Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!
Those of you who have been to Mommy and Me over the past few weeks have probably heard most of this. It’s me banging on about getting a toddler playground in the Children’s Quarter of Yerba Buena Gardens (near the Children’s Creativity Museum.) Erin originally started the petition but Sarah and I have helped with what came next.
We need to let the Moscone Centre know that the parts of the Children’s Quarter they want to take over are currently used by neighbours for their children and that any cut-through walkways make the area less safe for our children and this is not acceptable. To do this, we now need help in the form of parent bums on seats at a meeting with the Moscone Centre at 9:00 am on Friday, 31 May 2013 in Yerba Buena Gardens. We’ll meet at 8:45 in front of the MLK waterfall to all get on the same page. After the meeting, we can all head to the Children’s Creativity Museum for their rhyme time and indoor play area at 10:00.
To make a long story short, Yerba Buena Gardens (YBG) management does want a toddler playground, probably where the hedge maze is now behind the Play Circle for 5-12 year olds.However, they have a problem. The Moscone Centre wants to expand into the Children’s Quarter and take the space that could be made available to us for a toddler playground. Why not? It’s hardly being used. They’re talking about the Learning Garden, the Wishing Tree and the Hedge Maze, for those of you who know the area. For those who don’t, it’s not a big space but it would be ideal for a more toddler-friendly rennovation. They also want to put a public walk-through from Third street through the playgrounds. The Moscone Centre has a very weak claim to the area but what they face in opposition is… nothing. No organised groups pushing to save the space, no parents advocating to protect what is there. That’s where we come in. We’re the advocacy group.
Basically I get the impression from YBG management that if we fend off the Moscone centre by just showing up at their offices, they will give some of the space over to a toddler playground. Better that than give it to grown-ups.
I’m willing to work on this long term for a few reasons; 1) I’m already knee deep in it, 2) I can see the potential of a much better toddler playground and program than currently exists and 3) I used to do this kind of group networking in South Australia for the state government and since I’m not doing paid work for the next 4 years, I figure I might as well put those lessons I learned to work for something far more important (my unpaid job.) I need your help on this because I think a toddler program and good facilities will benefit all of our kids, both as individual families, and as a mom’s group looking for adventure.
What I am asking you to do
I’m only expecting you to consider this if you live in SoMa or come here often and feel like you’ll get something out of it. But this is what I need:
- Come to this meeting and back Sarah, Erin and I as we back YBG management. We parents (and we need a lot of them) will meet at 8:45 am at the MLK fountain to gather our thoughts and get on roughly the same page. I need as firm an rsvp and I can get out of you. It’s going to be on Friday 31 May at 9:00 am where the MLK waterfall is in the Yerba Buena Gardens Green Room. This is located down where the MLK Waterfall is. If you’re standing directly in front of the waterfall, facing it, you will look to your left and see a door there. Go through that door. It will be propped open and the staff will make a sign for direction.
- Please bring your baby, it will help keep the meeting short and sweet and give them some indication that they might not like to insist we all come together again.
- There are two things we ask of the Moscone expansion plans; 1) do not take the learning garden and 2) do not put a cut through the playground area from Third Street for the public. Below is more about why we are asking these things.
The Learning Garden
Yes, it’s true, most parents will have no idea where it is or what you are talking about. It is, in fact, largely hidden and locked up. That’s why we have to keep it, it’s potential. This area is a community garden that YBG staff have been using to teach older kids about where their food comes from. They have raised garden beds, the area is secure and locked behind a 3 foot fence. Why do we care? Because it’s totally underused and has great potential for outdoor programming by both the Children’s Creativity Museum and by mom’s groups or any other group who has something they would like to do with the space. Abraham, the caretaker, locked it up because people from the retirement village across the street were stealing the plants for their own rooms with the excuse that they were just going to get wrecked anyway; it’s a fence to keep old people out. Before you laugh and dismiss, let me tell you that I have been involved with community gardens before (I’m a food historian) and this is actually their number one problem. Not vandals, retirees. What the layout and the lock means is that we have a toddler-secure area with safe plantings, no bums, cigarette butts, garbage, rogue operators or sticky-beaks. It’s also wind protected and right next to the proposed toddler playground. I for one have many projects in mind that will directly benefit our mom’s group. I’m personally excited.
The Cut Through
This one is just logical. They want a public walkway from Third Street straight through the children’s quarter, probably next to the ice rink, to make it easier for people to get in and out. WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE WANT IT TO BE EASIER FOR OUR CHILDREN TO GET ONTO THIRD STREET OR FOR THE PUBLIC TO ACCESS OUR CHILDREN!?!?!?! They’re talking stairs, by the way, not stroller access. Great, more stairs. Abraham explained to me the security once around the play circle. If you didn’t already know this, it will gladden your heart. Currently, the only way in and out of the area is either right by the CCM or through the walkway between the ice rink and the bowling alley. No back doors, easily scaled fences, etc. It’s all known, public, and watched like a hawk from a series of CCTV cameras. The playgrounds, gardens, every spot in the quarter is watched by CCTV. Plus, all the ‘security’ are actually circus-trained so they are really good at convincing KIDS to ‘do the right thing’ and the whole focus is on kids. Add the general public to that and your average obnoxious 30-something cut-through professional is not going to respond well to a circus act as a reward for following the rules and is not going to care that those rules are about child safety; they are going to care about getting to their meeting ontime. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but let me tell you a story. Every Wednesday I take Saskia to the CCM and I am 8 months pregnant. I waddle, she fusses, we stop every few minutes to adjust things and I am preoccupied with her and my own growing belly. I never feel uncomfortable in the Children’s Quarter, I just don’t think about it and traffic flows around us. Then I cross the bridge into reality to meet Jason at the other end of YBG to get a burger. I have had two meltdowns (me, not Saskia) trying to negotiate lunch-hour people traffic with my toddler, stroller and unbalanced belly. People don’t get out of the way when you’re trying to navigate a stroller and a walker, they don’t realise you just grabbed a napkin in front of them in line because someone is throwing up, spilling, etc. I’m sure you remember it all. It’s different and it’s a little scary sometimes because that pissed off asshole exec could just tip you over if you got the pickle he wanted and there’s nothing you can do. Let’s keep the Children’s Quarter for the children. The lunchtime business crown can have the rest of the city.
So that is the message we are there to deliver and, of course, to listen to what they need. I’m sure we can find a compromise. My hope is that if we get this done, we can then proceed directly to the toddler playground and once there is a toddler playground and they see how well used it is, the CCM and the YBG Children’s Quarter will increase the programming for toddlers in the gardens. The CCM is already working on that for themselves. I think by the middle of Summer, we may have a nice little hub for our kids and their activities, much like the Koret Children’s Quarter in GG Park (but close!)
Please let me know if you can come to this. I’d really appreciate your support if you also think this is a good idea.
Andrea (and Saskia)