In this inaugural post to the new HuffPo SF, let's celebrate San Francisco.
- Natural Beauty. Let's face it, our environs make San Francisco. The majesty of the Golden Gate, the rugged beaches, and the fresh sea air combine to offer denizens a daily reminder that our planet is beautiful.
- People-Made Beauty. The men and women who built and continue to develop San Francisco have created an exceedingly charming city. The ornate Victorian houses, the charming streetcars, and the plentiful parks remind us that humans are capable of maintaining beauty and grace even in crowded places.
- San Francisco Values. Whether or not the political zeitgeist of San Francisco matches its characterization as uber left-leaning is open to debate. However, San Francisco has led the way in the fight for marriage equality, fair pay, environmental preservation and civil rights. The people of San Francisco tend to care about each other and the world at large -- and that's a value.
- Good Eats.* The asterisk is there because I think the culinary sophistication and high-end offerings in San Francisco are vastly overrated. You can keep Gary Danko and Alice Waters. However, the excellent burrito joints in the Mission where you can stuff a family of four with healthy food for25, the plethora of independent coffee joints with good hot brew, and the coop markets like Noriega Produce make the city a great place to feed yourself. We care about what we eat, strive for good health, and it shows.
- Our Neighbors. One of the best things about San Francisco is how close it is to Berkeley, Bolinas, Sonoma and Santa Cruz. Our neighbors are awesome.
- Wheels. We take our transport seriously here and it shows in the variety of nice rides rolling by. Whether you are rocking a Prius, a rusty old Porsche, a tricked out mountain bike, a bare-bones fixie, a skateboard, or a Vespa... you're making a statement and getting there in style.
- Diversity. OK, maybe you think this cliché is overblown. True, the cost of living dampens diversity and the most recent census shows that San Francisco has lost a significant portion of our African American population and many young families. However, the people that are here are gay, straight, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Republican (oh yes), Democrat, greedy, altruistic, hip, square, and anything else you can think of. We do have them all.
- Neighborhoods. Unlike in New York and LA, where neighborhood character has dulled as distinctions between them have blurred, we still have real neighborhoods in San Francisco. The Mission is still Mexican and hipster. The Sunset is still Chinese and decidedly un-hip. The Marina is still Caucasian and insufferable. Noriega is foggy, Noe is sunny, Haight is grubby, and Lake is snotty. Vive le difference.
- Muni. It's sometimes late, often crowded and the municipal transit system everyone loves to hate. But the fact is, you can get from any point in this wide and weirdly laid out city to any other point, at most hours of the day, within an hour for two dollars and without having to walk more than three blocks. Often you CAN get a seat and you can even take your bike along! Bring along a smartphone (or, heaven forbid, a book) and no human interaction is required.
- Resources. If you want or need something, you can probably find it here. We have universities, community colleges, a lot of libraries (still), trade schools, an opera, a baroque orchestra, rockabilly, spiritual leaders, myriad treatment centers, and a number of great car mechanics. If you are striving, seeking or hurting, San Francisco is not the worst place to be.
Next Time: 10 Crappy Things About San Francisco (Feel free to submit ideas).