The Cultural Map of Southeast San Francisco


The Cultural Map of Southeast San Francisco is our third strategy for building connections for a collective cultural life in Southeast San Francisco. The map was first designed in 2016 by Kate Connell, Oscar Melara and Sofía Vivanco Airaghi. Now in its third edition, this participatory mapping project has been built with input from more than 200 participants and the project is still going strong. Please suggest your idea for a map site!

The Map highlights art and performance spaces, green spaces and athletic fields where many residents gather. The map layers hand-drawn illustration and digital cartography techniques, reflecting the cultural richness of the landscape. Names of Southeast San Francisco artists who participated in the Building the Art House exhibition at City College of San Francisco (2016) appear in the border of the Cultural Map. The roster of multigenerational artists includes poets, musicians, visual artists, performers and videographers, many of whom are long time collaborators with Book and Wheel.

The map is printed in two formats, a canvas print at 5.5’ x 6.5” and on paper in tabloid size. We take the big canvas map to libraries, urban farms, Sunday Streets and other local events. Tabloid size prints of the map are available at events or you can trade your own artwork for a copy in our We Trade project!

Southeast San Francisco, a working-class one-fifth of the city, has only one formal cultural center, the Bayview Opera House. But there are many sites in the Southeast where a proud regional culture is generated. The neighborhoods of this region are little known to the rest of the city, lying beyond the geographic imaginary of many and in this sense, they are a secret to the rest of San Francisco. This part of the city is widely diverse as home to an African American, Asian, Latino, native and white working-class and multigenerational population. Maps for tourists do not include the 4 neighborhoods that make up the Southeast.

Ishmap: Along with other makers of social justice and advocacy maps, Connell, Melara and Vivanco Airaghi were invited to speak at the International Society for the History of the Map 2020 conference. Participatory maps and maps based on indigenous knowledge were presented.

Take Part, 2018

Take Part was organized as part of Public Knowledge, the San Francisco Public Library’s partnership with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Take Part was an exhibition conceived by Dutch artist duo Bik Van der Pol in collaboration with over a hundred local librarians, artists, historians, geographers, cartographers, urban planners, and designers. For Take Part, Book and Wheel designed the workshop, “Yes, I Live Here!” held at the Excelsior and Portola Branch Libraries and offering local residents the opportunity to design the neighborhoods of their dreams. We also participated with our collaborator, Sofia Vivanco Airaghi as panelists in Shaping San Francisco’s program “Model SF: Collectively Shaping the City.”