Lasting Impressions

My time in this neighborhood has been an extraordinary experience. Along this journey, I have met some of the most interesting characters in my life; each one having contributed to my success in my reporting.

Yes, there were times where I felt like outsider; there were times where I felt I was going nowhere with my stories.

However, that never stopped me from going out and finding someone to talk with. If reporting this semester has taught me anything, it was that practice makes perfect. As I continued to hone my craft, I saw my confidence in my reporting increase. Just as fast as I was thrown into the world of reporting, I was quick to face the challenge head on.

I had my doubts about how far I could go in getting to know the Marina, Pacific Heights and all the areas in between, but I look forward to maintaining the bounds I have formed during the course of the semester, while always looking to make new ones.

So thank you-Marina, Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights-for letting me come into your community and telling your stories. This is not so much of a goodbye, as it is a say ya later.

Star Wars at the Presidio

The Presidio is no stranger to making impressions. It’s marshes, hiking trails and Mark di Suvero exhibits on Crissy Field fascinate and entertain visitors who come everyday to jog, walk their dogs or take a snapshot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

But locals and passers-by might be getting a new addition to the area, as the Presidio Trust is scouting for proposals sure to bring in even more visitors.

The Sports Basement near Crissy Field is set to relocate to another part of the Presidio, and  the Trust hopes to find a project suitable to replace the sports store.

The leading contender for the space so far has been none other than the mind behind the “Star Wars” franchise George Lucas.

Two other finalists–the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy and the Bridge /Sustainability Institute–remain in the running, but with a name like Lucas attached to the project, the Lucas Cultural Art Museum has garnered enough attention to make it the likely winner.

Not only has the project received support from big names such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Jerry Brown and filmmaker Martin Scorsese, but it has also scored an advantage over the other proposals in its funding. Lucas had agreed during a private meeting earlier this year with the

Trust’s board that he would pay for the project out of his own pocket, an estimated $250 million to $300 million. The other proposals are expected to rely on mostly private funds (King, 2013).

While its funding has been secured, there has been a question of exactly what the project would bring to the Presidio culturally. The museum’s website described the project will serve as a public attraction and a testament to innovative art.

“The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum will bring together the most compelling aspects of creativity, scholarship, and state-of-the-art thinking about the role of the visual arts within the larger culture. It will be a museum of objects, but even more it will be a museum of experience, and of the visual stories that have captured the American imagination for more than a century. It is a ground-breaking initiative that will provide the paradigm for museums in the 21st century.”

Scott Brookshire, a sales assistant at the Sports Basement and art student, was optimistic about the future of the store and says that anything that gives back to the community should be welcomed with open arms.

Although he finds the possibility of a “Star Wars” museum to be out of this world, Brookshire hopes that whatever project gets approved by the Trust does more than just take up space near Crissy Field.

“I hope to see community involvement,” Brookshire said. “The Presidio is a really open space, especially this area of Crissy Field. It would be a bummer to have something that’s exclusive to a certain people or group.”

The institution is poised to do just that through education. Aside from displaying his $1 billion collection of art, Lucas has promised the facility will provide a digital arts program for children, where they would be able to learn about moviemaking and special effects (Matier & Ross, 2013).

When asked how does the rest of the Sports Basement crew feel about having to relocate to another part of Crissy Field, Brookshire said they have no outstanding grievances against the notion.

“I think for the most part we’re okay with it. It is what it is and we’re excited to see what happens next.”
Although supporters of the project initially thought the Palace of Fine Arts would be the perfect spot to house Lucas’ vast collection of art, ranging from to props from his “Star Wars” movies, poor piping and costly renovations deemed the building unsuitable to the project’s needs.

David Perry, CEO and founder of his public relations firm David Perry & Associates, has been working closely with Lucas in securing his project with the Trust. In an interview, Perry explained it was the Trust, not Lucas, who insisted the museum–as well as any other project the Trust approves of–be built where the Sports Basement is now.

“We just want people to know that this wasn’t the Lucas Cultural Art Museum saying ‘I want to be in the Presidio Trust,’ it was the Presidio Trust…saying ‘This is where we want an institution like this.’”

Alli Rico, a customer service associate at the Harvard Museum of Natural History working towards a degree in museum studies at Harvard, expressed her thoughts on the project on the Presidio Trust’s online forum. Although many associate the project with work from the “Star Wars” franchise, Rico is excited to see what else Lucas hopes to put on display.

“I think a lot of people are seeing it as a “Star Wars” museum because Lucas is attached to the project, but I am honestly looking forward to seeing all the traditional illustrations he has collected over the years,” Rico said.

While she finds the Lucas museum to be a great addition to the area, Rico says the project will have to make some changes to its design if it expects to feel at home in the Presidio.

“The only issue I am having with the project right now is the same as many people: the physical space Lucas wants to create,” Rico said. “I love Beaux-Arts/Neoclassical architecture, and we have a lot of it here in Boston, but I don’t think it will work in the Presidio.”

In a recent development, the Trust’s Board of Directors decided to give the finalist until January to make revisions to their proposals, according to a Marina Times piece. Lucas is expected to make a number of architectural changes to the design of his project to meet the demands of the Trust. Lucas has said he would take his plans to Chicago if the Trust rejects the project (MarinaTimes, 2013).

Craig Middleton, the executive director of of the Trust, released a statement indicating the status of the proposals and what they wish to see from the leaders spearheading their respective ideas.

“The Trust is pleased to have three compelling projects for the mid-Crissy site,” Middleton said. “Over the course of this process we have listened carefully to the public’s input. Together, we share a common belief that this magnificent site warrants thoughtful consideration, robust public discourse, and ultimately a project worthy of this singular site. We are committed to taking the time to ensure that we select what is best for the Presidio. The Trust has not yet indicated a direction. Once it does, we will enter into a review process under the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. These compliance processes will allow for additional opportunities for public comment.”

If it does decide to approve the Lucas proposal, the Trust hopes to incorporate the other projects in other areas of the Presidio.

Impression of Victorian Tour

If I told you Gough Street in Pacific Heights was named after a local milkman, would you believe me?

Maybe not, but that’s just one of the things you learn going on a Victorian tour in Pacific Heights. From haunted houses to billionaire neighbors, tours of the neighborhood encompasses every aspect of the community’s past, present and future.

This tour in particular was given by Barbara Cannella, a veteran tour guide. Since 1986, Cannella has been a part of City Guides, an organization dedicated to providing free tour guides all around the Bay Area.

At 65, Cannella leads a mixture of tourists and residents on three other tours in San Francisco. Although she spends so much of her time in different parts of San Francisco from time to time, she claims that she does not “really have a favorite.”

Under her guidance, you could learn a thing or two about Pacific Heights you otherwise would have never heard about. Take Lafayette Park, for example. Cannella was quick to point out little details that might escape passers-by.  Unbeknownst to many, including myself, it is actually the highest point in Pacific Heights. A small detail perhaps, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

I don’t want to go into full detail over what you can expect to learn during one of these Victorian tours, but it is without a doubt that Pacific Heights has a colorful history that residents and tourists should take the time to learn.

So if you live in the neighborhood or you’re just visiting, be sure to give the tour a shot. You just might come out a historian.

Information regarding these tours could be found in the link below.

http://sf.funcheap.com/event-series/victorian-walking-tour-pacific-heights/

Off the Grid no longer at Fort Mason Center

You know the saying: all good thing must come to an end? As cliche as it might be, it’s true. In this case, a popular food-inspired gathering will cease to take place in the Marina area for the time being.

Local foodies will have to look elsewhere for gourmet food at the Fort Mason Center, as Off the Grid has wrapped up operations there the until Spring 2014.

Off the Grid drew in large crowds of people to the Fort Mason Center. Every Friday, vendors would park their food trucks in the empty lot and treat hungry customers to various forms of fresh, gourmet delights. The event was designed to cater to the bellies of the Bay Area, all the while supporting small businesses and making communities come together.

It has made great strides since beginning in 2010. It has established 23 markets all around the Bay Area and works with 150 vendors on a weekly basis, according to the organization’s website.

For those of you who still want in on the their yummy edibles, don’t you panic. Off the Grid has scheduled events all around the Bay Area. Wherever there is a stomach aching for delicious Street Food, you can rest assure Off the Grid will be there.