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This presentation, delivered at a San Francisco Department of Public Works Street Parks Project workshop on Saturday, January 28, 2012, demonstrates how a community-based project--the Hidden Garden Steps--raised $10,000 through a two-hour event.

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  • When our colleagues at the San Francisco Parks Alliance and San Francisco Department of Public Works Street Parks Projects heard we raised $10,000 through a two-hour fundraising event in December 2011, they asked if we would talk about how we pulled that off. And we, as pleasantly surprised by those results as anyone was, immediately agreed. Here’s what led to that wonderful two-hour success story.
  • Projects like ours—an attempt to raise a total of $300,000 to turn an unsightly, overgrown set of concrete steps into a second set of tiled steps similar to what was accomplished on the Moraga Steps project between 15 th and 16 th avenues in San Francisco’s Sunset District—start with a few basic things: a problem, a vision, and a strong sense of community support. This slide hints at the problem.
  • These images of a set of ceramic-tiled steps in Brazil provided the vision that inspired our colleagues who completed the first set of ceramic-tiled steps in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District: On Moraga, between 15 th and 16 th avenues.
  • And that fabulous set of step on Moraga, just a couple of blocks away from where the Hidden Garden Steps project is underway on 16 th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets, showed everyone that an undertaking of this magnitude can be successful.
  • Three of us in the neighborhood formed an organizing committee after meeting Moraga Steps artists Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr at a community event in January 2010 and learning that they were excited by the prospect of creating a second set of tiled steps. Members of the organizing committee then informally contacted neighbors throughout the Inner Sunset to obtain signatures on petitions showing that there was broad-based support for the project. We handed out flyers, began setting up events to engage volunteers, and began our fundraising in earnest. And here what one of our volunteers designed as our calling card: a photograph of the site before we began working on it, and a Photoshopped image of our artists’ ceramic-tile steps design in the middle of imagery showing how our clean-up efforts are already transforming the site. That representation continues to help current and prospective donors and other supporters know where we are going.
  • After spending much of 2010 creating the infrastructure for the project, we officially kicked off our $300,000 fundraising campaign with the announcement that two anonymous donors had contributed nearly $15,000 to the project in December 2010. We made arrangements to have a reception to promote the project at Crepevine, on Irving Street, a few months later (March 2011)—an event completely underwritten by Crepevine owner Majed Fakhouri. The artists spoke; supporters rose to the challenge.
  • Another of our first major public events was a neighborhood gathering at the Sunset Branch Library, where we explained our vision and had the project artists and other supporters show some of the initial design elements.
  • We knew that momentum would be the key to our success. Less than a month later (in April 2010), another project volunteer located a local company—Tree Shapers, LLC—that was willing to donate tree-trimming services for a day--$2,500 worth of services that started transforming the site in ways that immediately increased foot traffic and has contributed to making this a place where people now stop and chat rather than simply racing up or down the stairs to get past an area that felt somewhat unsafe.
  • In less than a day, we went from this…
  • … to this. The two shots on the left-hand side are from the top of the Steps looking down. The final shot, on the right, shows how much the view opened up from the foot of the Steps looking up.
  • We built off that success in summer 2011 by plastering the Inner Sunset District with flyers about our plans to continue cleaning up the site so we could begin installing gardens on either side of the Steps.
  • It didn’t take long for our monthly clean-up efforts to draw more and more people into the project; our most recent clean-up, earlier this month, attracted 25 students from George Washington High School and several of our clean-up regulars, including members of the project organizing committee.
  • One of the most magnificent pay-offs in summer 2011 came out of a contact made at the Crepevine event. Woodside International School Headmaster John Edwards threw his support behind a project involving school art instructor Angie Crabtree (left) and a few of the art students (including Itzel, pictured on the right here).
  • Angie and the students worked throughout the month of July to transform drab gray walls at the foot of the Steps into a playful and colorful mural that draws attention to our fundraising efforts.
  • Here’s Angie working on one of the details: an image of the Green Hairstreak Butterfly. Our project coalition has grown to include Nature in the City volunteers who are spearheading an area-wide effort to recreate habitats for this once-common butterfly, and the sample garden at the top of the Steps is currently the northern-most point in the group’s effort to create a butterfly habitat stretching across the nearby hills. Angie and the students were kind enough to incorporate that motif into the mural.
  • We announced that we would be having a holiday sale of Steps tiles for anyone who wanted to support the project and was still struggling to find an unusual holiday gift for family members or friends. We set up tables at the top and bottom of the Steps for a two-hour event that was scheduled to run from 1- 3 pm that Saturday afternoon in early December 2011. And we hoped someone besides organizing committee members and artist Aileen Barr would show up .
  • The sale itself was simple: we were promoting the individual tiles which are priced at $150, $350, and $1,000. There really were no overhead costs; even the simple refreshments were donated.
  • We also had information available about the larger elements that will extend over multiple runs of steps.
  • It did not take long to see results. People who had been thinking about supporting us through the purchase of tiles starting showing up moments after we set ourselves up for business, and we had a couple of people donate at the $1,000 level during our first half-hour on site. There was a slow but steady group of people who came by to talk, to ask about how they could become involved, or to simply write a check.
  • The magic moment came when someone close to one of the organizing committee members stopped by to see what he could do to support us. And he surprised his organizing committee colleague by writing a $6,500 check to support the installation of one of the larger elements that will span several steps.
  • At the most basic level, we really did raise $10,000 through this simple, low-key two-hour event completely staffed by volunteers. At an equally real level, that success came from nearly two years of effort: organizing the Hidden Garden Steps project, creating a very appealing and consistent vision, slowly and steadily building a community of support, and being present where our current and prospective supporters are: onsite as well as online through a playful and colorful website and through social media outlets.
  • We continue to use social media as one avenue for reaching our audience. But at its heart, the project is one of building a sustainable community and a lasting project that serves as a focal point for what makes our community special. And we hope everyone here at the workshop will be equally successful.
  • Hidden_Garden_Steps--Raising_$10K_in_Two_Hours

    1. 1. Hidden Garden Steps: community, Collaboration, And $10K in Two hours By Paul Signorelli For the sf dpw street parks workshop San francisco 28 february 2012
    2. 2. The Starting Point
    3. 3. Inspiration: Santa Teresa, brazil
    4. 4. Proof that it can be done In san francisco
    5. 5. The vision
    6. 6. Community outreach: reception at crepevine
    7. 7. Community Outreach: a branch library
    8. 8. Signs of progress
    9. 9. From this…
    10. 10. … to this
    11. 11. Inclusivity: the invitation
    12. 12. collaboration
    13. 13. The Mural
    14. 14. The Mural
    15. 15. The Mural
    16. 16. The $10K Day
    17. 17. Individual tiles
    18. 18. tile elements
    19. 19. Our Supporters in Action
    20. 20. The shooting star
    21. 21. Lessons learned
    22. 22. Community outreach: Online