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The street trees were in trouble, so they put on a street fair.

Leafily fringed with flowering plum and cherry trees, San Francisco's Woodland Avenue is unusually attractive. But with only the limited attention possible from budget-strapped city crews, those trees would surely fill with unruly suckers thrusting upward into utility lines and brushing closed the views from streetside windows.

Windland's neighborhood association decided to handle the problem itself, as pictured here. Perhaps your group could benefit from their approch.

Several months ahead, the association asked permission from the city to close off the one-block-long avenue to outside traffic for a day so Woodlanders could stage a street fair. Association members volunteered to set up nominal-admission games and events: bean-bag tossing, fortune telling, face painting, plus other simple fund raisers such as craft and baked goods sales, a talent show, and a communal garage sale. The fair, which concluded with a guitar-serenaded potluck dinner in the middle of the street, raised several hundred dollars.

With most of the proceeds, the association hired the services of a pruning expert, who spent a Saturday teaching residents how to prune the trees (a skill they could later use in back yards, too). The rest of the funds went to rent tools, a chipping machine, and a debris box (from a scavenging firm). After instruction, the volunteer crews trimmed most of the trees, while the professional tackled the serious problems. The result: food value for Woodland homeowners and a good time for all.

To close a street temporarily, make arrangements with the proper office of your city or county government (usually the public works or streets department) well in advance. In some communities, municipal crews do routine street tree pruning, but usually this is the responsibility of the local homeowners. In any case, before planning a neighborhood project, be sure to check first with city hall.
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Title Annotation:San Francisco's Woodland Avenue community action
Date:Jun 1, 1984
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