In this week’s installment of Dolores Park Fridays, we met with local organizers, vendors and pet owners. The most colorful animals out enjoying the warm weather were 50-year-old David Strother’s two macaw parrots, Ziggy and Ricky. They live in Mission Terrace and have been frequenting Dolores Park for years, preferring it because of its many levels.

We also spoke to Robert Brust, 65, co-founder of the Dolores Park Works community organization. He’s preparing for the LoveDolores Microlitter Clean Up tomorrow, Saturday July 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where volunteers will be picking up small trash, including bottle caps and cigarette butts.

This is ahead of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s plan to aerate the grass and restore it from recent Pride and 4th of July celebrations. Brust says the “Leave No Trace” philosophy is going fairly well after the Recreation and Park Department moved trash cans to the exterior of the park and posted signs telling people to pack their trash and take it out of the park.

Signs posted at Dolores Park meant to educate residents on the Leave No Trace trash policy. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Sarah Madland, spokesperson for Rec and Park, says that there has been a “61 percent reduction in the amount of garbage in the park this year since last year.”  That would be the trash put in the park’s 22 receptacles spread out around the perimeter of the park. During the weekend, the bins are served four times.

Brust’s dog, Cartmen, uncovered an array of trash located near the park’s many benches. Photo by Mallory Newman.

“This [park] is what holds the whole community together. We’re starting to realize that now and doing more community work,” Brust said.

Hans Kolbe, 66, a Dolores Park Ambassador from the Dolores Park Works community organization, wanted to share with the neighborhood that he is “very interested in the whole community having a conversation about how we can be inclusive and still have a quality of life we can enjoy.”

Kolbe mentioned that he had been featured in Mission Local earlier,  engaging with some local men whose nationality he guessed was “Latin American.” With the help of a park ranger, he ended up relocating the men to a central location in the park to lessen the noise disturbance that was of concern to Koble.

Now, eight months later Kolbe said, “We have not found a way to integrate homeless people in the park culture.”

“We all have to live together and collaborate. We can’t have some residents who trash the place and expect other people to pick up the mess. It takes a long time to find solutions and people lose their patience,” Kolbe added.  

Brust introduced us to Carolyn Kenady, 66, another ambassador. She believes the park has been “getting better this year.” After the shooting on the bridge last August, she says the community galvanized and lobbied to have, among other things, park rangers patrol the area. Prior to that she says she was upset by people urinating and shooting up in the nearby residential areas.

Jayel Whitted is one of the two full-time San Francisco Park Rangers that were hired as a result of the community’s efforts. He says when he started here last year, there was trash galore. Now, the park is a nice place to come and relax, having made a “180 degree” turn from last year. 

Jayel Whitted, a San Francisco Park Ranger at Dolores Park, seems to thoroughly enjoy his job. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Although Whitted says the Rangers aren’t concerned so much with street vendors, Ricardo, 35, who lives in Oakland and sells ice cream at Dolores Park, Civic Center, and in other parts of the Mission, said he doesn’t feel at peace since he sometimes gets tickets. When asked about what makes Dolores Park different than other places where he works, he said he likes that “people come here to take a break, relax, and enjoy.”

Ricardo, a paletero, sells refreshing treats to park-goers. Photo by Vianey Alderete.

And at the playground, kids played in a dizzying display of youthful energy — hopping from slide to slide and enjoying all the equipment. We decided to indulge as well.

That’s it for this week’s installment of Dolores Park Fridays. Catch us out there next week!

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