#HEARTTHISCITY: San Francisco

As part of Alternative Spring Break 2014, American Eagle Outfitters has teamed up with the Student Conservation Association to beautify and clean up urban parks throughout the country as part of Alternative Spring Break. We’ll bring you the story of each location throughout April. Join the movement this Spring Break and don’t just go somewhere, do something! Read on to learn more about our San Francisco project from Jean, an SCA team member.

Our volunteers arrived in droves to Golden Gate Park starting at 10am on Day One. I had nonstop registration traffic for about an hour! I loved the energy and excitement of all the volunteers. Once we did a quick introduction, we all headed out to different projects including building planter boxes, painting, cleaning around the building, planting, mulching, and weeding.

SCA Leader Teamer Marvin V. preps planter boxes.

SCA Leader Teamer Marvin V. preps planter boxes.

I took a deep breath, drink of water and led 25 volunteers into Golden Gate Park to work near Alvord Lake, spreading mulch and weeding planters along the bike path. Immediately, visitors to the park began thanking us as we worked. One man said the mulch was especially needed because “it’s gotten so dusty around these trees. It used to be so pretty. This will be great!” We even got a few thumbs up from people on tour buses as they yelled “thank you!” to us.

Right before lunch, we regrouped with everyone involved in the project and heard from some speakers. They did a great job motivating us and articulating the importance of not only conservation work, but urban conservation. Phil Ginsberg, the General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks, was especially inspiring. He spoke of the need to protect urban greenspaces, to help the environment and give people a connection to nature within cities.

Christopher C. speaking on the history of Golden Gate Park.

Christopher C. speaking on the history of Golden Gate Park.

Throughout the week, we forged ahead with our projects, completing them with enthusiasm. I spoke with an SCA alum, Amanda Botsford, who said she came out to the event because she remembered how transformative her SCA experience was and she wanted to reconnect with SCA.

Working on the mural.

Working on the mural.

Throughout  the week,  I was so impressed to see volunteers working past 4pm to ensure everything was completed on time. The SCA members from Oakland and Menlo Park were a huge help cleaning up once we completed our work. It was awesome to see them in action! They embodied the spirit of volunteerism, and reminded me why I love working with SCA members.

The project was an incredible success. The park looks better than ever and we left our stamp with the colorful mural created by Chor Boogie.

Volunteers in front of the completed mural.

Volunteers in front of the completed mural.

Keep checking back for coverage of our clean up and art installations this Spring Break in New Orleans, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Follow the SCA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and go to AE.com/SCA to donate.

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