A note to our readers: the names of formerly incarcerated men and their families in this story have been changed to protect their identities.
It’s hard to tell how old William Bennett and his friend John Porter are based on looks. Bennett is about six feet tall, wears a silver ear stud, and has a signature cologne: Gypsy Musk. Porter is a little shorter. He has big eyes, a small gap in his upper teeth, and a huge friendly grin. Both of them have a determined and yet playful air about them. When they show me the kitchen they share with 12 other guys, they start the kind of banter that only two trusted friends can get away with.
The Bay Area is constantly evolving. We've gone from the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley; shifted from boom to bust, and back again. It can feel a little bit like déjà vu. Back in 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst, unemployment in San Francisco was at an all-time low of 3 percent. It’s nearing that again – approaching what economists call "full employment," meaning, statistically anyway, there are jobs for everyone who wants one.
The song you’re hearing now is by Jesse DeNatale from Sonoma. He has organized a benefit show for the Powell–Porrata family of West Marin. The father of the family died early this year and now their pre-school son has cancer, and all proceeds from this event go to the family.