Monday, January 20, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Did you go to the Blue Fairyland Nursery School in Berkeley during the early 1970s? There's going to be a reunion this summer.
Blue Fairyland - not to be confused with Children's Fairyland in Oakland - operated from 1971 to 1973. It was a project of the Red Family, a collective of talented, idealistic New Leftists, including SDS co-founder Tom Hayden, Ramparts magazine editor Robert Scheer, and activist Anne Weills.
Together with Country Joe McDonald, they founded Blue Fairyland because they wanted their children to be able to go to a school that lived the better society they were fighting for.
So racism and gender stereotypes were out, self-empowerment and political activism were in. When Black Panther George Jackson was killed in an escape attempt from San Quentin in 1971, the kids traveled to the gates of the prison to protest.
Country Joe would lead sing-alongs featuring Woody Guthrie songs and the Hokey Pokey. But what the kids remember most about Blue Fairyland is that they were always treated with respect and it was a lot of fun.
The Red Family house was located at 3031 Bateman Street, although people constantly whited out the "E" on the street sign, so it usually read, "BAT MAN." Not coincidentally, some FBI agents rented an apartment across the street.
One of the Blue Fairyland kids was Vanessa Vadim, the daughter of Jane Fonda, who enrolled Vanessa there while she was filming "Steelyard Blues" in Petaluma.
Fonda often could be spotted shopping at the Co-op on Telegraph Avenue for figs, sparkling apple juice and avocados when it was her turn as a mommy to bring snacks. If anyone stopped her and told her she looked like Jane Fonda, she'd reply, "Oh, everyone says that."
The Blue Fairyland reunion will take place on July 19 at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 1606 Bonita Avenue, in Berkeley. Things are still in the planning stage, so check this column or Country Joe's website, countryjoe.com, for updates.
Speaking of kids, there's still a week left to contribute to one of the worthiest projects I can possibly imagine: The Habitot Children's Museum in downtown Berkeley is trying to raise $7,500 to fund birthday parties for homeless children.
Think about it: If you're a homeless child, your birthday can be the cruelest day of the year because it's yet another bitter reminder of how much you're missing out on.
But Habitot wants to offer a whole museum's worth of fun exhibits, art, and water play to the birthday child and his/her guests, plus a birthday cake, a specially chosen present, and transportation to the museum.
So far, they've raised over $4,000. If you'd like to help them make their goal, you can donate online at http://bit.ly/1j9vJre or send a tax-deductible check to Habitot Children's Museum, 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley 94704.
The deadline for donating online is Jan. 31, but you can keep the checks coming for as long as you like.
"Any amount we receive over our goal will be used to have birthday parties for more kids, so if anyone wants to give to the birthday party project after the close of the campaign, we certainly wouldn't turn it down!" says executive director Gina Moreland. "We'll be holding birthday parties for homeless children all year long."