By Melissa Eisenberg : 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/..