June 25, 2024
Caring for our Neighborhood and One Another



By Suzanna Peltzie and Tova Green

In honor of Earth Day this year, City Center residents decided to take action to express our concern for the earth. Led by Ino Kevin Starbard, the head of the meditation hall, we organized a neighborhood trash pick-up following our Earth Day ceremony. The response was so positive that we’ve committed to making it a practice every Monday morning after our 9:00 am work circle.

For Eli Brown-Stevenson, resident priest and Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, this ritual serves as more than just a chore. “For me, it’s a grounding and intentional way to start the week,” Eli shares. “It sets a tone of hands-on engagement that resonates throughout my week. Plus, it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with neighbors, sharing warm hellos and smiles.”

Roger Hillyard, City Center’s Shika (Guest Manager) noted, “For a brief period on Monday mornings after we connect at Work Circle, we spread out to pick up trash and beautify the neighborhood. It’s amazing how that simple act brings such smiles and warm hearts to both the San Francisco Zen Center residents and our neighbors.”

Beyond caring for our neighborhood, our trash pick-up has deeper significance. As Heiko John Lake, City Center’s Property Manager, pointed out, “I really appreciate our trash pick-up! It’s an opportunity to work together on a very egalitarian chore and connect in ways we might not normally do.” This sentiment reflects a shared commitment to communal care and is a reminder of the value of collective effort.

“Removing small pieces of trash may seem like a small act,” Heiko continues, “but it contributes to continuous improvement. Doing this together reinforces the idea that we support each other in all our endeavors.”

City Center Director Choku Proudfoot commented, “Picking up litter around the neighborhood is fun and satisfying. It is a way to feel that I am part of keeping the neighborhood clean and making it a more beautiful place for everyone who lives here or walks through. It is a way to give care to a shared living space.”

Our weekly trash pick-up is not just about cleaning our neighborhood; it’s about fostering community spirit and environmental stewardship. It’s a testament to how simple actions can strengthen bonds and make a tangible difference. As we gather to clean our streets each Monday, we reaffirm our commitment to caring for our environment and each other.