Thank you everyone for attending the Lower Polk Alleys Vision Workshops on October 7 & 10.
Please submit ideas and feedback about our alleys in the comments section below at anytime. We welcome all feedback in this community driven effort.
Read report by Hoodline SF on the October 7 workshop here.
Watch video excerpts from the workshops below:
I worked with Shell Thomas on producing events on Fern Alley when he was doing his Night Galleries. It is wonderful to see his work continue to move forward. I had been working with him to produce another Night Gallery right before his passing. It was examining the themes of belonging in a fluctuating city, and it was an outgrowth of our first Night Gallery together: In Flux. Here is the link for the original event: http://www.14blackpoppies.com/in-flux.html
As part of In Flux, I worked to ensure that all the communities, including the Ohlone, had space within the festival. I wanted to make sure that it was an accurate reflection of its complex and often conflicted history.
I would love to continue building and creating off of Fern Alley and finding ways to increase street/alley level event production. Lower Polk has always been near and dear to my heart since it was one of the first neighborhoods I lived in. It has a unique mixture of histories, cultures, and communities.
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Please contact me at to discuss Fern Alley and it impending re-design. WE’d like to start programming for it as the theme of the new redesign is Art. WE’d love to partner with the community to activate it now and after it is re-done in 2016-17.
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I was at the Oct. 7th meeting and as an artist in the neighborhood am very excited about this. Have taken some time to look at some of the alleys and think of more feed-back on top of what we discussed on the 7th. I participated with Jason as an artist in the Fern Alley Night Gallery: In Flux as well as previous Fern Alley art walks and definitely interested in participating in what’s to come. Jason and Shell did wonderful work at the In Flux Night. One of the most professional and well marketed events of this nature which I have attended.
Here are some notes I wrote with some ideas about the alleys in general:
For the alleys intended for events and art shows/ art displays, any new structures placed in them should consider the intent for art shows and performances built in. There should be structures which are conducive to artists hanging and displaying various forms of visual art (keep the SF wind in mind, it’s always a terror to our out door art shows, we have to be able to tie things down really well). There should be a space conducive to having performance art and any seating structures should be placed in a way that can both view the performance as well as look at each-other and engage.
As an example compare both sides of Annie street. The Market street side of Annie Street, the way the planters are arranged is not conducive to the community at all, people don’t really feel safe walking thru it. The mission street side how ever where all the events are held is really conducive to both performance art (including movie nights) by the way the cement benches are placed. For the time I was invited to vend at 3rd thursday, I found those benches also served as places like tables to display art but were a little low, not really anywhere to hang art and the wind brutalized anything such as banners and large canvas art works that were hung. I like how all the benches are arranged as far as the placement of them really allows community to interact quite nicely. Maybe benches could have some backings where artists can lean their work against with some solid eyelets (or other structures) in back to tie things down. Maybe some hanging structures with strong hooks to tie things to could help?
For the events themselves, I think there needs to be great marketing to bring out community and art supporters to make these events successful. A lot of these type of events (both public and private) I have noticed tend to rely on already existing foot traffic and the artists themselves to get people to come to the events. This does not really work. Spreading word about events need to go way beyond that and events need to be marketed well ahead of time not just at the last minute.
Find ways to include local small businesses in these events so they can also benefit from them.
As far as any plants and gardens: I really love the idea of greening up urban areas. The cultural vibe in Hayes Valley was refreshing until most of the urban farming culture was taken out 😦 In our case of Lower Polk If we can have permanent solutions to encourage green living, urban farming and gardening that would be wonderful. There are huge challenges in our neighborhood though we will have to overcome when it comes to this. I have seen both failed and successful efforts to this regard. I suggest most planters should be above male human waist level or they will be used as toilets. (trash bins and bathrooms with also help with that) plants that are too low like at ground level also will probably get trampled (it has happened). Wall gardens like the one at Jane’s on Larkin and Cedar are a success. Hanging plants could also work. In addition to those I would like to see a way community can get involved with urban gardening, even if it’s growing tomatoes around a fence. The idea of having plants which produce edibles and/or are conducive to healing (such as sage and lavender). Jasmine is also a nice vine kind of plant which produces a nice smell in it’s surroundings.
Planters should be durable so they don’t get kicked around. Our abundance of drunk visitors should somehow be discouraged from destroying neighborhood plant life.
Parking: We have a serious lack of available, secure and affordable parking. Although I do not drive cars or ride bikes myself, I find it very difficult to invite people from outside of the neighborhood to visit me, attend neighborhood events and support our local businesses because they can’t find good 24hr places to park. Even a lot of workers at local businesses who not all live in the area are having a lot of problems with this issue and many can’t afford to work here because of having to pay too much for parking as well as the hassle of constantly having to take breaks to check their car. Also a lot of cars get broken into and bikes get stolen. Most people don’t have a large enough extra budget to pay a lot for parking and then spend money in our neighborhood and many lots close early so visitors have to leave at a certain time even if they don’t want to. I’m not sure how this affects the alleys projects but if we want people to come in and support our events we will definitely need to find serious solutions to this problem. It’s nice to think that we don’t need cars but that is not realistic to our society. The hard truth is that the whole bay area will not be ditching their cars anytime soon, maybe not for decades to come. They shouldn’t be discouraged to come visit our neighborhood, and we do need all their support!
Creative artistic seating. I liked the idea of creative light installations to light up murals and keep things cleaner and safer.
Maybe some solar powered lighting could be a great addition, expressing the progressive nature of San Francisco for clean power.
In alley ways built out for evening and night time art events consider the need for good lighting to show art and vendor displays. Also having enough power outlets for these events to avoid power shortages and excessive cables (which cause trip hazards) will definitely be needed.
Much thanks again for opening this discussion to the community. Am very glad I was able to attend the meeting and meet many of you currently involved in these projects. I have been making effort in inform more of our community about these wonderful developments in the making. Looking forward for what’s to come. Cheers!