As you know, this semester I embarked on a journalistic quest to get to know this district.
I have learned a lot this semester, about this neighborhood, about reporting and most importantly I learned how to be a journalist in modern times in this city.
The Marina district is an interesting place. My first impression led me to believe that this district was filled with a lot of active individuals who loved night life, businesses that never had bad days, and a micro-climate almost like that of San Diego (which was actually the opposite), but I found so much more than that.
Business is tough. Throughout this semester I have personally seen over 7 different businesses in this district close their doors for good. But capitalism thrives and other businesses take place of the fallen.
This semester I talked and made friends with a lot of business owners, merchants and employees who work in the district. From my experience talking with these individuals, I personally believe that they are the key-holders to the most valuable information and perspectives that this district has to offer.
Okay, Sure, there are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of people in this neighborhood who take exercise and physical activity very seriously, but there are also different people who don’t necessarily like waking up at 5:30 am to go to Soul Cycle.
The individuals that I met helped me so incredibly much and made reporting on this district fun, exciting, and pretty easy.
I became really close with two people in particular who encouraged me and took time out of their days to help me on this short, but promising journey.
Lindsey Blackburn, the manager of Be Good Clothing on Union Street, is the easiest person to talk to in the world. She works in retail, so she knows how to make good conversation as well as give me the best tips about the neighborhood, businesses, the people and so on. She provided me with more information than I could ask for. She has lived in the Marina for her entire life, so she knows the streets better than her own thoughts. She was able to help me get in touch with whoever I needed to, like real estate agents, other business owners, and even let me sit in on Union Street Association meetings on her behalf. (But in all honesty, she never really liked going to them anyway.) She has also managed other businesses in the neighborhood and had a lot of contacts in places that were really helpful. I couldn’t of completed this semester without her insight and clever tongue.
Paolo Miranda, the one and the only. Paolo is indescribable. He is the manager at Sean on Union Street. He loves to gossip, he loves to eat, and he also loves to tell stories that one wouldn’t even know if they were real or not. (There is this one story he told me that one day when he was working a man pulled a kidney out of his backpack and tried to sell it to him. I still don’t believe it, but he swears on his life.) Paolo was able to give me perspective. From just reporting on him and all the crazy stories he tells, I learned that I really love writing about people. He was able to narrow my ideas into concepts and he even helped guide me in ways that I could execute stories. His insight was wonderful and I will always remember how energetic he would get when he would talk about his escapades and past experiences when we would talk over lunch at La Boulange.
By meeting Lindsey and Paolo this semester, I learned a lot about myself and how much I like reporting on this neighborhood and the people who live and work here.
One of the insights that Paolo gave me was that wherever you go there will always be people around, but you will never understand that environment until you talk to those people and hear their stories.
I heard a lot of stories this semester. Some good, some great and others that were absolutely dreadful. I realized that some people are completely open to talking and sharing their experiences while others don’t want anything to do with a journalism student. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get a story out of those people.
Anyways, this district is something else. You can find almost every type of person just by walking down the street. There are: the work-out buffs who wear Lu Lu Lemon 24/7, the only organic-eating vegans (who give it up when they get drunk), the frat dude that graduated ten years ago but still thinks his frat is the most important thing in the world, the materialist “Marina Mom”, the nannies that get paid thousands of dollars to run around with other people’s children while they sip mimosas, the wanna-be Marina girl that talks like she’s from the Valley and the only designer she knows is Steve Madden, the couple that broke up years ago but still own a dog together, and of course the progressive small business owner who is able to convince any one who comes in their store how amazing their product is.
You might be thinking to yourself “I don’t know any of those kinds of people?” but trust me… Spend a week in the Marina and you will come across every single one.
Well then, thanks for the fun, the learning experience and the skills to be able to talk to all those different kinds of people that I listed above.