San Francisco Diaries: Aruna dreams of kimchi

Aruna Lee is the founder of San Francisco-based Volcano Kimchi, whose organic kimchi and sauces are made in her “Fermentation Lab” in the Dogpatch. Aruna grew up in a Buddhist monastery in Korea, where every meal included an assortment of kimchi.

When she arrived in San Francisco in 2001, doing anything related to food was the furthest thing from her mind as she settled into her new chapter. In this episode, Aruna shares the story of how she eventually came back to food, building her small business in a tough town with her childhood memories as inspiration.

Listen to her story:

You can find Volcano kimchi and sauces at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, Clement Street Farmer’s Market, Good Eggs, Rainbow Grocery, and more.

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A print magazine of our very own: Meet The San Franciscan

Proving that San Francisco is still a place that celebrates grassroots efforts, locals Erica Messner and Amanda Legge have launched a new magazine about our city, The San Franciscan. Launching a magazine (a print one, at that) is no small feat, especially as the pandemic pushed us farther from each other. In this episode of the podcast, Erica and Amanda call us back around the campfire to share how they made their dream into reality, despite a little legal hiccup from their other favorite urban mag. 

Amanda and Erica have a new issue out, and the cover features a scene from our preferred mode of transportation. You can get a copy of it, featuring work from 30+ local artists and writers, at local favs spots like Green Apple Books, Dog Eared Books, and Alley Cat Bookstores and Gallery.

Listen to their story:

In their retelling, Amanda and Erica mention this cartoon—which was (foolishly!) not accepted by The New Yorker—that started it all.

We’re so glad to see friends getting together to create something for the city we all love—it certainly sounds familiar to us here at Muni Diaries HQ.

As always, we are looking for stories about people who love and care about our city. If you have someone to nominate to be on our podcast, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

San Francisco Diaries: Opening night at Rickshaw Stop

After shuttering for more than a year since the start of the pandemic, San Francisco venues finally opened their doors to indoor events last week. We talk to Dan Strachota, the talent buyer and managing partner at Rickshaw Stop to hear about their first indoor show about a week ago. Rickshaw Stop is also the home of Muni Diaries Live, so we were especially relieved to know that the venue is back in business.

Dan shares the behind-the-scenes details of their first show (featuring local bands Zola and Zelma Stone), and all the unexpected things that happen after 16 months in hibernation.

Dan has been the managing partner at Rickshaw Stop for nearly a decade, and the talent buyer for 17 years and counting. He has been an outspoken advocate for independent venues in San Francisco.

Listen to the interview:

We’re always looking for stories from people who love and care about San Francisco. If you have a story to share, or want to nominate someone to be on the podcast, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And keep up with your Muni musing with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

San Francisco Diaries: Meet a local historian who is anything but jaded

What can history teach us about this pivotal moment as we drop most COVID-related restrictions in San Francisco? Between mask-ne treatments and socializing awkwardly, we chatted with Chris Carlsson, the director of Shaping San Francisco about his experience and his perspective on our reawakening city.

Chris is a writer, San Francisco historian, tour guide, and writer. He recently published a new book, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories. Chris has seen a few cycles of San Francisco history since the 1970s. He was involved in many activist groups in the city, including a group that modified billboards about Muni fare in the 1980s. Who knew we would still be arguing about Muni fares today.

You might think he has seen it all, but in our conversation about his new book, we found out that this historian is anything but jaded about the future of San Francisco. “The more you understand history, the more you realize there are constant moments of possibility,” he told us—and I’m inclined to believe it’s true.

Listen to his conversation with Muni Diaries here:

We are looking forward to hearing your tales about returning to life, work, and other ways that living in San Francisco means to you now. Submit your own story or photo by tagging us @munidiaries on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Photo by FoundSF.

Support these SF AAPI orgs and stop telling the Muni ‘chicken story’

San Francisco is approximately 37% AAPI*, and here at Muni Diaries, we are 2/3 Asian women, the first-generation American children of immigrants, and proud of our heritage. We’ve spent more than a decade documenting life in San Francisco because we love our city. But that love letter can be harder to write in the shadow of violent crimes against Asians in San Francisco and a mass shooting targeting Asian women in Atlanta.

Like all people of color, we were hardly surprised—this is the reality of being non-white in the United States. But we were horrified for the victims, current and future. As Asian women, public transit enthusiasts, and longtime urban adventurers, we wonder how easily it could have been one of us.

Even in our tiny universe of collecting your stories on Muni, race has been a constant. We started the conversation about race on Muni Diaries in 2009 after an audience member made fun of a Chinese stereotype at our live show (henceforth named the Muni Chicken Story Incident). And we continue having these conversations with one another and within our community today.

Early in the pandemic, our Asian-American readers asked, “Do you feel that people are glaring at you on Muni?” We were almost relieved because we were experiencing the same.

The issue of race remains one of our most frequent editorial judgements in story submissions; ethnicity is often included as a descriptor when relaying a tale, even if it doesn’t add anything to the story. It usually seems unintentional, but from our perspective behind the scenes, it highlights how descriptors of “others” are noteworthy, whereas descriptors of the perceived default—white—are not.

Every incident reminds us that we can’t only be philosophically against AAPI hate, we actually have to do something about it every single day. We will continue to make Muni Diaries a fair and inclusive place to talk about our city, and we encourage you to support these San Francisco-based Asian-American organizations who are on the front lines of advocacy.

If you have other organizations to add, and other actions to share, our comments section and inbox are always open to your point of view.

Photo by Right Angle Images.

San Francisco Diaries: When true love leaves you in stitches

Storyteller Kathleen Auterio moved to San Francisco from Massachusetts to do new things, just like in the Bee Gees song. It was the year 2000, and everything seemed to be on track: she had an apartment, a roommate, and a job at SF Weekly managing the adult ads in the back of the paper—a job that accepted her as a proud metalhead. After meeting a new guy at the paper, though, they would soon come face to face with a relationship trust exercise involving a field hospital surgery.

(We can’t wait for you to listen to the episode so you can fully get all the puns we stuffed into this post. Our mouths are still agape.)

Kathleen is also one of our esteemed Muni Diaries Live alum. You can hear her story about an eventful Muni ride on Episode 81 of the podcast. 

Listen to Kathleen’s story:

We want to hear your story about how San Francisco changed you—or vice versa! If you have a story to share or know someone who does, pitch us your story idea by emailing us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of these true tales from the city.

Transcript

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