Introducing our New Programming Coordinator

by Johanna Leonard, Executive Director
November 2013

The Lake Merritt is excited to introduce our new Programming Coordinator to you. Meet Ryan Wilcox. Ryan assumed the Programming Coordinator position in mid-September and he has already made a big difference to our community.

In the short time he has been on staff, he has added new activities to our calendar. One of them is "Dining at the Spanish Table." Several residents had expressed the desire to practice their Spanish and Ryan set it up. All residents are welcome to come to The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar on Wednesday nights to enjoy dinner at a special table where they may only speak Spanish. All must order in Spanish and speak in Spanish. Diners are even served by a Spanish-speaking server. It is great fun! Last week, we had 10 residents come down to participate.

In addition, Ryan has also amped up our musicial activities. There are more outings to musical events on the calendar and Ryan himself is helping the new Lake Merritt choir as they practice between their more structured semi-monthly sessions.

Ryan is not new to our community. Prior to working for The Lake Merritt, Ryan was a caregiver for ResCare Home Care, one of our preferred partners for home care. He has been a familar face to our many residents in his work at The Lake Merritt over the past few years. Previously, Ryan facilitated a weekly discussion group about health and philosophy-oriented issues titled "Rappin' with Ryan," which he has continued to lead. With all this experience, Ryan hit the ground running and has not stopped.

Ryan has been involved in helping others for some time. His first job, after graduating UC Berkeley, was working for AmeriCorps as a teacher. He then worked at an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood and later as a counselor in a group home for emotionally disturbed teenage boys.

Ryan lives in Oakland. He loves music and goes to many concerts, ranging from classical to world music and beyond. He is a SF Giants fan, but he does support the Oakland A's. We will have to work on changing his allegiance with baseball. No one can be perfect!



Itsy Bitsy Spiders and More

by Johanna Leonard, Executive Director
October 2013

The Lake Merritt has a weekly Lecture Series titled "Conversations at The Lake Merritt," which is free and open to the public. We invite individuals and groups to come in and talk about a specific topic or book or their business. It's been great! We've heard from Oakland's own poets during readings from a women's salon, listened to today's political figures, plus we've enjoyed health and educational medical presentations from Alta Bates Summit's doctors, plus we've had fun with local comedians who have made us laugh (early in the afternoon!) and much more.

This past Thursday, we invited Eddie Dunbar of the Insect Museum of California to speak to our residents. Previously, we enjoyed presentations from the animal caretakers of the Oakland Zoo and it was a big hit!! So, I thought, "Hmm, maybe someone will be interested in learning about the insects around Lake Merritt?" I have to admit that it sounded good to me at the moment, but I second guessed myself from day one. I had serious doubts that anyone would come.

Eddie Dunbar

Well, imagine my surprise, when I walked in the room to see how many people were present. There were over 20 people in the audience enraptured by Eddie. We learned about the over 144 insects that live around Lake Merritt. His pictures of insects were so high resolution as to be simply spectacular! My second surprise was that our audience was not just watching; but afterwards they were chatting it up with Eddie - sharing about camping trips and hikes, and the many insects that they have seen during their lifetime. "Conversations" last week turned out to be a bug-lover's convention! Lady Bug

Eddie Dunbar's love of insects really shined through and brought everyone along for the ride. Eddie, thank you for a wonderful presentation. To all of you who have never heard of the Insect Museum of California, you can learn a lot more at



Picture This!

by Randall Berger, Owner
September 2013

I have had the pleasure of seeing many of Bob Lustig's watercolors since he moved into The Lake Merritt from his long-time hom ein Montclair earlier this year. Bob's artwork is influenced by his many years as an accomplished Bay Area architect.

Some of my favorite pieces of artwork are Bob's interpretation of the stunning beauty of the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the-Sea and the historic Spanish Missions. It is a magical place that Bob Lustig has loved and also one that my family has treasured for many years. Bob's Carmel watercolors got us to talking about art and started our friendship.

Today, in his 80s, Bob is still being commissioned to create pictorial representations and construction drawings of Bay Area buildings. In fact, because of how effective he is with water and paints, he has a special talent that translates the look and feel of a three-dimensional building into a two-dimensional painting.

This gave me an idea. Given the historic nature of our building, I asked Bob to consider creating a watercolor for us. I know he has a lot going on, but I asked if he minded doing a painting for me sometime. I suggested that there was no rush. He could choose the perspective and composed it the way he would like.

The painting is done! I am thrilled with the result which is pictured here. Visit the lobby of our building and soon you will have a chance to view the artwork up close. Check out the piece and notice the special touches - the beauty of the sky and the attention to small details, including the shadows on the windows. I hope you enjoy this piece of art as much as I do!



Our Trip to Oakland Zoo!

by Johanna Leonard, Executive Director
July 2013

GiraffeToday, I learned that the Zoo is for everyone, whether you are 2 years old or 92 years old. Thirteen people from The Lake Merritt took a trip to the Oakland Zoo. We went “in style.” We reserved a docent-led tram tour, which basically means that we drove around the Zoo in golf carts with incredibly educated docents. Of the thirteen that went, ten people has never been to the Oakland Zoo. The remaining had been there at some point, but it had been many moons since they visited, and it is an entirely new zoo.

Everyone was had a wonderful time. We drove all around and saw elephants, chimpanzees, gibbons, exotic birds, meerkats, zebras, vultures and giraffes. They were beautiful creatures in a such a beautiful setting.

Our favorite animal was the “two legged darter.” This creature is about 2 to 3 feet high. Their age range is from 1 to 3 years old. They like to eat ice cream sandwiches and they get their name because they “dart” from one animal to another without any attention to their surroundings. Their mothers did a lot of running around themselves.

While we were leaving, I asked our residents if they wanted to come back, and there was a resounding “yes.” When I asked them if they wanted to go to the San Francisco Zoo, they said “no,” as no Zoo could compare to the Oakland Zoo. Go OAKLAND!! We are very lucky to have such a wonderful place in our beloved City of Oakland.