What are people saying about Quesada Gardens Initiative?

Involved Residents and Members:

“Well, I had a great day today...again.  There are such good people in this community garden.  I am proud of having planted my first vegetables in Bridgeview Garden.  That feels so great."  Rika Kruse, May 2011

“Quesada Gardens keeps it real in one of San Francisco’s last places for people who aren’t rich. It's a model of what Bayview can be.  It’s about progress.  It’s about tolerance and respect.”  David Antunovich, December 2010

“The gardens draw new people to the community.  The gardens are Bayview’s best advertising.” Vanessa Thomas, December 2010

“I like the Quesada Gardens Initiative because it is local, and it gives me a place to share my talents.”  Tony Tarket, December 2010

“We can shape the community here, whereas other neighborhoods are shaped for us.” Angela Goebels, December 2010

“I still feel like I’m free here.  At Quesada Gardens, we can still define our own community…unlike other neighborhoods.  We include everyone.  Everyone has a say.  We all have respect for one another, and everything we do is transparent.” Carla Eagleton, December 2010

“Quesada Gardens is about people sticking together and working toward a safe place to be.” Davon Frasca, December 2010

“Quesada Gardens is a group of people who have brought together their good intention.  The people who make it all happen are really special.” Jacob Watta, December 2010

"We used to do the neighborhood watch-style of organizing, but it never really went anywhere.  Now we are actually out on the street instead of just watching.” Tom Galante, December 2010

“We just returned from a holiday…the entire street helped look out for the house and we came home to things looking just as great as when we left…So , I think that is was super great to be so cared for…in our GREAT neighborhood. Also, we live in the GREATEST city in the world. Thanks Bayview and Quesada Street. We are VERY happy to be home.”  Carla, Andy and WonderDOG, Quesada residents, July 2009

“The Bridgeview Sustainable Garden has turned into an attractive garden area when only 3-4 years ago it was an overgrown weed laden corner lot.  Everybody that we meet or talk with will let us know how much they now enjoy the garden.”  Joel and Mary McClure, QGI Members and Bridgeview Project Leaders

“I love the vibrancy of my new block and hope to bring good energy and goodwill to my new neighbors.”  Carla Eagleton, Artist, new Bayview resident on Quesada, March 2009

“As someone who primarily ‘watches’ the work happening, I can tell you that the changes these little gardens have initiated in my neighborhood are nothing short of miraculous.  It just goes to show what can happen when a community decides enough is enough and it’s time to do it for themselves.”  Dawn Swidorski, Bayview resident, September 2008

“Quesada Garden is not only turning out to be a beautiful & colorful garden with flowers & vegetables, but also changing how today's children see the ‘hood.  Children have now gone from years of staying indoors...into a beautiful new outdoor garden. Wow. Amazing.”  Carlos Galan, Bayview resident on Quesada, August 1, 2008

“Quesada Avenue Rocks!  Thanks!” Deboran Everist, QGI Member, July 2008

“Yes, you can see the blood, sweat and tears that went into the project. You can see the harmony that is the result of the hard work.” Sudeep Rao, October 2009

“Being a part of your efforts even in a small way is good for my soul.”  Shelby Gardella, April 13, 2010


Volunteers and Collaborators:

“QGI teaches by example.  At USF, service-learners often report that they learned more about social justice and grassroots power from QGI than other community partner.” Brandon Oldham, University of SF student liaison, December 2010

“[In our class] we have been focusing on Dignity of a Person.  It was extremely interesting but yet a sad fact to know that not everyone is given his/her dignified position in the society today. Working with the Quesada Gardens Initiative has taught us how human dignity is restored to residents living in the community…  By indulging ourselves in community service, we are able to lend a hand in building up the community…that will stay strong in times of need.”  Ernest Ong, University of SF student, October 2010

“Our trip to Quesada Gardens was inspiring. Their block used to be a street full of problems and then one community member decided to change that.  Then their whole garden started with the help of the rest of the community members and the residents on the block.  Hearing the story on how the vision and mentality of the block changed made me realize that anyone can grow to make the world a better place.”  Daniel, youth visitor to Quesada Gardens from Collective Roots in Palo Alto, August 2009

“I have very fond memories of Quesada. I remember the first time I saw it; there were cars parked at the 3rd Street end and the entire length was strewn with various types of debris. I pulled over in my truck and gazed at those beautiful palms. I was struck by how sad it was that these palm were so forgotten, and the palms on Dolores were so prominent. I made a vow to myself to have these trees and this island properly taken care of. I had a crew pick up debris EVERY MORNING, and it took me three years to get the trees pruned. I met Earl and others... the rest is history. I felt that gardening grew communities as well as plants/beauty. It seems that that is so true...thanks for being a crucial part of the transformation.”  Chris Ellen Montgomery, former Assistant Superintendent, DPW Bureau of Street Environmental Services, March 2009

“…we went to Quesada Garden.  The small median strip garden was in a pretty sketchy neighborhood, however, the garden was bursting with green life that seemed to shine in the middle of a concrete area.  It was amazing how such a simple thing, such as this garden, was able to bring together such an isolated community.  it provided an alternative activity for at-risk youth that would be great to see in more underprivileged neighborhoods.”  Ryan Johnson December 13, 2008 USF Garden Project blog

“Textbooks and lectures can't begin to teach a process of how to build community -- you have to see it, experience it and reflect to truly understand the power of what the Quesada Gardens Initiative has unleashed in the Bayview neighborhoods.  When these students begin their classes and start discussing social change, community activism, social justice and the links between people, business, community, etc....they will have a point of reference and an experience they can connect to.  For all of this...I thank you!”  Dayle Smith, USF Professor, School of Business, November 2008

“We talk at USF about developing smart activists. You and your neighbors/colleagues are living role models for us.”

“James (BAYBLOOM Project Manager)…was a wonderful example of someone who “walks the walk”, balancing his personal development with the interests of the communities of which he is a part…understanding that both are intertwined and are mutually enriching.”  September 2008

“You…communicate a passion and commitment that is invigorating and reminds me why I do this work.” Julie Reed, Director, USF Office of Service Learning, September 2008

“Thank you for hosting us, teaching us, and especially inspiring us! Together we were reminded that weeds might be bad, but grassroots are very very good.”  Julie Reed, Director, USF Office of Service Learning, June 2009

“Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of such a great group of people.  I have learned a lot working for you.  I hope to continue to work with Quesada.  Thanks.”  Max Gladish, USF graduate, June 2008

“My students found this part of our program to be incredibly meaningful and I’m positive it will have a lasting impact on them for years to come.”  Laralyn Bergstadt, Teacher Lick-Wilmerding High School, Summer 2007

“The Quesada Gardens Initiative does amazing work for the community and for the entire city – we really respect all of your dedication.”  Lick-Wilmerding students after Toxic Legacy Project on Environmental Justice and Community-Building in BVHP, Summer 2007

“The Quesada Gardens Initiative is successful and set apart from other programs because it is run from the inside-out, giving the residents complete ownership and pride in the successful changes in their neighborhood.” USF student report on community dialogues, October 2009

“At first, it was a small nucleus of people who started it. Now, it’s like a block party every day. Once people came out of their homes, they realized that ‘we’re just like you, you’re just like us’.” – Joel McClure, quoted in USF student report on community dialogues, October 2009


“I’ve been telling everyone the Quesada story since I’ve been back and all are amazed.”  Ralph Schardt, Michael Lee Environmental Fund, May 2009

“We really appreciated the genuine stories you both shared with us.  You have inspired both our clients and our staff…” Miriam Lueck, Institute for the Future, June 2008

“Your dedication to improving the quality of life for the neighbors is inspiring. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and hope to see more gardens throughout Bayview and Hunter's Point in the future.” Guianna Henriquez, City Hall Fellows program

“I opened my Chronicle on the bus to work and turned [the article and pictures on Quesada Gardens] into a lesson plan… and taught my students about neighborhoods.  Then we went out into the Sunset neighborhood and picked up paper garbage.  It was wonderful!  You are really DOING something for, not only the neighborhood, but the CITY!” Ellen Stecko, Special Education Teacher, Abraham Lincoln High School, May 2008

“I was lucky to stumble upon, and help a bit, the crew working on the 25th (October 2008) to continue the revitalization of Bridgeview Gardens.  Quite a day – warm and many hardworking individuals carrying soil, sifting out rocks, and laying urbanite.  There really is something special going on with the Quesada Gardens Initiative – their commitment to community and consensus decision-making.  Many clean up the neighborhood ideas have been put into place in many locations over the years, but the ideas in Bayview are among the few that seem to be entirely what the community wants and not some outside group.  Mike Adams, October 28th, 2008

“The Quesada Gardens Initiative is a wonderful example of how ordinary citizens can come together to preserve and protect the beauty and livability of our neighborhoods.” Dee Dee Workman, Executive Director (past), San Francisco Beautiful, October 2006


“Addicts and dealers did business there, vagrants urinated on doorsteps, and the median served as a dumping ground for everything from engine oil and beer bottles to garbage and brake pads.”  Pat Yollin, San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2003

“This is one of the streets my folks would tell me not to go on.”  Dennis Hill (who grew up a few blocks away), quoted by Pat Yollin, San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2003

“Since I became a fully professed member in 2002, my community has grown to include the children of the Castro neighborhood, the folks who have made Quesada Gardens in the Bayview bloom, straight women in Fresno, bikers on Harleys from SLO, artists of the Mission, and young professionals on Union Street. Despite all the bad news we read day to day, I have witnessed enough goodness to know humanity has a bright future as long as there are people willing to reach out to one another and find commonality.”  Sister Selma, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, SF MOMA Blog, September 2010

“Its grassroots organizing in the most literal sense.”  Pat Yollin, “A little bit of Eden in Bayview,” SF Chronicle, September 15, 2004

“What made it work (on Quesada Avenue), it seems, is the underlying capacity of a few residents to take action and to sustain it.” Robert Sampson, quoted by Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 2004

“Wasteland turned into garden patch” John Upton, San Francisco Examiner, January 7, 2008

“The dirt was so hard at that time that we had to take picks and dig.  We’d pour water, like you mix concrete, and put the plants in the mud.”  Annette Smith, quoted by Pat Yollin in the SF Chronicle July 18, 2006

“All the progress on this block is real and it’s visible – but it’s still rough around the edges.” SF Police Officer Kevin McPherson quoted by Pat Yollin in the SF Chronicle July 18, 2006

“Garden transforms mean street,” Pat Yollin, SF Chronicle July 18, 2006

“…a city oasis where neighbors can create a real community…”  Kate Kelly, CBS 5

“…the neighbor concept coming full circle.”  Tricia O’Brian, Bayview Historian and Writer

“…a public act of hope and faith…”  Joan Ryan, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 2004

“…there’s a transformation taking place on Quesada Avenue in the Bayview District!”  ABC 7

“…crime is down and neighbors cultivate friendship as well as flowers.”  Patricia Yollin, SF Chronicle