Riverside Celebrates 5,000th SmartRiverside Computer Donation

Riverside City Council recognized Mr. Lawrence Jasper, a United States Air Force disabled veteran, as the 5,000th recipient of a free computer on Tuesday, October 25th.

Recently recognized as a worldwide Top 7 Intelligent Community, the City of Riverside has partnered with SmartRiverside to provide “Digital Inclusion” training for families in need. The Digital Inclusion Program provides qualified families a free refurbished PC, training and free wireless access to the internet.

“The Digital Inclusion program – sponsored by SmartRiverside – represents innovation at its best: said Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge.  “Digital Inclusion is a national best practice and we are proud of this significant milestone – 5,000 computers helps a lot of families.”

Mr. Lawrence took the Digital Inclusion program class through Smooth Transitions, which provides the unique training. SmartRiverside notified Mr. Jasper that he was the 5,000th recipient and that Dell Computer donated a new PC to celebrate the accomplishments of the program. Mr. Jasper said “I dreamed one day I might get a new PC”, and “the following morning I was told I would receive one. I am truly blessed.” He will also receive Microsoft Office Software and a wireless modem to access the free City Wide Broadband Internet.

Mr. Jasper was a radio communication operator in the Air Force and later served in law enforcement on the east coast. He later relocated to California and worked in marketing for a life insurance company for 25 years.

UC Riverside to Host White House Hispanic Community Action Summit

In the spirit of collaborating to build a better community and region, White House Initiatives has chosen to hold a Community Action Summit at UC Riverside in partnership with CSUSB, IEEP and FACE on Saturday, November 5th from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The Summit will talk place at the Highlander Union Building, 900 University Ave., at the University of California at Riverside campus.

The gathering is designed to connect senior Obama Administration officials from a wide array of policy areas with Hispanic leaders, business owners, and local officials to discuss issues critical to the Hispanic community,  the Inland Empire, and the nation.  The summit is part of a series currently taking place across the country.

The event in the Inland Empire will provide an opportunity for people to interact with senior Administration officials on important issues ranging from jobs and the economy to education, health care, and fixing the broken immigration system so that we meet our nation’s 21st-century economic and security needs.  We hope to see you there.  Registration is open at: http://bit.ly/qdjx69

Citrus Classic Bike Ride Raises $35,000 for Riverside Schools

The 2nd Annual Riverside Citrus Classic Bike Ride took place Sunday, October 9 at the Riverside Plaza. The fundraising ride attracted about 790 riders and raised $35,000 to be split equally between the Riverside Educational Enrichment Foundation and the Alvord Educational Foundation. Both of these foundations directly fund programs in the Riverside and Alvord Unified school districts that have been effected by recent state budget cuts.

The all day event drew hundreds of people from throughout the community and featured two of the many programs that will benefit from the ride. The North High School Blue Star Regiment band played for riders as they waited to begin their ride and the Ramona High School art students made sculptures of people out of tape that were used to decorate the registration area. A vendor fair also took place with music and bands playing to entertain the visitors.

The Citrus Classic was a huge success not only for Riverside schools, but also for the opportunity to bring local residents together around cycling and the importance of lifelong learning for the continued success of the community.

Riverside is Crawling with Halloween Activities

As a center for “Around the City, Around the Clock, Around the Year” entertainment, Downtown Riverside is alive with Halloween spirit and activities for all ages.

This Saturday, October 22, the Riverside Downtown Partnership invites you to “release your inner Zombie” at the first ever ‘Zombie Crawl‘ that includes Zombie makeup and costume contest, music, a Skeleton Dance Performance, and a Zombie movie night featuring “Night of the Cometh”.

After the Zombie Crawl, be sure to check out the Riverside Arts Council’s, “Human Roast House“. The haunted house is located on the corner of University Avenue and Main Street and runs from 7 to 11 p.m. on October 21, 22 and 26-31.  Tickets are $10 for general admission $15 VIP admission (bypass the general admission line) or $25 for the Ultimate Fan Package (VIP plus official shirt). For more information, click here.

For Halloween spirit celebrated through the performing arts, head over to the Ballet Resource Active Volunteer Association’s (BRAVA) “Ghost of Yesterday”. Brava will be revisiting the glamorous and haunted history of the beautiful Aurea Vista Hotel and Club ballroom during the 1930’s in a production that utilizes both theatre and ballet. Collaborating with local actors, musicians, designers, singers and dancers, ” Ghosts of Yesterday” will transport its audience into the heyday of the age of jazz, old Hollywood glamour and gangsters, all centered around Riverside Ballet Art’s infamous ghostly “Lady in Red” legend. Performances will take place October 22, 28 & 29 from 7-9 p.m. at Aurea Vista Ballroom, 3840 Lemon Street.

On October 28th and 29th, experience the thrills and chills of Ghost Walk Riverside – 20th Year Anniversary. This guided tour of Downtown Riverside’s oldest and most historic buildings make for genuinely frightening places to hear tales of ghosts, goblins and the undead. Ghost Walk Riverside is a Halloween must for the whole family…of course, remember very small children may be scared by some of the goings-on at Ghost Walk, and this is a real walk, so be prepared. If you need special assistance or will be bringing guests in strollers or wheelchairs, please call the CRB offices at (951)787-7850. Live entertainment, game booths, souvenir stands and “fun food” vendors will be available on the Main Street Mall so please come early or stay late.

October 13th Declared “I ♥ Fairmount Park Day”

Following the announcement by the American Planning Association (APA) that Riverside’s Fairmount Park is one of 10 Great Public Spaces for 2011, Riverside City Council declared Oct. 13, 2011 as “I ♥ Fairmount Park Day”.

The City hosted a celebration this past Thursday in front of Fairmount Park’s award winning Universal Playground. The first 200 attendees received an “I ♥ Fairmount Park” tee-shirt and a special Fairmount Park cupcake. Speakers commented on the grassroots-driven effort that restored this 275-acre urban green space to its original glory. Designed a century ago by Olmsted & Olmsted, sons of the famous Frederick Law Olmsted that designed Central Park in New York City, the park went from community treasure to crime center and back again. Today visitors stroll along the park’s shaded paths, fish in its lakes, have fun in its accessible playground, and gather near the band shell for concerts and celebrations.

“This award is a big deal” exclaimed Mayor Ron Loveridge. “Not only does it acknowledge the work of the city – it recognizes the community’s vision, involvement, and hard work that has made the park a popular destination.”

Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces – three essential components of all communities. These authentic places have been shaped by forward-thinking planning that showcases diverse architectural styles, promotes community involvement and accessibility, and fosters economic opportunity.

Riverside Children’s Theater Introduces Performing Arts to Riverside Youth

The Riverside Children’s Theater (RCT) has introduced thousands of children to the world of theater for the past 50 years.

RCT is an award-winning children’s theater group in Riverside County and serves as a performing arts school as well as a performance troupe having won awards from the Inland Theater League, the Riverside Arts Council and the Press-Enterprise.

Students of all backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to become members of RCT. Over 160 children from kindergarten through 8th grade participate each year in three-hour acting classes held on saturday mornings. These classes build self-esteem, confidence and public speaking skills through performance and delivery instruction on music, dance, and performing arts. Students of RCT may also audition for the fall and spring musical productions held each year.

The productions are the culmination of two months of rehearsal and six performances complete with a live orchestra, costumes, and makeup in front of paying audiences. RCT also performs at no cost to the deaf community, senior assisted-living homes, group home residents and local students from low-income schools.

Students who graduate from the RCT school are well prepared for participation in high school and other performing arts venue departments and productions, and have successfully continued on to study the arts in their higher education and future careers. RCT plays a vital role in the community to ensure that arts education opportunities are available to k-12 students.

RCT’s fall production of “Annie” is currently under way with showings on October 14, 15, 21 and 22. The performances are held at the Ramona High School Theater and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information, click here.

Riverside Solar Projects Surpass 4 Megawatt Mark

The City of Riverside reached another solar milestone this week, surpassing the 4 megawatt (MW) mark. A megawatt is enough energy to power about 650 homes.

“This is another important milestone clearly indicating that Riverside is a model solar city,” said Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge. “Reaching this target confirms that our residents and business owners in Riverside are committed to their roles as stewards of the community and the environment.”

Solar projects have seen exponential growth in Riverside over the past few years as residents and businesses have taken advantage of rebate programs to help offset the costs of installing solar generation systems.

In just over a year, Riverside has doubled its solar output and now has more than 320 solar projects comprised of residential, commercial, and city projects generating clean solar energy (click here for map view of projects). Two 34.96 kilowatt (kW) systems, one at Hamblins Auto on Cypress Avenue and one at Champion Lumber Company on Chicago Avenue, helped push Riverside over the 4 MW mark.

“Our community is helping us meet our state-mandated renewable energy goals and we’re committed to projects that help the local economy.” said RPU’s General Manager, David H. Wright.

RPU began funding solar projects at city facilities in 2002. It has offered residential rebates since July 2003 and commercial rebates since January 2008. In that time, more than $14 million has been provided toward the development of solar generation in an effort to ensure Riverside remains a “green machine“.

Riverside’s Ramona High School Showcases Innovative Learning as the First Public High School in California to Go All Digital

(Article courtesy of the Press-Enterprise)

Carrying a tablet computer with a 7-inch screen is a lot easier than lugging around a backpack full of heavy textbooks — and more helpful too, Ramona High School students say.

“It’s better than textbooks,” senior Destiny Moore said.

Moore said she uses her tablet’s dictionaries, applications for teachers’ notes and the textbooks loaded on it.

Ramona is the first comprehensive public high school in California, and the third in the nation, to go all digital, Riverside Unified School District officials said. It replaced several hundred dollars worth of textbooks for each student with a single android tablet computer. Officials hope someday to replace textbooks at every school with similar devices.

The district purchased the Coby tablets for about $165 each with a $500,000 grant from the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology fund and $150,000 from Microsoft Office settlement funds, said Jay McPhail, director of instructional technology.

Tenth-grader Katelyn Kenzy said she not only uses her tablet for textbooks, she also looks up words she doesn’t know in both chemistry and Spanish classes.

When her Spanish teacher, Jacqueline Campos, gives directions in that language and Kenzy doesn’t understand a word, she looks it up right away, she said.

Earphones can be used to listen to foreign-language lessons too, Campos said.

Moore, one of Kenzy’s Spanish 2 classmates, said the device has its own calculator. She uses it to graph quadratic equations and parabolic curves in Algebra 2, and it helps her understand the concepts better.

She also appreciates an application that saves teachers’ presentations every day and each student’s work.

It automatically copies the notes teachers present in class every day and assignments as well as the student’s work. It reconnects and updates each time the device comes back to a wireless Internet connection, McPhail said.

Students are responsible for the device just like they are responsible for textbooks, he said.

Mary Davis, the mother of a ninth-grader, said she bought insurance the school offers through a third-party.

“For $32, I get the peace of mind that if it gets lost or broken, I don’t have to replace it,” she said.

Davis said she is learning to use it to check her son’s homework, assignments, grades and attendance.

Principal Susan Mills said such information is why Ramona got the grant. The school has offered parents three training sessions.

A single screen display shows each class on the student’s schedule and a green or red dot indicating whether the student turned in homework for that class. A touch of the teacher’s name shows assignments.

That screen also shows how many credits the student has earned and how many credits more he or she needs to graduate. It shows the student’s grade-point average and class rank as well.

Mills said teachers update students’ grades online every week.

Fairmount Park Named to Top Ten Great Public Spaces in America

Riverside’s Fairmount Park has been selected by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of ten ‘Great Public Spaces for 2011’ in the country.

The APA states that, “A public space may be a gathering spot or part of a neighborhood, downtown, special district, waterfront or other area within the public realm that helps promote social interaction and a sense of community.” Some of the past honorees include Central Park, NYC; Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica; the Ferry Building, San Francisco; and Union Station, Washington DC (for a full list of past recipients, click here).  The APA selects prospective sites and evaluates them based on a set of criteria to determine the final list Great Public Spaces. This criteria asks, how does the public space…

  • Capitalize on building design, scale, architecture, and proportionality to create interesting visual experiences, vistas, or other qualities?
  • Accommodate multiple uses/users? It is accessible via walking, biking, or public transit?
  • Use, protect, and enhance the environment and natural features?
  • Reflect the community’s local character and personality?
  • Foster social interaction and create a sense of community and neighborliness?
  • Provide a sense of comfort or safety to people gathering and using the space?
  • Encourage use and interaction among a diverse cross section of the public?

Fairmount Park is an historic Olmsted-designed park boasting 250 acres of open space and features Lake Evans, Brown Lake and Fairmount Lake; a bandshell; two tennis courts; the handicap-accessible universal playground; picnic facilities; rose gardens; fishing; golf course; lawn bowling green; barbecues and of course the restored historic Stewarts boathouse that includes rental pedal boats.

Whether it be children playing on the new universal playground, a family attending a concert in the park, or friends learning to sail on Lake Evans, Fairmount Park will always provide a rich history and limitless opportunities to engage with the community and feel connected to Riverside. For these reasons, it is no wonder that Fairmount Park was chosen as one of the ten Great Public Spaces for 2011.

To view the complete list of the APA’s ten Great Public Spaces, click here.

Garden Feast Celebrates Community and Sustainability

The Wood Streets Green Team is inviting Riverside residents to come get to know their community members better with a potluck featuring dishes made from home or locally grown vegetables on Sunday, October 16 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the RCC Alumni House (3564 Ramona Drive; Riverside, CA 92506).

The Green Team sponsors several workshops, seminars, and meetings throughout and the year and would like to celebrate the successes with a Garden Feast. A presentation of opportunities to get involved with the Green Team such as joining one of their work groups will be presented as well as a brief update on the progress of their community garden initiatives. This is a great way to reconnect with old friends or make new connections. The group will also reflect on past successes and create a vision for what the future holds.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share that is made with home grown vegetables or those purchased from local sources (may be vegetarian or not). The Green Team will provide dessert but guests should bring their own beverages, seating, plates, utensils and cups. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. and parking is limited. Please RSVP here to reserve your place.

The Woodstreets Green Team is an organization devoted to building community connections around green initiatives and encouraging sustainable living within the city .