Thank you to Mara, Patrick, Angela, Cynthia and Chae for the helping hands and set up with the #meatlessmonday spread. Lion love to Dr. Zaki, the DFES PTA Board and all of the DFES families who supported this community evening of creativity.
This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Today, January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
Each year, the Blake Mini Library book drive kicks off on the MLK Day of Service, collecting through Valentine’s Day. The project encourages and supports the caring acts of children who work with their communities to collect books for the Hamilton Families shelter program here in San Francisco. This youth philanthropy effort supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. The project began in 2013, when a 6-year old boy named Blake Ansari began a book drive in New York City with the support of his family and friends.
In 2020, we invite friends and families to share acts of compassion and creativity, in celebration of the 5th annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive in San Francisco.
Learn more about the issue of homelessness and the impacts on children and finding ways to help. Baharav, H., Leos-Urbel, J., Obradovic, J., & Bardack, S. (2017). The Educational Success of Homeless and Highly Mobile Students in San Francisco Unified School District. Stanford, CA. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
Inspire children by showing that you support their efforts.
“When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self”
The second of four DFES Family Art Nights with the Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project will explore the importance of storytelling and the written word through the art of bookmaking. Cheryl Ball and C.K. Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow will teach us how to make our own books, and The Del Sol String Quartet will play!
In celebration of the 8th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, we’ll also consider the role that children’s books play in sharing the important stories and historical contributions of all Americans.
A light dinner is provided with the PTA meeting from 5:30pm – 6:00pm.
Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, these family evenings with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.
“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.
This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The first DFES Family Art Night with the Del Sol String Quartet introduced the Angel Island Project, teaching artist Andi Wong and the members of the Del Sol String Quartet to the Dianne Feinstein ES community. The Del Sol String Quartet – Charlton Lee (viola), Kathryn Bates (cello), Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser (violin) – got the evening off to a great start with a musical introduction. Everyone, adults and children, were invited to get up on their feet for an easy stroll around the room. Listening to the music, participants were invited to making contact, with smiles, head nods, touching feet, and secret handshakes in a traveling warm up to “G Song” by Terry Riley.
Andi offered a brief introduction to the history of Angel Island. Angel Island offers an important lesson on how stories and art have helped to carry historical information forward to the future. In 1970, Ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered the poetry carved by immigrantsinto the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. The poems were translated and preserved in the 1980 book, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Mark Him Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, and the Chinese-American community worked together to preserve and protect this important historical site for future generations of Americans.
Families conducted a four question oral history interview. Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Based on the responses, parents worked with their children to write a simple poem on the theme of family.
Resolute in her faith,
watching the wine dark sea. Her face
to the wind. Loving God.
Black as Night, bright as Light, she stands.
The J-H Family remembers a powerful strong woman who baked a great sweet potato pie.
We sing the family song.
We speak out Spanish language.
We visit our family in El Salvador and call.
The P-B Family remembers their family's arrival in the USA
As Del Sol performed Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, the children were invited to collaborate on work of art, an evening sky mural. Golijov’s composition finds hope and wonder in a world upended by war, when he visits the New York City planetarium with his five-year-old son, who sees the earth for the very first time — a “pale blue dot” in the vast cosmos.
In closing, we shared a wonderful opportunity to conduct an oral history interview. StoryCorps “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire using the free StoryCorps App. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Thanks to Megan Wong and Patrick Wu for helping to set up our workshop materials (heavy-lifting those giant pumpkins donated by family farmer Todd Fong of Elk Grove) and serving our Thanksgiving-themed #meatlessmonday dinner. Lion love to Dr. Salwa Zaki, Rory McMahon for the tech support and DFES PTA Board support from Angela Rosoff, Cynthia Inaba and Chae Reed. Most of all, thanks to the DFES families who helped to make this first community evening of creativity a big success.
When the event was done, those who wanted a pumpkin were welcomed to take one home to enjoy. We brought the biggest of the giant pumpkins down to Pescadero to share with Dan Sudran, founder of Mission Science Workshop and the Community Science Workshop Network. Dan introduced us to his friend Gabriel, a valued team member of Puente, who knows a lot about bees and seeds.
The best way to keep going and growing is to share the learning with others!
This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
2019 marked the fourth annual Blake Mini Library book drive for the Hamilton Families Shelter Program, San Francisco’s leading service provider to families experiencing homelessness. It was wonderful to receive the invaluable support of the two student councils at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School and Rooftop Alternative Pre-K-8 School.
This year’s special curated book selection explored the theme, “From darkness, into the light.” Special editions donated to this year’s book drive included the 75th anniversary edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice) by Laura Atkins and San Yogi, She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton, Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford, The Wall of Birds: One Planet, 243 Families, 375 Million Years by Jane Kim and Thayer Walker and Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan.
On Thursday, February 7, from 5:30pm-8pm, we hosted a special screening of Won’t You Be My Neighbor for the DFES community. The film is a very thoughtful and moving look at Fred Roger’s groundbreaking work in education, childhood and media, and the screening gave parents a wonderful opportunity to consider the impact of acts of kindness towards children. Blake Ansari, the young founder of Blake Mini Library, was six years old when he hosted his first book drive for homeless children and children in foster care in New York. Blake loves to read and wants other kids to have the opportunity to enjoy reading too.
We were especially grateful that children’s book author/illustrator Ashley Wolff was able to stop by Dianne Feinstein to lead “Kindness, Kids & Kritters,” a special art workshop that taught students how to draw the two DFES school mascots. Leona the Lion and Edwin the Panda couldn’t be more different, but, like Ashley, these two friends share a special love of books and reading. Ashley kindly created a special poster for the 2019 book drive.
After her visit, Ashley asked Blake if he had a favorite animal. What a wonderful surprise to receive Ashley’s special act of kindness a few days later… a brand new logo created especially for Blake Mini Library featuring the fastest land animal on Earth — the amazing cheetah!
Thank you to all our friends and neighbors who helped to make the 2019 Blake Mini Library book drive such a special and speedy delivery!
In 2018, we kicked off our 3rd annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and invited readers of all ages to help by writing notes of encouragement and donating a new or newly read children’s book to the children at Hamilton Families. On Read Across America Day (March 2, 2018) we donated 529 books, filled with handwritten notes of encouragement, including some special author autographs. Ms. Woo’s fourth graders accepted the Blake Mini Library Mannequin Challenge, and constructed and donated the LEGO “VR Library of the Future.”
Rooftop Spirit for Harriet’s Spirit: #monumentalwomen
This year, our book drive coincided with a world premiere opera — Opera Parallele’s production of Harriet’s Spirit, featuring a cast of eighth grade students from Rooftop School. The opera was set in both present day middle school and on the Combahee River during the Civil War, when Harriet Tubman become the first woman to plan and conduct a military raid.
In conjunction with Harriet’s Spirit, we honored Harriet Tubman and some of our other favorite “Monumental Women” with a curated collection of children’s books:
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot
Coral Reefs by Sylvia Earle
Rickie and Henry by Jane Goodall
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris
Rickshaw Girl and You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Can Art Change the World? by JR
Connect to Your Best Self
Rooftop students were thrilled to be the very first recipients of a Blake Mini Library mini-grant from the Connect to Your Best Self Foundation. The grant enabled us to host a cookie and blue marble gratitude party for the children at Hamilton Families. As Ms. Kennedy’s 4th graders prepared for the cookie party, they made origami boxes for the blue marbles and wrapped copies of the Blue Marble coloring book, Rolling Along on A Blue Marble Dream. They also worked together to write a new story.
“If you give a mouse a cookie and a blue marble…”
If you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse might enjoy a tiny blue marble too. If she eats the cookie (and another and another and another), she might turn blue like the marble. You could give her a glass of milk, but she might drink and turn the milk blue too. She also might throw up, but then at least she won’t be blue anymore. But she might get hyper and need to run around outside. You could take her outside and let her run around the grass field five times, but she might get a side stitch after eating so many cookies. If she lays down and passes out, you could run to get a glass of cold water and chuck it at her to wake her up. When she wakes up, she might see a blue-eyed wolf. If the wolf comes closer and closer and closer, the mouse might run faster and faster and faster. If the mouse runs really fast back to you, be sure to open the door to let her in. She will be happy to be safe with her cookie, her blue marble… and you!
— A “rolling” cookie party story by Ms. Kennedy’s 4th grade class of 2018
I 💙 U So Much!
Thank you to Blake Mini Library founder Blake Ansari, The Connect To Your Best Self Fund, and many our generous donors and youth philanthropists who made this year’s book drive a special celebration for all involved.
Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.
Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of International Children’s Book Day. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster.
Let Us Grow with The Book!
What a joy to hold a new book in one’s hands! At first you don’t know what the book is about. You resist the temptation to open the last page. And how good it smells! It is impossible to divide this smell into components: printing ink, glue… no, it is not. There is a particular smell of a book, an exciting and unique one. The tips of some pages would stick together as if the book had not woken up yet. It wakes up when you start reading it…
This year’s ICBD message comes from poet/author Sergey Makhotin and illustrator Mikhail Fedorov of IBBY Russia.
“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” — Hans Christian Andersen
KPMG’s Family for Literacy partners with First Book
On Wednesday, March 22nd, KPMG, through its KPMG’s Family for Literacy (KFFL) program, partnered with First Book to bring 10,000 brand new, FREE books to young San Francisco readers.
It was a great event, hosted by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Wonderfully organized, the KPMG’s Family for Literacy Book Fair was ably supported by a helpful team of volunteers. A big thank you to Chi and Thor, who helped with packing and loading eight boxes of children’s books for delivery.
Did you know?
More than half of U.S. public school students live in low-income households.1
In some of the lowest income neighborhoods, there is just one book for every 300 children.2
Two-thirds of children from low-income families lack access to books.3
79 percent of fourth graders from low-income households do not read proficiently – a key predictor of a child’s future educational and economic success.4
Poor educational outcomes are tied to poverty, unemployment, illness, dependence on welfare, social exclusion and crime.5
Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to serve as the Librarian of Congress, holds that her passion for reading came from her favorite childhood book, “Bright April,” a 1946 children’s story book written and illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli, who later won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature. The Nation’s Librarian knows that children need to see themselves reflected in the books that they read. “Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows,” says Hayden.
Rooftop Students Take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge
The Library of Congress Mannequin Challenge and Emerging Traditions traces the historical antecedents of the Mannequin Challenge back to the advent of photography and the tableaux craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Library of Congress blog entry on the social media trend also notes that “A common theme seems to be an expression of group identity, of clubs, classes, groups of friends, athletic teams, organizations, musical groups, and others: “this is who we are” summed up in a short, shareable video.”
Rooftop fourth graders had a whole lot of fun creating their own Mannequin Challenge videos. These young librarians-in-training want to open up a whole new world of reading for all children to enjoy free access to books — 24/7.
On Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library donates books to children and youth living in domestic violence, homeless, foster care and runaway youth shelters. The students at Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School are currently joining Blake Ansari’s efforts to bring the joy of reading to homeless children. Students are helping to fill the rainbow-colored shelves of the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families in San Francisco.
Book donations will be received by The Studios at Rooftop School’s Burnett & Mayeda Campuses, starting from MLK, Jr. Day of Service through Valentine’s Day, when the books will be delivered to Hamilton Families in the Tenderloin.
Please consider donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books, please) to children from birth to age 21.
Remember that literacy plays an important role for children and families. Especially in times of crisis, it can provide a bridge for individuals to find refuge in stories of others’ experiences (MacGillivray, 2010b). — “Supporting the Literacy Development of Children Living in Homeless Shelters” http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/education_articles/3/
Include a Note of Encouragement
With the 2016 Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library book drive, Rooftop School invited book donors to include a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader. The reading and writing of these notes helped create a special bond between two people who might never ever meet — the donor and the recipient. The Notes of Encouragement added an element of surprise and delight, while conveying positive thoughts of love, hope and gratitude.
“There’s a Whole New World in Your Book”
As a child who loves to read, Blake Ansari wanted to make sure that the homeless children had access to books. At the age of six, Blake began his youth philanthropy effort by donating 600 books to the PATH emergency family shelter in the Bronxin 2014.
Blake’s mother, Dr. Starita Boyce Ansari, supports her son’s efforts to help underprivileged youth. Believing in the power of youth philanthrophy, Dr. Ansari offers us the model of giving circles, which meld responsiveness and altruism with community engagement, nurturing our students’ humanity. “Giving circles have shown the highest potential. A giving circle nurtures students appreciation and understanding of others’ needs, enabling them to come together to support charitable organizations or community initiatives for a set period of time. Their members become more aware of and engaged in the causes they fund, and learn how to make our world better, not just for them, but for all.”
To quote Blake: “When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self.”
at the Luggage Store Annex / Tenderloin National Forest
509 Ellis Street (between Hyde & Leavenworth)
Luggage Store Co-Artistic Directors/Artists Darryl Smith and Laurie Lazer of the luggage store have been working to transform Cohen Alley since 1989 from a place emblazed in a health-hazardous cesspool of bodily fluids and other dumped items, non-supervised open-air chemical experiments and illicit – criminal activities — to a vibrant community commons where people of all ages can gather for public art, performance, experimental art projects. and classes and activities. In May of 2009, the land that was then called Cohen Alley was reclaimed as “The Tenderloin National Forest.”
“Ode to Mama Tender”— “In 1989, Darryl Smith planted a redwood tree in the shady asphalt. Help us to write a poem as lovely as Mama Tender, the redwood that is the “heartwood” of the Tenderloin National Forest.
“A Tree Grows in Cohen Alley” – Visitors to the Tenderloin National Forest will enjoy a wide range of trees and plant life. Citizen scientists can help to document the biodiversity in the Tenderloin National Forest with iNaturalist. Share your photographs of the nature that you discover in the TNF via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. #TNFTenderland
“Wood U Like 2 Play” — Let’s make beautiful music together! Enjoy a wood song sing-a-long.
“Common Scents”– The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of redwood. Make a scent diffuser to bring home.