Category Archives: Justice

Literacy for Environmental Justice seeks board members

By Elizabeth Skow

Literacy for Environmental Justice was founded in 1998 by community members to build a greener, more equitable future for itself. LEJ has been educating youth about their environment and leading volunteer groups to restore green parts of Southeast San Francisco for almost twenty years. They also run a native plant nursery that provides plants for many greening and conservation projects in San Francisco.

Currently, LEJ is restoring an area of Candlestick Point and building six campsites that will accommodate walk-in, boat-in and bike-in campers. It will be one of only two places in San Francisco that allows camping. The campsites will be available to the public, and will prioritize youth camping in an urban setting.

This project is in conjunction with expanding their garden and native plant nursery for eco-restoration on Carroll Ave. The nursery will provide plants for the Candlestick Point project and others in Southeast San Francisco. LEJ will have coordinated 1,000 youth and other volunteers who will have donated 3,000 to 5,000 volunteer hours by the time the work is finished. The project will also involve Parks and Rec in an effort to promote better use of San Francisco’s parks.

LEJ’s Executive Director Patrick Marley Rump has been working with LEJ since 1999. He got involved after he did some restoration work at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and heard about LEJ projects at Heron’s Head Park. He had noticed a disconnect between ecology and preservation work and the communities most in need of that work. As he was living in Bayview, he saw an opportunity to serve the community in which he lived.

Today, Literacy for Environmental Justice is looking for Board of Director candidates.

Patrick says the ideal LEJ board member would be rooted in Bayview, and would want to be involved in governance, planning and community building. That board member would have a connection or desire to connect with environmental justice work in Bayview, would want to impact the lives of young people here, and would bring to the board role some funds development skill.

If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact LEJ.

Sup. Cohen calls for civil rights investigation re: SFPD

Supervisor Malia Cohen sent a substantive statement to Bayview Footprints, Tuesday, regarding a resolution she authored that had just passed the SF Board of Supervisors. Her resolution addresses recent SF Police Department activities including racist and homophobic texts and four officer involved shootings resulting in the deaths of four men in the Bayview and Mission neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors passed a critical resolution I authored calling on our Attorney General Kamala Harris to initiate a civil rights investigation into the recent racist and homophobic text messages sent by San Francisco Police Officers and into the patterns and practices in the department. I was personally repulsed and outraged at the text messages sent by some members of our Police Department, this behavior will not be tolerated. This behavior not only undermines the public trust in those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve the residents of San Francisco, but also tarnishes much of the incredible work that members of our Police Department do every day in our neighborhoods.

The Police Department’s own data shows there are gross disparities between arrest rates, detentions, searches, and convictions for communities of color in our City. Recent officer involved shootings which have resulted in the death of four men in the Bayview and Mission communities have also raised concerns and questions with the City’s existing use of force policies and practices within the Police Department.  If we give police officers the authority to take an individual’s life, when they deem it necessary, I believe that it is fair that our officers are held to a  higher level of accountability and subject to additional transparency. This is why I am placing proposition D on the ballot in June to bring more transparency to the actions of our officers.

The Attorney General has unique authority under State law to investigate and seek legal relief if she finds that law enforcement officials have violated an individual’s Constitutional rights. Confidence in our Police Department and its officers is imperative to public safety. I look forward to the Attorney General’s response this request, and I will continue to lead the way in developing policies which increase accountability and transparency in public safety.

Arts activist writes about Mario Woods

Wednesday on 3rd Street

Mario Woods I do not know you but I have so often walked the sidewalks on 3rd Street where you were shot dead on Wednesday. For 25 years I have been teaching the children who walk those sidewalks. The day after you were shot I went to one of the schools where those very children learn and tried to help them make sense of the senselessness that is your death.

Mario Woods I do not know you but I know what your mother means when she says you were getting your life back on track after being incarcerated. I know what it is to watch your beloved wrestle with that cold twisted prison trauma and then try to move on. I did not know you but in this, I was rooting for you.

Mario Woods I did not want to watch the video of your shooting but was reminded of Emmett Till’s mother, who asked us to indeed look into the casket. And so I watched and now my pulse runs fast and I cannot be silent.

Mario Woods the 20 bullets in your body are a high crime, a nauseous rollercoaster flown off the rails at high speed, a cruel American failure, an again and again and again injustice, a violent overthrow of common decency, an escalation of the firing squad’s barbaric death blow.

Mario Woods your death is another human shame, where guns and race and cops collide against the apple pie and emancipation that America is supposed to be and is not.

Jo Kreiter; Flyaway Productions

More about Jo and Flyaway

Bayview’s Legal Eagles

Elizabeth Skow

Last week Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal, a small non-profit that’s run out of a tiny, shared office on Third Street, was awarded $500,000 for earning second place in the prestigious Google Impact Challenge.

That’s great news for our community, considering the grim statistics on access to civil legal services: A slim 33 percent of Americans are able to afford private legal help, according to facts on BHPCL’s website. People with moderate incomes go without needed legal aid 60 percent of the time; those with low incomes 80 percent of the time.

“Bayview Community Legal deserves the Google grant and then some,” said Footprints’ Jeffrey Betcher. “They are trying to fill a gaping hole in our country’s legal system, and are showing some success.  And they represent what is best about Bayview. Our neighborhood is changing fast, but we are still people who care about those in need.”

Often people don’t qualify for legal aid. Little help is available, and it is difficult and complicated to get. So many cases fall through the cracks. BHPCL provides a single access point for everyone and all civil legal matters, regardless of income restraints. Over eighty percent of their clients who use BHPCL earn less than $15,000 annually.

That’s why thirty-year-old Adrian Tirtanadi and Virginia Taylor, 29, Director of Legal Services, both USF Law graduates, founded the organization in 2013. They had a vision of universal free legal aid for all civil matters, regardless of people’s income restraints. They chose Bayview because it was a neighborhood with lower incomes and no existing legal aid facility.

The idea, said Tirtanadi, was to help any community member with a need for legal aid by creating a triage system. Most cases are handled in-house, the rest are steered to other lawyers and legal aid organizations.

“What we have is a group of disparate providers with no coordinating agency,” said Tirtanadi, executive director and co-founder of Bayview Hunters Point Community legal. “It’s like opening a phone book of surgeons with no recommendation, picking one at random and just hoping for the best.”

The organization gets the bulk of their funding from private donations, along with some corporate funding. It is the first legal aid organization that literally helps every Bayview community member who needs civil legal advice.

“We weren’t 100 percent sure this would work, but we had to try it,” Tirtanadi said. The majority of the funding comes from small private donations, with some larger corporate donations as well.

If their recent successes are any indication, they are well on their way to realizing their vision. In two years they have closed 495 cases. The Google grant, to be disbursed over two years, will enable the team to take on about 460 more cases, an increase of about 30 percent.

The most rewarding part of the work is seeing the impact we can have on clients,” Tirtanadi said. “Sometimes the help BHPCL provides changes their lives.”

Mary Booker honored

Mary Booker (holding flowers) with organizers of an event honoring her. Photo: Patricia Winston
Mary Booker (holding flowers) with organizers of an event honoring her. Photo: Patricia Winston

The contributions and accomplishments of one of Bayview’s hardest working change-makers were celebrated at Providence Church and Foundation last month when friends packed the large community room to surprise Mary L. Booker with some well-deserved love.

Mary is a respected writer and performer who over the years has lent her talents to causes she is passionate about, from Civil Rights and social justice to youth development and arts education.  Her plays have been performed by community members at the Bayview Opera House as part of Infinity Productions.  Her voice has lifted and her feet have stomped countless times while speaking her poetry in meeting halls throughout and beyond the neighborhood.

Footprints thanks Mary for a lifetime of community service, for keeping the fires of Bayview’s arts community stoked, and for continuing to make us proud that we can call her “neighbor.”

We also thank her for sending a couple poems along with permission to publish them!  We are honored to share “Holding Signs” and “A Moment of Silence.”

Community responds to vandalism at St. Paul’s

Saint PaulsLast Sunday’s service at St. Paul’s Tabernacle Church in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood focused on the subject of “forgiveness.”  The service was the first of many positive responses to a negative incident that is helping define Bayview itself: a diverse neighborhood that insists on justice in the face of challenges and change.

Neighbors of the church on Oakdale Avenue, who had been anticipating the completion of a renovation to the building, saw police investigators gathered there on Friday after vandals broke in and caused extensive damage.

The vandals broke down doors, spray-painted epithets on the walls in the sanctuary and church office, poured bleach on each of the pews and on the carpet, punched holes into the walls, and shattered two large mirrors.

St. Paul’s Tabernacle is a predominantly black church, and part of a vibrant faith community in Bayview.  As nothing was stolen, police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Supervisor Malia Cohen posted a statement on her Facebook page:

I am disappointed and saddened by the hateful act of vandalism perpetrated last Friday at St. Paul’s Tabernacle Baptist Church on Oakdale Avenue. Hatred and prejudice have no place in our communities and we will not tolerate this behavior.

Members of the local community and broader faith community are responding to the incident:

Tomorrow, a weekly event at Butchertown Gourmet will include a request for donations for the church.

A “work party” at the church is being organized for September 12th at 10am.

A national anti-racism organization has set up a donations campaign.

Police are asking that anyone with information about the incident call their anonymous tip line at 415.575.4444, text a tip to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message, or contact investigators directly at 415.553.1133.

The San Francisco Interfaith Council is collaborating with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Islamic Network Group to offer support to St. Paul’s.

The complaint line is open

Report environmental problemsSometimes it’s okay to complain … especially when it’s about pollution that can affect the health of you and your neighbors.

Bvhp-ivan.org is the place to squawk. Your concerns make it to officials in a position to do something.

The online reporting system is part of the work of BVHP Environmental Justice Response Task Force and Greenaction.  Attend a task force meeting on September 16th or another third Wednesday of each month from 2 to 4pm at the Southeast Community Facility.

Huli Huli suits Bayview

Friendly help at Huli Huli 8-2015 webv
Friendly service at Huli Huli. Photo: Footprints

Huli Huli Hawiian Grill, a vibrant restaurant in a newly refurbished old-world building on Third Street at Hudson Avenue, is a good fit for Bayview.  The prices are moderate, the portions generous, and the service friendly.  The menu is unique without straying too far from staples like specialty burgers and burritos.

All of that seems to suit Huli Huli’s customers just fine, and makes this new eatery a good fit for a neighborhood that still attracts working people, families and youth most … of whom haven’t eaten at a Mission District restaurant for a long time.

And, oh, by the way, the folks at Huli Huli are changing lives.  Now that is what Bayview is all about!

Huli Huli 8-2015 webv
Huli Huli occupies one of Bayview’s precious older buildings. Photo: Footprints

The new business joins the likes of Old Skool Cafe in cooking up food and social mission in the same Third Street pot.

Other Bayview businesses, whether they are nonprofit food businesses or retail enterprises, struggle against the odds to succeed and probably qualify for the social mission category too.

But Huli Huli is taking service to a new level.  The business is part of Project Bayview, a faith-based residential program for locals committed to a new path in life.

“From the staff to the residents,” the organization’s website states, “we are all transformed by the Spirit of God.”  See a great video for more about Project Bayview.

On a recent weekday, the line of customers stretched from Huli Huli’s back counter to its front door, moving quickly. Outside, a group meeting was being held on a beautiful deck area along the south side of the commercial space.

Inside, where window boxes and wood tables give the large well lighted space a warm feel, Project Bayview’s Pastor Shawn Gordon stood ministering to a table of program participants. Behind the counter, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Shedden kept the orders coming in and the food going out.

The people who live, work, study and play in the neighborhood have a new eatery that fits their lifestyles, and one that is helping keep the spirit of Bayview very much alive.

Jeffrey Betcher

 

Gardening to dance, dancing to garden

by Wei Ming Dariotis

The words “garden” and “dance” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but maybe they should be linked more often, if my experience as a gardener with the presence of 14 young dancers on our Quesada Gardens block recently is any example.

During the 4 weeks that the young women were choreographing and then rehearsing their performances, I looked out my window and saw them moving through and around the garden in ways that created spaces that hadn’t previously been significant. Their dances called my attention to parts of the garden that I didn’t really see before.

Before they came I knew who they were because the Quesada Gardens community had been planning for the program and I’d seen the video of their previous visit—and I totally supported them in theory. Yet, my first reaction when I saw them moving through a bed of tomatoes carefully tended by my neighbor, Shane, was to say, “Don’t step on the tomatoes!” They quickly reassured me that they were very aware and respectful of the work we gardeners do in the garden, both by stepping carefully and by working themselves to prune, weed, and clean out trash from the space. It might have been to make their dancing easier and safer, but it also meant they were giving to us and to the garden.

I felt inspired to give in return, and spent a bit more time than I might have otherwise under the summer sun (which we have in abundance in the Bayview!) pruning and weeding and generally trying to tuck everything into shape. I also felt inspired to start a mural on the side of my steps in my driveway, as a kind of artistic call and response. Seeing the girls dance every day—especially the solo taking shape on the stairs right across from my bedroom window—filled me with creative energy. My high school and college dancing days may be mostly over (never say never), but I can still swing around a paintbrush.

My favorite interaction, however, was more direct. Neighbor Jeffrey invited me to participate in the education portion of the girls work, so I got to meet with them for a (too brief!) lesson on feminism, Womanism, and Pinayism related to how we as women experience walking down city streets. I shared my own experiences of being their age growing up in San Francisco, and how I have handled catcalls, for better and worse.  We talked about what those experiences mean, especially for women of color. The girls also analyzed poems I brought them and I realized that they were equally astute intellectually as they were physically impressive. We could have talked for hours. I wish all my neighbors had had the same opportunity to talk with these amazing young women and just gotten to know how smart they are—how brilliant they are.

The day of the performance was so exciting! I had taken the opportunity to invite friends and neighbors over to enjoy barbecued peaches and nectarines from the Alemany Farmers Market, as well as veggie and beef burgers and chicken, of course. We stayed out all day, through both performances, and we met several new neighbors (including the new owner of the castle on Newhall). It was an exciting, community building experience. The dances were just amazing. As often as I had watched them rehearsing, seeing them perform the dances wholeheartedly brought another level of intensity and emotion to the experience.

In the end, as a gardening neighbor, I feel our garden has become a more sacred and beloved space because of the energy brought by the dancers.

A San Franciscan born in Australia, Wei Ming Dariotis teaches Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and is the co-editor, with Laura Kina, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013). She is co-chair of the Quesada Gardens Initiative.

Bayview schools under scrutiny in “The Atlantic”

Even After Neighborhoods Integrate, Many Students Attend ‘Apartheid Schools’ by Kyle Spencer for The Atlantic is a high-profile article about Malcolm X Academy and other Bayview Hunters Point schools.  The article appeared in the July 29th edition of The Atlantic and in the National Journal online.

With windows that look out onto rapidly unfolding gentrification, these schools are struggling to change along with the neighborhood while avoiding the loss of diversity once spurred by federal mandates that are no longer in place.

Many school districts are finding themselves rapidly resegregating once released from federal desegregation orders put in place in the ’70s and ’80s, dipping back to pre-Civil Rights-era segregation numbers. San Francisco was released from its race-based federal desegregation order in 2001, and though it’s tried to promote more integration with a race-neutral school-choice program, it’s gotten mixed results.

A number of Bayview locals are quoted in the article.

For SF School Board Member and Mayor’s Office Education Adviser Hydra Mendoza, the path forward has to include stronger connections between the school system and City government.

For new SF School Board Member Shamann Walton, the call to better integrate public schools creates opportunities to invest in neglected school campuses.

For neighborhood resident and Bayview Association for Youth Executive Director Diane Gray, Willie Brown School would better diversity its population by promoting itself better, both to the larger community and the school’s own community.

See the full article