Mercado Plaza

What did the Mission say?

Posted on by Mission Community Market in Blog, Mercado Plaza | Leave a comment

As I approached the youth surveyor’s booth at MCM last Thursday, all six surveyors were engaged in conversation with a passer-by. They looked relaxed and in charge, fielding questions about where to use the bathroom even as they explained the results of their survey to curious market goers.

surveyors

One of the surveyors, Daniel Mendoza, held out a fresh strawberry to me, asking if I’d like to vote for the permanent name of the anticipated plaza. When I asked him which name was winning, he laughed. “La Placita is ahead right now,” said Mendoza. “It’s cuter.”

Daniel Cortes, Daniel Mendoza, and Giovanni Carreño ask market goers to vote for the permanent name of the plaza.

Daniel Cortes, Daniel Mendoza, and Giovanni Carreño ask market goers to vote for the permanent name of the plaza.

It’s no surprise that the surveyors are comfortable––they live locally, are fluent in Spanish, and spent the last month distributing surveys at the market and throughout the Mission District. The 30-minute surveys addressed community opinions about the Bartlett plaza project, which the City plans to finish constructing in the spring of 2015. To prepare, the surveyors asked Mission locals about what kind of programming, art, and facilities they’d like to see at the plaza.

In four weeks, the surveyors turned out an impressive 199 surveys––only one survey away from their initial goal of 200. And the response from the community was strong; Susy Rojas, one of the surveyors, said that “generally people were actually friendly––they were pretty open about completing the survey.”

Sometimes, the friendly attitude went too far. “One guy liked taking the survey too much,” Rojas said, laughing. “It took us two hours to finish that one!”

Many people, said Rojas, “thought the plaza would create a lot more connections within the community. They were excited for more programming, especially for kids.” Others were interested in health related programs, Rojas said.

About 95% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that the new plaza will aid community connections.

About 95% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that the new plaza will aid community connections.

Programming was not the only interest of those surveyed; one aspect of the plaza that nearly everyone could agree on was the presence of public art. “The majority of the respondents wanted art,” said Rojas. “They wanted the paintings and art to represent diversity.”

In the Mission District, diversity is a touchy subject. The planned plaza, which is slated for construction on Bartlett Street, straddles two different populations within the Mission––the historic, Latin@ population, and the newer population of young adults and Caucasian families.

But Rojas said that she was surprised by how open the Latin@s she surveyed were about the project. “I expected a lot more close-minded responses,” said Rojas. “But seeing the majority (63.33 %) of survey participants be Latin@ made me think… the Mission isn’t inaccessible yet.”  While many respondents noted that affordable housing was a problem that the Mission District was facing, the issue of increased housing costs didn’t overshadow a desire for community building. In fact, said Rojas, Latin@s she interviewed were particularly enthusiastic about how the plaza might create more opportunities for their children to learn and play. And she agreed that community programming was integral to healthy relationships within the neighborhood. “I would love to see more community connections,” she said. “I think that’s desperately needed. You never know what you can learn by leaving your house.”

“But seeing the majority (63.33 %) of survey participants be Latin@ made me think… the Mission isn’t inaccessible yet.”

Along with a majority Latin@ response, 46.46% of those surveyed had lived in the Mission for more than 10 years.

Along with a majority Latin@ response, 46.46% of those surveyed had lived in the Mission for more than 10 years.

For the surveyors, that sense of community existed with each other, as well. “I liked messing around with my coworkers,” said Rojas. “That was fun. I liked having competitions to see who could get the most surveys completed.” And administering so many surveys helped Rojas gain interpersonal skills as well. “I was initially apprehensive––I’m not so open to talking to strange people,” she said. “But in the end, it was pretty good. I learned to go at it.”

Susy Rojas and Nathaly De Leon answer questions at Mission Community Market.

Susy Rojas and Nathaly De Leon answer questions at Mission Community Market.

Rojas noted that the surveys also helped her connect with Mission Community Market. “You get to see a lot of different characters at the market,” said Rojas.

“It surprises me a little bit. In the market I’ve noticed a lot of Caucasians but was surprised to some cultural diversity as well.”

Rojas admitted that her perception of the market had changed after her experience. “I want more people to come out,” she said. “Some of my acquaintances told me I was working for the yuppies at the beginning of the summer. Now I know–– don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge this organization without coming to the market and learning.”

“Now I know–– don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge this organization without coming to the market and learning.”


The surveyors will be available to answer any questions about the plaza and their survey data this Sunday, August 24th, at their booth on Valencia St. between 21st-22nd Streets during Sunday Streets.

Youth Surveyors Making Sure Mission Community Is Heard

Posted on by Mission Community Market in Blog, Mercado Plaza | 1 Comment

Community is more than just part of Mission Community Market’s name. And right now, the organization is making sure that the community is heard. A new survey project, funded by the San Francisco Foundation’s Great Communities Collaborative and organized by MCM in partnership with MEDA seeks to include the perspective of Mission residents in programming for the future Mercado Plaza, to be built on Bartlett Street between 21st and 22nd Streets. With the plaza, MCM hopes to transform the space into a flexible, family-friendly area with overhead protection and permanent lighting fixtures that will help to brighten the street and make it safer. Located at what is, in many ways, the crossroads of the Mission District, MCM’s survey can serve another purpose too––engaging a historic Latin@ population that traditionally doesn’t participate in City-led community workshops.

The survey project is focusing on getting feedback for future programming options at the Mercado Plaza, currently slated to be completed in the Spring of 2015. And the survey is intended for “those who live, work or go to school starting in (1) a 2-3 block radius around the future Mercado Plaza site and (2) historical Mission residents who usually don’t participate in other community feedback opportunities,” said Rosi Bustamante, executive director of MCM.  Focusing on both of these populations is important — on one side the Plaza site is an affordable housing project and parking garage, and on the other a future mixed-use, condominium project.  Seeking feedback from diverse sides will ensure Plaza programming will meet the needs of the community.

The local youth that MCM has hired to implement the surveys might hold the key to engaging all parts of the Mission District and ensuring that the Mercado Plaza is a space that benefits all. “We wanted to provide job and training opportunities to local youth, which is why we hired our surveyors,“ said Bustamante. Six bilingual, youth surveyors were hired, and MCM hopes that with the addition of these surveyors, they can include the voices of those in the community that are hardest to reach.

“We wanted to provide job and training opportunities to local youth, which is why we hired our surveyors.”

Before they hit the streets, however, the surveyors sat in on a two week training organized by MCM and MEDA. The training centered around teaching the youth about the Mercado Plaza project, what kind of questions to expect from those surveyed, and how to approach community members for surveying. “The training was cool,” said Giovanni Carreño, one of the six surveyors. “I learned how to approach people. I learned how to not take no for an answer––but not in a rude way.”

From left to right: Daniel Cortes, Giovanni Carreño, Daniel Mendoza, Ivan Castro. Not pictured: Nathaly De Leon, Susy Rojas.

From left to right: Daniel Cortes, Giovanni Carreño, Daniel Mendoza, Ivan Castro. Not pictured: Nathaly De Leon, Susy Rojas.

MCM hopes that the youth surveyors can help to get the community involved and excited about the Mercado Plaza, as well as answer any questions that they might have. So far, said Carreño, the surveyors have had some mixed reactions––especially about the length of the survey, which takes about 20 minutes to complete. “A lot of people ask, is there any way to make it shorter?” he said, laughing. “But when someone starts asking questions,” he continued, “you know that they’re interested.”

The survey, which is multiple-choice and hosted on tablets used by each of the surveyors, was created by Angela Gallegos-Castillo with feedback from MCM advisory board members. Gallegos-Castillo conducted two focus groups, one at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 School food bank and another at The Women’s Building preschool “to get a better sense of what kinds of options to provide for the multiple choice questions,” Bustamante said. Those options include questions about what kind of programming Mission residents would like to see at the Mercado Plaza. “For example,” Bustamante said, “do they want to see more markets, cultural events, play streets? Classes, family activities, concerts?”

Mercado Plaza - Courtesy of Rebar

The anticipated design for The Mercado Plaza, opening March 2015.

The anticipated date to open the Mercado Plaza is March 2015. MCM describes the Plaza, which is being built by the City of San Francisco, as “a new public space [which will] provide a beautiful, safe and much needed open space in the heart of the Mission for a wide variety of community programs that support family health, promote small businesses, create new local art and bring diverse communities together.”

Last week, the survey team joined the market for the first time. “Two of us are here,” said Carreño, “and three more are going to houses in a two-block radius of the market.” The team will continue the survey process for about three more weeks, and hopes to administer at least 200 surveys in that time. “We needed to define a number that was attainable within our time and number of youth,” Bustamante said. And the team is hopeful. “I’d like to reach––or even exceed––the quota,” Carreño said.

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Nathaly De Leon conducts a survey at the Mission Community Market

Carreño agreed that some residents see Bartlett as a border between two populations. But he thinks that the Mercado Plaza will aid all. “The main goal is to bring more lighting,” to make it safer, he said. “They’re trying to make the street more family-oriented.”

“They’re trying to make the street more family-oriented.”

Not all that he has surveyed see it that way. “Yesterday,” said Carreño, “was the first day [of surveying]. At the first house [the resident] said he didn’t have time to take the survey but kept offering suggestions, including removing the neighboring affordable housing. It’s not all that motivating to meet people like that.”

But when I asked him whether others have been motivating, Carreño lit up. “Yes, yes. I’ve met so many motivating people,” Carreño said. He described surveying Jennifer Kindell, a vendor at the market. “She’s really passionate,” he said, “on the survey, she kept picking ‘other’ because she wanted to write what she thought.”

And for Carreño, the surveys are a chance to get in touch with the Mission District. “I want to know what people think,” he said. “I like learning about people.” When I asked him more about his surveying technique, Carreño admitted that he didn’t like to stick to the questions. “I try to just get an opinion,” he said. “I let them talk. You learn so much from people. Today [while surveying] I met a Peruvian lady at the laundromat, and she taught me about Machu Picchu. It takes a 5 hour train ride and 1 hour bus ride to get there!” said Carreño.

“I want to know what people think. I like learning about people.”

Perhaps the trick to getting responses from all of the residents of the Mission District is to think like Carreño. “A lot of Latin@s are interested in the project,” he said,” and “when I think of the Mission I think of Latin@s.”

The survey project offers a unique opportunity for MCM to connect with all residents of the Mission––and for those residents to influence the future of the district. And with their ability to connect with Mission residents from all walks of life, perhaps the youth surveyors, working in the heart of the Mission, are truly at the heart of it all.

We Need Your Donation to Keep the Mercado Magic Alive

Posted on by EmilyN in Blog, For Kids, Health promotion, Live Music, Mercado Plaza, murals, public art | Leave a comment
We are asking for your support to continue to bring the mercado magic to you every week! Please donate to MCM this holiday season by clicking here.

youth in urban sprouts cut outs

Mission Community Market was created by the people and for the people of the Mission.  Our weekly market is full of healthy, farm fresh products, small artisans, and local music. Add friendly faces with a place to gather and enjoy delicious dinner with your family, and you have the makings of a place con corazón, with heart!

MCM goes beyond the friendly farmers market by also offering the following unique ingredients:

Bilingual Health Promotion and Mission Mercado Match

To help reduce obesity and diabetes, we provide bilingual cooking demonstrations, a play space, and the nutritional resources you need to make everyday cooking fun and healthy. MCM is proud to offer these programs thanks to a strong partnership with Urban Sprouts and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). Thanks to another partnership with Bi-Rite Market, MCM doubles the dollars for all WIC and CalFresh (formerly food stamps) participants who shop for healthy produce at our market, supplementing diets of families who are food insecure, especially in the face of current CalFresh budget cuts.

Growing Small Businesses

Artisans and local merchants give MCM the homegrown and neighborhood feel that contributes to the community. For this integral sector of our family of vendors, we provide a platform to reach a weekly audience, technical assistance, access to market, guidance on packaging and marketing products, and sales opportunities to other businesses.

Musicians SOTA chorus w little audienceYouth Arts

Youth can dance, sing or act on the street at MCM. Sometimes it’s their first public performance, and it gives them an opportunity to soar! Participating youth are from Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA), The Marsh Youth Theater, Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, San Francisco School, Mission Cultural Center, Everett Middle School, Edison Academy, and many others.

The Mercado Plaza – A Sense of Community Space

MCM successfully lead the efforts to create the Mercado Plaza on Bartlett Street. Canopies, lights, wider and beautiful sidewalks, murals and landscaping will make Bartlett a safer shared street. The space will be perfect to host a variety of community events for all – we can’t wait!

Creating a celebrated space and programming for all

Mission Community Market is the only community-based organization whose mission is to bring the diverse people of the Mission together through food, music, murals, or just gathering with neighbors. The Mercado Plaza will enable more positive programming to give back to our community, improve the quality of life in the Mission, and beautify the neighborhood.

We are asking for your support to continue to bring the mercado magic to you every week! Please donate to MCM this holiday season by clicking here.

MCM is Moving Around the Corner!

Posted on by EmilyN in Blog, Mercado Plaza, Press | Leave a comment

This Thursday November 21st, join us for another fun-filled market with great music and great food – in our new location!

Our farms and packaged vendors will be located on 22nd Street between Mission and Bartlett, and the hot food vendors will remain on the south end of Bartlett, wrapping around the corner. This move will be temporary, but we still expect it to last a little over a year (for the duration of the construction projects on the block).

Mission Community Market

Mission Local covered this move in a recent story, and everyone is excited to see how this move affects the businesses on 22nd Street with increased foot traffic! Our MCM vendors are excited to get more visibility from Mission and Valencia Streets to bring in new customers and introduce them to all the great local food and community-based programming we have to offer.

Residents of Casa de la Raza and those using the monthly lot on 22nd will still have access to their garages. We’ve hired additional traffic control staff to help things move smoothly during the market. Have a comment, question or concern about the move? Email us or come chat us up at the market!

People of MCM: Shannon & Silas

Posted on by Dana Crary in Blog, Mercado Plaza, People of MCM, Twin Girls Farm | Leave a comment

Meet Shannon and Silas, regular market attendees and supporters of the MCM community. We got the chance to speak to them while they were tasting juicy stone fruit samples from Twin Girls Farms.

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Where do you live?

The Mission.

How often do you come to MCM?

About every other week. We counter balance our visits with our CSA box which we receive from Eatwell Farm.

What are you buying today?

We haven’t started our shopping yet but we often come to MCM for inspiration on what to make for dinner that night. Today we will definitely be buying some of these peaches and nectarines from Twin Girls Farm.

What’s your favorite part of the Market?

MCM is a family-oriented environment. It is not just commerce taking place here but connections within the community. We often see friends and people we know here. We also love the live music.

What’s the best kept secret at MCM, or something you would like people to know about?

We are really excited that MCM is on the verge of getting growing into more of a community establishment. The momentum and support behind the Mercado Plaza has been exciting to be a part of and watch.

Thank you Shannon and Silas!