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July 25, 2019

Monica Berini

Crocker Amazon

27 years in SF

0:00 / 23:12

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Counterculture / Subculture

San Francisco has always been encouraging or at least welcoming of alternatives to mainstream culture.  San Francisco doesn’t

look like what America looks like on TV. It’s not sort of white middle class, sort of nine to five. Dad works, heterosexual family, nuclear family. San Francisco has been an immigrant city. It's been a city that the hippie movement sort of took over and was welcoming to politics that were counter to war.

Music or art has

always thrived here.

Lesbian, gay,

queer culture

A laziness in a positive way

San Francisco is not as fast paced as New York City. You don’t

have to wear suits. You would only see people in suits in the financial district. It was almost funny. Anyone on the bus or train

in a suit, you knew where they worked. Even in the financial

district, they might even be more relaxed.

There was just a slowness, a sense of you didn’t have to work that hard. You could do your hobby, you could do things that weren’t for money. I think San Francisco was a place you could do things for love. You could spend your time doing what you love with people that had similar interests. I think that was a big part of San Francisco. You could be as weird as you want.

Labor unions

There has always been a strong union movement in San Francisco, maritime workers, longshoremen, hotel workers, things like that. So there’s a strong sense of pride and work protections.


The fog and the coldness

They do contribute to some of the feeling of the city. It’s a cold

city. It’s may not be a city that you can wear a cute little dress out. 


The neighborhoods in San Francisco are sometimes identified with immigration patterns. The Sunset is Irish and the Mission is Mexican and Central American, North Beach and Crocker Amazon are Italian. Chinatown is old-school Chinese late 1800s. Daly City is little Manila, there's a big Filipino community. There’s the Tongan, Hawaiian, and Samoan community. And there is a Cambodian community in the Tenderloin. These are neighborhoods defined by migration and immigration. There are also neighborhoods that have been defined by counterculture. Haight Ashbury and the hippies, North Beach with some musical subcultures like punk rock.


I think the diversity is a defining characteristic of San Francisco. It is also one of the non-white majority cities in this country.

Giving legacy businesses

a chance to stay

We have a lot of vacant storefronts in San Francisco. And people who own the buildings just don’t want to rent because they want to wait till they can get a lot more money. So maybe preserving could be getting businesses into those spaces that have been around for a while. Also, think about where you spend your dollars. Support local businesses that have been in your neighborhood for a while, not chains.

Use public


Using public transportation is one way to meet your neighbors, don’t use Uber and Lyft. Getting on a bus and standing at a bus stop, rather than just getting driven from your home to your work.


Volunteering in a local space is a way to get to know people

who don’t just work in their industry and socialize with them, like firefighters, teachers, or stay-at-home parents, like those who

are not necessarily working in the same industry.

Make sure nobody has been

evicted from the place you move to

If you move to a new place within the city, make sure that nobody’s been evicted from there, and don’t move to places where people have been evicted. Don’t buy or move to these places.

I know most people won’t do that because they just want to move, but I think we have to have some solidarity around that.

Remember San Francisco isn’t just a city to work in. It’s a city to engage in, to wander around, and get lost a little bit, to take time off. 

I know it’s expensive and if you’ve just moved here, it’s hard to

not work all the time and think about money. This is a great city to get lost. Walk around and get lost.

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