Mission Stories

Below is the full collection of stories that we collected in the Mission district of San Francisco. Over the last 8 months, we met so many fantastic people who generously shared their thoughts about the neighborhood.

Thanks to all of you, the window is fully stocked and now open, we couldn’t have completed this project without your help!

Your Store, Mission Open from October 6-30, 2013

“I grew up in the neighborhood and as a small child I would come to the Dolores Park playground as often as possible. I loved the wooden boat the small children would play on and pretend to be pirates, water monsters, etc…
When I turned thirteen, they remolded it, got rid of my boat, and made the park so hip that what had once been a small child’s paradise became a hipster social club and I felt like it marked ascent into adulthood.”


“I love tacos and tortas and gorditas.”


“The mission: To whom does it belong?

The mission is a world owned by immigrants but I am an immigrant from a new type of voyage. The young — those in tech. — we struggle to contribute meaning and find home here. We were born in a different world than our neighbors… It isn’t the words or sounds of the English language that trap us as outsiders in our Folsom Street Victorians, it is the spoken English language, communicating in person with adults who aren’t ours, not our helicopter parents or professors or structural superiors.

It is not that we board white, wordless shuttles to the South Bay out of superiority. It’s that we are new arrivals to a world our upbringings never taught us we wouldn’t understand. 

We are the first generation in a global cohort who have grown up fully online. No one taught these 12, 13, 14 year olds how to get involved in their communities, how to talk to neighbors…  with words and a listening ear instead of shorthand. We grew up with friends from abroad and virtual world slant and to to fear the strangers around us, those whose age, sex and language we don’t already know.

My story of the Mission is being the face of gentrification… But every day when I get on the bus to Google, I’ve done the best I can already, saying hi and hola to my 5 morning walk-by buddies, picking up a piece of litter, buying locally and feeling trapped by my lack of education around how to do more. 

My story of the Mission is that I want to be real here at least as much as my neighbors want me to be more than a commuter ghost. We just don’t know how. Once we learn this place with thrive anew.”


“My friends all seem to work in this neighborhood. My memory is one of trying to find parking usually.”

“I moved into the Mission in 1996. I was single and in my 20’s. I grew up a little, so did the neighborhood. Now I’m in my 40s and I pushed a stroller here (to mission sunday streets) with my two-year-old girl inside). Sometimes, if you stay in one place long enough, the world catches up with you.”


“I live and work in a house on Alabama Street making maps out of wood. We love living on a block full of creative enterprise of all kinds.”


“The Mission is lively and full of excitement. Everyone you meet here is always smiling and seem so carefree.”


“I used to live in a room with a window that looked out onto Treat Avenue. Some nights I would hear passing couples arguing in Spanish. I didn’t speak Spanish, so it was just another sound in the background while I fell asleep. I have since learned Spanish, but I don’t live in the Mission anymore. I f I hear those arguments now, they would probably keep me awake.”


“So many people live within unhappy circumstances yet are unwilling to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security and comfort – all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”


“I came here, to the Mission, when I was in 2nd grade and then again in 5th grade (on a field trip). I think we ate Mexican food and I think our teacher was flirting with the tour guide. It was the first time I saw a man pee in public. Nowadays, it’s not so bad to see a man pee in public.”


“The murals are fun to look at and study. And the murals are always changing. The boutiques are fascinating. And the Mission is hot – the hottest part of the city. People go to Dolores Park to hang out. At the end of the day, you’ve discovered something new and had fun. And you hope it lasts forever.”


“My favoirte thing about the mission is everything. I love Dolores Park. We like to eat at Schmidt’s.”

-Daddy and Rex

“I had only been in the city for a couple weeks and sauntered into Amnesia on Valencia for a family folk explosion show.

Wild guitars and mystic men and women waxed witchy wonders and succulent sounds. The night wound down and a tall, stately man in a black overcoat opened up the grate to lead the musicians and stragglers down to a wood-paneled speak easy, where we lay on low velvet couches and passed around a bottle of Tennessee whiskey while another set was played, on upright bass, wooden piano, slapbox drum.

Once the troubadours rested and the smoke reached the ceiling, the stately man in the black overcoat shed his clock and stepped into the chair onstage. He proceeded to speak the sultriest words I have ever heard. Mists of New Orleans alleys, dark wooden tones of violin bodies and the smell of women’s potions, dark moon rays on Pacific ocean waves.

It was then that I knew. This was home.”


“When I wake up and open my window I hear chickens across the street. bak bak baaak. During the day, I hear people laughing over lattes at Atlas and on Wednesday nights folks looking for bottles in our recycling bins. Bluegrass humming from Atlas Thursday evenings. Shopping cart pushed by the older man with patchy skin who listens to KBLX on his radio. Sometimes he yells at the sad woman with him.

The soundtrack of 20th and Alabama.”


“I haven’t been here long. The first time I rode the 33, where it makes that crazy turn onto Market, the whole bus applauded. I couldn’t believe it – what enthusiasm, urban vigor. So, the next time I was on the 33, and the driver made that fateful turn, I brought my hands together, ready to applaud. But the bus was silent. I mistook the last time for an every day occurrence. Silly me.”

“I can walk less than a block and choose between half dozen different things, food, activities, culture, people, eccentricity, diversity, tolerance”

“The Mission is San Francisco’s toilet. I say this is a fairer title than that of the Tenderloin – San Francisco’s mental institution.”


More stories to come as we develop this archive… Stay tuned!

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