Tag Archives: jeannine abusharkh

The Bay Area Brings the Beats this Spring

Jeannine Abusharkh
Contributing Writer

It’s almost that time of year again:  people are waiting on their cellphones and laptops for tickets to go on sale.  With so many concerts happening in The Bay Area, where do you start? Here are the concerts, festivals, and bands to rock out to this spring in the Bay Area and beyond. Continue reading The Bay Area Brings the Beats this Spring

Little Unknown Parks of San Francisco

Jeannine Abusharkh
Staff Writer

San Francisco’s belated summer is finally upon us. As the fog rolls out, locals and tourists roll in to the city’s numerous parks to hike, wander, and relish in the greenery. To the Individuals looking to steer away from the large crowds that fill Golden Gate Park and Dolores Park, here are some lesser known parks with trails, amazing views, and/or secret charms about them.

1. Little Hollywood Park

I have been going to this park since childhood with my family. Although it may be not be as newly renovated as Dolores Park, it is always full of neighborhood people. In the morning, you can catch tai chi lessons and in the afternoon you can act like a big kid and swing on the swings. Continue reading Little Unknown Parks of San Francisco

George Gascón Speaks to USF Community about Death Penalty and Immigration

Jeannine Abusharkh
Staff Writer

From high school dropout to San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascón shared his personal life story and spoke to the USF community on the death penalty and immigration while at the same time asking his audience to reflect on the meaning of leadership.

USF welcomed Gascón and Senator Arthur Torres on Tuesday, Sept. 16 to speak in celebration of National Constitution Day.

Continue reading George Gascón Speaks to USF Community about Death Penalty and Immigration

USF Students Teach Kids to Sprout Up!

A Spotlight on Environmental Education for the Next Generation 

  Climate change and the reduction of the Earth’s fossil fuels are growing problems that future generations will undoubtedly face. Sprout Up, a nonprofit organization, seeks to provide “environmental education for the next generation” by teaching first and second graders about sustainability, nature, and environmental science.

(Left to right) Ms. Lims 2nd grade classroom at Claire Lilienthal Elementary. Caption: Learning about the food to fork process and the importance of supporting farmers markets! Sprout Up instructors include Hailee Barnes, Jennifer Dowlan, Takara Sights, Ajouni Singh and Christine Haas (Photo by Kristine Foster)
(Left to right) Ms. Lims 2nd grade classroom at Claire Lilienthal Elementary. Caption: Learning about the food to fork process and the importance of supporting farmers markets! Sprout Up instructors include Hailee Barnes, Jennifer Dowlan, Takara Sights, Ajouni Singh and Christine Haas (Photo by Kristine Foster)

USF students volunteering for Sprout Up teach one-hour lessons at elementary schools each week, as part of an 11-week long program. The Sprout Up syllabus pairs lessons on topics like pollination, conservation, and oceanography with fun activities that get kids excited about our world.

Senior Kirsten Foster, USF chapter director for Sprout Up, believes it is important to educate younger students about the environment and give them “an experience with nature,” she said. “If kids are able to connect to science, hopefully they will want to take care of [nature] and feel a connection to it.”

During the first class, each student is given a seed to plant and nurture throughout the program. For the following classes, Sprout Up instructors work collaboratively with the first and second grade teachers to teach topics of environmental science. Each Sprout Up instructor assists five students, allowing the each child to fully grasp and connect with the material. Foster indicated that she tutors about seed and bee pollination to first graders. Second graders learn about sustainability and how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost.

Every lesson has an associated song or dance to get the students involved, along with a hands-on art or science component. Last week’s lesson was entitled “The Wonderful World of Waste,” and students made art projects using recycled yogurt containers.

“These lessons go beyond just teaching science and teach kids how to help the environment,” Foster said. The children learn so much about sustainability and conservation that they are eager to use their lessons at home by turning off lights or recycling, she said.

Foster loves volunteering with Sprout Up because she feels “there is not enough science, especially environmental science, taught in elementary schools.”

The Sprout Up program was started at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009. The program has since extended to other UC schools as well as the University of San Francisco.

Today, the chapter at USF has 30 instructors who help teach daily classes at Claire Lilienthal School and Bessie Carmichael School.

Sprout Up is unique because it allows college students the chance to teach youth. “Anyone can do Sprout Up, since the curriculum is already written,” Foster said. While always looking for more instructors, Foster’s main qualification for any new teacher is that they “love kids and love the environment.”


To learn more about the organization, visit http://sproutup.org

If you are interested in getting involved or donating to the cause, email Kirsten Foster at [email protected]


The USF Community Garden: Cultivating More Than Just Produce

One of the best-kept secrets at the University of San Francisco is that there is an urban community garden behind the Education Building on Turk Street. The garden sits on 1/8 of an acre, and grows a number of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Students, faculty, and community members passionate about nature visit the garden weekly to grow, eat, and connect with the environment. The USF Community Garden, however, cultivates more than just produce.

What used to be an ROTC training field is now an outdoor classroom and sacred space for students and community members with a green thumb. Working in the urban garden promotes sustainable food consumption and service learning, and links the community back to nature.

Professors Melinda Stone and Seth Wachtel established the garden in 2007 as part of a new living learning community called “The Garden Project,” where students agreed to regularly volunteer their time to the garden. When more students became interested in learning about sustainable foods, USF created the urban agriculture minor.

Today, the garden serves multiple purposes.

USF’s community garden is, for one, an outdoor classroom for urban agriculture students and students in the Community Garden Outreach service learning class. David Silver, associate professor of media studies and environmental studies, described the garden as “a living laboratory” because students can learn hands-on about agriculture, sustainability, and giving back.

Silver mentioned that the garden is also, and foremost, a place of food production. “We produce a ton of food which goes into the farm stand,” he said. Silver is referring to the occasional farm stands on-campus hosted by community garden volunteers, where students and faculty can purchase whole meals — mainly, salads, soups, and desserts — made with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the garden.

The garden serves many people beyond the USF community, as well. According to Silver, the produce also goes towards a free community dinner at St. Cyprian’s Church, located down the street, on Turk and Lyon. The monthly dinner, also hosted by community garden volunteers, serves an average of 80 to 100 people. The remaining food is donated to Booker T. Washington’s food bank, said Silver. Last Friday, students from Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School visited the garden to learn and lend a hand.

The garden also serves as what Silver calls “a site of reflection” for students and professors. Silver says the garden is an excellent place to log off, relax, breath fresh air, and simply be in nature.

Seniors Sam Wilder and Paul Krantz use the garden to seek refuge from their busy college lives. Wilder, who is highly passionate about urban farming and knowing where his food comes from, calls the garden, “my little slice of paradise.” Like other students, he uses the garden to further his knowledge in sustainable, local, and organic produce. He said it feels like people have lost the connection between growing and consuming food. “The USF garden reconnects us to our food and our earth. Participating in the garden makes me feel like I’m doing something right and it makes me happy.”

Silver thinks it is important for future generations to “learn the opposite of the digital and actually work with your hands, in the dirt, to create something, and then actually [eat] it.” Volunteers spend hours in the garden, digging, planting, and cultivating, but after each workday, participants are welcome to take what they please from the garden.

Both Silver and Wilder believe it is important for Americans to rethink their means of nourishment. The distribution of food requires tremendous amount of energy and resources to get the product from the farm to the table, they explain. Urban farming could be a solution to this unhealthy habit of consumption.

Urban Gardens are springing up all over San Francisco and other big cities. The San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance reports that today, commercial garden and small farm sites are now legal, city-wide. It states: “This ordinance allows properly permitted and code-abiding gardeners and farmers to sell any produce they grow directly to the public on site. Growers were previously required to haul their bounty to a third party commercial zone, like a farmers market, or sell through a distributor.”

The California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) also promotes policies that develop urban agriculture and ensure protection of the environment. Community gardens serve as vibrant sustainable food systems that protect and restore the environment and natural resources.

According to Anne Carter of the Community Food Systems Lab, “use of organic agricultural practices will decrease further introduction of chemicals to city soils and water supply.”

The community garden at USF is constantly evolving, and the most recent additions include a greenhouse and worm bin. Silver believes that the mild temperature in the garden grows the best brassicas, a genus of plant from the mustard family, like kale and Swiss chard.


Silver and Wilder encourage students and community members to visit the garden and come to the work days, held each Friday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m.