In the past four months of reporting in the Castro, I have fallen deeper in love with this neighborhood. For the past two and half years, I have been working in the area but it was not until this class that I realized what a strong and amazing community this small part of the city has.
Many tourists and visitors stroll through the Castro corridor to visit Hot Cookie or the famous Castro Theater, but the neighborhood has much more to offer if you just stop and have a conversation with someone. The more I immersed myself, the more I learned how important and passionate these residents are about their community. Interviews came easy in this neighborhood. I remember walking into Orphan Andy’s and talking to a server for half an hour about the minimum wage increase and how it would affect him. I met an LGBT senior for an interview at Eureka coffee and we met two other seniors that were interested and eager to discuss the issue within the LGBT senior community. Another time, I hung out after getting off work at Super Duper burgers and struck up a conversation with a regular that led to two other people joining and an hour talking about issues in the neighborhood and city.
Throughout my time reporting in the neighborhood, I have seen countless businesses close due to high rent prices and lost revenue due to the Castro Street Improvement Project. I have talked to managers about the struggle to keep benefit packages after the minimum wage increase goes into effect and I have mourned with the community over the murder of one of its residents.
This neighborhood looks out for one another and cares for each other. I have made countless friends through interviews and immersing myself in the area. These interactions and conversations have taught me the true meaning and value of community, which is a lesson that cannot be learned from sitting in a classroom.