GIRLFLY in the Gardens

GIRLFY dancers literally “took it to our streets” in flowing expression of what it means to feel a sense of place and belonging in a chaotic world. The dancers are standing at the top of a steep hill, where the wide, now beautifully landscaped median known as Quesada Gardens ends in an explosion of trees and shrubs and flowers. – Photo: Nube Brown

by Bay View Editor Nube Brown

This year’s GIRLFLY in the Gardens was built around the three key ideas of “Land, Belonging and Racial Justice.” As young women and non-binary people moving through the world, it can be hard to claim a sense of belonging, particularly in public spaces mired in racial injustice. 

Through site-specific dances, choreographed by GIRLFLY participants, Jo Kreiter and Megan Lowe of Flyaway Productions; lessons by master hoop dancer Eddie Madril (Pascua Yaqui) and former SF poet laureate, Kim Shuck (Tsalagi/Cherokee and Polish); and writing activities led by SF State professor of Asian American Studies Wei Ming Dariotis, GIRLFLY participants developed a deep sense of their belonging in San Francisco tied to rich and complex histories and even dreams of their own futures, as you can see in the following poems. To respect their privacy, we will be showing the GIRLFLY participants in group settings.

The Gardens, the Quesada Gardens, just off busy Third Street, Bayview Hunters Point’s main corridor, has a rich community history of its own: Transformed in the early 2000s from a trash-strewn median by local residents Annette Smith and Karl Paige into a lush and beautiful place for the local community and surrounding neighborhoods to enjoy, it is a testament to the power of people coming together to nurture and feel a sense of belonging.

GIRLFLY poet Michelle W. is standing in front of the Quesada Gardens mural that commemorates the founding of the Gardens by two Black elders, Annette Smith and Karl Paige, who transformed the median from a trash and tire-stewn lot to a tourist attraction and pride of the community. – Photo: Vitali Kononov

The SF Bay View is honored to present this series of 16 poems starting with Michelle W and then presenting three poems each month over the next five months. Be inspired!

Waves of Sunshine

by Michelle, 17, Bayview Hunters Point

I am from zoology and the Disney Channel

I bring my own sunshine

I am from nature

I am the roots of the Bayview

I am from ribs and mac & cheese

I am the special connection to my grandpa when I create our family BBQ sauce

I am from purple royalty throughout fresh generations

my ancestors guide me to push forward and shine my light

I am from Crocs Universal

my goal is to make connections for others

I am from cocoa roots and curls

I am made of water and I flow through this thing called life

I am from 6 feet apart

I have social-distanced my entire life

I am from anime

I hope to help others make change for themselves

I am from thickness and curves

dance is a circle of life for me

To learn more about GIRLFLY, contact Jo Kreiter at jo@flyawayproductions.com. Jo is a nationally recognized choreographer and site artist with a background in political science.