San Francisco now enters our most glorious weather period of the year. End of summer and early fall represent our warmest and clearest months. It brings clear blue skies (minus the fog), toasty warm days (upper seventies), and explosions of people on the street. Only the kids forced back to school as summer actually starts and sweatshirt vendors unable to clothe tourists in tacky memorabilia get upset. Everyone else throws on what passes for summer gear and heads out the door.
This past week I wandered through the Tenderloin in search of color and found small gardens dotting the landscape. Among my favorites was a riotous gathering of colorful flowers guarding the entrance to a rest home. Granted flowers were unlikely drought resistent nor did the garden make space for veggies (all important considerations. But its jumbled beauty brought smiles to walkers passing on the street.
Other parts of the garden appeared “organized” but are no less lovely in their color burst.
In contrast, City maintained parks line up in cool geometric patters to maximize space. However, none skimp on color or texture.
Sometimes also plants just randomly shoot up on their own on City Property (how appropriate it’s a lovely purple flowering plant).
Sometimes too it’s just a colorful tree on a median joining those near it to grab the maximum sun and attention.
Nor should I neglect the federal government, which has added a lovely garden of metal and flowers to its Golden Gate Courthouse.
Contrary to popular belief, San Franciscans like kids. We may not favor sharing SF MUNI space with strollers the size of mini-hummers. Nor do we possess wide swaths of land for expansive malls filled with mega theaters. However, just about every school based bond wins wide support. We book our recreation centers and public parks with back to back soccer and baseball games. Our cultural institutions open their doors for free on multiple days and sponsor youth oriented events.
This community concern and parental passion reaches it zenith, however, in the Tenderloin. There hard-working immigrant communities coexist with the hardcore homeless grappling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. In the Loin too often syringes litter the streets, urine permeates the air, and feces (from assorted mammals) turn sidewalks into hopscotch games. Much of this gets hidden from non-walkers by towering edifices paying homage to monumental egos.
Despite these obstacles, a quick look will turn up the some of the most vibrant and involved educational programs in the City both during and after school hours.
Volunteer organizations run day recreational programs, tutor students who often arrive not speaking English, and provide safe after school programs. Other groups provide financial support to these and other programs.
A clear example occurred last Thursday when a daytime showing of the Olympics headlined a community fair set up with free kid sized entertainment. Happiness both on the kids and the parents faces shone through the pictures (probably same expression appeared on faces hundreds of years ago in medieval times during Maypole Celebrations). ‘
All the pictures speak for themselves.
However, pay attention to a few things. One, its unclear if the pirate flag or the kids frightened the dragons more (regardless expressions on this arcade ride are priceless).
Two, the giant slide attracted the most users, but note the differing responses on the three children’s faces (joy, surprise, and fear).