I have been reading and considering the message of Streetopia for about one month. The book Streetopia provides an account of the exhibition Streetopia held in May 2012 in San Francisco. The exhibition was intended to be a celebration of the radical art and political movements in San Francisco since its founding.
The book considers all aspects of the celebration and exhibition, with hundreds of pictures. It documents the struggle to ensure that the gentrification of the Tenderloin neighbourhood of San Francisco did not destroy the district for the marginalized citizens living there. Many elements of Streetopia, such as the Free Café and Historical Walking Tours and Healing Arts Studio, provided much needed services and benefits for those living in the Tenderloin District. These necessary services reinforced the dignity of those who used them.
Composed of essays by the curators, organizers and even some participants, the book is also a guide for anyone developing their own alternative movement. My favourite essay is Chapter 19, entitled The Gentrification of the Mind, A Talk at Streetopia, May 21, 2012. Written by Sarah Schulman, the essay outlines how the erosion of low-income housing in cities by developers makes cities less and less accessible for most people. Schulman outlines Martin Luther King’s formula for change and recommends using this formula to reverse adverse development in cities.
The final brief chapters outline how various movements have affected change and provide valuable advice for promoting liveable cities.
Streetopia promotes a radical approach to change. It is written by radicals, for radicals and published by a radical publisher, Booklyn. If we had more endeavours like Streetopia, we could truly change the world.