Splash Pad News – October 2020

If You Can Remain Calm…
You Probably Don’t Understand the Seriousness of Our Situation!

Since 2005,  the Splash Pad News or “Newsletter,” as it was originally called, has been reporting on the park, the Farmers Market, the surrounding commercial district, and happenings in the surrounding neighborhoods. On very rare occasions, we have also written about social issues. One example was the February 2019 edition that focused on homelessness. We are quite pleased to be continuing that discussion this month thanks to Joanne Devereaux’s extraordinary account of the friendship she built with a man living on the streets named “Gustavo.” Another social issue that we felt absolutely compelled to address was the tragic murder of four Oakland police officers back in 2009.


Fairyland Blog Photo

The “Toranado” That Created Oakland’s Autumn Lights Festival
by C. J. Hirschfield

When Tora Rocha was growing up, Oakland’s Lakeside Park was a godsend. “We were poor,” she says, and the park’s nature center, ducks, free gardens, and Children’s Fairyland provided many hours of joy and communion with nature. Fast-forward to grown-up Tora, who, after a stint as elephant trainer at the Oakland Zoo, returned to her beloved park—first, as an animal keeper at Fairyland, and ultimately, on Earth Day in 2010, as an Oakland Park Supervisor. Although Lakeside Park was only one of her trusts, her office was located inside of the Gardens at Lake Merritt, and it felt like coming home. With its bonsai, Mediterranean, palm grove, sensory, pollinator, children’s and other gardens, it is an urban paradise.


Gardening for Monarchs in Oakland, California
by Miya Saika Chen

“Prolific and unprecedented egg-laying in Oakland this year,” my friend and founder of the Pollinator Posse, Tora Rocha, exclaimed as I relayed my latest monarch butterfly pursuits. By late September my kids and I raised more than 100 monarch butterflies in our garden—from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Last week I found a chrysalis hanging from our outdoor hose faucet. We’ve shared monarch eggs with friends and family to raise all over Oakland, which is especially fulfilling during such an uncertain and stressful era of the shelter-in-place and the global COVID-19-pandemic.

I wrote a previous article after my first year of gardening for monarchs, which describes the soul nourishment that it provided.

If you’ve felt the magical, orange fluttering around you or on your walks, and if you want to create a pollinator haven for bees and butterflies, it’s easy!


Gustavo Parts Unknown
by Joanne Devereaux

copyright: Joanne Devereaux

We met one bird-chirping spring morning three years ago during a morning walk around Lake Merritt. My birthday that year happened to be on a Sunday in April. I remember smiling when a man said, “Happy Easter” as I walked by. A few days after our first meeting, I saw him again. He greeted me with such enthusiasm I stopped to talk. “What’s your name?” I asked. “Gustavo,” he said.

In my first year getting to know Gustavo, he lived on the back side of the Oakland Museum. He was out in the open, close to a busy road. He wore a yellow hard hat, so he was always easy to spot from a distance. “Are you hungry?” I asked him one afternoon. “No, my mom brings me food every morning before she goes to work.” That day he was finishing up a can of tuna.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below is the fourth in  an ongoing series about home-cooked meals using at least some homegrown and/or locally sourced ingredients. Please submit your proposals to info@splashpad.org.

Sorrel is Sorrely Underappreciated
by C. J. Hirschfield

I first discovered garden sorrel while working at Children’s Fairyland. I didn’t know what it was, but was impressed by how large, healthy, and bright its leaves were—all year long. I asked the park’s landscape supervisor Jackie Salas to identify the plant that lived in our Learning Garden, where kids are taught about growing edibles in urban environments. She told me that she uses sorrel in the garden to talk about different tastes—sorrel being a great example of sour. She grows it right next to stevia, and she has kids try both in one bite—“It’s like a natural Sour Patch Kids candy,” she says. The reasons Jackie loves sorrel? “It’s easy, and it’s pretty—as well as being edible.”


New on Lakeshore – October Blog
by Kira Pascoe

Between the unprecedented fires, smoke, and pandemic, September has posed challenges for Lakeshore. Though many businesses are open under the current Health Orders (with safety restrictions), many businesses reduced their hours or closed during the worst of the smoke. However, Lakeshore businesses are persevering! While there is no Halloween parade this year, we are moving forward: hair and nail salons can safely open, there is more outdoor dining and a parklet, and stores are carrying fun, inspirational and practical goods for individuals, families, and pets. Whether you are shopping for a fall pick-me-up or pre-holiday shopping, Lakeshore appreciates and needs your support!


Grand Avenue Business Report
by Ken Katz

As local businesses continue to suffer from the ravages of the coronavirus, there are several hopeful signs on Grand Avenue. One is a brand new mural on the facade of Natasha Bernard’s Alchemy Restorative Medicine office at 3338 Grand that makes a bold statement: “We’re here to stay!” It was painted by Amandalynn, who is a muralist, fine artist, conservator, and art director based in Northern California. Shortly after the office opened, she also did the equally enchanting mural on the interior. Dr. Bernard reports that she is open for in-person and virtual visits and is running her first 21-day group nutrition reboot, which starts on October 16th.

The really big news is that Walden Pond Books is opening their doors to customers today and will remain open seven days a week from 10 am – 5 pm.


Grand Lake Farmers Market

It’s been a while since we last asked Grand Lake Farmers Market Manager Dan Foster for updates. Here’s his reply:
  • Mary Ma, who was born and raised in the Lake Merritt area, is a new, wonderful addition to the Grand Lake Market management team.
  • Gascon, Kettle Pop, and The Baconer are all out indefinitely.
  • Zuckerman, G & S Corn, and Balakian are all out for the fall/winter season.
  • La Cascada and Wild West Ferments have both returned to the market.
  • County Line is out for a couple of weeks as they transition to their southern growing location in Thermal.
  • Sharp Brothers, the knife sharpener, is now attending the market every week.
  • Alexandre Family Farm is new to the market. They offer a fantastic array of organic A2/A2 milks, yogurts, and flavored milks.
  • Mume Farm is also new to the market. They grow ume (a traditional Japanese plum) from which they produce a variety of artisanal products including Umeboshi.

Behind the Bounty Box Video – Toscano Family Farms

AIM’s pilot episode of its new video series Behind the Bounty Box gives you an inside look on how AIM curates its newest program, the Bounty Box–“fresh from the market to curbside.” Bounty Boxes are filled with a seasonal assortment of fruit, herbs, salad fixings, and other veggies from the farmers who participate at AIM’s Marin Civic Center, Grand Lake Oakland, and Clement Street (San Francisco) farmers markets.


Editor’s Note: Unless you’re a relative newcomer to the Splash Pad News, you’re very well aware of the campaign that Jerry Barclay’s Farmers Market Advisory Committee (with support from this publication) waged in favor of new market management. The hiring of Andy Naja-Riese as the new CEO in 2018 has since totally transformed that relationship as evidenced in part by all the sponsors he’s brought on board that are helping fund half-price Bounty Boxes for EBT card holders and free Bounty Boxes every Saturday for local non-profits. This Bounty Box video program is icing on the cake.

October Online Theater and History Options
by Sheila McCormick

Dorothy Lazard

I wrote a short article about online theater options in the August Splash Pad News. Here is a theater update for October to which I’m adding some local history options.

Dorothy Lazard, Librarian in the Oakland History Center at the Oakland Public Library, usually hosts a Fall History Series of Lectures at the Main Library. This year, in lieu of in-person gatherings, she instead will host four episodes (beginning October 7) of The Oakland Library Podcast “Check Your Shelf.”

October 7: An interview with the Editorial Team of the Oakland Heritage Alliance News


Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting Minutes – September 16, 2020 

Thefts at Chi Wind & Water (3227 Lakeshore):
There have been repeated thefts by teenagers over the past year, with videos of the thefts available. So far, OPD has not looked at the videos. Next step: get report/incident numbers, escalate to Officer Gonzalez, then figure out a way to get OPD to come over to the store to see the videos.

Threatening people living at the Rose Garden:
Three people living in the park are fighting frequently and making lots of noise that awakens nearby neighbors multiple times at night. They refuse to use available restrooms and they urinate and defecate on park grounds. They threaten volunteers and visitors to the park, even recently running after someone with a lead pipe. Alameda County says the City has to take the lead on solving this problem because the Rose Garden “is not in a zone the County serves because there are only 3 people involved.”


Odds and Ends

Oakland gets a lot of bad press. Some of it based on fact. Most of it questionable at best. Either way, we were delighted to see a wonderful article in yesterday’s New York Times California Today feature about the owners of a Fortune Cookie factory in Oakland’s Chinatown who helped create a working partnership between the Asian-American and Black communities as a consequence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a partnership that’s helping fight the racism that has impacting both communities.

The New York Times also had an article on September 4 that’s well worth checking out. The subject was the Oakland Museum’s Digital Archive with a focus on their immense Dorothea Lange collection.

A big thank-you to everyone who responded to last month’s request for donations to support Darius Brazell’s daughters. Katrina Williams (Darius’s sister) is incredibly grateful for your $3,000 in contributions. Combined with approximately the same amount raised in a separate campaign a month earlier, she says the total is sufficient to provide a little bit of extra love for Breanna and Arianna.


The Rotary Club of Oakland has featured speakers every Thursday afternoon and they are now held online and open to the public via Zoom and Facebook. Recent speakers have included Walter Hood and Laney College’s John Beam. You can connect with Rotary on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The monthly Grand Lake Neighbors meetings are typically on the third Wednesday of each month. This month it’s Wednesday, October 21 beginning at 7 pm. Look for the agenda and the Zoom login info on their GLN Facebook page.




One response to “Splash Pad News – October 2020”

  1. Just want to thank everybody involved in putting together the Splash Pad News every month with a special shout-out to Keila Diehl who hasn’t had time of late to contribute articles but she’s someone we depend upon for editorial advice and for careful editing.