Green Gentrification- The HANC eviction

Tiny - Posted on 28 December 2010

Green waste-bins, green grass, green bottles, green jobs, green futures, green gentrification?  As I walked past the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood recycling center (HANC), I noticed there were multi-colored micro-business people carefully recycling their multi-colored bottles and cans into bright green recycling bins debris boxes. They were green like everyone’s elses’ recycling bins, but somehow the HANC bins weren’t green enough to fight the lies of green nimby-ism, green displacement, green classism and yes, even, green racism, from an onslaught of hate from housed members of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood and beyond who want to get rid of the truly green center of activism and micro-business that is HANC


In 1999, POOR Magazine released Volume 3 of the hard copy version of our magazine

(when we still had funding to publish a paper issue) It was entitled simply: WORK  and we focused on unrecognized work and workers engaged in low and no wage work and micro-business like recycling, street vending, panhandling, mothering, sex-work, workfare, day labor and prison labor.


This was an extremely controversial issue of POOR Magazine because people get very angry at the idea of panhandlers and recyclers who don’t work for corporate trash companies ( sunset scavenger, etc) and corporate solicitors (politicians, PACS and sales=people who practice so-called “legal” panhandling) being workers or micro-business people at all. We surveyed over 300 workers engaged in thousands of different industries from corporate to non-profit to underground business folk and discovered  what we already knew and few fail to recognize, there was  little difference in the schedules, workloads, hours, breaks and focus of a full-time recylcler and a corner store-owner,  of a street newspaper  vendor and a full-time restaurant worker. Our main finding, workers and business-people are those that work hard and long and take pride in their workmanship and business, just like the workers and micro-business people at HANC.


CW Nevius from the SF Chronicle  has written what equates to a multi-year hate campaign against the workers at HANC and houseless folks in general by publishing columns filled with an endless stream of stereotypes and hypocracies about people without a roof who live and work near the park versus the peaceful yuppies and hipsters who live and work near the park.


He paints the houseless residents of the Haight district as dirty, lazy and aggressive even going so far as to equate houseless folks with the coyotes in Golden Gate park, versus his characteristic of the “peaceful” hipsters who sit in the park at concerts, picnics, parties, bars, and events, who recycle in the “right” way,  never litter, get drunk, or act aggressive. Unfortunately the main difference between these two communities is one is constantly spoken for in the corporate news and the other ones never get access to a voice in the SF Chronicle or any corporate media channels,


So as we march towards the implementation of the newly voted in civil sidewalks law which not only criminalizes public space but metes out a clearly defined attack on people in poverty sitting and standing in public spaces and differently privileges those who don’t’ look houseless or poor sitting and standing in public spaces, coupled with an eviction notice served  on the HANC folks to make way for a “community garden” I wonder how did gentrification, removal, hate and racism suddenly get cloaked in green? And why can’t  people see that offering poor people a community centered space to redeem their recyclables, while working to clean mother earth, is one of the most beautifully, truly green projects ever created.


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