Thursday, April 14, 2011

From practice to principle

“I feel so connected when I spend money in someone’s store. I really feel how money I spend supports people that I care about, how interconnected we are. From the newspaper to Toby’s to Shorty’s, we are all connected. If feels really good to have the flow of money circulate within the community.
By Shari Faye Dell

A practicing psychotherapist for 30 years, recently published author Kate Levinson says, “I realized after I wrote a dissertation on women with inherited wealth that I hadn’t ever looked at my own psychological relationship to money–not in my own therapies or while I was doing research for the dissertation.”

A licensed marriage and family therapist since 1981, Levinson runs a private practice in Oakland. “For individuals and couples, problems with money are reflective of other issues in our lives. Individual conflicts and confusion manifest in difficulties that arise around money. Understanding what underlies those difficulties, allows us to find better solutions.”
Thirteen years ago, Levinson began teaching workshops designed to lead women through the process of examining their own relationship to money. “The workshops inspired the idea of a book,” she explains. “The workshop participants’ stories were so moving. I realized we were denied hearing these stories because of taboo–talking about money. We didn’t share these stories with others, let alone ourselves.”
“While numerous financial management books have been published, there is an increasing number of books written directly for women. However, there are no books for a general audience dealing with our psychological relationship to money, not in depth. Amazingly, very few professional psychology titles deal with money.” Levinson noticed, “Additionally, it is clear that we are in the midst of a radical change in demographics. Women earn more and have control over more money than ever before.”
Levinson shelved several book-writing proposals before committing her work to print.

New project: a blessing in disguise
A little over nine years ago, Levinson explains, “Steve woke up one morning and said he wanted to buy the bookstore. I said fine. We never would have bought the bookstore if I had not already worked through some of my money issues.”
In her book, Levinson describes a thrifty course of spending that ruled her decision-making skills with an iron fist. Operating from fear of not having money, conservative spending placed a heavy thumb on her habits.
Fortunately for many whose lives are impacted by the numerous projects Levinson and her husband, Steve Costa, as Point Reyes Books, have set in motion, “I was no longer in that place of fear.” Levinson recalls, “I had always put the brakes on–can’t do it, can’t afford it–I always felt there was not enough. A year or two before, I might have said no, I would have been terrified of going into that kind of debt. In this case, it turned out to be this wonderful thing, an incredibly enrichening experience to have the bookstore.”
Levinson describes one on many benefits in leaving the fear behind, “Operating the bookstore has increased my love for books and introduced me to many others in the book publishing and selling world. At times, I saw the bookstore as a distraction but ultimately, it supported me in being able to write the book.”
Owning a small business changed many of Levinson’s perceptions. “It opened my eyes in all sorts of ways,” she says.
Bound to write
During the first Geography of Hope conference, produced in 2009 by Point Reyes Books, Levinson came into contact with an agent that took an interest in her book proposal. He gave her some contacts. From signing to submitting the final manuscript, six short months–the publisher, Ten Speed, wanted to fast track the book due to the timely economic down-turn.

Emotional Currency workshops and book are all in the service of women getting in touch with their own relationship and emotional responses to money. “If we get curious about how we relate to money,” says Levinson, “rather than judging ourselves harshly or pushing reactions away because they are messy, we can explore this vein. It has everything to do with our psychological life. Then it becomes clear to us, what we need to understand or do differently.”

Levinson took time off from teaching the one-day workshop to complete the book. New workshop schedules and information are available on her website at
Join Kate Levinson Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. for a publication party celebrating the release of Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money at Toby's Feed Barn.

Dodging low tide

Several weeks of severe weather prevented fishermen from heading out to sea. On Monday of last week, Bolinas fishermen Kristopher and Jeremy Dierks took advantage of the welcome respite from the storms. Unfortunately, strong currents rendered crab pot buoys unreachable, the brothers returned to the dock on Bolinas Lagoon empty handed.
Josh Churchman, also of Bolinas reports, “This last week I have been running the crab gear but the catch has dropped down to almost nothing.”
Heading into minus tides this week, Churchman describes the strategy, “What we have all been doing is leaving early in the morning and coming in late in the evening, after the tide comes in.” Long days like these are one of the down sides of mooring in Bolinas, “That is why there are not many boats here,” he says.
“It is one of the best crab seasons we have ever had. Most of the crab has been caught.
Lots of small crab still out there; just not many legal ones,” says Churchman (Citizen photo by SF Dell).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Food for families

 Jesse Mccollum and Danielle Rodoni prepare several courses for the “Food For Families” project
By Shari Faye Dell (West Marin Citizen April 7, 2011)
What began as a casual conversation in front of Smiley’s Schooner Saloon has become a growing weekly production of arugula pesto pasta, veggie frittatas, lasagna and key lime pie.
“We had three friends who had just given birth,” explains Serita Basilio-Lewis. Recalling the conversation, “It would be really nice to cook for them, lets just do that.”
“It was just that simple,” adds Danielle Rodoni.
Helping hands
For seven weeks running the two women prepared, packaged and delivered meals to families with newborns, as well as, a woman undergoing treatment for cancer and a woman recovering from surgery.
“The second week we found out about someone else, [added to the three friends with newborns]that was the fourth family. The third week we cooked for five families,” says Basilio-Lewis. “The fifth week there were seven.”
While there are no income or circumstantial guidelines to differentiate who the helping hands serve, Rodoni describes it, “Just community oriented stuff, wouldn’t you like it if you were ill or ailing and someone came by and brought you meals?”
“We aren’t looking at the money aspect of it either,” says Basilio-Lewis, “several of the families we cook for could probably afford to hire someone, but that is not what it is about. I don’t want to say that we do this for the needy, that would be the wrong context. The food is for people that welcome a little help.”
It began with the desire to nurture mothers with newborns, “Some of them have older children. It is hard–trying to cook for a husband, the children and still see to the needs of a newborn and yourself–postpartum.”
Supplies run low
Basilio-Lewis and Rodoni purchased all the necessary ingredients for the first couple of weeks out of their own tight budgets. “We realized we couldn’t afford to keep buying all the food, there was one week we had no produce and no idea what we were going to do,” says Rodoni.
“We were both flat broke, sitting out front and talking, I literally had five dollars,” Basilio-Lewis laughs. “We have to get creative with it, we’ll use canned food.”
A local overheard them talking and said hang on, be right back. He returned with six bags of arugula, some chard, kale, cilantro and carrots, explaining he trades his own diary products weekly for produce.
The following week, a friend living in Point Reyes Station, who also barters for produce,  made a welcomed delivery of fresh greens and roots.
Broadening the reach
Basilio-Lewis took up volunteer work at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, helping out in the food pantry and with the senior meal on Thursdays. Reciprocating, the pantry has provided additional supplies for the Bolinas based project come to be known as Food For Families.
Word travels fast in small towns; other community members began donating produce from local farms. Several trips to the weekly S.F. Food Bank distribution at the Bolinas Community Center helped garner some staples for the food coffer.
Last week, neighbor and friend Jason Glavis made arrangements to allocate twenty percent of the cover charge from two shows: one at 19th and Broadway in Fairfax featuring SAGE and another at Smiley’s with a line up of local hip hop, rap and DJ artists. Several hundred dollars were raised.
“Organically, people hear of the need and offer things up,”
For the long haul
“We deliver to Stinson Beach and Bolinas families after we are done making the food,” Basilio-Lewis explains. “We are taking on two Point Reyes families this week. One of the mom’s works here in Bolinas and will pick up the food. But, theoretically we could do Point Reyes deliveries.
“We plans to keep doing this. As more people hear about it, more and more people want to help,” she explains.
Looking ahead, they plan to organizing a roster of volunteers to take turns with various aspects of the food prep and delivery side of the production. Basilio-Lewis says, “I love the idea of it growing its own legs and becoming a community wide effort; keep it going for anyone who needs it.”
“I don’t even see them [Basilo-Lewis and Rodoni]. I get home and there is a grocery bag full of delicious food on the porch,” say Dani Vincent, Bolinas resident and mother of a five-week old baby girl. Vincent returned to nursing school just nine days after the baby was born and plans to graduate in May. She currently is working 12 hour shifts at UCSF, work experience necessary to graduate. “I think of them as dinner fairies,” she says. “All the food is in individual packages. I can take it to school and not think about it. If I had to feed myself I would be stuck with a bag of chips and an apple.”

Click to zoom

Right of way on the left coast

Just 24 hours after the cyclone fence was erected, the beginning of a locally orchestrated detour was visible on the grass and brush covered slope, cliff-side below the slumping roadway.

by Shari Faye Dell (West Marin Citizen, April 7, 2011)

While Marin County Department of Public (DPW) works is actively pursuing geotechnical evaluation and funding to restore upper Terrace Avenue in Bolinas, additional safety concerns emerge. “The area around the slide is not safe, it has not been safe for sometime,” says Craig Parmley, road maintenance superintendent for Marin Department of Public Works.
While access concerns still press upon residents and local municipalities, the widening, deepening section of slumped roadway prompted DPW to post additional road closure signs last week.

Noting that sand, not soil, is all that supports the remaining chunks of roadway, Parmley says DPW believes any activity around or near the slide poses a great threat to individuals.
On Monday, the department completed installation of a six-foot cyclone fence at both ends of the slide site closing off the remaining narrow path of crumbling asphalt to all traffic, including bicycles and pedestrians. “My hope is that the fence deters people from the active area of the slide,” Parmley explains, noting that on a previous visit to the site he witnessed children climbing on the collapsing roadbed.
Recent storms knocked tons of asphalt into the growing pit, as well as dislodging the dangling county maintained storm drain that routes Overlook runoff.
One resident, preferring not to be named, told the Citizen he had stopped by the corner of Overlook and Terrace earlier that day to see the new development. While he was there, a biker, holding his bike in one hand, used the other hand to pivot around the cliff side fence post, proceeded across the narrow path and then pivoted again around the second section of fence. “I think that this is very nearsighted,” he said. “People have always gone down Terrace. [One of two roads leading from the residential populated Mesa to downtown Bolinas]. It [Terrace] is especially desirable now that there is no through [automobile] traffic. People choose that route because they want to stop and look out at the ocean from Surfers' Overlook.
“People often go to Surfer’s Overlook just to determine whether or not hey want to go to the beach.
“If you are walking or riding a bike [in to town], it is half the distance of taking the bike trail or Mesa Road, besides the bike trail is in terrible shape, it has had no maintenance in two years.”
The Bolinas Community Public Utility District General Manager, Jennifer Blackman, sent out a letter to community members last week informing residents of county plans to close the road to “ALL” access. In the letter, Blackman goes on to say, “Fortunately, there is an alternative route for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel from the Mesa to the downtown area – and that route is the new BCPUD pedestrian and bike path that runs parallel to Mesa Road (beginning at the intersection with Overlook), past the BCPUD lab building, then through the eucalyptus grove and down to the Resource Recovery Center.”

Bolinas Stinson student art show at the Stinson Beach Library

Leonardo Ferlinghetti, 7th grade, Bolinas-Stinson School, 35”x49”, tempera, acrylic and chalk on brown paper. Promise of blooms to come look out on cloudy day.
Willie Norton, 5th grade, Bolinas-Stinson School. “Still life,” pen and ink on velum. Vibrant colors represent the iridescent quality of vase, capturing the play of color around the room.

Pema Alastrang, 7th grade, Bolinas-Stinson School. Slab construction ceramic. Treasure box in muted tone glaze with double bloom, sepal and stamen.

Dracio Tevain, 4th grade, Bolinas-Stinson School. Slab construction ceramic. Four Victorian homesteads nestled together in landscape.

Owen Bisson, 7th grade, Bolinas-Stinson School. “Four Tulips,” pen on two color paper. Positive and negative study of space.

Works of art by more than 60 students are on exhibit at the Stinson Beach Library through May 12. The annual exhibit features still life studies by students of all ages and other works created in wood, ceramic and metal shops (Citizen photos by Shari Faye Dell).