The SF Postcard Project encourages community connection through storytelling exchange.
Participants in marginalized communities fill out the postcard with a personal story of their community and then the postcard is mailed to a random San Francisco resident to initiate stronger connections between people and communities.
While I was working for the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation, I had the opportunity to work with youth in the marginalized Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. Bayview is tucked into an isolated Southeast corner of San Francisco. Most San Franciscans don’t have a reason to go there. They only know what they see on the news — violence, drugs, and poverty. But, there is much more to these communities — stories that the larger population never sees or hears about.
The youth I worked with wanted to tell these stories to the rest of the city. They wanted to change people’s perception of Bayview and they wanted to attract people to the positive stories and places in Bayview. Perception and behavior change are not easy things to change, so I set out to find a simple way to encourage others to start thinking about Bayview.
Even in the small first batch of 15 postcards, there is proof that this works. One person sent me a response saying of the author of their postcard: “We would love to write him back and potentially visit Bayview or have him over for dinner at our house.” A simple postcard can create a strong connection. These connections build stronger communities.
This project also gives value to Bayview residents, allowing them an outlet to tell their story and to take pride in the positive stories in their community.
The SF Postcard Project solves the problem of people’s perceptions of marginalized communities forming from single media sources. All they see on the news is the violence, drugs, and poverty. But, there are many positive stories that exist in these communities. Stories that need to be heard.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (May 2013)