Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

The Elves of Berkeley

I never believed in elves until I wrote a fantasy novel with my eldest son over the summer. Now they seem to be cropping up all over the place. Both my sons are desperate to get me hooked on a strategic game called Magic: The Gathering. I do love the art work and none more so than the elves.

What on earth has this got to do with a political left coast blog?

Two weeks ago, I tried to persuade my 7-year-old that elves are real (heck, he has no problem with the tooth fairy, though I don’t appreciate the winged one’s line of credit). My son remained skeptical but then we received a printed note from the Rosa Parks (the name of his school) Bike Elves.

It seems that these elves are very committed to encouraging young people to bike to school (and elsewhere). They (magically?) appear at the school and decorate the bikes at the bike rack with colorful ribbons. Now they are offering other incentives to young cyclists such as an ice cream social after school one night and to receive raffle tickets with cool prizes for riding to school.

I don’t know who these elves are, but one of them, Stephanie is willing to help children and parents map a safe route to school (I wonder if elves rely on google maps or prefer a GPS?).

In most fantasy novels, the elves have a great respect for the earth. In Berkeley, they are taking practical steps to help our youngsters embrace a healthy and socially responsible lifestyle.

Gotta love those elves!


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com




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5 thoughts on “The Elves of Berkeley

  1. On Christmas Day it is very nice to depart from the serious business taking on the multi-nationals, those who’d rape the environment, or bellow mean-spirited political slogans.

    Thanks for a sweet story of light-hearted activism.

  2. I wish you the gift of Faith, the Blessing of Hope and the Peace of his Love at Christmas and always

  3. It is always pleasure to read your site, will back here soon

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