Thursday, June 24, 2010

a city hall update

here's my latest update for for the LGBTQ Resiliency Project (which explains why i followed normal grammatical restrictions)


Pride & Progress

Summer is here (sort of) and Pride Weekend is upon us once more in our lovely (and frigid) San Francisco. The citywide increase in flags, tourism and overall energy is a delightful reminder that this city values its LGBTQ population as much as the NEN’s LGBTQ Resiliency Project does. However, with this historic 40th anniversary of the Pride Parade comes the reminder that our community’s unity and strength is still not where it could be.

When I last wrote for this blog, things were a little stressful. The project was just getting under way, I was knee deep in my MA thesis, and I was on the hunt for an apartment. I am THRILLED (and relieved) to report that I have finished grad school, found a very charming apartment in the Castro and have gotten this project on the right track. Of course, the project would not be where it is today without the continuous support of our steering committee and the NEN. I am also happy to report that we have recruited Christoph Zepata, a grad student at SFSU, to help continue the project’s progress as well the Institute of Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE) to assist in the administrative necessities.

The project didn’t really take form until we held our first meeting with Rebecca Rolfe, head of the LGBT Center, Amy Brown, Deputy City Administrator & Director of Real Estate, and the rest of our steering committee. To start the meeting, we had asked members to introduce themselves and brief us on what challenges they believed the community currently faced. What we thought would be a brief introduction turned into several heartfelt dialogues that explored the many different problems going on in our community, including care for HIV Positive citizens, support for new parents and the withering of community institutions. Yes, this city has a very forthright and proud LGBTQ with plenty of programs geared towards those in need, but our steering committee confirmed that there is a major problem within the community, and for the first time it isn’t just one palpable issue. It really verified the importance of this project.

Once the steering committee meeting concluded, the next step of the program began- the interview process. I have already met with several people to identify performance gaps, re-leverage vital community assets and generally learn more about each inspiring person’s history within the city. This will probably take some time to get done as there are so many incredible public figures, small business owners and organizations that are vital to San Francisco’s LGBTQ community.

The process is only a few weeks in and already I have learned so much from these key representatives. I noticed right from the start that the responses have been almost polar opposites of one another, showing me that banks, government agencies, non-profits, etc. at times share a limited dialogue with one another about key issues, potentially resulting in capacity gaps for the underprivileged as well as the survival of important clubs and non-profits. It has also been a great experience for me to hear such inspirational stories from people that have devoted their lives to the survival and rights of other community members. I’m getting a better-rounded view of the community while simultaneously learning more about our community’s history within San Francisco.

The part of the interview process that has really been firing me up is when I start to ask about the most at risk members of our community. I’m not even going to try to hide that I have left the interviews with a tear or two as the stories and struggles of the past and present are at times hard to hear. As a 20-something newcomer to the City, I can relate to the others in my generation that comes here only to find incredibly high rents with limited connections to jobs and housing. They are a group that needs help as this continues to be a city that draws in a younger crowd who leave most of the time because they can’t afford to settle. This puts a risk on the future of the community’s population.

Of course, they aren’t the only community members that have been brought up in conversation. Senior citizens are often brought up, as the rest of the community doesn’t give enough support to a historic generation within our population. Our current generation of LGBTQ seniors has limited support from others as they lack family and community inclusion. They possess very valuable histories to our community and their stories should be told as we do our best to support their health and wellness. After all, we wouldn’t be celebrating Pride year after year without their efforts.

Another part of our community that is brought up during the interview are the transgendered youth who often times arrive homeless and in desperate need of help. Society is moving in the right direction for gays and lesbians, but the struggle for tolerance of our transgendered brothers and sisters is taking a little longer, resulting in many displaced members that seek solace here in San Francisco. These are only a few of the groups within our community that appear to lag behind those members that have achieved success and stasis in their lives. This project will hopefully address these capacity gaps within our community, because we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and we have plenty of links that still need support.

As the weekend concludes and another Pride has come and gone, the project will continue to push forward with more help and energy than ever before. The interview process will most likely take up the majority of the summer and into early fall. In the meantime, the NEN and I will be posting portions of the interview that I have videotaped to the website to keep you all in touch with some of our key stakeholders. This gives you the opportunity to get to know some very important people while hearing their perspective on the state of the community. It will be a long process, but I have a strong feeling that by then end of the year I will have not only enough data to make some informed recommendations for the community, but I will also possess a much stronger bond and appreciation for the incredible LGBTQ community of San Francisco.

Love, Loyalty and Happy Pride to All!

Friday, June 18, 2010

a thank you vid and invite

appropriate music for the way i'm feeling at the moment

for the record, aunt eileen and aunt carol got the same card this year.

tomorrow (my strep permitting) ill be hosting a fantastic combo party im calling:

Birthday/Graduation/Housewarming Potluck!

here's the details-

It's My Birthday!
I Got My MA!
Welcome to My Home!
It's a Saturday!
A Lot of Sangria!

All of these are reasons for this celebratory potluck afternoon cookout.

Come on over and enjoy the afternoon with some Motown, short shorts and great food and spirits.

Be sure to bring a meal for others to enjoy, along with any drinks and gifts you may have flying around.

Sangria, cucumber salad, grillables and a grill will be provided. Yes, I know how to cook.

This sounds nice!

thank you all so much for the well wishes!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a memory

i stepped outside on my porch after a nice shower and took in the heat.

it started to smell like club kearney.

i wanted to dive right in.

love and loyalty

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a glorious return!

i have been playing el guincho's 2007 "alegranza" and "folias" for 4 years now because his work is so darn infectious. i can't begin to tell you how many wonderful memories i have had that have been amplified tremendously just because i've had these records playing in the background

here's some available clips!

this one has been played the most. simply joyful.

it's like a block party soundtrack that never gets old. colors and jumping and sangria and dancing and love and smiling and friendships and ending in an eruption of fireworks. at this point i've seen and danced like an idiot in front of him while attempting to confess how his album is like colors and jumping and sangria and dancing and love and smiling and friendships and ending in an eruption of fireworks. at the time he didn't know a lot of english so there was a bit of a barrier in communication... outside of the dancing and shouting loudly about the colors and jumping and sangria and dancing and love and friendships and ending in an eruption of fireworks.

i signed up for a website in early 2008 that tracks how often i listen to songs in my library and since january 2008 i have listened to the 22 available tracks at least 2,469 times.

he has finally put out some new stuff four years later and i am sooooo ready for more colors and jumping and .... you get the picture.

here's an ep he will be releasing before his big full length album coming out in the fall. it's a collection of covers of south american standards.

El Guincho / Piratas de Sudamerica EP by Young Turks

although the warm months wont start in san francisco for a few more weeks, my summer has officially started.

welcome back, pablo!

love and loyalty

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a series of the back of my father's head photos

that's right! my parents came to visit and watch me finish grad school. so naturally i took various photos of the back of my father's head.

these are from a collection called: my dad saw fish at the california academy of sciences.

being the aquarium expert that he is, the usual specimen weren't incredibly impressive.

until he caught a glimpse of these characters

speaking of fish, i was able to bring my parents along to my favorite sushi place, warakubune on church street.

here's a quick clip of what the boats look like -

i don't know who that guy at the end was, but he had my favorite order, the shrimp special roll. i actually am so obsessed with it that i keep an image of it on my phone whenever i feel blue, or hungry.

this is actually pretty cool. some genius was able to sneak a camera onto one of the boats for a ride around the bar. i really can't stop watching the people's varied reactions (and non reactions).

my father, ever the pioneer in experimentation, saw the various colors of my favorite roll and decided it'd be best if he ordered his "cooked" fish instead.

i was, however, "cunning" enough to convince him to try my second favorite roll - the special aspargus.

by "cunning" i of course don't mean "i had two glasses of sapporo light and became abrasive"

and yes, my mother is using a fork. free country.

my father's head at the bay bridge!

my father's head at pier 39 admiring the many sea lions (and hating the many sea lion smells)

and yes, that's the back of my head. it's a father/son thing.

see? it continues all the way to wine tasting over the golden gate in sonoma and napa. don't we look alike?

here's the back of my father's head at the very top of san francisco.

here's the backside of BOTH parents overlooking graffiti alley in the mission district

and of course i had to take them to delores park for an afternoon of wine and cheese, accompanied by this incredible view.

i'm not sure how much rest they got on this vacation, because i also sent them:
to the castro so they could see how clean my apartment is
to the ferry building for fancy foods and wines
to city hall for a political perspective
to hayes valley for high end boutique shopping
to golden gate park for a planetarium show, a rain-forest walk-through and animal exhibit
to the painted ladies for a victorian view
to lombard street for a nauseating drive
to the mission for some counter culture
to cox stadium for my graduation
through haight/ashbury for a contact high
to north beach (twice) for some seriously good italian food
to zeitgeist for hard rock, big benches, grilled everything and backyard beers

and here's a picture i secretly took that brought me back to my parents house. it was at our last stop on the wine tour and only hours before i said a tearful farewell. the reason it means so much is that it reminds me of a particular painting that has been at their house for as long as i can remember. i always thought of it as a very tranquil image and the fact that it came to life was the perfect conclusion to a fantastic trip. their visit was the ultimate highlight of my time in san francisco.

love and loyalty