San Francisco was the perfect place to start our trip. Not only is it the home of Kat’s warm, generous, wonderful family, but it is a city that puts on display the juxtaposition at the root of our project, the conflict that results when walls are erected to separate and the artistic response to the division. Due to the tech industry boom, the shadow of overinflated cost-of-living spreads farther and farther across the Bay, displacing community members from their homes, from the neighborhoods in which they built their lives for decades and, for some families, centuries. As we walked down the mural-filled alleys, it was clear what has already been lost, and what is at stake if the fight does not continue.
But the murals are a part of the fight. They put on display experiences that exhibit strength in the face of oppression, and generate conversations and questions we must ask as the crisis of gentrification and eviction pervade the Bay Area and cities in the US. Organizations like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a data-visualization, data mapping, and story-telling collective documenting the dispossession and resistance of SF Bay Area Residents, Precita Eyes Mural Center, Causa Justa Just Cause, and Urban Displacement Project amplify the voices of community members and support organization of communities for justice. (Shout out to Liz, Kat’s sister, who begins her organizing job on Monday!) We are excited and honored to plant the energy that organizations and individuals who give all they have and more to the fight for housing justice in the Bay back to our Boston classrooms.
Besides working on our project, we had so much fun eating, drinking, hiking, and laughing in Oakland and the Bay. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Brown Sugar Kitchen, a vibrant hike in Tennessee Valley down to the beach, where we saw a whale about 15 yards from shore, dinner at locally-sourced restaurant Gather, and the world premiere of the musical production of Monsoon Wedding at Berkeley Rep. We are so thankful for the people who thought with us on this first leg of our journey, and the laughter and learning we did in the Bay have prepared us well for the next leg of our trip!
Kat + Alice
Thank Yous and Shout Outs:
First, foremost, and most foundational to our trip, to the A-P Family (Wendy, Phil, and Liz), for their warmth, generosity, and laughter throughout our time in the Bay–the trip would not have been the same without your self-less dedication of time and love to our project; to Tracy, for organizing a festive, raucous dinner and theater experience; to the Rettig-Zucchi family (Mary Ann, Ron, Claire, and Hannah) for a home-cooked meal and reminiscing, to Kevin, for foresaking his Fourth of July barbecue to hang out with an old friend, to Precita Eyes for the knowledge and context they provided us and others; and to David and Margaret, for the most reliable airport taxi-service a girl could ask for.
***As we were leaving the Bay, we had to wait an extra hour plus for our rental car because there had been a fire earlier that morning, covering all the cars in the lot with ash. Though the cause of this fire is unknown, in the last two years the fires in at least two buildings have been ruled arson, a reaction to new housing units going up in Oakland. An ABC news article from July 7 reminds us that “The Bay Area has some of the highest housing costs in the nation, contributing to a 39 percent rise in homelessness in the past two years in Alameda County…Nearly half of those newly homeless are African-American.”