Planted between mighty palms in Golden Gate Park is the oldest wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. The gleaming white Victorian structure has survived several boiler explosions, closure during World War II, and more than two decades of renovations. In 1998, it was deemed an endangered building—but it was quickly adopted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and completely rehabilitated by 2003. This century-old structure is home to the Conservatory of Flowers, a National Historic Landmark that connects visitors year-round with the exotic flora of the world's tropical regions.
The Conservatory houses four main galleries. In the aquatic plants gallery, cascading water gurgles into pools beneath a glass-and-metal sculpture of a six-foot Victoria amazonica water lily. The mist-filled highland gallery mimics the high-altitude forests of tropical mountaintops with clusters of orchids and ferns. Showcasing another side of the tropics, the rainy lowland gallery replicates lush jungles, housing a 100-year-old imperial philodendron and several cycads, which date to the days when most dinosaurs were just tiny salamanders. The potted plants gallery incorporates man-made works such as copper planters from India, ceramic pots from Burkina Faso, and an urn from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Around the fragrant stillness of these halls, the Conservatory hosts special events such as gardening workshops.
Groupon Celebrates Pride Month
Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives.
At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage.
This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.
While students at Temple of Poi, , a school of movement and flow arts, perfect their fire-wielding skills, they also focus on channeling balance and harmony within themselves. Classes are designed to not only to help students develop techniques, but to also help them rejuvenate through performance and meditation and improve mind awareness, discipline, and self-empowerment. To keep these experiences safe, the staff stresses fire safety, and only encourages those who feel ready to dance with flames to do so. And those who are not yet ready can join the skilled dancers and perform at festivals and special events.
With students ranging in age from 9 to 82, crackling hot flames whizz by as dancers twirl their ropes of fire in mesmerizing circles. For these dancers, fire is a form of self-expression. They set hula-hoops and staffs afire, and perform duets with the fans of flames. Though they make it look effortless, these masters of the art were once novices, who learned their techniques at Temple of Poi.
Temple of Poi’s instructors teach fire-dancing classes with several props. In beginner and intermediate poi classes, students set fire to balls suspended from a handle, which create brilliant circles of flames when swung. Hula-hoop and staff classes also allow students to create a dazzling show with props doused in seemingly everlasting flames.
Made from 100% recycled plastic, ZippGo's reusable moving boxes offer a more efficient, durable, and eco-conscious alternative to traditional cardboard boxes. Prior to moves, ZippGo will deliver 25 plastic moving boxes in three sizes (medium, large, and extra-large), along with one roll of recycled packing paper, box labels, and zip ties to your curbside, with an optional $18.75 fee applied for delivery up stairs or an elevator. Engineered to easily stack on top of each other, ZippGo's boxes are made of durable plastics that won't wilt or break from over-packing. Plus, their interlocking lids eliminate the need for tape and help reduce packing time. One week after drop-off, ZippGo staff members will cruise over to your new residence inside one of their biodiesel trucks to pick up the empty boxes, and customers can purchase an additional week available for $20. ZippGo boxes can be used 400 times before being recycled, saving 400 cardboard boxes in the process, which translates into roughly four trees or 17 bajillion toothpicks.
After spending years as a salesman for top mattress lines, Steve Shore needed a new mattress himself. Rather than opt for a steep employee discount on one of the mattresses he sold, the enterprising Mr. Shore collected various natural materials and had them assembled into a mattress that met his exacting specifications: a comfy sleep cushion made with no potentially toxic components. The result was such an improvement over the big-name mattresses he sold that Mr. Shore and his son eventually decided to produce a line of organic mattresses based on the prototype, on which Mr. Shore slept soundly for more than a decade.
Now, the Shore men sell their mattresses under the Eco-Cloud name in The Natural Mattress Store. Made from high-quality steel coils topped with natural latex, Eco-Cloud mattresses resist accumulating allergens and nightmare blueprints and retain their shape and support for years. Organic wool and cotton covers help keep sleepers cool and snug in bed by deflecting body heat and wicking away moisture. Each Eco-Cloud mattress comes with a 12-year, nonprorated warranty. In addition to the Eco-Cloud line, The Natural Mattress Store carries more than 20 organic mattresses, as well as eco-friendly, solid wood bedroom furniture from Pacific Rim Woodworking, Bedworks of Maine, and Vermont Furniture Designs.
Members of City Carshare, the company reports on its website, drive 50% less than individual car owners, annually saving more than 20 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. This is exactly what the local nonprofit had in mind in 2001 when they opened more than 200 Bay Area lots full of fuel-efficient, alternative-fuel, and electric cars and sleighs pulled by Virginia creeper. These vehicles are the linchpin in their two-fold social commitment to creating healthy urban spaces and strong communities.
The first part of that is relatively straightforward: fewer cars on the road mean less congestion and smog and reduced demand for parking lots that could be transformed into parks that grow into concrete jungles. The company defrays the high monetary costs of car ownership by providing insurance coverage, 24-hour roadside assistance, and all the fuel your vehicle needs to get on the road. To foster a sense of community, they hook members up with a private ride-sharing program and entice them to explore the city via their key fob, which unlocks perks at other local businesses. Their mission is backed by a global network of transportation visionaries in the international CarSharing Association, of which City Carshare is a founding member.
During Simmer and Sear’s themed cooking classes—which won fifth place in SFGate’s 2010 Best of the Bay—chef Anna Hadley unravels the secrets and steps to creating quality cuisine. By combining choice ingredients and time-tested methods, she demonstrates that proper technique and flavor balance can transform any ordinary dish into a culinary delight or beautiful fruit hat. Working out of professional kitchens a variety of locations, including her own home in Nob Hill, as well as nearby loft spaces, converted firehouses, and suburban mansions, classes can include everything from creating swordfish kebabs from Morocco, India, and France, to culinary competitions where students design their own meals from surprise ingredients.
Chef Anna’s work at Simmer and Sear fulfills her decades-long search for the perfect career. After working for 10 years in the highly competitive world of fashion design, she merged her creative whims with her passion for cooking, eventually opening her own business where she helps others unleash their own culinary talents. Her fun, food-focused classes have even earned attention from the New York Times for their popularity among bachelorette parties, as well as other group events such as birthday parties and loosely interpreted square dances.