When I first returned to the SF Bay back in 2008, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but San Francisco. After all, I had moved from NYC, I couldn’t possibly move to the slower paced life of suburbia! However, having grabbed a graduate degree in design and spent a year working in UX in NYC before returning to the bay, I quickly discovered SF wasn’t the mecca for tech and design that I had been hoping for. I managed to pick up work here and there but there wasn’t quite the demand that we now see 5 years later.
In the last 5 years I’ve watched Silicon Valley explode within San Francisco to mixed reactions amongst citizens. Some, like myself, who work in tech really appreciate that we don’t have to commute down the Peninsula for work or that there is even any sort of start up culture here in the city. Others however are very much up in arms about the tech boom within SF as are evidenced by the following headlines:
- San Francisco Tech Boom Brings Jobs and Worries (2012)
- Backlash by the Bay (2013)
- Making San Francisco Accessible to More than the Tech Elite (2013)
- Activists Accuse Tech Companies of Throwing San Francisco Under the Bus (2014)
San Francisco is no stranger to protests and upheaval. A read through the Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot will walk you through a history of this city that I grew up hearing about. A city that was enmeshed in turmoil from the time of the hippies through the 80’s and the gay movement. Reading the book portrays a city who’s strongly idealistic, leans very left, and yet has a heart of gold. Enter then the tech boom where it seems like all these tech “kids” are moving in and don’t have an appreciation for the SF that is, the one that has fought for this open society and you start to understand all the upheaval. However, one company has been quietly giving back in the midst of all the turmoil.
A couple weekends ago I had the opportunity to join AirBnb staff and community to work on cleaning up our fair city. I met with people flown in from around the world at the Palace of the Legion of Honor to go to work cleaning up the gardens around the museum. We threw away trash that had been left on the ground, we added mulch, pulled weeds, wiped clean the playground and left behind a trash free, cleaner park for kids to play in.
Then they fed us. (Even had healthy, gluten free options…)
The menu for gluten free was as follows:
Vegetables and Yuba: grilled broccoli rabe, root vegetables, crispy yuba on greens
Grilled Kale Salad: red onion, friend pumpkin seed vinaigrette
Truffles: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Citrus Cacao Nib
I can’t remember the last time I ate so well on a company. Later that night they had a party and had given us tokens to enjoy local food from the entrepreneurs of the food incubator, La Cocina, which offered options from Thai to Mexican to the Scottish Egg. Was an incredible event to be a part of and definitely showed that AirBnb takes care of it’s people and the community. Perhaps if more start ups and tech giants (Facebook, Google, Twitter…) stepped up and did the same, maybe there would be less animosity towards the tech industry.