Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Castro: June 3, 2008

Today, we went to the Castro District of San Francisco (marked with an "A"), 15.3 miles from our neighborhood and completely different from anything we've really seen before. Some of us were uncomfortable to be in such a different place, but there were many people who wanted to talk to us, answer our questions and make us feel welcome.

The Castro: Diversity

By Daniela and Olivia (Ernesto and Amairani were absent)

Yesterday we went to San Francisco to visit The Castro Area. Most of us have never been there before, but we could definitely tell when we stepped into that area. There were many rainbow flags representing the homosexual community. The flags really added a sense of unity in that area, because there were flags everywhere, even at a local Walgreen’s. Before we went to The Castro, we watched a video about it, and we saw the same stores there (Cliff's Variety store). The reason why we feel like that community was united, besides sexual orientation, is because the stores that are located in that area have been there for a longtime. People become familiar with the stores and the people that are working there too, and people feel connected to people and placed they know.

When it comes to diversity, The Castro is not really very diverse -- after all, it is a homosexual community. Although there might be heterosexuals there, it is definitely not the majority of the population. We asked ourselves, “how did it become a homosexual community?” The only thing that came in our minds was that people unite with those that they can relate too, just like the Fruitvale Area, where the majority of the population is Latinos, and in Oakland Chinatown, the majority are Asians. In the Castro, they have established a safe community for homosexuals, so that as they walk down the street holding hands, and people don't look at them weird ot think it's odd. They can be who they are without being judged in this place.

Our group feels like this is not a diverse area, not only in sexual orientation but also in race and gender. While we were at Castro street in San Francisco, we we hardly saw any African Americans or Mexicans. The majority of the population there were white men. Although you did see other races it was not seen as frequently as whites.

When we interviewed people, some of them said that the Castro was diverse because of sexual orientation, and because the Castro was becoming more of a family community. But what we learned when we interviewed the people was that, in their perspective, the Castro is starting to change to have more diversity. By having a family community, they mention that homosexualf amilies with children were moving into that area, which created a better feel to the Castro. On theo ther hand, others claimed that the Castro is primarily an area of men whom are homosexuals.

The Castro: Safety

By Jasmin, Yesenia, Brian and Jessica

In the Castro community people said they felt safe in the daylight morning and afternoon. Some people said they felt safe because there were not a lot of people around in the morning and others said they felt safe because there were people around. In the Castro community, people said some stores have been robbed but it does not happen a lot, like in Oakland. This community is pretty much safe and not too many things happen around there.

When we interviewed people, we asked them how they felt while walking on the streets and a lot of them said they felt safer during the day. We asked them why and they said that it was because people tend to get drunk at night and cause "mayhem". There are a couple bars in the Castro District and there are people who like to go out at night and party. They end up getting drunk and do reckless things. When they walk around at night, they have to "watch their backs" in case a drunk person might do something. There have been cases of robberies and pickpocketing in The Castro.

When we went to the Castro in San Francisco, we interviewed people if they think the police are doing their job. Most of the people told us that they thought the police were doing their job, but when we asked a shopkeeper, he told us that he didn't think that the police were doing thier job: last time he got robbed, he called the police and they took two hours to get to him.

The Castro District in San Francisco seemed like a very nice community to visit. The people that got interviewed there thought that it was a really safe neighborhood. Though some people said that the night clubs and bars made it unsafe at night. But other than that, everyone there thought that it was a really safe neighborhood... but it could also be unsafe depending on what situation you involve yourself in.

The Castro: Aesthetics

By Cinthia, Juven and Claudia

When we went to the Casto district, we were really surprised because there were a lot of different people that we weren't used to seeing in our neighborhood. There were mostly white people, but there were other ethnicities, too. People mostly looked like they had a lot of money to spend on their clothes, and wanted to look good. Also, the might be spending money on gym memberships, or maybe they just walk a lot. There were some people that were't fit, but, mostly, the people looked like the worked out a lot.

Around the streets, things seemed clean and decorated. They also had a lot of colorful rainbow flags, which we had never seen before. At least not that many. They were on every lamp post, and on the fronts of stores.

In the Castro, they have a lot of different stores and they sell different things that Oakland doesn't really have. The landscape was mostly flat with some hilly streets here and there, around San Francisco. There was some view of mountains nearby. The interviewees said that they would like more interesting buildings and architecture added to the Castro. Also, people who worry about the environment think that the landscape needs to be greener.

Outside of our topic, it was interesting that we interviewed six people very easily. Everyone we asked said yes. This was weird to us because they were all saying yes to us and nobody said no. That's never happened to us! Something else that was interesting was that the people we interviewed said that they came to live in the Castro because, there, nobody calls makes fun of them for being gay.

The Castro: Food

By Jackie B., Henry, Laura, (Alejandra)

On our trip to the Castro District we saw a lot of different food. One place that we would recommend to eat if you ever go to the Castro, or are in the San Francisco area is Marcello’s Pizzeria. When one of us went there yesterday, they got a cheese slice and let me tell you…it was so good. Not to mention the price; on slice (depending on what you get) is pretty cheap. We got a slice for $2.95; it sounds like a lot, but the slices are like two in one. And they even have a thin crust (original style) and the thick slices (Sicilian style). We're definitely going there again.

One of us ate at a different pizza place at the Castro (forgot the name of it). The pizza was good, but the workers seemed rude. They look like they do get business; and, well who can blame them? They have good pizza. The workers don't look like they like working there, though. Actually, the kitchen looked dirty. And the oven where they heat up the pizza slices looks dirty. We would recommend going to eat there because the food is good, but then, at the same time, we wouldn't because we don't know the name of it and because it looks unsanitary.

There were also a lot of specialty food and candy stores there, selling little things that were special to the Castro. They had a candy shop called Hot Cookie that sold candy, cookies, and popsicles shaped like body parts. (It was like a banana with chocolate on top of it.) It was a really colorful store: they had colorful pictures of people eating their candy, and red boxer-shorts on the outside of the store with some rainbow strings. There was also a chocolate store where they sold a lot of different chocolates. It was eye-catching and very different than what we see in our neighborhood. From all the paints and colors around, you can tell they have a lot of pride in their street.

The Castro: Health and Accessibiltiy

By Vanessa B., Maria, Beatriz and Miguel

We noticed that the food on offer around the Castro was pretty healthy, and there were a lot of different choices. Most of the food was from restaurants and cafes, and there were hardly any take-outs or fast food places. If fact, we didn’t notice any fast food restaurants around the Castro district (we passed some in the Mission on the way to the Castro, though!).

The people around looked pretty fit and healthy. There were a lot of people running, riding their bikes, and walking quickly around the Castro. We even saw people running up the hilly streets, and lots of people walking dogs.

We interviewed people and we asked them what they do to eat healthy and they said they eat vegetables and organic food, and do a lot of exercise. We were really amazed because people in this district of San Francisco seem to care about their health and fitness. One person told us that San Francisco was nominated as one of the healthiest cities in the USA. In the Castro, we can see that focus on health is there. There are parks and places you can go visit and have fun with your family. Many people were in the park with us later, walking dogs and playing sports or just sitting in the sun and reading a book.

In the Castro district we found out there are several free clinic around the area, but not everyone we asked knew where they were. This shows that maybe those people don't live there, or aren't educated well enough about the clinics. Another person we interviewed said that he goes to a free clinic in that area, and the free clinics have a lot of patients and not enough staff. Others said that they paid health insurance and have their own doctor, but it would be better if there were more of these free clinics around to benefit others who really can't afford health insurance and medication.

The Castro: Economics

By Delilah, Alejandro, Lesley and Vanessa R.

The Castro District of San Francisco is a very good-looking place. It is very clean and colorful, with lots of rainbow flags everywhere and bright colors on the shop fronts. There are also a lot of houses that look like they have been renovated, and money spent on them.

Some of the people we interviewed said that a lot of money has been spent in that part of San Francisco. People invest a lot of money there because they want to keep the neighborhood clean and safe. Most people said that there was mostly middle and upper class people there (people earning a higher income, and often earning two incomes per household). They also said, and we agree, that the stores are kind of expensive there.

The people we spoke to in the Castro District were really nice and were very quick to say yes to an interview. We really liked how the people were not negative towards our group. Some of them really expressed interest in our project and wanted to make sure we had all our questions answered. They were friendly to us, and didn't seem to be afraid of us, or think anything of us coming from Oakland.

There were a lot of different stores in the Castro. Most of them were way out of our price range. One store, where we were interviewing the clerk, had this really pretty jacket, but the store clerk said "your not gonna want it when you see what the price is!" We didn't check the price. He laughed and said that the Castro is an expensive place, maybe because people there are more willing to spend money to look the way they want, and have more money to spend on the things they want. One thing we couldn't help notice was that there were many adult stores there that sell things. There were also a lot of home stores, flower stores and cafes. We have flowers in Oakland, too, but not as expensive.