'Mayor's Challenge' takes on neighborhood unity | March 16, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 16, 2012

'Mayor's Challenge' takes on neighborhood unity

Residents could meet and find new connections at the first citywide athletic tournament

by Sue Dremann

What if the mayor issued an invitation — and nobody came?

This story contains 893 words.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.


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Posted by david m
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

just signed up. looking forward to ping pong next weekend at the Y. nice thing the mayor's initiating to enhance community. Reminiscent of Siena's Palio - w/out the horses. Palio Alto.

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

So, where do you sign up?

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Posted by Ping Pong in the Parks
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

The Neighborhood Challenge is a great idea... and reminded me of the outdoor ping pong tables in Paris and New York that are in constant use. Wouldn't it be fun to have these tables in our parks?

Web Link

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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I'm keeping things in perspective here, I know we have to invest in community, but at what cost to the tax payers? Our elected officials and city leaders have decried our current financial state and budget deficits for years now. Is this the time to set a bad example with what could be more frivolous spending? So how much is this event going to cost? My opinion personally, whatever the cost, our city leaders should be spending more time setting some financial priorities and then backing up the rhetoric with some real action. I don't want to hear anymore about creating new tax measures to pay for vital infrastructure and public safety needs due to their own poor planning, mismanagement, and frivolous spending on non-essential, niche projects and services. This isn't the time to be playing ping-pong. Get a clue.

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Posted by Monica
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Anon,

To sign up or to get more information, please go to:


Stephanie Hannah, Director of Communications
Palo Alto Family YMCA
3412 Ross Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 650-842-7167 or shannah@ymcasv.org.

This event will be hosted at 5 different locations: Jews Community Center (JCC), Jordan Middle School, Terman Middle School, Cubberly Community Center and YMCA.

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Posted by I'm In!!!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

This looks like fun! I just signed up.

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Posted by Denese
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

May I suggest you hold athletic events that are in line with what is offered in your Palo Alto middle and high schools…. Soccer, basketball, volley ball, badminton etc. How many cultures or people really (young people) play table tennis?

You have a great idea! Just wrong sport.

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Posted by TimH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

This is an admirable project, but it's not surprising that the City has only 15% enrollment to date. The series of events may have higher participation if the "challenge" was removed - why does this need to be a contest? Every kid that ever played "work ups" baseball will tell you that games are more fun when the adults and rules are removed. Too many rules and competitions really drain the fun out of sports, or any group event.

Palo Alto, like many affluent areas, has a lot of community-style choices for families, such as social clubs, athletic groups, church groups, neighborhood hubs and simply family/extended family/friends. This can create a busy life that doesn't always include more than a "hello" for neighbors. Growing up in Palo Alto, our "Old PA" neighborhood did not have block parties, as they had in some cul-de-sac streets over by Jordan. We didn't have any formal organization but still managed to connect with neighbors of all ages in casual conversation and occasional plans together. Our street did spend time outdoors in the Summer months, too. Our homes were of the old design and did not have the massive footprint that many homes feature today, with little lawn and garden area.

Competition seems to be a popular theme today, as much of our mainstream entertainment has sadly replaced storytelling with face off. The true challenge is to create a city that has neighborhood awareness. We cannot roll back the clock or change people, but we can all agree to be friendly and acknowledge that we live around each other and not in “family siloes”. Good luck in this new endeavor!

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Posted by Disgusted in College Terrace
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Playing Ping Pong. Yeah, that's the ticket. Reminds me of Yoriko Kishimoto's effort to get people to ride bikes, and Peter Drekmeir's effort to Go Green! to benefit the world. This while Palo Alto burns. Look at our infrastructure. We need elected officials to come up with this idea? Sigh.

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Posted by george browning
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Tim H. That was 15 people, not 15%, signed up.

And why competitions? I would think many, if not most people, don't do competitive sports any more as they "mature". Isn't Palo Alto now 25 or 30% over 60 years of age?

Face to face contact as done in Greenmeadow is the best way to know your neighbor as mentioned in the article. But their success is still within a single neighborhood, and is not set up to interact with other neighborhoods which is what Mayor Yeh seems to have in mind. (This year Greenmeadow is seeking enrollment for their swim facilities, but that's primarily a commercial approach, not a social one.)

I give Mayor Yeh full marks for trying to foster a broad feeling of community within Palo Alto, but he needs other ways to do so. Can anyone offer him other ideas to achieve his goal?

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Posted by local mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2012 at 10:43 am

Tim H. is right. There are very few to no opportunities for kids to have informal (yet organized) team sports, like baseball "work ups". There are no intramural afterschool sport leagues in town.

I think the Mayor has the right idea and I think the problem is just getting the word out and understanding how it's going to work. I wanted to send out information on my mom's list, but I was confused myself about how it works and haven't yet signed up my own family!

It may work, it may not, but I think this is the kind of thing where it's worth giving it a try, and it could grow or change into something better. The point is that the Mayor is trying to help foster community interaction, and I think that's wonderful.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Why is there a charge for this?? I'm not sure how I feel about a charge, but I'm usually a lot more open to one if it's advertised up front!

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

My kids play ping pong with their friends from Jordan Middle School after school and over the weekend for fun. Unfortunately we missed the date. We'd be looking forward to the next neighborhood tournament. I think it's a great idea!