Monday, September 11, 2006

My Sept. Article for the Haight-Ashbury Beat

(Here is an article I wrote for the Haight-Ashbury Beat newspaper for their September issue. This gal is fascinating and a real inspiration. You can just feel a real positive vibe when you talk to her. If you're not doing anything on Sunday, Sept. 24th, The Heart of Cole Festival sounds like it will be a blast! To read more stuff about the Haight, visit:

Lori Elder: Artist, Organizer, and Inventor with a Love Haight Relationship
By Ed Attanasio

Lori Elder does more in one day than most of us accomplish in an entire month. After speaking with her for just a little over an hour, I came away with the impression that she’s highly creative, intensely focused, community conscious and extremely driven in everything she does. If she wanted to, I’m quite confident that Lori could be the CEO of a major corporation. Cole Valley and the Lower Haight should be happy that she’s chosen another path, and has decided instead to use her incredible abilities to organize events in our communities, while still pursuing her passions for the arts, as well as creating and marketing her own inventions.

With help and guidance from fellow organizer and local merchant Mario Mogannam from Postal Chase, Elder is once again organizing the Heart of Cole Festival in Cole Valley, an event she helped create in 2003 and has developed into a major local event.

The Cole Valley Merchants Association is hosting its fourth annual Heart of Cole Festival, on Sunday September 24, from 9 am to 6:30 pm on Cole Street between Carl and Grattan. The festival will promote local community art, culture, entertainment and cuisine, according to Elder, whose official title for the event is Arts & Crafts Coordinator.

Other than an impressive assemblage of area artists, musicians and various performers, this year’s the Heart of Cole Festival will also feature a vintage car exhibit, as well as a photographic display of the history of San Francisco firehouses, sponsored by the Cole Valley Neighborhood Improvement Association.

“We’ve had consistent support from the very beginning with major sponsors who have jumped onboard,” Elder said. “Without them, the Heart of Cole Festival probably never would have happened.” Some of these sponsoring companies include Craigslist, Wells Fargo, and Walgreens, just to name a few.

Then, in October, Lori is putting on the first annual Lower Haight Block Party, a similar event focusing on the Lower Haight and its unique flavor. The Lower Haight Merchants Association is hosting this event on Sunday October 15 from 11 am to 6 pm on Haight Street between Fillmore and Pierce. The block party will feature live music, events for children, and reasonably-priced booth spaces to accommodate local and emerging artists.

“This is a totally unique event unlike anything else in San Francisco,” Elder said. “It’s not Union Square, it’s not Cole Valley and it’s not Fillmore Jazz -- it’s the Lower Haight. There’s been a lot more work involved with this event, because of the fact that we’re basically starting from scratch. Festivals like these should be about the community and reflect the people and the neighborhood.”

For this reason, neither the Lower Haight Block Party nor the Heart of Cole Festival allows alcohol booths. Local bars and food merchants can sell their wares, but no outside vendors have been invited to participate, making these truly unadulterated community events, Elder said.

Tentatively scheduled to appear at the Lower Haight Block Party are the Rumblers Car Club, with a hot rod and choppers display on Steiner Street; a skateboarding demonstration by the Delux Skateboard Company; performances by the San Francisco Mime Troupe; the Western Addition Steppers Dance Team; five DJ’s, local rappers and a full schedule of local bands.

Another aspect of these events that makes them special is that all the artists who participate are invited and must be selected by a jury of their artisan peers, of which Elder is surely a member.

“I’ve pretty much been an artist all my life,” Elder said. “I have always been into metal smithing, working with precious metals and making custom jewelry.” Elder has made some amazing pieces for some well-known major musicians and performers, and although she doesn’t want to drop any names, what I can tell that she’s done custom jewelry for the most well-known metal band from the Bay Area, and for a diminutive musician/songwriter/producer who several years back changed his one-word moniker to a symbol.
Then in 2002, Lori came up with a unique idea that has blossomed into a burgeoning business. While watching the third game of the major league baseball World Series at AT&T Park, Lori observed all of the fans floating in the body of water beyond the right field fence known as McCovey Cove.
“I saw people floating around on rafts that looked like putting greens and all kinds of other stuff,” Elder said. “And the idea just suddenly hit me -- the thing to be sitting in that cove with is a big inflatable baseball glove!” Elder’s friends all agreed with her, and after calling Major League Baseball and finding out that nothing like it existed, Lori started her own business and began coming up with plans and prototypes for the floating mitts.
In July of 2003, Lori’s designs were officially licensed by MLB Properties. In January of 2004, Left Field Enterprises was formed and began working with Sevylor, Inc., a top manufacturer in the business of sports-related inflatables. Left Field Enterprises makes mitts with the logos and colors of every major league team. They come in two sizes – a large one for floating in and a smaller one to put on your hand – and both have met with great success and awesome reviews.
If you want to get involved in the Heart of Cole Festival, contact:
Heart of Cole Festival
912 Cole Street, PMB #2954+
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone: (415) 621-5033
Fax: (415) 566-9776
If you want to be a part of the Lower Haight Block Party, contact:

Lower Haight Merchants Association
597 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117 Fax : (415) 738-7905

To find out more about Lori’s dirigible mitts, visit her Web site at:

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