Saturday, January 30, 2010

Street Parks Workshop

Today I went to the San Francisco Parks Trust Street Parks Workshop. This is put on by DPW and SFPT  about every 6 months - this one was about how to get grants. And boy howdy - I could be getting some grants! I'm going to take Emily up on her offer to help write some proposals, and look you people can forward to some serious hardscape improvements at P. Garden in the next year or so!

Later, the participants went to several street parks for a tour, including P. Garden where I gave a short talk and did some Q & A. The gardens we visited were (pics from top to bottom) FARM by the CCA students, Showcase Square (Pavement to Parks installation) (Potrero Hill), Mayflower Garden (Bernal Heights) and Quesada Garden (Outer Mission).

They were all very different but all had two things in common - they were gorgeous, and had been the result of a huge amount of community work to get them done. Actually, that was the main message I got from this workshop - these gardens are less about plants and more about building a sense of community. Important work in a city whose population turnover is so amazingly high: one statistic I wrote down was that 56% of San Franciscans have left the city since 1991.

Building a sense of community reduces crime - if you know everyone on your block and their habits, unusual activity stands out. Simple as that.

I also met Mohammed Nuru who is deputy director of the Department of Public Works, and apparently the man who makes things happen when it comes to cleaning up the dirty streets of San Francisco. He'd heard from Julia and Sandra from DPW about my plan to clean up the first block on Pennsylvania Ave and he is going to help me make it happen! This, they tell me, is as good as having the job finished already. Can you imagine - sidewalks and a pothole free street, with plantings at the side? No more illegal dumping and tagging? I'm really thrilled!

After all that fun, I went to pick up some branches from Audrey and Joseph for the garden (thanks!) and delivered the branches to the garden. I pruned the Gaillardias in the front bed, moved three Arctotis "Unmellow Yellow" to the front bed and generally tidied it up for winter.

I also chatted with Maille, Eddy and their pug Ruby, Jim and his dog Kelly, Max (enjoying a newspaper on the bench) and Kylie and her cute son (thanks fo the donation!!!). I also had a nice chat with Garret, Jessica and their dog Olive who wondered what I was up to as I looked at the weeds down on the Center Hardware Strip garden. Maybe they'll become Street Park Stewards too!

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