Local duo spreads native seeds, goes viral on TikTok

It's Tuesday, August 24.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

Some people make it big on TikTok for their dance moves or lip-syncs or because, they’re Will Smith. But San Francisco residents “Phoenix and Shalaco” recently started to capture millions of people’s attention on the social video platform thanks mostly to their hobby of spreading native wildflowers. 

The couple’s seed dispersion method, as seen on their TikTok account @sfinbloom, is admittedly clever and straightforward. Put native California wildflower seeds and rice husks (to help the seeds spread out) into a glass shaker, like one you’d normally fill with parmesan cheese. Find what Shalaco calls “neglected public green spaces,” or empty planters on sidewalks. And...shake. 

Sometimes the couple rides Onewheels while spreading the seeds across San Francisco. And sometimes Shalaco wears a bee suit

The goal, they told me in a recent interview, is to “normalize planting native wildflowers,” which they said, helps support local ecosystems, especially for pollinator insects. Native plants are also mostly drought resistant, they said, which means less water and attention is needed for them to grow tall and beautiful. 

“I just throw them, I forget about them, I come back, [and] they’ve grown,” Shalaco said. “We just want to democratize gardening and make it accessible to as many people as possible.” 

And, the couple is in a good position to do just that. Phoenix has been a horticulturist in the Bay Area for nearly 20 years and owns a landscape company that’s focused on native plant installations. Shalaco, meanwhile, is a plant enthusiast and runs a production studio that helps businesses create “thumb stopping photos and videos,” he said. Together, since June, the duo’s @sfinbloom account has amassed more than 5 million video views on TikTok. 

“People are calling it a movement,” he said. 

And with that...onto some news… 

An Asian customer accused Swan Oyster Depot employees of using racist language last week when, he said, workers referred to him and his sister as “dim sum.” News of the situation went viral on social media and on Monday, Yelp froze Swan’s page after a flood of negative reviews, saying, “​​While racism has no place on Yelp...all reviews on Yelp must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience.” 

Jimmy Sancimino, whose family runs Swan’s, told the Chronicle his staff uses the “dim sum” phrase “when people want more than one person to wait on them at once. We say it’s like a dim sum restaurant [where] you can have 10 different waitresses come by and drop off food at your table...Unfortunately this man [and] young lady took it the wrong way. I’m terribly sorry about it.” 

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Quick bits: 

  • ⚖ During his last day in office, on Monday, outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to David Gilbert, the father of District Attorney Chesa Boudin who had been serving a 75 years to life sentence for his role in a 1981 robbery that left three people dead. The New York State Board of Parole will now consider Gilbert’s release. 

    “Not having to take my child through metal detectors and steel gates to meet their grandfather was just one of the most amazing gifts I could have imagined,” Boudin, an expecting father, told the Post. “It also made me think about those other families and how nothing will ever make them whole again.” (Washington Post

  • 👀 When City Attorney Dennis Herrera steps down to become San Francisco’s next Public Utility Commissioner, State Assemblymember David Chiu is “on the short list” to take his seat, 48 Hills says. That would leave a vacancy in the state’s capital for a San Francisco representative. 

    On Tuesday, former city supervisor David Campos, announced an “exploratory campaign for State Assembly,” which will allow him to start raising money. Current supervisor Matt Haney, who’s also reportedly eyed the position, told 48 Hills: “If there is a vacancy, yes I will consider it.” (48 Hills)

  • 🚙 San Franciscans can now download the Waymo One app and for the first time ever in the city, “express interest” in using the company’s self-driving robo-taxi service. Still, it’s unclear how locals Waymo will select to take part in its trial. (Chronicle)  

  • 🌉 On Monday, SFGATE’s Dan Gentile wrote a good profile of Stuart Schuffman, the man, the myth, and the legend behind the local news site Broke-Ass Stuart. “If I knew when I was 24 that I would still be doing this when I was 40, I might’ve chosen a different name,” Schuffman said. (SFGATE

And finally… 

Here/Say Media posted an awesome video on Noe Valley chocolatier Jack Epstein. It’s a 4-minute video that’s worth a watch. 

“Nobody has a city that doesn’t have problems,” Epstein said. “But I prefer to deal with them right here in San Francisco.” 

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Have a good night! - Nick B.

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