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Daily news roundup for Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finlay MacKay
Shasta Lake hotshots march single-file to Whiskeytown Lake after cutting a firebreak into manzanita brush.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

Inside the campaign to redesign SF's suck-tastic flag // Wired

"Quick, what's pictured on the San Francisco flag? If you don't know, you're not alone. 'You have to really look for it to see it,' says Roman Mars, host and producer of the 99% Invisible podcast, and 'the reason people don't use it often is kind of an obvious one: it's not very good.' That means the city's flag, which features a phoenix encased in a gold border, isn't a symbol that San Franciscans tend to rally behind. And that's why Mars wants to design a new one.

"Mars, who works out of nearby Oakland, isn’t going to redraw the new flag himself—he’s a journalist who covers design, not a designer. Rather, with software maker Autodesk onboard as an organizational and financial partner, he is officially spearheading a campaign to overhaul it. The partners hope to work with the public and the design community to come up with a new symbol worthy of representing the City by the Bay, and then take their design to the city’s Board of Supervisors to get it adopted as the new flag."


An epic fire season is coming. These firefighters are ready // Wired

"It's impossible not to be impressed by America’s smokejumpers. Every year, the elite group of firefighters deploys  into the heart of burning wilderness, parachuting into the jaws of some massive conflagration in the middle of nowhere. This team is the first on the ground trying to stop the spread of the blaze.

"Sharing a building with the smokejumper base at the northern operations center in Redding, about four hours north of San Francisco, Mark Garland is easy to overlook. But he and his team are the unsung heroes of firefighting in this dry, dangerous region."


Hacking the racial divide // East Bay Express

"On a recent sunny Tuesday morning, seventeen students crammed into the top floor of a business suite in downtown Berkeley, crowding around computers with screens filled with lines of code. The scene might seem familiar — somewhat akin to a busy computer science college class — but the students are adults. They're the first cohort of Telegraph Academy, a new coding school that aims to accelerate the careers of programmers of color, and, in doing so, help close the gaping racial divide in the tech industry.

"Looking around the room, the students come from an array of ethnic backgrounds and professional careers: One student, Doris Hernandez, hails from Honduras, and another, Aheri Stanford-Asiyo, who is Black, has worked at the CIA and Google."


Boom time for farmers? Salinas Valley thrives, for now // San Jose Mercury News
"It's prime strawberry-picking season, and field workers on this vast Salinas Valley farm are being paid for every plastic clamshell container they fill. Under a cool gray sky, men and women hustle up and down the narrow rows, plucking only the reddest, ripest fruit.

"This Salinas farm is just 70 miles west of Central Valley communities that have been devastated by California's four-year drought. In western Fresno County, thousands of acres lie fallow, and hundreds of laborers can't find jobs. But the distance seems much greater. In Monterey County, whose fertile soil produces more strawberries and lettuce than any other county in California, the $4 billion agriculture industry is humming along rather nicely."