Upcoming Organic Gardening and Composting Workshops

by Blair Randall and Suzi Palladino

The Garden for the Environment, an acre urban organic demonstration garden in the Sunset District at 7th and Lawton Street, is offering classes in January of 2011 ranging from Urban Composting to Landscaping with California native plants.  All classes will take place at the Garden for the Environment.  Since our founding in 1990, the garden has operated as a demonstration site for small-scale urban ecological food production, organic gardening, compost education and low water-use landscaping.

To see our selection of courses please visit: Garden Education Classes

Parklets, And How to Get One

You may have seen a few parking spaces around San Francisco that have been transformed into a miniature gathering space for people to eat, lounge and talk. These miniature parks are referred to as “Parklets.” The Parklet installations are a partnership between businesses and The San Francisco Great
Streets Project.

Three Parklets currently exist in San Francisco. They are located on Divisidero Street near Grove Street (hosted by Mojo Bicycle Cafe), 22nd Street at Bartlett (hosted by Cafe Revolution, Escape from NY Pizza and Lolo), and Columbus Avenue near Green Street (hosted by Caffe Greco).

In September, the San Francisco Planning Department posted a request for proposals for new Parklets. The applications were filed by October 18th. The planning department received almost forty permit applications
during that one month period. The planning department is still processing these applications, but after the applications are reviewed and some Parklets are granted, the planning department intends to release another request for proposals. The Parklets need to be hosted by an organization.
The organizations that can host a Parklet include Community Benefit Districts (CBDs), storefront business owners, non-profit institution/community organizations and possibly another type of applicant reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in hosting a Parklet, please visit the Great Streets Projects website where they have lots of information and resources to aid you through the application process: www.sfgreatstreets.org/parklets

SF Parks need your help

by Phil Ginsburg, General Manager, SF Recreation and Park Department

What would happen to our quality of life if San Francisco’s 225 neighborhood parks suddenly closed? Where would we play without our 179 playgrounds, 82 recreation centers and clubhouses, 72 basketball courts, 60 soccer and baseball fields or 9 swimming pools?

Public parks and recreation facilities play an essential role in our lives, whether we’re children, teens, adults or seniors. They offer a welcome respite from the rigors of our daily schedules, providing us with the opportunity to relax, exercise, explore and rejuvenate our spirits in ways that are personal and meaningful to us.

But our parks are in trouble. Here in San Francisco, years of budget cuts, including a whopping $12.4 million deficit for this fiscal year alone, have left the Recreation and Park Department at a critical juncture. Despite being 200 gardeners and 60 custodians short, our park maintenance scores have never been higher. We survived our most recent budget challenges by implementing creative revenue generating initiatives and scouring our operation for staff efficiencies, including a new gardener apprentice program.

We’ve also implemented a complete reorganization of our recreation model that’s more efficient, saves money and improves the quantity and quality of programming at our recreation facilities by asking the public to play an active role in deciding what types of programs are needed at each individual site.

We can no longer adequately staff our smaller clubhouses or operate our recreation centers and pools seven days a week. Recognizing that further reductions to our budget would have drastic impacts we’re pursuing grants and philanthropic support to help keep the doors open. We’re looking for community partners to provide relevant programming at these sites to keep them active, safe and fun.

We need your help. Visit our website – www.sfrecpark.org – and join our email list. Ask your elected leaders to support a more financially sustainable urban parks system.

New Partnership Connects Jobseekers in Need with Appropriate Resources

by Myke Suyat

The Western Addition Neighborhood Workforce Services (WA-NWS) Partnership was formed to help connect jobseekers with the right services to overcome barriers that may be preventing them from finding employment. It’s not enough that a One Stop Career Link Center opened in 2009. People are dealing with other issues outside of identifying job opportunities or having a resume prepared. In some cases, there are legal issues or there are family issues. While organizations that handle these kind of challenges already exist, people often don’t know about them. Thus, the partnership was created this past fall to bridge the gap between resource and need.

“It’s really important that the partnership exists,” says Kriztina Palone, a Project Manager at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). “There’s a great need in the Western Addition overall, but particularly with residents in the various housing developments, including public and subsidized housing, who may need the services and don’t know they’re available. The partnership engages the entire community to connect these residents with services that enhance their opportunities to gain employment.”

The WA-NWS Partnership consists of the OEWD in an advisory capacity, Allen Community Development Corporation (a program of Bethel AME Church), Up From Darkness, Brothers for Change, Renaissance Parents of Success, Mo’ MAGIC, Westbay Development Corporation, and the Western Addition One Stop Career Link Center. The partnership, through a series of coordinated efforts, targets those underserved residents in public or subsidized housing, or anyone who may have multiple barriers to employment. The partnership also provides presentations directly to residents on-site at housing meetings. One of the presentations occurred in November to residents at Plaza East Apartments. Martha Hollins, manager of the Plaza East Tenants’ Association, says that the residents were “very receptive to the information sessions and had plenty of questions for the presenters.”

With goals in mind for 2011, the partnership will continue to hold presentations, distribute information at events, survey, and work with people one-on-one so that subsequently, they will enroll into workshops, training programs, case management services, and the One Stop Career Link Center. When the economy stabilizes, hopefully our Western Addition neighbors will have taken steps necessary to get their lives in check and their job applications above and beyond the minimum requirements so that they, too, can qualify for new opportunities.

Green Activism

by William Buckley

One of the best stores in Hayes Valley for socially and environmentally conscientious gifts and books is the Green Arcade, located at the corner of Market and Gough Streets. Patrick Marks opened The Green Arcade in October 2008 after having worked for twenty years for Cody’s Bookstore, a literary institution in Berkeley. Having coordinated Cody’s satellite shop for the Green Festival in San Francisco, Patrick envisioned a store that focused on his own sensibilities: the growing urgency to issues of the environment, sustainability, art, political awareness, and activism. As a result, he developed the concept for The Green Arcade.

In two years, The Green Arcade has become a real asset to the community. The store’s Gough and Market Street location informs its programming: to including important topics such as the built environment, urban farming, food issues, green schoolyards and public art. The store promotes local authors, artists, and craftsmen, including several who live in Hayes Valley.

Patrick’s husband, artist Gent Sturgeon, created the store’s iconic sprouting Pinocchio logo as well as contributed the artwork to the Fillmore map of local author Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City, a San Francisco Atlas, a collaboration between artists, cartographers, and writers. This and a wide variety of other books are among the autographed copies available at The Green Arcade. Also available are art works, crafts made from recycled materials, cards, and children’s books at a wide variety of price points. Stop by The Green Arcade to see more of what they offer and check out the continuing schedule of events including speakers, readings, and signings, at the website: www. thegreenarcade.com

An Introduction to Mo’ MAGIC

by Myke Suyat

As the new Program Assistant at Mo’ MAGIC, I plan to ride this “new guy” title as long as I can. Almost one month on the job and I’m still discovering who we are, what we do, and why we do it. I think I have a good grasp of this organization, but I learn new things everyday because we do more than what we say we do on paper. Mo’ MAGIC Director, Sheryl Davis, who is affectionately dubbed, Sister Davis within the walls of the office, is busy, really busy.

Founded by the SF Public Defender’s Office in 2004, we are “a collaborative San Francisco neighborhood-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform the community and youth through the MAGIC of collaboration.” The program first served the Bayview & Hunter’s Point community and then in 2006 expanded to Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods due to the efforts of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Thus, Bayview MAGIC’s sibling was born, Mo’ MAGIC (Mo’ is short for Fillmore), with Ms. Davis at the helm. Before Mo’ MAGIC, programs were being offered to the community that were disconnected. Now Mo’ MAGIC coordinates and collaborates efforts in the Western Addition.

Once defined by our name, Mobilization for Adolescent Growth in our Communities (MAGIC), we initially served organizations working with at-risk or underserved youth, who are more susceptible to juvenile delinquency. But driven by the needs of the entire community, we expanded to serve other unmet needs. “We couldn’t just serve the kids without looking at the rest of the household,” Ms. Davis explains. “The families need assistance, too.” The partnership has grown to include jobreadiness, mental and health-service organizations, housing development managers, and resident associations.

“We have evolved into a one-stop shop of neighborhood know-how,” Ms. Davis continues. “We work towards our mission by convening stakeholders, building community and capacity, and sharing information and resources.”

Our annual events include weekly summer activities, academic support, field trips, holiday celebrations, a backpack giveaway, interfaith activities, teen council and leadership, community gardening, and more. The youth, as a result of their regular participation in community events, have taken ownership of the neighborhood. And through regular interaction with each other, these same kids have helped to break down some of the invisible walls that have caused separation and fighting. Ultimately, Mo’MAGIC is achieving the mission of Public Defender Jeff Adachi when he instituted MAGIC along with Western Addition stakeholders by decreasing truancy and youth encounters with the criminal justice system.

As we plan for 2011 and continue to serve the neighborhood on a tighter budget, we invite you to participate, share your ideas, or volunteer at an event. All meetings are open to the public. For more information, please contact info@momagic.org or visit us on our website atwww.momagic.org.

Curiosity, Creativity and Connection

by Bob Barnwell

We have a lot of unique businesses in our area, one of the newest being Seesaw. Located at 600 Octavia Street at Grove, Seesaw is a cafe, play studio and shop, that hosts workshops for children. This is a place where parents or guardians can bring children, aged four to ten, to a workshop, while the adults sit back and relax or work at the cafe that features coffee, tea, juices, cookies and free WiFi. The cafe will soon serve espresso and sandwiches.

There is a full schedule of workshops, headlined by “learning to think socially,” “learning to build friendships” and “learning practical manners and etiquette.” There are also workshops in art, music, sign language and parent education. Adults can bring their children just to the play area while they enjoy the cafe space. Seesaw also features free entertainment programs such as international story telling, puppet shows and rock-n-roll shows.

Founder Dr. Sabrina Gabel used to be a school psychologist but wanted to start her own business. She and husband Niels loved living in San Francisco but felt that the one thing that was missing was a place were both kids and grown-ups could have a good time. She hopes that future programs will include potty training, Italian language classes, and Tree Frog Treks for the kids and art openings and wine tastings for the grown-ups. Non-profit youth groups in Hayes Valley and the Western Addition are connecting with Seesaw to take part in the programming. For more information contact Sabrina at 415-553-8070 or check out the website atwww.seesawsf.com.

Pork and More

by Murrey Nelson

fatted calf

Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller met at the Culinary Institute of American in 1996. Following graduation, they went to Italy to train with master Tuscan butcher, Dario Ceccini, and it was there that The Fatted Calf was born. The business opened in Dogpatch in 2006, making products for farmers markets, but moved to the Oxbow Market in Napa in 2008. Wishing to come back to San Francisco, the husband and wife team were scouting locations, when their friend Loring Sagan, of Sagan Piechota Architecture in Hayes Valley, alerted them to the availability of a space on Fell Street. They knew instantly that 320 Fell Street was right for the type of specialty retail operation they were seeking.

The shop, which opened on September 21, 2010, focuses on local, sustainable products – many from purveyors who became friends over the years – combined with high-end specialty imports from Italy. All of the meat is hormone and antibiotic free and grass-fed. While the Napa store boasts the production kitchen, where most of the curing, brining and smoking of the meat occurs, and special classes are conducted, the San Francisco store hosts a unique Pork Happy Hour every Wednesday night, at which shoppers enjoy free wine and beer and tasty treats. The owners will make custom cuts of meat for shoppers to take home that night for dinner. Store manager Jess McNinch reports that business has been fantastic since they opened and that the neighbors and everyone who has come in, has been extremely welcoming and enthusiastic. So, if you’re looking for that holiday ham, turkey, quail or duck liver mousse, this is the place!

Hayes Valley Farm: A Seasonal Update

by Booka Alon

The Hayes Valley Farm was awarded a generous community Challenge Grant from the Department of the Environment on October 14th. On November 14, with support from the help of 288 individual donors across the country, the farm raised $22,600, surpassing the initial request by $2,000 on Kickstarter. com. The funds will go to new education programs and will ensure the farm can widen its reach to a more diverse spectrum of people, as well as serve the greater community by opening its gates more days each week. The farm is continuing to raise funds for their 2011 Operations Plan, and is preparing to launch some highly anticipated Winter Education Course Offerings, including fruit tree grafting and compost tea recipes. On November 30, 2010, Pesticide Watch held a press conference at Hayes Valley Farm, featuring speakers Melanie Nutter, of the Department of the Environment and Francesca Vietor, President of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The event outlined reports by fifty scientists – including five Nobel Laureates- condemning the use of the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide and its dangerous implications.

Hayes Valley Farm raises $22,660 in 45 days on Kickstarter.com.
The funds will be used for new education programs and to build infrastructure for 2011, image courtesy Booka Alon

Hayes Valley Farm will host its first ever Winter Wonderfarm, a seasonal day camp for kids ages three to thirteen, December 20th-23rd and December 27th- 30th. We are joined by local artists, musicians, worm enthusiasts, soil scientists, chefs and bakers. We invite our youth to experience the magical interconnections of the natural world, directly taste, smell and engage in urban transformation, community building and collaboration in an effort to create a holistic and meaningful experience for kids during winter break. Scholarships are available. For registration and scholarship information go to http://www. hayesvalleyfarm.com/winter-wonderfarm.

We need your carbon. Please give us your cardboard, holiday wrapping and packaging (non glossy) so we can layer it in our compost bins and veggie beds. To sign up for our newsletter, send an email to newsletter@hayesvalleyfarm.com

Walk Stops

by Mari Hunter

Invited by GOOD Magazine to host a City Research and Development (R+D) event, a small group of impassioned District 5 residents with strong professional and/or personal interests in urban planning, environment, safety, and community ideals gathered in August to brainstorm and produce strategies to improve the safety, identity and transportation network of District 5. From this session, the D5 R+ D group developed a concept that addressed safety, identity and transportation all in one–Walk Stops.

Walk Stops

Image Courtesy Ron Stanford, inspired by Booka Alon, D5 resident and Marketing and Development Strategist with Hayes Valley Farm

Inspired by Portland Oregon’s City Repair Placemaking Program, Walk Stops will calm traffic, encourage walking as a viable mode of transport, and reinforce the concept of community. The vision is to elevate the walking environment with ergonomic or patterned crosswalks, provide a little extra space for pedestrians with bulb-outs (expanded sidewalk space) at corners, provide information with wayfinders and when possible, offer a resting place with benches and greenery. Walk Stops will emphasize the pedestrian space to draw in more pedestrians and to alert drivers to recognize they need to drive slowly. The Walk Stop is also intended to reflect the identity of the area in which is it located effectively, building a sense of community.

Since that first meeting, GOOD Magazine listed Walk Stops as their top strategy (www.good.is/post/sanfrancisco- is-2010-city-r-d-winner/), and the creators, with the leadership of Thea Selby (D5 resident and President of the Lower Haight Merchant + Neighbor Association), have further developed the concept with mapping and sketches, development and implementation research, and have explored funding opportunities.

In the coming weeks, the creators will be meeting with an architect to finalize designs as well as the first three locations—one in Hayes Valley is among five being considered. If you would like to get involved or get more information email voice@hayesvalleysf.org Attention: Mari Hunter.