How can a [freespace] revitalize a neighborhood?

What would you do if you were being evicted from your home in a neighborhood where housing is becoming increasingly scarce, rent prices are climbing, and homelessness is nothing short of an epidemic? For San Francisco resident Zaria Gunn and a small team of big-hearted volunteers, the answer was simple: do something to make a positive impact in their community in the short time that they had left.

On Saturday, April 19th, Refried Friends hosted The Free Shop Pop Up at [freespace], located in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. At 10am, they were hard at work setting up rack after rack of new and gently used clothing, donated by people within their neighborhood. By mid day, the building was filled with people who were finding everything from new coats to button down shirts, blazers, and even the occasional book or piece of artwork. By the end of the event, over 250 residents of the neighborhood had participated.


And everything, of course, was free! Over the bustle of excited shoppers, curious passer-by’s, and the [piano] just outside the front door, it wasn’t uncommon to hear exclamations of gratitude, disbelief, and the occasional “I love you!”. The latter was from Oliver, a window washer in the neighborhood who stopped in when he heard the piano being played. “Do you understand how important this is?! If I saw these people walking down the street, I would have no idea that they were capable of doing this. Music is such a release, it’s so important… You guys are revitalizing the Tenderloin.”

The Free Shop Pop-Up is fulfilling a mission of engaging communities by allowing residents and business the fortuity to support individuals in need through non-monetary means. Participants in Saturday’s event walked away with new clothing, and an increased awareness of what’s possible when someone who cares about their community has a lot of passion, and a little free space.

Read more about the Free Shop and Refried Friends, their projects, and ways to get involved, on their website.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply