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.
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.
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.
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).
The 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
Jerad 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 email@example.com.