In the current landscape of big-box stores and chain restaurants, many fear the dissolution of the small business. The worry is understandable, as many of these local ventures are what give cities, towns, and neighborhoods their distinctive flavor. It doesn't help that, on average, only 13% of the money spent at corporately-owned emporiums actually finds its way back to the community. This means that 87% of the dollars spent find themselves in a faraway bank account with nothing but a distant memory of the newborn pennies they left behind at home. When people give local shops and restaurants their business, however, an average of 45% of their money goes toward keeping the area and its unique culture thriving.
Fueled by this understanding, the folks at Localize It! helm The Alameda Summer Stroll, an evening of neighborhood appreciation, art, and live music. During certain days throughout the season, participants meander along several streets of the bay-adjacent burg to peruse the goods from local operations and sample locally crafted food, beer, and wine. They can even participate in a wine tasting and food pairings, as well as take advantage of discounts at area restaurants, such as Pasta Pelican, Calafia Taqueria, and East Ocean Seafood Restaurant. Along the way, neighborhood crawlers can stop to take in the musical strains of Jim Parodi and Friends or admire masterpieces by local Alameda and Oakland artists.
The stakes are undoubtedly high. At the current rate of donation, more than 30% of people on the National Organ Transplant Waiting List will never get the organs they need. California Transplant Donor Network aims to change that by educating people and raising awareness. They also put boots on the ground, facilitating organ and tissue donation by offering assistance to 175 hospitals in California and Nevada. In addition to their donation work, the network holds events such as 5Ks to raise funds and invites families of donors to contribute memories to the Donor Memorial Quilt Project.
Its rapid rise chronicled in in Forbes, Men’s Journal, and a parcel of other press, Hiking Yoga has sent massive waves of invigorated bliss washing up and down the west coast since its 2009 founding. Each of its outdoor excursions melds the cardio workout of hiking with the stretching and measured breaths of yoga. Certified instructors lead pupils through scenic vistas, or, in early-morning sessions, impressionistic dreamscapes, as they alternate between heart-pumping strides and yoga breaks suitable for neophytes and the pretzel-capable alike.
The Ridge Trail Council is a Bay Area nonprofit organization that seeks to join all Bay Area communities with 500 miles of multiuse trails. A yearlong family membership entitles two adults and their children to benefits as stunning as the panoramic vistas of the great outdoors. With advanced registration to popular trail events such as the multi-sport Ridge to Bridge, a marathon event that includes food and water and is next scheduled for April 2011, you won't need to plaintively wander over the trail's foggy, thicketed scalper meadow when the event inevitably sells out. Trail guidebooks are included with each membership, so families can set out on precisely planned pilgrimages. Members are also admitted to member-only natural odysseys such as the Presidio Solstice Ramble, a hike each winter solstice that includes free hors d'oeuvres and beverages, which is preferable to standard solstice traditions of bearing witness to chipmunks' annual temporary powers of speech, self-awareness, and attorney. Special offers such as free event registration and gratis hiking gear are also available to members and are relayed via a biannual newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter.
Richard Bothwell has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, scaled Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, and surfed the waves of four continents. But perhaps his greatest feat was establishing the Outdoor Adventure Club in 1996, where he leads others in conquering nature's challenges. He and a staff of seasoned outdoors enthusiasts escort visitors of all fitness and experience levels in local excursions and international vacations, all centered on exploring the great outdoors. On the local level, the guides lead rock-climbing classes at Castle Rock State Park in addition to hiking, backpacking, whitewater-rafting, kayaking, and skydiving excursions. International adventure vacations expose folks to surfing in Costa Rica, rafting in Patagonia, and mountaineering in Peru. The expeditions marry the camaraderie of a social club with the expertise of professional guides, who are each trained in emergency wilderness care in case of squirrel attacks.
If you follow Excelsior Urban Hikes' resident guide Christina, it will only take you two hours to see all of San Francisco. That's because it takes two hours to hike to the top of Mount Davidson, which offers stunning views of the city, both bay bridges, and the Pacific Ocean beyond to visitors who reach its summit.
Christina leads hikes down city streets and through nature trails to reveal scenic vistas. Besides Mount Davidson, she often takes groups to McLaren Park, where she points out interesting graffiti and pauses so hikers can take in views of the Outer Mission District. Christina also takes nighttime excursions to the top of Bernal Hill, where hikers can marvel at the sparkling bay lights and a lightening bug with a great stand-up routine.