San Francisco Insider: Green Expert Heather Stephenson

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Heather Stephenson created an early website about green living -- just what you'd expect from a San Francisco resident. This recent newlywed has lived in New York, London and L.A. and tells us why Dolores Park in the City by the Bay is the perfect spot for her right now.

Name, Age, Occupation: Heather Stephenson, 36, Green Living Expert, founder IdealBite.com

Neighborhood: Dolores Park, San Francisco. It sits on the edge of the Castro District and Noe Valley. It's the culminating park of many neighborhoods and is a wonderful meeting point. The park is huge and is the epicenter of this part of San Francisco. On a sunny day it's packed with people from all walks of life. There are a lot of parks and green space in San Francisco, but there aren't the kind of rabid fans like here. It has it's own page on Facebook!

Abode: The house is a cross between a Marina and a Mission style and we are doing a lot of work to make it Mediterranean. When we moved in it was very '80s mirrored walls and bad texture and we've been working on it.

How long have you lived in Dolores Park? About two years.
What do you love most about your neighborhood?

Dolores Park! You got Burning Man aficionados on stilts and yuppies having lunch and Mission hipsters looking too cool with their dogs. You've got a cultural mixing and then you go to Bi-Rite Creamery and you eat yummy ice-cream.

And the fact that San Francisco is made up of micro climates you can drive five minutes away and have a different weather pattern. This part of the city is warm and sunny which is why the park is great. In San Fran a lot of times the fog will roll in on those beautiful bay spots, where as it's really nice and sunny here.

Do you talk to your neighbors?
Yeah, the hill we are on is Liberty Hill and its a great neighborhood with people that have lived here a while and there are lots of families. If it weren't so hilly you would see kids on bikes. We live up from the Mission and its the historically Latina part of town, and it's packed with great taquerias and great shops. It's a cultural hotbed and it's got a lot of flavor and good stuff to do.

Best kept secret in Dolores Park?
Anyone that hangs there a lot will say it's not a secret, but it's Bi-Rite, a grocery store. It's a deluxe, boutique grocery store off the park and it's a teeny, tiny space but they have everything you want - except for cheap food. It's got high-end produce, a butcher counter, amazing wine. For such a teeny space it's astonishing how much they pack in there! You have what you need for a picnic or to go home and make dinner.

Favorite Saturday night in your neighborhood?
There's a great restaurant called Flour + Water and they don't really take reservations so it's hard to get in but it's a newish Italian place with a great wine list. A guy named Kevin is behind the bar and if you can sit at the bar and eat he will pick up some obscure wine varietal that's perfect for what you want to eat.

So are you one of the many that get all doe-eyed about San Francisco? It's a green city and you are a green expert, too.
I moved here after grad school, and I've lived in L.A., New York, London. San Francisco's ability to be in love with itself annoys me, but living here is so nice. New York's the best city, but San Francisco's a really nice lifestyle and that makes a difference at different times in your life. We're looking to build a home, start a family and San Francisco is a great city for that.

As for the green aspect, as a founder of idealbite.com my understanding of green and sustainability has grown. Now it's local-based and more and more it's about supporting local businesses. I used to think a shampoo from Australia is great, now it's about local buys. There are talented people here, great funky clothes and designs, and so someone that designs something great locally helps to green my lifestyle. I think reminding myself why having an environmentally conscious lifestyle matters. I can go outside here and get to Marin in 20 minutes and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Whether you are hiking or biking or just outside you are in it.


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