Environment

Organic roots: From the rancho to the market

By Diana Montaño/Oakland North The tropical crops of Maria Inés Catalán’s youth don’t grow in Hollister. Instead of winding through the papaya and mango trees of her native Guerrero, Mexico, here, wearing black loafers caked in mud from the past week’s rain, she steps carefully over the kale, broccoli and artichoke plants that thrive in the Northern California winter.

Filmmaker to screen “Redemption,” story of Oakland recyclers

Jason Witt is an Olympian of recycling—he can recycle up to 800 pounds of bottles and cans a day. “He’s the captain of his ship,” said Amir Soltani, a writer and activist who has been following Witt for the past year as part of his upcoming documentary on West Oakland recyclers. Soltani said there is a lot of physical effort and finesse involved in manning a cart the size of Witt’s, which, at the end of each day, is stacked…

O.N. opines! On politics, on creepy comedy, on Xma$…

In these commentaries, Oakland North writers weigh in on 1) keeping Black Friday in perspective; 2) keeping certain kinds of humor in the back room, where maybe it ought to stay; and 3) how the new secretary of state selection looks through the eyes of a journalist raised in West Africa.

A fragrant shop helps Ethiopians far from home

by ISABEL ESTERMAN Inside Oakland’s Albo African Gift shop, at the corner of Alcatraz and Telegraph, a deep herbal aroma wafts from a row of colorful bottles labeled ‘frankincense.’  Ethiopian Singer Hamelmal Abate’s mournful vibrato pours out of the stereo, crooning over an incongruously lively beat, while the store’s owner, Genet Asrat, sits behind the counter, her black sweater brightened by a bold patterned scarf with a yellow border.  The phone rings nearly continuously, and Asrat switches back and forth…

Dollars & Change: a special report tracking Obama donations

by RHYEN COOMBS, LISA PICKOFF-WHITE and ELIZABETH SHEMARIA.  Bay Area residents gave over $26 million to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, making our region one of the nation’s most concentrated centers of donation to Obama’s candidacy. This multi-media close-up, produced by reporters in the U.C. Berkeley School of Journalism’s advanced multi-media program, invites you to track the buildup of money, compare Obama donations to those for previous campaigns, and hear the voices of people who chose to contribute to the 2008…

Prop. 2 passes, farm animals get more room to stretch

By MAGGIE FAZELI FARD Nov. 5 — After months of debate that shoe the spotlight of controversy on the incredible, edible egg for the first time since cholesterol-free diets came into fashion, California voters passed a ballot measure to give confined chickens and other farm animals a little more breathing room. Prop. 2, known as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, won by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent. Prop. 2 will prohibit the “cruel confinement” of California’s…

WW seeking big new money for East Bay Parks

by BAGASSI KOURA After its first approval 20 years ago, a local park development measure running out of money is back on the ballot this fall. The East Bay Regional Park District is asking residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties to vote for Measure WW, which would raise up to $500 million through government bonds.

New card-swipe bike lockers unveiled at MacArthur BART

By SAMSON REINY Oct. 29–With grandeur befitting the opening ceremony of the Tour de France, BART officials and employees staged a decorous introduction to the new BikeLink Bicycle Locker System this morning near the front entrance of the MacArthur BART station.  With the new system, bicyclists can now store their bikes and gear in large lockers at various BART locations in the East Bay. Members of BART’s board of directors and Bicycle Task Force representatives commenced the event by pedaling…