Mailyn N Guzman

Diversity Makes the US
By Mailyn N Guzman


Hispanics: 17%
Filipino: 3.41million
Black: 14%


“They have to get deported”
Who the hell does he think he is?
He might be the president, but he don’t represent me


We, Latinos, Chinese, Black, and other races
Are all immigrants
The Mission, Visitacion Valley, Bayview, Portola are made up of us


Every family has a story how they got here
And it ain’t that easy


Fear, tears rolling down their faces
Leaving families behind
For a better life
Saying good bye; it ain’t that easy


Paying a lot of money to the coyotes and polleros
Hiding to not get caught


3 days …
1 week…
1 month …


Can be a whole tragedy of a life of a Latino.
Some don’t even make it to the other side.


20 years later…




This is home for us now
Made a family
Have a house
Making our dreams come true


He doesn’t care but he just wants to get rid of us


Living life is not life
This is home for us now


White, Black, Yellow, Blue, Purple
Doesn’t matter the skin color
We make America Powerful.

Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Author Bio: My name is Mailyn N Guzman. I’m 16 — about to be a Junior. I go to Burton High School. I come from an immigrant family. I see little kids getting separated from their families and it isn’t fair. I would like to become a Lawyer to fight for equality.

Mila De La Torre

 it is beautiful

Mila De La Torre
you would not believe
how many times people have asked what my ethnicity was
and instead of being fascinated by my diverse background, they’d say,
“what the fuck is lithuanian?”
as if i’d made it up
you would not believe
how many people have looked me up and down and said,
“you’re not a real mexican because you don’t speak spanish”
as if my dark hair and brown skin and mexican father wasn’t enough
you would not believe
if i told you that people have said to me,
“oh, the philippines doesn’t count as asia”
as if it isn’t asia
the philippines is fucking asia
acceptance and recognition are two beautiful things
it is beautiful when my father sends me on errands
and the woman behind the counter recognizes my brown skin and asks me,
“quieres una bolsa?”
and as awkward as it is, it is beautiful when i stumble to say,
“no, gracias”
it is beautiful when my bibi calls me from tijuana and says to me in her thick accent,
“i love you!”
and it’s beautiful when i tell her i love her, too
i recently visited the philippines with my lola, and i felt so accepted
when at restaurants, waiters would
begin to speak to me in tagalog
i felt so accepted
when i picked up the habit of kissing people on the cheeks to say hello and goodbye
i felt so accepted
when my lola’s friends would tell me stories
about when my mother visited when she was my age
and we would laugh at all the funny things she had said and done
you would not believe
how people completely diminish these two huge parts of me by saying,
“lithuanian is european? so, it’s white? so, you’re white.”
Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Author Bio: Mila De La Torre is a rising sophomore at Balboa High School. She is a part of the school volleyball team, is president of her class in Student Government, and has been writing ever since she learned to. Being mixed, she finds a struggle in finding a culture to identify with.

Naaimah Lollis

  What My Eyes See
      By  Naaimah Lollis


I look around
Every corner is a liquor store
I look around
Every street has cracks with messed up cement
I look around
Every street people are hanging out
I look around
Women roam the streets
I look around
But I rarely go outside
I look around
And hear the buses engines as they pull up to the stop
I look around
And think about my environment
I look around
And smell the smoke filled air while I taste every fast food aroma

 Photo: Brechin Flournoy

I look around
In my car gazing for miles and finally I see the city ahead
I look around
And cross the bridge to another feeling
I can smell watery air while cars honk at each other to get out the way
I ask myself, what is this change?
The air is much cooler and moist giving my body goosebumps
Slowly driving through heavy traffic
I look around
And I see buildings on steep hills
I look around
And see fresh foods in the garden
I look around
And I see a community working together
I look around
and I see palm trees and plants I’ve never seen before
I touch every plant that leaves a nice scent on my fingers
I look around
And see a difference
I look around
And it brings me joy when I hear the birds chirp
I look around
and see neighbors waving at each other
I look around
And see diversity
when I look around it makes me wonder how separated I am from my community
I look around
and see things I never really had
This is what my eyes see
Author Bio: Naaimah Lollis is a 10th grader at El Cerrito High School. She enjoys learning more about her environment and how she can make it better.

Natasha J-A

 The Bees of Quesada Gardens
 By  Natasha J-A


I am not scared of bees. I used to pet them when I was younger. I like bugs and want to learn more about them and their fascinating qualities and features.
In the garden there are lots of honey bees and bumblebees. There are also many beekeepers on the Quesada Gardens block, including Liz Skow, Tai Trang, and Shane King. The bees feed off of the loquat flowers in the winter and other flowers in the spring.
Honey bees are not native to the Bay Area, they were brought from Europe. Honey bees are one of the most common species of bee and are more well known. These bees sting, have hairy eyes and carry pollen on a ball on their legs.
Unlike honeybees, the native bumblebees don’t sting, but they do bite. There are lots of different native species of bumblebees. Once, at a community gardening event, a bumblebee colony was pulled up from the ground, but the bees were very peaceful and no one was harmed. They use their larger size to their benefit and fly into anyone threatening. These bees carry pollen on their legs.
There are also lots of mason bees in the garden. These bees are moderately sized and have stout bodies. Their bodies are dark and therefore they are able to absorb heat from the sun to keep warm. They collect pollen on their abdomen.

Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Author Bio: Natasha J-A is a student at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in the architecture and design program.

Nia Coffer

                                                                           Street Traffick
                                                                                By Nia Coffer
Through the palm trees I look through a Black lens
To a world of fear which makes no “cents”
In second place with drugs at first
I glance at 3rd Street where dogs wait to patch up their thirst
Oakland, Richmond, and San Fran alike
A few of the largest “exchanges” in sight
Many don’t understand these hostile foes
While brushing streetwalkers puppeted by those
Who seek to exploit girls renamed
As prostitute, whore, or things used in their game
I write not to sway your perception of thought
Though I’m sure it is an idea you might have bought
I write to say that these lives exist
Past the stage and screen which hides traffick by mist
Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Author Bio: Nia Coffer is a sixteen year old high school senior at San Domenico School. She is passionate about the arts, especially dance and poetry. Nia uses her gifts to express herself and bring awareness to social justice issues in the United States and the world. The inspiration for the poem “Street Traffick” comes from the issue of human trafficking in the Bay Area.

Tyler Rose

The Beauty Inside
                                                                                               By Tyler Rose
I am writing this to remind people that in order to be beautiful you don’t need to look, dress, or act any certain type of way. Your beauty is not your lips, it is not your thighs, not your hips and not your eyes. Your beauty is who you are past the physical, it runs deeper than the skin.
Photo: Conni McKenzie
I personally have struggled with feeling self conscious because of the way that I look, but as I have matured I have come to realize that looks are irrelevant. We were born with the body we have; nobody gets a choice in how they look so at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What matters is who you are as a person.
You are capable of achieving any goal you set for yourself: do not forget it. You might fail again and again, but persevere through it. Determination is a powerful and beautiful thing that can make your dreams into a reality. Be who you are and own it.  A beautiful thing about this Quesada Gardens community is how people all came together despite their differences to create a magnificent garden.
Author Bio: Tyler Rose is a upcoming senior in highschool. She loves all different types of art and martial arts. She is honored to be writing this.

Vianney Enriquez

                                                                                 As I Walk Past You…
                                                                                   By Vianney Enriquez

As I walk past you
I feel a sense of home
I smell an aroma that makes my nose tingle
I see an abundance of colors
I touch the smoothness of the petals
As I run past you
I feel the fresh air hit my face
I smell a variety of herbs
I see the parrots fly around the palm trees
I touch the leaves on the branches sticking out
As I dance past you
I feel a warmth around me
I smell clean sweet air
I see that little weeping blue cedarbehind the posing mermaid
I touch the roughness of the palm trees

Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Author Bio: Vianney Enriquez is a young woman from the Excelsior District in San Francisco. With Mexican roots, Vianney speaks both English and Spanish fluently. In her free time, she enjoys reading and dancing.

Yaretzi Hernandez

                                                                                               By Yaretzi Hernandez
Quesada Gardens: a garden full of different plants and flowers. As I walk through the garden I feel peace, I feel calm, I feel happiness — the kind that I haven’t felt in a while. I see the plants and the flowers, all of different sizes, colors, smells. They all make me feel at home. They remind  me of the home I left behind in Mexico when I came to San Francisco, a home full of fields in which crops and trees would grow, a home in which I would run around and play with all my friends, a home that I will never forget.

Photo: Conni McKenzie
Author Bio: Yaretzi Hernandez is a 16 year old girl that was born in Mexico and came to San Francisco when she was seven years old. Yaretzi is a very loving and caring person that likes to dance and to help her friends when they need it.

Ysa Metke

 The Quesada Gardens Remix of Success
 By Ysa Metke
“The accomplishment of one’s goals, an attainment of wealth, position, honors, etc.”
–Merriam Webster Dictionary
While this is the dictionary definition of success, I believe success is more complex than one definition, not something that can be summed up into a couple of sentences. Success is subjective.
To me, having a career that allows me to own the biggest house, or copious amounts of clothing and clutter isn’t what will give me satisfaction in life. Personally, materialistic things are a temporary fix, nothing more than a distraction. Success to me is having the flexibility to live a comfortable life, having chosen a path that leaves me healthy, and living to my fullest potential.  I’d like to not have the stress and anxiety of not knowing if the bills can be paid as I’ve seen growing up so often.  This is just me, just one opinion, while values differ across the board.
Photo: Brechin Flournoy
Having spent three weeks in the Quesada Gardens, I’ve gotten a chance to get to know some of the neighbors and hear their stories.
I’ve thought about it as a whole and collectively: the entire block and the environment that’s been created is an achievement. The community that’s been built and the changes that people have been able to make is a success in itself.  The success stems from those hardworking in the neighborhood, such as
Charlie Castaneda having found success in her dog walking business, A Girl and Your Dog, something she, as an entrepreneur, grew and cultivated. This is one of many examples of the neighbors and their own experiences that contributes to the current Quesada Gardens.
Author Bio:  Born in San Francisco,
Ysa Metke is a rising sophomore at Independence High School. She enjoys socializing and creativity.

Guest Editor’s Note

Girls Fly, Girls Write
By Wei Ming Dariotis
“How do I join up?” asked eight-year old Richess, after watching both the noon and 2pm site-specific performances on July 29th, 2017. Invited to show her stuff, she improvised a quick dance enthusiastically, accompanied by rhythms provided by the girls, ages 13-19, in this year’s GirlFly in the (Quesada) Gardens Program. The program brings together ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse girls from neighborhoods all over San Francisco, and as far away as Richmond and Fairfield.

 Jo Kreiter stands arm in arm with some of the girls from this year’s GirlFly group Photo: Brechin Flournoy

That diversity is the key for GirlFly in the Gardens, which ran on the 1700 block of Quesada for the third time this summer (the program runs every other year). In 2015 I was a guest speaker in the educational program taught by long-time community organizer Jeffrey Betcher, who hosted and taught for the first two GirlFly in the Gardens, and I was hooked.
The team teaching this year was lead by Jo Kreiter, of the well-known aerial dance FlyAway Productions and recent recipient of the Rauschenberg Foundation 2017 Artist as Activist Fellowship; choreographer Megan Lowe; and USF student intern Conni McKenzie.
After daily warm ups and ice-breakers lead by Conni, the girls split into separate stations: the Bridgeview Garden(Bridgeview/Revere and Newhall), for a dance choreographed by Jo; the viewing bench and tiled stairs at Newhall and Quesada, in a dance choreographed by Megan, and a song written and performed and her band; the four other stations on Quesada were choreographed by the girls with help from Megan and Jo.
A short snack break back at their base in the home of Quesada neighbors Hydra Mendoza and Eric McDonnell, and the girls were ready for Writing as Activism, which I taught with an amazing group of guest speakers (see “Writing as Activism Guest Speakers”).
The GirlFly girls’ writing reflects their curiosity and passion to connect and improve people’s lives. Public streets can be threatening for girls, especially for girls moving their bodies very visibly. When they danced, I could see them moving through this fear and reclaiming the space for their strength, creativity, and humanity to be admired, instead of being catcalled. As we watched them, they also watched us, and saw what happens when you start to talk to your neighbors and work together to improve your environment.

Writing as activism leader Wei Ming Dariotis Photo: Brechin Flournoy
I was so deeply moved by the community these girls created in just a few weeks and their eagerness to learn about the worlaround them. They were so delighted with the parrots and hummingbirds, the neighbors’ dogs and the cats that roam the block. They got to eat Rithy’s fresh collard greens, smell pungent sage and rose-scented geranium and lavender. They could smell the breath of the garden and dance to its song.
We Quesada Neighbors will miss their daily dancing, their music, and the vision they bring us of hope in the future. Each step they made has left a footprint; they are part of us, now, part of Quesada Gardens.
Writing as Activism Guest Speakers:
Elizabeth Skow, neighbor and Bayview Footprints editor, explained how publishing the longest-running blog about the Bayview works, and her life as a musician.
Myla Ablog, environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shared her experience as a Pinay scientist who loves to get her hands dirty teaching youth and repairing the environment right here in the Bayview.
Hussain Abdulhaqq, neighbor and expert gardener, told us how trees talk to each other using a mycelium network, and how insects, animals and plants in Quesada Gardens communicate with other species using signal flags (colors) and other signs.
Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer, chair of Africana Studies at SFSU, explained how Hiphop provides the tools to “remix” our stories.
Rochon Perry, publisher of Cedar Grove Books, shared her experiences of being an SF native and Black women entrepreneur in the world of independent publishing.
Charlie Castaneda, neighbor and owner of “A Girl and Your Dog,” told us about moving from Mexico and building a business and a community through compassion.
Ashoka Alvarez, who grew up on Quesada and is a recent graduate of the UC Santa Cruz environmental studies program, shared what it was like to learn in her classes about the nearby Superfund site in Hunter’s Point, and how she is determined to make a difference by reshaping environmental policies.
Tony Robles, poet and children’s book author, and recent runner-up for SF Poet Laureate, read his poetry based on observations of life on the streets of San Francisco and wisdom gleaned from his elders.
Additionally, neighbors Maxine Kraemer and Linda Pettus generously shared their stories in one-on-one interviews.
Other neighbors we ran into while in Quesada Gardens:  Rithy Chan fed the girls collard greens from his own garden; Davon Frasca let everyone Dasha and Ilya, his beautiful Russian wolfhounds; and Scott Ying shared how he recently became a gardener just by watering, then weeding, and now transplanting.
Author Bio: Wei Ming Dariotis is a Quesada neighbor and has been a professor of Asian American Studies at SFSU since 1999; she is co-editor of War Baby/ Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013), and is currently co-editing Fight the Tower: Asian American Women Against Injustice in Academia (with Kieu Linh Valverde).
more GirlFly: