Happy Sunday everyone. Today, we’re travelling to a neighbourhood of San Francisco: The Mission, with our guide, Tam May…
Thank you to Jennifer for having me as a guest blog poster.
Location plays a big role in my writing. I call the San Francisco Bay Area in California home so it’s the primary setting for the stories in my upcoming book, Gnarled Bones and Other Stories . San Francisco is divided into neighborhoods and each has its own unique characteristics. The one I’d like to talk about here is the Mission District, better known as The Mission.
Photo Credit: 18th-century Spanish Colonial Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores) on the left and early 20th-century Spanish Colonial Revival-style parish church on the right, 2004, taken by Robert E. Estremo, Mission District, San Francisco, CA: File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske)/ Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Francisco_de_Asis–Mission_Dolores.JPG / CC BY SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en.
The Mission originally belonged to the Mission de Asis (Mission Dolores), which is how the neighborhood got its name. It’s an area that used to be (and, to some extent, still is) heavily Latino and you can see the beauty and richness of this varied culture on the main arteries that cut through the neighborhood (like Mission, Guerrero, and Dolores streets). Festive shops line Mission Street as well as fresh fruit vendors and luscious produce stands. Latino festivals such as Day of the Dead and Carnival celebrations take place in the Mission rather than more centralized locations like downtown’s Market Street.
Photo Credit: Conjunto Folklórico Panamá América, Carnival parade in San Francisco, 2015, Parade 64, taken May 24, 2015 by Carnival.com Studios: sfmission.com/ Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/aforum/18157427762/sizes/m/ / CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Since the 1990’s, The Mission has become infiltrated with more than just the Latino population, though. The dot.com revolution brought gentrification to many areas of the city and The Mission was no exception. I first visited the area in the mid-1990’s and it was still known as a rather grungy, funky area, not overtly dangerous but not pleasant to walk around in at night either. Ten years later, when I lived in a two-bedroom apartment on 14th Street near Mission Street, the area had changed quite a bit. Many of the older Victorian and Queen Anne houses had been renovated into condominiums and warehouse-like buildings converted into lofts were trending. Upscale coffee houses, wine bars, and restaurants replaced the ma-and-pa establishments to attract the new young urban professional population. This has caused a lot of complaint among the community (and not just the Latino community) in the typical San Francisco “if there’s a protest in there somewhere, we’ll find it” way. Only last year, the New York Times posted this article about the upheaval going on between the locals and the Googlites that had virtually taken over the neighbourhood.
Photo Credit: Mural on the side of the Women’s Building, a community center for women, on 18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero. Taken on March 29. 2015 by Plateaueatplau: Plateaueatplau/ Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Women’s_Building_-_Mural_on_Side_3.JPG / CC BY SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en
But for me, The Mission is still a warm and inviting community with a flavor of funk that has, true, been somewhat softened by the dot com invasion. I love the diversity of people that I see walking the streets, the colorful murals that appear randomly but always with purpose on walls and sides of buildings. I try to capture that warm and festive flavor in my writing when I write about The Mission or a place that is modeled after The Mission.
About Tam May
Tam May was born in Israel but grew up in the United States. She earned her B.A in English before returning to the States. She also has a Master’s degree and worked as an English instructor and EFL teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was 14 and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction that explores emotional realities informed by past experiences, dreams, feelings, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-analysis. She currently lives in Texas but calls the San Francisco Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.
Her first work of fiction, Gnarled Bones and Other Stories is available in paperback now on Amazon. The ebook will be available on January 19, 2017.
For more about Tam May and her works, please visit her website.