Mission Dolores Academy | The education of tomorrow rooted in tradition.

Mission Dolores Academy Hosts Town Hall on Changing Mission District

March 3, 2015

Mission Dolores Academy was honored to be chosen by the San Francisco Chronicle as the site for their town hall discussion February 24th on the future of San Francisco’s oldest district, the Mission.  The event was the culmination of an eight-month research project, A Changing Mission:  To Whom Does San Francisco’s Oldest Neighborhood Belong?

More than 300 concerned neighbors packed Mission Dolores Academy’s auditorium to hear a panel discussion moderated by Chronicle writer Joe Garofoli, who co-led the project.  The panel comprised of Supervisor David Campos, community activists, and city officials discussed the impact of growing income disparity, lack of access to affordable housing, and cultural and demographic shifts.  During the Q & A portion of the program, audience members asked questions and shared their own stories on how the technology boom has changed the neighborhood’s landscape and impacted their lives. 

The Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief, Audrey Cooper, was also in attendance.  The town hall event, she said, was a first for San Francisco’s oldest newspaper.

“The job of the Chronicle is to tell the story of San Francisco, and you can’t do that in the modern age without that being a dialogue,” said Cooper. “I think the days of the press speaking to the people on high are long gone - we need the people to talk to us.”

According to Cooper, Mission Dolores Academy’s auditorium was her number one choice to host the town hall.

“Mission Dolores is the birthplace not just of the Mission District but of the city overall, and you can’t talk about how change happens over time without going back to your roots and these are literally the bottom of our roots,” said Cooper.

The changing nature of the Mission District is of particular concern to the Mission Dolores Academy as well.  Several board members attended the event, including Fr. Charles Gagan, S.J., himself a native San Franciscan.

“As someone who was born here and has lived here most of my 78 years, I sympathize with those who feel they are being forced out of this city that we all love,” said Fr. Gagan. “At Mission Dolores Academy, we help help low-income and working-class families stay here by providing a world-class education that is also affordable.  I never want to see San Francisco change in such a way that there are certain groups who don't have a chance to get a good education.”

Cooper said the event more than exceeded her expectations, as evidenced by the standing-room-only crowd.  Another Chronicle event at the school similar to this one is already in the works for later this year, and the school is again happy to host.

“Between the school’s history, location, and the population we serve, Mission Dolores Academy is in a unique position,” according to Fr. Gagan. “Not only are we helping our families to maintain roots in their community, we’re also enabling the entire community as a whole to come together for their voice to be heard.”

You may view the panel discussion in its entirety here.


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