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Archive for March 2012

A man with a knife

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David Budworth, aka Dave the Butcher, taught a master class last night in the fine art of making a lamb chop. I’m trying to be a little funny here, making a lamb joke, because I haven’t the slightest interest in food preparation.

At times this can make me less than a charming dinner guest. When conversation turns to how the meal was put together, I get real bored real quick.

So what’s interesting to me is how Dave can take a subject that would normally bore me to death and turn it into a fun and educational evening.

Dave the Butcher, Homeward Bound of Marin, Cooking School

He performed his knife magic at a Homeward Bound of Marin fundraiser, one of a series of food preparation classes it presents during the year to support its programs for the homeless.

Dave the Butcher, Homeward Bound of Marin, Cooking School


Chef Rocky Packard, Homeward Bound, Cooking School

Chef Rocky Packard

This class was hands on. Under Dave’s guidance, and with the support of Chef Rocky Packard, forty participants picked up knives and headed for Homeward Bound’s professional kitchen, where they prepared traditional racks of lamb.

Dave the Butcher trims a chop

Homeward Bound of Marin Cooking School

Dinner guests trimmed their own lamb.


Homeward Bound of Marin Cooking School

The lamb was then cooked and served by students enrolled in Fresh Starts Culinary Academy. The Academy conducts a ten-month course in cooking basics and food service, preparing Homeward Bound residents for jobs in the food industry.

Homeward Bound of Marin, Cooking School


Homeward Bound Cooking School, Fresh Starts Academy

Students receive expert advise on food service.

Everyone had fun, and I was again forced to admit that some really smart and entertaining people can turn food preparation into high art.


Written by Ron Greene

March 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

Principal Reduction and Reduced Interest Rates for homeowners?

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A hardy group of and Occupy Marin protesters met at the San Rafael City Hall Thursday to express their displeasure with the banking industry and the government’s lukewarm efforts to help distressed home owners.

home foreclosures, Occupy Marin

Protesters gather on a raining morning at the San Rafael City Hall to voice their displeasure with the banking industry.

There are something like 11 million families who owe more on their homes than they are worth, and nationwide protests are demanding more aggressive government action to provide relief.

Occupy Marin, Home Foreclosures,

Currently, the federal government wants banks to make it easier for homeowners to refinance with lower interest rates than were in effect when they bought their homes. This would lower monthly payments, but wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Occupy and MoveOn. They believe that greedy banks caused the current housing crisis, and shouldn’t be let off the hook so easily.

Occupy Marin protest home foreclosures

Principal Reduction and reduced interest rates for homeowners?

As I understand it, protesters are demanding that mortgage rates should not only be reduced to today’s historic lows, but also the amount owned on a house should be no higher than today’s fair market value. If you owe $200,000 and pay 6% on your house that would sell today for $150,000 at 4% interest, this is the new arrangement the bank should make with you. If I have this wrong, someone please correct me.

I have no idea if this is possible or a fair solution. Critics will argue that for every deserving family struggling for a piece of the American dream, there is a conniving speculator or deadbeat, trying to get a free ride. How do you sort this mess out?

Under water housing crisis, Prosecute Bankers, end foreclosures

Written by Ron Greene

March 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

Coming out of the cold: Quilts for the homeless

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Homeward Bound of Marin has addressed the problem of homelessness since 1974, when it opened it first family shelter in Marin County. Today its main program is located at the former Hamilton Naval Air Base in Novato, California.

Homeward Bound continues to expand and now has a number of programs throughout Marin County. (I help lead a group for Voice Hearers at the Voyager Carmel Center, a housing unit for people with persistent mental illness.) Homeward Bound coordinates its efforts with a number of agencies and volunteer groups serving the homeless and low-income populations of Marin County.

I do some photography for Homeward Bound, and Wednesday I photographed members of Knit Your Part!, assembling quilts they will donate to homeless families moving into Homeward Bound apartments. Knit Your Part! Is a group of knitters who meet regularly to create beautiful blankets and quilts, then donated to people in need.

It seems like such a thoughtful touch. Can you image how it must feel, after sleeping in an old station wagon for months, to finally move into an apartment and find that caring people have knitted a warm blanket for you?

Homeward Bound of Marin, Homelessness, Knit Your Part!

Homeward Bound of Marin, Homelessness, Knit Your Part!

Homeward Bound of Marin, Homelessness, Knit Your Part!

Homeward Bound of Marin, Homelessness, Knit Your Part!

Homeward Bound of Marin, Homelessness, Knit Your Part!

Written by Ron Greene

March 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Ritter health center deserves our support

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Since my last post about the Ritter Center, I’ve had a chance to meet with some of its leadership team, and come away impressed with their ongoing efforts to address community concerns while pursuing improvements to health care delivery to the most vulnerable citizens of Marin County.

Balancing needs in a complex environment is never an easy task, but the Center’s efforts are immediately visible. If you drive by the Campus these days you’ll see a friendly uniformed Safety Officer greeting clients at the gate and assuring that everyone will have a safe and comfortable experience at the Center. Somewhat less visible but equally important is the new Community Outreach employee who is walking the campus and the neighborhood.

Ritter Safety Officer

I’m convinced the new medical module deserves enthusiastic community support. It will provide patients with a dignified and appropriate setting to receive vital health services.

I hope you’ll join me in e-mailing the San Rafael City Council at Your comments will be reflected in the Council’s records and will help assure approval.

Ritter health center’s critical need

Diane Linn, executive director, and Cia Byrnes, health clinic administrator at the Ritter Center, have written an opinion piece that clearly describes the Center’s current activities and goals. It deserves a careful read. It’s also featured in today’s MARIN VOICE section of the Marin Independent Journal.

RITTER CENTER has served Marin’s low-income, working poor and homeless residents for more than three decades and has enjoyed the strong support of the community over those years.

Our mission is to work with and for the community to help our neighbors who are at risk of losing their housing and to help stabilize the currently homeless population by providing necessary support, services and housing options. It is no understatement to say that the economic climate of the past four years has delivered a devastating blow to many Marin residents.

Because of a recent appeal, the San Rafael City Council will consider our use permit application, which was supported by the city Planning Commission, for a new medical module to improve our health services.

As the executive director and health center administrator and family nurse practitioner at the Ritter Center health clinic, we have seen the numbers of people who are suddenly without health insurance or any means to manage their chronic medical illness rise more than 15 percent in the past three years. While the Rotating Emergency Shelter registration program on Third Street has made the county’s chronically homeless population more visible, the real increase in patients being seen at the Ritter Health Center is more attributable to the changing fortunes of many of our Marin County residents — those who find themselves without the resources to pay for their insurance or afford the medications and treatment their existing conditions require.

The use permit application for an additional modular building is not a request for expansion, but a request to accommodate the existing health center patients in a more appropriate clinic space. With more dedicated clinic space and waiting room, Ritter Center will be able to provide more indoor waiting space for the clients who are using the day service center (showers and laundry facilities) and significantly decrease the numbers of people “hanging out” on the street during the day.

This use permit request is not about the larger and much more complicated issue of how to manage chronically homeless people in San Rafael. It is about providing health care to those in need, in a space that is accessible, safe and appropriate for their treatment and care. Currently, these patients are sharing a six-by-11-foot waiting room with clients who are waiting for laundry and showers.

Many times, there is no space to turn around in that area, much less manage to enter with a walker or cane. Waiting for a “drop-in” clinic appointment can often mean a 45-75 minute wait in a severely cramped space, something not many of us would tolerate in our own medical provider’s office.

The new modular building will provide patients with a dignified and appropriate setting to receive vital health services.

In addition to serving as the primary care home for fragile homeless clients, Ritter’s Health Center treats seniors with a Medicare “share of cost plan” that they cannot afford, the newly unemployed and (thus uninsured), and low income wage earners who are employed without health insurance.

As parents and active members of this community we realize — and share — the surprise and dismay at the visual reminder of the conditions of chronically homeless people here in San Rafael. The addition of a new modular clinic is just one step in a comprehensive plan to address the issue.

The disapproval of this additional space to accommodate the existing need would in fact pose a new and unnecessary obstacle to the development of a successful plan to improve the services provided at Ritter Center and reduce the negative impact on our city.

Written by Ron Greene

March 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Redwood vs. Justin Siena Track and Field

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Redwood High School Track and Field

Last Thursday I decided to try my hand at Track and Field photography, so I headed over to the Redwood vs. Justin-Siena meet. The Redwood boys and girls won, although it was hard to tell without reading the Marin Independent Journal the next morning. I had to hunt for the scores at the bottom of the sports page, meaning, I guess, that Track and Field is low on the high school sports hierarchy. I’m not sure why. After I figured out what was going on, I found the experience enjoyable. What was new me was seeing boys and girls out there on the same field. That’s a welcome change from my day.

Girls Redwood High School Track and Field

Maybe high school Track and Field isn’t a popular spectator sport because individual events are scattered all over the field. Some, like discuss and shot put, were almost impossible for fans to see from the Redwood stands. I really don’t follow big-time track events, but maybe the action is made available to fans on big screens like you see at football games.

Long jump at Redwood Highschool Track and Field

Boys Race at Redwood Track and Field

It took me awhile to get my bearings, but I did manage to get a few shots I like. Getting things into sharp focus is always an issue for me, the same problem I had at the Redwood football games last year. Actually, I found track a little easier because I knew where the athletes were headed. With football, you never know where the play will end up.

Redwood High School Pole Vault

You can see more of my sports photography at


Written by Ron Greene

March 3, 2012 at 11:47 am