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New initiative urges residents to help San Francisco ‘shine’

San Francisco’s new “Shine On SF” initiative is not just about reinvigorating civic pride in thought — it urges participation to keep city streets and public spaces clean. The City has partnered with more than 40 business and community organizations in an effort to engage residents in volunteer cleanup and beautification projects. 

While joined by city officials and community leaders at Union Square Wednesday to kick off the Shine On SF program, Mayor London Breed said:

“Today is to remind us how much we love this city, how we have to fight for the city and how we as a collective, have to make sure that the work we do today demonstrates that we care about the city enough to ensure that it continues to shine on.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay San Francisco Mayor London Breed holds a golden card as part of the Shine On SF initiative, which launched at Union Square in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

Vince Yuen, founder of Refuse Refuse, a group that encourages residents to voluntarily pick up trash in their neighborhoods, said grabbing a trash picker and a bag is an easy way to keep The City clean.

Yuen said: 

“The trash is relentless, but we are more relentless.”

The coalition is also in the process of setting up “Golden Trees” over the coming months. The trees, which will eventually be available in every district, will be decorated by people with written messages on golden cards in response to the question, “What makes San Francisco shine?”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Golden Tree cards hung as part of the Shine on SF initiative launched on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in San Francisco, Calif.

Trees will be displayed at popup sites in 16 public spaces throughout The City each weekend from June 26 through Aug. 15.

Philip Win, the director of Parks & Place at the San Francisco Parks Alliance, said the Golden Tree concept was inspired by Japanese artist Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree” art installation where people write wishes down on pieces of paper that are then tied to tree branches. As for the Golden Tree project, Win said:

“The key foundation of the Golden Tree project is to have an opportunity for the shine on partnership to listen to the citizens of San Francisco and understand and take the temperature of how people are feeling about The City right now, particularly how they’re feeling about the public realm of The City and their place.”

Win added that they will collect all of the cards and use them to create a large art installation at a later date.

The mayor’s budget also allocates a $96.2 million investment to keep The City clean. The plan includes additional street power washing in different neighborhoods and commercial districts, and brings in more street cleaners to wipe away graffiti and keep sidewalks clear.

The 311 system, which residents can use to report anything from illegal dumping to graffiti, will also be improved as part of the Shine On SF campaign by ensuring 311 requests are efficiently responded to and the cleanup activity is photographed when complete.

Shine On SF will also support the Department of Public Works’ trash receptacle replacement project to take place over the next three years.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who chairs the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in a tweet Monday that the committee will hear the trash bin replacement item next week.

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