The non profit Calle 24 launches a campaign to clean up Mission streets and organize the vendors.
Volunteers took to the streets Saturday morning to pick up trash, paint murals, and play music. The effort marked the campaign launch of Calle Limpia, Corazón Contento, which translates to Clean Street, Happy Heart.
“We want the streets to be clean with our culture,” said Susana Rojas, the executive director of Calle 24, the Latino Cultural District. The District is bound by Potrero, Mission, 22nd, and 27th streets.
Rojas said the pandemic had hit the Mission district’s residents and small businesses hard. Saturday’s event that focused on the trash on 24th and nearby streets was “all about coming together as a community and addressing those issues with love, with dignity and respect.”
Others also noted the deterioration of the streets over the pandemic. “Street conditions in the Mission right now are pretty horrendous, and there’s a lot of reasons for that, so we’re interested in putting together community organizing as well as policy efforts to try to change that,” said Jennifer Ferrigno, a volunteer who works as a legislative aide for District Supervisor Hillary Ronen (who spoke and also volunteered at the event).
Volunteer cleaner Erick Arguello, an advocacy manager for GLIDE and a Mission resident, said he “filled about eight bags.”
“The whole city needs work,” said Arguello. “The city is not what it used to be. It’s not just this neighborhood. It’s all the neighborhoods.”
Rio Schloesser, a muralist who immigrated from Guatemala, contributed to a mural at 3111 24th St. with the goal of introducing non-binary Spanish words. “Spanish is a very gendered language. … it takes more of an effort to speak in a gender-neutral way in Spanish than it does in English.”
They also said, “I think a lot of people will be seeing these words for the first time, and be like, ‘oh what’s that?’ and it’ll be like, ‘I’m non-binary.’”
Nancy Pili Hernandez, a muralist and Mission district resident since 1998, said the effort was a response to the emergency order that Mayor London Breed enacted in the Tenderloin. “That emergency order gave the police privileges that they should not have,” Hernandez said. “We do not want an emergency order in D9.”
The mural that Hernandez worked on with local artist Vanessa Agana is at 3262 24th Street. Hernandez described the mural as “an image of the prophecy that indigenous people have documented throughout this continent for a very, very long time.” The mural uses the eagle, the condor, and the quetzal to represent the North, South, and Central regions.
Rojas said that planning the day-long event was challenging, with mural host businesses dropping out, participants who couldn’t make it after testing positive for Covid-19, and supplies arriving late, “but, like always, we just pull through together and we made it happen.”
Rojas assisted throughout the day and passed out meal vouchers to the volunteer muralists, cleaners, and DJs to redeem at participating local restaurants.
“We just knew we wanted to have a beautiful event, and I think that’s what we have,” said Rojas.