There are lots of things for which to be grateful. A baby’s soft laugh, a puppy’s cutely clumsy gait, the rain. Our lives are filled with people, places, and things that bring us joy, comfort, safety, and much more. In this issue of the View we identify a number of the boons our communities are blessed to have. The list is by no means exhaustive. We acknowledge that there are omissions, which we hope won’t be interpreted as a lack of gratitude for them, but rather that we just don’t have room to celebrate all of the infinite elements that make life a pleasure.
There are a number of people for whom I’m particularly grateful. I’ve had the privilege of being friends with Chris Block, who for a period chaired the Eastern Neighborhood Citizen Advisory Committee, for more than 20 years. Chris is the embodiment of a Good Samaritan, even if when he was younger he initially presented as a tattooed tough guy; today he mostly embodies a Buddha spirit. He’s pursued a career and personal path that’s relentlessly focused on helping to shelter and compassionately support the most vulnerable, in the context of crafting space for honest dialogue and courageous sharing. Chris is the kind of person who automatically reaches his hand out to help someone who has fallen, and helps dust them off. He’s good at what he does, and what he does is good. Oh, and he gave one of his kidneys to a friend who would’ve died without it.
My wife, Debbie Findling, is awesome in so many ways. Most notable to the outside world is her work chasing down a sexual predator in the Jewish community, catalyzing, after too many years of passive acceptance of his evil behavior, his early-retirement and the wholesale resignation of the entire board of the organization that didn’t do its job to protect staff and young persons. Prompted by our fertility losses, she co-founded the Memory Garden, a first-of-its-kind place to mourn miscarriages, stillbirths, and other lost dreams within the context of Jewish teachings. In doing so she honors what our family could have been, while widely and warmly welcoming other bereaved people to do the same. Debbie, I love you.
Community service to Keith Goldstein is like breathing. For decades he’s helped neighborhood merchants grapple with constant land use and transportation challenges, and put his shoulder to many efforts to cultivate area amenities and cohesiveness for residents of today and tomorrow. He volunteers to feed the hungry, and works to improve the lives of Nepalese and Rwandans, among others. He, along with stalwarts like Jean Bogiages, J.R. Eppler, Bruce Huie, and a multitude of our neighbors embody what it means to be a good and honorable citizen.
Good and honorable also describe Kayren Hudiburgh and Lester Zeidman, co-owners of The Good Life Grocery, which first emerged as a revolutionary effort to offer authentic food that nurtures people and their communities. Like Keith, Kayren and Lester are devoted to civic engagement, whether it be in Bernal Heights, Hawaii, Port Costa, or Potrero Hill. If there were statues honoring the essential people who helped create the better aspects of the Hill, and San Francisco, Kayren and Lester would be among them.
Perhaps my deepest gratitude, at least from my role as the View’s publisher and editor, is to the paper’s staff, advertisers and readers. We would not exist without you. I’d like to think that together we create more informed, engaged, and energized communities, and help foster a democracy that sometimes feels fragile. Thank you.