The Great Muni Shelter Giveaway Poll (Update)

Muni shelter at SOMArts

Ed. Note: The bus stop we’re giving away served the 30 Stockton, which has seen colorful stories like a Giants fans takeover, a short angry lesson on taxes, and an incident involving a nylon Excalibur. Ever since the bus shelter’s arrival at SOMArts, visitors have covered the it with their own stories and memories. What’s your Muni story? We want to know.

We woke up last week panicked about what to do with a 12’x9’x6′ bus shelter, and now we have a hotly contested giveaway on our hands. Given the conversation about the fate of the 30-Stockton bus shelter, Twitter has decided to bow out of the poll, with 931 votes at last count. But voting is not over for the rest of the candidates until midnight tonight, so spread the word! Tuesday night 5 – 7 p.m.: come to the I Live Here: SF closing night party at SOMArts to see the most-wanted bus stop in San Francisco.

Original post:
Ever since the SFMTA generously gave us the go-ahead, this 30-Stockton Muni shelter has been sittin’ pretty at Julie Michelle’s awesome I Live Here:SF exhibit at SOMArts. And now it needs a home.

We were overwhelmed by the amazing responses after we posted about the Great Muni Shelter Giveaway. In honor of our user-generated tradition, we thought it appropriate that you get to decide who gets to take the Muni shelter home. The following brave folks want this bus stop, and you can help them make it happen.

Poll closes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29. The candidate with the most vote wins. We will announce the winner at the closing night reception of Julie Michelle’s I Live Here:SF exhibit at SOMArts on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 5-7 p.m. 934 Brannan Street. Good luck to all!


  • I can’t wait to see (and meet!) who wins! This is fantastic. Good luck to all of you.

  • I hope Todd Lappin of Telstar Logistics wins. He is a good guy.

  • sign changer

    Just want to point out that several people changed Bush Street to Obama Street, including the sign makers themselves. It was not a one-man operation.

    • Joseph

      . . . and if precedence is can be trusted to have some consistency, another collaboration is waiting in the wings! It’s never one person’s doing, and nothing is a better reminder of that quintessential condition than intentional collaboration. Amen.

  • benchun

    if twitter wants a muni shelter, they should just buy one. vote for an independent artist!

  • critter

    I think that’s pretty lame that so many people are voting for a corporation to gain this as a private trophy, rather voting for an artist who will share it with the public.

  • Joseph

    hm, some of you are salty

  • ews

    I agree with benchun. I feel like people will vote for cool organizations like Twitter or Parisoma because of their name or the perception that more people will get to enjoy the shelter. But these orgs can easily contact Muni and get as many shelters as they want since Muni throws them away when they replace them with the new (sleek but not so rain-proof) shelters.

  • If you can’t decide who to vote for, here are pics of what Brendan Nee did with his Muni bus for Burning Man:

  • cocina

    The antagonism against “cool organizations” is a little ridiculous. Real people work there too. They’d like to enjoy the bus shelter as much as every other individual here. Both PariSOMA and Twitter are local companies creating jobs for people who live here. Come on, guys, stop hatin’ on them just because they’re successful. Besides, companies can’t just buy a bus shelter from Muni. SFMTA isn’t selling them as far as we all know. And folks who are hating on Twitter in your tweets: wake up and smell the irony!

    • Vanessa

      Yes, Twitter is overall a good organization with good people working for it. But Twitter has plenty of cool stuff in its office already, plus its employees make enough money to pay to see art in museums. People like Vladimir Putin, BT, and Conan O’Brien visit the Twitter office – that’s a big perk too.

      Photos of the Twitter office:

      Why does Twitter need a bus shelter? It doesn’t. Twitter just had a $1 billion valuation. I think they can come up with something else to amuse their employees.

      I love the Twitter product and have several friends who work at Twitter, but I think an individual artist is more deserving in this case. Someone should try to make this piece more than a place to flop with a laptop.

      • Mac

        In a contest situation that is based strictly upon number of votes generated, Twitter headquarters as a contestant is always going to win against an individual. The people who work at Twitter typically have large numbers of followers simply because they work at Twitter. Therefore, if those employees put out a tweet to their followers asking for a vote, that’s what they’re going to get…lots of votes. And then, lots more votes when that tweet gets retweeted over and over. It’s simply the nature of the Twitter structure, but unfortunately the people who work at Twitter are increasingly exhibiting a sense of entitlement when it comes to most anything they request in a tweet. The current contest is unfair for any individual participating against Twitter HQ for votes…it’s not unlike the flap that recently occurred when Bristol Palin was getting an inordinate number of votes for Dancing with the Stars. Except, in that case, there was at least a panel of judges to provide some balance to the voting procedure.

  • Ben

    If Twitter wins, will they make a sizable donation to charity?

  • Lawrence

    If “Michael B.” wins, will he make a donation to charity? What, no? Then why should Twitter?

    The sense of entitlement by some of you is absolutely astounding to me. No wonder San Francisco is falling apart due to leftist out-of-towners who think they know what it is to be “San Franciscan.”

  • ews

    I wouldn’t have as big a problem with Twitter getting the shelter in their offices if I could go visit their offices at any time. But it looks like it’s just going to be a cool gadget for their emloyees and VIP guests…

  • ews

    Also, Twitter’s pitch to get this shelter is, quite frankly, lame. They’re not even sure they’ll display the shelter, they’re merely “excited to possibly display” it.

    Is that all the enthusiasm they can show in a public competition to convince people to vote for them?

    • Mac

      Twitter employees don’t need to convince anyone to vote for their company…all they have to do is put out a simple tweet requesting a vote. This contest is not truly a fair public competition, as it’s just a matter of who can reach the largest number of people with a link to cast a vote. See my comment above.

  • dan

    I agree it sucks that the corporate candidates will just be using the shelter for the private interests of the their employees/guests, but that actually seems like a better public good to me than taking it to burning man and making it part of one of countless displays there attempting to “be creative.” Not to mention that burning man is WAY more exclusive (it requires a major outlay of resources, both financial and time) than Twitter’s office, which I’m sure you could go visit if you wanted to ews. At least you wouldn’t have to take a week off from work, pay hundreds of dollars for food, gas and water and drive out to the desert. It so bothers me how self-proclaimed burners think such frivolous expenses are somehow subversive.

    Anyway, point being that neither option is perfect, nor are the other independent artists who sound like they are well-intentioned, but lacking the wherewithal for the overambitious projects they mention.

    I’m going to go with PariSOMA, because I don’t know what it is, but it sounds like it will be both semi-accessible and provide a good home.

    P.S. Did you see Playapillar?? That thing is stupid-looking!!!

  • dan

    Oh wow, looks like the burners aren’t even contenders, and my rant was for nothing. Guess Twitter should win this one. Given the previous comment indicating that Michael B. is stretching the truth about his involvement in the Bush st. –> Obama st. event, I doubt he’ll really be able to live up to his proposal.

    • Heather

      How is that stretching the truth? He didn’t claim to do it entirely by himself. As someone very familiar with his level of involvement with the fun and playful activities he lists in his descriptions (among countless others), I can assure you that he will do something awesome and publicly interactive with this shelter if he gets it.

    • Ed

      I know Michael B. will be able to live up to his proposal because I’ll be helping him, probably along with a dozen other people. 🙂

  • Matt

    Burning Man isn’t public, no matter what the well-funded fire artists who go may think. I’m happy with this staying in SF, whether that’s with Twitter or with anyone who will make it truly accessible

  • s

    maybe everyone should stop quibbling and the bus shelter should go to a nursing home, where the elderly sf residents who want to go see their relatives can go and sit at it, thinking they’re on their way, until, soon, they forget they’re going anywhere, and will go back inside. this might sound strange, or mean, but having a bus shelter on the grounds of nursing homes actually helps people who can’t remember that they don’t have family to go to (or, who do have family but are too fragile mentally and emotionally to get to family by themselves). nursing homes with bus shelters have shown that residents try to escape less, and actually do escape less. why? because going to wait for the bus helps residents feel independent, and it is a familiar thing from their past, it’s an activity to pass the time, it’s getting outside, and it helps facilities not have to deal with missing persons and the police.

    while i am well aware the institutional problems (maintaining dignity and quality of life, under-staffing, under-financing, over-crowding, etc) are way too complicated to get into here, and while i fully admit that a bus stop is not a real fix, just a buffer, i also think the bus stop could be put to some kind of use that’s actually useful.

    oh, and if you are someone who thinks this solution is immoral or mean, then go befriend someone in a nursing home. there are literally thousands of people right here in san francisco who would love your visit. maybe if you visited, they’d be less inclined to want to go to a home that hasn’t existed for years. seriously. how about you go befriend someone for half an hour a week? (if you don’t think you have the time to spend, ask yourself: how much time do you spend on twitter or facebook every day?)

    (note: a quick search of the internet did not lead me to the study i read in which i learned about this. but this article covers the gist of what a bus shelter can do, and has done, for people with dementia:

  • How about this: let’s solve the whole thing by joining forces.

    Twitter — we love you and everything, but this kind of installation isn’t your forte. But you do have the cash and the influence to make this some kind of public art in SF, perhaps temporary, after which time it could live in your offices.

    Michael B. is in the opposite situation. While connected to a vast conspiracy of hackers and artists, he may not have the cash or influence to put this in a public space, or to operate it for very long. (Hence the usual venue — Burning Man — but it’s true that not everyone can get out there either).

    So why not collaborate?

  • Please Twitter pull out of this competition. It’s ridiculous that corporations are even allowed in this giveaway anyway. It’s coming from an arts organization so why aren’t they giving it only to artists?

    Granted an online poll is a ridiculous way to give this away anyway—especially this online poll where several of the “contenders” have given no idea whatsoever of what they would do with it.

    I know Michael B. He’s a madly creative artist who has yes worked at Burning Man, but most of his art has been subversive public interactive art here in the Bay Area. Not sure what his exact plans are but whatever they are I trust it has the most creative potential. It also has the most potential for many to enjoy it rather than the few who wander into a corporate lobby.

    Many have been saying that Twitter should back out of this competition and give it to an artist. This is one option. The other option is for SOMArts to scrap this online poll idea and do things the way real arts organizations work: Have artists submit their ideas and have them judged by a committee at SOMArts.

  • Larry

    uh, it’s a bus shelter. you’re arguing over a bus shelter. also, no one was freaking out and writing essays in the comments when Twitter was behind. also, Twitter is a place where people work, an office filled with … people. It’s not some faceless, personality-less corporation. some of you guys need to get over yourselves. the best comments here are those that speak to collaboration between Twitter and the top vote-getting artist. the rest of you … seriously????

  • eugenia

    Colin, the giveaway is not affliated with SOMArts.

    We’re talking about a bus stop, not a grant. Everybody needs to calm down. A week ago we could not find anyone with a fork lift and space to take this bus shelter off of our hands by Dec. 2, so Muni Diaries and I Live Here:SF had to put out a public plea. We had no idea this many people would have the capability to haul and store this bus stop in the short amount of time we had. So yes, anyone who can haul this 12x9x6 beast, which is bigger than my kitchen, is eligible.

    Nobody is making money off of the situation. And for those of you complaining that Twitter employees have much better outreach power: don’t y’all have Facebook? Last time I checked Facebook has more than twice the active users than Twitter.

    • Thanks for clearing up that this isn’t through SOMArts. I understand that you just want it off your hands and didn’t have the outreach and publicity you had prior. Still I think the poll could have been handled better for all concerned by encouraging people to submit ideas rather than just their name and the current hodgepodge.

      Right now the contest has boiled down to one single artist, who obviously has a lot of people who trust that he will do something interesting with it, and a corporation that has the ability to float their vote on nothing more than it’s brand name and the promise it’ll be in San Francisco.

      It’s obvious that the artist Michael B. has already used their outreach through facebook/twitter/etc to get out the vote given that he has nearly 600 votes so far. However, his total will start to plateau, but Twitter’s likely never will. They can be carried to the top on nothing but their brand name. The reason for this is that the poll has been conducted as a fight between names rather than ideas.

      Now you obviously have the publicity you were missing before and I think you could scrap the poll and start again without angering anyone (well there are some people who are angry about anything). This could possibly allow some of the other artists and small organizations to shine through.

    • Proving that Twitter is winning purely through brand recognition and the exponential nature of this recognition just look at the national totals vs the CA totals. Nationally it’s Twitter at 45% with Michael B. at 35% and CA it’s Michael B. at 48% and Twitter at 28%.

      You could possibly change the poll to be only CA as that is better way to represent the Bay Area.

  • Lex

    Hi Folks,

    My name’s Lex, I’m the director of SOMArts. I want to reply to Colin and reiterate part of what ews said: the shelter currently at SOMArts isn’t the last shelter that will ever be available for re-use. If your favorite proposal doesn’t get the most votes and this Muni shelter has inspired you to help artists to use a shelter in a creative way for community benefit, I’m sure the Julie or the team at Muni Diaries would give you some pointers on how to request one from Muni. My understanding is that they had a good idea with clear public benefit and it wasn’t difficult. And in that scenario, public art spaces and non-profits will probably fare better than corporations.

    Muni Diaries set up the Muni Giveaway as a vote, because we needed a way to find the shelter to a new home that was fast, didn’t require a lot of work, and covered the costs of transportation. We were being creative and resourceful and hoped that the attention would bring a few more folks to see Julie Michelle’s beautiful exhibit “I Live Here:SF” before it closes. We didn’t know if anyone would take us up on the offer, but we wanted the shelter to be re-used, and quickly, so that we can begin installing the next exhibition.

    SOMArts regularly offers artists exhibition opportunities through the Commons Curatorial Residency, the Ramp Gallery and our other programs. Anyone who is interested in finding out more can come to our Community Support Board meeting this Wednesday at 6:30pm.

    The Muni shelter at SOMArts has inspired some ideas, many of which are completely feasible without this particular bus shelter. If an individual or organization with financial means gets the shelter and wishes to make a donation in support of our Commons Curatorial Residencies–I would gladly take their money and use it in service of our mission … but I don’t think that should sway the vote (and nobody offered anyway).

    SOMArts created the Commons Curatorial Residency last year, which allows artists and curators to submit their ideas for the gallery. From that experience, I can tell you that setting up juried panels to be conflict-free and inclusive and fair and true to our mission is serious, time-consuming business. And because SOMArts works the way real arts organizations work, we need to stay focused on our mission and not drop everything to create a Muni-art jury panel.

    I support honoring the voting process as laid out by Muni Diaries, learning from the experience, and seeing who winds up voting in the end. I’m interested to see how many people vote and who wins. I’m interested to see if Twitter pulls out (will I vote for them? no. do I think most of the proposals, including theirs, have some genuine enthusiasm and merit? yes.) I’m interested to see if we come out of this with a new trend of Muni shelter-inspired art.

    But most of all, I’m inspired by Julie Michelle. That beat-up old shelter was in the SOMArts driveway for months … I knew it was destined for the gallery but had no idea that it would become such a highlight of her exhibition. It takes a lot of creativity to turn a discarded object into the focal point of an exhibition, a poetry store, a Muni Time-Capsule instigator and an online debate about art and entitlement. Julie Michelle used this exhibit to get people writing, taking pictures and sharing stories about Muni and San Francisco. Julie is especially good at connecting to a passionate and generous online community who gave their elbow grease, enthusiasm, donations and outreach skills to this project.

    I don’t know how to end this post, I don’t have a lot of experience replying to online forums. This is too long, but I hope it provides some perspective on the SOMArts side of things. If anyone has any questions they are welcome to write me or say hi at the closing reception on Tuesday night.


    Lex Leifheit

  • Joseph

    y’all mad

  • John Blackburn

    Names versus ideas. I like ideas better and rather deplore the corporatization of the art world, especially here in San Francisco. A way around this is to have everyone put forth a proposal and let the public see the idea/proposal and vote – the best idea will prevail rather than the numbers game which Twitter has garnered hands-down…

  • pettybooshwah

    What a bunch of whiners, on all sides. Burn the damned thing!

  • ty

    VOTE Michael B
    Individual artist will share with YOU. Twitter will plop it in their trophy lobby!

  • San Francisco!

    “We woke up last week panicked about what to do with a 12′x9′x6′ bus shelter, and now we have a hotly contested giveaway on our hands. Given the conversation about the fate of the 30-Stockton bus shelter, Twitter has decided to bow out of the poll, with 931 votes at last count. But voting is not over for the rest of the candidates until midnight tonight, so spread the word! Tuesday night 5 – 7 p.m.: come to the I Live Here: SF closing night party at SOMArts to see the most-wanted bus stop in San Francisco.”

    I am putting together my debut art show, LE SF CHRONIC (24 years in the making!) to be pitched @ (the world’s largest creative funding platform!) The exhibition, LE SF CHRONIC, will be heavily street/muni/neighborhood themed from the golden gate to the bay bridge, from anza to yorba, dimsum to cannabis to pupusas to cannabis, this is in some ways a farewell to my home as well. There will be “deconstruction” photo collages + longscale triptychs of MUNI + remixed bus shelter advertisements & whatever urban poisons my perverted mind comes up with.

    SO WHAT?
    BUT! I just found out about this contest LAST NIGHT! & was kind enough to still throw me in the running! PLEASE SUPPORT ME & VOTE FOR BRAILLE.

    reasons to vote for me:
    – i have 6 hours to get +1000 votes.
    – the shelter will be re-raffled in february.
    – you are supporting my FIRST exhibit!
    – I believe in you, SF.

    much love.
    .:: braille ::.

    well, whether or not the shelter is won, shoot me an eMail anyway so I may thank you for gracing this one ad w/ your benevolence & an invite to the show when it comes about.

    THANKS SAN FRANCISCO. & remember, it’s always 420 somewhere in the 415. LE SF CHRONIC.