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From the Director

Michael McKechnieExecutive Director Michael McKechnie
By building partnerships among diverse organizations, focusing on creative programming, and establishing the right priorities, Executive Director Michael McKechnie has managed the successful growth of four vital nonprofits and served on the governing boards of a number of research, fundraising and civic organizations where he has provided governance, financial, and strategic planning oversight.

Less Concrete. More Jungle!

Dear Friends,

Transforming the Concrete Jungle

Transforming the Concrete Jungle

San Francisco is blessed with green space as many other cities are not in spite of our dense urban fabric.  Yet, as in any urban area, proliferation of pavement posses challenges for wildlife habitat, rainwater runoff, and just plain garden space.  A solution to those challenges in this already green city is about to become available to San Franciscans.  The San Francisco Botanical Garden Society has partnered with the Department of Public Works (think permit facilitation) and the San Francisco Parks Trust to educate the public about what to plant where and how to do it through a program called Grey2Green.


Starting on February 12, 2011, there will be a number of one-hour workshops held at the County Fair Building in the Botanical Garden.  These workshops will guide the interested resident through the steps needed to transform the concrete between your sidewalk and the curb into a garden.  Permitting, design, plant selection, and maintenance will all be discussed.

The program includes the hiring of an intern for the Department of Public Works to assure that permits for the gardens are moved through the system quickly.  San Francisco Parks Trust already provides considerable community outreach, and they will be talking up the program and guiding interested residents into the educational sessions.  Finally, project manager Mike Gonzalez will design and lay out demonstration gardens using various materials and plants from the plant list to show what can be done and how it can be maintained.  These plots will be in front of the County Fair Building where they will be subject to all the issues that will confront homeowners:  traffic, exuberant pets, and gophers to name a few of the welcome and not-so-welcome challenges to curbside gardening.

The goal is to eventually have whole blocks of miniature greenways that wildlife can thrive in and travel through.  Storm water will be returned to the ground and not dumped into the sewer system and the Bay.  Your home's value will be increased with the improved curb appeal.  A high estimate for maintenance time is about 30 minutes a week, so even for the busy household this is do-able.

I'm delighted that this program, funded through a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, will allow the Society and our partners to not only outreach to communities but also bring new people into the learning environment of the Botanical Garden.  I will be back with more on this issue after the beginning of next year, but the project is now underway and I wanted you to know about it.

Looking forward to seeing you in the Garden soon.

Warm best wishes,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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