Deafening gunshots rang out just as James Martin arrived home. Troubled by the news of a 17-year-old young man dying in front of his house, he did what anyone would do – actually what most wouldn’t do. He grabbed his portable karaoke machine and stood at the sidewalk memorial erected for the young man and began singing, “Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed, no more backward thinking time for thinking ahead.”
It’s a Tuesday evening in Oakland’s City Hall. A group of people ranging in age from their 20s to 50s are sitting, many in front of their laptops. This is an Open Oakland hacking meeting. Though a lot of jargon is thrown around, some of the people here have no tech backgrounds at all, including Anna Mathai.
You might have heard about CleanPowerSF in the news recently. KCBS reports that, “for nine years, the city has been trying to come up with a renewable energy program where people can buy their power from a provider other than PG&E.”
Nearly every city in the US has a Tenderloin. Here in San Francisco, it’s a neighborhood home to a dozen social service agencies, low-rent residential hotels, or SROs, and thousands of low-income – and-no-income – residents. Premature deaths from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and complications from substance use and abuse mark the lives of many in the Tenderloin. It’s a part of the city known for open drug use. A place many people avoid and one where individual lives can be easily forgotten.