How well do you know your neighborhood? What is its landscape? Who are its people? Where are its hidden gems? Nine months ago I dedicated myself to knowing mine better and today I want to share with you more about that experience.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco is to always have a side project. It’s the mantra of the creative people I meet through events like TYPO San Francisco, as well as something that keeps this magical place moving forward.
I’m always starting side projects, but am always getting distracted as well. I suppose you could argue that lifestyle changes like integrating running and yoga into my weekly routine are side projects, but not creative ones. But I digress. This year I started, and seem to have continued a somewhat creative side project that is keeping me engaged almost daily. Since I’ve actually got a decent body of work going on, I thought I’d share with you.
The #instahaight project (link to my profile since their site doesn’t support hashtag linking) came out of a desire to focus, so perhaps that is why I’ve been personally successful with it. I am certainly not the first person to use Instagram for a side project, but I may be the only person consistently documenting *my* neighborhood, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in 2013.
Committing to a year (and it could end up being more), I felt this would be a better way for me to get to know and love my once-hip, now touristy, but still lived-in neighborhood. It’s been fun scouring its nooks and crannies on my runs, walks with our dogs, trips to the grocery store. Sometimes I catch something ephemeral and unexpected, other times landmarks defining the area for decades. Most importantly, this project encourages me to slow down and pay attention. I notice when new street art pops up, businesses open or close, when sidewalk gardens get destroyed. I’ve noticed my neighbors and actually talked to some of them. I learned that the dog always wearing a new pair of glasses and a sweatshirt is named Backup. I had my hand kissed by a homeless kid named Andy at 8 in the morning. Another homeless man advised me to bleach our Bichon Frise with peroxide so he wouldn’t get dirty in the park (I think we’ll skip that one). I still haven’t talked to Hobo Roger Sterling though (or taken his picture).
Next week I’ll be off the grid at my first Burning Man, but #instahaight will be back in September. In the meantime, I’d love for you to let me know spots you think I should document for the next three months of the project. Leave your comments below!