A group of Potrero Hill residents, with assistance from Hibiscus Studio, is creating a “Poppy Path” from Wisconsin and Coral streets to 23rd and Arkansas streets. The walkway will be lined with native plants – including poppies – as a means to create a beautiful and calming perambulation between Starr King Elementary School and the Potrero Hill Recreation Center.
According to Jennifer Serwer, Hibiscus Studio designer, the area is presently marred by litter, unkempt sidewalks and rusted cyclone fencing.
“We hope it will increase the comfort of walking along this route, and it will showcase the natural beauty and lovely views of this underused site,” she said.
Serwer explained that the idea emerged from conversations about how to beautify pathways between Starr King Open Space, Starr King Elementary School, the Potrero Health Center, and the Potrero Hill Recreation Center.
“The project vision came out of a community meeting with PTA leadership from Daniel Webster and Starr King Elementary schools,” she said. “My son is in second grade at Starr King and that’s how I got involved.”
Serwer offered to draft plans and facilitate design discussions. Hibiscus Studio previously worked on the 22nd Street Steps at Connecticut Street, a community garden in Hunters Point, and permeable landscaping at Alvarado Elementary School, among other projects.
In March, a group of Potrero Hill residents, calling themselves Friends of Potrero Hill Recreation Center, secured $150,000 through a City and County of San Francisco Challenge Grant. Since the project is expected to cost more than $200,000 the group is raising additional funds, which’ll be used to pay for landscaping, walkway improvements and installation of a viewing platform.
“We will be working with Literacy for Environmental Justice for the planting piece of the project and once we have completed design we will be working with youth and the community on the installation,” added Serwer.
The California Poppy is the state’s official flower, indigenous throughout California, except the desert. It’s expected to thrive on the Hill.
“The effort is expected to build community through workshops designed to plan, build, install and maintain the project for its duration,” Serwer added,
The San Francisco Park Alliance, Literacy for Environmental Justice, Potrero Neighborhood House and Bridge Housing supported the Challenge Grant application. Community Awareness Resources Entity, the Potrero Annex-Terrace tenants associations, and the Potrero Hill Archives Project have also been engaged in the effort.
While the concept was inspired by the Hill’s people and flora, poppies will be a central design theme. Poppies are perennials. The small flowering plants bloom in spring and summer, going dormant in the winter.
During World War I 8.5 million soldiers died, many on battlefields across Western Europe. Fields and forests were marred by carnage. But in 1915, an early spring brought sunlight, spring showers and warm weather. Bright red, orange and yellow flowers – poppies – peeked through the scarred landscape. This flowering beauty came to symbolize peace and remembrance.
Those interested in helping with fundraising or getting involved in the project can contact Jennifer Serwer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are needed for planting, construction, and website design.