PNN-TV: Cans Not Condo's - Safeway Closes its Recycling Centers and Declares War on the Poorest

Tiny - Posted on 19 December 2013

Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia- PNN (reprinted from

My hands caressed the edges of the Coors can – it was softer than the 211 can, almost like velvet.  And unlike the Coke, Pepsi, or Sprite cans, they were always empty when I found them. Tonight as I sorted my cans and bottles, one of the many ways this po’ displaced mama has survived through harder times, I prayed for all my brothers and sister poverty workers/ recyclers on the racist, classist streets.

“Cans not Condos, Cans NOT Condos!!! Cans Not Condo-Bill Gandy, Community Housing Partnership organizer

The most recent attack on the already broken and trying to mend backs of us po’ folks in what I am now affectionately calling GentriFUKation City is Safeway’s move to close all of its recycling centers that have been housed in their giant parking lots for years, providing a dire service to elder and disability worker-recyclers and mama, youth, and daddy recyclers just trying to bring in a few extra dollars to survive. (more after the jump)


Safeway reasoning: You only need glance across the street on Market near Church to witness the terra cotta encroachment of Whole Paycheck embedded in the ground floor of a new luxury condo being built, so nervous Safeway management deduces they need to look more bourgeois or die. The sad thing is, like my mama always said, trying to be something you are not will only result in your not being at all. The working-class population who relies on Safeway won’t change, but if Safeway joins the hater minions like Tech monsters Greg Gopman and Peter Shih who think we are all trash, and effectively helps to kick us out, they will just be killing their last grasp on a market-share, displacing their potential customers.

These insane and wrong-headed moves by Safeway follow closely on the heels of the closure of beautiful people-led, truly green HANC (Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council) which prompted me to write a piece I called the new color of gentrification is green. 

What people never understand is, no matter how much they have embraced corporate statehood, or been numb to it and just signed up with the local corporate trash company, pseudo-corporate trash companies do not care about Mama Earth, your trash, bottles or your cans. It is a business for them, just like any other business. Whereas us poor peoples who meticulously sort through your corporate recycling can, trash cans, and waste bins, or the just clean up the streets, actually take pride in our work, actually, separate what is can and what is bottle, what is compost and what is landfill and do it very well. Which is why us Po’ workers and poverty scholars have led an ongoing campaign for years to recognize recyclers as independent contractors.

As a houseless child of a houseless poor, colonized Black/Indian mama, I have little or no regional loyalty. I am just humbly here, in the Bay Area, because this is where mama brought me as a child, and like most poor folks, I cannot afford to be anywhere else. I cannot and would not — like so many of these 21st century tech colonizers and corporate carpet-baggers — move somewhere else even if I could, and with my uninvited presence displace the peoples who are there, creating laws, legislation, and commerce built to displace the peoples of origin.

So I remain, barely, holding on by a thread, post-evicted, post-gentrified, hoping to not get pushed out of the last corner of mold-filled, substandard housing me and my little family live in. I will fight to the end cause that’s how mama raised me and I will, along with my fellow revolutionary poverty scholars at POOR Magazine and the San Francisco BayView, tell the story of poverty, in my own voice, without the filter of middle-class academics, researchers, poltricksters or media-producers. All while trying to find a place that will redeem my CRV.

Please sign the petition to save the recycling centers-


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