If you could design your life, how would you design it?
What are the things in your life that are most important to you and who is your Tribe?
I have learned that we gravitate towards places which define, reflect and nurture who we are and what we value.
Having lived in Lancaster, NYC and San Francisco in my adult life, I have been paying attention to what it is about these places that makes them unique, and why I ultimately chose San Francisco as my home.
I came up with 4 values which create a kind of a base or culture of where and why I want to live in San Francisco. They are ~
FOOD, ART and POLITICS
I love Food and I love cooking! I am not trying to be completely negative about Lancaster County foods – home of the Amish and greasy food diners – and ALL of Lancaster is not like this, but Lancaster County is the home of what I call THE YELLOW FOOD GROUP:
Often within the same meal, we have mashed potatoes, potato salads, white pasta salads, over cooked vegetables with butter, cheese, white bread and pies made with lard or butter and mayonnaise used as a seasoning, not a occasional ingredient. These are all great comfort foods BUT they get boring and they create health problems long term …
In contrast, there is the Foodie culture and California Cuisine in the Bay Area. The idea that we eat foods from different cultures is valued, the idea that we eat healthy and fresh foods is encouraged! I love this. It’s a lifestyle choice that I love being a part of, even if my SF Foodie friends are almost annoying to go out to eat with, because their standards are so high.
Just to compare, the SF Chronical Restaurant critic Michael Bauer wrote in his article about the TOP 100 BAY AREA RESTAURANTS, that the restaurants in SF “not only draw people from around the Bay Area, but from around the world” (Bauer). This is exciting to me, I love being around this. If you love the creativity that goes into cooking, foods and wines like I do, this is the place to be!
My second value of Wellness is another difference between Lancaster County and the San Francisco Bay Area. This area has a sense of respect wellness and physical health – which food plays an important part in. Wellness examples include massage therapy, acupuncture, verbal therapy, and rosen therapy, or even what I experienced on the job in SF years ago, being about to take “Mental Health Das”, which simply required that you call in, no reason needed. Take a day – we know you need it. This would never happen in Lancaster.
It’s interesting to look at the numbers of businesses! The website Yelp lists under 25 entries for massage therapy or therapists in Lancaster, PA, and lists 625 for the city of San Francisco, not including the greater Bay Area. Also in Lancaster, acupuncture is viewed with skepticism because it’s foreign …the fact that Asians cultures have been practicing acupuncture towards general wellness for least 2,000 years (Lewith), does not help the argument. I had to read up on the history of Acupuncture by George Lewith, who is a professor at the University of Southampton, is also a prominent and sometimes controversial advocates of complementary medicine in the UK.
My third value is Art and how it’s good for the body, mind, and soul. I’m not going to take up the sad topic of how the Arts are not being valued on a national or educational level in the US, I’ll just focus smaller:
Art is great both for the artist who is creating, and the people who are receiving the art. Beauty is everywhere, but there are some places that are more beautiful than others, and Lancaster and the San Francisco Bay Area illustrate this inequality well.
Visually, Lancaster County has its beautiful views of farmland, hiking trails, waterways, beautiful houses, and neighborhoods, but overwhelmingly there are Malls, parking lots, highways, and commercial bill boards.
By comparison, the San Francisco Bay Area has intentionally designed its cities and towns to emphasize public art, not commercialism. San Francisco artists are encouraged to create public artworks, murals, and sculptures throughout the city see photos. A great example of SF valuing art for everyone is not just the design of the city, and it’s public murals, but the kind of art you see by the Non-Profit company ART NOT ADS.org Here are three examples I took on BART recently.
Listen to these GOALS of ART NOT ADS from their website:
We explore art and technology, keeping our process open to members and the public alike. Everyone is creative, given the right opportunity. By creating radically inclusive works of art, we offset negative messages while helping people realize their inner creative genius.
This is stuff I want to be around … It’s part of who I am and what I value.
On the subject of Art being good for our general health, Alice Park wrote an article for Time Magazine about a research fellow in the department of public health and general practices at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, following the concept that the consumption of art has significant positive health impact (Park). Her statistics came out differently between the genders, but the numbers generally indicate that the Arts are good for body, mind, spirit (Park). It’s sad that this study doesn’t come out of the US, so it’s even more important to mention.
My last story is about politics. We live in a free country. We generally take pride in this fact, not matter what political party we belong to. During my years in Lancaster I considered myself open enough a person to be able to go work for a Republican. I do not mean to offend anyone here and genuinely believe in free choice in this country. But one of the things that put me over the edge living in Lancaster is this story which is similar to other stories of what would happen to me. At my old job, I was one of the few (or two) Liberals in the group, which was fine. What was not fine was the owner would walk in on Election Days and announce in front of the entire office: I HOPE EVERYONE VOTED FOR BUSH / OR ROMNEY TODAY, and spend the day talking about this topic so that basically there was no respect for Democrats. We were silenced. Inwardly I thought, THIS IS BULLYING and THIS IS HOW THE NAZIS did it. Later in the lunch room a co worker told me exactly the same thing. Now I actually have a German family with a Nazi grandfather, and a great grandfather who I never met who was an SS officer. We no NOTHING about their political lives, but it means that I am very aware about things like that which have historically trended towards greater evils.
Needless to say, I wanted to design my life so that I am around more liberals, because I don’t want to feel that sense of alienation politically. Somehow my American grandfather managed to live in a part of Pennsylvania as the ONLY Democrat in the entire County his whole life, but that’s not for me. As segregated as the Bay Area might be, towards liberals, I love that I can read a bumper sticker that says I LOVE OBAMA, but then a actual SECOND bumper sticker that says I NOT A REPUBLICAN. Which I find hilarious because it’s so redundant, but more importantly, I feel I am HOME, with my tribe.
And that is what this is all about … Put yourself around the people who do and create and are the things you are, so that you are within your people, so that you stay inspired, and ultimately can inspire the people around you.
Bauer, Michael. “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants”. SFGate. April 2012. Web 17 Oct. 2013.
Evanish, Jason. “25 Things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco.” Jasonevanish. 7 Jan. 2013. Web 13 Oct. 2013.
“Food San Francisco” Yelp. Web 19 Oct. 2013.
Lewith, George T. “The History of Acupuncture in China.” Acupuncture-Its Place In Western Medical Science. By Thorsons Publishing Group. HEALTHY. Web 17 Oct. 2013.
Park, Alice. "For Men, Good Health May Be Found at the Museum." TIME Health & Family. 24 May. 2011. Web 19 Oct. 2013.