Hate turned to love last night at the Dolores Park Community meeting, held to organize, strategize and find solutions to the many problems consuming the park. The early organizers of the meeting’s coalition, SafeCleanGreen Mission Dolores, Dolores Heights Improvement Club, Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association, Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association, Dolores Park Dogs and Friends of Dolores Park Playground were joined by a fresh contingent of young citywide users of the park. Comprising about a third of the 50 attendees, this younger contingent came expressing their “love for Dolores Park.” One young women, Heidi, told us how she spends quiet afternoons at Dolores, and has slowly been moving closer to the park as her budget improves. As the group continued to introduce themselves, I was reminded that Dolores is not just a neighborhood park but a city wide civic resource.
Kevin Montgomery, of the blog MissionMission had urged all “lovers of the park” , “if you care about the city making community events more rare, your right to picnic, grilling pork, trash, noise, dogs off-leash, dogs on-leash, pedophile hipsters smoking cigarettes near the swings, or whatever your issue is, show up.” Many in the young group did plead eloquently and passionately for the status quo and the ability to organize impromptu events and consume alcohol. But, Kevin urged the meeting to embrace what everyone could agree on, the need to reduce trash, and to go from there.
So, a working meeting has been organized for this Sunday, September 20, 2-4 pm at the Liberty Bell plaza, 19th and Dolores. Gideon Kramer, meeting organizer and SafeCleanGreen steering committee member told us, “What we aim to do is not just spruce things up around the park (litter pickup, graffiti cleanup), but raise consciousness so that less cleaning up has to be done in the future because park users are picking up after themselves and disposing of their trash responsibly.”
Gideon said he also was anxious to keep last night’s meeting focused on positive results. ” We purposely avoided areas of contention (like dogs off leash, alcohol, drugs, noise, rowdy behavior) in favor of focussing initially on those things we can all agree on, and over which we have power to effect a change.” he told us. Though all these points were brought up, the commitment from all sides of the “Turf War” to sit down and have a civil conversation on the parks problems and the neighbors concerns was abundantly clear.
The young “Dolores Park Lovers” had come to play ball. Their ability to organize and communicate was well demonstrated by their numbers, called to the meeting by posts on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. The Lovers are also politically savvy. Kevin told us that he had already spoken with Dana Ketcham, Rec and Park’s lead for event permits at Dolores. And last week, there was a sit down in Dolores with Beven Dufty , with, we we were told, a frank exchange of views. These skills are most welcome if we are to form a strong representational support and oversight group for Dolores. This is what a great park deserves.
Dolores Park Advocates (Do you like the name?) is well on the way to becoming a true representation of all Parks users. Let the love fete commence.