Todd Kerr launches The Berkeley Times

I love this picture of (first name Ross, but he goes by his middle name) Todd Kerr below, on his office ball looking like he is ready to pounce with that ever-ready smile. If you don’t know Todd but you think you have seen him at East Bay art openings, you have, he is one of those omnipresent supporters who has tirelessly brought attention to a scene that plausibly may not be as vibrant without it. Todd has been writing for the Piedmont Post for years and years and now he brings his energy to a new project: The Berkeley Times! Yes, that’s right, Berkeley will very soon have its own community paper for the people…and he has made a certain creator of Swee(t)Art its first Visual Arts Editor.

Obi: All of us in the Art Scene in Oakland know your writing from the Piedmont Post. Why did you decide to leave and begin this new project?

Todd: As you know, Obi, I am single dad and a full-time parent of two spectacular teens. My kids are the love of my life and my highest priority. Both happen to be precocious students, and both sought out the excellent educational opportunities offered by the Berkeley School District. I moved to Berkeley for the schools and happy about my decision. Once doing so and becoming active in the parent community, I recognized the opportunity for a new community newspaper here. I also recognized that it would have to express the voice of the community and so be independent. For that to become true, it was obvious that I would have to part ways with the Post, so I did.

Obi: As an artist and an art curator in the East Bay I often find a wide gulf between Berkeley in Oakland. Do you find the same thing? Or more specifically, how has your experience been moving from Piedmont to Berkeley?

Todd: Well, there are obvious differences between the two cities. Piedmont has no industry and only one place to buy a decent cup of coffee; whereas, Berkeley is a much larger city with a more diverse population and plenty of places to buy all sorts of tasty food. Even so, my personal experience of the two cities does not relate to their differences, instead it has more to do with their similarities. Both Piedmont and Berkeley are communities obsessed with the challenge of providing quality public education for all – as demonstrated by the fact that both have distinguished themselves from other cities by consistently voting for parcel taxes that support the local schools. Also, in both communities, I have been inspired to give even more of myself by the legions of parents and elders, who often share whatever they have for the greater good.

Obi: Why ink? In this age of digital media that we are all immersed in, what could the paper bring to community that the Internet cannot?

Todd: There’s much to appreciate about the Internet – it’s a very useful tool for accessing and distributing information. Of course, Berkeley Times will make use of the latest technologies, including the Internet, to stay connected with its writers and the community that it serves. On the other hand, there are aspects of the Internet that are inconsistent with community news reporting. One of the purposes of the new paper is to support the educational process here – and sometimes that means writing about students in the classroom. Of course, for that to happen, our writers and editors will need to practice extra-ordinary amounts of discretion to maintain the trust of the school district and the safety of the subjects – that is, the students, the teachers and the learning environment. If those stories were posted on the Internet, I am sure the world would be fascinated to read how the current generation of students is managing on its own learning curve. I am also sure that the safety issues of all involved would become unmanageable. For Berkeley Times to be successful, it must become a forum for all voices – a haven safe enough for its children to learn about themselves, their parents, their elders, and the diversity in their community. This is a long way of saying that readers of Berkeley Times will cherish its discretion and the intimacy they discover within its pages. Each issue will remind citizens why they love living in Berkeley, and why they would live no where else they might read about on the Internet.

Learn more at http://www.berkeleyx.org including how to subscribe and submit.

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  1. Brian

    This sounds like a fun project. I hope he succeeds.

  2. Vivien

    Berkeley needs a nice guy writing about the charming people, from 1-91 years old, who occupy and call this place home.




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