The Kezar Gardens Ecology Center specializes in making the old new again, but most of that effort has focused on bottles, cans and paper. On Friday it launched a last-ditch push to save its own Golden Gate Park facility from the dustbin.
To summon help, the center is recycling the Human Be-In, a landmark 1967 gathering of hippies in Golden Gate Park.
From Friday until Sunday, according to organizer Ryan Rising, the center will host a two-day festival with 22 bands, face painting, ballroom dancing and scads of other events meant to channel the spirit of the 1960s into an effort to save the center.
Rising said his group, Space Transformers, also organized the revival of the Human Be-In to support two other San Francisco community gardens that may lose their spaces: the Free Farm, at the corner of Gough St. and Eddy St., and Hayes Valley Farm at 450 Laguna Street near Fell Street.
This video gives a taste of the original event:
The San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department has been trying to trash the recycling center since 2010, arguing that curbside recycling programs made it redundant.
The center annoys neighbors, according to Deputy City Attorney Vince Chhabria, because scavengers pick from residential recycling bins then noisily deliver what they find to the recycling center in the early hours of the morning.
The city plans to reuse the recycling center's space at 780 Frederick St. as a "sustainable garden assistance center," that would offer lessons in sustainable gardening and feature demonstration gardens and community garden plots. It would be built at a cost of $1.5 million.
But Rising argues that the recycling center already has a community garden, as well as a native plant nursery on the site, so the city is wasting its money.
"What the human be-in gathering is trying to do is call attention to that is happening and ask the people of San Francisco to stand up for Kezar Gardens to remain where it is," he says.
The scavengers may raid private recycling bins, but they also pick up castoff containers that would otherwise litter the city's streets, says Rising.
The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, which operates the center, has lost a series of court battles culminating in a decision by the California Supreme Court on Wednesday not to take up the case.
That means the center has until Oct. 1 to vacate the site. If it doesn't the Sheriff's Department will post warnings and begin the process of a forcible eviction, Chhabria says.
And then it could be the end of the line for a center first launched in 1974, when recycling centers were all the rage and the original hippies still partied in the park.