Tag Archives: Shane King

QGI forges relationships with intrepid volunteer groups

By Shane King

Quesada Gardens has gone through many changes over the years. But one constant has been the great feeling newcomers get when they first hear the Quesada Gardens’ story and then get to do some work in the place they just learned about. On Sunday, November 22nd, two great relationships between the Quesada Gardens’ community and outside organizations were forged.

It took months of back and forth with various groups to settle on dates and times and tasks that would work for everyone. But now new volunteers have been oriented to the project and are eager to come back and help.         

Event planning included Craig Cannon’s renting of a truck that would take debris to the dump multiple times during the day.

The work party started as they have for over a decade now: neighbors and visitors meeting in front of Jeffrey’s house. Craig, Liz Skow, Shane King and Jeffrey Betcher talked with young people from the Student Conservation Association. Three high school students and two youth leaders arrived in the pouring rain, heard a bit about the history and mission of QGI, grabbed tools and got to work. It felt a little crazy to be working in the middle of one of the hardest rains we’ve had this year, but everyone was willing and, in fact, worked really hard.

The first task was to load the pile of debris that has been sitting across from Lisa’s house for the past eight months. Then we set our sights on the Founder’s Garden at the top of the hill wanting to give it the love it’s been needing. The pounding rain finally stopped about an hour into the work, and we could take off our hoods and see how much we’d gotten done.

Volunteers in Founder’s Garden. Photo: Jim Gatteau

Carlos Davilla joined us at the top of the hill where we finished loading up the truck and then said goodbye to our first group of volunteers for the day.

Craig, Carlos and Shane headed off to the dump and unloaded a very packed truck before returning to the gardens just in time to meet our second group of volunteers. The group is known as “Blue,” a Palo Alto/Oakland-based set of families with a deep commitment to community and service.  It included about 30 people, ages 1 to 60, each as hard-working as the last.

Shane King tells a story to a group of volunteers from Palo Alto known as “Blue.”  Photo: Carlos Davilla

Their eyes lit up when they heard the Quesada Gardens’ story, and most of them gravitated towards the dirtiest, most difficult tasks of weeding and pruning in the Founder’s Garden. These people seemed determined to do hard work, and thrilled to have had the chance to work outside for the greater good.

Along with these amazing volunteer groups, neighbors Jeffrey Betcher, Shane King, Carlos Davilla, Craig Cannon, Liz Skow and Danny Kim with his intrepid kids DJ and Emma accomplished Herculean tasks:

  • We took two truckloads to the dump for a total of 1800 pounds.
  • We filled 38 tall compost bags for DPW to pick up.
  • We filled two larger garbage bags with bottles, shoes, litter and other junk.
  • We disposed of one huge, unsightly pile of debris.
  • We introduced 35 people to the inspiring story of what a community with unity and purpose can do.
  • We renewed our faith in humanity after what was, for many of us, a very disappointing election.

Our next scheduled big volunteer day will be March 4th with a group from Habitat for Humanity.

Look for another group, ARC, in the garden, too.  These folks have been coming every Thursday, and have been planting native plants and other vegetables and flowers across from 1771 Quesada.

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.


Gardening to dance, dancing to garden

by Wei Ming Dariotis

The words “garden” and “dance” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but maybe they should be linked more often, if my experience as a gardener with the presence of 14 young dancers on our Quesada Gardens block recently is any example.

During the 4 weeks that the young women were choreographing and then rehearsing their performances, I looked out my window and saw them moving through and around the garden in ways that created spaces that hadn’t previously been significant. Their dances called my attention to parts of the garden that I didn’t really see before.

Before they came I knew who they were because the Quesada Gardens community had been planning for the program and I’d seen the video of their previous visit—and I totally supported them in theory. Yet, my first reaction when I saw them moving through a bed of tomatoes carefully tended by my neighbor, Shane, was to say, “Don’t step on the tomatoes!” They quickly reassured me that they were very aware and respectful of the work we gardeners do in the garden, both by stepping carefully and by working themselves to prune, weed, and clean out trash from the space. It might have been to make their dancing easier and safer, but it also meant they were giving to us and to the garden.

I felt inspired to give in return, and spent a bit more time than I might have otherwise under the summer sun (which we have in abundance in the Bayview!) pruning and weeding and generally trying to tuck everything into shape. I also felt inspired to start a mural on the side of my steps in my driveway, as a kind of artistic call and response. Seeing the girls dance every day—especially the solo taking shape on the stairs right across from my bedroom window—filled me with creative energy. My high school and college dancing days may be mostly over (never say never), but I can still swing around a paintbrush.

My favorite interaction, however, was more direct. Neighbor Jeffrey invited me to participate in the education portion of the girls work, so I got to meet with them for a (too brief!) lesson on feminism, Womanism, and Pinayism related to how we as women experience walking down city streets. I shared my own experiences of being their age growing up in San Francisco, and how I have handled catcalls, for better and worse.  We talked about what those experiences mean, especially for women of color. The girls also analyzed poems I brought them and I realized that they were equally astute intellectually as they were physically impressive. We could have talked for hours. I wish all my neighbors had had the same opportunity to talk with these amazing young women and just gotten to know how smart they are—how brilliant they are.

The day of the performance was so exciting! I had taken the opportunity to invite friends and neighbors over to enjoy barbecued peaches and nectarines from the Alemany Farmers Market, as well as veggie and beef burgers and chicken, of course. We stayed out all day, through both performances, and we met several new neighbors (including the new owner of the castle on Newhall). It was an exciting, community building experience. The dances were just amazing. As often as I had watched them rehearsing, seeing them perform the dances wholeheartedly brought another level of intensity and emotion to the experience.

In the end, as a gardening neighbor, I feel our garden has become a more sacred and beloved space because of the energy brought by the dancers.

A San Franciscan born in Australia, Wei Ming Dariotis teaches Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and is the co-editor, with Laura Kina, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). She is co-chair of the Quesada Gardens Initiative.

Films, Footprints, Friends and Fruit

We’re using all the “F” words fit to print…and should add one more – “Fatigued.”

If your neighbors on Quesada Avenue in Bayview look a bit tired this week, they may be tuckered out from a long weekend of community service. It was a weekend that began on Wednesday.

CBS 5 news cameras came to the block Wednesday to tape the Quesada Kids harvesting local fruit trees, a summer project of the Quesada Gardens Initiative under Shane King‘s leadership. USF volunteer Greg Rivers has joined the team to develop the project into a sustainable outlet for all sorts of community entrepreneurship. Bayview residents Carlos and Julie Galan and Winifred Montgomery opened their hearts and yards so that we could harvest two types of plums and yellow apples for the cause.

On Thursday, Bayview Footprints’ Third Thursday / Just for Us…and YOU TOO! series of social events came to the Quesada Garden to help launch the 2nd annual Quesada Gardens Outdoor Film Festival. A tremendously diverse crowd of about 60 people gathered. Steven Aiello received the first-ever “Annette Smith and Karl Paige Community Service Award.”

Jim Ansbro, from the Latona Avenue “northland,” came early with a basket of basketballs…small ones as treats for the kids that also proved popular with Ms. Devere from Quesada who works with seniors who can use them for exercise.

Fred Guni wowed us all by singing and playing the guitar, delivering several songs including a heartfelt one dedicated to Karl Paige’s memory. (A special “thank you” to Jamie, Quesada’s newest neighbor, who turned out with his family for the event and donated use of his microphone and amp for Fred’s performance.)

Nibblers tried yellow watermelon (from the Farmers’ Market), while others enjoyed nectarines donated by Michael Janis and the SF Wholesale Food Market and sausages donated by Bayview’s own Evergood Sausage Company. Tom Galante organized the food offerings for the event. Linda Brooks-Burton brought lemonade she made from locally harvested lemons.

The Green Goatee held court, once again, handing out alms of gardening advice to whoever had a need. CBS 5 returned to cover the event set-up in time for broadcast on their evening news.

As dusk approached, jazz diva Sarah Vaughan and silent film star Harold Lloyd came to life on the BIG screen (lent for the occassion by Kristine Enea). The younger crowd held on to the event until nearly midnight, using the projection system for a video gaming competition. Many thanks to Quesadians Sharon Bliss and Jon Chester who supplied electricity from their home.

On Saturday, the Quesada Kids were back at it. They set up shop on the corner of Third and Palou to sell plums from Winifred Montgomery’s yard and apples from Carlos and Julie Galan‘s house.

That evening, the Film Fest kicked into high gear with a showing of Girl’s Rock!, a feature-length documentary by QGI Co-Founder and resident Shane King. Shane took questions from the audience after the film, and then local youth swept in to hook up a Play Station. Another 60 people attended over the course of the evening, and the spirit of community was present. Dorris Vincent brought homemade caramel popcorn and Rhonda Winter brought her special chocolate chip cookies…both to the delight of kids young and old.

It’s worth noting that all events were free and, aside from the donations of food, neither Footprints nor Quesada Gardens had a drop of funding for any of the community-building work. It’s just another example of Bayview residents stepping up to create the neighborhood we know is possible. The benefit of this work is already clear. The costs are minimal. The expense of NOT building community is always higher than we want to pay.

Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. www.quesadagardens.org

Girls Rock … after dark in Bayview

Community spirit trumped fear in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood once again as residents and community groups came together on July 24th at Bayview’s award-winning urban garden to inaugurate the 2nd annual Quesada Gardens Outdoor Film Festival.

Bayview Footprints, a collaboration of neighborhood community-building groups, supported the event by hosting a social gathering at the garden as part of an ongoing series of events called “Just for Us…and YOU TOO!”

On July 26th, filmmaker and Quesada Gardens Initiative co-founder, Shane King, presented the inspiring film “Girls Rock!” “Girls Rock!” is a wide-release documentary about a rock music camp for girls co-directed King and filmmaking partner Arne Johnson.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called “Girls Rock!” a “…funny, wise and inspiring ode to spirits set free.” www.GirlsRockMovie.com

The outdoor film festivals at the Quesada Gardens are always free events. However, as there is no seating, promotional materials included the line: YOUR CHAIR IS YOUR TICKET! Youth interested in video gaming were encouraged to contact the organizers about informal gaming competitions that utilized the outdoor projection system before and after the films.

Most Bayview residents would never leave the safety of home at night, and take to their neighborhood’s notorious streets. Last year, over several weekends, 150 residents ventured out to watch films projected onto a screen hung on Quesada Gardens’ stunning community mural, creating what must be one of the most unique events anywhere.

This year, Bayview Footprints “Just for Us…and YOU TOO!” event at garden added a neighborhood-wide show of community unity. In addition to films and video gaming for youth, the event featured live music, food, expert gardening advice and more.

Bayview Footprints is a collaboration of 21 community-based groups working together to tell a positive story about Bayview Hunters Point. The Quesada Gardens Initiative is the 100% resident-led community-building group generating gardens, art, and events in the heart of Bayview.

Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. www.quesadagardens.org

Youth Bike Project Sprouts from Quesada Gardens

Shane King poses with Nathan, Arrin and Shanika. His new film, Girls Rock, opens soon in Bay Area theaters.

Photos and article by Rhonda Winter

Local Bayview filmmaker Shane King has begun an inspiring bicycle project with the youth in his neighborhood. About a dozen youth on the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue work for one hour a month in the community garden and then, in exchange, get use of a refurbished bike for a month.

Shane explained that when Karl Paige, Quesada Gardens co-founder, died recently that being in the garden was just not the same; he wanted to find a way to make working in the garden as much fun as it had been with Karl. Shane also wanted to find a way to connect with the youth on his block.

“In addition to the loss of Karl, I was also motivated by Shanika’s older sister; by the time she was 17, she was pregnant with her third child,” Shane explains. “I wanted to find something positive for the children in the neighborhood to become interested in, and bicycles were part of the answer. For me, ever since I was a kid growing up in Portland, bikes have always been a symbol of freedom. I had lent one of my bikes to a child in the neighborhood and then I saw four kids piled on top of it, all using it together. Then it seemed obvious to me, these kids need bicycles.”

In between teaching video production at San Quentin Prison, film-making, and a myriad of other projects, Shane arranged for a donation of bicycles for the neighborhood youth and fixed them up in his garage. The hours the kids spend working in the garden is pretty much done on the honor system, and there have been a few problems sorting it all out. There is also an ongoing need for more adults to become involved supervising and working with the youth in the garden, as well as with teaching them general bike maintenance.

Shanika told me that she works in the garden with her grandmother. “ We weed, pull up aloe vera and make lotion.“ Arrin said that she also learned a big lesson about responsibility concerning her bike. “I lent my bike to my cousins and they really messed it up. The bike was busted and the water bottle holder was broke. Now I know to never lend my bike to them again.“ Arrin said that she would also like to learn more about how to fix her bike herself when something is wrong with it.

Shane said that at present he has enough donated bikes, but that he could use some bike tools, like cone wrenches, as well as a little help fixing and maintaing the bikes for the youth. Presently he doesn’t really have time to train the youth thoroughly in bike maintenance and his garage is also getting very crowded. Shane said that eventually he would like to see the project expanded beyond his garage.

Bayview resident James Ross, Shane, Shanika, Arrin, Nathan and I also discussed the possibility of expanding the bike project into a more stuctured youth bike training program, as well as a store front bicycle shop on Third Street. Pedal Revolution and the Bike Kitchen in the Mission already have various types of basic bike mechanics training for youth, and provide excellent models for reference and inspiration.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has expressed its enthusiastic support for such a project in the Bayview, and they are helping the Quesada Gardens Initiative to explore different options to expand the youth bike project; possibly including existing local resources like the YMCA and other neighborhood community gardens. A shared community space storefront is also an idea that has been considered. If you have any ideas to share regarding how to expand the Quesada youth bike project or would like to help out in some capacity, please contact the Quesada Gardens Initiative or Rhonda Winter.

Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. www.quesadagardens.org

Meet QGI’s founders and leaders

Image by Deidre DeFranceaux from Quesada Gardens Community Mural
Photo: Footprints
Photo courtesy SF Chronicle

Karl Paige and Annette Young Smith have been widely recognized as community heroes for starting what has become the award-winning urban garden that sparked a grassroots movement to strengthen the Bayview Hunters Point community. Both won Jefferson Awards for their efforts.

Mr. Karl passed away in his sleep in 2007 after a long day of work on his beloved garden. Before living in the Bayview, Mr. Karl served in the Nation’s military. He enjoyed giving tours of the QGI main garden, and could describe the medicinal uses of many plants found there.

Ms. Annette has lived in the Bayview over thirty years not far from her mother, who passed recently, a brother and several sisters. She traces her love and knowledge of plants to her upbringing in Alabama where hard work in the cotton and peanut fields was expected. She is still tending the Quesada Garden nearly every day, and is the block’s most respected figure. Her traditional greeting is a hug and 3 “God bless you’s.” Neighbors will go out of their way to pass by and collect theirs!

The Quesada Gardens Initiative would not be what it is without the quiet and consistent leadership of these two community heroes. All of us who live in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood have been blessed by their generosity and spirit.

More about Annette Smith

More about Karl Paige

Mike Aisenfeld, QGI Board Treasurer, is a respected financial professional working with emerging growth companies in San Francisco. In addition to co-leading QGIs public art programming, he volunteers his finance skills to ensure the organization is fiscally sound. Mike is also a part-time artist who has worked on several funded installations at the Burning Man Arts Festival. The latest piece on which he collaborated is to be installed along the San Francisco Embarcadero this summer. Mike has lived on the block since 2004 and is an active member of the community.

David Antunovich is a trade carpenter who has been restoring a charming Victorian on the 1700 block of Quesada. As a QGI member, David has been advising on design and leading construction of components of the group’s work that require professional expertise. He is credited with the quality of the wall preparation for the Quesada Gardens’ mural, and is team-leading the building of an elaborate fence around the new Bridgeview Garden.

Jeffrey Betcher is a Bayview Hunters Point resident and community organizer with public and institutional policy experience at the national level. He advocates for strengthening local systems and for prioritizing community-building as a primary social change strategy. He co-founded and leads the award-winning Quesada Gardens Initiative. He is also the organizer for Bayview Footprints, an innovative network of community-building projects working together to build social cohesion and amplify a positive story about the neighborhood.

Jeffrey expresses the same commitment to local systems and community values in the private sector. As President of PeopleWearSF, the SF/Bay Area’s apparel industry trade association, he is helping lead model work to reinvigorate the industry by renewing the focus on local production and applied technology.

Jeffrey was Program/Operations Director at the Family Violence Prevention Fund where, for 12 years, he collaboratively developed violence prevention programming. He currently serves on the National Advisory Committee for the violence prevention program Transforming Communities, on the board of the Combined Federal Campaign’s Child Protection, Abduction and Abuse Prevention Charities of America, on the Mayor’s Shape Up SF Coalition and Southeast Sector Food Access Working Group, and on the steering committee for Literacy for Environmental Justice’s Living Classroom.

Sharon Bliss has lived on the block since January 2003 in a home she shares with her partner, Jon, and their son, Chester. Sharon has twenty years experience as an arts administrator and is currently Associate Curator and Gallery Manager of the Fine Arts Gallery at San Francisco State University. She also works as a curator of independent projects, and is an active gardener (and weeder!) on QGI’s garden project.

David “Davon” Frasca has lived on the block since 1999. He recently led QGI’s Halloween Safe Block event which created the area’s most memorable Halloween in years. David teaches at Berkeley, and provides professional massage services.

Tom Galante has lived on the block since 1973. He is a Co-Founder and Board Tour Chair. Tom is admired for his impressive record of community service, and for his charm and knowledge of neighborhood history.

When Tom landed a job back in 1970 as a teller at Bay View Federal Bank (now US Bank) on the corner of Third and Quesada, he didn’t realize how it would shape his life. Three years later he was living in his new home on Quesada just half a block from the bank, and he had become immersed in the neighborhood’s community-building work. When he retired from the bank in 1995 as Vice President and Community Banking Center Manager he was familiar to just about everyone.

“So many people knew me by the time I retired that I grew a beard for awhile just so I could walk down the street without having a hundred conversations,” he joked recently.

Tom joined the Bayview Merchants Association in 1972, and served as the organization’s president for five years. During his tenure, the scope of the BMA’s activity expanded from a four block radius to most of the 94124. He was solely responsible for “temporarily” blocking off what is now known as Mendell Plaza, a contribution that lives on to this day.

Tom also served on Mayor Feinstein’s Third Street Task Force, was a founder of the Network for Elders, joined the board of the South Bayshore Community Development Corporation, and was a commissioner of the Southeast Community Facility for four years.

Even before Bayview became the epicenter of his busy universe, “service” was an important value to Tom. In fact, he served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, and was involved in the recovery of three Apollo space capsules.

Now on the Board of Directors of the Quesada Gardens Initiative, Galante is known as the “Ambassador of Quesada.” It’s a fitting title, and reminds newer Quesada and other Bayview residents how broad the shoulders are on which we all stand.

Giovanni Gray was one of QGI’s youth organizers for the outdoor film festival series. He is a friendly and familiar face on the block where he lives with his mother, grandparents and brother Roman. Giovanni’s grandparents are well-known community members Na’im and Marie Harrison who, in addition to their support of QGI, work professionally on issues of violence and environmental justice in the lives of BVHP residents.

Peter Haas and Rhonda Winter are the project leaders for the Latona Community Garden, a wonderful example of community-defined open space use as a resident-led strategy to address environmental concerns and quality of life issues. They are partners in life, as well as in their community work. They are “urban hybrids” with expertise around urban planning and sustainable systems, fine art, and organizing. They are involved with the SF Bicycle Coalition, and share an interest in the development of the new Bayview branch library. Peter came to the United States from his native Germany.

Jeanette and Dennis Hill are founding members of QGI who actively participated in the initial garden development and creation of the QGI organization. Jeanette is partially responsible for the landmarking of the block’s 13 Canary Island Date Palms through her work with Friends of the Urban Forest. Daughter Deja was pictured on the front page of the SF Chronicle in 2002, a picture that is closely associated with QGI’s birth, when the organization received it’s first wave of media attention.

Steve Jordan grew up on the 1700 block of Quesada in the house where he now is raising his own children. He has been a driving force behind the construction of the Bridgeview Garden fence and the Founders’ Memorial at the top of the Quesada Garden.

Shane King, QGI Board Co-Vice Chair, is a documentary filmmaker whose current feature-length documentary – “Girls Rock” – focuses on four girls and their transformational experience at a Rock n’ Roll camp for girls. He recently created a unique bike project on the block to ensure that every kid who lives here has use of a bicycle. Young people here – like Arrin, Nathan, Sabrina and Shanika – know they can use a refurbished bike for a month in exchange for a little work in the community garden, and enjoy working on the bikes with Shane. The formative meeting of the organization in 2001 was held at Shane’s house.  He has been an active founding member ever since. He is especially noted for leading the build of retaining walls, and for making QGI’s outdoor film festival a success.

Denise King, is an emerging artist whose credits include the “Dark Matters” exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has worked at the Exploratorium for many years, and has been one of Quesada Gardens’ more avid gardeners. The formative meeting of the organization in 2001 was held at her house.

Joel and Mary McClure are QGI’s newest Board Members. For many years they took care of a lot just above the main Quesada Garden.  Under their leadership, that lot has been transformed into the Bridgeview Garden.  Bridgeview Garden is part of QGI’s food production and community organizing work, and is a stunning example of what neighbors can do to create social change. The new garden was designed by USF partners as a teaching and learning garden for children and youth, and features a small amphitheater and retaining walls made of repurposed concrete known as “urbanite.”

The Pettus Family has been on the block since the late 1960’s. Linda Pettus, QGI Board Secretary, grew up here. Her mother, Corrine Pettus, and son, Ryan Watts are among the most familiar residents in the area. Linda retired from the phone company, and is very active in her church. Corine has been the most active member of the Quesada Gardens Initiative in terms of pushing to eradicate problems on the east end of the block.  She continues to represent the group at community meetings at the police station. Ryan was one of QGI’s youth organizers for the outdoor film festival series.  His video about Annette, Karl and his grandmother, which he did as part of a BAYCAT program, was part of the initial flurry of media attention Quesada Gardens received.

Michael Powers is the architect of the QGI blog. He is currently the Media Solutions Manager for YouTube/Google. He was the lead Product Manager for YouTube when the company was staffed by just 18 people. Prior to that, he was the first Engineer and later, the Product Manager at Slide.com, a photo slideshow sharing site. Earlier in his career, he founded an internet startup called Ping.net, raising $2m in venture capital funding and an additional $5m in strategic financing. He started his career as an engineer at Apple Computer and Xerox.

James Ross has emerged as QGI’s most skilled community organizer, and is one of the organization’s most valued co-founders. He is QGI’s Board of Directors Co-Vice Chair and volunteer coordinator. He is also the Chair of the Blue Dolphin Youth Swim Team. He came to the Bayview in 1983 when he lived with his uncle (who came to San Francisco pursuing work in the shipyards of Hunters Point), and his aunt (a 25-year veteran of the post office). Mr. Ross has raised five children in his home on Quesada Avenue with his wife Lisa, and has home-schooled his youngest children. Mr. Ross is committed to the concept of gardening as personally, socially, and environmentally transformative. His sons, Apollos and Isaiah, were both youth organizers for QGI’s outdoor film festival series.

Raiana Silva is an energetic young person who lives with her family on Quesada. She has taken a lead with changing the way people think about Bayview by working to produce television features for public access cable that showcase what is wonderful about her neighborhood. Raiana is also a busy student, and takes an active role in raising her little brother, Trey.

Darian Smith is a 23 year-old dynamo and, until recent career opportunities have swept him into the larger world, was QGI Board Youth Outreach Chair. He is preparing to enter college, and is a committed Goal Ball player (a competitive team sport for blind athletes). He has been a leader with AmeriCorp and Lighthouse for the Blind.

Michael Smith had just moved to the block when QGI held its first meeting. He was among the first to arrive at that meeting, and has been a steady contibutor to the project since. He has represented QGI on public access cable, puts his back into the group’s frequent volunteer days, and always supports Board meetings and various QGI and Bayview Footprints events.

Tony Tarket is a Bayview resident and QGI’s Horticulture Chair. He is studying with the San Mateo College of Horticulture to update a long resume of landscaping and gardening work. He is one of Quesada Gardens’ most committed volunteers, and is a trusted adviser on gardening issues. Mr. Tarket has been critical to QGI’s local food-production success.

Claire Thiebault is the project manager for the emerging Palou Garden just west of Phelps. She and her neighbor, Elizabeth Lopez, did outreach in their area, and have already transformed a strip of neglected land into a useful and attractive asset. Claire is an artist.  Her visionary drawing of the Palou Garden has been the key to securing the Quesada Gardens’ group to support the new project with funding, administrative support and the generation of pro bono contributions from USF and many volunteers.  Along with Claire’s husband, Drew Howard, and many other residents in their immediate area, they are working hard to transform Palou.

Rhonda Winter and Peter Haas are the project leaders for the Latona Community Garden, a wonderful example of community-defined open space use as a resident-led strategy to address environmental concerns and quality of life issues. They are partners in life, as well as in their community work. They are “urban hybrids” with expertise around urban planning and sustainable systems, fine art, and organizing. They are involved with the SF Bicycle Coalition, and share an interest in the development of the new Bayview branch library.

Scott Ying is QGI’s newest Outreach Chair. Mr. Ying, his wife Crystal, and their two children have lived on the block for several years, and are familiar fixtures at all Quesada Gardens’ events. Scott leads an active family life, works and studies hard, and somehow manages to participate in life on the block in a leadership capacity.

Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. www.quesadagardens.org