Those who have been to Dolores Park in the past know that there are certain cultural issues surrounding the park. As the most densely used park in the city, it is nearly inevitable that along with all of the visitors comes large amounts of trash. However, what isn’t inevitable is the fact that many visitors decide to leave their trash on the ground of the park. With the renovations costing the city $20.5 million, they have begun an initiative to change these unsustainable social norms. After all, the $750,000 of money from taxpayers used to clean up Dolores Park’s trash each year could go to other projects around the city.
In order to change these deeply rooted social norms, Dolores Park carefully planned its June 18, 2015 Grand Re-Opening. The extravaganza focused not just on drawing large crowds, but also on educating them. For weeks, San Franciscans could RSVP to the park’s free silent disco and reserve a headset to participate in the dance party. After the silent disco, attendees could learn about the Love Dolores campaign. Described as a ‘public awareness campaign’, Love Dolores focuses on treating the park in the way it deserves to be treated. With that, attendees could sign various pledges and take a picture with their pledge against a Love Dolores backdrop. Pledges ranged from green initiatives like ‘I pledge to love Dolores by composting and recycling’ to simpler ‘I pledge to love Dolores by not peeing in the bushes’.
New north side additions include new fields, updated and new bathrooms, renovated tennis and basketball courts, updated off-leash dog areas, new bike racks, new pathways, and free Wi-Fi. With all of these renovations, it is understandable why officials are putting such a large effort into changing Dolores Park’s culture. Throughout the grand re-opening, Dolores Park goers were constantly reminded of how to better treat the park both by local city cops, as well as local businesses who chose to sponsor Love Dolores. BiRite Market & Creamery, Pizzeria Delfina, Philz Coffee Shop, and Taqueria El Buen Sabor among others have all come together to support the cultural change.
With the south side now undergoing its own long overdue makeover, the campaign will only continue. The Love Dolores website continues to allow people to upload their own pledges in an online gallery, even though the grand re-opening is technically over. Additionally, every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday, trash collectors will stand at the perimeter of the park to help park goers sort their waste. City officials also ask that park goers use aluminum cans, rather than glass bottles in the future. These are all small steps each and every San Franciscan can take to treat Dolores Park better, and stop it from being a ‘landfill for the privileged’ or a park full of ‘pig-nickers’.