SFSU: How the Community Plays – Stern Grove

Sigmund Stern Grove

On a lively Sunday afternoon, I decided to walk to Stern Grove just enjoy the park. I only been to the park once, which was during the Halloween event called Scared Grove as a volunteer. Seeing the park without any of the decorations or venues from the event, I was surprised when walking through. There was many things going on during my visit. A wedding, picnicking, walking dogs (especially at the dog park), jogging, and sitting on the benches enjoying the scenery of the park.

Getting to the main part of the park was quite a walk. Most of the attractions and activities within the park are downhill. Walking down is a little steep, which could be a problem to some people, but if you have a car you can simply drive down and park close to either the dog park or the little concert area.  The park is pretty big, having a large open space like Golden Gate Parks. The park offers a dog park, a playground area, a little concert area, a cottage/house, a lake, and over a mile of trail use. From what I have seen, the dog park is the most popular place for people to go because dog walkers love to let their dogs run wild and interact with other dogs without feeling obligated.

When watching the people enjoy the park, I have notice take advantage of the park to enjoy themselves. For instance, when watching a family group take their dog for walk through the park to the dog area they recreate not only with the dog, but with the other people in the park. They play catch with their dog and other people’s dog, while also forming relationships with the other dogs they come across. When the group are letting the dog do its own thing, they talk to the other dog owners. They talk about things like their dog (how old he/she is, what kind of breed it is, their likes/dislikes etc.) and things about themselves (where do they come from, how long have they come to the park, etc.).  The owners talked to each other very friendly like, as if they were friends just meeting up a  park to chill.

Going on about this, the users that come to the parks are mostly dog users. The dog users are young (20’s – later 30’s). The guys were mostly dressed in khakis and T shirt while the women had jeans and a dress shirt. I can’t determine what race or ethnicity each of the users were since there was a variety of them. I will say, however, that quite a few of the users spoke a different language. Some of theme spoke Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese (might be wrong, couldn’t tell) and French. This might show that people with English as a second language enjoy using this park. I figure they see it as good way to enjoy a park with people with a different background, probably learn more about the different cultures and history.

While I do enjoy the park, I will say that there should be some changes made to the park. First off, I suggest moving the playground from the top of the hill to the bottom part of the park or perhaps add a second one. It is quite a hike to go up the hill to have kids play on the playground. I feel if there was a second one, it would be much easier for kids to play on a playground next to them than on a hill. Second, I have noticed that there really isn’t any law enforcement around the dog area. I came across two dog walkers (Greg and Kevin) and asked them what their thoughts were about the area. They said they enjoy the area for the huge open space for the dogs to play and the people that come, but have stated that they don’t enjoy the lack of enforcement done within the park (that also includes not just from the dogs, but from humans too). I agree too because I only was there for an hour and I haven’t seen anyone patrol around the area to make sure the owners were following the rules or the dogs were behaving, let alone make sure the park users are respecting the area. If there could be more of a way to enforce the rules and policies in the area I think that would be beneficial to the park and the users. Lastly, I have noticed that some areas in the park are not accessible to those with a disability. For example, around the lake there are numerous bumps on the ground and uneven surfaces that makes it difficult to walk around for those on a wheelchair. Plus getting down-and-up the park might be a challenge with the disabled, especially with those that have a hard time walking. I would probably solve that by making a transit system or making a new path dedicated to people with disabilities as an easier route to get the juicy parts of the park.