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Archive for March 2013

Marin Catholic Track vs. Tam and San Rafael

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Here are a few of my favorite photos from the March 27th track meet between Marin Catholic, San Rafael, and Tamalpais high schools. The rest of the photos are at VarsityPix.

This week I spent a good bit of time trying to get clear shots of the high jumpers. Nikon makes good cameras, but they don’t always expose and focus perfectly. Adding to the challenge were my miscalculations, par for the course. I threw away many more images than I kept. Reading the blogs of professional photographers, I see that this isn’t unusual.

Boys Track
Marin Catholic 94, San Rafael 35
Marin Catholic 44, Tamalpais 86

Girls Track
Marin Catholic 98, San Rafael 22
Marin Catholic 42, Tamalpais 94

.  .  .  scores from the Marin Independent Journal.

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Written by Ron Greene

March 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Marin Catholic High School Track vs. Novato

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Marin County | California

This was the third track meet of the season for Marin Catholic High School, and while parts of the United States were still freezing cold, it couldn’t have been a more beautiful spring day in Northern California. Rica had searched the internet and found a baseball cap with Marin Catholic embroidered on the front, and it arrived just in time for its public début. I felt a little sheepish wearing it, but in the end it did help me blend in with the friendly parents helping at the various track and field events.

March 21, 2013

Girls Track
Marin Catholic   36.5
Novato              99.5

Boys Track
Marin Catholic      55
Novato                 76

You can see the rest of the photos from this meet at VarsityPix.com.

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Written by Ron Greene

March 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Marin Catholic Takes On Drake and Branson

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Marin County | California

It was cool and overcast, which made it easier to photograph Marin Catholic’s second track meet of the season. Even in the fading afternoon light, the exposures were fast enough to freeze action, and I didn’t have to contend with harsh shadows on the athletes’ faces.

I was impressed with the easy give-and-take between the young men and women on the field between events. No horseplay, teasing, and dumb jokes — the kind of stuff I would have expected if there had been mixed track meets when I was in high school.

I think Marin Catholic High School has about as many girls on the team as boys, another good sign. I take it to symbolize that young women are now comfortable participating in all aspects of school and community life. Watching these boys and girls at track meets should be seen by more of the public as a welcome antidote for the endless YouTube episodes of teens gone wild.

Boys Track
Marin Catholic 99, Branson 16
Marin Catholic 57, Drake 73

Girls Track
Marin Catholic 89, Branson 31
Marin Catholic 49, Drake 87

If you’re interested in high school sports, there are thousands of photos at VarsityPix.com.

Marin Catholic Pole Volt

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Marin Catholic Track and Field

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A Clean Sweep for San Rafael’s Homeless

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The San Rafael City Council voted on February 19th to contract with the Downtown Streets Team, a Palo Alto nonprofit, to offer what some critics call make-work employment as a means of helping homeless people get their lives in better order. From what I can gather from our local paper, the project will cost $272,000 the first year, with the goal of getting at least 12 people back on their feet and headed upstream. The program promises a variety of services, but street cleaning seems the front door and most visible part of the program. If you’ve ever been to downtown San Rafael, you’ve probably noticed that the area is already nice and clean, so either these new workers will be taking over from current street cleaners, or we’re going to see some super-immaculate street corners. An extra scrubbing for $272,000 to improve the downtown business climate and help 12 homeless people? By some counts, there are about 1,220 homeless people living in Marin County, with 45% living in San Rafael. No one has explained to me how this program benefits the other 1,208 homeless, or even those living in San Rafael.

street project plaza-1

How clean does a street have to be?

If I seem I little skeptical . . .

One of the things that bothers me most is the lack of candor about this project’s origins and hoped-for results. I think it grew out of complaints from downtown merchants that homeless people were scaring away business, and their hope that a way could be found to rid downtown of the small percentage of homeless people actually creating problems. Somehow the business community has persuaded Marin charitable foundations to fund the project, whereas I think in should have been paid for by San Rafael Chamber of Commerce members.

Sleeping on the streets

A safe place to hang out during the day might be a better alternative.

As I see it, everyone has a right  to be on the streets as long as they aren’t breaking the law. Homeless people in the downtown area are often scapegoated to explain away some of the failing businesses long overdue for major facelifts. After all, why go downtown when just a few minutes away shoppers can browse several freshly created upscale malls with plenty of free parking? It’s a shame, but this is happening to local businesses all over the country.

For Sale

Some San Rafael businesses are victims of the times, not the homeless.

Duplication of services. Marin County already has a number of experienced homeless programs, several in the downtown area, sometimes not communicating well with each other, and sometimes duplicating services. Adding one more agency — one that will take time to get off the ground — seems likely to compound this problem. Aside from the street-cleaning part of the project, I can’t see what services this Palo Alto agency is going to offer that aren’t already covered by local case managers who know their target population better than anyone else.

At the very least this new program should partner with one of the well-established organizations in San Rafael so it can get a jump start on the efficient use of local resources.

I’ve met a number of street people who hang out in central San Rafael, and they’re mostly good people with nowhere else to go. I wonder if $272,000 wouldn’t be better spent on permanent housing or a day center, perhaps even a 24-hour center, where some folks could sober up, or at least get out of the cold and rain when they have nowhere else to go.

It seems that the premise of the Downtown Streets Team is the belief that sweeping streets for $5 an hour is the gateway to restoring dignity and moving homeless people into permanent employment. This is a worthwhile goal, but I wonder if it will work for most people in the target population. Many if not most are mentally or physically challenged and are already receiving financial help. In a depressed job market, is it realistic or honest to hold out hope for even a minimum-wage job? Hopefully it will work for some, but it won’t work for the majority.

What they need first is supportive housing, a multi-service day center, or even a supervised campground–not broom training dressed up as a work-readiness program. Yes, there are homeless persons who would benefit from job training, but for the most part they aren’t the people hanging around downtown.

Of these three suggestions, probably the most immediately doable is a multipurpose day program, or even one open 24 hours. I first heard this idea from someone who works with street people every day and has an intimate knowledge of their needs. It could provide a number of services, provide an alternative to congregating on downtown street corners, and even allow people to get out of the cold rain in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the money for this has just been allocated somewhere else.

Is this kicking the can down the road or will it lead to real progress?

The Downtown Streets Team has an impressive web site, claiming success in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and San Jose. So let’s wish them luck and hope for the best. It’s possible I’m missing something here. If I’m being too harsh, come back in a year to see how many participants are in permanent housing and meaningful jobs. I’ll be happy to apologize.

These are just my personal opinions, of course. People I highly respect fully support the Downtown Streets Team project.

Written by Ron Greene

March 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

Marin Catholic Begins a New Track Season

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Marin County | California

Track season started in Marin County last Saturday with the Drake Relays, and I was there with my Nikon D4. It weighs a ton compared to lighter cameras in vogue these days, but excels in burst mode, giving me a fighting chance at catching the action.

I’ll be following Marin Catholic High School this year through the generosity of Bill Schneider and VarsityPix. You can see more photos from this series at VarsityPix.com.

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Marin Catholic Track

Written by Ron Greene

March 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm