Cultural challenges on the globle stage

Editorial – for the Beaux Arts community who remember when…

Elif Safak, is a Turkish author discussing discussing theories about the cultural aspects of violence on France 24. She feels the violence is based on cultural conflicts born out of unmet economic challenges and not so much rooted in religious conflict. I shall leave it up to you to investigate that further.

In San Francisco we are going through a more subtle version of a cultural shift away from art and cultural diversity toward a didactic capitalist Disney Vegas sports arena transient lifestyle. Artists and cultural leaders are fighting to preserve our historical roots and keep our cultural institutions intact and out of the hands of gentrifying developers who want to destroy them. Our goal is preservation of our lifestyles and cultural institutions. Their goal is unlimited personal wealth and power. They want to lease the Palace of Fine Art, one of our most famous historical tourist sites, to a hotel for 55 years, and have already tainted it with a hideous sports label seen here.


The ultimate in crass commercialism on display at the Palace of Fine Arts now.

San Francisco is going through the cultural revolution that destroyed Beaux Arts during the 1980’s. It is also easy to see how the battle is lining up.

Their tools are money, political power, corruption, (for which there are ongoing investigations) forced gentrification and housing density leading to displacement of long-time San Francisco citizens. They are hire young, inexperienced, out-of-state socially primed urban planners from outside to re-design our city. These planners are  promised a piece of the shrinking economic pie. They do not live in San Francisco, have no knowledge of our history, land or communities. The ultimate insult is the PR and lobby machine they use to push their plans at our expense to convince us that we have no choice in how our communities are is developed.

Our goal is to keep our historical roots and the properties that have weathered earthquakes and the strains of time. We are trying to protect San Francisco’s heritage and reputation as a cultural and spiritual center for creative people who revere peace, love and understanding to keep the dream alive.

Our tools are a strong political will that has crossed many social barriers. We know how to use the law to protect ourselves and we have truth on our side. The Bay Area natives are getting restless and preparing to rebel.

The local transit authorities have overplayed the anti-car position by creating one of the worst traffic zones in the nation. You may not be concerned about a new tower going up downtown, but the traffic jam outside your door will get your attention. Irate drivers know who to blame. Add the tent cities filling up the sidewalks all over town by the growing homeless population and you have an uncomfortable populace demanding changes.

Here is how San Francisco got here and why the Mayor barely won the last election.

First they claimed “parking is a privilege not a right”.  Some of us fought them and we won a few battles. Next they told us we don’t need our cars (the ultimate symbol of independence). More people fought back but some folks trusted them and gave up their cars. Now they are coming for our homes, jacking up the rent, Ellis Act evictions, foreclosures, owner buyouts, threats, fires, whatever they can do to grab more land, claiming, “If you can’t afford to live in San Francisco, you shouldn’t live here.” 

Now imagine this happening in the middle East or a trendy European city full of disenchanted youth. Could that be the cultural divide Elif is talking about?




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