A Neighborhood That So Loves Its Children

Contrary to popular belief, San Franciscans like kids. We may not favor sharing SF MUNI space with strollers the size of mini-hummers. Nor do we possess wide swaths of land for expansive malls filled with mega theaters. However, just about every school based bond wins wide support. We book our recreation centers and public parks with back to back soccer and baseball games. Our cultural institutions open their doors for free on multiple days and sponsor youth oriented events.

This community concern and parental passion reaches it zenith, however, in the Tenderloin. There hard-working immigrant communities coexist with the hardcore homeless grappling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. In the Loin too often syringes litter the streets, urine permeates the air, and feces (from assorted mammals) turn sidewalks into hopscotch games. Much of this gets hidden from non-walkers by towering edifices paying homage to monumental egos. 

Despite these obstacles, a quick look will turn up the some of the most vibrant and involved educational programs in the City both during and after school hours.

Volunteer organizations run day recreational programs, tutor students who often arrive not speaking  English, and provide safe after school programs. Other groups provide financial support to these and other programs.

 

 

 

 

A clear example occurred last Thursday when a daytime showing of the Olympics headlined a community fair set up with free kid sized entertainment. Happiness both on the kids and the parents faces shone through the pictures (probably same expression appeared on faces hundreds of years ago in medieval times during Maypole Celebrations). ‘

All the pictures  speak for themselves.

However, pay attention to a few things. One, its unclear if the pirate flag or the kids frightened the dragons more (regardless expressions on this arcade ride are priceless).

Two, the giant slide attracted the most users, but note the differing responses on the three children’s faces (joy, surprise, and fear).

Art on the Walls, Peace in the Heart

Below is a very small sample of muralsgraffiti, and graphics I found on a lunch break near work. Mind you I don’t claim this as an exhaustive catalog of the Tenderloin’s vibrancy. In time, I will seek out more and better examples (please feel free to send me suggestions).

Sometimes the building’s graphic designs or additions brought their own punch to the picture. I loved these few examples, which relied both on paint and design. Kudos to the Hostel for using the SF Giants colors. We will just admire the arrow shapes and ignore the blue in the white building. 😉

Mind the last one with the wavy special effects is a killer if you have vertigo. Best enjoyed in quick glances.

Perhaps my favorites are building additions where it’s hard to tell if a freelance tagger or professional muralist designed them. I suspect in these next pair of shots it’s professionals. The one with the young boys is the entrance to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (great community resource).  The Keith Haring influenced one lies in an alley way (total shame since its gorgeous). By the way, I’ve included random people in some shots because it makes it look more alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I found certain scenes just reminded me of San Francisco with the different signs and the bus. After all what is the City without SF MUNI? Now calm people, calm; it works a lot of the time.

Or I found the contrast interesting (both in a good and bad way) such as how  advertising signs contrasted with items on the street. 

Plus I liked the way the store owner made tagging easy. Better to join them than try and beat them.

The most professional, and seemingly newest, appeared on US Post Office. These are beautiful images of music and birds, which also tie in with modern tile facade. They could be their own postcards but again it’s interesting to juxtapose them against the street.