Photo: SRO fire escape. SoMa, SF, 2010.
By Rian Dundon
Editor’s note: We asked photographer Rian Dundon to put a face on the displacement that is roiling San Francisco. His photo essay focuses on the city, but also on surrounding areas like Oakland, San Jose, and even Santa Cruz because, as he noted: these issues spill out. “Especially if you’re talking about inequality, geographically, you have to look at if people are being kicked out of San Francisco, where are they ending up?” He told us that he approached the assignment not as a journalist but from “a more ambiguous space in photography—to find the power of what can be suggested more than literally described.”
He added: “This idea of ‘what’s the matter with San Francisco’ can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I wanted to touch on some of the major broader themes of housing and transportation, but I wanted to do it in a way that is less direct, while also acknowledging the fact that in some ways nothing is the matter. It’s still a diverse, dynamic, incredibly interesting place to be, to live, to work. For a lot of people, the majority of people, our day to day lives are not infiltrated by Google buses, tech shuttles, or techies. That’s a minor thing in a lot of people’s lives as opposed to how’s it’s blown up in the media.”
“We out here” is a slang term that originated among skateboarders in San Francisco, where it referred to the hard work of constant practice in the cityscape, but it has since evolved and spread. Now it refers more to living in the moment, making the most of what you have and maintaining a sense of solidarity within a community. Whatever we have, whoever we are, we’re all working hard, striving and surviving “out here” at the edge of the new world.