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Hidden Garden Steps Serves as Model for Community Collaborations  

Installation of the 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic designed and created by Hidden Garden Steps project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher was far from the end of the road for the thriving Steps community. We are now in our second, long-term phase: sustaining the project as a community gem that also serves as a model for others interested in exploring how collaborations strengthen communities.

HGS--Logo--2013--10-5--CandelaThe project was honored in April 2014 with a “Street Park of the Month” designation in Street Wise, the San Francisco Department of Public Works and San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA) newsletter for Street Park stewards and their neighbor groups. Aileen was invited to travel to Las Vegas to attend the Coverings 2014 international trade fair and expo that is dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone; she and Colette were honored, at the conference, with the 2014 Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Award for best community project and a $1,000 cash award for their design and fabrication of the 148-step ceramic-tile Hidden Garden Steps mosaic. And requests for presentations from those involved in the project are providing other opportunities for word to spread on how community-based volunteer-driven projects produce tremendously positive results.

Our latest presentation, delivered through an hour-long program at the Sunset Branch Library (corner of 18th Avenue and Irving Street) on June 10, 2014, helped participants understand how they might achieve similar successes within their own neighborhood. The presentation PowerPoint slide deck, complete with speaker notes, remains available on SlideShare as a resource for others interested in learning how to organize and complete community projects involving numerous informal collaborations and formal partnerships.

For more information about joining Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps volunteers in ongoing site maintenance, please contact site stewards Paul Signorelli and Licia Wells at For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps mosaic and gardens, please visit our website at

Hidden Garden Steps Presentation at Sunset Branch Library (Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7 p.m.)

An opportunity to learn how to create community, art, and gardens like those fostered by the Hidden Garden Steps project is right around the corner.Installation of the mosaic in November 2013

Installation of the mosaic in November 2013

Installation of the mosaic in November 2013

Paul Signorelli and Licia Wells, two of the three project co-chairs and currently serving as site stewards for this volunteer-driven community-based project in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District, will lead the hour-long program at the Sunset Branch Library (corner of 18th Avenue and Irving Street) beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

The project, which was completed on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets as a San Francisco Street Parks Program effort under the auspices of the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Department of Public Works, led to the creation of the second ceramic-tiled staircase to be designed and fabricated by Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. Gardens on either side of the mosaic continue to be planted and maintained by volunteers organized through the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps.

For more information about the event, please contact Signorelli and Wells at For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit the project website at