Tidbits collected by the Weekly staff on people, events and other happenings.
PARKS & REC ... From more bathrooms to pickleball courts, Palo Alto could use the can-do attitude of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" deputy director Leslie Knope to make all the improvements residents suggested they'd like to see at local parks and recreation facilities. The City released pages of suggestions recorded in the annual National Citizen Survey last week.
Many people asked for the addition of dog parks, particularly areas where their pets can run around on all fours without a leash, while some wanted to hear less barking, see more poop bag dispensers or get rid of the spots altogether. When it came to transportation, residents asked for free shuttle service either to Foothills Park, the hills or neighborhood events. Additional parks was another common request along with more trees, bike paths, affordable programs and community gardens. The community also proposed building a new performing-arts theater and history museum. Across the board, the survey indicated a need for more bathrooms at all parks, especially ones that don't have one at all. When it came to programming, residents seemed to want more of everything: year-round swim lessons, art classes, group exercise, concerts and even circus programs! (Another person wanted to see more recreational opportunities offered in the southern half of the city.) Swimmers wanted to see Rinconada Pool get expanded and stay opened longer to squeeze in another lap and more family time. A few requests were very specific, including one person who wanted to see solar public art and a parent who said the community was "desperately in need" of rhythmic gymnastics classes, which apparently are available to youth overseas, but not here in Palo Alto.
PARTING WORDS ... There were many testimonials on Wednesday for Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns and Assistant Chief Bob Beacom, who retired last month after 35 and 27 years on the beat, respectively. Among the most poignant came from Pastor Paul Bains, the department's chaplain, who described his experiences with both officers during a celebration ceremony at the Elks Club. Bains described Beacom a "man of integrity," who feeds the homeless, contributes to local nonprofits and who has "given his time, his talent and his treasure to make the community what it is today." As for Burns, Bains recalled his impact on youth both in Palo Alto and in East Palo Alto. At one youth summit in East Palo Alto, Bains said, Burns came early to set up chairs and stayed late to take them down. "And all the young people of color Latinos, Tongans, African Americans they were like, 'Who was this guy?' Because he wasn't in uniform. And he is white. And then they found out he is a police officer. And then they found out he is chief of police. ... What it did was set an impression on the East Palo Alto community about how there is another side of law enforcement - that they do care. ... This chief has made an impression upon young people who have witnessed it many times over and has made a positive effect in the lives of people of color."
AIMING HIGH ... Stanford senior Vivian Wang wants to dramatically change how smartwatches are used. As one of 15 recipients of a scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, the engineering and mathematics student will be working on how to turn smartwatches into health-monitoring devices that can track diseases like cancer. Wang said current heart-rate monitors in smartwatches give important but limited information, and there aren't measurement devices for proteins in the blood and other bodily fluids that are used as "disease markers" in the clinic. She's proposing to develop a new handheld system to monitor these biomarkers.
The grant, created at the request of the former prime minister himself, is intended to help boost science and technology efforts in the United States and United Kingdom. The award gives students the opportunity to spend a year with a master's program at the University of Cambridge in England studying science, mathematics and engineering. The 21-year-old scholar intends to obtain a master's degree in physics from Churchill College, which is part of the University of Cambridge. She also holds an impressive resume at Stanford where she was an undergraduate research assistant for an assistant professor in engineering, co-authored a study that was published in Applied Physics Letters, went through a competitive selection process to become a peer tutor in math and physics and was a teaching assistant for two introductory classes for her major. She's also an artist whose work was featured at the Bridges Conference, a juried interdisciplinary conference that connects math and art. "As both a math lover and artist, I am curious about geometry, color and symmetry," she said.