Introduction: Create With Nature Cart

About: Damien Raffa, Education Program Manager with the Presidio Trust, for the past 20 years has developed and implemented environmental education programs, media and projects for urban children, youth and families,…

Our Nature Library Cart serves as a portable treasure chest/urban oasis for the public of all ages to discover, touch, explore and collaboratively create ephemeral sculptures using enticing and durable natural materials.

Step 1: Materials

Natural Materials

The natural materials were primarily from the Presidio and local gardens (personal and friend’s).

· Tree cookies (rounds)

Small (2.5” diameter x .75” thick) 1 gallon container (small basket)

Medium (5” diameter x 3” thick) – (large basket)

Large – 6 (14 – 24” and 4” thick)

· Redwood bark (3”x10”x.5”) – 2 gallons – (large basket)

· Fennel sticks (7”x .75) – 2 gallons – (large basket)

· Green stones (1-2”) – 2 gallons – (small basket)

· Red lava stones (1-2”) 2 gallons – (small basket)

· Dark polished river stones (1-2’) – 2 gallons – (small basket)

· Conifer cones (3-6”) 2 gallons – (large basket)

· Oyster shells (3-4”) 1 gallon – (small basket)

· Agapanthus dried flowers 12 (2’-3’ tall)

· Hand held tree for climbing 7’ tall

· Branches with Y forms – 7 (50” long)

· Eucalyptus pods – 1 gallon – (small box)

· Fresh greens – variety of shapes – (large box)

Wooden boxes/crates natural materials

Purchased from IKEA

· 6 large

· 6 small


Handmade by volunteers

· 2 1-1/2 inch 8 ft dowels for banner

· Linen 24 x 46

· Fabric calligraphy pens

Materials to Build Cart

· 10” caster wheels (2 locking and 2 non-locking)

· Plywood

· Redwood for panels

· Amber shellac

· Glue

· T25 deck screws

· Trim screws

· Short brads

· Angle aluminum


· Tape measure

· Pencil

· Circular saw

· Jig saw

· Table saw

· Router

· Pair of sawhorses

· Hammer

· Cordless power drill

· Level

· Combination square

· Clamps

Step 2: Design

Purpose and Intention - this was our original vision:

Our Nature Library Cart will serve as a portable treasure chest/urban oasis for the public of all ages to discover, touch, explore and collaboratively create ephemeral sculptures using enticing and durable natural materials.

Central Market Street is a place in flux, filled with people from diverse backgrounds, sometimes in conflict. There is the stress of homelessness and housing insecurity for some, and there is the competitive and sometimes alienating tech industry for others.

Our formula for a unique and powerful experience of community engagement began with our human desire to create and to connect with each other – we add a simple catalyst, elements from nature, that often evoke shared memories.

We will construct a specialized Create-With-Nature Cart that can be used to store materials, and fold outward to provide a structural anchor for a Create-With-Nature Zone, including table-top surfaces for universal access by people with and without mobility limitations.

We’ll develop and deploy The Nature Cart on Market Street for the full three days of the festival, and work with community partners, to provide hands on-training during the festival for staff who can then use the cart after the festival is finished. Our intent is to create a replicable model for bringing nature to city dwellers in a way that promotes not only connection with the natural world, but also the human connections that bring vibrancy and health.

The Central Market District has a long and rich tradition of creativity. Michael Swaine brought the sewing cart and library to the Tenderloin. Our project builds upon that tradition and uses nature and collaboration to bring together a diverse and dynamic neighborhood.

Practical considerations in the design of the Create-With-Nature Cart

· Cart needs to have the ability to get through doors

· For ease of transportation, it would be ideal for sides to collapse (detachable)

· Cart needs to include a table top for wheel chair access and more inclusive participation

· In the cart, make room for larger pieces – tree slices and branches

· Create poles at the corners of the cart to hold a Create-with-Nature banner

Cart Features

Cart will have “plough” shape handles (handle will support wheel chair access table)

One inside shelf – 2 layers of wooden boxes (large and small) that hold materials – bottom layer and shelf with top layer of boxes

Step 3: Fabrication


There were three elements integral to creating the Create-with-Nature Cart prototype:

· Collection and preparation of materials

· Community engagement and training

· Cart building

Collection and Preparation of Materials

Natural materials were gathered from the Presidio, gardens (personal and friend’s), and our own “nature libraries”. The tree rounds – what we refer to as tree pizzas (large) and tree muffins (small) were cut.

See Kit Contents attachment below

Community Engagement and Training

One of our team members contacted the Tenderloin Rec Center to arrange for the cart to reside at the center for four weeks prior to the festival and to acquire the cart after the festival.

A staff member of Tenderloin Rec Center was trained as a create-with-nature facilitator on September 2nd and this session also served as prototype a testing session.

See Leading and Facilitating Guide attachment below

A team member also contacted Phil Ginsburg, from San Francisco Parks & Rec, and Jim Wheeler from Cities Connecting Children with Nature about the Nature Cart and potential to be replicated in the future.

Cart Building

An artist/carpenter was engaged in the design and building of the cart.

See Nature Cart Fabrication attachment below

Volunteers created the banner for the cart (see photo). And a mover transported the cart to the Tenderloin Rec Center. On October 6th, the cart was walked to the Market Street location in the Tenderloin.

Step 4: Installation

Moving Cart from Saratoga to San Francisco

Although it was possible to take apart for shipping, it would have required a skilled person in San Francisco for assembly.

A moving company picked up the cart and delivered it to the Tenderloin Rec Center – the cart’s future home.

Moving the Cart from the Tenderloin Rec Center to Market Street

On the first day of the festival, Zach Pine pushed the cart (somewhat easily) from the Tenderloin Rec Center to Market Street.

Market Street Installation

The festival team took the crates of materials out of the cart – using the crates, the first step was creating a border with the crates as borders for our area. Materials were taken out of the crates to entice participants. Team members also started creating sculptures with the natural materials and invited passers-by to join in.

Step 5: Interaction

Anecdotes and Videos

The following anecdotes are from the Market Street Prototyping Festival Open House, prototype testing and create-with nature training of at the Tenderloin Rec Center, and the Market Street Prototyping Festival October 6-8.

In this video is a man who experienced the healing aspects of create-with-nature – this is what he said:

Video Transcript: “This morning when I was coming out… Thursday, my normal day… I come walking out of BART Market, and I see that you guys have this art thing going on. You know and I’ve been in a lot of pain all morning and I’ve been suffering late last night, thinking that I couldn’t sleep. And I come over here and I start tinkering around with you guys and you got me involved with it. And you know what, believe it or not, for the forty five minutes that I was down here tinkering around with you, the pain had left me, and I was pain free and it was the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time. And there was no medication, there was no doctors, there was nothing, just working with nature and a good-hearted man who asked me to get involved. So if anybody’s listening to this, I experienced something today that I hope all of you can do some day. “

In a prototype testing and facilitating training session at the Tenderloin Rec Center, kids used the natural materials to create music!

Some participants use the materials for religious expression – in this case with red lava rock at the October 6-8 MSPF

Sometimes people don’t choose to participate, but are touched by the beauty of the natural materials and seeing what others have created (October 6-8 MSPF)

The natural materials are sometimes used for interactive games – in this case, a game of tick-tack-toe (October 6-8 MSPF)

Many participants like the concentration in balancing rocks (October 6-8 MSPF)

Photos Albums

There are many more stories that reflected in the photos from the open house, testing and training session, and MSPF.

Photos from MSPF Oct 6-8

Photos from MSPF Open House

Photos from prototype testing and facilitation training at Tenderloin Rec Center