Cover of the May 2013 issue of Common Ground magazine, featuring a green statue of a leaping figure, with the Bay Bridge in the background.

May 2013

The Bay Pride Issue

I am proud of our Bay Pride issue. For starters, we’ve an interview with Mimi Silbert, the founder and guiding force behind the Delancey Street Foundation, considered the most effective rehabilitation community in the world. For her record in helping break the scourge of crime-punishment-recidivism, Mimi has won every kind of humanitarian award imaginable. Frankly, I can barely contain my respect for this human being, whose example draws parallels to Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Santa Clara of Assisi. Mimi is proof that to be a saint, you don’t need the aegis of organized religion. She’s just doing it.

So what does she do? More than can be appreciated without first-hand experience, but please read our interview to get a flavor. She likens Delancey Street to Harvard, but where only the lowest 1 percent gain admission. For those who have never known anything but a life of disrespect, violence, and dope—often for generations—Delancey Street is the court of last resort. According to Mimi, we live in a society that barely cares about its middle class, let alone the dregs. In listening to stories of staggering hopelessness, the upturn reads like a Hollywood tearjerker, except this is no show.

Mimi had agreed to be interviewed a couple years ago; she even foolishly gave me her cell phone number. But my calls went directly to voice mail. On occasion she picked up, but the voice at the other end was chillingly faint—the toll of years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Mimi has endured six strokes and continues to battle cancer. She hadn’t been answering the phone at all.

But don’t cry for her; self-pity has no place in the Delancey Street play book. Read how this remarkable woman has channeled sickness in such a way as to recapture beginner’s mind. I finally was able to speak with Mimi on April 24 and am still electrified—and grateful.

I also want to thank Ron Henggeler, whom I met by coincidence last year. Ron epitomizes Bay Pride as a commendable “inspired amateur.” Ron has worked for decades as a server at the Big Four restaurant in the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco, but his hobby is photography. When he gets free time, he goes on photographic excursions and does great work.

Like for so many in the Bay Area, who pursue a passion outside of their livelihood, at Common Ground we welcome the opportunity to offer a lasting outlet for creative expression. Check out Ron’s images in a pictorial titled “Hidden Gems: A Bay Area Photo Excursion.”

Ironically, another source of Bay Pride takes us far away from our shores,
to the Amazon rainforest. Dubbed the “lungs of the earth,” the rainforest
is pivotal to the planet’s health, but it is under fierce attack. Please read
Hank Edson’s treatment about feisty Bay Area nonprofits, notably Amazon
Watch, who dedicate their life force to upholding ecological sustainability.

Whereas June has typically been our Music issue, we decided to expand
the scope, and it will now be our Creativity issue. Expect good things.

As ever, please pass your copy of Common Ground to a friend or leave it in a waiting room. The way to show your appreciation for this free community publication is by patronizing our sponsors. Or better yet, become a sponsor yourself.

Thanks for your positive feedback about April’s Green issue and our interview with Bill Ford, in particular. Let us know how we’re doing via
CommonGroundSF at



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