Archive | July 2014

Friends Summer 2014 Newsletter Now Online

News updates, photographs, and calls for volunteers are among the items included in the latest edition of the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps quarterly newsletter, available on the Friends blog at https://hiddengardensteps.wordpress.com/newsletter/.

Visitors are approaching the Steps in numerous ways

Visitors are approaching the Steps in numerous ways

Originally created in early 2012 as a way to attract donors and other supporters to the Hidden Garden Steps project, the newsletter has evolved into a vehicle for providing a quarterly digest of how the Hidden Garden Steps site continues to grow as a community-supported resource that is increasingly attracting visitors from all over the world.

Among the latest updates is a brief report on efforts to begin a docent program on the Steps, located on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District. A four-part training course comprised of weekly 90-minute sessions is currently under development. Several members of the Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee continue to spend time on the Steps to informally answer visitors’ questions about the project, the 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic completed by project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, the volunteer-maintained gardens, and how others can organize to bring volunteer-driven, community-based projects to fruition. New docents, upon completion of their training, will be asked to sign up for one one-hour shift each month on a Saturday or Sunday so we can expand the amount of time visitors find project representatives onsite.

To learn more about the docent program or to join a contact list for additional updates, please write to Paul Signorelli, one of the Steps volunteer site stewards under the auspices of the San Francisco Parks Alliance/San Francisco Department of Public Works Street Parks Program, at paul@paulsignorelli.com.

Playful Interactions on the Hidden Garden Steps

The Hidden Garden Steps site (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District) has increasingly become a playful venue for unplanned community interactions over the past several months.

Toy salamander left in spiral at top of Steps

Toy salamander left in spiral at top of Steps

While work was underway to install project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher’s 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic in fall 2013, visitors to the site began leaving small objects. A couple of plastic figures appeared (and just as quickly disappeared) at the foot of the Steps, followed by the addition of a small plastic salamander in the soil at the top of the site—an apparent homage to the ceramic-tile salamander that extends across two flights of stairs on the top third of the site.

Visitors have, at times, brought all sorts of objects (including large stuffed animals) to include in their onsite photographs, and other plastic figures (including a tiny frog) have replaced the salamander in the spiral at the top of the Steps.

Magnets left on hand-rail

Magnets left on hand-rail

Our latest gift from an anonymous donor is a series of words on refrigerator magnets attached to the recently-installed handrails. Comments formed from those words are already beginning to express a variety of sentiments to augment the expressions of delight, gratitude, and wonder that we hear on a daily basis from those drawn to the beauty of what community collaboration has produced.

For more views of our onsite community in action, please visit our Google+ photo album—or, better yet, join us on the Steps.

Hidden Garden Steps “From Vision to Reality”: Monday, July 28, 2014, 7 pm

Hidden Garden Steps project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher will join organizing committee members and other project volunteers on Monday, July 28, 2014 beginning at 7 pm for “From Vision to Reality,” a panel discussion sponsored by S.H.A.R.P. (Sunset Heights Association of Responsible People).

Sharp--LogoThe session, in S.H.A.R.P.’s community meeting room (1736 9th Avenue, near Moraga Street in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District), will include a brief virtual photographic tour of the site and include plenty of time for interactions with audience members interested in knowing how large- and small-scale community collaborations are organized for success.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Steps (December 7, 2013)

Ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Steps (December 7, 2013)

Although only open since December 2013, the Hidden Garden Steps site on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets has joined the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (Moraga Street, between 15th and 16th avenues) as a neighborhood landmark attracting visitors from around the world. Four years ago, success for the Hidden Garden Steps was hardly assured. Neighbors, a variety of organizations, local government representatives, and more than 600 individual donors came together with discipline, perseverance, and the faith required to make it happen.

To learn how the artists and these dedicated volunteers turned an attractive idea into a beautiful reality–and how others can engage in similar “tactical urbanism” endeavors to benefit our community, please join us at the event. In addition to the artists, panelists include steps organizing committee members Sherry Boschert and Licia Wells, and garden volunteer Connie Ngarangad. Steps organizing committee member Paul Signorelli will serve as moderator.

For more information, please visit the S.H.A.R.P. website at http://sharpsf.com/index.html.

Unclogging the Drains

San Francisco Department of Public Works colleague Mike Jason was onsite this morning as part of the final effort to clear long-plugged drains at the bottom of the Hidden Garden Steps, on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District.

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

What should have been an easy project—removing dirt and leaves that accumulated over decades within the two drains at the bottom of the Steps—became unexpectedly complicated earlier this year when DPW and Public Utilities Commission employees discovered an additional impediment: concrete wedged into pipes so that water could not flow from the drains into the nearby sewer system. Initial responses from PUC hinted that an entire wall might have to be removed and entirely new connecting pipes installed to connect the onsite drains to the mid-street sewer system.

Coordinating their efforts, however, led to a different, less-complex solution. PUC and DPW staff recently managed to remove the hard-to-access concrete blockage. Mike and other DPW colleagues are now completing the final part of the effort—removing the remaining tree roots and other debris that have accumulated in the pipes. Completion of that effort should prevent further overflows of water during the rainy season and paves the way for adding colorful hand-made tiles to the wall at the foot of the Steps to spell out the name “Hidden Garden Steps.”

Steps Online Presence Growing: Reviews on TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor has become the latest place online where Hidden Garden Steps supporters are expressing their delight about the completed project on 16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District—two blocks away from the original ceramic-tiled staircase (on Moraga Street, between 15th and 16th avenues).

TripAdvisor_LogoA review published in June 2014 calls it “another beautiful addition to the city,” and a second posting later that month provides more background and a dozen photos providing a glimpse of what the site provides.

HGS--Logo--2013--10-5--CandelaThe Hidden Garden Steps project has always relied on an interwoven and carefully-managed series of face-to-face and online updates to reach its audience. Members of the Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee started and continue to maintain Facebook and Twitter (@GardenSteps) accounts along with an ever-growing website. Installation of the 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic that was designed and created by project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, has taken social media coverage to new heights as visitors themselves have begun posting unsolicited reviews on Yelp, check-ins on FourSquare, numerous photographs on Instagram, and the new reviews on TripAdvisor.

A compilation of articles and postings is maintained by Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps volunteers on Scoop.it! and is available at http://www.scoop.it/t/hidden-garden-steps. Numerous other links to social media postings and online photographs are available at the bottom of the project website, at http://hiddengardensteps.org.

Join the Steps Community: Onsite Clean-up Saturday, July 12, 2014, 1-3 pm

Looking to meet your neighbors? Join the Hidden Garden Steps community, comprised of supporters from near and far.

Regis Moine (left) and Peter Cavanna, working on the Steps garden with Licia Wells during their recent visit from Paris

Regis Moine (left) and Peter Cavanna, working on the Steps garden with Licia Wells during their recent visit from Paris

With plenty of help from volunteers and generous donations of plants from Steps supporters—including Regis Moine and Peter Cavanna, who participated in the June 2014 clean-up during an extended visit to San Francisco (from Paris)—the gardens surrounding the Hidden Garden Steps mosaic are continuing to grow even in our driest months. California poppies, monkey flowers, yarrow, and other plants are in full bloom, and we’re continuing to expand the breadth and scope of those gardens that are becoming an increasingly attractive habitat to birds, butterflies, and bees.

Please join us—and bring any succulents that we can place in the garden as we continue working through the dry summer months:

  • Location: Hidden Garden Steps (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton, Inner Sunset District, San Francisco)
  • No reservations required
  • Gloves/tools provided

For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit our website (http://hiddengardensteps.org) and blog or contact site stewards Licia Wells and Paul Signorelli at hiddengardensteps@gmail.com.

Keeping the Hidden Garden Steps Clean

Our San Francisco Street Parks Program colleagues have just made it a bit easier to keep the Hidden Garden Steps clean: a new garbage can is now in place at the foot of the Steps (16th Avenue, at Kirkham, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District).

HGS--Garbage_Can--2014-06-21Jerad Weiner, Community Liaison, Community Programs with the San Francisco Department of Public Works, helped coordinate the effort to obtain and place the can in an area that has been subject to accumulations of paper cups, empty pizza boxes, and other litter left by visitors to the site. The availability of the trash receptacle has noticeably reduced the amount of onsite litter since installation was completed a couple of weeks ago.

Volunteers from our extended community of support continue to engage in a variety of activities including weekly sweeping, trash removal as needed, and monthly onsite planting/garden maintenance.

To become involved in Steps community efforts to keep the site attractive and inviting, please contact Steps stewards Paul Signorelli and Licia Wells at hiddengardensteps@gmail.com.