Founded in 1971, the San Francisco “Women’s Building” became the first building of its kind to be owned and operated by women in the country. It started as a way to help facilitate the projects of both artists and activists in the SF Bay Area. It was founded on the idea that all women no matter where they came from should be respected and have a safe place to take care of themselves. Inside services range from childcare, wellness classes, help with taxes, tutoring, help with immigration papers, and now computer classes, and help with tech. I have walked past this building so many times, and been invited there to participate in social justice workshops or performances. It is a beacon for women to find assistance with social issues, social justice, advocacy on their behalf, and connecting with the many facets of their community in the Bay Area. Organizations like SFWAR (SF Women Against Rape) and Mission Neighborhood Centers have functioned and/or grown out of its belly. I’m sure there are a lot of men and maybe even women who would wonder why such a place is needed. But once you see the care, warmth, and toughness of its staff and vibe you’ll see how it helps. Conversely if you are a woman and seek help through the typical city or state run programs it can feel a lot more sterile, institutional, and uninviting.
In 1984 one of my mentor’s muralist Juana Alicia, along with Miranda Bergman, Susan Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton, Edythe Boone, and Irene Perez painted an enormous mural all over the two main sides of the building facing 18th and Lapidge st highlighting beautiful images of women from all over the world. in 2012 it was restored and still stands today. The Women’s Building is part of what is San Francisco, and part of what makes the Bay Area my home.
Sources: The Women’s Building (site)