Little Libraries

One benefit of sheltering in pace and the global pandemic is that it has forced me to walk around my neighborhood (for sanity’s sake).

When you get out in the neighborhood you start to notice details you haven’t seen before. You noticed the little details of houses that before seemed all the same. Details are the route newly noticed.

One thing that I have noticed on my walks of San Francisco’s Outer Sunset District is the proliferation of little boxes on wooden poles. These are the little libraries.

The box on top of the pole contains one or two selves lined with books. These boxes are used to take a book or leave a book and they are all free. It seems odd in a city there is actually something free! Well not exactly free. I donated three books:

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (Good but not as good as Notes From a Small Island.)

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

The nonprofit company behind these boxes is Little Free Library, a Wisconsin based company that inspired 100,000 boxes (and counting) in 100 countries (and counting).

People can either build their own library of have one pre-made. Once it is installed, usually in the front yard, facing the sidewalk, the library is registered and added to a map so reading in the community know where to find a Little Free Library.

Here’s a two story version on Judah street in front of the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and the Far Out West Dune Community Garden.

This Little Free Library is a few blocks from Ocean Beach and is topped with succulents and bejeweled with sand dollars. Each of the boxes are as uniques as their owners.

Riding West, Facing East

On the verge of comprehending that I may never see my students again this school year, I headed out toward Ocean Beach down Moraga Street.

The day was clear but extremely breezy. It normally takes 25 minutes to reach the sands of the Pacific but somehow, with my heavy mood and the western wind pushing again me, I think it really took 30 minutes.

I had done two recent sketches, facing west, looking out to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Farallon Islands and container ships on the horizon.

Instead of doing that view, I turn 180 degree from whence I came and wanted to sketch Moraga Street, climbing up to Grandview Park and Sutro Tower.

This street (as all east/ west streets in the Richmond and Sunset Districts) is named after Spanish Explorer. José Joaquín Moraga  was part of the De Anza expedition force that came from Arizona to present day San Francisco in 1776. He stayed behind and helped to found the Presidio. In 1785, he died in San Francisco and is buried at Mission San Francisco de Asís (MissionDolores) which is the oldest structure in San Francisco.

Much of what I was drawing in the Outer Sunset was developed Post World War II, in the 1950s. In fact my day told me stories of coming out into this area when he was a child and playing amongst the sand dunes.

This was the second time I had sketched Sutro Tower on one of my “sanity walks”. It is the most prominent landmark on this side of town. The television tower was constructed in 1973 and at 977 feet, it was the tallest structure in San Francisco (Sutro has now been surpassed in height by the Salesforce Tower at 1,070 feet).

I plopped down behind a dune, on my Crazy Creek chair, and started to sketch. I tried to keep everything loose and not add too many details (sometimes I think I should have put the pen up five minutes earlier). I uses a lot of artist shorthand when sketching in the rows and rows of houses leading up the hill.