As a way to look back on the year that was, we asked our staffers and some of our past contributors what their favorite stories were from 2014. It’s not necessarily our most read stories or even the most important ones, but the ones at year’s end that stick in ours mind for whatever reason. So, if you’ll indulge us a moment to toot our own horns, here’s a rundown of our favorite stories from 2014:
Lydia Chavez (Editor-in-Chief):
Kings of Cricket: Chefs One Day at Bat the Next: This spoke to so many things—friendships in a foreign place and how we humans make ties, how we in the Mission are connected to places far away in South Asia and how the embrace of friendship is universal. The piece is beautifully executed. I’ve watched it several times and it still moves me.
Mission Nights with Daniel Mondragón: This went up at the end of the year (actually, yesterday) but when it came in, I thought that Daniel caught a Mission at night that escapes many of us because we don’t relate to what is going on around us in the same way. In many instances, he engages with the person in the photograph or is at an event where he is present as a participant. The captions underscore his exuberance and love for the Mission
Laura Wenus (Multimedia Reporter):
Popeye’s Tuesday Special: Meat on the Bone, Philosophy in the Booths: This is such a great snapshot of Mission characters, almost in spite of the fact that the snapshot is taken inside a bland, corporate chain restaurant. Interesting people and conversation isn’t just found in hip, independent cafes, it happens anywhere people gather.
Kings of Cricket (see above): We tend to focus (for good reason, I think) on the struggles of service industry workers. But here, we get to see people who work hard when they’re relaxed, enjoying themselves, at play. It’s a nice shift in perspective.
Alison LeRoy (Business Manager)
Nieto Died from at least 10 Bullets from SFPD: Not necessarily my “favorite,” but one it was one that most affected me. As Dan read the Medical Examiner’s report, he drew a body outline on a piece of paper, then lines and arrows representing the direction of the bullets that hit him. After reading this article, I quickly caught up on past coverage. In the three months since, when I see Alex Nieto’s face on a poster in the neighborhood, protest sign, or hear his family and friends speaking at a rally—I think of that small piece of paper with an outline and arrows. Fourteen holes, ten bullets, three directions.
The Kids Who Came to City Hall: This was my favorite of the Soccer Saga. My son and I treasure the Mission Playground—full of tot diversity. We always take time to watch the big kids play pick-up on the field. I love the video with Hector Gomez and Gregory Garcia at City Hall sharing that they became friends on the field after not getting along in middle school. I hope all the kids feel pride in their actions and in new sign on the fence that says: Welcome to Mission Playground Open Pick-Up Play Only.
Andrea Valencia (Reporter, Translator):
What Happens in Mexico, Lives in the Mission: I liked this story of the protest about the Mission students in Mexico, because Lydia framed it as an artistic protest, and that somehow got the attention of people and they commented. I think sometimes people don’t quite pay attention to international events or they don’t care about them on our site, but the fact that she cited this as ‘art’ enraged everyone and once again proved that art works! They will get the message across without you knowing!
Popeyes (see above): I think I want to nominate the Popeyes story because I have succumbed to the Tuesdays special and the characters there are really priceless. But they are not just characters, they are real people. So, Tanya’s story really gets that across.
Lauren Smiley (Former Guest Editor):
The Master Tenant Who Duped His Subtenants: I loved Andrea’s muckrake about a master tenant who allegedly overcharged his building’s subtenants. Hyperlocal journalism walks a difficult line when you live among the people you’re writing about—but I thought Andrea did a great job of neither demonizing a well-known Missionite nor letting him off easy.
How T-Mobile Evaded Chain Store Law for Four Years: A big round of applause for Rigoberto Hernandez’s deep dive on how the giant T-Mobile store on Mission evaded city chain store law for years. Only a reporter following the developments in the neighborhood with a microscope would have caught this. (Disclaimer: I edited this story. Call me biased.)
R-Rated and Ephemeral: Spinning LGBT History: “‘I went to the Castro, and all I got was this rainbow crosswalk.’” Love it. Dan’s piece on what is lost in the historical preservation of once-raucous LGBT spaces was so smart and of-the-moment. He took on the Disneyfication that’s happening all over this once countercultural city—reporting the debate deeply and adding incisive insight that only an editor who moonlighted as an extra on Looking could.
Keli Dailey (Former Guest Editor):
Street Death of Homeless Man: The honesty and accountability of this story really stood out for me. It’s a column piece, made by a contributor, that really marks the passing of one human being. Usually stories are about massacres—and this column shrunk the importance of mass death, and made it about a single death. And most importantly for me, it gave me a call to action: if I see someone who doesn’t look well, it is my responsibility to ask if they’re ok, to do something.
Andra Cernavskis (Reporter):
Rising Costs Hit Teachers Hard: This story highlights an issue that is a lot more serious than many people may realize. San Francisco needs good teachers to want to come and teach here, but the high cost of living and comparatively low pay are causing current teachers to consider leaving or new teachers to avoid the city at the start of their careers. This particular story highlights the issue fairly and points out that teachers can even expect to be paid more right across the Bay in Oakland.
On Mission in the Mission: Meet the Mormons: This is a fun look into the lives and work of a very small but dedicated group in the Mission. The two Elders are the type people we see all the time in the Mission but don’t bother to find out more about who they are and why they do what they do. In fact, it’s more likely than not that most of us try to avoid them completely. This story does a good job at providing a brief window into the lives of two people who are part of the very diverse population that exists in the Mission.
Daniel Hirsch (Assistant Editor):
Women Fed Up With Assaults Fight Back, Speak Out: Laura got a lot of women who had been through something really traumatic to open up about their experience, their rage, and their fear. It’s a conversation well worth having and I think this story helped foster a national dialogue about sexual assault at a local level in the Mission.
The Mission Wakes Up: I was hugely skeptical of this project when Lydia first proposed it. Would anyone actually get up early to do this? Would there be any good photo? But over the weeks, our early morning photo series has developed a small following and a veritable army of volunteers to get up and snap shots. In aggregate, it’s a lovely portrait of the neighborhood in the early hours. And it’s not to late to sign up for a block!