As some of my friends are entering a period of change in their lives, many of them are packing up their things and leaving San Francisco. It’s hard for me to see not only people I love move far (ish) away, but that many of them don’t feel the way I do about San Francisco – being that I will stay here forever (if I can).
San Francisco is my home. There is no other city I would rather live in. It makes me happy to feel so strongly about living where I live, but it comes with its challenges.
As I engage further with my community in SF, I become more frustrated with other peoples’ lack of interest in being involved as well. I truly believe that if people invested a little more time and money in this city, everyone, not just the impoverished population, would benefit.
Because SF is such a transient city, and has been for a long time, people see it as a thoroughfare – they’re just passing through as a means to end up somewhere else where they can actually “settle down.” Due to this fact, people don’t want to invest the time and effort to help make the city a better place to live.
For people that only want to be here for 1, 3, or 5 years, they don’t really see the point in making an effort to give back to the community because they don’t see it as “their” community. One problem people always comment about in SF is that it’s very dirty. Most of us see it every day. When you leave your apartment in the morning, just outside your house, there’s probably garbage that someone else left. Traveling down Market Street, you’ll probably see poop – who knows if it’s from a human or animal. In the Marina on Saturday mornings the streets are littered with booze bottles from the night before. No one wants to clean up after other people’s messes.
I truly believe that if people, even those who don’t want to live here FOREVER, were to give back, even a small amount, this city would benefit immensely. I’m a bottom up thinker, which means that I believe the collective small efforts that people take have a larger impact. Not everyone wants to donate their time and get their hands dirty and that’s OK. There are 81237 different organizations and nonprofits in the city and surrounding areas that are doing incredible things. And I don’t want to guilt anyone into doing something they don’t want to do, but I want people to consider that acting small can make a tremendous impact. I think that finding other ways to engage with the community are beneficial – donating to a local clean up nonprofit like Clean City or spending a couple hours planting with Friends of the Urban Forest – we can help beautify this city and hopefully, ultimately, it will encourage others to trash it less.
I think we can all lead by example. Just because you aren’t as attached to San Francisco as I am doesn’t mean you should just be lazy and let others do all the work. And who knows, it may make you feel some type of way. And I really think that this could have a trickle up effect. For each individual that takes action, and makes the city cleaner, for instance, I think that after time, taking an active stance on some of these issues will in effect lead to fewer homeless individuals, fewer bike thefts, and more affordable housing (to name a few). I can’t say it enough, I honestly truly believe it will happen.
I just need help. Will you join me?