Chronicle article

The media was there yesterday. I've already watched a short blip on the local Fox station and found this article in today's Chronicle. It includes good pictures, one of them of one of our team members carrying one of 3 Casey and Henry posters.



More on the suicide awareness walk

This was in the local media:

KCBS - Rally Draws Support for Suicide Barrier for Bridge

The suicide walk

I'm having a hard time getting the right words together, so for now, it'll be mostly pictures and whatever comes to mind.

There are so many things that go through my mind: the people, the hugs, the speeches, the feeling of not being alone is all this.

It was such a beautiful day, sunny, warm, just enough of a breeze to keep all of us comfy while we walked. There were over 400 people there, possibly more than 500, all because they lost someone the same way: suicide, unexpectedly.

We arrived in plenty of time to register, find the other members of our team (most of whom I had never met before), get our raffle tickets, sign a petition here and there, pick up our beads (white for a lost child, blue for supporting the cause; there were other colors, too, red, green, purple for a lost spouse, relative, friend). There was an MC, two speakers, Senator Tom Torlakson and Ken Holmes, the Marin County Coroner, both of whom have lost somebody to suicide. The speeches were short and to the point (why can't we discuss suicide the same way as heart disease, cancer and bring it out of the darkness and into the light?), there was a brief warm-up and then we started our walk.

Our team consisted of 10 members, Rachel (my facebook friend), her mother (who started the team), her brother who provided the hockey sticks the posters were attached to; Casey's parents, Erika and John; several classmates and friends of Casey and Larry and I.

Rachel and her family had made 3 posters with pictures of Casey and Henry and several of us carried those throughout the whole 5 km. Those were a sure conversation starter. I carried one of them for the whole 5 km only handing it off to Larry when I wanted to take pictures.

The walk went off without a problem, there was a drawings for several prizes (2 trips to Mexico, dinners at various restaurants, golf at a nice course etc.) and Rachel's brother won tickets for Six Flags something we were all thrilled about.

There were team photos - it'll be a while before those are available - a moment of silence and then it was over.

My group, the Bridge Rail Foundation, had collected over 1,400 pairs of shoes (I need to update the number later when I get an exact count - the exact count is 1,560) to represent the people who have jumped from the bridge. The official count is at 1,300 but that is too low. There are plenty of people (including quite a few in our group) who are not included so it was important to many of us to have more than 1,300 pairs to remember the ones not counted.

I'm uploading as many pictures as blogger lets me. There may be more later.

I didn't mean to write quite so much and I'm sure there is more to be said, that'll have to wait.


Balloons, fall & new jewelry

Fall is definitely in the air. Nevermind that the days are still relatively hot - we need the A/C on occasion - the leaves are turning, the geese are flying overhead all the time, North for some strange reason (I think towards the reservoirs in the vineyards) and the balloons are back in full force. Depending on where the wind moves them, they either drift over the east or the west side of the valley. Right now, they end up on our side and we have multiple balloons landing in the field behind our yard every morning.

Three landed within minutes of each other yesterday (that would be picture 1). I caught three more this morning in various stages of deflation, but there were four baskets. Makes me think I was too late to catch the very first one.

Since I had no errands to run this morning, I was going to sew. Couldn't decide on what to work on, though, so I did something entirely different: stamping on metal. I took a class a couple of years ago and have been collecting shapes and stamps ever since. Beaducation (http://www.beaducation.com/) has a nice selection of supplies and they offer classes, some free, some not. That's where some of my ideas came from and just about all of my supplies.

Unfortunately, I still haven't figured out how to do good close-ups with a camera and the scanner refuses to do a decent scan of metal and Photoshop isn't much help with the adjustments. So, a less than perfect picture of slightly less than perfect pendants. I think the word is "organic."

I signed up for the 5 k walk this weekend in San Francisco and decided I needed some new jewelry for that event, hence the pendants with "Henry" on them. I still haven't gotten over the need for visual reminders.


Bridge Rail Foundation Newsletter

Here's a copy and paste (without pictures) of the latest newsletter. It should be available on the foundation's website (http://www.bridgerail.org/) in time with visuables and clickable links. I'll do my best for now.

Saturday Sept. 27—BRF Whose Shoes? Exhibit at AFSP Walk Out of Darkness

To dramatize the extent of death at the Golden Gate Bridge, this year's AFSP Walk Out of Darkness at Crissy Field will feature 1,300 shoes and boots stacked together symbolizing the confirmed suicides at the bridge. BRF volunteers are organizing the display and will be at the walk at the invitation of AFSP and local organizers.

The annual AFSP fundraiser is Saturday, September 27. Registration starts at 8:30 am while the walk starts at 10 am and concludes at noon. There will be several speakers—including Marin Coroner and BRF Board Member, Ken Holmes as the keynote speaker.

To sign up for the AFSP Walk and get all the details Click Here.

BRF volunteer Joanie Boyle is coordinating our participation—and collecting shoes for the display. If you can help, Click Here to sent her a note. And, yes, we need donations of shoes!

Action Item—Update GGB on the Suicide Count

Each meeting of the GGB board features a brief period of open public comment, and we plan to have something to say at most every future board meeting. A number of our supporters have been to the last several meetings with specifics on barrier proposals and the loss of friends or loved ones. At one meeting we noticed the board receives a regular operations report—stating the number of tolls paid, bus ridership and the like.

It's time they also got a regular update on the death count—so BRF volunteers will now tell them. We have a project coordinator and ask for volunteers join us to make reports to GGB. Click Here to join the volunteer corps or for more information.

At left--the most popular of the "build" alternatives-- an addition to the current railing to prevent suicides from the bridge. That's the second picture

The on line poll run by the bridge district is closed and we succeeded in beating back the "no build" option—but just barely. Final numbers indicate, "build something" squeaked ahead at the end and prevailed with 50.13% of the tally.

Many of our supporters are disappointed in this thin victory, but things started much worse and we owe all our supporters and friends a big thank you for their work turning this "vote" around.

When the poll first opened, 73% of the response was "no build". Complicating matters the SF Chronicle ran the engineering sketches as the story graphics, rather than the photo realistic images used by all other media. The engineering sketches present a stark image, lacking the detail and context the photo realistic graphics provide.

But our supporters responded—including readers of this newsletter, our Facebook friends, survivor family members—including families who have not been public and active before—mental health professionals and suicide prevention groups. New supporters joined as well—particularly from within the religious communities. In the end we succeeded in blunting the opposition—and squeaking by with a narrow victory.

At left--the second most popular of the "build" alternatives-- a net to prevent suicides from the bridge. That would be the last picture.

BRF board member Dayna Whitmer presented to the GGB Board the results of an on line petition her family sponsored. Over 460 signatures poured in from throughout the area plus 34 US states and 15 different nations.

International support from Canada and Switzerland might be expected, since both nations have had success in stopping bridge suicides with barriers or nets. And interest in the UK was high since their press carried the story of a British woman who jumped from the Golden Gate this spring. But we also saw support from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Asia and Africa. The world is indeed watching.

The initial petition was so successful that Dayna has posted a new follow-up petition.

People who want suicides stopped on the Golden Gate Bridge had a strong showing this summer.

Two public meetings called by the bridge district to discuss the barrier and net alternatives featured many of our supporters at each event. Survivor families, mental health activists and other supporters showed up at each meeting. Suicide prevention organizations were well represented, including:
San Francisco Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention and Community Counseling of Marin
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County
Contra Costa Crisis Center
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

National support was evident as well. Ten organizations including The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the American Psychiatric Association signed a letter pointing to the need for a suicide barrier.

Finally, by the close of the comment period, editorial support for a taller railing or net was expressed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner and the Marin Independent Journal.

Following the close of public comments, the bridge staff is reviewing the input. They will then make a recommendation to the GGB Board in late October. We expect that meeting will be crucial in the effort to finally stop the suicides at the Golden Gate. BRF will have more details as they become available--look for information on this meeting in our next newsletter or special bulletin.

The Mayor's Office Opposes Physical Barriers

During the EIR comment period SF Mayor Gavin Newson announced he would ask the SF Planning Department to look into the GGB suicide issue and make recommendations. Planning called together a committee of architects and engineers, met with bridge officials—and no one else—and issued a "no build" recommendation. They propose to stop the suicides with "more staff". Perhaps a good sound bite, but this recommendation is far beyond the realm of practicality.

Patrol staff simply cannot respond fast enough--unless the district were to station 30-40 officers on the bridge (twice that when both walkways are open). And additional patrol staff is just as likely as the current staff to find themselves distracted from suicide prevention with purse snatchings, bike accidents and Tibetan independence demonstrations.

As a recent Chronicle editorial said about increased walkway patrols as a substitute for a barrier "That won't cut it". Indeed.

The kindness of (almost) strangers

I received an email this morning informing me that I had been tagged in a note on facebook. Having no idea what that meant, I went onto facebook to check the note, clicked on a few links and found this:

DonorDrive™ - AFSP Community Walks

One of my facebook friends, a young girl I haven't met (yet), and her family very kindly did this for the Brooks family and us.

I am so touched, I am almost speechless.

Added later: I obviously was speechless because I meant to add this: I did not post the link because I want people to make donations. Please do not in any way feel obligated to do this. I really was touched, overwhelmed by yet another example of how kind people are/have been to us all along.


More hidden treasure

A couple of days ago, while I was looking for those reproduction fabrics, I came across a whole smallish storage box full of photographs. All pictures of quilts, mostly taken at quilt shows or guild meetings with a few of mine thrown in. I went through them all, one by one and threw most of them away - tastes have changed, fabrics have changed dramatically and I'm just not that driven to make quilts anymore.

I was really thrilled to find a couple of pictures of Henry, though. Back when he used to like having his picture taken. They both include quilts in progress, one something as yet unfinished and the other the "H" quilt. I have no idea what happened to it. It's not in his closet. That may well be another undiscovered treasure.

Disregard the really ugly floor, I'm sure whoever bought our house in Oklahoma has replaced it by now. We should have done that ourselves.


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

I finished the book sometime last week and have been meaning to talk a bit about it but never got around to it. Now that I want to, I can't find my notes. Typical!
So, I have to wing it. Basically, the book can be summed up in the 3 sentences that form the subtitle: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
I liked this book better than "Skinny Bitch" - the title should have been a tip-off. Obviously, if I read a book about nutrition, I'm already interested in changing my "evil ways" and don't need to be sworn at or bullied into going along with somebody else's philosophy.
I learned quite a bit from this book: nutritionism is an ideology, not a science; food is a lot more complex than the sum of its parts - that means breaking it down into this nutrient, that vitamin and that antioxidant and then substituting them for the real food doesn't work too well; what is being sold in supermarkets isn't necessarily food, but food like substances; the good stuff is around the perimeter of the store (did he really mean to include the liquor section?); I have learned what "metabolic syndrome" is and how to avoid it; and plenty of other things I had in my notes which disappeared :-)
Oh, yes: meat is okay in small amounts, but fish is really good.
An interesting book. I think I'll pull out some flowers next year and grow beans and lettuce in addition to the artichokes and herbs I already grow. (I'm not much of a gardener.)


Finally, something finished. After all that complaining about not getting anything done yesterday morning, I buckled down in the afternoon and did what I had planned on doing all along: sewed all afternoon. I used the fabrics I had been looking for and did something completely new: raw edge applique. Lots of fun, no rules and I ended up with a little bag for me (mostly because I'm working out the bugs again).

In addition, I finished several more pyramid bags in 2 different sizes on Sunday and ............... I sold 5 bags. I was so thrilled when my friend handed me the checks this morning. I'm having fun sewing and making things, but it's even more fun when somebody else likes what I make.

The pictures show the pyramid bags and the back and front of the bag I made yesterday as well as a close-up to show how I did it and some of the fancy stitches I played with.


So much for getting anything done

I was going to sew something this morning, couldn't decide which fabric to use so I decided to look for the reproduction fabrics I knew I had from way back when I still quilted (that would be when we still lived in Oklahoma, more than 11 years ago). Spent a "happy" 30 minutes or so digging my way though one of the closets in my studio - the one in the far corner - shifting heavy storage boxes working my way through the 2 stacks in the center first, then on to the one on the left. No luck. Finally tackled the stack on the right. Sure enough, the box on the very bottom had the fabrics. By now, it's too late to get started. Sheesh!
But I just realized yet again that I need to get rid of lots of stuff. Found at least a dozen unquilted tops along with projects in progress (with no instructions and no idea what they were meant to be). I think the thrift stores will be receiving a few bags full of "stuff" and I'd better not pursue what one of the many sewing blogs I just discovered inspired me to start - hunt for vintage fabric. After all, some of my stuff is old enough to almost qualify for vintage. Sheesh again!


The mayor's position on the bride barrier

Here's what the mayor's committee wrote to the Bridge Authority:


It's a long letter and while I read it, it did so quickly and didn't even notice - as somebody else pointed out - that there are misspellings in it. I was more interested in the purpose and I don't agree with that at all.
I just love the suggestion that there would be volunteers offering to patrol the bridge and prevent people from jumping.
But my absolute favorite is this, "In sum, the program could result in the bridge being known not only for its design and location, but as an international symbol of the humanity of this region."


Remembering special days and events

Reading a post by a friend of mine got me thinking ............
She wrote about remembering 9/11 and asked in her post, "Where were you?" She also mentioned remembering the day John F. Kennedy was shot. While I remember both of those quite well and the feelings that went with them, obviously, I remember 9/11 much better. I was 8 when JFK died.
It made me think of other memorable things, though. Being German, something totally different came to my mind.
I still remember when the wall between East and West Germany went up. I was much too young to really understand what it meant, but I do remember being quite scared having heard in the news that because of that wall families ended up being separated. Made me stick very close to home for quite a while, until somebody explained to me exactly what was going on.
And I also remember the day that same wall came back down. My son was born that year, we were busy trying to apply for a passport for him so we could visit family and my father had just been diagnosed with cancer and all the excitement of a united Germany was overshadowed by those news.
So, what do you remember?

Mayor's committee: no ugly suicide barrier on the bridge

This was on the morning news today and in the Chronicle as well. Not what we need at this point.
I don't think these people get it :-(


Putting architects, engineers and artists in charge of life and death decisions seems very sensible to me - NOT.

And this is what the editorial, also in the Chronicle said:

Newsom's bridge bungle

I only just found this now - 3 hours or so after I posted the first link, so I'm editing madly today :-)


New bags and fabric

Two more new bags in different fabrics from the ones I've already shown. Everything else is duplicates, no need to photograph all those.

The fabrics in the first picture are the ones that came today. Some to be made into a bag, some to go into the stash to be used later. Completely different from the ones I use for the box bags. Lots of Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I've always liked his fabrics and a lot of his quilts and one of these days, I'll a) finish the wall hanging I started a few years ago and b) make another one of his quilts. After all, I have just about all of his books.

The other fabrics are Japanese fabrics, totally different in design from American fabrics. Cute, but in a different way. Not quite sure what I'll make with those yet.

This and that

First, a link to an article about tolls being raised on the Golden Gate - yet again.
Golden Gate Bridge toll climbs to $6 Tuesday PressDemocrat.com The Press Democrat Santa Rosa, CA
I'm concerned that this will be tied to the decision about a suicide barrier in some way - lack of funds. I have a few suggestions, but I'm keeping those to myself.

I'm feeling quite virtuous today. I finished 5 more box bags, leaving 6 more to go. And I haven't cut out any new ones. I'm trying to finish up what I started so I can go on to another project - something I already bought fabric for.
Last night, I cooked - totally from scratch. And I've done a lot of that lately, mostly things using fresh veggies. Last night, though, I made pesto from scratch. I am growing lots of basil and wanted to use some up before it becomes totally overgrown. Since it took me a good 30 minutes just to wash and dry the basil leaves, I almost decided never, ever to do that again. But the end result was so good that I changed my mind. Except, next time I will use just one clove of garlic like the recipe says and not three.
We had gone out the night before to a newly discovered pizza place and tried their version of penne with pesto. Pretty good, but Larry liked mine better. Must have been the parmesan (or the garlic). I have to agree, though, mine was more flavorful.

The mail man brought 2 packages and UPS brought another. So, I'm all set with zippers (found a less expensive source than the fabric store on the web), fabric (more trouble on the web than going to the local quilt store) and soap base (I had used up everything I had on Monday).
The little dog goes slightly bonkers when somebody knocks on the front door (mail man) and really bonkers when somebody rings the doorbell (UPS). Quite funny, actually. He's much too small (and cute) to do anybody any harm even if he wanted to.


And even more bags

Here's some of what I made this weekend. A few more box bags - not all of them. Unless, it's a new fabric, I don't photograph them anymore. And a new kind of bag - a pyramid bag. Many, many years ago, a quilting friend gave me one she had made and explained how to sew one. Very simple. And it uses up the bits of fabric that are too small for box bags. Of course, I'm still left with even smaller bits of fabric afterwards but I have ideas for those, too. Have to be careful, though. This "use up, make do and recycle" mindset can get one into trouble.