Community-defined paths toward change
The “Bayview Is…” mural, an interactive public art project led by community artists Malik Seneferu and Heidi Hardin, was dedicated on Martin Luther King Day in 2009. The mural is part of the “Bayview Is…” Campaign, a community-generated, inclusive arts and communications strategy of the Bayview Footprints Network of Community-Building Groups. The mural boasts large swaths of color for future resident group contributions, like patches in an ever-expanding quilt, and a series of doves rising toward Bayview's future.
The Quesada Gardens Community Mural & Gathering Space emerged with leadership from QGI Co-Founders Sharon Bliss and Mike Aisenfeld. Neighbors wanted to express the magic of the garden and spirit of community. In the end, a gritty urban space was transformed when community-based artist Deirdre DeFranceaux, with fellow artist Santie Huckaby, breathed life into a potent symbol of hope and unity. The mural was dedicated in 2004.
Gathering Spaces & Gardens
Informal groups from all over the neighborhood are creating their own visions and community-building projects. Together, we are building a network of community-defined and resident-led projects that include food producing gardens and other gathering spaces.
The Bridgeview Community Garden is an elaborate teaching and learning garden that stopped the dumping of waste and slowed traffic. QGI Board Members Joel and Mary McClure (pictured, left), who live next to the garden, have been the heroic leaders since the start. Seth Wachtel and students from his Architecture and Community Design class at University of San Francisco contributed to the design and building of the garden. A team of University of California, Stanford volunteers, in their 5th year of volunteerism with QGI, pitched in with the “heavy lifting.” A new consensus-building process that will expand the project in the coming year is underway. Congratulations to the Bridgeview Community for winning Best Green Community Project of 2011 from the Neighborhood Empowerment Network!
The Latona Community Garden site, on Latona Avenue at Thornton, was a notorious dumping ground for decades. Now it’s a beloved community space for children and families. Neighbors decided on a mixed use of the lot: food production, children’s play space, and a seating area where folks can visit with one another.
Tension between residents, the City, and the site’s property owners disappeared, and the chronic dumping stopped. Rhonda Winter and Peter Haas took the lead with a lot of help from their neighbors. Pictured are neighbors Irene Molinari, (swinging), Bob Grover, (talking), Frenchy Foster (with umbrella), and Latona children (showing their love for the garden’s walnut tree).
SF Chronicle photos by Eric Luse. Latona children photo by Rhonda Winter.
The Palou Community Garden is taking shape on Palou Avenue at Dunshee, above a train tunnel. Project leadership has come from Claire Thiebault, Elizabeth Lopez (pictured), and Chris Waddling. Dozens of volunteer gatherings have produced a clean strip of well-mulched earth and fledgling plants where trash and dog droppings once ruled. The neighbors envision a space that references the history of rail traffic and involves the faith community and nearby churches.
Krispy Korner is the new community-generated name for the intersection of Crisp, Palou and Shafter Streets, near where artists and entrepreneurs make their homes. The project recently came together with repurposed stone work, planting beds, seating, and a lot of heavy lifting from project leaders Cyrus Forootan, Rahsaan Morin, Cody Reynolds, and other neighbors.
A Krispy Korner member donated the use of a Cushman vehicle with a hydraulic-lift bed to QGI, and solved a huge transportation problem. James Ross (pictured), QGI co-founder and organizer, took the vehicle to SF City College where he did mechanical work and complete refinishing. The vehicle is now energy efficient, and creates an active signage opportunity for community-building messages. It has already become a colorful and familiar sight in the heart of Bayview.
The Old Skool Kitchen Garden, a new project located on Key Avenue, has brought together residents, youth and volunteers to build a healthy food "kitchen" garden to support Old Skool Café. The garden was fueled by project leadership from Teresa Goines, and will soon produce food for her resident-led “Old Skool Café” project which trains at-risk BVHP youth in food service and life skills.
The Founders’ Memorial Vista showcases “ornamental edibles” and a sweeping view. Residents and civic leaders gathered in October of 2008 to dedicate the gathering space and share healthy foods and moving testimonials. Mayor Gavin Newsom donated a bronze plaque. Hydra Mendoza (Board of Education & Mayor’s Office), Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, and DPW leaders Mohammed Nuru and Liz Lerma spoke.
Project leader Steven Aiello won the Karl Paige and Annette Smith Community Service Award for his effort. Pictured (right) is Annette Smith speaking at the dedication.
The Vegetable Patch at the Quesada Garden has produced many seasons of homegrown greens. Edward Allen (pictured, left), one of Quesada’s newest heroes, has adopted the patch along with the rest of the 3rd Street end of the garden.
BAYBLOOM Bayview Backyard Gardens, a unique partnership with University of San Francisco, created 12 free food-producing gardens for low-income and long-term residents of Bayview Hunters Point as part of a primary prevention strategy targeting health disparities. A group of residents (pictured, right) celebrate the first harvest.
Organizing & Communications
Community organizing and communications continues to be a core pursuit for QGI. In 2004, we co-founded the Bayview Footprints Network of Community-Building Groups. Initially a network of informal groups that were getting little support elsewhere, Footprints is now a large network of small groups seated at Bayview’s branch public library and fostered by Managing Librarian Linda Brooks-Burton.
BayviewFootprints.org, a portal site for online resources serving the entire neighborhood, and regular Bayview Footprints Local News about positive activity within the community, are both growing success stories.
James Ross, QGI Co-Founder and Organizer, produces a bi-weekly public access cable television show called “Life on the Block” about community-building throughout Bayview Hunters Point. The television talk show regularly features unsung community heroes. Together, we’re doing social networking the old fashioned way: from the ground up, and from the real world to the digital.
The Quesada Gardens Initiative holds free and family-friendly community events as often as other groups have staff meetings.
Four annual outdoor film festivals have attracted hundreds of residents and friends to the heart of Bayview - at night! The 2009 Bayview Outdoor Film Festival at the Quesada Gardens included Chef Alice Wilson, Old Skool Café and USF youth who prepared and served free, healthy foods. Live performances from Golden Gate Chorus, Skutt Brothers Band, and Not Your Grammy's Theater group accompanied the dinner, and preceded a selection of films with a Bayview Hunters Point emphasis.
The “Bayview Is…” mural celebration and MLK Day of Service in the gardens were covered by KGO local ABC News. The Latona Community Garden “Fiesta” celebrated the Latona community’s achievements with an interactive healthy food “Fiesta,” with Craig Gold leading an interactive healthy food preparation demonstration from his new mobile, solar-powered kitchen. Gardening and other volunteer days, organizing meetings in residents’ homes, and daily informal interactions at all of the public gathering space projects is what the Quesada Gardens Initiative is all about.