Buchanan Stories / Buchanan Change



Buchanan Mall is five consecutive blocks of public parkland in the heart of San Francisco’s Western Addition. The 7,000 low-income, predominantly African-American residents who live adjacent to Buchanan Mall, face acute challenges: recent, rapid gentrification and decades-long cycles of unemployment and mass incarceration.

Against this backdrop, a remarkable new story has unfolded. This community has come together to re-imagine and reclaim Buchanan Mall as connective tissue, repairing the neighborhood’s fractured social fabric, creating small businesses, celebrating local culture and rebuilding unity and hope.

Citizen Film, the Exploratorium, Green Streets, the Trust for Public Land and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department have been working with local residents to transform this beloved but troubled park plaza into a vital new center of community pride and economic resilience, featuring new micro-enterprise spaces, a lighted art walk and storytelling installations in a variety of media.

Project Leads

For Citizen Film:

Sophie Constantinou, Tamara Walker

Youth Leadership Team:

Widya Batin, Meseka Garcia

For Green Streets:

Tyrone Mullins, Randolph Lee, Shannon Watts, Roger Blalark

For the Trust for Public Land:

Philip Vitale

Neighborhood Task Force:

Betty McMillian, Jacque Henderson, Mattie Scott, Marie Mcallum, Raymond Wade, Stella Baker, Richard Simpson, Alicia Lynnee, Josh Alexander, Chrislyn Earle, Claudia Williams, Devonta Bolden, Donja Grant, Jabari Watkins, Rashida Watkins, Serita Dumetz


Documentary story-sharing has been central to the renewal process. Since 2015 with seed funding from ArtPlace America, Citizen Film and its community partners have been conducting an ongoing cycle of filming and community screenings to gather input on how residents would like to change their neighborhood and their lives, and to facilitate deep dialogue with decision-makers and other stakeholders. With a shared focus on envisioning the future of Buchanan Mall, the community is coming together across lines of turf, age, and employment status. Neighborhood anchor institutions such as the African American Art & Culture Complex, the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, the Rosa Parks Senior Center, Success Centers and Young Community Developers help drive community outreach and also lend their support as venues for community meetings where films are shown and discussed.

Film, audio, photography and other documentary work telling residents’ stories and expressing their points of view are featured in park installations and arts programming, showcasing the community’s ongoing history of activism and resilience, providing public forums for vetting ideas, building consensus and turning ideas into action.



 Featured, Arts & Culture, Civic Engagement, Environment, Social Entrepreneurship