People

Who would think the Island of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean would have anything in common with the Island of Alameda in the bustling San Francisco Bay? They do, indeed, share some common traits.

Summer is just about over, and 12-year-old Niles Wesley spent his holiday camping in Bernie Falls, playing with RC cars, and earning gold medals for all four disciplines of the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association’s Junior District Track Cycling Championships.

Editor's Note: The Alamedan learned during the reporting of this profile piece that our subject - billed by the White House as an Alameda resident - actually lives in Berkeley, a city we don't typically cover. But we found his work interesting and thought you might too, so we're running our profile on Kansa anyway. Enjoy!

"Alternative academic" Eric Kansa starting working on Open Context more than a decade ago to promote access to archaeological research data that rarely saw the light of day. Last week Kansa, a researcher with the University at California, Berkeley School of Information, was honored for his efforts to make more of that data public. The Alamedan caught up with Kansa just as he was getting on a plane to Italy for a dig.

In memory of Robert “Bob” Blomberg: Alameda’s Ambassador to golf … a true gentleman golfer.

Contributed photo.

Bob was born on April 4, 1945 to Ben and Irene Blomberg in Alameda. His father, Ben, was a 45-year career Navy man who served in the U.S. military during World War II and enabled Bob to live in many places, but far and away, Bob was a lifelong Alameda resident.

Community Learning Center Schools Inc.'s Paul Bentz is retiring. Photo by Chris Duffey.

Paul Bentz was a science teacher at Alameda High School when the call went out for five teachers to run a new school-within-a-school at Encinal High.

“I enjoyed what I was doing,” Bentz said. “But I was with 35 kids in class every day all day long, in a room built for 24. I thought, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to do education than this.’”

Twenty-nine years ago, Fred Chacon came to Alameda in search of a job – and better weather. And over the three decades he’s been here, the West Covina native has been responsible for of much of the local theater scene, putting on dozens of productions at Alameda High School and through the Alameda Civic Light Opera, which he co-founded, and more recently at Altarena Playhouse. Chacon retires from Alameda High this week on a high note: His final production, of the musical “All Shook Up,” was nominated for nine Top Honor Awards by The Stage; the awards will be announced tonight. Here’s what he had to say about his long career.

Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

In West Africa, the Moringa tree grows in some of the region’s driest areas, providing much needed nutrition for people and animals alike. The leaves of the tree are rich in protein, and vitamins A, B and C, and high in calcium, potassium, and other minerals. Recently, a group of young entrepreneurs embarked on a mission to make Moringa a household word via the Kuli Kuli Bar, a raw, gluten-free snack bar made locally in small batches and sold at farmers markets in Oakland and Lafayette. I talked with Valerie Popelka, a 2005 graduate of Alameda High School and Kuli Kuli’s chief marketing officer and co-founder, about their fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.

Of the many uplifting quotes Kenny the Clown holds in his mental file, one is worthy of at least two recitations during the course of our interview.

“Spreading joy and happiness is like perfume,” he said. “You can’t spread it without having a lot of it come back to you.”

When a pair of bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, John West was just a few blocks away, waiting for a high school friend he was meeting there to come pick him up.

“I thought, that sounds – that didn’t sound right,” said West, who said he had finished the race well ahead of the explosions. “And my brain was sort of going, ‘What could that mean?’”

West is one of three Alameda runners who offered their accounts of the bombings’ aftermath this week.

Photo by Michele Ellson.

Dave Denyven may be a man of few words, but the Purple Heart and Bronze Star displayed in his living room cabinet speak loudly of his bold action years ago. Now the accolades continue as the Kiwanis Club of Alameda honors Dave Denyven for 60 years of active duty on the Island he now calls his home base.