Plant a tree, build community in S.F.:
A motley collection of volunteers planted western red bud, silktassel, toyon, and blue blossom trees beside Rosa Parks Elementary School on Saturday. The trees were all native to California, but not to San Francisco, a city still struggling to overcome its heredity as an arid haven for scrub brush, grasses and sand dunes.
But, then again, in the school's Western Addition neighborhood, overcoming history is part of the fabric of every day.
In this neighborhood, waves of various ethnic groups have come - and sometimes been pushed out by force. The elementary school once served as a way station for Japanese Americans being shipped to internment camps during World War II. The school sits next to an apartment complex that neighbors said was built during the city's infamous redevelopment schemes a half-century ago, which pushed out African Americans.
So Karen Kai was moved by the sight of the eclectic collection of folks coming together to plant trees: children, parents, teachers, school secretaries, neighbors and people from around the city; black, white, Japanese American and others.
'It really is the vision we had for the school,' said Kai, 55, a Japanese American who now lives in the city's Eureka Valley neighborhood. 'It's bringing the community together.'
And it was for trees.