African Outlet and Bayview are a good fit

By Elizabeth Skow

Horgan Edet and Judah Dwyer’s African Outlet, a retail/gallery space filled with unique handmade African carvings, ceremonial masks, jewelry and fabric, is longtime San Francisco denizen. To the good fortune of Bayview, the store moved to 4942 3rd St. last year, after being priced out of their Hayes Valley location.

The first six months were rough, Edet admits, with sometimes only a few small sales over a two­-week period. He and Dwyer paid the rent with their income from other jobs which they both have in addition to managing and running the store. Edet, who came to the US from Nigeria in the seventies, has a degree in Civil Engineering and worked at Lockheed for 18 years as a drafter. He is also an airplane pilot. He now works in San Francisco for the Teamsters when he isn’t at African Outlet.

Since their “Juneteenth” celebration, however, things have picked up. The celebration involved a drum circle and many locals were drawn in by the sound of the drums. More people know about the store and sales have been getting a bit better.

“I love what I do,” Edet said, “If I was here for the money I’d be gone a long time ago!”

Some of the customers who came to the Hayes Valley store are reluctant to come to Bayview, Edet said, but African Outlet has a twelve year lease on the 3rd Street space just as the neighborhood is starting to really take off. It will get better. Besides, he said, the neighborhood has been so welcoming that it makes up somewhat for having to move.

“When we had our celebrations at the old store, people would always ask us to keep it down and not make too much noise, but here in Bayview we have only had people ask us to turn it up.”

Pokeman Go gamers discovering Bayview

zubatonmural

By Wei Ming Dariotis

Zubats! Goldeen! And Pidgeys, oh my!

Visitors to Quesada Gardens may now be coming not just to smell flowers and look at beautiful murals, but to catch Squirtles, Pidgeys, Zubats, and a few Sycthers — or, the latest craze: Pokémon Go, a mobile app update of the Nintendo game classic. In just a few short weeks, Pokémon Go has become a global phenomenon, enticing adults as well as teenagers and kids to get outside and explore.

What I find most exciting about playing the game is the feeling of being on a scavenger hunt. It makes you feel like you are on an adventure. It is a game that encourages communal playing, and social groups of co-workers and friends, and even families, are organizing PokéWalks to PokéStops and PokéGyms.

Pokémon Go has reshaped players’ relationships with the urban landscape. Bayview, like the Mission, provides an important cluster of PokéStops, many of which are places of artistry, like our community murals or Founders’ Memorial. These are often places that might be passed by, or are located in obscure locations. But, as they are marked on the PokéMaps people follow on their phones, these places are made more visible.

Both the Quesada Gardens’ Community Mural, at the Quesada turnaround, and the “Bayview Is…” Mural on Newhall just under the Bridgeview Garden are PokéStops. At a PokéStop, players can collect items like PokéBalls, which are used to capture or collect the seemingly infinite variety of creatures. (Pokémon is short for “pocket monster.”)

In a form of augmented reality, players can see the Pokémon superimposed on their lived environment through their phones’ cameras. It can be quite exciting to see the fish-like Goldeen gently waving its fins among the flowers you can see in front of you in real life, or the Pidgey jumping up and down on the hood of your car (while you are safely parked, of course!). It blurs the line between the virtual and the real. Using GPS, the game tracks players and gives bonuses — like specially hatched eggs — to those who make the effort to walk. (Driving or riding a bike does not unlock the Pokémon eggs.)

Not only can players collect important items at PokéStops, or battle other Pokémon at PokéGyms, but they can also find specific types of Pokémon in environments that draw that particular variety. For example, Ocean Beach is the place to go for water-type Pokémon. This aspect of the game has encouraged notoriously neighborhood-bound San Franciscans to venture forth beyond neighborhood boundaries in order to collect a wider variety of Pokémon. (There are over 150 in Pokémon Go and hundreds more in other iterations of the game.)

After less than a month of being active, Pokémon Go already has more users in the United States than Twitter. The Pokémon world includes card games, collectible stickers (in gum packets), television series, movies, and video games for various gaming platforms (handheld, console, arcade, etc.), as well as stuffed animals and other toys, but Pokémon Go is already the most successful version of the franchise. It is so revolutionary that it will reframe how video game apps will be developed from now on, and it may just pave the way for other forms of interactive, place-based entertainment.

Innovative traffic-calming at Quesada Gardens

Images by Shane King

John and friend

Shane King lives on the upper side of Quesada Avenue, which has a speed limit of 15 MPH, and he’s tired of seeing and hearing cars whiz by his house.

A speed bump was installed, to little avail. So King, Co-Chair of Quesada Gardens Initiative, brought up the idea of traffic calming cutouts shaped like local children and pets. He thought that putting up cutouts of the people and pets who actually live on the block might make speeders think about who lives here. Maybe they will slow down.

“I thought of this solution for three reasons,” King said “It’s a reminder that speed limit is 15 MPH on the street, it’s a way to show speeders who’s lives they are risking, and it is a way to show all the kids on the street they are honored members of our community.”

kids cutoutsThere are nine kids under ten on the 1700 block of Quesada. The cutouts should be finished and placed by mid-August. They will be placed in the garden in view of drivers.

If you have an idea for our community and would like to get involved, Quesada Gardens Initiative welcomes you to join us at our community building meetings the first Thursday of each month at 6pm. All community members are welcome.

cutouts

Fourth of July can be a nightmare for pets

By Beth Johnson

duke crop

The Fourth of July is upon us, a time for celebrations, national pride and fireworks. Beautiful, awe-inspiring… and LOUD. While most humans love the experience of fireworks and firecrackers, our pets frequently have a very different reaction to all the explosive noises.

Nationally, 10 million pets are lost per year, and the one day that inevitably sees more lost pets entering shelters than any other is July 5th.

Pet Amber Alert tells us that animal control officials across the country see an increase of 30-60% in lost pets from July 4th through July 6th. The Humane Society of the US informs us that less than 2% of cats and only 15-30% of dogs that wind up in shelters get reunited with their people.

There are a number of articles online with important suggestions on how to be prepared & keep your pet safe on & around the 4th of July. Here are tips from two such articles, one put out by the Humane Society and one from Cesar Milan.

Both sources emphasize the importance of where your pet will be, location, location, location. If possible, it is wise to find a place - a friend’s home, a pet hotel – where your pet will be isolated from the loudest of the noise. If not possible to have your pet stay somewhere quieter, than keep your pet indoors in the quietest room of the house, ideally with radio or television playing. It might be wise to make your pet’s kennel available to him, as a safe space. If you have to go out, see if you can get someone to stay with your pet.

Cesar Milan points out how very much our dogs get from our unspoken communication, and he suggests giving the dog strenuous exercise shortly before the fireworks are going to begin, to leave the dog calm, then communicating calm to the dog through your own attitude, and minimizing your own reaction to the fireworks, sending the message that this is normal, and not something to fear.

Both sources mention that sedation is another option, that you can speak to your veterinarian about options, including techniques to calm your pet’s anxiety, a thundershirt and medication. Cesar Milan, though, says that thundershirts or medication are things to which a dog should be exposed slowly and gently, and that attempting to use either for the first time on a dog that is already excited will be of no help.

Tag and microchip your pets to make sure they are identifiable. Should the worst happen and one of our beloved furbabies escapes, ID tags and microchips greatly increase the chances we will be reunited.

A walk above the Shipyard

Shipyard tile map
Detail from tile art by local artist.

Construction is fast and furious at Hunters Point Shipyard (which marketing folks wish we’d call the “San Francisco Shipyard“). But a nice walk and quiet moments are possible in Constructionville.

The sidewalk rising from behind The Storehouse located just inside the gates forces a decision. To the right is a climb into asphalt and cement where sections of the massive building project emerge in various stages of completion. To the left is public art and a football field-sized patch of green grass at the crest of the hill.

Either way you proceed, you can get to the visitors’ center, a pleasing Southern California-esque structure where salespeople await. Never far away is what may be the development’s major sales point, a grand view of a long-neglected swath of the SF Bay’s waterfront.

Text and images: Jeffrey Betcher

Marketing meets construction.
Marketing meets construction.
Art frames nature.
Art frames nature.
An industrial gazebo with circular metal bench swing.
An industrial gazebo with circular metal bench swing.

More about Bayview’s changing natural and built environment

Bayview Hill trail, the perfect walk

Bayview Hill Trail is the perfect walk.
Bayview Hill Trail is the perfect walk.

The trail, from the end of Key Avenue, up and around Bayview Hill, is steep enough you feel like you’ve gotten some exercise, but not so long you’re down for the count by the time you make it to the top.

According to a 2013 report, the park’s distinctive characteristics include that it offers the highest publicly-accessible view in the southeast part of the City, and it retains some of the most diverse natural habitat in the City.

In many ways, walking the hill is the perfect way to get a break from city life without forgetting where you are. The trail circles between sweeping urban views and jagged reminders of Bayview’s natural environment.

Here and there are vantage points that bring to life the neighborhood’s densely populated future, as predicted in urban planning studies.  Yet the park has a peaceful aura about it, and the critters still outnumber the people by a wide margin.

Along one side of the hill, new housing has sprouted like gazillion dollar weeds. On the other side, Candlestick Point is missing a stadium and largely remains a blank canvas for the mixed-use development under construction.

On Bayview Hill, the natural beauty of the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood is as unmistakable as it is comforting in the midst of the rapid change raising dust in all directions.

Text and images: Jeffrey Betcher

Rows of new housing press the northern slope of Bayview Hill.
Rows of new housing press the northern slope of Bayview Hill.
Nature still asserts herself on Bayview Hill.
Nature still asserts herself on Bayview Hill.

Neighbor wows neighbor

jim and kisses
Photo: Liz Skow for Footprints
Jim Gatteau found Quesada Gardens one day about two years ago. He and a friend, both Castro residents exiled by soaring rent prices and dishonest landlords, were looking to buy a home. Though the Castro held their lives and hearts, Bayview was in their price range. They bid on a charming old house on Quesada Avenue, where Gatteau had been very impressed with the Bridgeview Garden and Quesada Garden. They didn’t get that house, but kept on trying.

“I just noticed how nice it looked and I thought somebody must have put a lot of work into this,” he said. He looked up Quesada Gardens and made a donation. His company matched the donation. Later that week, Gatteau came home to find on his doorstep a QGI purple shirt, homemade jam and a personal note from Jeffrey Betcher.

Gatteau has been an activist for years, focusing on big tobacco and working with Angela Alioto to ban smoking from bars in San Francisco.

“I don’t know why I became an activist,” Gatteau said, “My parents are schoolteachers. They really focused on study and reading.”

He said that it’s possible the activist gene skips generations. His grandmother crossed the country as a young woman to attend graduate school at Stanford. That was a fairly radical move in the thirties, Jim noted.

A mathematician and trained actuary by trade, Gatteau decided early on that he didn’t want a job that took over his life. He came to San Francisco from New York in 1989 to take a job in computers. He became an accountant for Wells Fargo a few years later, and worked at the Castro branch for 15 years.

Gatteau attended church in the Castro, and sang in the SF Gay Men’s Chorus. He and a roommate lived in a three-bedroom apartment, with a garden, a place spacious enough for all of their things, including Jim’s piano.  They lived there for 20 years until the landlord threatened to Ellis Act the apartment.

Ultimately, Jim and his roommate moved out with no payment.

“I would hear my landlord go on about the flavor of the neighborhood as he showed the apartment, and I would think to myself, ‘I am the flavor he’s talking about.'” Gatteau said. “You are forcing me out so you can get high rent from someone who wants to experience the Castro with all it’s flavor, but the flavor is disappearing.”

He moved into a costly studio apartment, but began thinking about an alternate plan. He and a friend decided to buy a house together. They purchased a home on Newhall St. about a year and a half ago.

Shortly after Gatteau moved to our neighborhood, a funny thing happened. The trash started to disappear.

“I had a routine at my old place, I’d walk my dog, meet friends for coffee.  And I swept up the neighborhood dog park and kept it clean of trash.”

So when he started walking his dog Kisses on Newhall, naturally he began picking up trash.

“There is so much trash on the street, and I just can’t walk by it. I pick it up because it’s the right thing to do.”

He has picked up trash in front of about 150 houses around a five block area for an entire year.

“We knew there was somebody picking up the garbage, but we couldn’t figure out who it was,” said Mary McClure, neighbor and Bridgeview Garden team leader. “The street was just so much cleaner, we knew something was going on. Then one day I drove by him and saw him picking up garbage. I yelled out, “It’s you!!! You’re the one!!!”

They discovered they were neighbors, and she bought him a trash picker so he wouldn’t have to lean over to pick stuff up.

Gatteau said picking up the garbage is a daily battle, and likened it to playing whack-a-mole. Skipping even one day of his routine results in more than double the amount of garbage he finds ­— mostly bottles, plastic cigar butts and the mylar packages that hold blunt wraps used for smoking marijuana — though, candidly, Gatteau did not know what blunt wraps even were.

One time while he was working on the trash, he watched a young boy throw a plastic water bottle on the sidewalk.

“I told him that when he littered, he was making my dog Kisses really sad.” They ended up becoming friends, Gatteau said.

The 24 bus goes directly to the Castro, and takes 24 minutes, according to Gatteau. He still has community and friends in the Castro, and spends time there. Fortunately for us, he makes Bayview and the Quesada Gardens neighborhood his home.

A different kind of neighbor conflict

Jeffrey Betcher

I came back from some travel to find a limb from my street tree had broken off and was weighing down a cable attached to the Kim home next door. I was on the sidewalk, talking with another neighbor, Shane, about what could be done when the Kim family pulled out of their garage and told us they’d already called PG&E who would send a crew that evening.

I’ve been thrice blessed with neighbors in what is now the Kim house. Woodrow Young introduced me to just about everyone in the early years after I moved to Bayview.  The Harrison’s, family member after family member, became friends and involved in the life of Quesada Gardens. And now, the Kim’s!

In another place, neighbors might argue about who should do what when a street tree threatens electricity, or worse internet connectivity, to another neighbor’s house. Not here.

PG&E did pull the tree limb down, and left it beside the Kim’s front steps. I pulled it into my driveway only to find it back at the Kim’s place the next day.  When I found Danny Kim and his kids breaking it down for compost, we compared notes and discovered that we had been in a tug-of-war over who might save the other from the task.

Thank you, Danny. It may be just one more Quesada Gardens “How lucky am I?!” story, but my gratitude for life in Bayview, and the persistent feeling that, blessedly, I am cared for here, whether from on high or next door, are stronger than ever.

If you want an “How lucky am I?!” story of your own, you might find it this weekend at Sunday Streets.

Sunday Streets 5-1-2016This Sunday, May 1st, 3rd Street will be devoted to community and play instead of the usual traffic mayhem.  A Community Livability Pavilion is planned at Quesada, and the Quesada Gardens will be open as always.  Come by for a visit!  I hear the day will also include a fun wine crush hosted by Barbara Gratta, the winemaker Bayview has been developing a crush on for years, and free dental services for those who need them.

More info at Sunday Streets online and Bayview Footprints.

Related note: The long-awaited Quint Street Rail Bridge replacement is happening!  This weekend, from today through 5 am Monday morning, expect construction activity and increased noise levels and traffic.  Caltrain will have altered transit services.

More info at Caltrain online and on Bayview Footprints.