Buchanan Stories / Buchanan Change



Buchanan Mall is five consecutive blocks of public parkland in the heart of San Francisco’s Western Addition. 7,000 low-income 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 predominantly African-American community has come together to re-imagine and reclaim Buchanan Mall as connective tissue, repairing the neighborhood’s fractured social fabric, celebrating local culture, creating small businesses, and advocating for safe, affordable housing.

Citizen Film, the African American Historical Society, the Exploratorium, Green Streets, the University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, the Trust for Public Land, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department have joined with local residents to create a vital new center of community pride and resilience, featuring new micro-enterprise spaces, a lighted artwork, and storytelling installations and exhibitions in a variety of media.

Project Leads

For Citizen Film:

Sophie Constantinou, Tamara Walker

For the African American Historical Society:

Marisa Williams

For Green Streets:

Tyrone Mullins, Randolph Lee, Shannon Watts, Roger Blalark

For the Leo T. McCarthy Center:

Karin Cotterman, Dr. Lisa De La Rue

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

Youth Leadership Team:

Widya Batin, Meseka Garcia


Community 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 honor the neighborhood’s history of struggle and accomplishment, and gather input on how residents would like to change their neighborhood and their lives. With a shared focus on envisioning the future of Buchanan Mall, the community is coming together across lines of turf, age, and employment status. The ongoing process of creating, screening and discussing a suite of short films has facilitated deep dialogue with decision-makers and other stakeholders. 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 creative forms of documentary media telling residents’ stories and expressing their points of view are featured in park installations and arts programming, showcasing and building momentum for community activism, providing public forums for vetting ideas, building consensus and turning ideas into action.



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