The city gardener’s family shares the tale of the AIDS Memorial Grove

Before the area was named the AIDS Memorial Grove in the 1990’s, San Franciscans knew the wooded grove as DeLaveaga Dell. To Leef Smith, the area held special memories because his father was a city gardener who took care of the city’s parks. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, Leef shares his childhood memories of growing up in San Francisco as the family of a city gardener, and how his childhood and this beautiful garden change when the AIDS crisis hit San Francisco.

Leef spent his childhood in DeLaveaga Dell playing with other children, wearing his mom’s homemade costumes and celebrating birthdays and other occasions there. As he was coming of age during a tumultuous in San Francisco, he recalls how a teacher came out to his class, and how DeLaveaga Dell became a symbol of the times to come.

Listen to Leef’s story here:

Leef kindly shared some of his childhood photos from De Laveaga Dell with us. Do you have stories of San Francisco during this time period? We want to know! Share your stories with us at muni.diarie.sf@gmail.com.

Want to hear more stories like this live? We are having two events this fall: a live podcast recording at the Betabrand Podcast Theater on Thursday, Oct. 3, and our Muni Diaries Live fall show at Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, Nov. 2. Tickets are on sale now!

San Francisco Diaries: Check your assumptions in the checkout line

I can’t think of how many times I’ve thought of a witty comeback too late, especially when someone behaves badly in public. But have you ever imagined what it would be like if you actually said what you wanted to say in that moment? Storyteller Justina Wu shares a story of an encounter when she spoke her mind in the moment, with some surprising results.

Listen to her story:

Justina is a writer, storyteller, and producer of Beyond Borders Storytelling, a series of travel-themed workshops and story jams. Justina was on stage at Muni Diaries Live a few years ago (check out her first story in episode 12 on Apple Podcast or Google Play.) And mark your calendars for the next show on August 14 at PianoFight in the Tenderloin.

Featured photo by @saintsimonanu. Post photo by @roopisonfire.

If you have your own San Francisco story to share, email us your pitch at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com! And please share this podcast with your friends and rate is on Apple Podcast!

San Francisco Diaries: Listeners sound off on the city’s existential crisis

sunset sky 10th and Market San Francisco

Our previous episode featured Smiley Poswolsky, a self-described Millennial workplace expert who quit his stuffy Washington, D.C. job to become a writer in San Francisco. His story about personal growth and change, with NOPA/Western Addition in a prominent guest-starring role, really got our listeners talking more broadly about the state of our city—a hot topic lately.

For this episode, we invited Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight from The San Francisco Chronicle, and Bernalwood blog founder Todd Lappin, to give us their take on San Francisco’s oft-discussed existential crisis, and to share their own experiences with this town we call home.

Got something to say about Smiley’s story or the state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #sanfranciscodiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Pic by roopisonfire

San Francisco Diaries: Who gets to define this city?

Smiley Poswolsky left his suit-wearing days behind in Washington, D.C. to start a new life as a writer in San Francisco. Today, he’s an expert on Millennials in the workplace and author of the book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. A few years in to his life here, he found himself realizing that some of the things he enjoyed about the city were also having a negative impact on his beloved new home. This prompts him to consider a timely question: Who has the right to define a city and what it is (or should be) all about?

This has been a hot topic as of late, even in national news. This prompted us to turn to our listeners: If you could give the city a cultural health score, what would it be and why? 

Listen to his story:

Got something to say about Smiley’s story and the current state of our city? Email us your thoughts at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us #munidiaries on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Camp Folsom: ‘You were chosen, and they had your back no matter what’

With the Tales of the City show on Netflix and the Pride flags up on Market Street, we’ve got chosen family on the brain: the people you find by circumstance, often in pivotal times in your life, whom you end up keeping by choice.

On the podcast today, we have musician Colin Daly—incidentally among my own chosen family—who stopped by the studio to share a timely retelling and ode to his time at Camp Folsom: where a room in the Mission was only $300 and life lessons—about money, community, heartbreak, and learning to be a grownup—were included in the rent.

Here’s his story:

San Francisco Diaries, and our original project, Muni Diaries, are made of your stories and everyone’s experiences. Submit your own tale from the city by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @munidiaries.

Pic courtesy of Brandy, upper left. Colin is in the foreground, and Meghan is behind him.

Muni Diaries Live: We do it for the surprise tears

Our pre-show rehearsal is a necessary part of the live storytelling game—but it’s also a nice reminder of why we’re still collecting your stories about San Francisco commute life and, since 2017, of life all over this city we call home. We call the phenomenon surprise tears, where something universally true or poignant hits us all and then the eyes get stingy and we’re rooting around in our purse for tissue.

You’re in for a treat come Saturday. Get tickets today:

Muni Diaries Live (<- tix on Eventbrite)
Sat., April 6
Doors: 5:30 pm
Show: 6:30-8:30 pm

The Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St (between Van Ness and Franklin)

Also! Today, April 3, is our 11th birthday: Thanks for coming along on the ride, however unpredictable and kooky it may have been, for all these years. We’d love to celebrate with you in our new home.

Pic by Right Angle Images

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