, April 8th at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park at 1300 Senter Road. The featured poets will start at 1:00 p.m. They will be preceded by a short haiku workshop from 10:00 a.m. to noon, and an open reading will follow the featured poets. All events are open to the public and free of charge. Parking is $6.00. Poetry Center San Jose, the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society and the City of San Jose, PRNS sponsor the event.

NNV Note: Alum Rock Park Ranger, Roger Abe, sometimes called “the poetry ranger,” started the spring haiku reading tradition in 1992. He is a current board member and past president of Yuki Teikei Haiku society, a group that was started in San Jose nearly 30 years ago to promote English language haiku. He also is a board member of Poetry Center San Jose which provides events, workshops and support to local writers and enjoyers of poetry and literature. The Japanese Tea House in Kelley Park is a natural fit for this event.

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Neighborhood Newsmaker: Mama Maniac receives Freedom Fighter Award

By Darlene Tenes

Although you may think Mama Maniac (otherwise known as Lily Tenes) has her hands full keeping everyone here at the asylum out of a straight jacket, she actually spends a great deal of her time making the world a better place!

Yes, her countless hours of volunteerism to PACT/People Acting in Community Together - a social justice organization, Rainbows - a children's grief support group and Juvenile Hall Ministry amongst many other great causes has earned her the honor of receiving the NAACP Freedom Fighter award.

Rick Callendar, NAACP President said "These prestigious awards are given to those who have shown a superior commitment to our community by advocating for equal rights, educational equality, human rights, workers rights, social justice or have shown to support conversations and ideas about how to improve race relations for people of color in our community". ¡Bravisimo!

To purchase a table for the Freedom & Friendship Gala on Saturday, April 8 call (408) 280-0405.

Reprinted with permission from News from the Asylum, the Marketing Maniacs Newsletter,

Click here for a photo of Lily.

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After Rafiki's

Help us get Peet's Coffee here!

By Kirsten Nelson

I didn't want to believe it when I heard that Rafiki's had closed. I had to go look for myself. As my husband and I stood in front of the locked door, gazing in at the nearly empty storefront, I started to realize just how much I was going to miss having a neighborhood coffee shop and remembering all the things I loved about Rafiki's:

  1. They were on the way to the freeway, so there was time to stop even on mornings when I was in a hurry to get to work.

  2. The staff were smart, friendly, and cared about customers.

  3. They didn't make up goofy, confusing names for different sizes of drinks.

  4. It was a neighborhood gathering place, like an Irish pub, if you waited a while, whoever you needed to see usually turned up.

  5. It was a comfortable, relaxing place.

Well, if Rafiki's is closed, could we get another coffee shop in there?

It seems like the location should work. It's nice that there's a cafe in the library, but it's not open in the morning, for that crucial pre-commute latte. Are there any other coffee shops that might come to our neighborhood? What about Peet's, I wondered? So, I decided to petition Peet's coffee. Peet's would be a great addition to the neighborhood. They roast their own coffee, and it's terrific. They also offer benefits to all their employees.

Can we get them into our neighborhood? Let's find out. Go to You don't need a customer number to fill out the form and ask them to open a shop here. If you prefer, you can also call them at 800.999.2132.

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Mad March Weather Brings Out NNV Photographers

Unsettled weather – snow, sleet, hail, rain - creates memorable scenes

March didn’t just come in like a lion. That big wet cat stayed around for weeks on end, making a soggy sponge of the valley, but bringing honest-to-goodness measurable (and photogenic) snow to hillside lawns and the foothill range.

NNV photographer Richard Brown ventured out on snowy, misty, and verdant mornings snapping away with his new camera. He captured scenes that we are presenting here to document this wondrous weather – so unlike the usual Santa Clara Valley winter-to-spring offerings.

Nella Henninger picked up her camera one morning and slipped out of her Crothers Road house at 6:30 before the sun could spoil the perfect application of divinity frosting which Mother Nature had spread over all the horizontal surfaces of Henninger Hill. About two inches of snow muffled the early morning noises of the sheep and donkey as they arose to confront the suddenly white world. Click here to see how the world looked that morning.

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Conference on Nonviolence

Hear Arun Gandhi speak – be a builder of peace in our community

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will be the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Conference for a Season of Nonviolence on Saturday, April 22. “Carry the Vision … Building a Culture of Peace in our Families, Our Community and Our World” will be the theme.

The conference will honor the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez with a special memorial to Coretta Scott King. Tools and inspiration will be shared with individuals and groups to help promote peace and understanding among the many cultures residing in our community.

The event, which is spearheaded by San Jose City Councilmember Dave Cortese and Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brien of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment will be held at Evergreen Community College from 9 AM to 5 PM. Pre-registration is $25, at the door $30, students $10. For more information visit

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East Side Music Students to Perform in City Hall Rotunda!

Combined band and choir students will present free concert in unique venue

The choir of James Lick High School will join the Lick band and the band students of Joseph George Middle School and Pala Middle School in a free performance for the community, “Concert in the Rotunda,” at San Jose’s new City Hall. James Lick music director, Tomoko Nakajima, sought a really special venue for the blended musicians to perform a spring concert. District 5 Councilmember Nora Campos went to bat for the young musicians and secured the stunning rotunda for this performance.

Mark Thursday, April 13th on your calendar for the 1:00 PM to 1:45 PM concert. Don’t forget it’s a wonderful free event performed by our own Eastside youngsters. It’s sponsored by Councilmember Campos, the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and the Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library.

Click here to see the flyer for the event.

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Read Across America Redux – Volunteers Read at McCollam and Chavez

AND ARUESD treats Mathson Middle staff - Renaissance Tech Show wows!

March 2nd – one big day in Alum Rock schools

Once again the birthday (or something close to it) of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel as he was known to his parents) was celebrated in schools across the United States during annual Read Across America festivities.

In San Jose, volunteers read and read and read to students – to kids who were still wet behind the ears and to kids who are already shaving (or should be, anyway). Principals and librarians took turns donning crumpled, striped, Cat-in-the-Hat stovepipes. Pencils with chubby Seussian erasers were everywhere.

Here in our tiny corner of the world, ARUESD board trustee, Tanya Freudenberger enlisted several friends including your editor to read at McCollam and Cesar Chavez elementary schools. Fellow readers were Tanya, Edie Pricolo and Terri Callejo. Millard McCollam Elementary is on quiet, tree-lined Lucien Drive north of McKee Road and west of Toyon Avenue. The view from the playground is of our velvety green foothills to the east. We read to third graders who listened with absorption from the floor around the foot of the reader’s rocking chair. If you haven’t read to a child in a while, you may have forgotten how sweet it is … and how achingly beautiful children are.

At noon, we readers arrived at Mathson Middle School to help the staff celebrate their latest honor. They have achieved yet another rung on the ladder to success with their students' soaring test results on the API/AYP tests. The school district rewarded the outstanding Mathson teachers and administrators with a catered luncheon. (Don’t get excited if you’re worried about reckless spending of your tax dollars – the lunch featured sandwiches, pasta salad, cookies and soft drinks. No Lobster Newburg, no sturgeon roe.)

Conveniently, Cesar Chavez Elementary is just across the street from Mathson Middle on Kammerer Drive not far from King Road so we just trundled on over to read to kindergartners. Kindergartners! The best little story-listeners in the world – at least the children to which I read. Tanya, who is one of the best reader-alouders I have ever heard, met up with a wayward audience who were not in the humor for a quiet read with The Reading Lady. They did everything except listen. Well, they were just back from lunch recess, explained the teacher. Ah, five-year-olds!

Before we left, we snapped photos of some of the many bright murals on the exterior walls of the school and the very large bronze bust of Cesar Chavez in the office. The children of Chavez enjoy some very stimulating art. Maybe that’s what got into Tanya’s kindergartners?

“Tech Night” at Renaissance Academy – also on Thursday, March 2nd

NNV attends yet another ARUESD event!*

Whew! No rest for the weary. After reading to third graders, lunching with middle school teachers, reading some more with kindergartners and photographing murals, your poor, tired old editor shambled over to Renaissance Academy for a 6 PM tech show in the cafeteria of Joseph George Middle School on Mahoney Drive. The show was just as Lead Educator Nancy Gutierrez had promised: HOT!

The lighting was exotic. Dynamic theater lights created eerie auras of overlapping hues in the darkened room. Laptop screens in many exhibits, LCD projectors and illuminated art work added to the otherworldly atmosphere. The student work showed outstanding mastery of challenging – and advanced – erudition. The children were poised, although enthusiastic, as they explained the results of their research.

It was a true multi-media affair which included a school slide show, Aztec dancing and the Renaissance band. NNV is sure that Nancy Gutierrez was enormously proud of her most ambitious showcase of Renaissance’s young scholars.

* NNV sure would appreciate hearing from a few “reporters” who attend evening events and would be willing to write them up for this newsletter. If you’re planning to attend a back-to-school night, award ceremony, (etc.) please contact me and let me know that you’ll be covering it for NNV. or (408) 272-7008.

Click here for lots of photos.

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Welcome to Alum Rock’s Newest Spiritual Resource

Logos Christian Fellowship Church reaches out to our community

Logos Christian Fellowship has moved lock, stock and hymnals to Alum Rock! To say this move was long-anticipated would be an enormous understatement. NNV has been in contact with both incoming Logos Fellowship and outgoing First Church of the Nazarene for nearly two years as each congregation waited for its new venue to be ready.

Neighbors have watched as the church at 4801 Alum Rock Avenue went a bit seedy as the Nazarenes focused on getting into their new Evergreen church, The Point. Then, things began looking up last fall as the Logos folks began sprucing things back up. Today the lawn is green, the foundation plantings are tidied up, a new roof has been installed and new temporary signage says, “We’re here!” (Well not exactly, but anyone watching could make no mistake that the transition has been made.)

NNV visited Pastor Isaac Neal last week to welcome him and his Logos congregants to our neighborhood. Pastor Neal graciously showed us around the large church and said he wants to be sure that NNV readers know that Logos’ many resources are now available to the Alum Rock community. As it happens, there are a considerable number of Logos members who lived here in our neighborhood already - and they’re very happy to have their church move from McKee Road (at 101) to this location close to their homes. They have long been enjoying the church’s outreach. "Outreach" could quite appropriately be part of Logos’ name.

So, what is the origin of the word Logos? Pastor Neal says that it's Greek for “The Word” and is taken from John:1 which says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

What sort of church is it? Well, it’s nondenominational, but closest in doctrine to the Pentecostal church. It’s rather informal – Pastor Neal says he doesn’t wear a robe when he preaches, but he does wear a tie! On the dais behind the pulpit there sits a complete drum set which provides the underpinnings of “joyful noise” produced by musicians on electric guitar and bass, organ, keyboard and even bongos.

And do they have a choir? You betcha! Pastor Neal says that the twenty-some choristers are “Very good” and the music very lively!

He and his wife, Starr, have been married for 38 years and live in Evergreen. When they first moved from San Francisco to San Jose in 1973, they lived near McKee and La Pala. When you hear his soft accent, you’ll realize that San Francisco was just a stop on his route between Winnsboro, Louisiana and the Santa Clara Valley. They have three grown children and one grandchild and have put in a request for their kids to produce more of the latter.

“It was the leading of the Lord” which called Pastor Neal to found Logos Christian Fellowship in 1982. The small congregation met at the YMCA on White Road. He became a fulltime minister in 1989 after a long career with the U.S. Postal Service.

Now about 200 to 250 worshippers attend services at Logos. About half of the congregation is Spanish speaking. During services conducted in English, an interpreter is employed. On each first and third Sunday evening, services are geared to non-English speaking members of the community. On each second and fourth Sunday morning, there is a combined service. English as a Second Language classes will be part of the church’s outreach and a computer learning center, such as they had at their McKee Road church, is in the offing.

On the fourth Sunday of every month, the church has a “dress down” or casual day (very casual, says the pastor) where they “create unity and keep the body together” with a meal following the 10:30 AM service. A potluck, we asked? Nope, the church provides the food and fellowship!

Being hopeless stained glass window fans, we had to ask about the lovely window above the pulpit. It turns out that it was designed by Alum Rock’s own stained glass guru, Pat Hager. And, fascinatingly, Isaac Neal is himself a stained glass artist and has collaborated with Pat in the past. He has plans to design and create stained glass for the windows at the back of the church (which is actually where most people enter from the parking lot).

Pastor Neal would like the church to be a haven for community members who perhaps do not have a church of their own. He says he wants them to “know we’re here” when they have a loss in the family. And in the future, he would like to have Logos be a place where many marriage ceremonies are performed. Of course, there would have to be some preparatory “conditions” met!

Logos is a “young” church with the average age of the congregation being somewhere around 25 to 35. A special effort is made to reach out to young people. Many children attend Sunday School and there’s a well-equipped nursery for parents to leave their little ones during the services.

To find out more about the church – or to check on times of worship services – you can call (408) 259-7474.

Click here for photos.

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You Dig It?

Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.

April Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 with your gardening questions or check out our website at

Termites in Mulch Scare: Ever since Katrina and Rita hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, a rumor has been circulating around the internet that the mulch market will be flooded with bags filled with termites in mulch made from downed trees. There's no need to worry about this here in the Bay Area for a number of reasons. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has quarantined the disaster area and has regulated that all woody debris must be disposed of in a special landfill. The weather here in the Bay Area is too cold for the Formosan termites to survive. This is a tropical insect that needs warm nights. Lastly, the mulching process kills the termites and eggs in the debris. We are safe from this pest.

Fertilizing and Pruning Acid-Loving Plants: Now is a great time to fertilize your acid loving plants such as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. Use a fertilizer specifically formulated for them. Now is also the time to prune them. Shaping smaller plants or heavier pruning of large shrubs may reduce next year's bloom somewhat but the trimming will invigorate the shrubs for heavier blooms the year after.

Starting Summer Vegetable Gardens: Now is the time to start your seeds for transplanting if you haven't already. Wait until the soil warms up in May to plant them in your garden. For some ideas on good varieties to grow and when to plant them, see our Warm Season Vegetables for Santa Clara County list at If you miss our big Spring Garden Market on April 1 for your starts, you can also purchase heirloom varieties at our Palo Alto Demo Garden on April 8 from 10am to 1pm. See for more details and a map.

Staying Ahead of Weeds: The easiest time of the year to control weeds is right now before our soils dry up for the summer. Pull, hoe or dig weeds when they are small and before they go to seed. Chemical weed control is difficult to do without damaging nearby plants or adding to runoff problems. Glyphosate products such as Roundup can travel quite a distance when sprayed and damage your plants. It's important to use it only on windless days. Runoff from well watered lawns using 'weed and feed' products creates many problems in San Francisco Bay. Use a mechanical barrier such as wood chips or gravel or even groundcover plantings. Many Master Gardeners believe that if there are weeds in your garden, you don't have enough plants to shade them out! UC has an excellent weed management Pest Note at

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In Praise of Ribes

Currants and gooseberries add color to the garden in winter and early spring

By Arvind Kumar

Winter and early spring may be the seasons of dormancy for regions east, but for California plants this is a time of rapid below-ground growth in preparation for above-ground growth in spring. For some plants, winter and early spring are the time for captivating floral displays. This column is about four of my favorite shrubs of the genus Ribes.

For well over a month now, the golden currant (Ribes aureum gracillimum) has been illuminating the space between the leafless apricot and the coyote ceanothus in my backyard. Its bright yellow flowers are borne in clusters, and cover its branches completely, well before the arrival of the lobed leaves. Eventually, they will give way to orange berries that the birds will feed on. In my garden, this local native did well in the sun as well as part shade. Five years after planting, it is completely established, requiring no additional water yet staying green the year round. It is supposed to be winter deciduous, but mine keeps its leaves the year round. It responds well to an annual pruning to suit the garden space.

For sheer elegance and beauty, few shrubs can compete with the pink flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum) in bloom. Its white and pink flowers are held in large umbels, hung like holiday decorations from a tree, that hummingbirds love to feed on. The leaves release their fragrance when you brush past them, making it a lovely path-side plant. This local native occurs in nature along creeks and on north-facing slopes. I’ve seen specimens that grew to 8’ tall, although 5’ is more common. In a hot San Jose garden, it prefers a part shade location. I originally planted three plants of which only one survives: the two that died were planted in a south-facing sunny spot; the one that lived is on the edge of the garden, in the shade of the neighbor’s flowering plum. I water it about once a month.

For a sunny and dry garden, try the chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum). Its umbels resemble those of the pink flowering currant, only more white than pink. Its deep green leaves are fuzzy, resinous, and fragrant. This fast-growing shrub to 5’ requires no additional water when established. Place this evergreen beauty in the back of a bed for form, foliage, and seasonal color. Place it next to gray-leaved shrubs like purple sage or sagebrush for foliage color contrast.

There is another tribe of Ribes, the gooseberries, whose spiny stems can do lasting damage to the unsuspecting handler (their currant cousins have no thorns). California has many species of native gooseberries, among which the most ravishing is the fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum). Crimson pendants hang from horizontally held branches, as if designed for the hummers that feed on the flowers. Each shrub is only 3’ tall, but can have a spread of 6’ wide. To see them in full bloom, visit the Environmental Education Center in Alviso in early spring. In nature, the plant loses its leaves in summer and goes dormant; in a garden, it will keep its leaves if watered. One can also use its dry branches as a design element in the garden, highlighting it with suitable perennials and grasses. It’s a good barrier plant for keeping small birds safe from felines and other predators.

When I started gardening, showy annuals were the highlight of my garden, but now they play the role of seasonal accents, prominent in spring, invisible the rest of the year. I have come to regard shrubs and perennials as the mainstays, plants which can be relied on to hold interest the year round with their flowers, foliage, or habit. Among shrubs, few are as colorful and charming and reliable as the native Ribes. Try one today!

Click here for Arvind's photos.

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Spring Native Plant Sale

Don’t miss it this time!

By Arvind Kumar, Publicity Chair, California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Does your garden have a sense of place? Do you want your garden to reflect California, the place you call home? Consider introducing California native plants into the garden, and add beauty and habitat value without a whole lot of watering or spraying. Discover the possibilities at the Native Plant Sale at Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos Hills on Saturday, May 6, 2006.

Naturally adapted to the local soil and climate, California native plants thrive in California without amendments, fertilizers, or pesticides, and offer incomparable habitat value. At the sale, you can choose from scores of species of hard-to-find native plants: from deergrass and monkey flower to redbud and blue-eyed grass, from orchids and lilies to ferns, sedums, and buckwheats.

In spring, California hillsides turn every shade of yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, and white with glorious wildflower displays. Many of these wildflowers can be grown in the garden with ease, and you can get seeds and bulbs at the sale. You can speak with experts about unthirsty alternatives to a lawn, including native perennials, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. You can browse books, posters, and note cards featuring native plants.

The plants are accurately tagged and lovingly nurtured by volunteers from the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). The non-profit, all-volunteer CNPS Nursery opens to the public only two times a year (spring and fall). Proceeds fund chapter activities such as Gardening With Natives, Field Trips, Conservation, and Education, as well as the Trust for Hidden Villa.

The sale takes place Saturday, May 6, 2006, from 10am to 3pm, at the Hidden Villa Ranch, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. The ranch is 2 miles west of the I-280 Moody/El Monte Road exit. Free parking. Come early for the best selection; bring boxes to carry your purchases home. Cash or check only.

For more information:,, (650) 691-9749.

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Want to write or take photos for New Neighborhood Voice? NNV welcomes reporters, essayists, poets
and camera bugs. More “Voices” = a richer NNV. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.


Romeo and Juliet – The Ballet

A performance worthy of every superlative!

By Nella Henninger

Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley's production of Romeo and Juliet made for a delightful evening. Oh, I know it's a tragedy, but the colorful costumes, beautiful music and wonderful dancers kept everything in perspective.

Karen Gabay's Juliet was most impressive. She was certainly a teenage sprite, following her young heart to a tragic end. Romeo, as danced by Maykel Solas, was the romantic and dashing young lover who lifted and caressed Juliet with loving care.

The comedic elements interspersed between fights and love scenes were great fun. The dancers used facial expressions and body language to elicit chuckles from the audience often during the performance. The death scenes by Mercutio and Tybalt were drawn out and worked to the max.

It was especially nice to see Roni Mahler, Raymond Rodriguez and (BSJSV Artistic Director) neighbor Dennis Nahat, himself as Juliet's nurse, the Prince of Verona and Friar Laurence respectively. I had the feeling all the dancers were having a wonderful time doing this ballet and that made it even more enjoyable for me.

NNV Note: Dennis Nahat’s Romeo and Juliet was accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. We asked BSJSV publicist, Lee Kopp, to explain just what determines the nature and scale of the accompaniment for each ballet program.

Lee writes: The orchestra has not been playing for every program, partially as a money-saving measure ... 50 to 55 musicians adds a big chunk to payroll ... and partially because a number of our ballets recently have been set to music that would not really work for orchestra.

We have done pieces set to rock and roll, to Tangos, to early American (New Orleans) jazz, even to Eskimo chant and whale song. We did a Chinese piece recorded on Chinese instruments by an orchestra in Beijing. We did a movie-theme song ballet played live on stage by four-hands on two grand pianos. We used a string quartet for one program last season.

Our next program (April 20 -23) is four very different short pieces. One is set to a Billie Holiday recording from 1938, one is set to Chinese folk music set to a score recorded by the Shanghai Orchestra and integrated with a live performance by er-hu virtuoso Yong-Ping Tian. Another piece is set to Chopin and will be played live on solo piano while the fourth will be on two grand pianos.

We certainly plan on using the full orchestra next year for NUTCRACKER and for any other program choice where the orchestra is appropriate. We always WANT to have live music. It is so much more fun for the dancers.

Dwight Oltman has been the principal conductor for the company for 26 years. He lives in Cleveland. Most of the musicians in the Ballet Orchestra are from Symphony Silicon Valley ... but not all. We also supplement with guests.

Click here for photos.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletAre the rumors true that Thai White Rock Café is going to become a Mexican restaurant?
bulletIs it true that menu prices at TWRC all went up in March?
bulletHow can we be sure that the Village doesn’t lose its very best restaurant (TWRC)?
bulletDid NNV hear from readers commenting on the February Mt Hamilton Road pedestrian death?
bulletWhat is the final story for Rafiki’s Coffee Hut?
bulletWas the new Café.com at the library a factor in Rafiki’s closing?
bulletWhat will go into the empty Rafiki’s shop?
bulletDoes the Redevelopment Agency help keep rents reasonable and appropriate to a neighborhood?

Q. Are the rumors true that Thai White Rock Café is going to become a Mexican restaurant?

A. NNV spoke with TWRC owner, Sophana, last week and found that everything is sort of up-in-the-air. She would like to continue on – cooking super Thai cuisine for the neighborhood – but the future of the restaurant is “unsettled” at the moment. There are some legal matters pending. Stay tuned.

Q. Is it true that menu prices at TWRC all went up in March?

A. Yes, but only by a little bit. Sophana pointed out the new menu and said that the most any price went up was 50 cents. Many prices went up only 25 cents or even as little as a nickel. She points out that portions are now bigger.

Q. How can we be sure that the Village doesn’t lose its very best restaurant (TWRC)?

A. NNV is not sure we can lean any harder on Sophana, but it won’t hurt to tell her how much we appreciate the restaurant. And we CAN patronize it often.

 Click here for a photo.

Q. Did NNV hear from readers commenting on the February Mt Hamilton Road pedestrian death?

A. Yes, we heard from several readers and the consensus was that the accident happened most certainly because the driver of the Corvette was going waaaay too fast to maintain control. “That curve is only dangerous when people don’t heed the slow down signs,” observed one. Another reader pointed out the very long skid marks which wouldn’t have been left if the driver were obeying the 10 MPH limit on the hairpin turn just before the accident scene. And, as far as a bicyclist on the road being a factor, our readers figured that detail was thrown in just as a means to avoid personal responsibility. One reader mentioned other accidents at that curve and remembered that a James Lick High School student, Jenny Horn, lost control there and was killed when her car went over the side in the 1970’s. A reader suggested that the speed limit be reduced for all of Mt. Hamilton Road, but he admitted that was a long shot because it’s a “state highway” and we all know that makes it sort of a sacred cow. A longtime reader mentioned sadly that the victim, Elizabeth Melaku, had worked taking care of her aged mother, too, and vouched for Ms. Melaku’s loving care.

Q. What is the final story for Rafiki’s Coffee Hut?

A. The sad story was spelled out on the doors of the shop right at the beginning of March. “Going out of business due to financial hardship” was the gist of the poignant, apologetic message. NNV tried to elicit some information from owners Luke and Liesl Violante, but hadn’t had a response as of this writing. 

Click here for photos.

Q. Was the new Café.com at the library a factor in Rafiki’s closing?

A. According to Andrew Mendoza, the Redevelopment Agency’s liaison to Alum Rock Village, Rafiki’s was already struggling to remain open for more than a year … way before Café.com opened. He pointed out that Café.com and Rafiki’s served a different market.

Q. What will go into the empty Rafiki’s shop?

A. Well, rumor had it that the Violantes were unable to sell their coffee business, so no one actually knows what kind of shop will go in there. Andrew Mendoza (see above) says that the RDA team is working with retail brokers to re-tenant the site and they “are confident it will attract a good anchor tenant.” An NNV reader has proposed that Peet’s Coffee open a shop there. See her letter on our Letters page and help her crusade.

Q. Does the Redevelopment Agency help keep rents reasonable and appropriate to a neighborhood?

A. No, that’s not what they do. They assist businesses with, among other things: expansion, relocation and retention via development help, permit assistance, marketing, tracking and providing broker and real estate contacts. “As for the retail market rents, (they are) similar to the housing market. The rents are ’market’ driven thus the Agency or any other entity cannot influence or negotiate the lease/rent cost,” according to Mr. Mendoza.

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You can send comments or letters to the editor (Click Here to see the Letters)

E-mail us at or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions.  Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements.  Want to take photos, write articles or essays?  Please let us know!  And don't miss our new Letters page on Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants if you'd like to share information with our readers.

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--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome. 
To Subscribe: E-mail with "Subscribe" in the Subject line. 
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Privacy Policy: Your contact information will not be sold, distributed or visible to others. 
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.

Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 4/1/06.

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