Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in August


Photo by Nikolaus Koumoundouros

Every month I give a shout out to five ways to be a good neighbor/better citizen/all-around-nicer person. It could be a special event, a kindness idea, or a volunteering opportunity. Check out this month’s suggestions, and chime in with your own ideas for August in the San Francisco Bay Area, or upcoming months.

1. Promote Peace: Commemorate the 68th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the 12th Annual Peace Lantern Ceremony, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, at the north end of Aquatic Park in Berkeley. All ages are invited to decorate shades for the lanterns, listen to music and messages, and then participate in floating the lanterns between 8 and 9 p.m. If you’ve got time during the day, consider volunteering to set up the event.

2. Practice Forgiveness: The first Sunday of every August is International Forgiveness Day, and this year the Bay Area’s Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is sponsoring an extraordinary event at 7 p.m., on Aug. 4, to mark the day. The organization is bringing Misty Wallace and Keith Blackburn to San Rafael to share their stunning example of forgiveness. Blackburn shot Wallace in the face during a carjacking in 1992. Two years ago Wallace reached out to Blackburn on Facebook, saying she wanted to forgive him. “It changed my life,” says Blackburn, who is now a chaplain for the Indiana Department of Correction. Registration is recommended; there is a $20 suggested donation per ticket. The Alliance is also putting on a Master’s Workshop with Marianne Williamson from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., both Saturday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 4. The events are being held in Angelica Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael.

3. Eat Chili For a Good Cause: The San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation is hosting a Firefighter Chili Cook Off to raise money from noon to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, in downtown Campbell. The family-friendly event will feature 30 booths of local firefighters cooking chili on site, as well as a classic car show. Can’t get enough of chili? The San Mateo Firefighters Chili Cook Off is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24, in San Mateo’s Central Park; money raised goes to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

4. Advocate for Literacy: The Oakland Library is looking for several dozen volunteers to pass out books at a special Back-to-School Book Giveaway, on Saturday, Aug. 17. Volunteers will be handing out new books to children at five library branches that day. Go to the Volunteer Match website to sign up.

5. Park it for Free Music/Plays/Movies: Many local municipalities sponsor free music, theatrical plays, or movies during the summertime. Consider joining your neighbors at a park near you and savor what summer is left at one of these fun events. One example: the Santa Clara County Parks Department sponsors In the Park After Dark Movie nights, with free family-friendly movies at various parks. The movies are free, but donations to Second Harvest Food Bank are gratefully accepted. Bring blankets, low chairs, and flashlights. See the August calendar page for more info.