Noe Valley Voice December-January 2009

Short Takes

By Heather World

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The residents group Friends of Noe Valley is gathering submissions for next summer's garden tour, and proud gardeners have until Sunday, Feb. 28, to enter their patch of green for consideration.

The fourth Noe Valley Garden Tour is scheduled to take place Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Six to eight gardens will be selected from nominations made by individuals and landscaping firms. Gardens can be of any theme, but they must have private access, preferably not through a private home. Volunteers will stand at the garden's entrance to take and sell tickets, answer questions, and monitor access, and homeowners are encouraged (but not required) to be on hand to talk to visitors.

Proceeds from the tour go toward neighborhood beautification projects. Past contributions helped restore the garden at the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library and paid for some of the tree and flower plantings along the 24th Street business corridor. Proposals for future beautification projects are also due Feb. 28.

To submit a garden or a beautification idea, contact Richard May at 415-602-4445. Gardens and projects must be within the boundaries of Noe Valley: Grand View/Diamond Heights Boulevard on the west, 30th Street on the south, Guerrero Street on the east, and 21st Street on the north. Nominated gardens will be viewed during March and final selections made by March 31.

Climate Change: The Science

Alvarado Elementary School, 625 Douglass Street, invites its Noe Valley neighbors to a free 90-minute lecture/ discussion about the science of climate change, given by environmental scientist Andrew Gunther on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. A question-and-answer session will follow the talk.

Gunther is the executive director of the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, a nonprofit started by scientists committed to bridging the gap between environmental research and policy. He has managed a program monitoring toxic contaminants in the San Francisco estuary and is working to restore steelhead trout to Bay Area waters. From 1991 to 2002, he worked as assistant chief scientist for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Program in the Gulf of Alaska.

Snacks and drinks will be provided. The lecture will take place in the school's cafeteria, on 22nd Street between Douglass and Eureka streets. For information, call the school at 415-695-5695.

Register for Winter Fun

Dec. 12 is the first day to sign up for winter programs starting Jan. 2 at the Noe Valley Recreation Center--also known as Upper Noe Rec Center and Day Street Park. More than 20 courses will serve everyone from tots to seniors.

Adult classes include making greeting cards on Fridays and Sundays and acting with a theater group Sunday mornings or Monday nights. There are half a dozen ways to exercise, including stretching and tai chi on Fridays and Wednesdays, respectively. Women can play soccer indoors by joining the futsal team Monday nights. The Senior Social Club, which likes to organize field trips, meets at the rec center on Wednesdays.

Offerings for the preschool set include Tot Gym, Tot Picasso, movement classes, and sports. Families can gather for arts and crafts Saturday and Sunday mornings or play board games Sunday afternoons.

For pre-teens, there are theater, cooking classes, and art classes ranging from maskmaking to crochet. The center is home to several Junior Warriors basketball teams, and directors Tom and Rocky are looking for sixth- and seventh-grade basketball players to practice Friday nights. Active Girls on Thursday afternoons specifically targets girls 7 to 10 years old who want to learn a range of sports.

The free-play holiday schedule is posted on the doors of the center, located on Day between Sanchez and 30th streets.

To register for classes, visit www.sfrec or call 415-970-8061 for more information. All classes require a Family Account registration. To register, bring identification and proof of residency to the rec center Saturday, Dec. 12, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., or Monday through Friday, Dec. 14 to 18, between 4 and 7 p.m. Note that the tot room and gym will be closed Dec. 7 to 18 so the floors can be refurbished.

The Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center maintains an informative website about the classes and free play. Check it out at

On the Front Line with Dr. Linde

Starting in January, Noe Valley author Paul Linde, M.D., will be doing the rounds of local bookstores and lecture halls to talk about his new book, Danger to Self: On the Front Line with an ER Psychiatrist (University of California Press, 2009).

In addition to giving readings at Book Passage in the Ferry Building Thursday, Jan. 7, and at Books Inc., 2275 Market Street, Thursday, Jan. 14, Linde will discuss his work and the politics surrounding the mentally ill at the Commonwealth Club on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Linde, who has worked as an emergency psychiatrist at San Francisco General Hospital since 1992 and who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF School of Medicine, describes the book as a sort of documentary of psychiatric emergency work.

Many of Linde's patients are the homeless people San Franciscans encounter every day on the streets.

"It gives you insight into the homeless mentally ill you see all over the city," he says. "You sort of wonder, Where do they go and how are they evaluated?"

A Noe Valley resident since 1995, Linde has visited or worked at hospitals across the city. His book features stories culled from experiences at UCSF, the county jail, a private hospital, and San Francisco General.

Danger to Self is available at Cover to Cover Booksellers, 1307 Castro Street, among other locations. For more info, go to You can read an article about Linde's previous nonfiction work, Of Spirits and Madness: An American Psychiatrist in Africa, at (October 2001 issue).

A New Landscape at Mission Library

With the help of a Noe Valley gardener, the Mission Branch Library on Bartlett Street has turned its patio into a sustainable vegetable garden that will serve as an outdoor classroom where San Franciscans can learn about urban gardening.

Planting beds now line the patio's west wall, and sweet peas covering the surrounding fence attract butterflies while providing an attractive barrier to nearby Orange Alley. San Francisco's Garden for the Environment will offer workshops on composting and on the planning, maintaining, and harvesting of food crops.

Students from nearby Marshall Elementary School will tend the "teaching garden," and the library may partner with school programs such as Eat Ur Veggies at Mission High School to give more students access to the garden.

The project came together when Interim Children's Room Manager Lia Hillman approached landscaper Janet Moyer at the Sunday Streets celebration on Valencia Street this summer. Moyer agreed to design the garden and solicit material donations while Hillman secured the necessary approvals and rounded up volunteers. The Mission Greenbelt Project also became involved.

It took one weekend to install the planters, haul in soil and rocks for drainage, and set up the garden's high-tech irrigation system, which uses satellite readings to determine how much water is released, says Moyer. Such irrigation systems usually cost about $500, but Moyer convinced Toro Irrigation Products to donate it. She secured donations from other partners as well.

"There are a lot of kids who live in apartments, and they never get a chance to see how carrots grow and things like that," says Moyer, who lives on 21st Street and heads Janet Moyer Landscaping. "So we were pleased we could help them with that teaching program." In November, the kids planted leafy greens like lettuce, collards, peas, and cilantro.

The Mission Library is located at the corner of Bartlett and 24th, between Valencia and Mission streets. For information, call 415-355-2800.