By Amy O’Hair
Founded in 1974, Sunnyside Neighborhood Association is coming up for its fiftieth anniversary. The slim pile of paper newsletters that were entrusted to me from the pre-internet days of the organization have now been scanned, thanks to the volunteer work of LisaRuth Elliott.
They are now available on the Internet Archive, part of the online collection of San Francisco Neighborhood Newspapers that LisaRuth and the San Francisco Department of Memory spearheaded. I’m immensely pleased that Sunnyside has now joined this collection, and I extend my sincere thanks to her for this work, delayed as it was by covid. Being in the Internet Archive means they will always be available to future historians, and any interested person, indexed for search. My historian’s heart is aflutter.
The issue above, Winter 1979, features a piece by Greg Gaar writing about saving the Sunnyside Conservatory. Editor Ken Hoegger rhapsodizes about the eucalyptus trees of Martha Hill, which was soon to be a new public open space–Dorothy Erskine Park as it is now known. Read the issue in full size here. I feel a strong personal gratitude to the people who worked on these projects over forty years ago, saving vital open spaces and the historic Conservatory; it was a critical moment in the development of livability in the city.
Although the desires and preoccupations of local residents in the 1970s and 1980s aren’t always a perfect match for what people in the district might want now, I’m always struck when reading these newsletters how the organization’s members often came up with ideas and projects that mirror later changes. In 1978, newsletter editor and SNA co-founder Ken Hoegger wrote about an “environmental schoolyard” for Sunnyside Elementary, making use of an otherwise often unused open space in the neighborhood. This may have gone nowhere then, but about ten years ago, Sunnyside ES became part of the Shared Schoolyard program, allowing families to use it on the weekends, and changes to the yard in the last several years have added a garden and many planters. Desires for a good place to live, shop, and play, welcoming people of all ages, is timeless.
As I’ve posted here before, it was Sunnyside Neighborhood Association in the 1970s that helped establish a great many of the trees in this district, where few had previously grown, as well as helping to save the Sunnyside Conservatory from destruction and get it landmarked. (Visit SNA’s website.)