Art as a Tool for Community Building

Pilipino Senior Resource Center event photo

The mission of the SoMa Community Stabilization Fund is to stabilize the community and promote equity by supporting projects that mitigate the impact of development. The art and storytelling project of the Pilipino Senior Resource Center (PSRC) is one exciting example. The project works with seniors living in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco. Some live alone, some with family members, and some are homeless. All are at risk of isolation and displacement as a result of the rapid gentrification that has occurred in the neighborhood.

PSRC partners with local artists and writers to conduct workshops at senior housing buildings in the neighborhood. Over 30 senior residents worked to create artwork and write stories that were featured in calendars and a published book, entitled Tales from Barangay SoMa (“barangay” is translated as “community” from Filipino). Upon completion of these projects, the community gathered at Bindlestiff Studio, a theater located in the city’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District, to celebrate and watch the seniors take center stage dancing, singing and sharing stories about their childhood imaginings of America and their lived experiences in San Francisco. This provided a stage to recognize the presence, contributions, rich history and thriving culture of the extended community of senior Filipinos in SoMa.  

PSRC understands that placemaking and anti-displacement must include the arts and must engage all residents, including (and often especially) seniors. Elders are the culture-bearers; they hold the stories and wisdom. As the neighborhood evolves, engaging and supporting seniors gives them, and younger generations, a space to create and experience joy.  It makes SoMa still feel like home and engages the community in a conversation about its identity and history.

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