Contempo Marin Scenic Destination | All-Age Community | San Francisco Bay Area Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:31:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Lucky’ soldier’s new mission: Marin veterans’ benefits Mon, 06 Aug 2012 21:00:02 +0000 8/5/2012 – Marin Independent Journal

AFTER FOUR TOURS of duty in Afghanistan in which he was a target for rockets, bombs and small arms fire, it’s no wonder Sean Stephens says his new home in Marin County is paradise.
He’s got a new wife, a new family and a new job helping military veterans and, despite an aching cervical spine that provides a constant reminder of the war he left behind, he couldn’t be happier.

The 44-year-old Stephens is Marin’s veterans services officer, a $56,000-a-year post he has held since February, when he completed an eight-month stint as a department volunteer and took over from veteran services officer Mort Tallen, who retired after a long career.

“I am the luckiest man in the world,” Stephens said at his one-man office at 10 N. San Pedro Road across from the Marin Civic Center, where a computer replaces Tallen’s old typewriter. His desk is graced by a family photograph that includes his wife, Melissa, a Kentfield fifth-grade teacher he knew in high school back in Tempe, Ariz. She looked him up on Facebook and invited him to visit Marin when he was on leave in 2009.

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George Lucas donates fire engine to Muir Beach Volunteer Fire Department Wed, 27 Jun 2012 17:13:14 +0000
Marin Independent Journal – 6/26/2012

The Muir Beach Volunteer Fire Department has received a big gift courtesy of filmmaker George Lucas.

Lucas donated one of his two engines from his Skywalker Ranch fleet in Lucas Valley after the Muir Beach fire department had entered into negotiations to buy the vehicle.

Initially, Lucas’ representatives quoted a price of $55,000, which was below market value for the engine, which could fetch up to $90,000, said Muir Beach fire Chief Steve Wynn.

As negotiations continued there was a pause in talks.

“The next thing I knew they said, ‘George is just going to give it to you,'” Wynn said. “It was a huge moment. My mouth sort of dropped open. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.'”

If the volunteer department had to buy the engine — manufactured by International with Pierce apparatus — it would have wiped out its annual budget, meaning the purchase of other firefighting gear would have been delayed.

The Lucas engine, though built in 1989, only had about 22,000 miles on it. It can send about twice the volume of water onto a fire than the volunteer department’s only engine, also manufactured by International with Pierce apparatus, which was built in 1986. It has about 80,000 miles on it.

“We got that from the county and they are hard miles,” Wynn said.

After some minor modifications, the Skywalker engine should be ready for service in a month.

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Brand New 3 Bedroom Home Thu, 14 Jun 2012 18:53:47 +0000 New home landscaped with central A/C

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Marin Human Race draws a big, spirited crowd Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:29 +0000
Marin Independent Journal – 5/15/2012

The 30th annual Marin Human Race drew thousands of runners, walkers and spectators to the Civic Center Lagoon Park in San Rafael on Saturday. The Marin Human Race is the largest collaborative fundraising event in the county. Participants support scores of nonprofit agencies and schools by donating and collecting donations. Zach Martinez,12, of Larkspur finished first in a time of 17 minutes and 50 seconds.

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T.J.Maxx store opening Sunday in former San Rafael Borders space Wed, 15 Feb 2012 17:45:21 +0000 Marin Independent Journal – 2/13/2012

T.J.Maxx will open its first Marin County store this weekend in the 32,000-square-foot space that Borders occupied in San Rafael for 17 years before closing last year.

The Massachusetts-based retailer last June signed a 10-year lease with renewal options for the building at 588 W. Francisco Blvd. after a bankruptcy court approved transferring Borders’ existing lease.

“Our newest store will offer shoppers the same designer names they know and trust at prices well below department stores,” company President Richard Sherr said in a statement.

The store will sell clothing, designer accessories and home and salon products, among other offerings, the company said. It will employ about 60 full- and part-time workers and is currently hiring.

The Borders store, a longtime favorite among residents for reading, browsing and coffee dates, closed May 15 after corporate management announced it would shutter hundreds of under performing locations around the country. The move was part of a national reorganization under bankruptcy protection, company officials said at the time.

Some of the store’s 41 employees were initially perplexed, saying the San Rafael location had always been profitable.

“We’re excited about having another store come to San Rafael,” Mayor Gary Phillips said of T.J.Maxx. “It’s a good sign for everyone (that) things are starting to pick up a bit. … It’s really exciting for us — I think it’s great.”

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Marin County Free Library launches lobby makeover plan Tue, 31 Jan 2012 18:27:57 +0000 Marin Independent Journal 1/29/2012

The Marin County Free Library is launching a remodeling program to improve the lobbies at five libraries, making them “market places” for bestsellers and other popular materials.

The $1 million lobby project appears on the routine consent calendar Tuesday morning when county supervisors are expected to approve a $168,000 consulting contract with Group 4 Architecture + Planning Inc. of South San Francisco.

The firm will provide design services for remodeling the lobby areas of the Civic Center, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Marin City and Novato libraries.

“While the remodels are not expected to include major construction activities, there is a possibility that some minor construction will be required … in one library,” requiring an additional service agreement, the consultant contract says.

A memo from Pat Echols, the county’s principal civil engineer, on Friday reported that the purpose of the remodels “is to create a more functional and attractive customer experience” as well as supply new, smaller desks for staff that allow more space for customers, as well as other benefits, perhaps including space for an online public access catalogue and personal computers, additional book shelving, browsing chairs, informational displays and other improvements. County public works staff is managing the remodel project.

“The lobby upgrades … including design and project management fees, are initially budgeted at $1 million,” Echols said.

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Two Marin women are using their social networking sites to make a difference Tue, 17 Jan 2012 19:13:15 +0000 Marin Independent Journal, 1/17/2012

IF SOCIAL NETWORKING had a color, it would be pink.
Women use social networks to connect with friends, family and colleagues more than men, according to a new survey by Rebtel, a mobile telecommunications company.
In Marin, women aren’t just relying on the tried-and true Facebook, however — they’re creating their own social networking sites, among them Megan Calhoun of Ross, who started (now; Amy Keroes of Mill Valley, who started (now, which was purchased by last year); and Kate Thorp of San Rafael, whose Real Girls Media launched Divine Caroline.

But for at least two Marin women — Christine Bronstein, founder of A Band of Wives, and Hyla Molander, founder of Widowed Web and the about-to-be-launched Social Good Project — social media is more than talking about mommy issues or fanning and following brands; it’s about making a difference in the world.

“For women, social media presents abundant opportunities to lead, effect change, innovate and build relationships across sectors, locally, nationally and globally,” says Jessica Faye Carter of Nette Media, which develops social media technologies for women and multicultural communities.

Here’s how Bronstein and Molander are doing that.

Social Good Project

“I thought, ‘I have to make meaning of this. I am a writer. This is how I will make meaning of it,'” says Molander, who has been working on her memoir, “Drop Dead Life,” ever since.

But she also reached out to other widows by creating a community page on Facebook, the Widowed Web. Working with Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, she eventually connected thousands of people who had lost spouses.

Now remarried, Molander, her husband, Evan, and their four children live in Tiburon, and the writer and photographer has morphed into an inspirational speaker as well as a social media expert. While she hasn’t given up her memoir, she is now focusing on a new project — the Social Good Project, a website intended to promote good causes through personal stories, social media and video. It launches later this month.

By using the power of inspirational writing and first-person videos, and aligning with nonprofits, she hopes the Social Good Project ( will make as much of a difference as her Widowed Web did. “Everyone can use social media to make a massive difference in the world,” she says.

Molander knows she has, and has helped herself along the way.

“I was definitely defined by my grief for a while. And then, I found so much meaning in helping other people by sharing my emotion, and my experience and my hope and I guess what some might call a happy ending, I have chosen to keep this experience out in the open,” she says. “I didn’t plan on being a social media expert. I didn’t know I would be good at building a community; I just started sharing my feelings online and people responded to that.”

A Band of Wives

When A Band of Wives members rallied to raise money to support Tika Hick, a new mom who was recovering from a double mastectomy when her longtime partner tragically died, Christine Bronstein wasn’t surprised.

Women need to connect with women, says the Kentfield mother of three who started the social networking site when she was stuck at home nursing her newborn daughter in 2009.

“I built it with the intention of women supporting each other, but what it has become is more of a movement, a grassroots movement, of women supporting each other in their community,” says Bronstein, 38, wife of San Francisco Chronicle editor at large Phil Bronstein.

And that support has included raising money for nonprofits or connecting them with volunteers as well as helping women in need, whether someone facing homelessness, or going through a tough divorce or hopeful to take part in melanoma medical trails — just like real-life friends would do, except these are women who often don’t even know each other.

But don’t call them friends. As Bronstein notes on the website’s home page, that word has been seen better days: “The word ‘friend’ has been so tainted by frenemies, rotating BFFs and being able to defriend with a click of a mouse that we now need a new term for our closest friends and allies: Wives.”

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Homeward Bound receives $120,000 federal grant to house homeless families Tue, 10 Jan 2012 19:03:04 +0000 By Richard Halstead
Marin Independent Journal
Posted: 01/07/2012 03:00:00 PM PST

Homeward Bound of Marin, a nonprofit that operates the county’s homeless shelters, has been awarded $120,000 in federal funds to help support its emergency housing program for families.

“It’s super good news for our family program,” said Kerry Blasdell, Homeward Bound’s finance director.

Homeward Bound competed with organizations throughout the state for the grant award. The Department of Housing awarded funds to 62 of the 98 applicants.

Homeward Bound will use the money to rent motel rooms for up to 49 family members a night. It received federal grant money for the family program the previous two years as well.

The nonprofit also operates Mill Street Center, a 40-bed facility in San Rafael, and New Beginnings Center, an 80-bed facility in Novato.

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Couple opens Marin Ace hardware store in San Rafael Mon, 19 Dec 2011 05:00:07 +0000 12/16/2011 – Marin Independent Journal

Greenbrae residents Michelle and Jeff Leopold held a ribbon-cutting Thursday with San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips and San Rafael Chamber of Commerce officials to celebrate the opening of their new hardware store, Marin Ace, in Terra Linda.

The store is at the site of a former Sizzler restaurant at 180 Merrydale Road. With the closure of Pacific Lumber last year, Marin Ace is the only hardware store within the approximately 12-mile stretch between Pini Ace Hardware in Novato and Jackson’s Hardware, southeast of downtown San Rafael.

The Leopolds also owns Standard 5&10 Ace in San Francisco’s Laurel Village Shopping Center.

Carol Scott of Bradley Real Estate in San Rafael was named Realtor of the Year by the Marin Association of Realtors on Tuesday at the group’s annual award luncheon.

Stevens Manning of Manning Mortgage Associates Inc. in San Rafael was named Affiliate of the Year, Kay Moore of Coldwell Banker in Greenbrae received the Distinguished Service Award and Margaret Deedy of Coldwell Banker in Greenbrae and Jonathan Marks of Alain Pinel in Corte Madera received the association’s Making a Difference Award.

In addition, David Smadbeck of Coldwell Banker in Greenbrae was installed as 2012 president of the association.

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Marin author’s mystical golf movie isn’t par for the course Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:54:15 +0000 By Paul Liberatore
Marin Independent Journal
Posted: 12/05/2011

Clint Eastwood tried for an entire decade, but couldn’t figure out how to make a movie out of Michael Murphy’s 1972 novel “Golf in the Kingdom.” Neither could Academy Award-winning director Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting,” “Milk”), or any of the golf-crazy movie moguls in Hollywood, even after Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson expressed interest in starring in it.
It took two women, one of whom couldn’t tell a putter from a pitchfork when she signed on to write and direct the independent film, to bring the Marin author’s cult classic to the big screen.

Forty years and 15 screenplays after he wrote the novel, revered by generations of golfers as sacred scripture, Murphy, a spry 81-year-old, will be pinching himself when the film version of “Golf in the Kingdom” opens on Friday at the Smith Rafael Film Center. He’ll also show it Wednesday night at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere in an appearance with PGA pro Bobby Clampett.

“I’d come to think of it as the world’s longest virtual movie — coming soon to a mind near yours,” he chuckled, adding, “It really didn’t take that long, only half my life.”

Best known for founding the Esalen Institute on his family’s Big Sur acreage, Murphy based the story roughly on his own life, imagining a young American philosophy student, the fictional Michael Murphy, taking a detour to the Links of Burningbush in Scotland for a last round of golf before traveling to an Indian ashram in search of enlightenment.

But when he is paired with a mysterious, charismatic golf pro named Shivas Irons, who expounds on the whiteness of the ball and instructs his student to “let the nothingness into your shots,” the young seeker discovers what Murphy calls “the mysticism of everyday life,” and finds satori in a most unlikely place.

To get into the mindset of their characters, both lead actors, Scotsman David O’Hara, who plays Shivas, and Mason Gamble, the young Michael, spent time with Murphy at his Sausalito apartment, practicing meditation.

After one intense two-hour session, O’Hara got so high from the experience that he wondered what had just happened to him.

Murphy answered by quoting the American psychologist and philosopher William James. “I told him, ‘You seem to have the mystic germ,'” he recalled with a laugh.

This is not an unusual occurrence, and not just during meditation. Over the past 40 years, Murphy says so many golfers have reported having mystical episodes on the links that, inspired by his million-selling book, they’ve banded together in Shivas Irons Societies.

“It’s more common than is generally thought,” Murphy said. “People will have these experiences but without a context for them. They’re not practicing meditation, they’re not Buddhists, they’re not seeking enlightenment, they’re just playing golf.”

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