Apparently Mark Twain once remarked that “The coldest Winter I ever had was a Summer in San Francisco.”
It was certainly cold and foggy and moist yesterday morning as we set off to cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge. Leaving the Lower Haight, we zig zagged across town via the Panhandle and Masonic Street and then down through the Presidio to reach the approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was completed in 1937.
It’s an amazing feat of engineering and, looking over the side, one can only wonder at the absolute blackness of spirit which must drive people to climb the red railings and plunge to the chill 90 metre deep waters of the Narrows below.
As the fog toyed with the tips of the towers, we pedalled across the massive bridge with scores of others, and then down the other side to Sausalito, where we sought refuge in a bakery cafe and struck up a conversation with an English couple from Nottingham who were gearing up to make the return trip back up the hill and over the bridge.
We headed along to the ferry wharf and loaded our bikes onboard in the special racks which acknowledge the popularity of cycling across and riding the ferry back.
Our route back to the ferry terminal took us right past Alcatraz, and I was reminded of the family history that I’d been researching where Peter B Whannell, one ancestral tearaway, having set off from Australia with someone else’s wife, and then been run out of a Canadian goldrush settlement, enlisted in the California Infantry in 1861, at a recruiting station set up on Alcatraz Island, and later transferred to be based at the Presidio.
We disembarked from the ferry and rode our bikes back along the Embarcadero past Fisherman’s Wharf and the milling throngs of tourists.
Our accommodation in San Francisco and Boston has been booked through AirBNB and we’d enjoyed attending a ‘meetup’ dinner with other ‘AirBNBers’ at a restaurant in the Mission area the night before, so we’d been asked to provide some feedback and decided to visit the AirBNB offices to see what a young ‘tech startup’ looked like.
We weren’t disappointed. This is a remarkable example of the way that the possibilities within workplaces are changing and many of the usual paradigms about a workplace are being challenged. As we sat providing feedback to AirBNB representatives, another employee skateboarded by past the large communal kitchen where, at 12.30 each day, everybody comes together to maintain the sense of family.
We passed ‘stand up ‘ desks, and staff working at other spaces with their dog snoozing peacefully at their feet.
This visit was a powerful reminder of the fact that the world of work can now mean very different things for people and that the role we assume is part of what school is all about needs reassessment.
It will be great to include some of the imagery from this visit in my presentation next week at ISTE 2012 in San Diego to emphasise the message that we simply must move from ‘School Planning’ and have authentic conversations with community and everybody around what it might mean if we are to legitimately begin “Planning School”
After a walk through parts of SOMA, (South of Market), we headed back to Lower Haight to relax before a great dinner at Maven, a nice small bar with food about half a block away from our accommodation.
This cheery and upbeat bar was a reminder of what is possible when small bars are supported to develop and create a vibe within a neighbourhood.
We’ve now seen at least seven small bars within 200 metres of our accommodation, with lots of people going about the business of enjoying their night’s entertainment in establishments which suit their needs.