Come to think of it, no one loves the TL. No one loves the streets, its people, the smell… The only thing people really love about the TL is its food. I had no expectations of the Tenderloin this semester when choosing it. I knew it had a lot of good, underreported stories. I saw newsworthiness, and potential, not much else. Now I have to say the Tenderloin is something dear to me. I love its old spirits. I love its food. I love its art. Its attitude. Everything about it.
I ran into a lot of surprises this semester, and situations that made me uncomfortable. All the way up until my last day (today) of reporting. I had earlier conducted (or rather listened) to a 1.5 hour interview in a man’s smokey SRO, sitting through his life story and show biz resume (including lots of Broadway and drag shows). On the flip side, I had a 20 minute interview with a powerful lawyer who gave me short, literal answers. I feel like after this semester, I’ve experienced it all, and have grown so much as a journalist. I’ve also grown in my understanding of people.
In the Tenderloin, I met people I would never have spoken to if I didn’t have to. I’m glad I did.
I know in my blog posts, I always talk up the Tenderloin, and how great it is. But after being there for a whole semester, I’ve become critical of so much also. I hate the lack of zeal and desire to live in its people. I hate the feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness in all of them. I hate the deaths and despair. I hate the inability of many non-profits to help these issues, but instead make Tenderloin residents helpless and dependent on free services. I hate the city’s policies of containment of poverty, drug issues, and mental illness. I hate the slum lords that profit off of the blight. And I hate the proclivity of outsiders to judge the Tenderloin and its issues.
As you can see, it’s not just a black and white issue, the Tenderloin. Its complex and multifaceted. Its messy and everyone has their own solution.
For me, my solution is writing. I write, tell truth, and let the people figure it out. Many times this semester I thought about my future role in the Tenderloin. Do I want to start volunteering? (I’ve pondered this so many times.) Or do I continue to objectively observe?
The Tenderloin has enough volunteers. It needs more fair coverage.
That’s all. Thanks for reading about the TL this semester.