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10 things you can still do in Palo Alto (while keeping your social distance)

Here's how to expand your world while staying in your own backyard

A week and a half into the stay-at-home order that's hopefully flattening the curve of the coronavirus contagion, and the roaring engine of Silicon Valley has grown eerily quiet.

Inside our houses and apartments, we wonder: Is anyone else here? What are other people doing?

Even those using the technology of video conferencing for work and schooling are feeling an odd sense of disconnection and dislocation. The world has shrunk to fit into the screen of a laptop. Our full-throated lives have turned into mere pantomime.

But fortunately, despite the loss of routine, social contact and freedom to get around, there are still options for things to do in Palo Alto other than binge-watching Netflix and taking the dog for another walk.

All around us, local arts organizations, community groups, businesses and neighborhoods have been busy trying to keep life and community going, albeit in unique ways.

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For those who are healthy and able to get outside, here are some ideas for staying connected to the broader Palo Alto community. And if you are in quarantine or otherwise housebound, don't worry: There are also activities you can engage in from the great indoors that will expand your world.

Read on for the Weekly's top 10 things you can still do in Palo Alto.

1. Walk or bike to parks and landmarks.

In its March 16 stay-at-home order, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department stated: "Spending time outside improves mood and well-being. ... You can go for walks, go to the park and engage in other similar activities" — with the proper social distance of 6 feet between you and others, of course. That's good news because with the rain this past week, gardens and neighborhood parks are looking more vibrant than ever. At Palo Alto's Gamble Garden on Embarcadero Road, tulips are blooming, and the Barron Park donkeys, Perry and Jenny, in Bol Park, 3590 Laguna Ave., are currently welcoming in-person visitors during the day. (Go to barronparkdonkeys.org for more information.)

Other options: the Stanford Dish and Stanford University campus, which have wide paths. Be wise, though, and don't enter an area if many people are there already. (Update: On April 2, Stanford issued an alert stating the Stanford Dish will be closed beginning 5 p.m. on April 3 due to a "persistent minority" of people not complying with public health and safety measures.)

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And if you choose to visit an open space preserve, you'll want to bike or walk there; Palo Alto has closed parking lots at the preserves to prevent crowds.

2. Enjoy the performing arts.

The curtains are up — online — for a few Palo Alto area performing arts groups. TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's northern California premiere of Laurel Ollstein's "They Promised Her the Moon" is the story of world record-holding aviator Jerrie Cobb, who was selected as the first female astronaut candidate and fought to fly among the stars. The well-received production was forced to shutter a week after beginning performances on March 4, but a recording of the show can now be viewed via digital streaming. Tickets start at $15. Go to theatreworks.org/201920-season/moon-livestream.

If children's music is what your family is looking for, the Magical Bridge Foundation is hosting concerts and singalongs by a variety of local artists every day at noon on its Facebook page. On Saturday, singer/songwriter and educator Andy Zamenes will be live in virtual concert. His show, plus recorded past performances of other performers, are viewable at facebook.com/MagicalBridge.

3. Explore the city's eLibrary.

Sure, Mitchell Park, Rinconada and the smaller branch libraries are closed, but the city of Palo Alto's vast eLibrary is open. With your library card, you can check out ebooks, audiobooks, music and films. How about taking advantage of this down time to learn a foreign language? Or use the e-resources to bone up on Renaissance history or trace your family's genealogy. There are also resources accessible to those without a library card, so what are you waiting for? Go to library.cityofpaloalto.org/online-resources and find something that interests you.

4. Start something good in your 'hood.

From Barron Park to Community Center to Midtown, residents of Palo Alto are proving that joy can be contagious. Ideas for spreading cheer range from the simple, like a daily 6 p.m. "wave" in which neighbors come to their front yards and share smiles and greetings from a safe distance, to the more creative, such as drawing chalk art on streets and sidewalks for others to enjoy. One trending idea: "bear hunts" or "neighborhood safaris," in which stuffed animals are placed in homes' front windows for neighborhood children to spot when they're out walking. All you need is a willingness to put your idea out there via email, NextDoor.com or Facebook. Or even by calling your neighbors on the phone. Imagine that.

5. Support the local economy: Order takeout or delivery.

Remember the restaurant you've always wanted to try? Now might be a good time to get some of its grub. Restaurants are struggling financially because of the mandated closure of their dining rooms, but they're trying to keep afloat by offering dishes for takeout and delivery. For a map of dining establishments that are awaiting your orders, go to paloaltoonline.com/restaurants.

6. Get your hands dirty by gardening.

Really, there's no excuse this spring for ignoring your garden, whether it be a full backyard or a patio full of potted flowers. Gardening has been shown to provide therapeutic benefits. If getting fresh plants or gardening supplies would help you get motivated, SummerWinds Nursery in south Palo Alto is providing curbside pickup and home delivery of its goods. Because the store is closed to in-person shoppers, you need to call in your order (650-493-5136).

7. Volunteer to help others.

In this time of crisis, those who are not healthy, financially well off or surrounded by loved ones may need assistance because of sudden unemployment or social isolation. Happily, Palo Alto's enterprising residents are jumping in to help, and you can join them. Howard Kushlan of Professorville started a Google list for people who are willing to do things for others like run errands, walk dogs and get much-needed medication. Go to tinyurl.com/helpPA to sign up.

The city of Palo Alto is also seeking to organize volunteers and those who need assistance. See cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus for more information. And if you are able to give blood, there's currently a shortage at the Stanford Blood Center — and there's no risk to your health from donating blood. Go to stanfordbloodcenter.org.

8. Take in some visual art — or make your own.

Now you could press your nose against the windows of the Palo Alto Art Center and peer in, but you'll see much more by taking a virtual tour of its recent tree-themed exhibit, "Rooted: Trees in Contemporary Art." In this unique show, created in partnership with the nonprofit Canopy, "artists from around the world use trees as subject, symbol and medium to illuminate the world around us," the Art Center states. The virtual tour, at canopy.org/rooted-exhibit-2020, offers photos, videos and bonus features. For those wanting to get more hands-on, artist Sam Price is holding free virtual collage classes on Fridays at 11 a.m. It's for kids and family members of all ages and can be found at paacf.org/collage-with-sam-price.html.

9. Listen to an uplifting message.

Faith leaders in the area scrambled to move their weekly services online after the county's March 16 order banned all gatherings. As a result, the inspirational messages often heard only by those inside the walls of churches and synagogues are now online for all to hear. This past week, the topic was "The Pursuit of Happiness" at Menlo Church (Menlo.Church/messages), while at First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, Pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow discussed the temptations of power and control during his church's livestreaming service (facebook.com/fpcpaloalto). Congregation Beth Am of Los Altos Hills held an online discussion of "Judaism in times of crisis" (betham.org/virtual), and Rev. Kaloma Smith of the University AME Zion Church in Palo Alto spoke on "The Antidote to Anxiety," which can be viewed at facebook.com/universityamez (special bonus: gospel music with singers and a band).

10. Spend some screen time with someone isolated.

Finally, technology has made it so that isolation doesn't have to equate to loneliness. Through free apps easily downloadable onto tablets and laptop computers, including FaceTime, Skype and Zoom, people can reach out for conversation. Co-workers are organizing virtual happy hours online to stay connected to each other, and other people are reaching out to relatives or friends who live alone to talk or play games. If you need help with technology, go to YouTube.com and search for "How to use FaceTime" (or Skype or Zoom) for instructional videos. Or contact Avenidas senior center, which offers resources at avenidas.org/programs/avenidas-without-walls or by calling 650-289-5400.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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10 things you can still do in Palo Alto (while keeping your social distance)

Here's how to expand your world while staying in your own backyard

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 6:55 am
Updated: Fri, Apr 3, 2020, 11:30 am

A week and a half into the stay-at-home order that's hopefully flattening the curve of the coronavirus contagion, and the roaring engine of Silicon Valley has grown eerily quiet.

Inside our houses and apartments, we wonder: Is anyone else here? What are other people doing?

Even those using the technology of video conferencing for work and schooling are feeling an odd sense of disconnection and dislocation. The world has shrunk to fit into the screen of a laptop. Our full-throated lives have turned into mere pantomime.

But fortunately, despite the loss of routine, social contact and freedom to get around, there are still options for things to do in Palo Alto other than binge-watching Netflix and taking the dog for another walk.

All around us, local arts organizations, community groups, businesses and neighborhoods have been busy trying to keep life and community going, albeit in unique ways.

For those who are healthy and able to get outside, here are some ideas for staying connected to the broader Palo Alto community. And if you are in quarantine or otherwise housebound, don't worry: There are also activities you can engage in from the great indoors that will expand your world.

Read on for the Weekly's top 10 things you can still do in Palo Alto.

1. Walk or bike to parks and landmarks.

In its March 16 stay-at-home order, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department stated: "Spending time outside improves mood and well-being. ... You can go for walks, go to the park and engage in other similar activities" — with the proper social distance of 6 feet between you and others, of course. That's good news because with the rain this past week, gardens and neighborhood parks are looking more vibrant than ever. At Palo Alto's Gamble Garden on Embarcadero Road, tulips are blooming, and the Barron Park donkeys, Perry and Jenny, in Bol Park, 3590 Laguna Ave., are currently welcoming in-person visitors during the day. (Go to barronparkdonkeys.org for more information.)

Other options: the Stanford Dish and Stanford University campus, which have wide paths. Be wise, though, and don't enter an area if many people are there already. (Update: On April 2, Stanford issued an alert stating the Stanford Dish will be closed beginning 5 p.m. on April 3 due to a "persistent minority" of people not complying with public health and safety measures.)

And if you choose to visit an open space preserve, you'll want to bike or walk there; Palo Alto has closed parking lots at the preserves to prevent crowds.

2. Enjoy the performing arts.

The curtains are up — online — for a few Palo Alto area performing arts groups. TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's northern California premiere of Laurel Ollstein's "They Promised Her the Moon" is the story of world record-holding aviator Jerrie Cobb, who was selected as the first female astronaut candidate and fought to fly among the stars. The well-received production was forced to shutter a week after beginning performances on March 4, but a recording of the show can now be viewed via digital streaming. Tickets start at $15. Go to theatreworks.org/201920-season/moon-livestream.

If children's music is what your family is looking for, the Magical Bridge Foundation is hosting concerts and singalongs by a variety of local artists every day at noon on its Facebook page. On Saturday, singer/songwriter and educator Andy Zamenes will be live in virtual concert. His show, plus recorded past performances of other performers, are viewable at facebook.com/MagicalBridge.

3. Explore the city's eLibrary.

Sure, Mitchell Park, Rinconada and the smaller branch libraries are closed, but the city of Palo Alto's vast eLibrary is open. With your library card, you can check out ebooks, audiobooks, music and films. How about taking advantage of this down time to learn a foreign language? Or use the e-resources to bone up on Renaissance history or trace your family's genealogy. There are also resources accessible to those without a library card, so what are you waiting for? Go to library.cityofpaloalto.org/online-resources and find something that interests you.

4. Start something good in your 'hood.

From Barron Park to Community Center to Midtown, residents of Palo Alto are proving that joy can be contagious. Ideas for spreading cheer range from the simple, like a daily 6 p.m. "wave" in which neighbors come to their front yards and share smiles and greetings from a safe distance, to the more creative, such as drawing chalk art on streets and sidewalks for others to enjoy. One trending idea: "bear hunts" or "neighborhood safaris," in which stuffed animals are placed in homes' front windows for neighborhood children to spot when they're out walking. All you need is a willingness to put your idea out there via email, NextDoor.com or Facebook. Or even by calling your neighbors on the phone. Imagine that.

5. Support the local economy: Order takeout or delivery.

Remember the restaurant you've always wanted to try? Now might be a good time to get some of its grub. Restaurants are struggling financially because of the mandated closure of their dining rooms, but they're trying to keep afloat by offering dishes for takeout and delivery. For a map of dining establishments that are awaiting your orders, go to paloaltoonline.com/restaurants.

6. Get your hands dirty by gardening.

Really, there's no excuse this spring for ignoring your garden, whether it be a full backyard or a patio full of potted flowers. Gardening has been shown to provide therapeutic benefits. If getting fresh plants or gardening supplies would help you get motivated, SummerWinds Nursery in south Palo Alto is providing curbside pickup and home delivery of its goods. Because the store is closed to in-person shoppers, you need to call in your order (650-493-5136).

7. Volunteer to help others.

In this time of crisis, those who are not healthy, financially well off or surrounded by loved ones may need assistance because of sudden unemployment or social isolation. Happily, Palo Alto's enterprising residents are jumping in to help, and you can join them. Howard Kushlan of Professorville started a Google list for people who are willing to do things for others like run errands, walk dogs and get much-needed medication. Go to tinyurl.com/helpPA to sign up.

The city of Palo Alto is also seeking to organize volunteers and those who need assistance. See cityofpaloalto.org/coronavirus for more information. And if you are able to give blood, there's currently a shortage at the Stanford Blood Center — and there's no risk to your health from donating blood. Go to stanfordbloodcenter.org.

8. Take in some visual art — or make your own.

Now you could press your nose against the windows of the Palo Alto Art Center and peer in, but you'll see much more by taking a virtual tour of its recent tree-themed exhibit, "Rooted: Trees in Contemporary Art." In this unique show, created in partnership with the nonprofit Canopy, "artists from around the world use trees as subject, symbol and medium to illuminate the world around us," the Art Center states. The virtual tour, at canopy.org/rooted-exhibit-2020, offers photos, videos and bonus features. For those wanting to get more hands-on, artist Sam Price is holding free virtual collage classes on Fridays at 11 a.m. It's for kids and family members of all ages and can be found at paacf.org/collage-with-sam-price.html.

9. Listen to an uplifting message.

Faith leaders in the area scrambled to move their weekly services online after the county's March 16 order banned all gatherings. As a result, the inspirational messages often heard only by those inside the walls of churches and synagogues are now online for all to hear. This past week, the topic was "The Pursuit of Happiness" at Menlo Church (Menlo.Church/messages), while at First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, Pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow discussed the temptations of power and control during his church's livestreaming service (facebook.com/fpcpaloalto). Congregation Beth Am of Los Altos Hills held an online discussion of "Judaism in times of crisis" (betham.org/virtual), and Rev. Kaloma Smith of the University AME Zion Church in Palo Alto spoke on "The Antidote to Anxiety," which can be viewed at facebook.com/universityamez (special bonus: gospel music with singers and a band).

10. Spend some screen time with someone isolated.

Finally, technology has made it so that isolation doesn't have to equate to loneliness. Through free apps easily downloadable onto tablets and laptop computers, including FaceTime, Skype and Zoom, people can reach out for conversation. Co-workers are organizing virtual happy hours online to stay connected to each other, and other people are reaching out to relatives or friends who live alone to talk or play games. If you need help with technology, go to YouTube.com and search for "How to use FaceTime" (or Skype or Zoom) for instructional videos. Or contact Avenidas senior center, which offers resources at avenidas.org/programs/avenidas-without-walls or by calling 650-289-5400.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Kohoutek 1973
Professorville
on Mar 27, 2020 at 7:03 am
Kohoutek 1973, Professorville
on Mar 27, 2020 at 7:03 am
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


Trump vs. the Truth
Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:25 am
Trump vs. the Truth, Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:25 am
30 people like this

[Post removed.]


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:13 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:13 am
29 people like this

The first suggestion about getting outside for some exercise is getting more difficult particularly now with the closure of the parking lots at 3 large parks.

I have been in neighborhood parks. They are getting very busy at certain times as everyone seems to want to go there at the same time of day. I have seen families with young children on trikes or scooters taking space on park paths as joggers try to pass or seniors strolling in the opposite direction to dog walkers on extended leashes, all seem to meet at the same point. Yes, everyone is doing their best to stay apart but the volume of people with no "one way" system or groups making "road blocks" for others who want to get by quicker, means that social distancing is difficult.

The larger parks can cope better with larger numbers of people. Things like blocking off every other parking spot, and allowing only certain people in at certain times - possibly by last name initial or license plates odd or even, or times of the day, am and pm, could be handled much better than closing off the space altogether.

An early morning hike, 8.00 am at Foothills Park or Baylands means that you are very unlikely to meet a crowd of people. A neighborhood park at 3.00 pm any sunny afternoon means you will meet a crowd of people doing the same thing in many different ways.

Please give us back our opportunity to hike in the larger parks, yes give us some guidelines, restrictions and perhaps a sign up for reservations at different times of day, and I think you will find that we will all manage to get out, get our exercise, and still manage to social distance ourselves while keeping everybody healthy.


bemused
East Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:59 am
bemused, East Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:59 am
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 27, 2020 at 10:57 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 27, 2020 at 10:57 am
10 people like this

The neighborhood parks are not nearly as nice to be in with the grassy areas now off limits. Everyone has to stay on the paths which puts the likelihood of running into other people much higher. Reopen the lawns at small neighborhood parks!


White Knight
Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:55 am
White Knight, Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:55 am
5 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Kohoutek 1973
Professorville
on Mar 27, 2020 at 1:55 pm
Kohoutek 1973, Professorville
on Mar 27, 2020 at 1:55 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed.]


Perpetual Motion Squirrel
Mayfield
on Mar 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm
Perpetual Motion Squirrel, Mayfield
on Mar 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm
7 people like this

Great! I wanted to see "They Promised Her the Moon". I was dissapointed when I heard that the play was canceled, but meanwhile, I understood that it must have been a difficult decision for them to make.

I am glad that TheatreWorks show us their resilience and creativity under this challenging circumstances. I will purchase the ticket to support them!


White Knight
Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2020 at 5:53 pm
White Knight, Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2020 at 5:53 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2020 at 10:51 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2020 at 10:51 pm
4 people like this

I ran an ad in the March 13 Weekly promoting a 9-part series of jazz, blues and folk concerts at Mitchell Park Community Center. I estimate there are 50 cds cumulatively that these artists have produced and can be bought on Amazon or sampled for free on YouTube.
I’ll try to cull the list down to a bakers dozen of the highest recommendations and report back on these pages.
Some of the shows will be rescheduled Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.


ukelele
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2020 at 6:44 pm
ukelele, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2020 at 6:44 pm
5 people like this

why are all those comments removed?


David
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2020 at 8:15 pm
David, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2020 at 8:15 pm
6 people like this

The rule were changed since many people were disregarding gathers with little or no social distancing. Do not blame the city or other jurisdictions; blame yourselves. STAY AT HOME. Otherwise the lockdown and infection rate will skyrocket.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2020 at 9:46 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2020 at 9:46 pm
4 people like this

This is a follow-up to my comment three comments ago two nights ago:
Web Link
Jeff Parker is a jazz guitarist and composer from Chicago and Los Angeles and Virginia who played in my series once at Mitchell Park with Dave Douglas in November once at Palo alto Art Center in March with Scott Amendola — yeah also appeared at the Stanford jazz workshop— And he has a co-led project out called Chicago underground Quartet.
Although on another level it is a time filler but we can’t replace live music


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2020 at 10:17 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2020 at 10:17 pm
Connie
Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:45 am
Connie, Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:45 am
2 people like this

Another fun thing to do that relieves stress is be creative. Free sewing and crafting videos on this youtube channel.
Web Link


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