Two volunteers for GLIDE set up their booth in preparation for Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, Calif., on June 4, 2023. (Bryan Chavez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Bryan Chavez)
Two volunteers for GLIDE set up their booth in preparation for Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, Calif., on June 4, 2023. (Bryan Chavez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Bryan Chavez

Tenderloin hosts block party to raise awareness for community well-being in San Francisco

Livable City hosted their 15th annual Sunday Streets summer event in partnership with SFMTA, the Department of Public Health and the city and county of San Francisco.

June 6, 2023

Bubbles, music and children’s laughter filled the streets of the Tenderloin during their 15th annual Sunday Streets summer block party on June 6 to encourage community engagement.

Livable City, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, first held the event in 2008 and was inspired by the Ciclovía in Bogotá, Columbia, an event where the city of Bogotá closes down streets to promote cyclist activity and community interaction. Livable City saw the opportunity to turn that idea into its own by using it as inspiration to encourage community engagement in San Francisco neighborhoods.

The executive director of Livable City, Darin Ow-Wing, explained how they managed to reshape and create their version of the Ciclovía and bring it to San Francisco.

“We wanted to do it in a way that allowed people in the community to meet each other and to form deeper bonds,” Wing said. “That becomes an underpinning for how the community creates its own future. That’s best done by having an event focused on the Tenderloin. It’s a day for everyone to just go to the Tenderloin to learn and come here to consider the Tenderloins’ future.”

Livable City’s goal is to promote open spaces and recreational opportunities in neighborhoods most lacking. On May 21, the Bayview Neighborhood hosted Livable City’s block party and more will come in the neighborhoods of Valencia, the Western Addition and Excelsior later this summer.

“When you’ve been in the city for a while, you kind of learn which communities have a history of having the least amount of investment and are the most marginalized,” Wing said. “We ourselves don’t have to do the research. I can go to the Department of Public Health and then work in areas pretty close to them.”

The event took place on Golden Gate Avenue between Hyde and Jones street and blocked off vehicles from entering. Sunday Streets also featured various kid-friendly activities such as Jenga, hula-hoops, basketball and face painting, along with featured booths that stimulated physical and mental help in the community.

Some booths included creating and taking home a potted plant, ways to help SFMTA create safer bike routes, a self-defense booth to teach kids how to protect themselves and Alcoholics Anonymous. Other booths featured volunteer work in the community, such as GLIDE, a nationally recognized center to fight against social injustices in neighborhoods like the Tenderloin.

There were many activities featured, including a dunk tank, which involved the director of the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, Kate Robinson, who was the first to sit and get dunked into a pool of water.

Allison Robinson happily waves a bubble wand during the Tenderloin Sunday Streets block party in San Francisco, Calif., on June 4, 2023. (Bryan Chavez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Bryan Chavez)

“St. Anthony asked me if I would do it and I said sure as long as I can go first,” Robinson said. “I love this neighborhood. I’ve worked here for 14 years and I come to Sunday Streets and bring my daughter every time. I thought it would be fun and it would be an opportunity for my staff members to come and dunk their boss.”

St. Anthony is an organization committed to assisting individuals in need. The organization is located on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin. It has provided many families and individuals with food and clothing along with medical help and assistance in finding employment.

Following Robinson’s session in the tank, multiple public officials attended Sunday Streets and spoke to the Tenderloin community. Speakers such as SFMTA Director Jeff Tumlin, Supervisor Dean Preston and Livable City Executive Director Darin Ow-Wing spoke on the importance of community engagement.

Supervisor Dean Preston speaks in front of the Tenderloin community about the importance of community engagement during Livable City’s 15th annual Sunday Streets summer block party in San Francisco, Calif., on June 4, 2023. (Bryan Chavez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Bryan Chavez)

“These kinds of gatherings of residents are part of what transforms the neighborhood,” Supervisor Preston said. “We don’t need to wait to do these things until some future magical day when all problems are solved. Let’s get to work to make it the Golden Gate Greenway permanently, a car-free and wonderful space.”

For many, this was an opportunity to have their families out in the streets, feel safe and allow their children to roam freely.

Mark Barajas, a father of two daughters, was full of smiles as his daughters enjoyed themselves playing carnival games on a tightrope walk.

“To bring the kids out for a fun event out in the city is amazing. You let them see parts [of the city] that they don’t see,” Barajas said. “Blocking the cars off is a great idea to appreciate peace. It’s good to get people down here for sure, it’s a community effort. Obviously, they’ll make it safe.”

The following Sunday Streets block party is scheduled to take place on July 30 on Valencia Street in the Mission District.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Bryan Chavez
Bryan Chavez, Multimedia Editor
Bryan Chavez (he/him) is a reporter for SF State’s Golden Gate Xpress. He is a senior pursuing a major in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. As a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Bryan aspires to become a beat writer for the Golden State Warriors or any other major league sports team in the region. Beyond his journalistic pursuits, he enjoys engaging in hobbies such as hiking, painting, and building with Legos during his free time.

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