A Story of Resilience and Restoration in San Francisco’s Boeddeker Park

Photo courtesy of Henrik Lam

Photo courtesy of Henrik Lam

Giving her neighbors a voice

The Tenderloin, a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, spans 40 blocks and is home to nearly 35,000 residents, many of whom are low-income and immigrants. Now in her Junior year at UC Berkeley, Precious Listana was the Saint Francis Foundation's data storytelling intern over the summer. Using LiveStories, Listana easily communicated progress in San Francisco's Tenderloin, the neighborhood she grew up in. “I loved the user-friendliness of it,” Listana says of LiveStories.

Born in the Philippines, Listana moved to the Tenderloin when she was eight years old. The neighborhood has a reputation for its high rates of drug and crime activity. However, Listana wants to showcase the bright side of the Tenderloin, which is given less attention. Listana says those who live in the Tenderloin have a different perception of their neighborhood than outsiders. “I want to paint a picture that these snap judgements are not a representation of the residents that live in this community,” she says. With this goal in mind, Listana focused specifically on telling the story behind the Tenderloin Health Improvement Project (TLHIP) and the renovation of Boeddeker Park. Before the 2014 renovation, the park was extremely dangerous. However, after the renovation, 95 percent of people reported feeling safe.

Harnessing the Power of Collective Impact

Created by the Saint Francis Foundation, TLHIP is a partnership between residents and organizations with the goal of improving health outcomes and creating alignment and collaboration in the community. To show how these groups are connected, Listana includes a map of service organizations, an informational video, and numerous charts that show data about the community in her LiveStory.

The renovation of Boeddeker Park was the perfect investment as it met all three of TLHIP’s priorities: ensuring safety, increasing opportunities for physical activity, and building community connections to support health and well-being. “It had the right balance of promise and change,” said Jennifer Kiss Director of Saint Francis Foundation.

Transforming Boeddeker

Listana says growing up, Boeddeker Park was known as the most dangerous part of the the Tenderloin. Activity in the park became so dangerous at one point that the parks department decided to close the gates for good.

Because of the park’s dark history, many community members advocated to renovate Boeddeker Park. “They wanted to have an activated park where a neighborhood that has such a dense population of children can actually feel safe and have their own fitness activities,” said Listana.

Currently, The Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco is the “master tenant” of Boeddeker Park. As the master tenant, they partner with other organizations to run activities and programs year-round. For instance, The Boys & Girls Club has worked with the YMCA, which is located in Boeddeker Park, to provide services year-round the weekdays. Some of these include a complimentary cup of coffee in the mornings and a variety of youth after-school activities and exercise classes in the afternoon and evenings. Dinner is also prepared for all youth who attend after-school activities at the YMCA. In addition to creating community around nutritional opportunities, safety is also a high priority. For instance, TLHIP received a safety grant which went towards stationing a police officer in the park.

Listana is now 20 years old and in her Junior year at UC Berkeley. Growing up in the Tenderloin, the challenges and obstacles she faced as a low-income immigrant made her stronger and aim to strive. She sees her strength reflected in her community’s culture of “resilience in the struggle.” While Listana wishes she had had a safe park to play in growing up, she is glad it exists now.

Following the renovation of Boeddeker Park, in 2015 the Tenderloin Health Improvement Project (TLHIP) was one of 24 organizations to receive funding from the International Healthcare Institution (IHI), as a part of IHI’s initiative 100 Million Healthier Lives. A LiveStories customer, 100 Million Healthier Lives is a collaboration of change agents with the goal of  making 100 million people healthier by the year 2020. As one of the core values of 100 MHL’s SCALE (Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation) initiative is using data and stories to drive improvement and monitor impact, and the LiveStories platform was the perfect fit for many of the awardees. For more on 100 Million Healthier Lives, read our case study.