Around Town: spreading the love; a new beginning

Oakland Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie shows his scar from open-heart surgery to Soraya Duckworth, 8, at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital as Soraya's mom Marlanea Duckworth looks on. Soraya was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has undergone numerous intensive surgeries. Photo by Veronica Weber.

In this week's Around Town column, the Palo Alto City Council delays its discussion to draw up a new vision for the Ventura neighborhood, a NFL player who made a Valentine's Day visit to young heart patients and the woman behind the new flat shoe emoji.

SPREADING THE LOVE ... Oakland Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie spent his Valentine's Day at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford to reunite with Dr. Frank Hanley, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon who performed open heart surgery on him on Feb. 14, 2006, to repair his congenital heart defect while he was a sophomore at De La Salle High School in Concord. The 27-year-old teamed up with his friend Taylor Gamino, who also underwent surgery by Hanley, to deliver a "Heart Warrior" message for heart patients at the hospital. Gamino was born with half of a heart and had four open heart surgeries. He's the namesake for Camp Taylor, a free, medically supervised camp for children with heart disease. Carrie brought the patients a "TJ Carrie Heart Shadow Buddy," which has an incision down its chest and a red mended heart, in addition to a pair of Raiders shorts and Carrie T-shirt. "It's a blessing to have had my open heart surgery on Valentine's Day, wouldn't change it for the world," Carrie said in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

A NEW BEGINNING ... Palo Alto's elected leaders agree that the north Ventura area represents an exciting opportunity for the city to boost its housing supply while adding desired amenities to the neighborhood. To meet these goals, the City plans to launch a "coordinated area plan" for the neighborhood. Yet the Council's Monday discussion about the new plan also hinted at the challenges ahead. The Council was scheduled to approve an agreement to fund the plan, which will be boosted by a $638,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation and $250,000 from The Sobrato Organization, which owns various properties throughout the neighborhood, including the site that includes Fry's Electronics. Instead, after spending most of the meeting debating the city's new Housing Work Plan, an exhausted council opted to defer its discussion until a future meeting. Councilwoman Karen Holman observed that delaying the discussion will undermine the city's proposed timeline for the planning effort and made a case for coming back with the item as soon as possible. Several residents stuck around until about 11 p.m. to offer their thoughts on the plan and Ventura's future. Terry Holzemer said the city should consider amenities such as an aquatic center, a new animal shelter, a community center or a decently sized park. "Our nearest park is Sarah Wallis Park, which as you know is the size of a postage stamp," he said. Angela de la Porta, a member of the Ventura Neighborhood Association, said she is excited about kicking off the process. "We really want to make it into a pleasant and thriving place for the entire neighborhood," she said.

A PERFECT FIT ... Florie Hutchinson has changed the emoji fashion game with her proposed image for women's flat shoes expected to show up on mobile phones in August or September. The self-proclaimed emoji enthusiast based in Palo Alto advocated for the addition in her proposal to the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that governs universal character coding system Unicode Standard used to encode the popular symbols. The mother of three, who works in media strategy, saw a gap in the selection of shoes available to users: a stiletto, a boot and a mule, which all have heels. Hutchinson wrote in her application. She made the case that flats are growing in popularity across the world compared to stilettos, made from a variety of materials and sold at "all price points." The addition also would be more representative of "female shoe-wearing habits." Hutchinson also proposed six colors for the shoes: teal, yellow, peach, brown, light brown and blue (with an optional ribbon-like binding at the forefront). For Hutchinson, the end goal is to give women "an emoji that confirms that their height and leg lengths are perfect, as they are."


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