Archive | Culture

For the Love of Rice


Clear glass jars of red, white, black and bamboo-infused rice line the kitchen counters in the home of Caryl Levine and Kenneth Lee. Pictures of rice farms and farmers in exotic locations hang on the walls in the hallway. Books and articles on global agriculture, entrepreneurship, and rice cultivation are neatly stacked on a bookshelf and strewn across the coffee table.

These earthy images, products and colors don’t simply decorate the home; they illustrate the life that Levine and Lee follow. This quaint house on a quiet street in El Cerrito is the headquarters for Lotus Foods, Inc. Levine and Lee, co-founders of Lotus Foods, are self-proclaimed lovers of rice. But more than that, they are using their love of rice as a tool to connect Americans with small family farms in places like India, Madagascar and Bhutan.

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Fresh, Cold-Pressed Activism


The olive oil shipment is late.

At 10 a.m., a single volunteer, Henry Norr, arrives on a beat-up red bicycle and waits outside the headquarters of the International Solidarity Movement Support Group (ISM) in Berkeley.   A sign identifying the building as “The Grassroots House” hangs outside.  There is some trash strewn about the yard.

Norr wears a bright magenta shirt and suspenders. A former San Francisco Chronicle business reporter, Norr has visited Palestine three times with ISM. After he returned in 2002, he attended anti-war rallies and gave an informal talk on his experiences in the Middle East.  “I’d had this regular weekly column for four years by then,” he says. Read the full story

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A Little Bit of Karachi in El Cerrito


Ordering his chai tea latte in the El Cerrito Barnes and Nobles, Nabeel Awan sports a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie as he checks text messages on his phone from his friends. On this rainy Saturday evening, Awan could be mistaken for any other typical American single 27-year old man relaxing on a weekend.

But the texts that he exchanges are not about the night’s parties, girls or the next NFL football game. Instead, Awan and his Pakistani friends are talking about the great non-American pastime. They are furiously commenting on the day’s heated cricket tournament played in Fremont. Awan, captain of his team, explains that their opponents had to forfeit because of late players but still forced Awan’s team to play a match.

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Faces in Focus: Exclusive Buttons

Faces in Focus is a series of profiles on local businesses and residents who are making an impact in El Cerrito. Read the full story

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A New Neighbor in El Cerrito

Student kayak trip to Angel Island.


El Cerrito residents may soon have a new neighbor. The Living Skills Center for the Visually Impaired, currently located in San Pablo, is considering moving to the city of El Cerrito in order to provide a higher quality of life for its students.

“El Cerrito is a community on the move,” says the center’s director Patricia Williams, who has been involved with the organization for 36 years.

A former instructor, Williams says that she’s wanted to build a new site since she became director in 1995. For over a year now, the organization has focused on El Cerrito because of its central location plus its safe and friendly community. Read the full story

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Young, Evangelical, and Voting (AUDIO)


The evangelical church community is widely regarded as one of America’s most powerful and reliable voting blocks. Over the past two presidential elections, they have played an integral role in the election and re-election of George W. Bush. In November 2004, Bush won 78 percent of evangelical voters nationally.

This year, however, opinion research has shown a shift in support among young evangelicals away from the Republican candidate, John McCain,and toward Barack Obama.

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Art Car Festival


An ordinary Sunday night outside of the Cerrito Theater briefly turned into a mobile art gallery. The Art Car Festival rolled into town and made a planned stop in front of the theater in order to catch the premiere screening of Harrod Blank‘s film Automorphosis. Read the full story

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VIDEO: Taste of Community at El Cerrito Market


The Farmer’s Market in the El Cerrito Plaza is a cornucopia of sound, color and fragrance.  Watch this video to get a taste and then experience it for yourself, every Tuesday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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