The NSS hits the streets #3: The Street Speaks / by Beaudry Kock

The National Street Services believe that our needs and history are reflected in the street. Our streets are fundamentally connected to our sense of self. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences the street equally. In fact, the layout of many streets is hard-wired to support some people and modes over others. So we created a program that sought to awaken people who the street privileges, to the fact that that their needs are often met at the expense of others with less privilege, or to the detriment of our shared values for safe, livable, enjoyable places to be. Read on to learn more about our “The Street Speaks” initiative, but please also take time to watch the deeply moving film that H.P. Mendoza created for us. H.P.’s work highlights the power that stories have to shape our perception of the street and everyone who uses it.

We created a “Listening Post” at two locations in San Francisco and Oakland, to provide an opportunity for anyone and everyone to step out of the flow, rest awhile, and listen to what other voices on the street had to say. Thanks to the wonderful work of local designer and visual communicator Liz Broekhuyse, we were also able to post beautifully-produced signs at these locations, which featured phone numbers for people to call in and listen to stories of the street. We also gave listeners the opportunity to add their own story. In fact, if you’d like to leave your own story, you still can:

  • Call 415-212-4933 to hear Paula tell her story of the inimitable Chile Lindo and the empanada-based joy she brings to 16th Street.

  • Call 415-212-4986 to hear Coral talk about the struggles and alienation of people living on the street.

  • Call 415-212-4864 to hear Julie Mitchell tell the story of her beloved son, Dylan, who was killed by the driver of a garbage truck at 16th and Van Ness in 2013.

  • Call 415-212-4352 to hear Keys, sometime-fireman on Telegraph, talk about Oakland streets.

If you can't call for any reason, you can also find the audio files at the following links:

All National Street Service stories were produced with love and incredible talent by Andrew Stelzer (Paula, Coral, and Elizabeth), Ali Budner (Julie), and Ike Sriskandarajah (Keys). We are, of course, indebted to Paula, Coral, Julie, Keys and Elizabeth for them sharing their precious and powerful stories of life on the streets of San Francisco and Oakland.