Where most people see a desolate street, Katy Birnbaum sees a celebration and the regeneration of community waiting to happen. But it didn’t start out that way. Katy grew up in a car-dependent suburb where the streets isolated her and her family. In this story from our November 2023 live show, Katy shares how moving to San Francisco transformed her relationship to streets, how Muni connected her to the things most important to her, and how she decided to give back.
Katy is the founder of Into The Streets, a San Francisco-based cultural production studio dedicated to bringing people together in the streets. Katy previously led the open streets department at the nonprofit Livable City, revamping the Sunday Streets SF program and stewarding it for 7 years. For more about Katy’s work check out www.intothestreetssf.com.
It’s not every day you’re swept off your feet by a handsome stranger on the subway. But when Baruch Porras-Hernandez rides Muni, anything can happen. We were thrilled to have Baruch back on the Muni Diaries Live stage in November with the story of a fleeting romance from his past, and the unexpected turn it takes.
Baruch is a writer, performer, and standup comedian who’s done storytelling shows all over California. He’s won the Moth in LA, headlined at About Last Night, is a three-time winner of Best of Bawdy, and won first place at Oakland’s Story Showdown. You can hear more stories from Baruch on the Muni Diaries podcast in Episode 43 and Episode 70. And don’t miss Baruch in SF Sketchfest at Cobb’s on January 19th and Brava Cabaret on January 20th!
Happy New Year, Muni Diaries fam! 2023 was an exciting year for us as we celebrated 15 years of sharing your Muni stories. We hosted a special anniversary live show in November and designed a limited edition Muni Diary for you to document your transit stories. Our second annual Muni Diaries Art Market in December was another huge hit. The stories we shared this year ranged from hilarious to poignant, from chilling to inspiring: a bus operator’s ghost story; spoken word poetry on race and displacement through the lens of a Muni window; the ongoing search for a special Muni operator; an ode to a transit system that is at times barely navigable yet somehow manages to bring us together. We were also thrilled to share a two part series featuring San Francisco high school students performing their own original Muni poetry.
A heartfelt thanks from all of us at Muni Diaries to everyone who shared your Muni stories with us in 2023, sent us your bus photos, tuned in to the podcast, attended our live shows and art market, and helped us celebrate 15 years of Muni Diaries. What started as a college project has grown into an online journal of our shared experiences as transit riders and San Franciscans, and it’s still going strong 15 years later thanks to our irreplaceable community. We couldn’t do it without you.
We’ve got stories from our November live show, exciting in-person podcasting events, and more already queued up for you in 2024. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on deck:
Tanea Lunsford Lynx joined us at Muni Diaries Live in April 2023 to perform I Used to Live Here, her poem evoking the magic of relatives living a mere Muni ride away, the otherworldly dimension between West Portal and Van Ness Stations, and the soothing something about 24-hour Church Street Safeway light. She was one of the San Francisco-born-and-raised artists featured in Muni Raised Me, an exhibit exploring what truly public transit means to those who depend on it—and are ultimately shaped by it.
Tanea, an artist and educator, gave me chills with her delivery and lyrical gift. She also left me hopeful that the city she “used to” live in and the characters she described can thrive in present-tense San Francisco, too.
You might remember Tanea from Muni Diaries podcast Eps. 140 and 141, featuring Tanea and her students at performing original poetry about our everyone’s favorite school bus. And don’t forget to check out Muni Raised Me co-curator Meymey Lee in Ep. 144.
Muni Diaries is 15 years old! Forget a birth-month, we’ve made it a birth-year. Join us Nov 2 for the festivities at a special Muni Diaries Live. Tickets are available now (but going fast!) on Eventbrite.
Have you been to the Legion of Honor at night? I haven’t. And I definitely won’t be going after this story.
Muni operator and Muni Haiku Battle champion Mc Allen reminds us of what can go bump (and wrong) on a late-night run. Originally shared at Muni Diaries Live in April 2023, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the seasonal festivities.
Mc (pronounced “Mack”) was once featured on the Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the NPR weekly news quiz. He believes in the power of Slow Streets, Great Walkways, Transit Only Lanes and No Parking Signs. Mc’s poetry has appeared in The San Franciscan magazine and the Bay City Beacon. He’s been a guest of the Total SF, Roll Over Easy, 99% Invisible, and Muni Diaries podcasts, as well as a twice-victor, once-victim at the Muni Haiku Battle at Muni Diaries Live. Mc lives in Dogpatch with his wife and two kids, and you can find him behind the wheel of the 35-Eureka and the 29-Sunset.
We might have mentioned one or twice or 20 times, but we are celebrating our 15th birthday. Festivities continue at Muni Diaries Live on November 2, so don’t miss out! We have some anniversary goodies and are putting the variety in variety show. Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.
Jill Sutherlin didn’t set out to become the guardian of a beloved Mission safe space, but the pandemic and a few other twists and turns led her to become one of its fiercest protectors. She takes us through some of those twists and turns in this story, which she told on stage at Muni Diaries Live in April 2023.
Jill proudly hails from Oakland. She is the co-owner of The Refinery Grooming Club: an independently owned, upscale barbershop and the backdrop of this story. She is also a DJ at Bff.fm: an internet-based, community-run radio station in San Francisco, and founder of United Streets Direct Care, a nonprofit donating on-site hair-care services to unhoused communities in the Bay Area and Modesto.
Did you super-tuned in listeners catch the mention of our ongoing 15th birthday celebration? We’re keeping the party going at Muni Diaries Live on November 2! We have some anniversary surprises cooked up and tickets are available nowon Eventbrite.