A week of neighborhoods, communities, the Castro, buffalo wings and Lava Mae

What is it about your neighborhoods that we cherish most? What would we find in our ideal neighborhood? What services support our communities? These are just a few of the questions that the Teal and Violet bands are answering with their neighborhoods and community creative project. There are parklets and libraries being designed, town squares being re-envisioned, new neighborhoods being proposed, as well as favorite hills and beaches being modeled. Along with their design responses to the task, they are also exploring the possibilities and capabilities of the Glowforge.

Our exploration of community took us to one neighborhood that is home to a community of people that San Francisco is well known for supporting, the LGBTQ+ community of the Castro. We walked the streets of the Castro listening to the stories of LGBT rights activist and co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Cleve Jones. Cleve helped Harvey Milk get elected when no other openly gay man had succeeded in California. After Milk was killed, Cleve inherited his famous bullhorn and used it to lead some of the most impassioned marches in gay history. That quilt you might have heard of, honoring lives lost to AIDS, that grew large enough to blanket the entire National Mall in Washington DC? Cleve Jones started it.

We expanded our knowledge of Harvey Milk’s and Cleve Jones’ roles in the LGBTQ community of San Francisco, the number of marches held in the Castro, and the messages many of the architectural and design choices are making. These include the large windows of the Twin Peaks Tavern and the LGBT Center, with both spaces making the statement that this is a community that should be and will be seen. We also had the luck of being invited into the Human Rights Campaign Store, which we learned stands in front of the last square of the old Castro sidewalk, containing some of Harvey Milk’s ashes.

We visited the San Francisco LGBT Center whose mission “is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies.” After a presentation of their services and stories of their strong role in the LGBT community, along with a question and answer session, we toured The Center and talked about its architectural design and visibility in the community.

Prior to the walk through the Castro, the Teal and Violet Bands looked at the history and meaning of the rainbow flag, also known as the LGBT or Gay Pride flag. Throughout the walk, each band member took photographs of various elements of the Castro, from building fronts to cars to flowers to signs. Using their photos, everyone created their own rainbow flag, representing each color with imagery made up largely of that color.

Our exploration of iconic foods from different cities took us to Buffalo, New York for some delicious buffalo wings. We discovered that the first plate of wings was served in 1964 at a family-owned establishment in Buffalo called the Anchor Bar. The wings were the brainchild of Teressa Bellissimo, who covered them in her own special sauce and served them with a side of blue cheese and celery because that’s what she had available. We worked together to prepare and the chicken and sauce, as well as slice up the carrots and celery that accompanied the wings. Thankfully no one came close to 2018 Wing Bowl champion Molly Schuyler’s record of eating 501 wings.

Our string of upcoming expert speakers began with Doniece Sandoval, founder and CEO of Lava Mae. Doniece shared her story about how a chance encounter with a homeless woman she acknowledged led her to dream up and make real showers and toilets on wheels to deliver hygiene and restore dignity among homeless in San Francisco. We also learned of her multiple reasons for not seeking government funding. These reasons included being able to tell those who don’t want their tax dollars being used to care for people they believe do not deserve their help, that their money isn’t doing that and as a way to continue to innovate when and how Lava Mae wants without governmental red tape. Doniece was able to recognize a great need in the city and work to make a solution a reality.