Town Crier: Sierra Club volunteers busy greening Montclair


Sierra Club volunteers Jeremy Besmer and Robin Kutner plant a tree on Montclair’s Merced Avenue. (Ginny Prior/For Bay Area News Group)

Robin Kutner and Jeremy Besmer have been busy greening Montclair, one block at a time. I ran into the Sierra Club volunteers on Merced Avenue alongside Safeway recently. They were busting up some rock-hard soil to put in a tree that will “spruce up” the streetscape. It seemed like hard work, but Kutner said they were driven to do something meaningful.

“After the election, I was thinking about the environment and looking online and thinking ‘How can regular people help?’ You need money, and I’m 24 and he’s 26,” she said, “so we don’t have a ton of that.”

Then Kutner found the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club Tree Team ( — an group that resulted from the city of Oakland’s move to cut the budget for tree maintenance and replanting.

“This is the one thing we saw where we could physically show up and do something,” Kutner says.

In the past few months, she says, volunteers have planted eight trees in Montclair. It’s been some time since Montclair Village got this kind of attention from outside help. Your kindness spurs us to keep working for Oakland and Montclair.

Food for thought: Want to open a fast-food restaurant and have lines around the block? The Walnut Creek Chick-Fil-A is so busy at lunchtime that the manager goes out to direct traffic. What folks put up with to get that finger-lickin’ chicken! But then, it does come with a free side of kindness and often a “bless you” to boot.

Scout shout-out: Oakland Cadette Troop 32058 has earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouting. Each girl put in at least 40 hours of work in a research project on the challenges of protecting birds from wind turbines. Then they took their findings to the Alameda County Planning Commission, urging the commission to require better turbine technology from energy companies as part of their repermitting process. Let’s hope the commission follows through.

Animal tales: What do stray cats do in the rain? The fluffy white kitty that lives behind Rite Aid gets plenty of food (empty cat food cans are everywhere), but her shelter is questionable. If only she would trust the hands that feed her and let volunteers catch her to make sure she’s fixed. Then, at least she won’t have kittens to take care of too.

And speaking of animals, medicinal marijuana for your pet is a thing now, and you can buy cannabis for your canine through several Oakland-based companies. The hemp chews come in dog bone-shaped treats with flavors like pumpkin and blueberry and are sold in pet shops, dispensaries and online. Scooby Dooby Doo, anyone?

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.


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