Having worked at St. Anthony’s for nearly a month, each day I’ve walked a little part of the Tenderloin going and coming from work. During that time I’ve come to see and meet various a people as well as get to know a little about the neighborhood and even do a little exploring. I knew there was a lot I still didn’t know and probably might never about the neighborhood but I didn’t realize just how little I knew until I met Deleano Seymour. Having lived in the Tenderloin for about 30 years, Deleano knows the neighborhood better than the back of his hand. He also has a deep passion for the neighborhood's history and culture and loves to share it with others. As a way to do this Deleano set up these walking tours a way to help really immerse people into the true Tenderloin. So as a part of the Tech Lab's day away we joined Deleano on one his famous walking tours to get to know the neighborhood a bit better.
Going into the tour all I knew about the Tenderloin was what I had heard and discovered. From friends and relatives I only had warnings about the area. From my walks to and from work, I knew the Tenderloin was a tough place for everyone, but what I didn’t realize is that I hadn’t even begun to know the true heart of the Tenderloin. What Deleano showed me the other day was as you begin to peel back all the stereotypes, the pre-conceived notions and fears around the Tenderloin, what you find is a neighborhood full of history, struggles, hardships, ups, and downs. It’s true the Tenderloin has its problems with crime and drugs, but what is also true is that the Tenderloin has a rich past and a bright future.
As we walked around the neighborhood Deleano pointed out the UN Plaza, the site of numerous protests and rallies, but also the site of the farmers market that brings fresh produce right to the neighborhood. He pointed out the various street art and murals on the wall. Not only did it showcase the variety of people in the Tenderloin but in the art you can see the stories of the past and hope for the future. One of my favorite parts of the tour as an artist was spending a moment looking at the various works of art that transform the walls of the Tenderloin. As we stopped at the corner of Golden Gate and Jones to take in one of the murals, a passerby stopped to join us and as he did said, “look right there…sometimes…if you look real close you can see yourself right there right on the street.”
As we continued on Deleano went on to show us various organizations including St. Anthony’s, Glide, Mercy House, and St. Boniface. We also saw the new community park that’s currently under construction as well as a production group drawing on the experiences of the community for inspiration. It was in all this and so much more that I really saw how much hope Deleano had for the community. It really was a blessing to spend the morning with Deleano and the rest of the TTL getting to learn a little more about the neighborhood we call home at St. Anthony’s.