The new SF Public Utilities Commission Headquarters, located at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, is possibly the greenest office building in America. Applying evolving water and power technologies with new light management and computer controlled environment, the SFPUC has created a building which looks towards the future of environmental building construction, and reaches for the ultimate green engineering accolade, the LEED rating of “Platinum”.

LaToya Cantrell, President of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, on the anniversary of the levees flooding New Orleans in 2005, shares with NENtv an update on the process of restoring her community and the Andrew H. Wilson School. Specifically she thanks the City and County of San Francisco for all of its support in helping secure funds and resources for her neighborhood.

See more images from the NEN’s trip(s) to New Orleans here.

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The reasons an individual might take a permaculture course varies widely, but one thing most people have in common when coming into this realm is the desire to help in some way. It may be that they want to help with environmental issues or that they want to help build a stronger and more resilient community, or it might be they want to help their immediate family meet their needs more sustainably and abundantly. Beyond the individual’s initial intent, the whole systems approach of permaculture adds resilience and meaningful inter-connections to any community by a factor of the number of designers residing there.

One of the aspects of resiliency that is brought forth through an Urban PDC (permaculture design course) is an awareness and understanding of the myriad of skills, strategies and techniques surrounding sustainable living. The themes explored are many and cover the entire spectrum of day to day living and how we assemble our urban environment. Topics including highly productive food systems in dense urban spaces, waste cycling and closed-loop design, community-scale renewable energy, greywater and rainwater systems, transportation and village design, community organizing, and natural building are just a few examples. The skills learned and practiced today become eminently valuable when a disaster strikes. When resources become limited or even unavailable for an extended period of time (such as we have witnessed in disasters), it becomes critical to shift the way we meet our daily needs; to survive and thrive, a community is wise to implement systems of conservation and renewal.

Building resilience today in anticipation of a shift or change in culture is essentially what Permaculture Design seeks to enable.  We see the opportunities to help all around us and it is the whole systems perspective that helps us to see where our actions can be the most effective. In the training offered by the Urban Permaculture Institute here in San Francisco, we highlight the many effective city sponsored programs as well as community programs already available.

  1. For gardens, orchards and other outdoor community space we have the SF Street Parks Program, Pavement to Parks and sidewalk landscaping.
  2. For community organizing we explore ways to engage such as block parties, neighborhood sharing circles or resource libraries.
  3. NERT of Neighborhood Emergency Response Team is a great way to meet people in your neighborhood and prepare for the first 72 hours of a major disaster.
  4. Grant opportunities such as the Community Challenge Grant , the Urban Watershed Stewardship Grant, and the Water Efficiency for Community Gardens Grant.

Weaving together the various pieces into an integrated whole is the work before us today. We learn skills to compose with the people in each community to come up with strategies for resilience that prepare us for disaster while also building the interpersonal connections that are so vital. Of all the resources we have available in this beautiful city, the most abundant, challenging, filled-with-hope and enjoyable to work with is its people.

Our summer session begins July 27th at the Urban Permaculture Institute.

We invite you to join us for this valuable training which we offer four times per year right here in San Francisco.There is still room to sign up, or you can keep an eye out for our fall dates which will be announced sometime this month.

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Join NEN Director Daniel Homsey and Laurence Kornfield on a visual tour of the Safe Enough to Stay Exhibit at San Francisco planning and Urban Research Association.

Under the leadership of Laurence Kornfield, Program Manager for the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety and the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR), Safe Enough to Stay was designed to advance the concept of “Sheltering in Place” after an earthquake in San Francisco. The goal of the exhibit is to empower residents with the knowledge that small adjustments to their homes will allow them to continue to use the structure in a sanitary and efficient wayafter it has been deemed structurally sound and livable. For example, residents are advised to utilize plastic sheeting in order to cover broken windows and doors as well as to familiarize themselves with their unit’s gas and water shutoff systems in the event of a leak or failure.

At the heart of the Safe to Stay exhibit is the proof of concept design called the Neighborhood Support Center (NSC). The NSC will function as a neighborhood information center that is designed to provide residents with access to resources and relevant information concerning their community. The idea is that by creating a hyper local informational gathering point that is focused on the needs of the immediate vicinity, the Neighborhood Support Centers will offer an invaluable safety net to residents in the days, weeks and months after a major event.

Safe Enough to Stay [google-map-sc]


654 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA



Join District 4  Supervisor Carmen Chu for a visual tour of the newly renovated Ortega Branch Library located in the heart of the Sunset District. After four years of planning, the newly finished library boasts LEED certification as well as a newly refurbished playground. Also featuring Michelle Jeffers, the San Francisco Public Library Public Relations Officer and Greg Syler of Friends of the West Sunset Playground.


The Ortega Branch Library [google-map-sc zoom=”13″]

3223 Ortega Street

San Francisco, CA 94122

(415) 355-5700


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by Elisa Chavez

I recently had dinner with some college friends, all of us in our early twenties and fresh out of school. We met up at a cozy restaurant, hugged, and proceeded to eat cozy comfort food and get extremely riled up about the state of the world. Campaign finance, giant corporations, media representation of the Arab world, we covered it alland eventually, as the social analysis reached a fever pitch, one of us burst out, “So what do we do about it?”

An embarrassed silence fell over the table.

I often find that the enormity of the world’s problems overwhelms me. My brain can’t pick a place to settle; instead, like a hummingbird experiencing a panic attack, it flits from one issue to the next without ever alighting onto a course of action. There are just too many problems, with too many potential solutions to choose from or worse, no apparent solutions at all.

Courtney Martin offers an antidote to activist’s ennui with her 2010 book Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. The book, which offers eight portraits of young Americans engaged in progressive, socially conscious work, is written around the core belief that we can’t save the world singlehandedly and shouldn’t push ourselves to; however, there are opportunities in every life to make small, daily commitments to a better world.

Her subjects range from the low profile– a case manager at Homeboy Industries, a firebrand environmentalist from D.C. to the high profile, including Rachel Corrie and Rosario Dawson. Martin writes eloquently and with obvious empathy, and her subjects are all incredibly interesting people with compelling stories and laudable guts. But does her book deliver? Does it really provide readers with small ways to lead more activist lives?

For me, the largest obstacle was the fact that her book is not about small ways to participate; it’s about young people who made the career decision to be full-time activists. That’s not small! It’s their vocations, in some cases their entire lives. Then again, these stories really are great. If the book had truly been written the way I was expecting, a better title might have been “Do It Anyway: Last Weekend I Went to a Soup Kitchen and I’m Thinking About Donating to Heifer International.”

I think the trick is that Martin’s book is not a how-to guide or a detailed blueprint. You turn to it for inspiration. Given her varied cast of characters, I believe there’s something in it for everyone, whether your focus is going green, education, art, or peace activism. I also believe that because the book covers such a broad range of activist experiences, some of the stories will jump out at you over others. My favorite was “An Altar Boy With A Gun”, Martin’s portrait of Homeboy Industries case manager Raul Diaz. I can’t remember the last time a piece of writing made me laugh and cry and think about the way I engage with my community.

So maybe “Do It Anyway” isn’t going to give you a magazine-article rundown on five ways to conserve energy in your house. I’m still waiting for the definitive activist’s bible for daily life (although I have this sneaking suspicion it will only ever exist in my head). And actually, I think Martin does offer some practicable advice. In the weeks after finishing her book, I haven’t been able to forget what she says in her epilogue:

“We must hold these large-scale revolutions in our hearts while tackling small, radical every day acts with our hands.


Courtney E. Martin is a senior correspondent for the American Prospect and an editor of She is a 2002 recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics, has written two other books, and has had her work in Mother Jones, Newsday, the Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.

Chinatown SRO Disaster training Graduation from NENtv on Vimeo.


On April 17th, dozens of families in San Francisco’s Chinatown were celebrated for their involvement in a multiweek long disaster preparedness program. The program was designed to extend disaster training to non English speakers and provide assistance to at risk residents. The training was conducted by the Department of Emergency Management. If you would like more information on how you and your family can be prepared, please visit

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Lynn Luckow, President & CEO, Craigslist Foundation

On June 2, 2011, hundreds of people who are passionate about their communities – from local government to neighborhood activists to nonprofit leaders – will gather for Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp to connect with one another, grow their skills and expand the tools and resources they use to strengthen and enrich their neighborhoods.
Boot Camp includes keynote presentations, more than 20 workshops and discussions, and interactive sessions where attendees get to learn not just from session leaders but also from one another. Two workshop themes that will be explored this year are collaboration and storytelling:



The current economic crisis drives the demand for workshops that address collaboration, facilitation and the skills to successfully lead collaborative organizations. With ever more limited funds and resources, we have to work better together. But working together presents new challenges and requires new leadership skills. In addition to a NEN-led workshop on “Community Engagement 2011” we’ll offer workshops on Courageous Leadership,  “Using Collaborative Consumption and the Sharing Economy to Strengthen Neighborhoods,” as well as hands on skills for facilitation and collaboration and “Creating a Shared Vision for Your Community.â

In a session led by Joe Lambert of Center for Digital Storytelling, attendees will learn to craft and record meaningful stories from their lives or their organizations and share these stories in ways that enable learning, build community, and inspire justice. Several other workshops will demonstrate how to identify and utilize opportunities to tell their story, easy ways to use digital images and video to bring the story to life, as well as platforms for discovering and sharing best practices.

This year we are also excited to publicly present our new online program, LikeMinded, an innovative community storytelling platform generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Like Boot Camp, LikeMinded is all about connection and collaborative learning, and serves to help success stories travel better between communities throughout the country.

We should all live in great communities. Strong, healthy, democratic, sustainable, collaborative places. We built LikeMinded to make that happen, and make it possible for good ideas to travel from your block to every block. Take a look at,  and share stories of your good work for others to learn and get inspired by today. And as a friend of NEN, save 25% on Boot Camp through Friday, April 15.


Lynn Luckow

Craigslist Foundation,

President & CEO


Happy New Year!

We are pleased to announce the second of four Park Town Halls . We invite you to join us on Saturday, January 29, 2011 from 10am to noon atSoMA Gene Friend Recreation Center to share your thoughts and potential solutions with city decision makers regarding your parks!

This meeting will be citywide in scope and will help to inform park budget decisions that are on the horizon. Help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your contacts.

As you can imagine, this fiscal year (2011-2012) will be another tough budget year. We look forward to working closely with leaders and elected officials to make sure parks remain a priority.

For our parks,

Meredith Thomas
Executive Director









Second Park Town Hall Meeting: January 29, 2011

Throughout 2010 – 2011, Neighborhood Parks Council will be hosting a series of four Park Town Halls to hear your views about managing our parks, get your creative solutions to challenges, and identify concerns BEFORE park decisions are made by officials.

The first Town Hall was held in late October. We encourage you to join us at the second meeting on January 29, 2011 from 10am to noon at SoMA Gene Friend Recreation Center . The location of each Town Hall will vary, but the meeting scope will remain citywide. Come represent your park and neighborhood!

Recreation & Park Updates

Budget Planning for Fiscal Year 2011-2012

The Recreation and Park Department must follow specific budgeting instructions from the Mayor’s Budget Office each fiscal year. The Department’s initial budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-2012 is due on February 22, 2011. At this time, the Department will need to propose how it plans to achieve a General Fund reduction of approximately $6.79 million over the course of next year. Click here to learn more and to get involved.

RPD Commission Schedule Changes Effective Now

The Recreation and Park Commission has amended its bylaws, changing its regular meeting time as well as by adding both a capital committee and an operations committee. Click here to view the new schedule.

Get Involved!

Balboa Park

Join NPC, TPL, RPD, and Friends of Balboa Park for a community meeting on Thursday, January 13th. Attendees will have the opportunity to give feedback on the proposed community art project and park signage as part of the park and playground renovation. Click here for more information.

Glen Canyon Park

The Trust for Public Land is partnering with RPD to vision and design a Park Improvement Plan for Glen Canyon Park and will be holding the second of six community workshops this Thursday, January 13th, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Glen Canyon Recreation Center. Click here to learn more.

Ocean Beach

The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) is spearheading a new long-range planning effort for Ocean Beach, and will be hosting a special public workshop. This “Open House” will be held on January 15, 2011, from 9 am until 2 pm (you can arrive whenever you want and stay as long as you choose) at the SF Zoo. This Open House represents a great opportunity for the public to weigh in on the project and submit ideas to SPUR’s design team. Click here for more details.

Guerrero Sidewalk Greening

Join the Guerrero Park Neighbors for their sidewalk garden planting on January 22nd.

Sports Basement Fundraiser for NPC

Join us on February 2nd at the Bryant Street Sports Basement and enjoy a 10% discount while supporting NPC! NPC will receive 10% of the profits. Sports Basement will be providing beverages and snacks to whet your appetite for shopping. Contact with any questions.

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