Polk Street: Lives in Transition


Awarded the American Historical Association’s 2010 Allan Berube Prize for public humanities, Polk Street: Lives in Transition interpreted more than seventy original oral histories in relation to contemporary debates about gentrification and displacement.

From 2008-2010, I recorded more than seventy oral histories from people experiencing Polk Street’s transition from a historic, working class GLBT neighborhood to an upscale entertainment corridor serving the city’s new tech elite. I then interpreted those oral histories through a variety of programs designed to encourage productive dialogue among people competing for prized territory in the city center. Programs included:

  • a traveling multimedia exhibit
  • a series of professionally mediated neighborhood dialogues
  • oral history “listening parties”
  • historical narrative commissioned by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY
  • “Polk Street Stories” radio docu produced with Jay Allison and distributed nationally via NPR

Media: “Oral Histories Tell Polk Street’s Story,” The San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 8, 2009.

Funders: the California Council for the Humanities, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, and individual donors.