San Francisco A study trip with students Artevelde UC

Every year we organize a field trip to San Francisco with International Business students from Artevelde University College. In these pages I will try to highlight why we do this. You might think it is obvious that University Colleges do this. In a way it is. San Francisco has so much to offer, it got everything, right. The beaches, the ocean, the nature, the bustling business, the hip culture, from the Beat generation to Mondo 2000; not that our students are aware that there is so much culture. It all happened before they were born. And most of them think we go there because of Silicon Valley, to a certain extend it is of course one of the purposes, but as an organizer I want to bring more. San Francisco is so much more than that and has its own set of problems because of that. Enjoy the ride.

Mural on the corner of McAllister and Larkin

The Tenderloin

Ellis street

When we are in San Francisco with students we stay in The Tenderloin. Why would we do that? First of all, it is inexpensive and they have a very nice Hostel there. The HI City Center Hostel. It is centrally located, everything is in walking distance. As you may know or not know, San Francisco has a lot of homeless people, they are a bit spread in San Francisco, but lots of them are located at The Tenderloin in Ellis street around the corner of Larkin. As I'm a regular visitor of San Francisco I'm not surprised nor alarmed by the homeless anymore because they are always there, but for the students it is big shock. To put it in Trump words, they think it is a hellhole :-). But after staying there for a while, their ideas and thinking is changing. If this happens I think the goal of the trip is already half a success. The neighborhood let students think about their own environment in their own country, the bad, the good and the ugly.

Market Street

The Tenderloin is the underbelly of San Francisco, and nobody wants to live there, but mark my words in 10 years from now, it will be gentrified like the other neighborhoods in San Francisco. Things are slowly changing, whether it is for better or worse is another discussion. Because during the gentrification, the homeless people will need another location to stay, where will they go and who will take care of them. At the moment The Tenderloin offers a lot of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels where people with less means can stay. In addition, there are a lot of social organisations helping out for these people as well. And of course there is Glide which is one of the main organisations that helps people to get a second change.

Glide church

South of Market

South of Market is where everybody wants to be lately. But just like The Tenderloin, this neighbourhood also has been gentrified since the 70's - 80's. Janet Delaney illustrated this very well in her work that has been shown in deYoung Museum. This neighborhood was the home of blue colar workers, artists, families and other citizens. They illustrate the ongoing problem of a city in growth, today, rents are rising high, evictions are part of the daily life for some. Recent articles show the ineaquality of San Francisco, the problems of high tech workers settling down in the city and tech companies alike. Twitter, Airbnb, Yelp, and others are settling down in this area, this is mainly going on since 2011. Salesforce will have the highest highrise in the city soon, shaping a new skyline, viewing from The Embarcadero. Fancy lofts are built mainly to rent through Airbnb, not really as living space but more as short rental opportunities. Fortunate, Airbnb finally complied with new regulations that were demanded by the city. This might help a little to avoid numerous evictions that were happening in the city.

SFMOMA, extended and opened again in 2016.

The Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art

High rises in the Financial District

Art in the Financial District - South of Market

The Marriott Hotel in the background

SOMA is the home of The Yerba Buena Gardens, SFMOMA, The Jewish Contemporary museum, Moscone Center and so forth.

Yerba Buena Center for the arts

This year we visited the Yerba Buena Art Center. As an Art Center, Yerba Buena offers a lot of variety of projects as I learned in my previous visit in November. Apart from the performing arts, films and exhibitions, they really get involved in projects with the purpose of stimulating civic engagement. Using culture to stimulate change. One of their latest projects is Market Street Prototyping Festival. As John Moscone explains Market street is a complex street, going from upscale region to Mid-Market as a problem area (close to The Tenderloin), 5 neighbourhoods on one lane, boulevard, however you may call it. So how can we overcome these big gaps on this main street that runs through San Francisco.

In addition, they collborate to have fresh fruits and vegetables stores instead of all liquor stores in The Tenderloin's low income neighbourhood. It is just something we cannot imagine, not be able to get fresh fruits and vegatables in our neighbourhoods.

The Silicon valley attitude

As we visiting lots of companies and accelerators, students are overwhelmed how everybody is so career driven, and taking risks to start their own company. The whole dynamic of the region is of course populated with intelligent people, some with great visions and stimulate each other in their achievements. Everything is great, amazing and awesome, right. I guess such an environmnet is very stimulating, at least it is for myself, to think a bit further than my own life. Some things are so in your face, that you have to think outside of your own comfort zone. The contrast of the homeless and the Silicon Valley hype is too big of a contrast to not think about it. Letting students present their stream of thoughts in what they want to do in the next five years at Adobe was a good exercise for them and wake up call. They really had to do that in front of employees from Adobe, not being the hardcore users of Adobe products, some did a pretty good job and others were a bit of an embarrassment. But visitng Adobe with its highly talented and motivated employees made them realize they will have to put an extra mile in their studies and thinking to aim a bit higher than that they do now or already do.

What always amazes me that they follow an International Business Management training and most of them never heard of the word accelerator or incubator. And what the hell are business ecosystems ;-), I think on our side, we have some work to do, to at least put them up to date on all these new (well new) business systems that help people to startup their businesses. Some basic vocabulary they need to know.

The Fun Part

While we are there, most of the students spent their time on Union Square, what the hell...., there are so many more neighbourhoods to explore, and luckily some explore them. There is The Mission, one of my favourites, Haight Ashbury, ChinaTown, North Beach and so forth...

Golden Gate Park with its monumental deYoung museum - and this time around it was THE SUMMER OF LOVE EXPERIENCE, a celebration of 50 the anniversary.

Taped at deYoung museum in the experience room :-)

deYoung museum front

The most fun

having a blast at Point Reyes Beach

The Golden Gate Bridge

As a monument of dreams, hope and helas lots of suicides

Golden Gate Bridge, view where a scene of vertigo was shot, you know Hitchcock

The End

So far the experience of the 2017 edition, see you at another Spark moment, a storytelling tool of Adobe.

Hearts of San Francisco (as in I left my heart in San Francisco :-) )

Nothing to add.

Saturday May 12th 2017 was the 50th anniversary for This Song

As a last thought, when I met a friend during our stay in the hostel, she asked me if I was doing an experiment with students ;-) (being in that location :-) ), I said no, maybe next time :-).

Created By
Christel De Maeyer


All photos © Christel De Maeyer

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