Belonging to/in the Mission

Credit: Maria Doerr

Mission District Mural Tour

During the past week, we had a conversation surrounding one of the most iconic neighborhoods of San Francisco: The Mission District. The area is known for being famous for its beautiful murals and its delicious food sold in many taquerias. Many people enjoy passing through the neighborhood, but few may realize the level of struggle that many of the current residents of the neighborhood are currently going through. Due to the large number of incoming workers, especially those following the riches of the tech boom and the success of Silicon Valley, gentrification has become the norm.

Many residents are being forced out of their long-time homes, while newcomers are pulled into purchasing high cost property. In A Changing Mission, a project by the San Francisco Chronicle, several stories are told from the perspective of those involved in both sides of the issue. While reading the content, I was very impressed with the amount of detail and investigation that went into not only the article but also the website in general. The stories that were shared really made me feel for the people being pushed out, and also it made me reflect on my role as a possible future resident of the area. Would I be pushing people out? Was I ever unintentionally responsible for gentrification?

One line that stood out to me in the article was as follows:

“There have long been questions about who belongs in the Mission — and to whom, exactly, the Mission belongs.”

I think this concept is interesting because when you really think about it, these two questions are very different. As of now, many people would say the Mission should be home to those who have been there first. The ones who have been there for years. The ones that are as of now, being evicted and cast out. They belong.

While I agree with this, I also think the question can be complicated, and I have so many more questions surrounding it. Like, who determines whether you are a “long-time resident”? What criteria would someone have to meet? What timeline is necessary to claim the area your home? 10 years? 25? A century? If one where to look historically, one could claim, that it is actually the Irish and German immigrants who should belong there. Or is it really up to the Ohlone tribe which inhabited the land for thousands of years? If you look at it this way, they faced the ultimate gentrification. But it’s hard. At one point in time, every person in the Mission District was new, and there was always someone who came before them. But if not history is to be looked to, what can? I think the issues that are being seen in the Mission are of a terrible nature, and I would really like to see a more unified community. Change is inevitable, but hopefully, in the case of the Mission, it can be made positive.

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