Jasmine Conrad is an alumna of the University of San Francisco’s Master of Public Affairs program.
You would have to be from another planet to not see the cranes looming over the heads of San Franciscans and the constant jack-hammering of sidewalks. Chronic scaffolding, evictions and re-routed bus lines are constant reminders of a city in flux, yet how one sees this fluctuation is relative to how long you have been in the city. While those who have been here for decades find the continuous construction a foreign parasite to our fog-filled, forty-nine square miles, there are newcomers who now think of it as what they know of San Francisco: a constantly morphing metropolis.
Who should partake in the conversation leading up to those reconciliations? The simplest answer is: every person who has roots in San Francisco, whether they are fresh and shallow, or old and deep. It is our responsibility to shape the city the way we see it, and we as San Franciscans, new and old, have the power of “yes” and “no.”
As important as the election of the commander-in-chief is, there are local issues that have unprecedented impacts on our day-to-day lives, yet we forget to pay attention to them, and this cycle could not be more important.
About a week ago, I spent 40 dollars to attend an event at SOMArts. I felt alright about my purchase, since there was food and an open bar. More importantly, it was for the Coalition on Homelessness’ Annual Art Auction. Three hours later, I walked out with two pieces of art I could not afford, an anemic checking account and a heart full of love and hope.
While Obama was still a senator, he wrote a book titled the “Audacity of Hope.” Audacity is defined as the boldness, fearlessness, and naïve wonder to believe in something so much that you would give more than you have for something you have no idea what the outcome will be. That’s what the bidding war felt like. As politically-inclined individuals, we must put energy into ideas we have no idea what the outcome will be. However, we do it because we have the audacity to hope for something better. And much like this November, it is a war between opinions, initiatives and lives.
Earlier, it was mentioned how one would have to be from another planet not to notice the cranes looming over our city. It is almost a metaphor for what college feels like: being from another planet, yet still being expected to know everything around you. Some are anxious to change things, but there are so many unsure avenues and vehicles to produce it. One foolproof way to make a direct impact on your life and those around you is to vote. If you are going to spend nine months out of the year here in San Francisco, register to vote. The ballot this November may even shape how your senior year pans out in areas like transportation, housing and my favorite: art.
While that is just step one, the big question is to volunteer directly and engage in issues you want fixed, funded, changed and bettered. Get your hands dirty. Do work. Step up, speak out and support local candidates that make real change. Support measures that have impacts on the city that is your new planet away from home. San Francisco is a strange place, while also being home to all that dwell in its seven-by-seven square miles of concrete, fog and creativity. Don’t be the person who lived on the hill and watched it all fall apart. Register to vote, participate, do the work and San Francisco will love you back.