Neighbors and friends had a congenial gathering at the Burnside Avenue cul-de-sac the evening of Friday, June 18. This one block street, along with its sister street to the east, Chilton Avenue, are known for their tight-knit family atmosphere and friendly vibe–like a little town within Glen Park.
The occasion was the kick-off of an exciting new project, Burnside Mural+, which envisions a mural and a tiled stairway. Around forty people attended for drinks, socializing and a fundraising pitch by Project Director Renee Berger. To Berger, a Glen Park resident of Van Buren Street for 26 years, the 600-700 square foot green concrete wall and stairway at the end of the Burnside, with a lone basketball hoop at the center, cried out for a visual narrative, one that would recall and honor some of Glen Park’s glory days and illustrious residents. The idea came to her quite naturally, as she is a San Francisco City Guide, focusing on the famous murals in the Mission District.
With her thirty-year background having a national and international consulting firm for mainly philanthropic organizations such as the Ford Foundation, she dove into the process of bringing the vision to reality. She reached out to SF Public Works, the agency with jurisdiction, asking for the requirements to gain approval for the project. She was quickly joined by Mary Szczepanik, Anne Wintroub, and Allison Arieff, all long-time Glen Park residents who bring enthusiasm and critical skills to the project including fundraising, communications, and design.
Berger stated, “I am incredibly fortunate that these people, all raising children and working full-time, have volunteered, giving their time and talents.”
The Burnside wall meets the western end of the Greenway via two lower stairways joining into one upper stairway. Greenway leader Nicholas Dewar and his team welcomed Burnside Mural+ and, in a win-win situation for both, the project has been rolled into the fiscal sponsorship of the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA), along with the pre-existing sponsorship for the Greenway. They both, however, maintain independent production schedules and fundraising efforts. Dewar expects that the Burnside Mural+ will soon become a project of SFPA independent of the Greenway.
Dewar says of the Burnside Mural+ project, “It’s a wonderful idea in a location that seems ideal for a mural and decorated steps. I’m very glad that Renee Berger has taken it on.”
The projected cost of the mural is $40,000. So far there are pledges of $5,000. Upon city approval of the project, it will need to advance in several stages of fundraising. First, funds are needed to solicit proposals from several muralists, addressing their ideas and approach. After the muralist is chosen, and with community invited to give input to the design, there will be another round of fundraising for the mural. Fundraising is ongoing, however, with another larger event planned for early fall.
Lastly, separate funding will be needed for the tiled steps, which will be a more ambitious and costly process. Grants, such as a Community Challenge Grant, would be needed to complete the projected cost in the range of $150,000 to $175,000. Regardless, if the initial $40,000 for the mural can be raised, the Glen Park neighborhood and the Greenway will be further beautified and be another focal point of the 17-mile Crosstown Trail, of which the Greenway is one element.
If all goes smoothly, the mural could be completed by mid-year 2022. The tile portion will require a more intensive grant and funding process and, depending upon the source of funding, could be completed in two to four years.
You can find an essay describing the project on the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project website, which has more detailed information on the Burnside Mural+ and other Glen Park murals. To read, click here.
To sign up for updates and to donate to the Burnside Mural + project, click here.