The 3300 block gets some love
My passion is running Secession Art & Design and also serving as president of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association. This is my home and community. One year ago I did not know all of the merchants of the 3300 block, but now we are family. Something happens when you go through a hardship together, like a fire, and all you want to do is help each other. For this past year I have fundraised, listened, supported, advocated, connected merchants with city agencies, and been someone that the merchants can depend on when they can't get an answer.
This past year I have gotten to know the owners of Playa Azul, Cole Hardware, El Gran Taco Loco, and the 3300 Club. My co-corridor coordinator, Ani Rivera, joined the MBMA team this year and we worked to get a small grant to do a temporary beautification project on the Playa Azul and Cole Hardware fence. Ani is the director of Galeria de la Raza and lives in Mission Bernal.
Playa Azul is going through the planning process to rebuild, and they wanted to let people know that they are coming back. Urban quilt artist Amy Ahlstrom met with the Sanchez family to create a "coming soon" sign. She photographed the mother and daughter, and the family gave us a photo of their grandmother: three strong women who are determined to rebuild the restaurant. The art is based on their exterior sign, one of the only things left after the fire.
Artist Brian Singer came up with the design for The Cole Hardware fence. 2000 plastic pieces make up the lettering that reads THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE. You get to fill in the blanks..."Home," "Cole Hardware," or whatever is special to you. So many merchants and residents lost their businesses and homes. Where did they go? This really changed our community and we hope they can come back. During the install, everyone who walked by had a story to tell about what they needed from Cole.
I could barely sleep on Tuesday night in anticipation of these art installations going up on Wednesday. I woke up early to help install. A beautiful crew from Galeria de la Raza volunteered and we had a great time talking and installing. We even had a few people passing by that took time from their day to stop and help. All day long, the community came out and talked about how much they missed this block and all the merchants. Three people were brought to tears when they found out Playa Azul was actually coming back. One woman slammed on her brakes, double-parked, and gave me a hug.
El Paisa is the first business closed by the fire to reopen on the block. At one point in the day, the owner, Jose, told all the installers it was time to take a break and eat. In his restaurant that is filled with so much love and persistence, we had an incredible lunch that meant much more than food.
Thank you to everyone who made this day happen!