The Tenderloin Forest and Michael Swaine

Recently I photographed Michael Swaine for Sierra Magazine. Swaine, who is known as the “Tailor of the Tenderloin” has been mending on the street for close to 15 years.  It started as a performance art piece called, “Reap What You Sew” in which he pushed a cart around the city on a weekly route, meeting, mending and creating social interaction where there was none. He found the Tenderloin had the most need and so he decided to continue his project once a month (on the 15th) at the Tenderloin Forest.  He says “his small act is mostly a gesture…but I think the bigger importance is the example of participating, of being a citizen and acting outside of what is normal.” (quote from Read more about Michael Swaine by Wendy Becktold on Then go check it out –and if you’ve never seen the Tenderloin Forest it’s a beautiful little spot that needs a some praise too.

Started in 2009 with grants and city funding, the Tenderloin National Forest is really an alley near Leavenworth and Ellis surrounded by high density buildings and hotels in one of the roughest parts of San Francisco. Now it’s a not-so-hidden oasis, a garden with benches, mosaics, murals, sculpture, dense foliage and even a redwood tree. It’s a magical place and a real hidden gem in the city and shows how important garden space can be in a neighborhood.








One thought on “The Tenderloin Forest and Michael Swaine

  1. Henry Solotaroff-Webber

    Hi Lori,

    These are the photos we wanted for the story. I was thinking the top image would work the best for our featured image, and that’s all we’d need really.

    Thanks so much for your help, it is much appreciated.



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