May 22, 2013
An Urban Sidewalk Story in Photographs

Article by Sachico Ohanks, SFZC Communications Coordinator
Photos by Shundo David Haye, SFZC City Center Director

“Water, water, everywhere . . .  Nor any drop to drink.” Each year as the rainy season comes around I sit indoors and, like a seasoned Californian, say to myself, “Good. We need the rain.” But each year in San Francisco, rainwater overruns the city’s flood and sewer system, damaging property, causing traffic jams and accidents, and sweeping gallons of under-treated sewer water into the bay. This is rainwater that did not reach the topsoil, which lay dormant under the regulatory 4-inch thick concrete sidewalk, and consequently did not sprout a single spring bud nor sweeten a single honey bee’s summer.

But, this year will be different for the sidewalks at Page and Laguna Street. Through the collaborative efforts of San Francisco Zen Center, Friends of the Urban Forest, and the Public Utilities Commission the dormant topsoil saw daylight. A community of eco-friendly volunteers and Zen Center residents installed sidewalk gardens over a four day period in May. This project harmonizes with “Touching the Earth: Gardening at the Urban Temple,” an ongoing initiative for revising green space at Zen Center from ornamental to sustainable.

Here’s our story about turning concrete into gardens:

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