August 2011 newsletter

Newsletter | August 2011
Did You Know?

Upper Noe underwent
an $11 million renovation
in 2008?

This month’s updated hours:

9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tot Room:


Wed & Fri


(varies, depending


9-3:30 p.m., 7-8:30 p.m.

Wed & Fri
1-8:30 p.m.

9-8:30 p.m.

10:30-1:30 p.m.

Greetings, Friends! Read On….

Where Have the Ladybugs Gone?
Spotlight on: Levi Johnson
Fall Registration Begins
Tots to Enjoy Circus Finelli
Dog On It!
Sandbox Saga, Part IV
Friends of NVRC Receive Award
Park Organizations to Merge

A Special Plea: Help!

The Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center would like to recruit a few volunteers to help with both one-time tasks and ongoing (but simple) obligations. We need:

  • a greeter for our tot concerts on the second Saturday of each month.
  • a regular visitor to serve as a playground scout by watching for maintenance/playground hazards and alerting staff.
  • people to help with our fall School Fair.
  • someone to update our group’s brochure/flyer/postcard.
  • someone to design, order and install an additional community information bulletin board near the 30th Street entrance to the park.
  • Finally, the Ladybug Gardeners are suffering for lack of volunteers. The city hires a gardener to assist volunteers, so we need a minimum of seven helpers per session. If we don’t get enough volunteers, our program will be discontinued.

To help, please email Kate or Molly
Kate (at)
Molly (at)

Staff Change

Upper Noe’s Facility Coordinator Joe Scott has moved on to the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, and his replacement—Thomas Iglesias—will not move in until September 1, we’re told.

Meanwhile, we have the very capable Levi Johnson at the helm. Johnson has been running our summer camps. Feel free to email him or call him at the center, 415-970-8061. If you are unable to reach him, please contact his manager, Karla Rosales, 415-831-6819. For maintenance issues, please always call 311. In case of emergency, call 911.

Johnson has been with the Recreation and Parks Department only two years, but in that time he’s worked at five facilities: Bernal, Eureka, Hamilton, Richmond and Upper Noe recreation centers.

“Now this is my home,” he said, taking time from a busy day for an interview in Upper Noe’s sunny front office.

Johnson has been something of a nomad in his life before Rec and Park, too. He hails from Jackson, California, a Gold Rush town in the Sierra Foothills that is home to about 4,500 people. From there he moved east, earning a BA in Physical Education from Florida State University. He returned west to get a graduate degree in Sports Management from USF.

“Being from a small country town, I love the city,” said Johnson, who lives near Golden Gate Park.

Johnson said his is favorite hobby is organizing gatherings of Florida State alumni: barbeques, football-watching parties. Not surprisingly, many of his good friends are from Florida State. Surprisingly, he knew none of them in school—he met them through the alumni gatherings.

Fall into Fall Classes
Registration begins August 6 for Fall classes. Upper Noe has added a yoga and a Zumba class for adults and a range of options for kids. Children can read and reenact fairy tales during Tuesday morning’s Fairytale Frolics. No fewer than four Rec and Tot soccer classes will introduce pre-school aged children to the game in a non-competitive environment. Third- and fourth-graders can join separate co-ed teams that practice Tuesday evenings, and girls can ditch the boys and try various sports during Saturday morning’s Taster’s Choice class.

Expect tot fare like Movin’ and Groovin’, Tot Picasso and Tot Gym to fill quickly. And if the class fills before you sign up? Search for tot, youth and adult classes at the many nearby recreation centers: Glen Park, St. Mary’s Park, Bernal Heights and Eureka Valley. (Bernal and Eureka are very close to stops on MUNI’s 24 Divisidero line.) See “Activities by Location” starting on page 90 in the Fall 2011 Activities Guide.

You can pick up a full catalog at any library or neighborhood recreation center. To see listings online, visit SF Rec Online. To search for our center’s programs, click on Programs tab, then click on “Click HERE TO SEARCH BY FACILITY OR ADVANCED SEARCH” and choose “Upper Noe Recreation Center.”

You can register in person at Upper Noe August 6 or online from that Saturday on. To register online, you must create a Family Account. Substantial scholarships are available. Call 415-831-6800 for more information.

Afterschool Programs Open

Douglass Playground at Douglass and 26th streets will run its afterschool program for children ages 5 to 11, Monday to Friday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.  starting August 15. Register here or call 415-831-6800 for more information.

Fun Finelli

Who knew what you could do with a kazoo? Find out whenCircus Finelli performs for the tots Saturday, August 13, 9 to 11 a.m. in the Upper Noe Recreation Center auditorium.

Verka Zaskodna, Molly Shannon, Luz Gaxiola and Mahsa Matin met at the San Francisco Clown Conservatory and have performed together for audiences from the Czech Republic to Montana in the five years since graduation.

“We’re trying to bring fun to the masses,” said Gaxiola, who can play accordion while balancing on a board on a ball, among other feats. The group would be familiar to anyone who has attended Noe Valley’s Harvest Festivals or caught them at the Noe Valley Farmer’s Market. They’re hard to miss: Matin is a one-woman orchestra, thanks to a 50-pound pack of percussion instruments she wears and plays while strumming steel guitar and singing, for example.

Circus Finelli is more than music, of course. There is dancing, juggling, balancing and comedy, too.

“Circus comedy is our primary foundation,” Gaxiola said. Their group is named for Judy Finelli, a juggler with the revered Pickle Family Circus. Formed in the mid-seventies, Pickle eschewed the traditional animal and three-ring circus for acrobatics and comedy. Many former Pickles teach at the Clown Conservatory.

“We have some audience participation as well,” Gaxiola said. Sometimes she asks for assistants to help with the triangle and other instruments; sometimes Shannon gets the kids to dance. Accordion or kazoo, you can expect fun-filled entertainment befitting a bunch of clowns.

Tot Rock is sponsored by The Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Centerthrough community donations. All families with children under the age of 5 welcome.

Field of Dreams

Ah, to feel green grass between the toes, to run carefree until you drop, and then to roll around on mother nature’s lush carpet. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? Well, apparently it is so much so that a few dogs have succumbed to that temptation in the Upper Noe athletic field, much to the chagrin of recreation center personnel and neighbors who witness this transgression.

While no dog-related messes or damage have been reported, San Francisco health code prohibits dogs from being on the field. The athletic field is for sports practice, team games, and toddler adventure. Park Services Manager Kristin Bowman is aware of the problem and has discussed solutions with FNVRC, such as posting larger signs and locking the field when staff end their shifts.

Owners who want grass for their pets are encouraged to visit the Douglass Park dog run on Douglass at 27th Street. (The run, a large grassy area used exclusively for dogs, can be accessed on 27th Street.

Meanwhile, If you see a dog on the Upper Noe field, you can gently remind the owner about the No Dogs policy there. You can also report issues

Field to be Closed when Center is Closed

In late July, Friends Molly Sterkel, Chris Faust, and Jaime A. met with Recreation and Parks Department staff to discuss staffing, security procedures, playground maintenance and other matters related to Upper Noe. Staff is now aware of several maintenance issues in the playground, including slamming gates, broken play equipment and worn areas on the play surface. In response to dogs on the athletic field, access to the field will change: staff will lock the field when they lock the building (and even earlier as the days grow shorter) to prevent dogs from using the field at night.

Expect to see two new signs, one of the athletic field reminding users that dogs are not allowed there, and one for the Sanchez Street side of the park directing people to the main recreatin center entrance on Day and 30th streets.

Then There’s Those Cats….

Sadly, the sandbox continues to double as a kitty litter box. We have spoken directly with General Manager Phil Ginsburg, Deputy Director Bob Palacio and Manager Kristin Bowman, and our project is on the Recreation and Parks Department list. Unfortunately, the department’s construction and maintenance divisions are understaffed due to budget cuts; we are in long line of work needing to be done to the city’s parks.

The Friends have $3,000 available to put toward a cover. We looked at using a hot tub cover, but the size was not right. If you have any suggestions that fit that price range, please email us.

In the meantime, the department has asked our custodians to do a daily sweep of the box. This is no small task in these times of budget cuts—custodians are in great demand—and we appreciate the attention staff has brought to this matter. Temporary site director Levi Johnson will have a scoop and plastic bags on hand in the front office. Please pitch in by cleaning any mess you see and (hopefully) by helping find a solution.

FNVRC Accepts Award
Friend Chris Faust accepted our award as a “Volunteers of the Year” at the Neighborhood Parks Council’s Summer Social on July 13. The award recognizes our advocacy and stewardship of the park. (Ours was one of 11 awards given.)

The NPC is a nonprofit park advocacy organization that works to link department policy to research and public input. It will soon merge with the city’s other park advocacy organization, the San Francisco Parks Trust. Read on to learn more.

A Marriage of Equals

This Fall, San Francisco’s two nonprofits that support the Recreation and Parks Department will become one organization dedicated to their combined interests of park advocacy, department accountability and resource development.

According to a policy paper released in August, the newly created San Francisco Parks Alliance will focus on community organizing, park advocacy, public education and public policy research. A citizen-based Parks Policy Committee will advise the organization on matters of public policy and advocacy.

The marriage of the Neighborhood Parks Council, formed by a coalition of park groups in 1996, and the San Francisco Parks Trust, formed in 1971 with a generous private donation, will eliminate overlapping programs. Increasingly, the two organizations had come to look more like each other.

“We…noted that NPC’s vigorous advocacy was leading to a greater philanthropic investment in our parks and SFPT’s philanthropic contributions were leading to more park advocacy,” said NPC Executive Director Meredith Thomas in a July progress update.

Learn more by reading the full overview on the NPC website or by reading the three-page policy paper we have posted on our website. Park users are encouraged to send ideas, hopes and concerns to or by calling the NPC office at 415-621-3260.

Volunteers Needed

  • Serve a two-year term on Upper Noe Recreation Center’s Community Recreation Council and help shape programming at the center.

Please contact Levi Johnson at 970-8061. The form is available on our website and at the center. Please either drop it off or mail it to: Levi Johnson, UNRC, 295 Day Street, SF, 94131.

  • Tabling on August 13 from 9 a.m. to noon. This opportunity is ongoing. We need volunteers to tell people about our organization during our free family concerts in the Auditorium the second Saturday of each month. Come meet your friends and neighbors and let them know about the Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center!
  • Volunteers to assist the Ladybug Gardeners on the second Saturday of each month (but not August, due to a lack of volunteers).

Please contact us.

  • Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center is organizing an elementary school fair that will feature public, private and parochial schools from Noe Valley, Glen Park, Bernal, Outer Mission and Potrero Hill. We need people to contact the elementary schools and local preschools. We also need volunteers on the day of the event, Sunday, September 25, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Parents for Public Schools will also participate. Sponsored by the FoNVRC.

Please contact Kate.

Community Events

(The August 10 Upper Noe Neighbors meeting was cancelled to accommodate the mayoral candidate forum.)

August 13
Live Music in the Auditorium (tot room)
Circus Finelli
Saturday, August 13
9 to 11 a.m.

The Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center is glad to sponsor Saturday morning live music in the Auditorium/Tiny Tot room at the Rec Center. Tot room open, too! Come by with your child and enjoy the music.

Outside the Center:

August 25
Mayoral Candidate Forum

Thursday, August 25
time unknown as of yet
James Lick Middle School, 1220 Noe Street

Hosted by the Friends of Noe Valley, the Noe Valley Democratic Club, theNoe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association and Upper Noe Neighbors.

September 14
Noe Valley Wine Walk

Wednesday, September 14
4 to 8 p.m.
24th Street between Diamond and Chattanooga streets

Wine tasting along 24th Street. A $30 “tasting wristband” buys a wine glass and map of tasting locations. Hosted by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association and Steven Restivo Event Services, LLC.

Thanks for your interest and support of your park! Please contact us with any questions or suggestions. Let us know about any community events you are planning at the park so we can promote them. Please forward this newsletter to your friends and neighbors who use the Noe Valley Recreation Center. We want this newsletter to help build the park community — please help us connect with members of the community.

Enjoy your Park!

Molly Sterkel (
Friends of the Noe Valley Recreation Center

Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center