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  March 2016
Spring Term 

Speaker Series in Oakland

Faculty Profile: Jeff Hart

Volunteer Profile: Betsey Beamish

New Faces at OLLI: Matt Shears

Faculty News

Upcoming Events

Lunch Bunch

Research Opportunity

Susan Hoffman

Business and Operations Manager
Lisa Hardy

Communications Coordinator
Jennifer Monahan

Classroom and Facilities Coordinator
Eric Anthony

Curriculum Coordinator
Matt Shears

Research Program Associate
Cheryl Brewster

Classroom Coordinator, Lafayette
Jason Gant

Spring Term Starts March 28
We have a great lineup of instructors, including Dan Kammen, Mick Chantler, Pete Elman, Beverly Crawford, Russell Merritt, and many other favorites.
View our course listings.

Berkeley Open House March 8 
10:00 a.m. to noon
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
2020 Addison St, Berkeley 
(at Shattuck Ave)
Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Lafayette Info Session March 10
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Lafayette Library and Learning Center 
3491 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette  

Register online or by phone at 510.642.9934. 

OLLI Speaker Series 
in Oakland

Curious about OLLI's programs? Looking for ways to fill the time between Winter and Spring terms? Come to one of our free lectures in downtown Oakland this March.

Wednesday, March 16   1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
"Middle-Class Populism: 
What's Driving Voters to Extremes?"
David Peritz, Professor of Politics, Sarah Lawrence College

Wednesday, March 23    1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
"Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing"
Gabriel Thompson, author of  America's Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century

Both events will take place at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center in the Veterans' Memorial Building at 200 Grand Avenue. They are free for all attendees (not just current OLLI members), so tell your friends!
Faculty Profile: Jeff Hart
by Jennifer Monahan, OLLI Staff

Jeff Hart -- Staten Island
Photo: Dave Strauss
Jeff Hart's upcoming Spring course "Nature and Culture in California History" will look at the unique role of the natural environment in the California ethos. We caught up with him in between a trip to Yosemite to see the seasonal "firefall" and a visit to Death Valley to view the once-in-a-decade Big Bloom.

Tell us about your background and training in science.
My earliest training was as a small boy following my father on his adventures: boat racing, raising hound dogs, raising livestock... I studied environmental biology at the University of Montana as an undergraduate, then returned a few years later for a Master's in ethnobotany, which is the study of how particular cultures make use of indigenous plants. I sent a copy of my thesis -- which looked at how several Northern Plains tribes used indigenous plants -- to a professor at Harvard and he invited me to apply. So the son of working-class parents who had never been to college ended up pursuing a Ph.D. at Harvard.
I studied evolutionary biology at Harvard. This was during the era of Steven J. Gould and E.O. Wilson, so it was hard not to think about the big questions.

What brought you to the Delta?
After Harvard I did a postdoc in Sweden, but I wasn't interested in being a molecular biologist indoors. I came out to California and for many years I had a business doing environmental consulting and habitat restoration. This included some work with the CalFed Bay-Delta program. One of the conditions of their grants was to give back to the public, so I started doing boat tours of the Delta. Meanwhile, my wife Toni had a native plant nursery, and over time that transitioned into organic farming.
Those boat tours inspired me to write two books. The first one, A Natural History of the Golden State , was the basis of my Fall course with OLLI. My other book, The Nature Connection , looks at the human side of nature and the different perspectives people bring to their interactions with it. I have a longstanding interest in the human condition and nature. It's partly inspired by my work on ethnobotany, and it also ties in my time as a teaching fellow with E.O. Wilson.
These days, I'm doing more teaching and ecotourism. It feels like my calling: there's a lot of need and interest.

sandhill cranes on Staten Island
Sandhill cranes on Staten Island. Photo: Dave Strauss
What were some of the highlights of teaching for OLLI last Fall?
Of course I enjoyed the people and connected with them. It was an opportunity to share with intelligent, curious, like-minded people. The "field trip" to the Delta to see the sandhill cranes at Staten Island was a high point... but one thing that stands out for me is that when people came by to say "thank you" at the end of class it was clear that they really meant it. That kind of genuine thanks hasn't happened too many times in my life.  

Volunteer Profile: Betsey Beamish
by Gale Lederer, OLLI Volunteer

Betsey Beamish "OLLI's fascinating," says Betsey Beamish, this month's featured volunteer. "Every session I get to try something different." However, looking back at Betsey's full, varied life, it's clear that she's  involved herself in different, fascinating things all along. For instance, while living in New York in the 1950s, she conducted experiments at Sloan-Kettering that convinced her that even then the tobacco companies knew about the relationship between smoking and lung cancer and were covering it up. Moving to Southern California in 1963 to work for North American Aviation's Space and Information Systems Division, she participated in experiments that sent biological material into space. Subsequently, after sixteen years of developing medical literature computer search services for UCLA's biomedical library, she started her own company that provided these necessary services for a number of small Southern California hospitals who couldn't afford it on their own.

When Betsey moved the the Bay Area in 2013, she quickly became involved in OLLI -- both as a  student and as a class assistant. Her favorite OLLI experiences -- among many others -- include taking courses by Marshall Krause on the Supreme Court, Michael Fox on documentary film, and Mick Chantler on America's founders. She also enjoys volunteering for OLLI's Development Committee.

Betsey goes to the gym regularly, takes frequent walks around Lake Merritt, and otherwise loves exploring Oakland, her new home. She spends a lot of time with her grandchildren -- a six-year-old, whom she baby-sits once a week, and a pair of nine-year-old twins. Her extensive travels have included trekking for gorillas in Rwanda, going on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, and planning and enjoying trips with friends to places such as China, India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Patagonia. This summer, she will travel to Italy with her grandchildren and their parents, and is currently taking Beverly Allen's  "Italy and Ideas" course to help prepare for it. Active, vital members such as Betsey Beamish help make OLLI the vibrant community we all so enjoy.

New Faces at OLLI
Matt Shears,  Curriculum Coordinator 
Matt Shears For the past twelve years, Matt has taught courses in the humanities at schools including the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Washington State University, San Francisco Art Institute and California College of the Arts. He brings to OLLI both his higher education experience and a commitment to the local community, which includes working in the nonprofit sector and volunteering for causes supporting education initiatives from homelessness and poverty to youth enrichment. He received his Ph.D. from UNLV, where he was a Schaeffer Fellow, his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers Workshop and his BA from Miami University (Ohio). A practicing writer, Matt is also the author of three books.

OLLI Speaker Series in Oakland in March

As part of our ongoing outreach efforts, we're expanding our Speaker Series to include two talks in downtown Oakland this March, in between Winter and Spring terms.

Wednesday, March 16
"Middle-Class Populism: What's Driving Voters to Extremes?"
David Peritz, Professor of Politics, Sarah Lawrence College

Wednesday, March 23
"Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing"
Gabriel Thompson, author of America's Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century

Both events will take place at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center in the Veterans' Memorial Building at 200 Grand Avenue, near Lake Merritt and just steps away from St. Paul's Towers. They are free for all attendees (not just current OLLI members), so tell your friends!

Our regular Spring Speaker series will take place on Wednesdays in April. Learn more on our Speaker Series page.
Faculty News

Joe Lurie will speak at a Commonwealth Club event in Palo Alto on March 30. The title of his talk is "Perceptions and Misperceptions in a Globalized Polarized World." Enter coupon code OSHER for an $8.00 discount when purchasing tickets. View event page.

Lauren Carley will lead a singing retreat in Oxford and Bath, England from September 7 to September 15, 2016. Explore historic towns and sing in ancient spaces with English community choirs. Learn more at

Upcoming Community Events

The Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies is hosting a lecture series. Upcoming events include:

Thursday, March 10
Gilad Sharvit, " Freud, Politics and Anti-Semitism"
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
6:00 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. lecture  

Tuesday, March 15 
Todd Gitlin, "Chosen People? Jewish Identity"
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
6:00 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. lecture

Lunch Bunch


2155 Center Street, at Oxford

This café no longer has the lovely outdoor patio as it did in the old museum, but it is still offering a rustic, seasonal, locally sourced, eclectic menu of soups, salads,
bruschetta, housemade pastries, and coffees. It is open throughout the day from
9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Wednesday to Friday and 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m Saturday and Sunday. You do not need to be a member to visit the café, and museum members get a 10% discount. There's beer and wine in the evenings, also. The location is very close to OLLI classrooms, so think of this place for breakfast, lunch or an early light dinner.

Lucille Poskanzer
March 2016

Research Opportunity
Wanted for Participation in Aging Research Study

Healthy older people age 50 and older are invited to participate in a study to investigate how  thinking abilities change over time. Some volunteers will be invited back later for other projects  they are interested in, which may include brain scans. Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, 132  Baker Hall, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3190.

These studies are not expected to result in any medical benefit or cause you any harm. People who are presently not in good health, who have had any history of neurological or psychiatric problems, or who cannot speak English proficiently should not volunteer for the study. When you call to volunteer for this study a research associate will ask you a series of questions to determine your eligibility. If you are chosen for participation, a consent form and the Subjects Bill of Rights will be given to you to read and sign on the day of the study. You will be given verbal explanation or protocol procedure and possible

You will be paid $40 for participation in this study. The study will take approximately 3-4 hours to complete. You will come to the University of California, Berkeley, where you will have a brief  medical interview and a medical examination. Following this, you will take a series of tests designed to assess your thinking abilities. These tests use pencil and paper or computers and involve things such as solving puzzles and remembering lists of words.

We will place your name on a list and contact you every 1 or 2 years and invite you back for retesting. We will also call you periodically to see if you are interested in participating in other studies in laboratories at Berkeley that are studying brain aging.

If you are interested in participating in this study please contact The Berkeley Aging Cohort Study at (510) 643-6609.