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On Our Second Anniversary: Gratitude

The Hidden Garden Steps mosaic and gardens are (already!)  two years old—as of today—and the site continues to be as attractive and appealing as all of us hoped it would be, thanks largely to the ongoing contributions of volunteers and visitors from all over the world.


Detail from “gratitude” passion flower on the Steps

It’s a place where we celebrate community in a welcoming, tranquil, and well-respected setting—a place where neighbors and other members of our world-wide Steps community  meet, talk, exercise, and simply enjoy the benefits of the collaborations that continue to grow here in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District.

If you haven’t been onsite (on 16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets) recently to see the 148-step ceramic-tiled mosaic designed and fabricated by project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, you’re in for a treat: recent tree-trimming completed by volunteers has made more of the mosaic visible from 16th Avenue between Judah and Kirkham streets, and the gardens (particularly at the bottom and top of the Steps) are beginning to flourish again thanks to recent rainfall after the long, dry summer and autumn months.

Our partners in the San Francisco Department of Public Works are also continuing to work on a long-term solution to a drainage problem at the foot of the Steps. Neighbors continue to donate succulents and drought-tolerant native California plants to expand the gardens. And our next monthly clean-up and planting is scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 2015 from 1 – 3 pm if rain doesn’t force cancellation of the event. As always, new and returning volunteers are welcome to join us; for more information, please contact Paul Signorelli (

N.B.: For additional reflections in the second anniversary of the completion of the Hidden Garden Steps mosaic, please visit the Building Creative Bridges blog.

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.