Couple returns to Russia after emigrating 30 years ago

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

Community Life, Sept. 23, 2010

Every spring, mothers and fathers across the country field gift requests from their children, mementos of impending college graduations. The lists can read like miniature wedding registries, items ranging from baubles like pearl earrings and designer watches to extravagant jaunts island-hopping with friends along the Grecian coast. But when Inna Kuts’s daughter, Becky, was graduating this past May, she had a comparatively puritan request: a family trip to her parents’ homeland, Russia. Read More »

‘Tom’s field of dreams’

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

Community Life, Aug. 26, 2010

More than 100 people gathered on Sulak Lane last Thursday afternoon, chowing down on burgers and corn on the cob, singing along to familiar tunes by the Who and the Byrds, and vying for shade beneath the trees until the last warm specks of sunlight disappeared behind nearby roofs. It seemed like a scene out of a movie, a stereotypical late-summer hurrah as friends, old and new, shook hands, doled out hugs, told stories and wiped away tears shed as much out of laughter as sadness.

Tom Lehmann, the man whom all had gathered to remember and celebrate as the creator of Woodland Gardens, a unique housing complex for disabled people, definitely would have approved.

“In the immortal words of Tom,” said Jack Kreismer, Lehmann’s longtime friend, as he took the microphone: “While you’re up, can you get me a beer?” Read More »

Going Uptown?

Rising above a bad rep in urban Oakland.

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

East Bay Monthly, August 2010

Photo by Spiral-A Photography.

Photo by Spiral-A Photography.

Pedicab driver Ken Lin-Ott is often heard before he is seen, the sound of his bike bell announcing his appearance on a dark street in downtown Oakland. Meeting a stranger, the lanky, bespectacled 31-year-old is quick to offer tips on exploring the city’s burgeoning entertainment scene in the northern downtown area known as Uptown. Nightlife lovers could do worse than accept his friendly advice: Follow Lin-Ott around for an evening, and you’ll discover that this unprepossessing man is on a first-name basis with bouncers and bartenders at Oakland’s hottest nightspots.

You might call Lin-Ott a pedicab driver with a dream: a passionate booster of the city where he lives, he hopes his efforts will make his adopted home a better place to live, work, and play. Especially play. Read More »

Raising funds and awareness of a rare disease

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

Community Life, June 24, 2010

Westwood – David Saunders was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with a disease he’d never heard of: primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Doctors discovered the ominous-sounding disease – which affects the bile ducts inside and outside the liver – by accident, while running a set of routine blood tests. While the PSC had already begun to ravage his bile ducts, causing them to slowly become scarred, narrowed and blocked, Saunders felt no pain and exhibited no symptoms. For years, the disease would remain a sort of mystery to the patient and his family.

A decade later, the PSC made its presence known. Read More »