by Nishat Kurwa (@nishatjaan)
Inspired by the sly tradition of the Razzie Awards, which commemorate the worst of Hollywood, San Francisco fair housing advocates are kicking off "The Crappy Awards" tonight in the city's arts district.
A coalition of housing groups decided to throw an agitprop counterpunch to The Crunchies, the tech industry's awards party for itself, which will be happening inside the Davies Symphony Hall while activists hold court on the sidewalk outside.
Fresh off this weekend's tenant convention by the Anti-Displacement Coalition, The Crappy Awards will address the same themes that fair housing groups have been hammering for months, said Tony Robles, the Housing Organizing Director for Senior and Disability Action.
"The Crunchies, of course, suggest 'crunching' in the new territory and what not," he explained, "but there are people here that are very much feeling the crunch, particularly seniors, people with disabilities, people who have been evicted."
For Robles and other tenants' advocates, there's a direct connection between the influx of tech money into San Francisco, real estate speculation, and the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict buildings wholesale. All three work in concert to eliminate options for newly homeless people on fixed incomes, Robles said.
"With that comes," he paused and searched for words for a moment, and then seemed to settle on the most straightforward option: "...with that comes death."
Of course, city leaders say that the tax benefit from tech companies' presence in the city has cut the city's deficit substantially, and brought stability to city-funded anti-poverty programs.
To that, Robles said half-seriously, that the benefits of Measure E and the related community benefits agreements haven't amounted to much more than the gratis tickets to arts events gifted to non-profit organizations. It's no surprise, then, that The Crappies will be giving away a Twitter Award (the company was the biggest Measure E beneficiary), but Robles wasn't too clear about who else might have been a contender besides, well, Twitter. "We're hoping Twitter's CEO shows up to receive it."
The other awards might hold a bit more competitive intrigue. There's the Enemy of Rent Control Award and The CEO of the Year Award. And an award that Robles said was inspired by two people, "who spoke so poetically, and warmly, and with so much affection, about San Francisco": The Greg Gopman/Peter Shih Digital Diarrhea of the Mouth Award.
It's unlikely we'll see anyone from the tech industry let down their guard enough to participate in The Crappies' brand of humor and protest. If they do, they could take their cues from Halle Berry, who provided perhaps the best example of how to receive critique graciously when she showed up to the Razzies to accept her Worst Actress Award for her performance in Catwoman. Toward the end of her speech, Berry shared this bit of wisdom from her mother, on being a good loser: "If you weren't able to take criticism, then you were not worthy of getting praise."
She ends with an salvo about wanting to "slap the sh*t," out of the people giving her the Razzie, "and I hope to God I never see these people, ever again."
That seems to sum up pretty well the feelings on both sides of the housing equity battle lines in today's San Francisco, but, Robles said if anyone from the tech industry does show up at Van Ness and Grove streets tonight -- "in formal attire, or in semi-formal attire, and if you do not have those things, then come as you are" -- they'd be welcome.
There will even be a red carpet, he said.
Public media's TurnstyleNews.com covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.