Yes on X – Protect the Best of San Francisco

August 24, 2016

SF group gets girls into tech through music, sound engineering

September 28, 2016
Sami Perez of the She’s performs at Dolby Laboratories as part of the concert that Women’s Audio Mission put on with local musicians…

She stood on a stage that was assembled by a team of young women, who set up speakers, rigged up microphones, ran sound checks and connected computers.

In the audience Thursday were members of all-female bands, female sound engineers and officials at Dolby Laboratories. As Terri Winston began to speak, a woman checked the audio levels on an iPad in the front row.

Winston is the executive director of Women’s Audio Mission, a San Francisco nonprofit that uses a recording studio to teach at-risk women and girls how to become audio engineers and sound techs, and provides counseling and job placement for women in the music, radio, film, television and new media industries…

This is the world she lives in. And it is rare. When most of us consume audio media — live at an event or downloaded on our smartphones — it is hardly ever the product of work done exclusively by women.

Just 5 percent of audio engineers are female. Most sound systems — including those using new technology, like virtual- and augmented-reality systems — are created based on the physiology of men…

Women’s Audio Mission wants to change that.

“We’re addressing two issues that we think are linked together: that less than 5 percent of the people shaping and creating all the sounds and messages in our lives are women, and there is a lack of women in (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,” Winston said. “Those two things go together. So when we hear something and think, ‘How does this crazy stuff get on TV, or on the radio?’ The answer is because there are no women at the table.”…

This, Winston said, is one of the most important populations to engage — and one of the hardest.

“The challenge for us is to see because of their lack of access to tech how far behind they are,” she said. “I don’t think people are looking at the amount of underserved girls just in the Bay Area. There’s a whole population of youth that’s being completely left behind.”

About 73 percent of the participants do not have access to a computer or mobile device, the group said.

“The beautiful thing is once we give them access to that technology, they take to it really quickly, and before you know it, they become badasses changing the face of sound in our studio,” Winston said. “But we’re not meeting our demand.”

Winston’s group has a waiting list 300 girls long…

Over the past 13 years, the organization has graduated 7,000 girls. They have gone on to work for many companies, including Pixar, Electronic Arts, Dolby and NPR.

At the concert on Thursday, interns clad in black stood in the full blast of speakers as local all-female bands the She’s and Mariachi Femenil Orgullo Mexicano rocked out before a crowd of about 100 people.

Outside, commuters in business casual jumped as bass and drums pulsed through the glass-walled lobby. Some tried to peer in. Others paused to listen.

They didn’t know it, but they were getting a taste of what female-created audio sounds like. Someday, Winston hopes, it will be less uncommon to hear.

Marissa Lang is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:


I Left Tech When It Sold Its Soul

August 24, 2016

By Nicole Karlis : thebolditalic – excerpt

Five years ago, when I was working in publishing in New York City, I became captivated by an article about the women who were shaping the San Francisco start-up scene. Their job titles were as diverse and exciting as the companies they worked for. Some spent their weeks traveling for work, while others spent days solving interesting problems that no one had ever solved before. The women in these start-ups were coming together to execute the unlikeliest of ideas and truly exhibiting the definition of innovation. Start-ups and apps were popping up all over, most of them — at the time — changing industries for the greater good…

Everyone wants to work for the next start-up that gets acquired by a big tech company. I’d be lying if I said that that wasn’t a big part of it why I was attracted to it. But it was also the feeling I got from creating something new — the opportunity to be myself and let my creativity shine in a professional work environment. It doesn’t seem like that’s an option anymore. Besides that, more companies are creating products without a thoughtful sense of purpose.

We are trying to solve problems with the touch of a screen, which only isolates us further from each other. What we should be doing is thinking of ways to bring each other together.

How about instead of spending millions of dollars to start another food-delivery app, we put that money toward finding a more efficient way to feed the hungry? Instead of creating another type of software that curates content for people who “don’t have time to read,” why not find ways to help impoverished children learn how to read? Innovation is slowly dying in tech because everyone is copying each other and focused on “being in tech,” but the industry is still full of incredibly intelligent and talented people.

Imagine what would happen if we redirected that intelligence and talent? If you make a lot of money in the long run, great — if not, at least you tried to make a positive impact on the world, rather than destroy it with useless distractions. Because that’s exactly what more of these apps and products of start-ups and tech are becoming: distractions. We are trying to solve problems with the touch of a screen, which only isolates us further from each other. What we should be doing is thinking of ways to bring each other together…

What used to be an industry that prided itself on being unique and different has just become another commercialized scene filled with people who are there for the wrong reasons. And that’s why I left. In the long-run, tech didn’t end up being much different from the industries they vowed not to become…(more)

Gentrification heartbreak in San Francisco

August 23, 2016

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Every time I walk up to the Lower Haight, my heart hurts a little. Tucked away on Haight and Fillmore used to be my home — the only place in San Francisco I felt safe. It was the Empire Records-like atmosphere of D-Structure Clothing Company (DSF).

As of May of this year, they had to abandon their store and move everything online. No more art shows, no more PBR shotguns, no more community. I never truly felt the gentrification of this city affected my heart until my favorite place in the world shut down.

I first became acquainted with DSF from an open position on Craigslist. The post read, “Tell me why you want work here, why you are weird and what blogs you read.” I thought to myself, “I am definitely weird,” so I wrote a fabulous cover letter and got an interview.

I had just moved here from Tel Aviv and had no friends in town. I had a job in tech, but I didn’t have a huge team and they were all dudes. So I thought, maybe I would get a retail job somewhere and meet other people. This place that ended up accepting me into their work family.

The Lower Haight was full of eclectic people. It felt like everything was in balance…

It is clear why I am so heartbroken. But even more is how these types of hubs foster creativity and serve as a jumping off point for employees’ careers. Ex-employees now work as professional photographers, musicians, artists at Pixar, teachers at Workshop SF, DJs, tattoo artists and of course, writers. I have not yet found that level of support in any women’s group, meetup or job…

It seems like this story has been told all over the country. It’s just that here, we are actually losing our identity. I know a lot of people who moved here for the eccentricities of San Francisco. The weird fog, the learned people and the awesome food. People moved here for the culture. But with the rise of gentrification in the most artistic places, there is no longer as much room for creative excellence…

All of this begs the question: What came first, businesses closing or creative people leaving San Francisco? It seems like people are leaving for the same reason why the small venues are closing — the rent and cost of living is astronomical. As more and more creatives leave, it may cause these places to close. It is really all about money.

Unfortunately, economics is such a powerful force that these awesome places may not be able to survive. Superior service, great products, atmosphere, as well as a compelling value proposition has to win out. In that way, these very cool places that are no longer around, are really not much different than a tech start-up. The customer ultimately chooses what lives and what dies… (more)

Artists appreciate a writer who understands the role a creative community and environment plays in the work and lives of artists. We thrive in the company of other artists much as tech workers do, though our goals are generally more expressive than financially motivated. Society relies on us to provide the spice, and, what the corporate world describes as content they sell. Kill us off and you have nothing but re-runs.
The turn of the century dot-com boom cleared out the musicians and clubs around SOMA. Hundreds of people lost their rehearsal studios and many left for Southern California, Nashville and the Southwest, where they still welcome artists and some actually earn a living.
The community of artists struggling to stay have done the unthinkable and organized with affordable housing people and small businesses and non-profits to put a ballot initiative ordinance on the November ballot to protect more of our work space from the greed that is trying to eliminate us.
If you want to protect the arts in SF, support Yes on X. Details here: https://discoveryink.wordpress/..

Dogpatch Business Association Debuts

August 15, 2016

by potreroview – excerpt

In May, Mark Dwight, founder and chief executive officer of Rickshaw Bagworks, a messenger and laptop bag, sack and sleeve manufacturer on 22nd Street, launched the Dogpatch Business Association (DBA), a nonprofit collection of enterprises located in Dogpatch and Pier 70. DBA will serve as a networking platform for companies, promote neighborhood businesses, and represent the collective interests of the commercial sector in interactions with City government, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and other neighborhood business and merchant associations.

Dwight is recruiting businesses within the boundaries of Mariposa Street to the north, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, Pennsylvania Street to the west, and Pier 70 to the east. Dogpatch companies have historically been able to join the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA), an alliance of establishments located in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill.

According to Dwight, Dogpatch has gained enough businesses with unique concerns to merit a separate organization.  “Dogpatch has been sort of underrepresented in PDMA. I saw an opportunity that we had achieved critical mass. I really feel the time is right to have our own business association down in the flats,” he said.

Keith Goldstein, PDMA president, said he thought the split was a natural progression for Dogpatch.  “There’s so many businesses opening up there. For years, PDMA was just the Potrero Hill Merchants Association. About eight or nine years ago, we changed our name to include Dogpatch. Now they have their own designation and rightfully so,” said Goldstein.

Dwight serves on the San Francisco Chamber’s board of directors.  He’s president of the San Francisco Small Business Commission, which consists of seven people, four appointed by the Mayor and three by the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the City’s Office of Small Business (OSB), an information and referral source for companies. Dwight said Dogpatch isn’t a standard neighborhood to represent, lacking a main retail corridor or substantial street parking to accommodate customers.

DBA membership is open to all businesses, not only retailers, including firms that don’t have a storefront, such as biotech companies. “Traditionally, small businesses are locally-owned and independent,” said Dwight. “They are deeply rooted in the community in which they exist. Companies like biotech firms are often less deeply rooted and need to be flexible and nimble. We have totally different modes of operation and very different interests. To the extent that a venture-backed company wants to be part of the community for as long as they’re here, that’s great. We want to make membership easy.”… (more)

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Terry Helbling’s Tenderloin Flat Full of $200K in Stolen Art

August 1, 2016

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

This is a really bizarre story that appears to be from 2011. It is weird, non-the-less. Read it and find out just how weird. The art is strangely reminiscent of the Beaux Arts collection. The way the pieces are arranged on the walls and everywhere else. View a slideshow of all the stolen art here.

Queried about his client, Terry Helbling, attorney Kenneth Quigley rhapsodizes an artful response: “Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them, and psychiatrists earn the rent. Terry lived in a castle in the sky for a long time.” Today, he will crash to earth.

It goes down on a hazy late January afternoon, when Helbling waddles into a San Francisco courtroom. While he may be the city’s most notorious art thief, the Tenderloin resident will never be mistaken for Thomas Crown. Helbling, 53, is short and balding with a dusting of a white beard. His posture is stooped, and he shambles in his oversize orange jumpsuit. Also, he has an affinity for cramming things into his ears; Quigley, his court-appointed counsel, curtly yanks out the wads of balled-up tissue like an impatient mother and drops them into Helbling’s shackled hands… (more)


Op-Ed: Artists have been ousted but Point Alameda awaits to fill a need

July 14, 2016

By Jonathan Farrell : digitaljournal – excerpt

San Francisco – As the cast and crew of “The Soiled Dove” make preparations for this weekend’s two-day extravaganza event, they are one among many who have displaced by the dramatic redevelopment of San Francisco’s Mission District…

“The Soiled Dove” now has a new home at Point Alameda just across the Bay from where they had been in San Francisco’s Mission District along Bryant Street.

Courtesy of “The Soiled Dove” and the Vau de Vire Society productions company…

Native San Francisco artist Cynthia Tom knows this all too well. She has lived in many areas of the City growing up. But for more than 22 years she made The Mission her home; especially the 1890 Bryant Street Studio and artists collective.

“It is a travesty,” she told this reporter. “That area (where ‘The Soiled Dove’ had been held) was one of those massive spaces where you could incubate just about anything and invite an audience.” Cynthia as a surrealist artist has grown both artistically and professionally, as well as personally over the years. Her talents and skills include event planning for her one-of-a-kind art installations, curating historical exhibits, counseling with a focus on healing and music. “My band, ‘Manicato’ even did some recording there at one time,” she said.

“1890 Bryant, the building I am in is highly affected by all this gentrification. We are 2 blocks away (from where ‘The Soiled Dove’ used to be). Our parking is slowly being taken away and I mean removed,” she said. For her to talk about it struck a nerve and then a list of spilled over.

“All bikes only, no parking all along 17th Street. 1 to 2 hour parking limits, so non-residential,” she said. 1890 Bryant, where I am is in, is an industrial versus residential area, eventhough parking is permittable for residential customers only. No one can park for long. Artists need vehicles to move our stuff around and there is no parking sometimes at all. They just built two large condos on Potrero Street and purposefully didn’t put in parking for every condo because they (the Planning Dept.) want to attract non-car residents.” For Cynthia and others like the artistic community she shares 1890 Bryant with, all this drastic ‘gentrification’ makes no sense.

“Basically the City is making it impossible to be a creative business,” Cynthia said, “Which is one of the reasons people come to the City. Taking the bus and biking is cool if you don’t have to transport large objects daily or if you rely on clients driving into town to buy your work and needing a way to get it home.”

“Space for creative businesses is disappearing with the snap of a finger,” she said. “Eventually San Francisco, it will be all restaurants and bars all too soon. But nowhere to visit after your meal.” This makes little sense to Cynthia and to the local artists that have thrived here for decades. “I guess you can stand in the street and admire all the condos,” she said…(more)