Bayview-Hunters Point is one of the few neighborhoods in San Francisco that hasn’t been greatly altered by enormous wealth and gentrification. But after nearly a century as a working shipyard inhabited predominantly by African-Americans, that’s starting to change.
A light-rail project that finished in 2007 made the neighborhood an attractive spot for city commuters. The Navy has begun cleaning up the hazardous waste left behind by the decommissioned shipyard. Now, an $8 billion redevelopment program is in place to add thousands of homes, along with retail and office buildings to the area. It’s one of the largest redevelopment plans the city has seen in decades.
But what do all these changes mean for the residents who built the neighborhood from the ground up?
In “Point Shipyard Project,” Push Dance Company has collaborated with the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic located next to Bayview-Hunters Point to explore what the future of the neighborhood might look like.
It’s a genre-bending mix of poetry and dance that leaves the audience feeling like they’re wandering through an art installation. The score is a powerful track of recorded monologues, performed by teens from the youth center.
“We usually look for stories that are untold or not really seen in the public eye,” says Raissa Simpson, the dance troupe’s artistic director. “It was very natural for us to reach out to [3rd Street Youth Center] and say ‘Hey, can you please tell us your stories about what you think the naval shipyard will look like in 2024?’ They came back with some really amazing things.”
The teens surfaced issues like health, discrimination and gentrification in their poems, giving Simpson a roadmap for the choreography of the performance.
“We are collaborating in order to learn more about the toxic cleanup at the Bayview Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard, and how that will affect the youth at the center ten years from now,” Simpson says.
The Museum of the African Diaspora supported the project during its development, and it’s the ideal venue for the performance.
“This was another opportunity to look at the African American culture, how we adapt and how we bring cultures to new areas as well,” Simpson says.