Mission Community Market Hopes to Revitalize Dormant Street

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Organizers of the nascent Mission Community Market hope to transform an underutilized block of Bartlett Street in the Mission into a thriving weekly market, where vendors sell their goods and kids play in the street after school. As an initial test, the Mission Community Market Collaborative (MCMC) is throwing a block party and fundraiser on Saturday, June 19th, at Bartlett and 22nd Street, both as a way to advertise the idea and to raise money for its implementation.

Jeremy Shaw, who has been organizing the market with the MCMC, hoped the kickoff event would bring enough people out to help the market gain traction. The project is meant to provide a community space and promote economic development.

"The point is to create choice for healthy foods," said Shaw, and "use it as an economic development engine where we create booths and stalls for Mission-based and local emerging businesses."

In addition to partnering with the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), the MCM will work with La Cocina, a non-profit in the Mission that helps street food vendors by offering an industrial kitchen and classes for enrichment. Other partners include Arriba Juntos, Mission Beacon after-school programs, Mission Small Business Association, Mission Merchants Association, Revolution Cafe, Rainbow Grocery, Bi-Rite Market and the San Francisco Great Streets Project, among others.

"The food part is the anchor," said Shaw. "People come to buy food, and that’s how we support these other community programs."

Shaw and other market supporters got a boost yesterday when the Board of Supervisors waived the fees for closing the street for the June 19th fundraiser. Organizers  go before ISCOTT, San Francisco’s street closure permitting body, tomorrow to get approval for two months of weekly streets closures every Thursday, from 4-8 pm. Shaw is hopeful the permits will come through and has been working with the agencies responsible for street closures to improve those chances.

Jeremy_shaw_MCM.jpgMission Community Market organizer Jeremy Shaw surveys the block of Bartlett where the proposed market would operate every Thursday. Photo: Matthew Roth.

The idea for the market came from community meetings in conjunction with the San Francisco Planning Department’s Mission Streetscape Plan, where numerous community members voiced support for developing a market in conjunction with streetscape improvements.

"I think this project can show how a food component and the physical space can go together, said Ilaria Salvadori, a community planner who developed the Mission Streetscape Plan for the Planning Department. Salvadori and Shaw hoped the market would be the first step toward improving the streetscape on the block, which has relatively few curb cuts for a San Francisco block.

"The ultimate goal is to regenerate the area of Bartlett, which is underutilized right now," said Salvadori.

One of the first improvements will be made during the block party fundraiser, said Shaw, when participants will be encouraged to paint a mural designed by the Sirron Norris Gallery on Valencia Street.

"The mural is about providing the opportunity for anyone to come participate," Shaw said. "It’s meant to be an emblem for the possibility for that part of Bartlett."

Shaw has also been working with the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, the Mission Beacon Center and Horace Mann Middle School to develop after-school programs and play streets during the market. Because the block is particularly long and wide, Shaw believes it’s ideal for basketball, soccer or other games in the area not utilized for booths.

The market will also be modeled on the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market, according to Shaw, one of the only markets in San Francisco that is run by the community and not part of a farmer’s market organization. Rather than hold the market on a weekend day, organizers believe the 4-8 pm time slot on Thursdays will help the market stand out and will serve more needs for the Mission community.

The Block Party kick-off for Mission Community Market will be at Bartlett and 22nd Street, Saturday, June 19th, from 10 am – 3 pm.

  • Jeremy is the man.

  • icarus12

    The Mission near Bartlett/22nd St is full of stores offering inexpensive, fresh produce. There are several butchers and fishmongers nearby too. The only thing missing is organic products.

    Unless this open air market offers mostly organic items, it is redundant. It is important to remember that the Mission, Inner Richmond, and Chinatown are well in terms of non-organic food. Other parts of the City much less so.

  • There is also a whole foods across the street from the (expensive) Noe Valley Farmer’s Market. That doesn’t make the NVFM redundant. The Farmer’s Market in Noe is packed for more reasons than the food, that benefit the community.

  • David

    Jeremy, I wish I could go. CP and I will be outa town. Darn.

  • icarus12

    I like the Alemany Farmers Market but I don’t see how it or any other farmers’ market builds community more than other food stores, particularly small neighborhood institutions in the Mission. Knowing your grocers or knowing farmers — it’s all commerce and relationships between customers and sellers. I guess what I’m reacting to is what I perceive as an almost religious reverence given to farmers markets in the U.S. They are outdoor markets — one of the world’s oldest forms of exchange, but they get talked about in exalted terms.

  • HF

    Sure, that particular block may be somewhat ‘underutilized,’ but anyone who wants to do some decent grocery shopping on a Thursday afternoon right around there can hit up Lucca Ravioli, the excellent fish guy and butcher in the Mission Market, and the well-stocked, v. cheap bodega at 23rd and Mission for produce. Not to mention the myriad other food stores that don’t just happen to be my favorites. This community market seems like a good idea in the abstract, but why aren’t more super-local vendors (who stand to lose or gain business depending on how this project is carried out) the “partners” for this project rather than the usual, overpriced, organic suspects like BiRite and Rainbow who aren’t really all that local to this spot? I like organic as much as anyone else but if this Thursday afternoon thing is not going to augur in yumpification it needs to be on the Mission Market price scale, not the BiRite one.

  • Seven

    The east side of the city is full of farmers markets. It would be nice to start seeing farmers markets start in underserved neighborhoods.

    Richmond District, Outer Sunset, Crocker Amazon, etc.

    http://sites.google.com/site/transitionsf/food-group-main-page/san-francisco-farmer-s-markets-map

  • According to Willie Brown on Sunday at the new Ft Mason Farmers Market, he was standing at the first farmer’s market west of Van Ness. Seven, call up Willie and he’ll hook you up with a market.

  • @Seven the completion of the Alemany bike lane to connect to the Alemany farmer’s market would be a big boon for Crocker Amazon

  • By my count there are over 15 farmer’s markets in San Francisco. Check out 8 you might not know about (Castro, Inner Sunset, Fillmore, Stonestown, Kaiser, Mission Bay, Upper Haight, UCSF Parnassus):

    http://www.pcfma.com/markets.php

  • A local produce store does not have a band playing music, for example, or face painting, or balloon animals, or random politcal canvassers, all the things that make a trip to the Noe Valley Farmers market different than going to the store.

  • Moley

    Tao and John,

    Yes, I agree, you can’t have too many farmer’s markets. If the demand isn’t there, they will go away. Otherwise why object to one?

    And although this one is slated for an area that is already well-endowed with food stores (isn’t that large indoor food hall right by there?) quality food nstores have a habit of doing well when they are congregated together. If Valencia Street can thrive “way too many” restaurants then Mission Street can have “way too many” food emporia.

  • @icarus: this market has already begun to build community through the most simple and most often overlooked of steps: conversation. as you say, it’s all about relationships. relationships are being forged by talking to Casa de la Raza residents, to the Mission Market vendors, and yet more in every direction with neighbors, CCSF, restaurants and merchants on 22nd. beyond talk, we have actively engaged community-building organizations in the Mission to have space at the market every week – safe space on a closed street for youth art programs, dance classes, health classes or open play. plus the Mission music and arts communities will have a chance to show all of their amazing contributions to the Mission at the weekly market. there’s a reason we’re a “Community” Market. we chose to run this independently and locally, so that the revenue and management stayed local to the Mission…and yes, outdoor markets are one of the oldest forms of exchange, but somehow this country has forgotten that. we’re trying to bring one back and make it work for this community.

  • @HF: we have been in touch with every grocer or food store nearby, and they are all supportive of the Mission Community Market idea. even Valencia Whole Foods, Lucca and the Mission Market. the Mission Market’s “excellent fish guy” Bob (also, just an excellent guy) has been actively engaged in planning in the last few weeks. The Mission Market is absolutely a partner. And our next round of posters / flyers will show it. They have everything to gain! Many vendors will be staying open late on Market days. The Community Market will showcase the Mission Market and bring a lot of foot traffic there, feet that may have never entered those doors – or even knew they existed!…..Bi-rite, 18 Reasons and Rainbow have made tremendous contributions to this community… Sam’s family has been here for more than 50 years. As members of this community, their history in the Mission and their advisory roles have been invaluable. They and the Mission Community Market are fully aware of the price challenges of farmers’ markets. The MCM is keeping the vendor stalls affordable and encouraging farmers and food vendors to make their prices accessible. All farmers’ markets are also required to use EBT cards. We want this market accessible to all.

  • Melissa

    You know,every time “members of the community” come out to do things in the neighborhood, those of us who live here (on 22nd street, for example) are always the last to know. There were no fliers put in our doors, no people ringing the doorbell to say, “Hi, we’ve formed this amazing collaborative blah blah blah.” If you ask me, that is what’s missing from all of this progressive, excited, thinking. You’ve got the backing of the government, the businesses, the bikers and artists or whomever, but how about those of us who live here, who have to endure the coming change you’re so eager to bring to the “underutilized street”? Folks put in a “parklett” just down the way, and you know what we have now? More drunk people in front of the cafe.

    I’m reacting to the SF activist notion of “community building” – getting endorsements and input from organizations and businesses that are noticable so as to avoid actually building a coalition with *gasp* people who live here. Every day.

    And screw a market. How about taking all of the money you would have spent on permits and building a fund for better eating in public schools? How about taking over what used to be a gas station and making it into a park? How about building community without building capital? How about finding a way to close down the one Bartlett block to traffic without encouraging people to spend money?

    This neighborhood isn’t lacking in innovative business models. It’s lacking in adequately funded schools, inexpensive organic food and parks that aren’t regulated by cops.

    But what do I know? I just live here.

  • My comment is for Melissa –

    Dolores Community Youth Alliance is so happy that Jeremy decided to include us in this initiative. DCYA is working with Edison Charter Academy (on 22nd & Dolores) to provide youth-directed activities at the Mission Community Market on a bi-weekly basis. ECA will provide teachers to direct art, dance, sports, and other kid-based enrichment activities offered at the school. Our first week – this past Thursday – we had a Foursquare Tournament in which both kids and adults participated.
    I think the concept of providing something for kids sets the Mission Community Market apart.
    I can also say from experience that it is sometimes hard to get the immediate community at large engaged – doorhangers cost money, canvassers cost money. You walking out your door and seeing that we are consistently trying to do something inclusive and locally-based costs nothing. Resources are limited but we are going to do the best we can.
    Hopefully Melissa, you’ll come and see us next Thursday and introduce yourself. I think after you see us there for a while – you’ll see that this is a step in the right direction for our community.

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