Home » About


Welcome to The Island, Alameda’s online news source and winner of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club’s 2010 first-place award for independent news sites. This site is edited by Michele (Marcucci) Ellson. Ellson’s journalism career stretches back 19 years, with her most recent nonline gig as a staff reporter for the Bay Area News Group based in Oakland. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Sacramento Bee, The Bay Citizen, the San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times. She is the winner of several journalism awards, including a Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting, Associated Press and James Madison Freedom of Information, and Alameda Magazine named her their “Best Blogger” for 2010. She was also the publisher of her own monthly ‘zine, sacred cow. Ellson has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Buffalo State College. If you’ve got tips, pix or questions, e-mail her at michele@theislandofalameda.com.

Real estate columnist Sharon Alva became a real estate agent after first working as a writer, multimedia producer, documentary filmmaker, and nonprofit professional doing both resource development and communications. Sharon’s professional passion for helping folks find their true home is second only to her other professional passion which is researching things to within an inch of their life and then telling everyone about them. The Island is an excellent outlet for both, so she has come to call…and stay. Sharon’s real estate work is informed by her role as parent and her love of the East Bay. Her past experience in all aspects of communication makes her a force in marketing homes using both traditional and new media. Sharon’s nonprofit background has lead her to act as an advocate for her clients. Sharon has her BA in History and Journalism from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has done MA work at Stanford in Documentary Film. You can reach Sharon at sharon@alvaproperties.com.

Diana Ariza Klose was born in Bogotá, Colombia and logged time in London and Paris before coming to San Francisco, in 1998. In 2005, the architect/designer and her husband started a custom woodwork and design enterprise, AK Studio. In 2006, while looking for a place to live in the East Bay that was close to the wood shop’s location, they stumbled upon Alameda while crossing the Fruitvale Bridge by mistake and getting lost. She was instantly enchanted, and decided this was where she wanted to live. Since first moving to Alameda, she was amazed with the vitality of this small city, and the variety and richness of the community. She sees the opportunity of writing while meeting members of the community and telling their stories as a treasure. She can be contacted at arizaklose@gmail.com.

Writer and editor Liz Barrett is an award-winning writer whose work has been internationally syndicated by The New York Times. She has written and edited books, articles, and websites about everything from baseball to brain surgery. She was a “Pink section” editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and a sports editor for MSNBC.com. After compiling USA TODAY’s Baseball Weekly Almanac for several years, she appeared as a special guest on National Public Radio to talk about BSL, baseball as a second language. She paid her rent for a long time by writing travel guides and editing the occasional celebrity chef cookbook. She joined the ranks of laid-off journalists when her full-time gig as online editor for the San Francisco Examiner was eliminated. She loves living in Alameda, in the home where her landlord was born. She can be reached at mizlizb@gmail.com.

Ani Dimusheva is a lifelong questioner, and a rebel at heart. She came to this country from Bulgaria at a not-so-young yet malleable age, which makes her neither fish nor fowl. She has a minor degree in graphic design, and a BA in linguistics from UC Berkeley — a natural progression from images to words. She valiantly makes her living as a freelance editor and writer. Her writing has appeared in the Alameda Sun and Alameda Journal. She is excited to be a contributor to The Island. Ani has lived in Alameda for nearly 20 years and continues to be fascinated, upset, surprised and impressed by the people on this ever-changing island. When not making her opinion known to anybody who will listen, she likes to swim, read, and generate (and lose) piles of sticky notes with ideas for award-winning stories she is sure to write one day. You can reach Ani at anidimusheva@gmail.com.

Originally from Far Rockaway, Queens, Steve Gerstle has lived in the Bay Area for 40 years and in Alameda for ten. He has a bachelor’s degree from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree in library studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a librarian at the College of Alameda and lives in the West End.

Rin Kelly is a freelance writer and photographer. Her writing has appeared in publications across the country, including a host of Bay Area News Group newspapers and well-known alt-weeklies like East Bay Express, Washington City Paper and New York Press. She has written for a number of websites and magazines, including Terrain, Orion and Mr. Skin. Her photography regularly appears in Bay Area newspapers; other photo credits include NYTimes.com, L.A. RECORD and TheBaySoccer.com, where she covers women’s professional soccer.

John Knox White has been active in Alameda politics for eight years, serving as the chair of the city’s Transportation Commission and on other committees on transportation and open government in both the city and Alameda County. He is currently the vice-chair of Alameda’s Sunshine Task Force. He has been writing about Alameda public policy and politics for six years, blogging regularly at johnknoxwhite.com and sfgate.com/inalameda. It has been said, by family members no less, that he follows issues more closely than a sane person should. Contact him at confidential@theislandofalameda.com.

Michael Singman-Aste is an award-winning photographer, curator, and blogging junkie. He started writing as a freelance reporter for the Daily Californian newspaper in the ’80s, while a Women’s Studies major at UC Berkeley. Originally from LA, he has been a proud Alamedan for nearly two decades. Michael enjoys gallery hopping, reading big important books, and second-guessing “The Bachelor.” You can read more of his reviews at http://www.PostdiluvianPhoto.com/blog. Contact him at michael@theislandofalameda.com.


Heather Wood grew up in the Bay Area. She has an English Literature degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she read a lot of books. In 2006, Heather graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she read many more books. After practicing law for a while, she switched gears and now works as an academic tutor for students in 6th through 12th grade. This allows her to talk about books non-stop to an impressionable (and captive!) audience. Her academic interests include the history of the Scottish Diaspora, California history, civil rights, folk music, Indian tribal sovereignty and humane education. Heather also works as a birth doula (trained childbirth support person). In her free time, she can be found writing, watering vegetables, exploring Alameda, talking to animals, and singing.

The Island’s editorial board is Michele Ellson, Robert T. Sullwold and Terry Winckler.

Our lovely masthead logo was designed by Ed Canalin.

Interested in working with The Island? We’re in the market for good, local writers. If you’d like to help us tell the story of Alameda – and get paid for doing it – drop us a line at michele@theislandofalameda.com.