San Francisco is Seattle on steroids. I recently returned from a group trip to the Bay Area city and was surprised to enjoy a sense of home away from home. Although the city is on a grander scale than ours and possesses unique characteristics such as its picturesque narrow Victorian-style homes on steep hills and of course, its Golden Gate Bridge — I found the experience comforting, enjoying a city — in climate, landscape, and attitude – similar to our own.

We kicked-off the trip at Fisherman’s Wharf — a seaside neighborhood on San Francisco’s northeast corner, popular with tourists for its lively piers that dot the area with a carnival atmosphere and seafood shacks to rival Seattle’s best. We reveled in the antics of street performers and artists’ creations. The weather felt breezy and cool as we cruised the boardwalk – so similar to our own.

On another outing, we ventured a trip into San Francisco’s famed and historic Chinatown, turned a corner, and happened upon a massive mid-Autumn festival. The whole of Chinatown’s Grant Street stretched for blocks and blocks swelling with entertainment booths, vendors, and food stalls. People walked shoulder-to-shoulder to catch glimpses of grilled street food. We ducked into a café and purchased fish balls from a seller boiling them in a vat of broth at the entrance. I wanted to spend more time in that neighborhood, an atmosphere I’ve grown accustomed to in community media work, but we had plans.

We rented a minivan and zipped off to Napa Valley, about an hour and a half away; participated in a wine tour, ate well, and sank in the sights and sweet aroma of wine country. The region took our breath away – with its iconic wineries and beautiful orange landscapes. Upon our return to the city, my friends and I held our breaths as we drove down the renowned Lombard Street — a steep zig-zag avenue. And best of all, we sang karaoke. Not ordinary karaoke. We sang at the top of our lungs as a group as if no one was watching. The song, “Summer of ‘69” will always hold a place in our hearts. And we laughed. A lot. My husband and I had the fortune to celebrate our 1-year anniversary with good friends and much outbursts of laughter.

We all grew closer and came away with a zest for life and how that almost child-like joy in the simplest things translates into a deeper understanding of what really matters in life. The people around you.

We commonly use the word “community” in our articles and in our language as we speak. But it’s not the community buildings or organizations we’re referring to. People don’t support a building or an agency. It’s more personal than that. When you get down to it – community is about the people it is made up of, the people it serves, and the people that will one day inherit it.

Community is everywhere – in every city. It’s just a collection of people who care – about each other and the betterment of the world.

In this issue, we feature advocates who worry the Duwamish River in industrial South Park is a health and environmental hazard to local ethnic communities calling the area home. In another piece, we highlight the revitalized effort by concerned citizens to improve public safety through security cameras installed in the C/ID. Also, we discuss the recent movement of artists into the C/ID — businesses, galleries, and artists’ lofts — filling vacant spaces throughout the neighborhood. And in part I of a featured series by Collin Tong, we highlight the Asian American history in shaping the Central District neighborhood — and Seattle for that matter — including the discriminatory city policies lain against ethnic groups and its legacy in the community today.

So hold your breath and enjoy the ride.

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