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Archive for April 2012

Redwood High School vs. Drake and Tamalpais in Track and Field

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I think last Thursday was the last local event for the Redwood Track and Field team, so I’ll have to put aside my sports photography ambitions for a few months. I’m still trying to work out the best camera settings to maximize sharp focus plus “decisive moments.” If you’ve ever tried to photograph sports you know it’s not easy. It takes a good camera, concentration, some knowledge of the sport, and a ready trigger finger. It also requires a willingness to delete 90 percent of your images. At least for me.

A few more of the 10 percent are at

This meet was between Redwood, Tamalpais and Drake High Schools in Marin County, California. I never did figure out who won because I couldn’t find the scores in our local paper.


Redwood High School Track and Field, Sports Photography



Pole Vaulter, Tam High School, High School  Sports


Track sprinters, High School Sports, Track and Field


Track and Field High School


High School Track Relay


High School track and field


Written by Ron Greene

April 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

There’s only one way to march in face of genocide: forward

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Gayle Donsky is a friend who is helping to organize a Walk Against Genocide this Sunday, April 29, 2012, at Lake Merritt in Oakland California.

by Gayle Donsky

Gayle DonskyPresident Barack Obama spoke on Yom HaShoah last week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He stated, “It’s a bitter truth, too often the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale … We have to do everything we can to prevent and stop mass atrocities.” I am helping to organize the “Walk Against Genocide” this Sunday, April 29 at Lake Merritt in Oakland, but sometimes I wonder why. I have been involved for many years with the anti-genocide movement. Why persist when the movement has been so ineffective in stopping atrocities?

After Colin Powell called what was happening in Darfur a “genocide,” after President George W. Bush declared “Not on our watch,” after massive efforts and millions of dollars spent by a coalition of hundreds of grassroots organizations, after huge lobbying and letter campaigns to pressure Congress and the president, after the International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, in 2009 …

After all this, al-Bashir’s government is committing what some are calling the third genocide in Sudan — bombing, killing and literally starving the people of the Nuba Mountains. An indicted genocidaire not only goes free and is allowed to travel outside his country, but he and his cohorts are actually overseeing another genocide.

And now Obama states, “The president of Sudan [al-Bashir] and the president of South Sudan must have the courage to negotiate.” Calling on al-Bashir to negotiate while he is deliberately bombing and starving civilians is outrageous.

And there is no outcry. Why? What happened to the angry and passionate voices of thousands and thousands of activists? How could this huge and unprecedented movement fail? How can al-Bashir continue to kill his own citizens with impunity?

There are many reasons our movement stalled:

• The movement lacked the understanding of the context of the genocide in Darfur. Behind all of Sudan’s conflicts — Darfur, South Sudan, the Nuba mountains — is al-Bashir’s government.

• The movement was too piecemeal, never able to get at the root of the problem.

• The movement focused on trying to influence Congress, when international policies are guided by the executive branch. And when the movement did focus on the executive branch, our government’s global influence was too compromised by its other international involvements. In addition, any significant progress was (and is) impeded by China and Russia, two of the five members of the United Nations’ Security Council whose interest in Sudan’s oil quashes any initiative designed to stop al-Bashir.

• The movement was usurped by well-funded organizations whose leadership took control of the grassroots effort, effectively emasculating it and stifling its creativity makers, and too often bad decisions were made. In essence, the movement became “institutionalized,” pushing many committed people to feel they were on the periphery. Those on the ground were left conducting postcard campaigns, calling their members of Congress and going to rallies.

There have been, undeniably, some successes, most notably getting millions of dollars of humanitarian aid into the refugee camps, at least for a time. But those were not, by any stretch, enough.

So I ask myself, why do I “Walk Against Genocide”? I know there are mass atrocities occurring today — in the Nuba mountains of Sudan, in the Congo. I guess I feel we can learn a huge amount from the failures (and successes) of the Darfur movement. I would like to activate those not “burned out” by the previous failed efforts.

Creative, passionate people who use the knowledge of the previous movement are critical to carry forth more effectively. Let’s stay at the grassroots level, and resist the institutional “organization” that concentrates power, becomes self-serving and loses sight of accomplishing the ultimate goal — to end genocide everywhere.

After all, I guess I still have hope.

Gayle Donsky is a social justice activist and retired psychotherapist in Mill Valley. She is on the JCRC board.

Written by Ron Greene

April 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Bank of America locked out Uncle Sam on Tax Day

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On Tax Day, April 18, a small band of protesters gathered at the Bank of America in San Rafael. I’ve tried to go to most of these events, and by now their faces are familiar to me. For the most part, they appear to be Marin County retirees, different in appearance from the protesters I see in the national news. They’re never joined by homeless or street people who hang out just a block away.

Occupy Marin, Bank of America, Tax Day

Homeless in Marin organized the national event, and emailed a call for action that read in part:

Enough is enough! On Tax Day, April 18, as millions of Americans patriotically pay their taxes, we will call on corporations and millionaires to pay their fair share. At hundreds of events from coast to coast, we’ll present tax bills to corporate tax dodgers for the billions of dollars their legions of lobbyists helped them avoid. We’ll organize a peaceful, dignified, and powerful day of action to call on corporations to pay their fair share. And we’ll demand that our elected leaders make them pay.

It’s time to demand that everyone pays their fair share to rebuild the American Dream. We invite frustrated taxpayers, underwater homeowners, vilified public servants, job-hunting students, and unemployed veterans—everyone facing cuts or cutbacks, a pink slip or a shrinking paycheck—to join in.

In 2009, after helping crash the American economy, Bank of America paid $0 in taxes.

Uncle Sam wanted to have a word about this, but the Bank of America locked him out.

Bank of America, Tax Day,, Marin County, Occupy Marin

Uncle Sam locked out of Bank of America on Tax Day

Written by Ron Greene

April 20, 2012 at 11:37 am

Remembrance of the Holocaust and Acts of Courage

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Yesterday evening I attended a memorial for the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. This is always a hard experience for me; I would so liked to have known my grandparents, lost to the Third Reich.

Congregation Kol Shofar, Holocaust Rememberance

Congregation Kol Shofar, Tiburon, California, April 18, 2012

Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon California has a beautiful sanctuary, and it was good hearing so many young people sharing life stories with an older generation. It seems that educators in Marin County are trying to assure that this part of “civilized society’s” sordid history doesn’t fade from memory.

I took very few photos because my Nikon sounds like a cannon going off in a quiet room.

Susanne Dyby is the daughter of Righteous Gentile Knud Dyby. She spoke about her father’s efforts to help save Denmark’s Jews from almost certain death. Survivor Paul Schwarzbart read the names of relatives of Marin County citizens who perished in the Holocaust. Mr. Schwarzbart survived the war by hiding, along with 82 other Jewish children, in a Roman Catholic boarding school in Jamoigne, Luxembourg.

Susanne Dyby, Paul Schwarzbart

Susanne Dyby and Paul Schwarzbart exchange greetings at Holocaust memorial service

Written by Ron Greene

April 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Two hours

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Two hours
That’s how long I waited for my doctor Wednesday at the UCSF medical center in San Francisco. I noticed that there was a detailed flow chart on the wall next to the computer listing the steps for the staff to take before and after each patient is seen. There was nothing about what to do if a patient is kept waiting past a reasonable time. The wall chart was meticulously followed.

I assume my doc was caught up in some kind on medical emergency but I’ll never know. Once he arrived he immediately got down to business, and the good news erased any thought of complaint. “You don’t need to come back for another four months.”

He did mention the beautiful views from the waiting room windows. He was right. On the way out I snapped this iPhoto looking downtown from the sixth floor of the Parnassus building.

UCSF Medical Center

Written by Ron Greene

April 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Redwood, Terra Linda, and Marin Catholic High School, Track and Field

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This April 4th track meet featured Redwood, Terra Linda, and Marin Catholic High Schools here in Marin County. It was windy and cold, but the young athletes managed to do their best under less than ideal conditions.

From what I could tell from the next day’s local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal, Redwood came out ahead. I’m glad someone else was keeping score. It’s not nice and tidy like baseball.

Redwood High School Track and Field

Redwood Track and Field

Redwood High School, Redwood Track and Field

Redwood High School Track and Field, Marin County California

San Rafael’s Ritter Center gains approval for vital medical services

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Marin County, California
The San Rafael City Council gave its final approval this week to the Ritter Center’s new medical module, a needed upgrade to fulfill its mission as a federally qualified health center.

Ritter Center, San Rafael CA, Homeless programs, Medical treatment of the homeless

Most of the Ritter Center's clients are friendly and cooperative

A neighborhood group had challenged the medical addition on various grounds, the most serious being that improved health services would only serve to attract more troublemakers to an already unruly crowd at the Center’s San Rafael campus.

Over 200 citizens attended the Council meeting, with many speakers pro and con. Everyone acknowledged that the Ritter Center plays a useful role in unraveling the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness in one of the richest counties in California, but the speakers were divided on the location of the program and its impact on the greater community, particularly local businesses.

Ritter Center in San Rafael, San Rafael City Council meeting, Homelessness

An overflow crowd attended the San Rafael City Council meeting about improvements in medical treatment for the homeless

Most criticism seemed heartfelt, but ignored Ritter’s recent improvements.

Ritter representatives patiently explained what they were doing to mitigate the program’s adverse neighborhood impact.  The sometimes raucous atmosphere is already being addressed by the recent addition of a safety officer at the gate and a community outreach person monitoring activities in and around the campus.

Diane Linn, Ritter Center Executive Director, addresses the San Rafael City Council

Cia Byrnes, Marin County Homelessness, Health needs of the homeless

Cia Byrnes, Health Clinic Administrator, explains the medical clinic's functions

Mental Health Needs of the Homeless

Joel Fay, Clinical Intern Supervisor, explains the mental health needs of the homeless

My Opinion
One point I think everyone missed is that most problems at the Center are not caused by people waiting for clinical services, but by a subgroup of homeless using the center as a convenient place to hang out, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use and sell drugs. Some have severe mental illnesses. I don’t think additional space in the new medical module will have much effect with this group. I do think the safety officer and outreach worker (who need a crash course in working with the mentally ill) will go a long way toward addressing these challenges.

In the end, the City Council correctly found that even with the real problems caused by some of the Center’s denizens, a greater good is served by approval of the new medical clinic. The Council did impose several restrictions, at least one totally frivolous in my opinion. Ritter will be allowed to see an average of 60 clients per day rather that 65 as requested. As though five more clients per day would have a noticeable impact on the neighborhood.

Written by Ron Greene

April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am