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neighborhood parks council

Meet Your Partner: Neighborhood Parks Council from NENtv on Vimeo.

Every year, the Community Challenge Grant Program awards thousands of dollars for community improvement projects throughout the city. One of the driving forces that helps grant recipients see their project through is the assistance of groups like the Neighborhood Park Council which serves as a fiscal and organizational partner in the community. Join Neighborhood Park Council Executive Director Meredith Thomas as she explains the NPC’s role as an active community partner and how they’re helping to make San Francisco green, one park at a time.

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 council@sfnpc.org with any questions.

Matt Silva, Outreach Coordinator, Neighborhood Parks Council

When I first moved to San Francisco in 2008, I thought that no one here worked and instead spent every day either in the park or in the streets celebrating any number of things. It was the beginning of summer, and street festivals and events in parks were just getting underway. Bay to Breakers had just happened, and it seemed as though everyone was outside all the time. I loved it! Having come from New England, where at best you could spend three solid months outside without dying of hypothermia or heat exhaustion, the open-air entertainment that San Francisco offered was invigorating.

I began working with the Neighborhood Parks Council (NPC) a few months later, not knowing just how involved I would become in planning similar events in our city’s wonderful parks. In the last two years, I’ve helped neighbors plan ice cream socials, harvest festivals, and free soccer clinics. By far the most enjoyable part of the whole process is seeing neighbors and parents step up to plan and execute these events. I remember particularly the Second Annual Harvest Festival at Silver Terrace Park in the Portola neighborhood. After a low turnout in 2008, parents banded together, beefed up their outreach and had over 100 attendees at the event. Everyone was thrilled to see the results of their efforts.

The 2009 Silver Terrace Harvest Festival

At Silver Terrace, and many other parks as well, events are a way for residents to familiarize themselves with the space and meet their neighbors.  There have been events I’ve coordinated where attendees remarked that the event was the first thing that actually brought them to the park. Some didn’t even realize they had a park at the end of their street! Many of these individuals went on to plan other events at their park, or become involved in some other aspect of neighborhood life.

This igniting quality of park events is what makes them so important. When neighbors meet in parks, they start to envision what could exist in the space. A meadow that has lain fallow for years now becomes a potential venue for a farmer’s market. A blocked entrance overgrown with weeds is now a potential plaza welcoming neighbors to the park. When neighbors talk about these visions, and learn that making them happen is not only possible but probable, our neighborhoods as a whole benefit. Park advocates become neighborhood advocates, and the positive effects continue to spread outward.

A happy participant at the 2009 Silver Terrace Annual Harvest Festival

With the summer now underway, NPC is planning more events that will bring neighbors together and catalyze the type of change we all want to continue seeing in our parks and our city. This weekend, we’ll be hosting a “Bubble Day” at Silver Terrace Park, as well as a Free Soccer Day at Garfield Square Park in the Mission. Come by, meet your neighbors (or fellow park lovers) and get some ideas for an event in your park. Who knows, it could be the start of something really wonderful!

Contact me at msilva@sfnpc.org if you have any questions about planning an event in your park.

Matt Silva is Outreach Coordinator for the Neighborhood Parks Council, a San Francisco advocacy organization that represents park groups, partner organizations, and park volunteers and provides leadership and guidance to park users and local leaders.

Matt Silva, Outreach Coordinator, Neighborhood Parks Council

If you were to visit one new park in San Francisco each week, it would take you approximately four and a half years to complete the task. Yes folks, our beautiful city is dotted by about 240 pieces of open space. Like our city’s neighborhoods, these parks are diverse, appealing, experience challenges, and most of all have the support of thousands of dedicated neighbors and volunteers. The Neighborhood Parks Council (NPC) is a coalition of those very people that advocate for and support their parks.

In my role as Outreach Coordinator at NPC, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of our park groups, and working with them to improve their parks. Each year, we spend countless hours testifying at Recreation and Park Commission meetings, hovering over park design plans, rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty at workdays, and a whole host of other activities that add to the vibrancy and sustainability of our parks. Key to our philosophy is one word that is often unclear or misunderstood: stewardship.

Perhaps edging ahead of “advocate” as one of the most important yet hard to define terms in the world of park organizing, “stewardship” implies many things to many people. For me, it immediately brings to mind dirt and grass, minding the land and ensuring its upkeep. Yet, in my almost two years at NPC I’ve found it to mean so much more in actuality. Parks are so closely tied to the neighborhoods they inhabit, and stewardship often means maintaining and safe space for community members to meet and congregate. It can also mean doing your part to sustain critical programs and services that the park offers. As a steward of the park, not only do you take on responsibility to ensure that park is well maintained, but also that the social structure it supports remain intact.

Photo by Rich Pompetti, Flickr

I’ve also learned that stewards take many forms, and while operating at many levels of commitment all contribute to the overall goal of creating world-class parks. Naturally, Recreation and Park Department staff members are stewards of the parks. They ensure that the lawn gets mowed, equipment stays safe, and programming is offered (among many other tasks). Clearly, members of our coalition are stewards of their parks, volunteering their time and energy towards improving their own local parks.

However, I’ve come across many other individuals who are less formally (though equally important) stewards of their parks. The 20-something who admonishes his friend for leaving litter on the ground is a steward. The grandmother who brings her grandchildren to the playground each week is a steward. The father who teaches his children to respect the playfield they enjoy is a steward. These individuals may not attend meetings, participate in a formal workday, or support their parks in the same way that our existing coalition members do, but their contribution helps maintain the health of our city’s 240 parks nonetheless.

As NPC continues its work advocating for our parks, we look to these individuals to join our cause (in their own way). Will you help us? Next time you meet one of these people, or next time you are one of these people, consider joining us. No pressure. Just remember, “many hands make great parks”.

Matt Silva is Outreach Coordinator for the Neighborhood Parks Council, a San Francisco advocacy organization that represents park groups, partner organizations, and park volunteers and provides leadership and guidance to park users and local leaders.

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