Berkeleyside would like you to join us for coffee this Sunday. Photo: Zoë Schiffer

Members of the Berkeleyside team will be at The Vault in South Berkeley on Sunday to hang out with readers and hear your stories and ideas.

It’s the second coffee session of a new Berkeleyside series, and Natalie Orenstein and Frances Dinkelspiel will be there. For those who can’t make it, consider joining Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel on Thursday at Espresso Roma. We hope to hold more events of this kind in the future if there is interest.

Last week, reporter Emilie Raguso and membership marketing manager Zoë Schiffer set up at Algorithm Coffee, at 1122 University Ave., to kick off the series. More than 20 people attended the event. There were familiar faces as well as new ones. By chance, some attendees met for the first time in person after years of knowing each other only online.

Some readers said they hope Berkeleyside will dig deeper into local politics and show “how the city actually works” — and who is actually in charge. They wanted more accountability from government and more watchdog reporting. One reader said he wished local officials would communicate better about city efforts underway, particularly in relation to homeless programs and services.

“Everything I learned, I learned from you guys,” he added, about the Premier Cru shelter that opened in December.

One woman expressed deep concern about gentrification, neighborhood changes and the loss of vibrant artist communities in West Berkeley. Some said they’d like to hear more from homeowners, and more context and trends about crime data to help keep violent crime stories in perspective. Others said they have appreciated the in-depth stories about those who have fallen into crime, and would like to know more.

Zoë Schiffer talked about some of her ideas to build Berkeleyside’s membership program. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Many referenced the Berkeleyside Twitter feed, and their ability to get the scoop from Berkeleyside when helicopters hover and other news breaks. The comments section came up too, with one person asking for more civility, and many others saying it’s among their favorite aspects of the site.

Lots of story ideas were shared, from a literacy group for young adults that needs a space to operate, to a possible profile on the Stagebridge Senior Theatre Company, an Oakland-based performing arts school — with many Berkeley performers — for folks over 50. One person brought up a fascinating new development related to a public safety story Berkeleyside took a close look at in 2016. We hope to find ways to share some of these stories as time goes by.

Attendees included a South Berkeley artist who only spoke French, and a Japanese broadcast journalist, studying at Stanford, who wanted to see a community news organization in action. Roberto Santiago, founder of the popular “Your Mom Is So Berkeley” group on Facebook, also came to visit. That group, which is now nearly 7,000 strong, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary next year.

Another woman, who is a regular at Algorithm, happened over when she saw the group gathered and wondered what was going on. She joined the discussion and shared some of her own story. A man who described himself as a volunteer organizer finding ways to help those on the streets said he came to the event because, “I just like Berkeleyside.”

Many of those who spoke had lived in Berkeley for decades, or even generations in some cases. All expressed passion about different aspects of the community. It was inspiring to see.

We look forward to meeting more of you soon, and hope you’ll come by Sunday. The Vault Café is located at 3250 Adeline St. (at Harmon Street). Berkeleyside will be there from 2-3 p.m.

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Berkeleyside staff

Berkeleyside is Berkeley, California’s independently-owned local news site. Learn more about the Berkeleyside team. Questions?...