Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bayview Hunters Point is...What?!!

by Sudeep Motupalli Rao

Here’s a biased perspective and commentary on Bayview Hunters Point from an insider.

+ Quesada Gardens is the most beautiful street in SF. Many more community gardens are sprouting.

+ I found more community here in the first 6 months of living here than all 6 years of living in other parts of San Francisco. People are tight. People hug one another, a lot. Even before saying Hi.

+ We have the highest home-ownership rate in SF. People feel rooted here. But conditions favor the outmigration of families as seen in trends over the years. We’re trying to progress without gentrification.

+ We can manage better with chaos and uncertainty. We have no choice but to evolve. We’re getting fitter.

+ We process 80% of the city’s sewage at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant. The nearest homes are a stone’s throw away across the street. We have tolerated and survived the smell of raw sewage for decades. The stuff hasn’t hit the fan yet. But it will unless things change for the better, soon.

+ We process 100% of all US Mail at the main Post Office on Evans. W’ere the last drop for IRS tax returns.

+ We process 100% of all the city’s waste, recyclables and compost at Recology’s campus. Zero waste and Cradle to Cradle? We’ll get there.

+ We shut down the oldest power plant in California in 02006. Nonviolently.

+ When the bulldozers were tearing down the power plant we broke ground and built the cleanest, most sustainable classroom that serves as a model EcoCenter that is off the electric grid AND the sewer grid with its in-house wastewater treatment system.

+ We have 24 acres of Wetlands at Heron’s Head Park, the only one of its kind in the Bay area with 100 species of birds documented by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

+ We have the largest and oldest artist colony in the US at the former Naval Shipyard.

+ The bulk of all the city’s fruits and vegetables passes through the Wholesale Produce Market.

+ Alemany Farmers Market across the freeway is the oldest farmers market in the country.

+ During World War II and beyond, the Hunters Point Shipyard employed close to 40,000 people many of them African-Americans who moved here from the deep south. When the Shipyard closed in 01976, these employees who were laid off, their kids and grand-kids have endured the toughest economic conditions that deeply scarred the society. There are many who are still hopeful for change.

+ A majority of the families live in extended multigenerational families. Many single-parent families struggle with raising children. We’re learning to breed better and unconventionally. We’ve gone viral.

+ The 02010 census shows the rising numbers of Latino and Asian community members.

+ We have the best weather in town year-round with micro-climate 3, meaning sunny weather even when the Sunset, Richmond, and Haight districts are foggy and cold.

+ The view of Hunters Point as seen from the bay on a canoe or a whaleboat looks like parts of Italy or Greece with small homes on terraced hills. We’ll get there, one day. We have more than a dream.

+ 10,000 housing units are being built in the next few years at Hunters Point and Candlestick. A home!

+ We’re less than a 10 minute ride from the SFO Airport. Never mind that many of us are afraid to fly.

+ We have a Caltrain stop. Trains connecting SF and Silicon Valley, stop by to pick us up on the road to prosperity.

+ We bridge AT&T Baseball Park with Candlestick Football Stadium or whatever games we’ll play there. Bring it on.

+ We’ve got a new UCSF campus at adjoining Mission Bay and will have a new Cancer Hospital, Women’s Hospital & Children’s Hospital in the next few years. Health - we get it. We’re getting it.

+ We have the country’s biggest Superfund site at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. We’ve been providing an invaluable service to the city and region by fighting to get it cleaned of its Hazardous wastes and Radioactive wastes fully and forever. The fight is still going on.

+ We elected the youngest cleanup advisor to the Navy, a teenager who now serves in Afghanistan. He isn’t the kind to burn the Quran nor shoot innocent villagers on a mad rampage.

+ Some have faith in faith. We have about 45 churches, a mosque, a temple for African Jews and more.

+ We provide a majority of the customers for the City’s San Francisco General Hospital.

+ We have more pantry houses and soup kitchens than anywhere else in the city.

+ San Francisco Food Bank would be bankrupt without our participation in the thousands of tons of nonperishables, canned goods and processed foods every year.

+ We’re disconnected from BART. Our MUNI light rail service and bus service stinks. So at times, some of us dont pay the fare, litter and urinate as and when necessary.

+ Some of us dont trust the government. Some of us dont trust the whole system. It feels opaque, nonresponsive, remote and alien to us. So, we created our own underground microeconomy.

+ Some of us exhibit CTSD, continous traumatic stress disorder. Some of us feel abandoned, vulnerable and under constant threat from both the outside and inside. Under stress we reach for comfort and discover in our mouths and hands, self-destructive substances and tools designed and refined by industrial corporations in the 20th century. We find that Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Drugs are not very pro life.

+ Zip car is available everywhere in the city, except in Bayview Hunters Point & Visitacion Valley, our neighboring community further south. We tried to create a system of “Community Cars” many years ago before “collaborative consumption” was in. But insurance companies and their legal staff dont have the literacy for this nor the imagination to recognize or comprehend innovation.

+ We’re looking hard and patiently for transparency, accountability, integrity and a level playing field in the system. There are many of us who want no charity or addiction to generosity.

+ We want to capitalize on our assets, our cultural and historical treasures, our shoreline access and be connected to the waterways. We want to build new innovative watercraft, ride a Bayview Ferry or take a water taxi from the future Hunters Point Ferry Terminal. We want to be connected to Sausalito, Emeryville, Alameda, Alviso and beyond in a 20-30 minute pleasurable water ride. People will come here to ride our banana boat catamarans for Spring Break. And the bay will be clean to swim in again.

+ We want to create our stories that’ll inspire our future generations. We have a story to tell. Ours.

+ We want to create a few Bayview billionaires in the next decade.

+ We’re doing inventory, mapping our assets, connecting our dots and holding our hands. Kum baya optional.

+ We are Bayview Hunters Point. We’re creating the beautiful communities, we witness now.

+ Live in peace. Live in community. No stress. And leave with beauty.

Inspired by Unhackathon2, a TED City 2.0 Equality Challenge, held at the California College of the Arts, April 6-7, 02012 in San Francisco. Written by Sudeep Motupalli Rao, a local resident who’s been working in the community since 02003 and living at Quesada Gardens in the heart of it since 02008. Please forward comments, complaints and suggestions to: designer@beautifulCommunities.org


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and insightful. Thanks for taking the time to write and share your insider perspective! I'm looking forward to finally finding a home and being a part of the Bayview community! - JMichael

Sudeep Motupalli Rao said...

@JMichael: Welcome home! This community has such richness of spirit and visceral density that it has a gravitational field of its own!

Sudeep Motupalli Rao