Campfire: Eviction Community Stories

On January, 17, 2014, the “village” gathered around a campfire to hark the horrors of no-fault evictions of lifelong Mission residents and other San Franciscans provoked by rampant real estate speculation in the City.  Fourteen brave storytellers shared their horrific experiences. Below is the resulting documentary film series Campfire: Eviction Community Stories, consisting of a documentary video, and 12 individual evictee mini-clips. Considered together, the evicted storytellers create a haunting picture of the vanishing characters, and therefore, character of San Francisco.

Campfire: Eviction Stories from the Mission District (14 minute documentary)

Three residents of the Mission District of San Francisco: Polo Gonzalez, Sarah Brandt, and Rio Yañez share their on-going stories of eviction. They are lifelong San Franciscans, respectively, a cafe manager, a public school teacher, and an artist. In their narratives they also represent their elders: Ana Gutierrez (Polo’s senior mom), Mary Phillips (Sarah’s 98 year old neighbor), and Rene Yañez and Yolanda Lopez (Rio’s parents and legendary Mission artists). All of them are being Ellis Act evicted from their homes. This short documentary also includes an opening prayer by Catherine Herrera (Ohlone descendant and artist), and a closing prayer by Roberto Hernandez (Mission community organizer and protector of ancestry.) Song “La Mission” by ©2014 Ramon Garcia, Mission-born and -raised musician.

Individual Mini-Clips with Bios:

  • Benito Santiago: Disabled elder, musician & public school teacher, San Franciscan since 1977
  • Patricia Kerman and Tom Rapp: Disabled elder & jack-of-all-trades (San Franciscan since 1970); and musician (San Franciscan since 1988), respectively
  • Sarah Brandt: Public school teacher (with 98 year old Mary Phillips represented), both lifelong San Franciscans
  • Polo Gonzalez: Mission local, café manager (with senior mom Ana Gutierrez represented), both lifelong San Franciscans
  • Rio Yañez: Mission local, artist and art curator (with senior mom Yolanda Lopez; and senior dad Rene Yañez and his partner Cynthia Wallis represented), all lifelong San Franciscans
  • Donna Saffioti-Johnson: Community worker & “hood mamma,” San Franciscan since 1980
  • LisaRuth Elliott: Community historian & breadmaker, San Franciscan since 1996 (housemate at 1668 Page St.)
  • Michael “Med-o” Whitson: Musician & community builder, San Franciscan since 1982 (housemate at 1668 Page St.)
  • Zeph Fishlyn: Artist & activist, radical dyke, San Franciscan since 1988
  • Steven Black: Librarian, San Franciscan since 1984
  • Lauren Montana Swiger: Single mom, musician & activist, lifelong San Franciscan
  • Jason Wallach and Sandy Juarez: Bicycle mechanic & activist, and medical interpreter, respectively; (Oakland evictees)

The documentary series is the result of a community partnership between Shaping San Francisco, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, and Unsettlers: Migrants, Homies, and Mammas in the Mission District. Funded in part by a 2013 CalHumanities Community Stories Grant, Unsettlers was originally hosted as a special project of Shaping San Francisco.

The documentary series was filmed at an event titled “Campfire: Eviction Ghost Stories and Other Housing Horrors”, co-hosted by Adriana Camarena with Unsettlers: Migrants, Homies, and Mammas in the Mission District and Erin McElroy with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project at the Silverstone Cafe (24th Street near Mission Street), 6 -9 p.m.

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