Volunteer Reflection: Clarion Alley Mural

Hello, I am Abigail David and I am an undergraduate student attending San Francisco State University. I am currently majoring in Family and Consumer Science with an emphasis on Nutrition. I am volunteering at the Bayanihan center/ Veterans Equity Center.

On my first official day of volunteering, which was on September 15, 2015 I attended a mural unveiling at the Clarion Alley in the Mission district in San Francisco. The SoMa Action Committee (SMAC) presented this mural entitled “No Clear Cutting Our Community” which was painted for the South of Market (SOMA) residents, representing the Filipino community and residents of SOMA who are fighting against big developers, such as Forest City, attempting to bring developments into SoMa that will have a largely negative impact on the neighborhood. The mural itself displays the Filipino word Bahay meaning “home”, in the neighborhood next to the massively tall buildings and the stumps of trees that were cut down symbolizing the Filipino families and residents who have resided in SoMa for generations.

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The purpose of this event was to shed light on the 5M Project, run by Forest City, that intends to gentrify the neighborhood by building luxury offices and residential towers in the neighborhood. In effect, the rise of property would occur and this would displace many families, seniors, and residents of SoMa. The 5M Project would drive out the people of the neighborhood and turn it into what would essentially be a second Financial district in San Francisco. Although 5M developers say that they will provide community benefits, their intentions are merely for the sake of making profit. This is at the expense of existing residents. SMAC demands to put an end to this by spreading community awareness, done through the mural that is displayed in Clarion Alley. They demand respect for their neighborhood as well as the developer planning to start with the community.

The unveiling event hosted a variety of performers who feel passionate about this cause. The performances ranged from poetry to rap. The poems recited have all spoke out to me in a meaningful way. I felt the emotion behind all the artists and was overcome by inspiration to help make a difference in the SoMa community.

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This campaign makes so much of a difference in the Filipino community, and I felt truly honored to be apart of it and surrounded by so many amazing and inspirational individuals who will fight til end for their home. It was an incredible experience for me personally, because I come from a a working class small town in Southern California and I can relate to the people who attended and ran this event. It reminded me of how we should never be passive and let big developers take over the land that we were born and bred in. The neighborhoods like SoMa must stay diverse and rich in culture and never be run down by companies who seek to profit in the expense of residents within the community. I talked briefly with a few people who were from SoMa as well as the Mission district. Their goal is the same: the fight against developers who want to drive all of the residents out. One of them spoke about the about the struggle of having to be uprooted and sent to live in the East Bay because cost of living became too high. Although I knew about these realties that people faced, it is a completely different experience when you meet the people of the community and hear what they personally have to say.

The event reminded me that we all have to strive to do good within our own communities and help to preserve the neighborhood of SoMa by taking action against the 5M project that brings about empty promises.

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