A pedestrian looking at the photos of displaced residents. Photo by Lydia Chávez

The photos hang by wire along the black iron fence that encloses a hole at 22nd and Mission streets that used to be the site of a 105-year-old building. It was destroyed in a January, 2015 fire that displaced more than 60 people.

Images of women, men, young and old look out starkly. They have all lost or are in danger of losing their homes to fires or evictions. The installation started with 60 photos but by Friday afternoon many had already been taken away. It urges viewers to vote no on Propositions P, Q, R and U.

In the pit, demonstrators from Thursday night’s protest also stretched a clothesline across the pit and hung 60 items of clothing to represent those who lost their homes in the fire. In the background is the southern facade of the market-rate Vida apartments.

Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Photo by Lydia Chavez.

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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