Friday, January 9, 2009

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Jan 8, 2009

The swearing in of John Avalos as District 11 Supervisor was a great moment for the OMI Community. There has not been a grassroots mobilization in years among the citizens as their was for the election of 2008. Everyone seemed to be so excited about what was happening in the community and that they had selected the right candidate, JOHN AVALOS.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Updates and Disembodied Heads

On October 5th, a day after we'd had over 150 people out walking precincts and ID'ing voters, was the 6th annual Excelsior Festival. The year before, the nascent Avalos for Supervisor campaign organized close to 80 of John's supporters in the neighborhood to turn up, put on a now-classic Avalos 08 t-shirt and spread some D11 love.

This year, we decided to do something a little different. Not only did over 200 people show up to support John's campaign, we gave each of them a hand-made Dia de Los Muertos-themed shirt, our field organizer, Nate Miller who doubles as a youth science educator, brought a mini-petting zoo with snakes, geckos and turtles. There was also a sea of Avalos masks, signs, and balloons.

The Excelsior Festival is a relatively new event, spearheaded by the Excelsior Action Group and various hard-working and dedicated neighborhood leaders. This year there were loads of fun activities for the whole family, music, food, arts and crafts, informational booths from all sorts of neighborhood groups and service providers, a children's play area and even Sumo wrestling! Its a source of pride for our community and every year it gets bigger and better. In my opinion, this was the best yet!

I'll let these amazing photos, courtesy of the brilliant Luke Thomas, speak for themselves. Thanks to everyone who came out.
By the way, even though John didn't fare so well in the Sumo ring, that's not at all an indication of how hard he will fight for us at City Hall!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Just a Kiss Away

In the absence of clear leadership from the City, Excelsior District residents and students are taking to the streets to demand peace and justice for our youth and families.

Three years ago, the Marquez family lost their son and brother, Brian Marquez, murdered at 24th and Alabama in the Mission. Since that time they have been struggling day in and day out an uphill battle to bring the murderer to justice. Last week, the Marquez family unveiled billboard announcing the witness reward of $250,000 for evidence that could lead to the capture of the murderer. While the he is still at large, the billboard represents a triumph and a milestone in their painful journey for peace.

Similarly, June Jordan School for Equity students and their many allies across the city marched on City Hall to demand leadership to end the senseless violence that is plaguing our streets of the Excelsior, Lakeview, Bayview and Mission neighborhoods. Their stand on City Hall was one of the most positive releases of outrage that I have ever witnessed. They sang, drummed and honored the life of a remarkable youth named Joshua Cameron who was senselessly gunned down last week.

On the steps, Joshua's mother and sister called for a revolution in our hearts and unity in our communities. Student leaders demanded accountability and action from City Hall. One by one, they called elected officials to come before the podium to answer the simple question: "What will you do in the next three months to end the violence?"

Rather than pay lip service to the problem or take the SF Chronicle path of scapegoating our immigrant families and youth, the City needs to work hand in hand with our communities' family and youth leaders to create the peace we all yearn for.

Next Saturday, September 20th at 10am at Monroe Elementary School (corner of Excelsior and Madrid, entrance on Madrid), Excelsior District residents will be hosting a community forum to call for solutions to the violence . I'm hoping the forum will lead to more gathering and planning across our community and will foster the kind of leadership that will bring the change we need.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Speaking of great local businesses...

For weeks since we've opened our new office, I've been riding my bike up and down Mission Street, running errands and meeting new people. One of the many things I enjoy about the Excelsior is the myriad of locally-owned businesses that provide invaluable every-day services to the neighborhood.

I love getting the best sandwiches in the City from Sorrento Deli (this is just my opinion, not trying to detract from Roxie or Chick n Coop), fresh bread from Royal, the coffee at both Martha's and Mama Art Cafe and slices of pizza from Joe's. How many neighborhoods can boast having such an abundance of fruit-sellers, offering fresher and less-expensive fruits and vegetables than you'll find at any grocery store in the City? All these establishments are treasures and add to our quality of life. They're also signs of a healthy community. They attract new residents and entice current residents to stay. Its a simple thing that is so easy to forget but we should all take the time to patronize and promote our local shopkeepers. Like John's earlier post about Cornelius Thorne, I'd like to profile another local business owner who makes his living by making us look good.

I've been needing a haircut for some time. Every day I ride past Executive Barber Shop on the corner of Mission and Leo. There's an old-school barber pole out front and always a crew of guys from the area inside getting their hairs snipped by Daniel, the owner since 1987. I figured I had nothing to lose and the steady stream of business was a good enough endorsement for me.

Daniel was kind enough to fit me in without an appointment. He knew exactly how I like my head shaved and trimmed, with very little inquiry. And he is a master with the straight razor, a first for me!

This isn't a review of the man's barbering skills, which are extensive, or the low cost of such a fine service. What struck me most was Daniel's encyclopedic knowledge of the community, his attachment to his home and the pride he takes in his craft. His shop has windows that give a sweeping view of the district and he truly sees it all. There are few places in today's society where a man like Daniel can have a business such as his, that hearkens to a bye-gone era, and still be successful. In modern San Francisco, only in the Excelsior.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hats and History


Want to buy a hat and learn about Black History? Visit Cornelius Thorne, owner of Thorne Hats at 1552 Ocean Ave. Mr. Thorne moved to San Francisco from Texas in 1963. He didn't just learn about Black History, he lived it, having served in the military during integration and taken part in the Civil Rights struggle in San Francisco. Don't let me tell you, though. Pay him a visit and don't forget to check out the great hats that he custom designs.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We've been so busy gathering signatures, I forgot to mention...

that last Saturday, July 19th, we proudly opened the Avalos '08 headquarters to the public!
We had well over 100 District 11 residents from the Ocean View to the Outer Mission join us for coffee, pastries and a chance to meet John and talk to their neighbors. We had activities for the young ones and, this being a grassroots campaign totally dependent upon volunteer labor, put the rest of our guests to work walking precincts to collect the additional signatures we needed to get John on the November ballot without paying a filing fee. Did you hear? We submitted our petitions today with over 1200 valid signatures!

I can't fully express how honored I felt that day, to see so many people representative of the wonderful, diverse communities that make District 11 such a great place to live and raise a family, willing to give up most of their Saturday to come help spread the word about the difference John can make in District 11 and the entire City once we get him elected in November.

We are so lucky to have this space. Its huge (1400 square feet - almost twice as big as John and Karen's house!), is located in the middle of the commercial corridor, and has big inviting windows so passers-by always want to look inside. We are blessed to have a landlord who cares about this district and agrees that John is the best choice in November. A talented local artist, Chris Lux, blessed us with painting two murals depicting his love for District 11, John's message and a belief in the power of "many voices, one community."

We're making the place more inviting everyday. People are bringing us furniture and supplies, we have some comfy couches to rest our weary bones after long days of campaigning, snacks, and a box full of toys for all the children who frequent the office. But don't just take my word for it. Please, stop by anytime! We're at 4802 Mission at Onondaga. You can get here easily on the 14, 14x or 49. Its also close to Balboa Bart. Stop by, we'd love to talk to you.

Over 1000!

I just got a call from the Department of Elections, we went over the 1000 signature threshold to offset the $500 filing fee. Congratulations to us all and thank you to everyone in the community who supported us by knocking on doors and working it for every signature! Onward toward November!