Jeffrey Betcher from the Quesada Gardens Initiative talks about his experience living in his dream garden and watching the seeds planted long ago begin to blossom for all to enjoy in Bayview-Hunters Point.
Q: As co-founder of Quesada Gardens Initiative and organizer for Bayview Footprints, you are clearly a community builder, and someone with a positive outlook. Where does your inspiration come from?
JB: Inspiration is plentiful in Bayview Hunters Point. Annette Young Smith is high up on my list. She and Karl Paige started the original garden on the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue where we all lived about ten years ago. We lost Karl in 2006, but Annette is still our Board Chair.
Q: What do you love most about BVHP? Describe a typical day in the neighborhood for you.
JB: I love talking with neighbors, and can be found doing just that most any day. I also love Bayview Hunters Point’s rich history as a place where people have struggled for justice and for a grip on better lives for themselves and their families. The neighborhood’s success stories are humbling.
Q: Outside of Quesada Gardens, what’s your favorite local 94124 business and why?
JB: I’m impressed by the Bayview Hunters Point business community in general, and by how the lines between profit and social responsibility blur. In another place, businesses might focus on competition and foster ill will between new entrepreneurs and established businesses. Here we know that businesses, social groups and community organizations are all in it together.
Q: Quesada Gardens Initiative turned 10 last year. What are the biggest leaps you’ve seen made and your proudest moments over the years, as part of such a positive organization?
JB: We’ve launched dozens of projects and groups and documented tens of thousands of hours of community service that we’ve generated in the heart of Bayview. In the process we have demonstrated the benefits of community change efforts that are conceived by the people who will live with the results, and that prioritize existing strength and opportunity over deficits and problems.
Q: If you could design your perfect ‘dream’ garden space in 94124, where would it be located and what would it include? What would it look like?
JB: I’m blessed that my dream garden is already here, right in front of the house I live and work in. Ideally, it would be self-weeding!
Q: Any new events, programs or additions that we might look forward to at Quesada Gardens?
JB: Watch for the Palou Community Project to blossom, for more community youth to experience the power of community involvement, and for more emphasis on arts and history. In an explosion of urban change, a neighborhood’s history and multicultural experience are extremely vulnerable even though they are essential ingredients in sensitive urban planning and development and can mean the difference between residents feeling hopeful or suspicious when we pass on the street.