[Addendum 7/29/17: The blog post linked above is now off the company site. Here is an archived version. It used photos by downtown SRO chronicler Mark Ellinger without payment or communication to him. As he noted in a resulting Twitter exchange, his work is posted under a Creative Commons license, so they could do that. But in the course of stating an intention to uplift the neighborhood, they might have considered paying a local low-income artist for his work]
In the course of which, they made a charming suggestion, likely not meant for local consumption:
"No matter where you are, you probably have a neighborhood just like our Mid-Market. So we encourage you to follow our lead — get up, get out, and get involved in making your Mid-Market better for everyone!"So, call me a Little Old Lady In Tennis Shoes if you like, but I just had to write them a letter:
[Update: Yammer's Jason Rodrigues had the good sportsmanship to let my comment appear on his company blog below the post that I've linked above. His response is here.]
Dear Yammer Community Engagement Folks:
Western downtown San Francisco is not “just like” anywhere else in this world. We know that our home “matters.” We don’t need Yammer to convince us of that. We are not some anomic impoverished rabble waiting for rich newcomers to save us. We are neighbors living in existing established neighborhoods that we value both for what they are and for what they can become.
We are varied people. Our respective backgrounds, incomes and identities diverge in ways that may surprise you. You can’t presume who we are from the statistical medians for our respective census tracts.
You can’t win our friendship by ladling soup at us. An “engagement” program of one-way top-down charitable service is better than complete aloofness but it doesn’t necessarily “engage” your neighbors. Some may find it patronizing. Many won’t notice it.
On the other hand, if you ask around you’ll find local activists, historians and geezers who can help you adopt an informed, neighborly and respectful role as new arrivals in this established community. For example, you could contact Jim Meko of the SoMaLeadership Council. Jim doesn’t always speak for everyone — nobody could — but he’s an example of a local leadership figure who you won’t “engage” by ladling soup. Or take a history tour with ChrisCarlsson of www.shapingsf.org and FoundSF.org . Or get in touch with neighbors at the Langton and Howard community garden. Or introduce yourselves at the community-wise Green Arcade bookstore.
Since you’ve borrowed (or rather, I hope, rented) some of the above photos from photographer and writer Mark Ellinger of upfromthedeep.com you’ve sampled his huge knowledge about the Sixth Street area. His site is full of stories that aren’t “just like” anything nor anywhere else. That’s a start for you right there in seeing your new home as a place already worth liking.
Further about our neighborhood and, lately, yours:
- Market Street around Seventh has swallowtail butterflies in its sycamore trees.
- Species seen in Civic Center and South of Market include raccoons, finches, Anna’s hummingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, Cooper’s hawks, and the Ninth Street redtail hawk nest. “Bluoz” has been photographing hawks on the Federal Building.
- Filipino San Francisco has strong connections South of Market and in South Park.
- South of Market at the latitude of Howard and Folsom Streets is a legendary gay district — a fact that used to be well known, that has sunk from view surprisingly fast in business journalists’ accounts of our area. Pictures and stories about gay SoMa, often lively and some NSFW, are included at foundsf.org/index.php?title=Category:SOMA
- “Mid-Market” isn’t a neighborhood, it’s a developers’ label. That’s why it doesn’t have a foundsf index.
- FoundSF has a lot to say about the Tenderloin. So did Tenderloin Geographic Society. Unfortunately the creator of the Geographic Society site and column recently left town, citing economic pressures and creeping big-moneysoullessness. While soup is a fine thing, I don’t think soup would have helped her stay.
- The current effort to improve South of Market is not the first. All such efforts are eventually moderated and half-tamed by skeptical neighbors.
- If you are looking for a neighborly gesture to show us more respect than the soup thing, you could throw some support behind Jane Kim’s alternative to Scott Weiner’s CEQA legislation. That would express support for the integrity of our neighborhood.
- Walk slower around here. Get out of your Uber cars. Appreciate where you are before you decide what’s good for it.