Gearing up for WritersCorps‘ Poetry Projection Project, a festival of short films based on youth writing, we sat down with this year’s festival juror H.P. Mendoza.
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H.P. is a filmmaker, screenwriter, music composer, and actor, well known for his films: Colma: The Musical; San Francisco-based musical Fruit Fly; and more recently, horror movie I Am A Ghost, for which he was named Best Horror Director of 2012 by SF Weekly.
This article originally appeared in the SFAC April newsletter
LaToya Cantrell, President of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, on the anniversary of the levees flooding New Orleans in 2005, shares with NENtv an update on the process of restoring her community and the Andrew H. Wilson School. Specifically she thanks the City and County of San Francisco for all of its support in helping secure funds and resources for her neighborhood.
See more images from the NEN’s trip(s) to New Orleans here.
by Elisa Chavez
The last time I can remember visiting New York, I was sixteen years old and staying in the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The entire city seemed like a blur of fast walkers, overpriced boutiques, and homicidal taxis, and I decided then and there that I could never, ever, ever live someplace that was quite so overwhelming.
Last week, I got on a plane and flew out to NYC for a week’s vacation, where I found that things had changed. Sure, people still walk like they’re out to burn rubber, the price of a sweater will make you cry, and traffic laws appear to function more as abstract guidelines than actual rules, but the city will surprise you. Sometimes tucked away down side streets, sometimes in plain view, and sometimes if you just happen to be in at right place at the right time, you’ll see a reminder that New York City is full of people who are working to make their neighborhoods vibrant and welcoming for themselves and their families.
The really interesting part is that a number of these public-space and support-our-locals initiatives bear a striking resemblance to what’s going on in our very own San Francisco.
1. Summer Streets
Kind of like: SF’s Sunday Streets
I first came across New York’s Summer Streets program in the form of almost being flattened by a convoy of bikers. A little girl teetered happily on her tricycle while I flailed, so it seemed that navigating the whizzing throng of wheeled death was a skill that locals of all ages had mastered. It turns out that bikes are only a small part of NYC’s Summer Streets initiative; each summer, for three consecutive Saturdays, the city closes down a major Manhattan thoroughfare to cars, and promotes biking, walking, dancing, yoga, and occasional rock wall climbing.
I didn’t feel the need to boast that SF’s Sunday Streets program extends from March to late October this year and even if I had, I don’t think anybody would’ve hopped off their bikes to listen.
2. Madison Square Park
Kind of like: Patricia’s Green, Hayes Valley
I ventured to Madison Square Park for what my Jersey-born friend assured me was the main attraction, the Shake Shack. Calling the one-by-three-blocks a park rather than a lawn or five trees, would have seemed bizarre to me before I moved to San Francisco, but due to my urban acclimation I found it downright expansive. The Shake Shack provides what is arguably the park’s central hub (we waited in a thirty-minute line for our milkshake and custard), but Madison Square Park also has free wifi, a dog run, a playground, a lively music program, and installations of public art.
Although we had our Shake Shack adventure after dark, the congenial vibe, attention-craving dogs, and outdoor art reminded me a lot of noontime at Patricia’s Green– though the Shack’s peanut butter fudge custard, while delicious, can’t quite match up to Smitten’s made-while-you-wait daily ice cream flavors. The real advantage to NYC’s scene is the heat: August in New York provides the type of weather that makes you feel as if eating ice cream is not only justified, but required.
3. The Market NYC
Kind of like: San Francisco Arts Market
Ditching our guide on a New York pizza tour, we staggered aimlessly through the neighborhood called NoLita (North of Little Italy) until we came across a bright sign reading The Market NYC. A gym by weekday, from Friday to Sunday the space becomes a warehouse full of local designs, featuring screen-printed tees, handmade jewelry and apparel, leather goods, and more. The vendors were all unfailingly gregarious, chatting with me pleasantly even when all I wanted to do was gawk at their creations and add to my growing pile of business cards.
The Market is protective of its local vendors. When I asked if I could take pictures for this blog, I was told that only official photography was permitted. (Indoors, that is; my outside shot of their sign was kosher.) We’ve had Urban Outfitters copy somebody’s bag, they explained. I’m glad that the Market NYC is doing their thing; it was a real privilege to witness some of the craftsmanship and imagination of New York’s local designers. I’m even glad that they’re a little suspicious of outsiders like me: I think it shows a commitment to creating a safer arts community.
Now I’m back in San Francisco– back to my own streets, my own pizza, and reliable recycling bins on every corner. But in mulling over my trip to the East Coast, I find that I’m warmed by what I experienced there. In New York, as in SF, people are claiming urban public spaces as their own. The steps they take are familiar– if it were a dance, we’d all know how to do it and sometimes I felt a kneejerk, hipster reaction of but my city did it first/better/first and better. However, I realize that when it comes to building stronger communities, originality is overrated. What really matters is that everyone feels they have a place at the table.
Or in the bike lane.
The SF Arts Market is a weekly showcase of the work of local residents and artisans. Come join the festivities every thursday at UN Plaza between 11 am and 4 pm. There you will find dozens of local merchants, great food and live music.
For more information please visit artsmarketsf.org
For decades, Adah Bakalinsky, author of “Stairway Walks in San Francisco” has been helping walkers discover new parts of San Francisco. NENfm talks with Adah about how she finds SF’s treasures and why she thinks exploring the city on foot is so rewarding.
On Noe Street, in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle neighborhood, there’s plenty of places to sit, the traffic goes slowly, plants and trees are everywhere, each building is unique, and neighbors wouldn’t live anywhere else.
How did this street become one of San Francisco’s jewels and what can other neighborhoods learn from this example? NENtv visits Noe Street to find out.
[Also viewable on YoutubeÂ here.]
Author/lecturer Dale Carnegie once wrote that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
My appreciation for knowing people’s names never stops growing. I’m steadily learning the names of neighbors on my street; and now Antoinette, John, Cynthia, Jesse, Ken, Judy, and Carl – among others – hear their names when we greet one another.
Learning the names of local business owners and employees is also a real kick. Suki runs the corner store around the corner from my house, John owns my local wine bar, Donnamarie works at my nearest jewelry store, Brandi co-owns a nearby gift stop, and Howard works at the bakery.
There are the names of people who work in important local organizations: Paula is the administrator at the church near me, John is principal of a nearby international school, Kevin is a local police sergeant, and Ross is my district supervisor.
I wear a name tag on my jacket’s lapel at all times (a shrinky dink saying “Hello my name is Adam”, made for me by an old friend) so that my name is readily apparent to anyone. It’s worked well over the past few years and people seem to appreciate it.
Why learn people’s names?
1. Ice-Breaking. Knowing someone’s name is the ultimate ice-breaker. Whether someone is shy, suspicious, unfamiliar, of a different culture, or otherwise, you can warm to one another by learning their name. Learning names is the first step to getting to know your neighbors.
2. Navigating the grape vine. A community-builder who knows a lot of names builds a map in their mind of who knows who and where to go for information and resources. “You should talk to Cheryl at the local school. She knows someone with a lot of spare carpets you could use for your event.”
3. Seeing people as humans. We have all de-humanized strangers, judging them by their looks, race, gender, clothing, demeanor, or otherwise. That doesn’t mean we’re bad people, it’s a natural tendency. However, knowing someone’s name makes them fully human to us and lifts us above our natural lazy judgments. We come to appreciate people and to empathize with and respect them.
4. Being happy. Knowing names makes people friendlier and more familiar. Most people smile when you call their name. It’s part of a happy life.
How to learn names
Many of us think we’re naturally bad at remembering names. I don’t actually think this is the case for most people; we just need some techniques. Chris Witt hasÂ some great advice, which I will put in my own words and expand upon below:
1. Commit to learning names. Understand the importance of knowing names and build name-learning into your daily practice.
2. Concentrate. Make sure you really listen when someone tells you their name. Ask them to repeat it if you didn’t hear or to spell it out if their name is unusual to you.
3. Employ repetition. Use someone’s name a few times within the first couple of minutes of talking with them. This really helps you memorize their name.
4. Use the power of association. To help remember a name, associate it with an action, visual, sound, or something else. For instance, if someone’s name is Derek, you might say it sounds a bit like “deck” and thus associate them with an image of a ship.
5. Ask next time. If you failed to remember someone’s name, ask them on the next occasion or as soon as possible. This avoids the awkward “I’ve known someone for 6 months and I still can’t remember their name” phenomenon that we have all experienced.
6. Use name tags. When organizing events, get people to put on sticky name badges. I do this for most events with which I’m involved.
7. Introduce someone else. I use this sneaky trick when it feels too awkward to ask for someone’s name a long time after you first met. Introduce someone whose name you do know to the person whose name you want to know and the latter will introduce themselves. Now remember this time!
Knowing names is a key ingredient of an effective community-builder, a good neighbor, and a happy person. It has become uniquely important to me as I’ve gotten to know more and more people in my neighborhood and you will probably discover the same thing.
If you want to feel a part of your community, get to know names. It’s that simple!
Aside from a small number of schools and playgrounds, there seems little evidence that the needs of children are reflected in our built environment. As a parent and a community-builder down in Menlo Park and founder of theÂ Playborhood blog, Mike Lanza has become a passionate advocate for children’s right to play outside in their neighborhood streets. Mike shares his insights with NENfm.
On May 7th,Â Shareable Magazine will be bringing together the Bay Areaâ€™s best and brightest for a day of connection, innovation, and action.Â During our event calledÂ SHARE San Francisco, we will challenge you to discover new opportunities for impact, connect with leaders across sectors to boost your innovative potential, and explore the use of sharing as a powerful change strategy that addresses multiple social goals at once.Â
SHARE San Francisco is partially inspired by a quote by author and instigator Lisa Gansky. She said â€œCities are a platform for sharing.â€Â When I first heard it, a myriad of images flooded my mind â€“ bike and car sharing, knowing my neighbors, community gardens, street fairs, potlucks, parks, libraries – I pictured a city in which sharing and connection was a way of life.Â But then I had an unsettling thought: Why did that vision feel so far and distant â€“ like a dream in a city, in a city supposedly full of those things?
Donâ€™t get me wrong, the Bay Area has a lot going for it. From our vibrant neighborhoods and the tech industry, to our unified commitment to the environment and our love of good food â€“ we are a mecca of ideal urban living.Â But how much do we really share? And, as my 5 year old cousin used to always ask â€œDo we HAVE to?â€
If we care about the future of our city, our economy, and our planet, the answer is a resounding yes â€“ and we need to do a lot more of it.Â To meet the constantly changing and complex challenges our world is currently experiencing, our governments need to become more open and democratic, our workplaces more flexible, creative, and agile, our food, more local, our transportation and energy use more sustainable, and our neighborhoods more personally connected.Â We have to create new, cross sector and stakeholder networks that will help us have greater impact in our work to face the economic, environmental, and social challenges of both today and tomorrow.Â And as shocking as it might sound to some of you, the kindergarten lesson of sharing might be our best hope.
Sharing (of space, time, work, food, resources) is a triple threat to what ails us â€“ itâ€™s good for the environment, creates jobs and is easier on the wallet, and helps you connect and take action in innovative and collaborative ways.Â And we at Shareable believe it is the foundation on which any societal progress must be built.
For those of you already tuned into the NEN, you understand that the future of our city, and the resiliency of our communities depends on how quickly we can connect and build networks.Â SHARE San Francisco is our attempt to build a new and powerful network around sharing. Weâ€™re meshing Gov 2.0 leaders, non-profit and community activists, students, social entrepreneurs, makers, bikers, and all those with a stake in developing our city as a platform for sharing for a powerful day of inspiration, connection, and action.Â We believe that sharing both online and offline will result in more connected communities, through which real and meaningful resilience can develop.Â We hope youâ€™ll consider joining us in reimagining our city as a platform for sharing on May 7th.
For more information, scholarships, volunteer opportunities, or press passes contactÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
And keep up to date on SHARE SF with our Twitter hashtag, #SHARESF and ourÂ SHARESF channel on Shareable