Public Events

The Lake Merritt's Public Programs

We’re proud to present a variety of events which are open to the public and designed to be of special interest to Bay Area older adults and our residents.

Frequently our presenters include distinguished medical professionals and researchers, wellness coaches and top-notch care givers. We also present programs by local historians, naturalists and others who are happy to share their expertise with us.

Our goal is to provide our residents and friends with relevant information which enriches their life experience.



April 23rd @ 6:00pm
The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living
Educational Seminar:  Let's Lighten Up about Growing Older

As we know, growing older has many challenges!  How we decide to handle them can make all of the difference.  Laughter Yoga can help us take them more lightly.  Started by a medical doctor, it combines simple breathing exercises with group activities that simluate and stimulate laughter.  In this interactive session, participants learn easy and fun exercises which reduce stress, increase health, and spark connection.  The session includes the benefits of Laughter Yoga, a physical warn-up, and tips for applying Laughter Yoga in your everyday life.

Annie Goglia, Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, loves to serve as a joyful guide into the world of Laughter Yoga.  Annie leads dynamic and fun team building and stress reduction presentations for businesses and organizations, as well as training others to become Laughter Yoga leaders.  Annie founded the Oakland Lifefire Laughter Club in 2007, featured in Oakland Mazagine, the East Bay Medical Guide, and on CBS', Bay Sunday.  Much of her over 20 years in the human service field focused on working with elders.  She created and faciltates workshops, such as "Lightening Up about Growing Older," which she had produced locally as well as on the east coast. A skilled facilitator, Annie, has a Masters of Art in Teaching, and is trained as a Life Coach and InterPlay Leader. 

April 17th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Breathe Your Way to a Low-Stress Life

Join Bethany Hobbs, The Lake Merritt's Chair Yoga instructor, in a practice of reducing and managing stress.  We will use somatic (body-based) awareness techniques and simple breathe awareness to discover the ways that stress manifests in our bodies, and how to stay present, rather than get swept away in the unnecessary tensions of modern day living.  No previous yoga or meditation is necessary, appropriate for all.

April 9th @ 7:00pm
Passages on the Lake
The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar
Presented by ROAR and The Lake Merritt

This event is a sophisticated, spoken word showcase featuring the most talented storytellers, writers, and musicians in the Bay Area. It features the talents of Cybele Zufolo Siegel, Todd Siegel, Na'amen Tilahun, Sarah Fran Wisby, and Amy K. Bell.  Admission for this event is free.  The program begins at 7pm.  Enjoy dinner or cocktails with a stunning view of Lake Merritt while enjoying the very cutting edge of an old art form in a new medium.  The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar is located in The Lake Merritt.  We open for dinner at 5pm.

Cybele Zufolo Siegel's poetry and writing was recently chosen for the Quiet Lightening Reading Series.  Cybele was an Adjunct Instructor of Literature and Poetry at the City University of New York's Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2006, and Adjunct Instructor of English at the New York Institute of Technology since 2007.  Cybele is a grant recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Cybele has a Masters Degree in English Education from Columbia University Teachers College and a BA Degree In English/American Literature from UC Santa Cruz.  Cybele and her amazing husband Todd Siegel are the founders of the Word Performances reading series.  Cybele is thrilled to be working with such a talented and accomplished group of writers.

Todd Siegel is highly playful with language, writing live poetry within text messages and simply cannot stop himself from perpetual phrase turning while wandering with friends and his infinitely lovely wife, Cybele - with whom he co-produced this Word Performance series.  In particular, he's been designing user experiences, recently with Tempo AI, all while relentlessly endeavoring to innovate merch solutions to drive more revenue to music artists with Merchluv.  

Na'amen Tilahun is a fiction writer and poet still struggling to own those titles and unsure about what they really mean.  He also writes essays and makes a mean panna cotta.

Sarah Fran Wisby writes poetry, short fiction, memoirs and essays, preferring always to deepen and subvert genre by way of the hybrid form. Her book, Viva Loss, was published in 2008 by Small Desk Press.  Recent work can be found in Eleven Eleven Journal and Rumpus Women Volume 1, and heard on Invisible Cities Audio Tour #2:  The Armada of Golden Dreams.  She's also been published in Instant City, Sparkle, and Blink, Digital Artifact, and The Encyclopedia Project Volume 2, F--K, for which she was honored to write the entry for F--K.  She performs her work all over the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, and was a Literary Death Match champion in December 2010.

Amy K. Bell writes fiction and poetry.  Her long poem, Book of Sibyl, was published as a chapbook by The Gorilla Press in 2013.  Her work has been published in Sparkle & Blink and is forthcoming in The Tusk and JERRY Magazine.  She is currently working on a short novel, Bald Mountain, which she hopes will cure her of apocalypse dread. 

April 3rd @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt

Music & Mindfulness

Join us to explore the connection between music, sounds, silence, body and meditation.  Together we will sing and chant traditional chants and modern music and experience how it can affect and change our consciousness.  No musical or singing experience is needed.  Lior is a professional musician and a graduate of the Voice, Sound and Music Healing program at the California Institute of Integral studies and the Vox Mundi School of Voice and Transformation.  He has also received training in Hakomi, and body and mindfulness oriented form of psychotherapy.

March 27th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Art History Lecture Series:  Georgia O'Keefe

A docent from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco will present an art history lecture on the new exhibit Modern Nature:  Georgia O’Keefe and Lake George at the DeYoung Museum of SF.  “From 1918 until the early 1930s, Georgia O’Keeffe retreated annually to Alfred Stieglitz’s family estate on Lake George in upstate New York, where she reveled in the discovery of new subject matter and found respite in the rural setting without the distractions of city life. O’Keeffe’s experiences there inspired one of the most transformative and productive periods of her career, energizing the development of her signature modernist style….From magnified botanical compositions to panoramic landscapes, the works in this exhibition offer a deeper understanding of the spirit of place that was essential to O'Keeffe's artistic evolution.”

March 26th @ 10:45am - 1:45pm
The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living
Bone Health Fair for Adults over 45 

Strong Bones for a Healthy Life! Hear the latest on bone health from Dr. David Karpf, an adjunct professor of endorcrinology at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He sees patients with osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.  He is a UC Berkeley graduate, received his medical degree from UC San Diego, and completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at UCLA/Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.  This was followed by a fellowship in metabolic bone disease in the endocrine bone unit at UCSF.

Experience a number of individualized screenings to make sure you’re good to go. Enjoy a complimentary bone healthy lunch from our awesome Lake Merritt chefs! Valet Parking will be available between 10am-2pm. Please register at

March 20th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Latino/a Poetry

In February, we discussed our favorite poems by African-American writers, and in honor of National Poetry Month, Johanna Leonard, Executive Director, will continue her readings with an emphasis on poems by Latino/a writers.  Please bring your favorite poem(s) to share.

March 13th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Oakland District 3 Councilperson Lynette McElhaney

Join us and meet Oakland District 3 Councilperson Lynette McElhaney.  She will give us an update on the goings-on of our District 3 as well as the City of Oakland. 

March 6th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
All That Racket (& More):  Why Rock and Roll Deserves Your Respect

Rock music has often been relegated to the category of less "serious" artistic pursuits and looked down upon as a cheap musical diversion.  But a closer look reveals a sophisticated, diverse art form that has given rise to many of the strongest musical and social currents of the last 60+ years - all the while consciously etching its place in the grand succession of musical history.  Join Programming Director Ryan Wilcox to explore the fascinating history, psychology and ideology of Rock & Roll.  Rather than try to explain or promote a whole series of arts forms in an hour-and-a-half, we will focus on cultivating a general understanding and appreciation of rock & roll music, and the many impulses from which it so vibrantly springs.  Music lovers, skeptics and rock and rollers will all find something to enjoy in this fun and fascinating presentation.

February 27th @ 3:30pm
Converations at The Lake Merritt
African-American Poetry

In honor of Black History Month, join Suzanne Fried, MA, MFA, to read and discuss YOUR favorite poem(s) by an Africa-American poet.  

February 24th @ 5:30pm - 6:30pm
The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living
Educational Seminar:  Heart Sense - Men's Symptoms v. Women's Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States – more people will die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer combined. The symptoms may be different for men than for women; if you know what to look for, you may save a life. Cardiologist Eric Johnson will discuss the symptoms of heart attacks in men and women, as well as prevention and treatment of heart disease.  Presented by Alta Bates.

February 20th @ 3:30pm
Converations at The Lake Merritt
Terry Carroll's Relationships"  A Photographic Journey

Terry Carroll is a talented professional photographer and author.  His first photography book, Relationships, is an eye-popping world tour that focuses on moments of human connection.  Carroll's knack for finding subjects of cultural intrigue and nuances of interaction make this a fascinating and beautiful look into the human condition.  Mr. Carroll will present slides from the book, as well as unpublished photographs.  Photography buffs - don't miss this presentation!

February 19th @ 6:30pm-9pm
The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar
Passages on the Lake
Presented by ROAR and The Lake Merritt

This event is a sophisticated, spoken word showcase featuring the most talented storytellers, writers, and musicians in the Bay Area.  It features the talents of Candy Shue, Joe Clifford, Joyce Lee, Jon Sindell, and Andrew O. Dugas.  Admission for this event is free. This program begins at 7pm.  Enjoy dinner and/or cocktails with a stunning view of Lake Merritt while enjoying the very cutting edge of an old art in a new medium.  The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar is located in The Lake Merritt.  We open for dinner at 5pm.

Candy Shue writes promiscuously and often.  Her poems and stories have been published in, Poemeleon,, Washington Square, The Rambler, PifOnline, Paragraph, and other journals.  She is currently in the MFA in Writing Program at USF and would one day like to see an aurora borealis in person, preferably while staying at the Alta Igloo Ice Hotel in Norway, where guests sleep on ice beds and the ice bar serves drinks in glasses made of ice.

Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive.  He also produces Lip Service West, a "gritty, real, raw" reading series in Oakland, CA.  Joe is the author of three books:  Choice Cuts and Wake the Undertaker (Snubmose Press), and Junkie Love (Battered Suitcase Press).  Joe's writing can be found at

Joyce Lee is a writer, poet, storyteller, performer and educator from Oakland, CA.  She has toured the East Coast and performed at venues across the United States including Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Yoshi's, First Annual Oakland Gay Pride Parade, 106 KMEL Street Soldiers, NPR SnapJudgement Storytelling, Berkeley Poetry Slam, San Francisco Poetry Slam, and Harbin Hot Springs in Sonoma County.  Joyce performs with a live jazz band, Valerie Troutt and Fear of a Fat Planet Crew.  She is the 2009 and 2010 Oakland Grand Slam Champion.

Jon Sindell writes fiction in San Francisco and reads his work publicly throughout the Bay Area.  He is a personal tutor in English and History.  The author of the baseball (and more) novel The Mighty Roman cried at six when the Dodgers blew the pennant, found strength on the mound at the age of eleven, rashly quit the baseball team at fifteen, and was reborn as a ballplayer in his thirties.  He lives with his wife and near fledgings, and spends non-writing time hiking the Northern California coast.  He encourages readers to connect with him at Jon Sniddel Fiction - where lots of his fiction may be viewed - or on Facebook.

Andrew O. Dugas' fiction and poetry have most recently appeared in LITnIMAGE, Fiction 365, Instant City, Flatmancrooked, SoMa Literary Review, Unlikely Stories 2.0, Bear Creek Haiku, and Poems Niederngasse.  He is regularly invited to read at local literary events, including San Francisco's city-wide Litquake Festival.  A graduate of Ithaca College, he's also a 2-year veteran of the Creative Writing Workshop at Cornell University.  He is the creator of "Daily Haiku by Andy" and is the author of the forthcoming Numina press novel "Sleepwalking in Paradise."  Read reprints of his published work FREE at Scribd.

February 13th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Acting 101:  Play Reading Circle

Anyone can experience the joy and transforming experience of speaking as a character in a play.  You are invited to come to a play reading circle.  Join Susannah of Time Well Spent to read a short play.  No acting ability or experience required.  Everyone will get a chance to read lines from a script, IF YOU WANT TO.  Observers welcome.

February 6th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Race & Education

In honor of Black History Month, student members of the UC Berkeley's Black Law Journal will give a presentation and lead a discussion on race and education.  Why are there still disparities in admission, enrollment and graduation rates?  What is being done about it on local, state and federal levels?  What is the experience of minority students in higher education?  Is the idea of affirmative action dead?  How do we address the so-called "achievement gap?"  Explore these pressing questions with some of the Bay Area's best and brightest students, as they will help you see education and its relationship to race in a whole new light. 

January 30th @ 3:30pm 
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Fumes and Fine Dust by Vilma Vitanza

Anyone uneasy with the toxins in our environment will be fascinated by this page-turning account of laboratory science without safeguards, denial, political irresponsibility, medical diagnosis for hire; but also worlds within and without.  Fumes and Fine Dust will serve as an important benchmark for all concerned with workplace exposure to brain-damaging toxicity.  It traces the long journey of a fractured soul through the many obstacles into a reintegration born of all the things that Vitanza found to restore herself to wholeness:  introspection, dancing, singing, and the awakening of a union with nature itself.  Please join Vilma Vitanza for a reading of this new release. 

January 29th @ 6:00pm - 7:00pm
The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living
Educational Seminar:  HELP! My Parents are Aging...What Do I Do Next?

Have you seen a decline in your parent(s)? Are there things that are slipping through the cracks that you have recently noticed?  Kristy Galavan, RN & Director of Patient Services and Susan Anderson, Geriatric Care Manager at Sutter Care at Home, a home care and home health agency, will help you determine when it may be time to consider additional help for your parent or moving he or she to a senior community.  They will provide a series of questions that you need to ask yourself about the living situation of your parent.  Sutter Care at Home Private Care Services is a member of the Sutter Health family providing non-medical home care and geriatric care management.  Admission free.

January 23rd @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr Holiday - "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

Join Executive Director Johanna Leonard to read and discuss this landmark missive by this legendary American clergyman, activist, humanitarian, and leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

January 16th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Women's Poetry & Potluck Salon

Four (4) members of the Women's Poetry & Potluck Salon will read from their works.  The Salon is a loosely affiliated group of Bay Area women professional published writers of poetry and prose, who meet regularly.  They air new or theme-based work for one another's enjoyment and support one another in our literary endeavors. They share food for mind and body.  

Grace Marie Grafton's book, Jester, came out November 2013 from Hip Pocket Press.  She had published five other collections of poetry.  Whimsy, Reticence and Laud/unruly sonnets, 2012 from Poetic Matrix Press; prose poems, Other Clues, 2010, from Latitude Press.  Chrysanthemum Oratorio, 2010, a chapbook, is available from Dancing Girl Press.  Her poetry won first prize in the Soul Making contest (PEN women, San Francisco), in the annual Bellingham Review contest, an Honorable Mention from Anderbo and Sycamore Review, and was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Poems recently appeared in Ambush Review, Anderbo, The Offending Adam, California Quarterly, Theodate, and others.  She taught for thirty years in the CA Poets In The Schools program.

Eva Schlesinger is the author of the chapbooks, Remembering the Walker and Wheelchair: poems of grief and healing, View From My Banilla Vanilla Villa, and Ode 2 Codes & Codfish.  Her poetry has received the Literal Latte Food Verse Award, been a finalist for Writer's Digest's Red Heart-Black Heart Contest, as well as the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Competition.  Her humor blog at is frequently an editor's pick, and she has completed a young adult novel.

Zara Raab
's poems evoke the rainy darkness of the remote Northern California coast where her family has lived for almost two hundred years.  They are collected in four books:  The Book of Gretel, Swimming the Eel, Fracas& Asylum, and Rumpelstiltkin, a finalist for the Dana Award.  Her poems, reviews, and essays appear in Evansville Review, River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, The Dark Horse, and Poet Lore.  A contributing editor for Redwood Coast Review and Poetry Flash, she lives near the San Francisco Bay.

Judy Juanita
's first novel, Virgin Soul, is a coming-of-age story whose protagonist joins the Black Panther Party in the sixties in the Bay Area.  Viking Penguin released Virgin Soul in April 2013.  Her poetry has been published widely, and seventeen of her plays have won prizes and been performed at Loyola Marymount University, Ohio State University, Laney College; in Minneapolis, Berkeley, SF, Oakland; by the SF Mime Troupe; at Humbolt State University, BRAVA! Theatre, the MARSH, Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2004, and the National Black Theater Festival, Winston-Salem, NC.

She has an MFA in creative writing and BA in psychology from San Francisco State Unversity and taught writing at Laney College for the past two decades.  A native of Berkeley, Juanita was raised in an Oakland that had excellent schools, an Easter parade down E. 14th Street, and a severe color line that created a fierce unity among black people.

Questions and discussion are welcomed by the readers.  

January 9th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Art Lecture Series:  Matisse from SFMOMA

A docent from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco will present an art history lecture on Henri Matisse.  “Celebrating the Bay Area’s long standing enthusiasm for Henri Matisse, Matisse from SFMOMA traces four decades of the artist’s career- from his early Cezanne inspired still life to his richly patterned and brightly colored figural paintings made in the 1920s and 1930s.  This intimate exhibition features 23 paintings, drawings and bronzes from the internationally acclaimed collection of works by Matisse at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) joined by two paintings and two drawings from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco’s own important holdings. 

December 18th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
"A Christmas Memory"

Join Kimberly Huhta with Time Well Spent to read and discuss this poignant holiday story by this classic American author.

December 12th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
The Practice of Loving Kindness

Suzanne Fried, MA, MFT will guide us in how to open our hearts and stop our relentless inner critic.  Pali is the language at the Buddha spoke and metta is the Pali word for loving kindness, it is also the word for friendliness, good will, and active interest in others.  The Buddha taught his disciples this spirtual practice as a way to lead them to "the liberation of the heart which is love."  Join us and learn how to open your heart to compassion for yourself and others during this holiday season and beyond.


December 5th @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Art History Lecture Series:  Anders Zorn - Swedish Master Painter

A docent from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco will present an art history lecture on Anders Zorn.  "One of the most famous living artists at the turn of the 20th century, Anders Zorn (1860-1920) dazzled the art world with his bravura paintings, watercolors, and etchings.  In Paris he emulated the Impressionists as a chronicler of modern life, while in America he rivaled John Singer Sargent as the most sought-after portraitist of glittering high society.  Featuring 100 rarely seen works drawn from public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States, this major retrospective promises to be a revelation for those yet to discover the vibrant artistic personality of Sweden's master painter. 

November 14th @ 3:30pm
Converations at The Lake Merritt
Celebrating United Nations Day 2013

Suzanne Fried, MA, MFA, will facilitate a discussion which will take us from the beginnings of the United Nations (i.e. League of Nations) to its present day.  We will also discuss whether the concept of the United Nations is working in its current form. 

November 19th @ 7:00pm
The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar
Passages on the Lake

This event is a sophisticated, spoken word showcase featuring the most talented storytellers, writers, and musicians in the Bay Area.  It features the talents of Kaye DeMartini, Matthew James DeCoster, Maw Shein Win, and musical guest Dawn Oberg.  Admission for this event is free.  This program begins at 7pm.  Enjoy dinner and/or cocktails with a stunning view of Lake Merritt while enjoying the very cutting edge of an old art in a new medium.  The Terrace Room Restaurant & Bar is located in The Lake Merritt.  We open for dinner at 5pm.

Matthew James DeCoster is a graduate of San Francisco State University's Creative Writing program.  He is currently working on his MFA, his novel Helen Flanders, a short story "Look at the White Boy Run" and his Carol Channing impression.  He likes the serious Woody Allen movies, rusted lawn furniture, and cooking quinoa.  He has been published in sParkle and bLink,, and SFWire.  He has been featured at:  Quiet Lighting, Anger Management, Clattering Loom, InsideStorytime, Portguese Artists Colony, Lit Crawl, BANG OUT, and Beast Crawl.  He serves on the LitCrawl Executive Committee ( and the staff of Lit Camp ( 

 Kay DeMartini is one of the top performers and impresarios in today's national storytelling scene.  She is the founder and producer of Busting Out  Storytelling at the Fox Theater's Den.  A refugee from the world of stand-up comedy, she has performed with Fireside, Snap Judgment, Bawdy Storytelling,  Toastmasters and many more.  She's from the mid-west and doesn't think a meal is complete unless it includes cottage cheese and toothpicks. 

 Maw Shein Win's poetry has appeared in various journals such as 2River, No Tell Motel Moria, and Big Bridge and more recently The Fabulist. She was an  AIR at Headlands Center for the Arts and is a freelancer at the SF Writer's Grotto.  Her most recent poetry chapbook is Ruins of a glittering  palace (SPA/Commonwealth Projects) and has work forthcoming in Forklift, Ohio and the anthology Cross-Strokes (Otis Books/Seismiccity Editions).

Dawn Oberg is a San Francisco-based songwriter who writes about drinking, good life, bad life, plant life, lingerie, cooking and more.  In her spare time, she photographs tourists by the Golden Gate Bridge.


November 21st @ 3:30pm
Conversations at The Lake Merritt
Local Transportation:  Knowledge is Mobility

Kimberly Ridgeway of AC Transit will discuss AC Transit routes in our neighborhood and provide comprehensive materials on Clipper cards and local transit options. Paratransit, taxi scripts, and BART will also be discussed.  Don't miss this session tailored to the needs and interests of residents of The Lake Merritt and our neighbors. Schedules will also be provided amd mobility/disability concerns will be addressed.