Berkeley scientists’ next green energy alternative: stomach bug to biofuel

A team of local biotech researchers may have found a way to avoid using essential food crops for fuel by genetically modifying harmless strains of a bacteria most people associate with human food poisoning. The result is an extremely expensive fuel — hardly competitive with fossil fuels at $25 per gallon — but marks the beginning of a new look at green energy.


Green hip-hop group pruned by budget cuts

A local organization that promotes environmental consciousness through hip-hop culture is going on hiatus this fall after losing major funding from the city of San Francisco. Grind for the Grind hosted its first — and final — “eco-music festival” of the year in Oakland last weekend. The event, FreshFest, brought local hip-hop musicians, artists and sustainable food producers together for a day of solar-powered live jamming, healthy eats and green-themed crafts. After losing its San Francisco grant, the festival was free to move from Yerba Buena Gardens, where it had been for two years, to Oakland’s Mosswood Park. But there still wasn’t enough money to put on the usual four summer festivals.

Black and white graphic novel gets colorful in gallery exhibit

How to illustrate idiosyncratic personalities coping with the monotony of day-to-day life? For San Francisco artist Jamaica Dyer, it’s no longer just black and white. The characters from her black-and-white graphic novel “Weird Fishes” take on a new life with her use of a soft color palette and gentle brush strokes. It is the story about two teenagers named Dee and Bunny Boy who grapple with issues of identity and question reality. An exhibition of her work is on display through June 13 at the Cartoon Art Museum’s Small Press Spotlight.

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Dying Northern India art form revived in Bay Area

For the past two years, Devendra Sharma, an assistant professor of communication at California State University, Fresno, has been resuscitating and reinventing a dying Indian folk operatic performance art — Nautanki — in the Bay Area. The opera, characterized by exuberant singing in Hindi about religious, mythological or sociopolitical-themed stories, is a nightlong communal event performed in outdoor venues in northern Indian villages.

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Worldwide micro-lender looks homeward: Q&A with’s Premal Shah

Despite high loan requests and lower repayment rates by borrowers in the country, San Francisco nonprofit microcredit Web site, Kiva, has managed to raise $765,900 since launching its pilot program this past June in the United States. Typically, the organization distributes loans raised on its Web site to microcredit organizations in developing countries that lend it to impoverished entrepreneurs. The impact of the economic downturn on small business owners set the stage for Kiva to establish a program in the U.S. last June.


Earthquake readiness tips for 2010

Local experts released a report in 2009 identifying thousands of residential buildings in the city that a major quake could render unlivable — and that was just based on a partial survey. And with seismologists saying that there’s a 63 percent chance the Bay Area will suffer a powerful earthquake within the next 30 years, there is a need to act soon to remedy the problem.

SF International Film Festival attendance up

Despite a tough economy, attendance at the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival increased 2.5 percent from last year, said San Francisco Film Society’s executive director, Graham Leggat.

About 82,000 people attended nearly 150 screenings and other events associated with the multi-venue festival.

While big banks sink, microcredit thrives

While giant financial service institutions in the nation are shirking under the iron hand of the economy, microcredit organizations are seeing an opposite trend — the number of lenders has been steadily increasing.

Kiva, a Web-based microcredit non-profit in San Francisco, had a record month in February as its total monthly lending soared past $3.8 million.