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San Francisco Embraces the Pop-Up for Neighborhood Revitilization

In San Francisco, pop-up incubator SQFT attempts to showcase the potential of temporary business for economic development

Once a strategy for retailers to build brand awareness and coolness cred in a flashy spectacle (now you see us, now you don't), the pop-up shop has transformed into a tool of urban revitilization. In San Francisco, the city government has partnered with a pop-up incubator called SQFT to help activate a downtrodden neighborhood's potential with a jolt of temporary business inserted into retail deadspace. Today, SQFT celebrates its launch by bringing a slice of life to a string of blocks in San Francisco's Mid-Market with a pop-up library, yoga studio, and cafe, among other temporary businesses.


The idea for SQFT was born at a design hackathon hosted by economic development group Creative Currency in April. SQFT's website, which launched last week, serves to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with cheap, temporary office space in Mid-Market, using a rent calculator tailored to the needs of people looking for a lot of flexibility. While a realtor might think you're crazy if you asked for help finding an office that could accommodate a lecture series only on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, for example, that's exactly the kind of request that SQFT was built to field, provide a quote for, and find spaces for.

The Mid-Market neighborhood is a paritcularly good fit for temporary business, according to SQFT. It boasts a central location, plentiful public transit, a bounty of open office space, and rent that's lower than average for this exorbinantly expensive city. But the area has its fair share of problems too, including crime, blight, and homelessness, that have limited development and renewal in the area while large swathes of the rest of the city have been thoroughly gentrified.

According to SQFT, pop-ups have the potential to bring a buzz of activity to the area by boosting foot traffic, supporting existing business, and potentially luring permanent businesses. "Temporary leasing allows creative entrepreneurs access to spaces typically beyond their budget, enables landlords to recoup taxes by testing multiple uses, and brings activity even amidst uncertain planning and development processes," the organization writes in a press release.

Today, an all day event celebrates SQFT's launch. The group has welcomed a variety of pop-ups to join them on a two-block corridor of Market, and has hired the labor of local residents to help make the event a success. A pop-library is hosting chess tournaments. A temporary yoga studio will lead passersby through vinyasas. And a coffee shop will keep commuters energized.

The event is just the beginning for SQFT, who intends to "ripple throughout the neighborhood" after testing the waters at a few locations and is planning for several exciting public challenges as a way to engage community members in Mid-Market revitalization efforts.

What are your thoughts on pop-up projects like this? An economic jolt, the final frontier of gentrification, or something else altogether? Let us know in the comments below.

Articles
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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

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The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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