It has been wonderful getting to know you

To say that I fell in love with this neighborhood would be an understatement.  Potrero Hill is the perfect place to be for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

This semester I have had the pleasure of getting to know this area and I could not have imagined a better outcome.  Although there have been many struggles to find a story, I have managed to get to know people and places that will continue to be a part of my life.

Reporting like this was a little more challenging than I originally thought.  I never realized how terrifying it would be to go up to a complete stranger and start asking them questions.  I would start out confident and as soon as I would walk up to someone, I would instantly get shaky.  You could probably hear it in my voice.  However, as soon as I started getting to know the person a little, I started to feel at ease.

Over the weeks it got easier and easier to get to know this community.  This area is probably one of my favorite in the city.  It is calm and quiet, which is rather different from many other places in the city. The people here are friendly and warm.

I plan to continue to write for this blog in the future.  I will be gone for the summer but will return to write in August.  Until then, thank you for reading!

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“These guys are shredding!”

Skating is more than just jumping on a skateboard and riding around a park, its a way of life.  People who consider themselves skaters usually look, dress, and act the part.  The scene usually even has a soundtrack.

In Potrero Hill there is a small skate park where people of all ages gather on sunny days to skate.

With the sun on his skin and the warm breeze rushing past him, Austin Hunter, 22, joined the rest of the boys already in the park.  He bent down and adjusted the tape that was holding together his shoe one more time before pushing off for a run.  Within seconds a smile spread across his face.

The boys all “oooh” and “ahh” when someone lands a particularly hard trick.

“These guys are shredding!” said Hunter.

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Building a Community One Step at a Time

With the faint scent of sunscreen lingering in the light breeze, she greets and hugs her fellow walkers. On a sunny day in Potrero Hill, Uzuri Pease-Greene gathered with her eager neighbors ready to take a stroll through the hilly public housing community.

Walking as a group is just one of the community outreach programs put together by Rebuild Potrero, one of Hope SF’s projects.

Rebuild Potrero will ultimately rebuild the entire public housing community, however they are starting with getting the community involved in healthy living programs.

“You can’t just reform a neighborhood by changing just the housing,” said Emily Weinstein, the community builder for Rebuild Potrero.  “They also have a community service component to Hope SF that begins with community building.”

Weinstein implemented programs from walking groups and zumba classes to community garden projects and sober living groups.  She is also working to connect residents with GED programs and job skill building workshops.

“Even if people don’t participate it’s a visible sign of change,” said Weinstein.  “The social environment change can start now.”

Being encouraged to get involved, residents are starting to notice a change in the community.

“When you have a group of people trying to make a difference, it is a little more respected,” said Uzuri Pease-Greene, the junior community builder for Rebuild Potrero and public housing resident.

There used to be  a lot of violence, said Pease-Greene.  The young people didn’t have anything to do, there was a lot of truancy, gunshots, and there was no unity.

“Now that has gotten a lot better,” she said.  “A lot of that has to do with the rebuild.”

According to the Rebuild Potrero website, they have six goals:  to create a safe and secure community; to create a healthy, green, sustainable community; to provide well designed and well managed housing; to provide well designed community services and usable open space; to preserve Potrero’s positive attributes:  place and views; and to build a strong community.

The plan is to create mixed income communities, said Weinstein.  There will be an equal share of public housing, tax-credit financed affordable rental housing, and market rate housing.

Currently Potrero Hill is “a wealthy neighborhood with a pocket of extreme poverty,” she said.

The public housing units are in a state of disrepair, Weinstein said.  They were never meant to be permanent.  There are health issues, mold, and none of the units are handicap accessible.

This rebuild would also provide more employment opportunities to help stimulate the unemployment level that hovers around 70 percent, she said.

“Residents are for the most part on board,” she said.  “But there is a certain level of apathy because residents have been promised changes time and time again.”

Although community members are generally excited for the change, some still have concerns.

Resident Monisha Mustapha hopes to see changes in the way that builders communicate with the residents.  Although there have been community meetings with the builders, they sat by the walls and watched the community members communicate, she said.  She wants to see the developers actually sit with and talk to residents about what they hope to see come out of the rebuild.

“Now because of the community building meetings, I am friends with people who live here that I probably would not have crossed paths with before,” said Mustapha.  “So that has made a difference, but has that made a difference in the community at large? Not so much.”

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Long time resident Maggie Lee Short hopes to see “more places for the children and families to go, more recreation, more beautification and more people working together to keep it beautiful.”

Active with the community building programs, she can earn gift cards at the end of each month for participating.  If a resident attends four events they earn a $25 gift card or if they attend eight they earn a $50 gift card to Safeway.

“They have zumba tonight,” she said with a laugh.  “I might take my great granddaughter.  She is three.  She likes the music and like to jump around.

Even the community’s youth is getting involved in these programs.

“Zumba is the best one!” said 18 year-old resident, Tahrio Sanford.  “It’s tiring but it’s the best one.”

Though the process is long, Sanford is excited by the changes the rebuild will bring.  The programs are good progress, she said.

Walking together is just one step in the community building process.  Although building wont break ground for another three to five years, the residents are becoming more active in their community.  By working together these residents strive for change.

“Instead of one person doing it, its a lot of people doing it together!” said Sanford.

Great Date Spots in Potrero Hill

Have a date on Friday night and don’t know where to go? Potrero Hill offers a wide range of places to go for you and your date to have a fun night.  There are coffee shops, clubs, wine tastings, and unique ice cream shops.  Everyone should be able to find the fun in Potrero Hill.  Just in case you can’t here is a map to show you all of the great date spots!

Galvanizing Infants’ Attention

He painted before he could even write his name on the paper.  In preschool he would ask his teacher to write his name on the paper after had finished his art work.

“I remember you could paint with BIG brushes on BIG paper pretty much whenever you wanted to,” recalls Peter Linenthal.  “You were so young you couldn’t even write your name!

Now at 61 years old, Linenthal is the illustrator of four board books for infants called “Look, Look!”

These black and white collage illustrations grab the attention of children from birth to one  year old.  During infancy, a child’s vision is still developing, he said.  They don’t see grey tones as clearly.

These contrasty illustrations “galvanize their attention,” Linenthal said.  “People have told me that the books are really their kid’s favorites!”

Linenthal has written and illustrated several other books as well.  His first book for children published in 1997 was called “Light the Candle, Bang the Drum.”  This book is about holidays around the world, which was only the start of his children’s book career.

He then collaborated with Ann Morris to produce “What Was it Like Grandma?” This  series of 15 books intended for older children, is about children who ask their grandmothers about what life was like when they were the grandchild’s age.

These books are the kind of books you would find in an elementary school library.  “They are a good fit there,” Linenthal said.

Although these are no longer being printed you could buy them at a used book store or online.

“I think everyone remembers the books they had when they were kids,” said Linenthal.  “They really make an impression.”

Linenthal was inspired by the books he read as a kid.  With supportive parents, he started his love for art at a young age.

After years passion for art, Linenthal went to the San Francisco Art Institute.  He graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts and then returned for his Masters in 1997.

Linenthal then went to San Francisco Sate and earned a multiple subject teaching credential.

After years of school he started teaching preschool.

“I gravitated toward the younger kids because art projects are usually part of the curriculum anyways,” Linenthal said.  “It sort of gets phased out the older kids get.”

Linenthal taught at a preschool and worked with kids at an after school  program for almost 15 years, he said.

He now volunteers for the after school program at the Daniel Webster Elementary School in Potrero Hill.

What can we expect from Peter Linenthal now?

He is currently working on a new three part book series.  These illustrated books will be children’s books about ancient Asian culture.

One will be about the Kushan Kingdom, which is where the first images of the Buddha developed.  One will be about the Great Wall, and another about ancient Mesopotamia.

“The world is becoming smaller and as we learn about ancient Europe through fairytales , kids today would learn about ancient Asia and central Asia through the books that I would write and illustrate,” Linenthal said.  “But that is a hard sell.”

Sales in children’s books are not booming and publishers are looking for a sure thing, he said.

“I’m trying,” Linenthal said.  “I am not going to give up on that!”

 

 

 

“Community in a Cup”

Aching for a good cup of coffee and a warm place to thaw out my ice cube hands, I was steered in the direction of Farley’s by several local merchants. Man, they were right!

Farley's offers a variety of coffees, teas, and pastries.

When ordering my cappuccino, I was asked “for here or to go?” I quickly responded with “here!” A couple of minutes later I was presented a black coffee cup with the foam carefully crafted into a pattern atop my espresso.

“It has such a relaxed feeling,” said Potrero local, Kim Okada.

I could feel the stress and chill in my muscles dwindle as I settled in to my seat. With a large magazine rack on one side of me and a book case with games on the other, I couldn’t decide where to start. I went with the game Uno.

However, Potrero Resident, Greg Trowbridge, comes in to work while he is doing laundry at the laundromat across the street.

Paris Hynes has learned the regular customer's orders.

“I’m not doing laundry right now, so I guess I come in more than I thought!” said Trowbridge.

Farley’s seems to be the local watering hole of 18th street. Regular customers don’t even have to order anymore. The employees already know their order.

Lael Robertson, an employee at Christopher’s Book’s down the street, goes to Farley’s everyday. “My kids come here to study,” she said.

Kim Okada has been going since the shop opened in 1989!

Customer's can enjoy a game or a book as they drink their coffee.

What makes this place special is it’s ties with the local talent. The walls of the shop are lined with local artists works. Farley’s also hosts several poetry reads and concerts monthly said employee, Paris Hynes.

“This job is sick!” said Hynes. “I get to listen to my own music.”

This one of a kind coffee shop offers a community feeling and cozy atmosphere. I could think of no better way to spend a lazy afternoon than in a seat at Farley’s with a great cup of coffee and a good book.

Farley’s

1315 18th St.

San Francisco, Ca. 94107

(415) 648-1545

Hours

Mon – Fri 6:30 am – 9:30 pm

Sat – Sun 7:30 am – 9:30 pm