Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Urban Garden Story: Building community, one plant at a time

When I met Sarah and David in February, naturally I asked about their "garden".

In David's blog post (published in January), I'd assumed that they wanted to beautify the place.

The real story surprised me.

Turned out they were conducting an urban experiment of sorts.

Over pizza at Cafe Zoetrope, Sarah explained how they got started.

I was impressed. And inspired.

I could imagine the title: "Reclaiming one's turf".

Subtitle: "The dumping of shit and stuff will stop if one shows that this space is being cared for".

Then I asked why neither she nor David blogged about it in details. David's post certainly didn't do their experiment justice.

In her typical unruffled fashion, Sarah went "hmm".

I told Sarah -- insisted, really -- that she had to blog it.

Perhaps their experiment would take a life of its own. Spreading the word around, at least in the blogosphere.

So I was delighted that Sarah wrote this piece in March. She tells the Whys and Hows.

Thanks to RSS feeds, I've been able to keep up to date on the progress of their urban experiment.

I felt sad when their plants got stolen more than once.

And when their planter got vandalised.


Some incidents were a little strange.

Through it all, Sarah and David persevered with each unneighbourly act. Painting over the vandals' mark. Replacing a stolen plant.

I think their efforts are paying off.

Maybe one day soon, their local newspaper would feature their urban experiment as a story.

Spread it as a meme.

Sarah and David: I'm sitting halfway round the world.

And I'm rooting for ya.


  1. hey ivan.....rooting for the them is a great comment! :)
    it does seem that people are catching on....i would love to see a trail of pots and planters all down the block with the owners' personalities on display and in bloom. the next door neighbors' participation is a good sign that it could happen!

  2. Hi Jini, yeah I have that vision in mind too. A long row of planters from each home in the neighbourhood. Who knows, it could become a tourist landmark in SF in years to come. Oops, maybe they don't want to be that successful! LOL

  3. hi ivan,

    thanks for your encouragement of our little garden that could. i think we've stopped our morning "checkins" out the 2nd story window, which either shows progress or disinterest. surely not the latter--we ARE interested, and are scheming the next version. i'd like to add more color. perhaps a large barrel painted a light green is in our future...

    our neighbors have continued to sweep the sidewalk clean. although the tidiness hasn't kept people from dropping their junk, they seem to be more concerned with discrete piles, rather than littering the block. now that's progress.


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