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Best Merchant Association of the Year Award – Taraval Merchant Assoc. from NENtv on Vimeo.

Congratulations to the Taraval Merchants Association for winning the 2010 NEN Award for the Best Merchant Association, for their continuing efforts to improve Taraval Street and the surrounding

Sunset District.”They have attracted new members, started new events, sustained past successes, and secured grant money to help their corridor.

“They have opened themselves up to the revitalization process working with myself, without reservation and they have welcomed all of my ideas and input. As a lifetime resident of this neighborhood, I truly know they care and want the association to continue its six-decade long presence in the neighborhood,” said Taraval Commercial Corridor Manager Ashley Summers.

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Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the winners of the Community Challenge Grant Program (CCG), which provides matching grants to local residents, businesses, non-profits and other community groups to make physical improvements to their neighborhoods.

The CCG Program has awarded 28 grants totaling $577,656. The bulk of the CCG awards continue to be for permeable landscaping, public artwork, graffiti/litter abatement, community gardens and gathering spaces, equitably covering all areas of the City. The funding for CCG awards come from city businesses who voluntarily designate one percent of the business tax they already pay. 

The CCG focuses on projects that directly engage residents and businesses in creating green spaces, gathering places, public art, and other neighborhood amenities by featuring and applying ecologically friendly practices. The program is an important tool for enabling communities to take the lead in conducting small scale improvements in their own communities and neighborhoods.

“The Community Challenge Grants promote innovation in our neighborhoods and encourage communities to take pride in their streets,” said Mayor Newsom. “These innovative projects leverage public and private dollars to get communities working together toward making San Francisco a cleaner, greener, and safer city for everyone.”

“We are inspired by the twenty-eight innovative projects awarded this cycle,” said City Administrator Ed Lee. “The Community Challenge Grant Program works best when community groups are empowered to take charge to improve and green their neighborhoods. These projects continue to make San Francisco a cleaner, greener place to live and grow.”

The CCG partnership with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Urban Watershed Management Program is a critical part of the project. Through this partnership, grants were awarded to six community projects including implementing environmentally sustainable technologies for sidewalks and infrastructure and managing local rainwater in schools and parks.  The awarded amount totals $102,600.

“Each of these community-driven projects will help the entire City to better manage stormwater,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. “They demonstrate the importance of acting locally and are vital to the health of our watersheds.”

Community Challenge Grant Program Fall 2010 Grant Award Recipients

1. Jose Ortega Elementary School PTA

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Community Art

2.  Precita Valley Neighbors, sponsored by SF Parks Trusts

Awarded: $8,500
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

3. Progress Park, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $8,600
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

4. Inner City Youth  OMI Clean Team

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Litter Abatement

5. Market Street Association

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification

6. Worchester/Alemany Triangle, sponsored by Mission Neighborhood Center

Awarded: $13,328
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

7. North West Bernal Alliance

Awarded: $14,579
Project: Graffiti & Litter Abatement

8. Korean American Community Center, sponsored by SF Clean City Coalition

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

9. Kids In Parks, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

10. Hayes Valley Farm, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Urban Forestry

11. Sunnyside Neighborhood Association

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

12. Chinatown Community Development Center

Awarded: $25,000
Project: Graffiti Abatement

13. Excelsior Action Group, sponsored by Community Initiatives

Awarded: $30,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

14. Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee

Awarded: $45,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

15. Hunters Point Family/Girls 2000

Awarded: $30,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

16. Japantown Sakura 150 Project

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Urban Forestry

17. Sand@OB Project

Awarded: $24,600
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

18. San Francisco Clean City Coalition

Awarded: $50,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

19. Pennsylvania St. Gardens, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $45,000
Project: Neighborhood Beautification & Urban Forestry

20. Storrie-Ord Neighborhood Group, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $5,449
Project: Urban Forestry

21. Vermont St. Neighborhood Group, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $10,000
Project: Urban Forestry & Landscaping

22. Tenderloin Housing Clinic

Awarded: $35,000
Project: Community Art

Urban Watershed Stewardship Grants Fall 2010 Award Recipients

23. Alice Fong Yu Elementary School PTA

Awarded: $3,500
Project: Rainwater Harvesting

24. Pennsylvania St. Gardens, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $40,000
Project: Street Park with Rain Gardens and Swale System

25. Plant*SF, sponsored by SF Parks Trust

Awarded: $15,000
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal

26. SF State University

Awarded: $21,000
Project: Rain Garden with Native Plantings

27. Sunnyside Cooperative Nursery School

Awarded: $3,100
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal

28. Surfrider Foundation, SF Chapter

Awarded: $20,000
Project: Sidewalk Landscaping and Impermeable Surface Removal


Daniel Homsey, Director, Neighborhood Empowerment Network

I had the honor of being in New Orleans during the days that led up to the 5th anniversary of one of America’s great man-made disasters.

It’s important to know that folks in this great town don’t blame the hurricane that struck with such vengeance, but rather the under-engineered levees that ringed the neighborhoods that buckled in response to the surge of water they were designed to handle.

Out of that tragic event came a million stories and lessons. Some highlight the very best of what humans are capable, others elevate where we still have work to do. In many instances the record shows that people came together during the hours and weeks after the levees failed. They looked beyond their differences, social and economic, and literally lifted each other out of the mud and saved thousands of lives.  Sadly, the record also shows that years of failed governance and leadership yielded a city vulnerable to responding to such challenges and the outcome is a national tragedy.

My visit started with a day-long summit on resiliency hosted by the Salvation Army and FedEx.  The Salvation Army is managing one of the largest private funds to build housing in the City at this time and FedEx has fine tuned its logistics infrastructure to be the “go to” platform for getting essential resources into any disaster zone. The Summit allowed me to share the work we have done with the NEN, as well as to meet amazing people and hear their stories .

Timolynn Sams of the Neighborhood Partnership Network was stunning in sharing her passion for her organization’s mission, and David Gershon inspired everyone with his proven track record of empowering communities. In the following days, I had the pleasure of meeting with The Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Mayor’s Environmental Policy Advisor, both providing an institutional narrative to the work that is happening to this day.

My visit to the newly renovated Andrew Wilson Elementary School yielded two powerful experiences. The first was on Friday, when I checked in on the Envirenew Broadmoor Sustainable Housing competition.  A jury of architects and engineers from all over the US met to review designs submitted by teams from every corner of Earth to build a sustainable home for under X.  The panel included Cameron Sinclair of Archtitecture for Humanity, Liz Ogbu of Public Architecture and Envirenew’s Lindsay Jonker .  Four designs were chosen and will be built for families with a few blocks of the school.

The Andrew Wilson Elementry School after a thorough remodelingThe school was a story in itself. In 2007 I was sent to New Orleans as a member of a delegation that included City Administrator Ed Lee, Tony Irons of the PUC and Sarah Dennis of the Planning Dept. Our goal was to see how we could help this great town recover from the devastation of the floods. The tour was led by Hal Rourk and LaToya Cantrell of the Broadmoor Neighborhoods Improvement Association (BNIA). Needless to say, the scene we encountered was overwhelming (see photos). In the following year the City of San Francisco collaborated with the BNIA to write a proposal to a grant opportunity that the State had made available. By having a lot of the City’s key economic partners provide their voice of support, their proposal was one of five selected. Construction soon begun and we were overwhelmed by the new LEED standard building that greeted us on Friday. (To hear LaToya Cantrell’s own account of the last five years in Broadmoor please visit the video below.)

On Sunday we returned to the school for the Community Voices event that was hosted by the BNIA. It was a powerful experience that featured an open mic environment allowing people to share how they felt five years after the storm. There were poems, raps, eulogies and statements of joy that collectively framed the way the neighborhood felt about what they had, and are still going through. Everyone was impacted by the display of drawings that the children who had survived the actual floods made of their experience. LaToya Cantrell facilitated the whole event which culminated with the children all planting an orange tree.

The Andrew Wilson Elementry School after a thorough remodeling

Sunday culminated in the official City commemoration at a local theatre. The event started off with a joyous display of culture with over a dozen lead dancers in full costume from the legendary mardi gras crews.  The whole building danced, including their new mayor, Mitch Landreau, for 15 minutes.  As the program unfolded, spoken word and music filled the room.  The Mayor took the stage and delivered perhaps the perfect speech that summed up the emotions and dreams in the room.  It seemed like he had been waiting for five years to give it. The night ended with an all star jam that of course ended with the “When the Saints go Marching In” with the new “Who Dat?” ending that saluted the victory of the City’s NFL franchise earlier this year.

Flying home I had a lot of time to process everything I had seen and heard. I am in awe of the people who every day wake up and fight for their city despite what seems to be an unrelenting wave of challenges, and new disasters. I also have hope that they’ll be able to rebuild their city to be one that was better than the one hurricane Katrina blew through five years ago. The phrase that I think will stick with me as I look to the opportunity of preparing our City for future challenges is remember, mother nature always bats last.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the visit for me came from the local folks who are working at the community level who had seen the NEN presentation and said “that program is awesome. It’s what every neighborhood needs.”

Anyone will tell you who has been there, you won’t be the same person once you’ve experienced the work of the people of New Orleans. You’ll be a better one.

Check out more photos from New Orleans on Facebook

Watch the interview with Broadmoor Improvement Association President, LaToya Cantrell

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How can people care about neighborhood traffic calming or graffiti abatement if they’re still struggling financially? SF City Treasurer and upcoming Craigslist Boot Camp speaker José Cisneros talks with NENfm about his fight to stop citizens getting ripped off and the importance to our communities of financial empowerment.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Show Information

Guest: José Cisneros, TreasurerCity and County of San Francisco
Related Event: Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp
Related OrganizationsCraigslist Foundation, City and County of San Francisco, Bank on SF
Host: Adam Greenfield
Additional Credits: Moontan (music)


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Want to make your neighborhood a better place? First, you’ve got to know what assets the community has. As Project Manager of the NENu (“NEN University”) Polk Corridor Resiliency Project, Doris Padilla understands better than most this vital “asset-mapping” process. Doris talks with NENfm about treasure-hunting on the Polk Street Corridor.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Show Information

Guest: Doris Padilla, Project Manager of the Polk Corridor Resiliency Project (PCRP)
Neighborhood/Area: Polk Street Corridor (comprising the Lower Polk, Middle Polk, Upper Polk/Russian Hill neighborhoods), San Francisco
Related Organizations: Russian Hill Neighbors, Middle Polk Neighborhood Association, and Lower Polk Neighbors
Host:Adam Greenfield
Additional Credits: Moontan (music)


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In hard economic times, San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood is taking an extraordinary step: Introducing a community currency that can only be spent in Bernal Heights. Crazy or calculated? NENtv investigates.

View on Youtube here.
Download here (right-click to save).

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Ellyn Parker, Divisadero Commerical Corridor Manager

The concept of the arts as an economic defibrillator is not a new one. In the fall of 2008, the economy was in a state of cardiac arrest and the Merchants on Divisadero Street needed some fast resuscitation. Thus was born the Divisadero Art Walk. What started as a group of a few dedicated merchants who really wanted to bring the local folks out to Divisadero past sundown has blossomed into a thriving, highly anticipated neighborhood event.

In the past year, I have worked with the merchants to grow this event from 15 participating businesses to almost 40!  Every first Thursday quarterly, I have watched the streets fill up with people from every walk of life, striking up conversations with neighbors they have never had the chance to talk to before, and checking out businesses that they have never set foot in. Art has a funny way of pushing people to interact, whether you might love or hate a painting is sometimes the best catalyst for conversation.

Photo by MattyMatt, Flickr

On Divisadero, some of our merchants do not have art up, but run fantastically cheap dining, drinking and shopping specials, which makes for a great way to pop in and out of lots of places, without feeling obligated to empty your wallet to do so. The whole idea was to bring people out at night, and art seemed liked a natural binder to unify a moonlit event.

I love the fact that our merchants report back that it is a financially one of their best nights. What I love more is hearing the stories of neighbors discovering a local business that they will come back to time and time again and the sense of community that permeates the air on Art Walk night.

Photo by MattyMatt, Flickr

Sometimes the small things that connect us as a community slip by in the day to day of commuting, family life, and work. We walk fast to get to work, rush home to get dinner on, and we do not take the time to smile and nod at the people that we pass everyday. Divisadero’s Art Walk pushes us all as neighbors to pause for a moment and reflect on something beautiful, in both the paintings that decorate the walls, and the people that may live next door that we might have never found the right moment to strike up some witty banter with.

Whether you are a dedicated art fan, or just curious about all those businesses on Divisadero, March 4 will be a great night to get out of your house, DVR your standard diet of television programming, and hit the streets. I will see you there!

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