WNP521 – Problem Library & St. Anne of the Sunset
Nicole: [00:00:00] It's Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of Western Neighborhoods Project. Your weekly dose of friendly neighborhood history.
And hello, Outside Landers. I, of course, am your host, Nicole Meldahl, and I have officially survived a two-week programming sprint in which I was part of eight public programs in eight, in ten days. I loved each and every one of them, but God help me if I ever schedule my life that way again. And you know what? We're going to be getting into God today, so maybe this is all very appropriate. One piece of that programming pie was a talk I gave at Problem Library about St. Anne of the Sunset, which was WNP's contribution to a Problem Children series that just launched called Too Much Information, TMI for short. And it's okay if maybe that confused you a bit because we have Daniel Lucas of Problem Library to [00:01:00] help clarify the vision and purpose of the Sunset District non-profit and its programming. So welcome, Daniel.
Daniel: Hi, Nicole. How are you?
Nicole: Well, you know, I'm better now that Shipwreck Week is over and we're both in our respective houses and I have a bottle of wine sitting behind me for later.
Daniel: Perfect. Sounds like you made it through. I know it was a lot for you.
Nicole: I know. And you came out to it, which is great.
Daniel: Yeah. The Shipwrecked event at the Balboa is really fantastic. I totally enjoyed everything. It was just super great.
Nicole: Thank you. We didn't even pay him to say that, listeners.
Nicole: I guess, I guess, I paid you in my labor.
Daniel: Yes, exactly.
Nicole: But that's the cool thing is since we sort of met each other, we're just like going back and forth and like traded labor and expertise. So like, and we'll get into that in a second but like, this is the beauty of the Sunset District, right?
Daniel: Absolutely. [00:02:00] Yeah. Friends helping friends.
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. So, let's get in, let's get going, cause we have a lot of ground to cover. Daniel, what, let's start with you. What is your origin story?
Daniel: Oh god, well my background is in design and I moved up to San Francisco about five years ago and pretty quickly got involved with Problem Library. I had been kind of connected to it while I was living in Los Angeles. And yeah, I just loved everything that was happening over there and kind of jumped in as soon as I moved up here and started working on exactly what you came in, spoke up, which is Problem Children. Which is a, basically a summer arts mentorship program for high school students. We've been doing that for about six years. And this year we were trying to figure out how to continue to kind of grow the program in ways that made sense for what we were trying to do as an educational space for youth, and that's where we kind of came up with this idea of too much information. TMI, can kind of go into all of that if you want to at [00:03:00] some point, but really just wanted to kind of create a space where students could present and, and be kind of in conversation with non-students, we'll put it this way. And yeah, and I was just really excited to be able to connect with you and do a little tour of our area of the Sunset, because it has such a rich history. And, you know, I think learning about history is a very important part of becoming somebody who's trying to do something in the world. And that's what we're hoping to help these kids, you know, become.
Nicole: Yeah, totally. And let's give, let’s give folks, oh my gosh, I'm so tired. It's going to be a miracle if I can English the whole way through. Let's give folks in background, where is Problem Library?
Daniel: Problem Library is on 15th and Irving on the 15th side between Irving and Lincoln, basically right next to The Sage and Drifter, which used to be the corner spot.
Nicole: Also known in our hearts as Terry's, but…
Daniel: Right, sure.
Nicole: But Sage and Drifter now.
Nicole: And how long has Problem Library been around?
Daniel: We have been in that space [00:04:00] since, gosh, I want to say it was like late 2016, early 2017. The origin story is, you know, it started out kind of a little bit more as a shop, really focused on ideas around quality of objects and the things that we kind of bring into our lives and some reflections on that from a sort of philosophical standpoint. And really kind of just a space where people could come and hang out. There was beautiful plants and great music and just lovely books. And over time, it kind of just continued to develop through a lot of conversations. And I would say the last maybe four or five years where we really started to move into doing more kind of programming, sort of standing up programs like Problem Children or like Working, which is a program that works with vacant spaces to, to use them into transform them into like artists run spaces. And yeah, so it's been kind of mostly like five years of us kind of really doing more work around bringing philosophical ideas to the ground around like how do we goodness, [00:05:00] truth and beauty in the world and how do we bring that more into our lives and to what we're doing with our work and constantly refining that.
Nicole: And you're really doing it. You're really, really doing it. Like, you go to your website, which is ProblemLibrary.org, and you read all this text and you're like, oh it sounds good. I don't really sure what's going on here, but it does sound beautiful. And then you get, you start to have conversations with everyone I've met there at Problem Library, and you're all 100% about what you say you're about. Like, it's pretty rare that you see such a one to one in such an empowering space like Problem Library. And I was pretty instantly smitten on Instagram. That's how we first connected because I run the WNP Instagram and we started messaging back and forth. But then we met in September, like you and I met face to face in September at a Problem Library, is that Problem Library adjacent?
Daniel: Yeah, it definitely is. I mean, [00:06:00] Nate, who started Local Critique, which is the event that we met at, he got involved kind of coming around Problem Library earlier this year. And as he was sort of working on this idea, wanting to do something, you know, a lot of the conversations happened with us there. I mean, he had conversations all over the city with a lot of great people. So, it's definitely not a Problem Library thing, but definitely, you know, our community was, you know, really excited for Nate to do something like that because yeah, we just want to see more great stuff happening around the Sunset. Which just really quickly, we had been following and big fans of WNP for a very long time. And so, when you started messaging us on Instagram, we were like. oh snap. This is cool. Just to be clear.
Nicole: That cracks me up because it's just, it’s just my, the Instagram is literally just me in my pajamas, like sharing and giving thumbs up.
Daniel: That's great. It was like super motivating to us. So, you know, I think that's really awesome.
Nicole: Well, I'm glad my pajama [00:07:00] self could be motivating to you guys. But yeah, like, I, to your point, like WNP has been around a long time and I, like, I forget that, like people know us, people know what we do. I forget people listen to this podcast too, which I think really comes across in the podcast. But, but like, I really see, I see in Problem Library, like where WNP was 10 years ago. Where it was just a bunch of scrappy folks, like getting it together and like making things happen aligned with their vision, which is a little bit different than what non-profits working in the area that you're working in traditionally do. You know, WNP is something a little different than most historical societies. Problem Library isn't out there, you know, trying to do what's already been done. You guys really are trying to find new models to help educate and inspire. And you know what? It's educated me and it has inspired me.
Nicole: Great! Well, now that we've established that we like each other's organizations [00:08:00] a lot we can talk about how we work together this past, well, yeah, this past weekend. Because you approached me with an idea. Like, one of the reasons we started talking, right, was because you were like, you should get involved in TMI.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. So, as I was kind of mentioning, this TMI was, you know, we wanted to create an event basically to kind of allow some of our students and other folks that we work with in our kind of Problem Library orbit, just like a space where they could, you know, take about 45 minutes to an hour to talk about something they're working on. Or have a conversation, kind of just do it as a big kind of communal space. And we were thinking about the programming. I really wanted to do a neighborhood tour of some sort. And we're kind of trying to find out the right way to do that. And obviously this was around the same time that like WNP was, you know, we started talking over Instagram. And so, I thought, hey, I know WNP does some walking tours. Maybe we'll approach you with that. And at first you were like, that's not possible. I'm going to be coming off a week [00:09:00] of crazy amount of work. And I really, really respected that.
Daniel: But we thought, you know what, this idea is really great. Let's just run with it ourselves and try something. And in looking around our neighborhood about, you know, where it could be interesting to go, St. Anne of the Sunset is right there. It's, you know, about not even two blocks away. So we thought, you know, this is a huge kind of landmark in our neighborhood. It's very close to where we are. We always like sort of talk about it. You see it all the time. And so, I reached out to you just kind of casually being like, hey, I know that you know a lot about a lot of stuff. And it started. I just asked you if you had any information about St. Anne of the Sunset. And as we started talking about that, you started finding all the stuff and it kind of developed from there. And I just was really grateful when you were like, you know what, this is really exciting to me and I'm going to just go ahead and do it. Yeah. I don't know if that's, is there like a question further that I can answer? But yeah, that's the sort of story of what happened. And then you went ahead and did it and you took, did all this incredible research, put together a really great presentation that I think really [00:10:00] shows how history can be used to think about the world that we're living in now.
Nicole: Yeah, no, let the record show, I did try to say no to something. And…
Daniel: You definitely did, which I really respected. I respected quite a lot because I'm very much a person that says yes all the time. And I was like, man, that's what it looks like when someone says, no, that's pretty cool. So.
Nicole: No, well, I mean, like what hooked me, I mean, I wanted to work with you guys, but what hooked me was you were like, I think I'm going to try to get us in St. Anne's. And I was like, I want to go to this.
Daniel: Yeah, which actually ended up being really easy. I was kind of shocked about that, to be honest, because I know, you know, churches can be a little, you know, kind of protective for a lot of correct reasons, you know. But yeah, that was really great.
Nicole: So I do think the Catholic Church in general is like, yeah, get in here. More and more people more like, please, Lord, like, let's increase our parishioner rolls. But that's maybe something we'll get into in a minute. But yeah, so I reversed my [00:11:00] decision. I was like, well, let me, geez, okay, well, if you're going to research this church, like, let me research the church because I do the research. That's what I do for a living. And then started pointing at this crazy document full of research. I didn't, full disclosure, listeners, I didn't research the whole church history. I got to about the 1930s and then capped out on the amount of time that I got. But I did read two comprehensive articles about the church researching its own history. So, like, we have, there was one in 2004. They had a really, they had a 100th anniversary, and there was a big article in, I don't know, I want to say, like, Catholics Today, but I don't think, I think I made that up. But anyways, it was a very comprehensive, like, from the beginning to the end. And then, on the church's website, they actually have a fair amount of Information. So, you're going to get a lot of history right now, mostly having to do with the origins of the neighborhood and how like that and the church sort of grew up together. If you want to call it that. [00:12:00] And some basic history about how the church came here and how it developed. But we're not going to give you, this isn't going to be it, comprehensive history of St. Anne's Church. You should go to the church for that.
Daniel: Yeah, you definitely should. And I highly recommend anybody go inside when they have open hours because, spoiler alert, it is a very beautiful church on the inside.
Nicole: It's really cool. It's really cool in religious ways. It's really cool in secular ways, which is also kind of what we're going to talk about today. So, we're going to sort of take you, take you beyond straight history to really give you a sense of what my talk was for TMI, by direct request of one of our members. But it's a little bit different than what we do at WNP. So don't send me an angry email if you don't like this. But it's talking about the history and then it's talking about how I think that there's a [00:13:00] lot of similarities, because we're both non-profits, right, between how history can be valuable in our lives and how religion can be valuable in our lives and how I sort of encouraged the handful of folks who stuck around for my talk on Sunday about like, you know, how there can be additional spaces that can function like churches if you look hard enough. Did I leave anything out, Daniel?
Daniel: Sites of conscience. I think you're going to talk about that, right?
Nicole: Oh yeah, we'll talk about that at the end. But yeah, I ended up calling them sites of conscience. And we'll get into like why I called them that. But, but yeah. It's, I ended up thinking about the church space in like a really secular way that still had a lot of like religiosity connected to it. And like, spiritual impact. So, so, you know, yeah let's just get into it now, unless there's anything else you'd like to add Daniel before we take off into the historical.
Nicole: Okay, start your engines. [00:14:00] Here we go. Some history because, oh, I almost forgot to mention, we started planning all this stuff being like, well, let's just go to the nearby church or whatever. And as we were researching it, I was like, oh my god, on the exact day we're going to be presenting this program, it's the 90th anniversary of the Basilica's dedication on October 15th, 1933. Like, just…
Daniel: Not planned. Absolutely not planned at all.
Nicole: Not planned.
Daniel: Yeah. Kind of crazy. Meant to be, maybe.
Nicole: Like, like it was supposed to be like, it was like, it was a gift from the heavens.
Daniel: I don't know.
Nicole: Maybe. So like, let's just, let’s just continue this. Let's just continue this journey. So, I already mentioned that I only got halfway through. So, you're going to find out a lot about the church from like 1904 to the 1930s, which is totally fine because Daniel arranged Ken Del [00:15:00] Ponte, St. Anne's director of Banquet Hall and Conference Facilities to give us a tour of the inside of the church. So that immediately released me from all Catholic responsibilities of this talk. And I thank you again, Daniel, for that, because oof.
Daniel: Yeah. I mean, shout out to Ken really. He was super excited to host us and just a really awesome guy. I really, really loved meeting Ken.
Nicole: He was really sweet. And when I told one of our members we're doing this, he was like, oh, you didn't talk to Ken. And I was like, Ken is legend.
Daniel: There we go. Not surprising. I mean, meeting him definitely strikes me as like, as the kind of person that I would also call a legend.
Nicole: Absolutely. I was trying, well, anyways, yes, we'll keep going. So, I started my lecture at Problem Library by talking about how I think there's such an incredible amount of faith and optimism that folks had to have to move to the Sunset District at the turn of the 20th [00:16:00] century. Like, you know, this whole area wasn't even part of the formal boundaries of San Francisco until 1866. And then things didn't really start happening out here until like Golden Gate Park was established in 1879. You had like chicken farms and dairies and dynamite factories. Which really, which did explode so many times that they got kicked out and moved out of the city. But like, and this is probably review for a lot of our diehard listeners, but I was able to show some photos that none of you can see. But there's one homestead on Lincoln and 14th owned by Cornelius Reynolds that keeps popping up, which really gives context to like, how alone people were out here in the wild west. And transit sort of popped up, started developing in the 1880s. You had the Park and Ocean Railroad and Market Street Railway come out here. So, as it was easier to come West, more people did come West. But Catholics practicing in the area [00:17:00] were connected with a parish. St. Agnes Parish was in the Haight and that wasn't even founded until 1893, which is right before the 1894 Midwinter Fair that sort of built out the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. And, you know, that, that really gives shape and like form to the neighborhood as well. That's where the name kind of comes from, the newspapers’ nicknamed the fair Sunset City. Which is probably a derivation of a marketing tour, term that a bunch of developers named Sunset Heights about, and, of course, it's all marketing, right? Like you're trying to trick people into coming to one of the foggiest parts of San Francisco by making them think the weather's beautiful out here. And it did happen. Like slowly, more and more folks moved out to the sand dunes. 9th and Irving becomes the first real big commercial corridor. And that's where everything kind of starts happening. Because again, there's a transit line there. And then, okay, still with me, Daniel? Still [00:18:00] awake?
Daniel: Still here. This is great.
Nicole: So Archbishop Patrick Reardon ordered a man named Father Joseph McHugh to organize a whole bunch of folks who had been attending mass, I read, in the ballroom of a hotel on Ninth Avenue and Ken had remarkably different information. He was like, oh, they were meeting over on Sloat or something like that. And I was like, I don't know if that's true.
Daniel: But didn't he say it was a basement too?
Nicole: Yeah, he did. And I got this information off the church's website, so I'm not saying Ken is wrong. I'm just saying history is kind of complicated, especially when you're researching things on the internet.
Daniel: I wonder if it was both, as in, like, maybe they were in the basement, but then sometimes they're in the ballroom, and, you know, what would you want to put on your website? Probably the ballroom.
Nicole: Yeah. Ballroom does sound a lot better. Ballroom just up the street from where you are right now does sound a lot better. So, you know what? We're going to go with [00:19:00] ballroom on this podcast.
Daniel: There we go.
Nicole: So, so all these people are meeting, they're like, we've got to have a church or this is not okay. Like they, they just can't be in a hotel basement or ballroom or whatever. And around the same time, like word gets out that the Catholic Church is looking for property to build in the Sunset. And a woman named Jane Callaghan steps up. Now, and a lot of the research, her last name was misspelled. It's spelled Callaghan with G-H-A-N, but people had removed the G. So, she kind of was like referenced, but totally overlooked for most of the references that I found. And I had Chelsea do some digging because this is what she does best and she found her. There's an English woman who married an Irish man named Daniel Callaghan, when they were both living in Massachusetts. And, you know, Daniel did really well for himself. He came to California and he founded a bank, co-founded a bank, which later became Wells Fargo. So, you know, very well for himself. That's the [00:20:00] way to make money in California. And when he died in 1899, he left a fortune of over $1 million. So Daniel, what do you think that is in today money?
Daniel: More than $1 million.
Daniel: I mean, I'm cheating because I'm looking at the notes. It's not fair.
Nicole: So, it's $33 million today, which is an insane amount of money. And Jane becomes the founding director of the Callaghan Estate Company in 1896, which is completely badass for a woman at the turn of the 20th century. So, it's like her and her kids, anyways, long story short, she donates the entire frontage of the south side of what was then called I street between 13th and 14th Avenues to the church in February 1901. And that land was worth about $10,000 at that time, like $360,000 today. Which I'm not sure, I think maybe the land might be worth that amount of money today because land is often pretty cheap in [00:21:00] San Francisco if it's undeveloped. But anyways, that's an aside. And one of the things I thought was super fun about researching this is I kept finding more women connected to the church, which is what I really enjoy. It's what gives me the most joy in my job. And all of a sudden in what, in the first like meeting held by church organizers to pull this entity together in December 1904, I see a roster of everybody who attended in the Sunset. And I see Mrs. Julia Quigley listed. Now listeners will already know, because Angus Macfarlane has told you several times on several different podcasts, that Julia Quigley was the proprietor of the Little Shamrock and one of the first major business owners and residents here in the 9th and Irving corridor. So, amazing to see her. Makes complete sense, you know, as a devout Catholic working and living in the space to be involved in this church. And then I found a article, an article from 1930 about like the church's silver jubilee. Very exciting. And it [00:22:00] explicitly talks about how only men were at that meeting. And also, the church was almost entirely attended by men in the early times, because it's just a crazy, like bunch of sand dunes out here and what women would be out here? Anyways, that was a bummer to read and also why you shouldn't trust newspaper articles. Not ever, probably. But, but anyways, they build it. It's dedicated October 1st, 1905. And newspapers make a big to do about how like, oh, it's just sand. Like a couple, like just a decade ago. So this is crazy. And they build it. just in time for it to be pretty critically damaged by the 1906 earthquake in April. So, but that, you know, that's okay. And when I was reading about that I was like, oh, do you think they were like, what's the message God?
Daniel: Probably some sort of tribulation or something. I mean, the first one, I remember some of your photos, it looked like it was mostly built out of just wood. It was like a wooden church.
Nicole: Yeah. [00:23:00]
Daniel: Yeah. It's very interesting. Yeah.
Nicole: It’s not wood anymore.
Daniel: No, it is definitely not which makes a lot of sense.
Nicole: Yes, definitely. I would imagine wood and shifting sand in a seismic area doesn't, isn't the best recipe Actually, I don't have to imagine. We saw there's photos of like the whole falling over.
Daniel: Yeah, totally.
Nicole: But anyways.
Daniel: That's a great question though. What did they think?
Nicole: Are we not supposed to be out here? Seems like a pretty clear message.
Daniel: I bet there was, like, because it wasn't fully destroyed, right? There must have been some kind of, you know, silver lining that they looked for of hey, only one of the towers fell, you know, something like this, right? I would imagine.
Nicole: Tthat's true. I mean, I talked a lot on Sunday about how I think there's a lot of optimism in belief. Like, you know, faith makes an incredible amount of optimism and yes, maybe they were like, oh God just wants us to make it bigger.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly.
Nicole: They did expand it several times because, you [00:24:00] know, the neighborhood grew alongside St. Anne's. You know, Father McHugh began hosting Novena services, which, a novena is nine days of prayer in veneration of St. Anne, who is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he holds his, the first novena at this church in July of 1907. Which is when things are really starting to develop in the neighborhood. Because after the earthquake, people got the heck out of the east part of San Francisco and came out here where there was a lot less damage because there was a lot less stuff to damage and no fire out here. So, we had that going for us back in the day. So, by 1907, things are, the congregation is starting to grow. But then, it really grows because something, I was going to say crazy, but that feels very rude. Something incredible.
Daniel: Singular. Awesome.
Nicole: Yes, awesome actually is very much the right word for this.
Nicole: We [00:25:00] use awesome a lot in ways that it actually doesn't work all that well. But this is an awe inspiring thing that happens. So, Father McHugh, like he has to petition the Pope or the Vatican or something, I'm sorry, we're not Catholic, so, or I'm not Catholic, so, you know, there's a lot of like church procedure here that I'm just glossing over. But he's like, hey, can we have a piece of St. Anne at our church? And the Vatican is like, yep. Yes, you may. Random church in a largely unpopulated sand dune infested part of San Francisco. You may have an actual relic, which is a piece of St. Anne. Now, I was very upset that I did not get confirmation on what piece of St. Anne is at St. Anne's. But, sources conflict. It was, it's [00:26:00] either a piece of her forehead or a digit, like a piece of her finger and Ken did confirm that it is a tiny sliver of bone.
Daniel: Yeah, I think he was saying that they didn't really know what it was because it's such a small piece. He also did say that he does not know where in the church it is, but that it is there. I found that to be quite interesting.
Nicole: Same. I mean, I guess it's probably good. They don't just like always have, have the piece of her hanging out. I mean, Ken also talks about how they don't really keep the church open as much anymore.
Nicole: Because there's some crazy stuff happening. So, you know, I would imagine.
Daniel: It’s kind of like a fire, right? Somebody went and burned like a flag in there.
Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. They have an American flag that they pull out, I think, once a year.
Daniel: Yeah, I think you said for like Independence Day or something, right?
Nicole: But they keep it behind the altar when they're not using it. And somebody broke in and went back there and set it on fire back there. And [00:27:00] someone on the tour was like, oh gosh, did it cause a bunch of damage? And he went, well, yeah, it burned the rug, but it's back there. No one ever sees it. So we just left it.
Daniel: Which I thought was pretty funny. Which should be clear, it's not funny that somebody went in there and burned something, but it's just kind of funny, his sort of response, I thought.
Nicole: I mean, we're both just struggling non-profits trying to survive, right? You can't see the burn mark in the car. Just put a plan over it or whatever and carry on with your day. I get it. I totally get it. So, okay. So, this is a really big deal, because the relic is supposed to have healing properties, right? So, people made pilgrimages from all over California to the Sunset District, to the Inner Sunset District, to be healed by St. Anne. And like, newspaper accounts sort of abound with all these tales of these miraculous healings, you know, like a young boy comes into the altar and like leaves without his crutches. Which [00:28:00] I really hope, you know, I talked, again, I talked a lot about just like the optimism and faith and the beauty of being a religious person who is a devout religious person. Because I really wish I believed in something that wholeheartedly, where I genuinely believe the church could heal me. I don't believe that, but, you know, who am I to say, like, little Timmy didn't walk out of that church? Who am I to say? And this also kind of fascinates me, like, if we talk about museums taking care of artifacts and stuff like that, you know, like we're in that, we're engaged in the same processes as the church in many ways. We venerate certain objects. We tell certain stories. And I really, I can really get behind it. I really understand the motivation of bringing this, this blessed piece of St. Anne and then making it available to parishioners. But also, it's a weird thing that the church does, [00:29:00] right? Like just scattering pieces of like theological people.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely.
Nicole: Like a, like a lot of things I was reading about, so like the novenas, like they got really big, right? All the like, as things are getting bigger, they need a bigger church. And so, they decide to start fundraising, like, in the ‘20s and the ‘30s to accommodate to build this bigger church and accommodate all these people who are coming from all around California. And like, they do it largely because a bunch of, like, very motivated women get behind the cause and make it happen. I'm personally very invested in a woman named Maude Lawler who pops up throwing a bunch of amazing, like, whist parties and dances. There's gotta be a story there. Or maybe…
Daniel: What's a whist party?
Nicole: So whist, I looked it up, whist is like a type of bridge. So, it's like a card game.
Daniel: Oh, okay.
Nicole: And like, [00:30:00] what I didn't look up is exactly what these parties were like. Were there people just like playing cards in the corner and then like over here people were dancing?
Daniel: Is there, can you like gamble on it at all?
Nicole: Oh! Could be.
Daniel: Because I remember they used to do bingo, right? That's what we heard that was a big fundraising tool for them for a long time. Which I think is true for like a lot of religious organizations and spaces. But.
Nicole: They did gamble. I can see little old ladies getting down on this gamble. Yeah. And yeah, also what we learned on this tour is that San Francisco outlawed church bingo and that's messed up San Francisco.
Daniel: Or they didn't, I think he said that they made it so that you couldn't go over a certain amount or something. That like your jackpot or your prize money had to be under a certain amount. And when it got below a certain amount, they just, people just didn't come anymore. So I don't know, did he say it's fully outlawed? Or just that it became useless? [00:31:00] I think both.
Nicole: I think both. Like, yeah.
Nicole: I think you're right. Yeah, he did mention that the prizes had to be really crappy and that people were just like, what am I coming here for these crappy prizes? But when I first got to San Francisco, I used to do church bingo on Brotherhood Way. That was like what we would do on Thursday or Friday night. And I may or may not have been banned from one of them for showing up a little bit too drunk with a boyfriend of mine. So anyways, they don't do church bingo anymore.
Daniel: Breaking news on the Western Neighborhoods Project podcast.
Nicole: I mean, this is a podcast about history, but also about where all the podcast hosts have drunk, have gotten drunk in their illicit youths. So, you know, I'm keeping that alive and well here at Western Neighborhoods Project. Anyways. No more bingo. It's okay. [00:32:00] These bridge parties worked.
Daniel: Whist. Whist parties.
Nicole: These whist parties worked and they managed to build this $350, $350,000 Basilica, although reports conflict as well. It's anywhere between $350,000 and $500,000. I think like half a million sounds a lot better when you're marketing something, than like a weird smaller number. Anyways, it was dedicated, we said, on October 15th, 1933, so lots of synergy happening around this program. And one of my favorite, you know, it's a very big and impressive and imposing church. Like you cannot miss this church. Part of that is because of the color, which apparently didn't come till much later. Thanks, Ken.
Daniel: Well, that was great to know because I, later I was having a conversation about, because he said it's, you know, it's basically all cement, essentially, and [00:33:00] which means it would have been an interesting gray. Now it's just like, I mean, it's a very beautiful pink. I, like salmony color, but I do wonder how stark and like, just crazy it might have looked and reminds me of maybe like Saint Dominic's or something in terms of like color.
Nicole: Yeah, that's true. It is. It is a very like vibrant, engaging, happy church on the outside versus some of the like, more traditional churches, which is just like come into my dark concrete pits and like talk, like, be saved.
Daniel: Well, so yeah, the outsides are always a little bit more or can tend to be a little bit more darker. And then you go inside and they're kind of lit up with the beautiful kind of stained-glass windows and all that. Right. I think that's there's probably people much smarter than me that know why. But.
Nicole: Yeah, I did look, I did when I was researching for this, I looked up, why are churches so tall? Which felt like a dumb thing to Google. Even Google was this is a dumb thing you're asking me. But basically, when you're in a church, you know, that you're supposed to feel like you're [00:34:00] in, you're looking up to the magnificent heavens. They're supposed to be awe inspiring dimensions to the space, right? So that's why churches, you can look across the skyline of any city, San Francisco included, and you're going to see church, church, church, above everything else, besides the freaking Salesforce tower. Which is its own kind of church to capitalism, but that's another podcast, I think. But yeah, the exterior of St. Anne's is really beautiful, part, partially because, or I would say predominantly because of the friezes on the exterior. And here we go. We've got another amazing woman in the storyline, Sister Maria Justina Niemierski. And she was born in Poland and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, and then entered the Dominican order in Belgium in 1909. And she came to the United States in 1911 with, with other Dominican nuns. And like, I really would like to know more about that journey, but, [00:35:00] not available to me so far. And they get to Mission San Jose in 1912, and that's where she lived the rest of her life. And she, she started out by designing a small Gothic chapel for the convent grounds in 1926. And we did talk about her a little bit on a previous podcast that was just kind of generally about churches in the West side. But there's more to learn here. And I really hope I have time to, like, dig into this. And what did, Daniel, like, didn't Ken mention she had some sort of manifesto?
Daniel: Yeah, if you look at the friezes, there's all these, you know, religious characters and scenes and, you know, iconography of all these different people from, from the Bible. And as Ken was walking us through it, he was kind of pointing some things out and he mentioned that. I guess sister Justina had an entire, I guess it's like a manifesto or some kind of long document that explained how all of the things were kind of connected. Which I'm still waiting for Ken to send over because I want to read it. Although he [00:36:00] heavily, like, reiterated the point that he thinks it's a really impossible to read document, but I'm curious. You know, I don't know. It seems interesting. I'm sure somebody like that, I mean, Sister Justina doesn't sound like she was messing around. So, I'd be very curious.
Nicole: Yeah. I think if anybody can handle the abstract thought processes of Sister Justina, it's gonna be you. No, he shakes head immediately. No. No, you don't think the Problem Library can tackle this problem?
Daniel: Oh, gosh, maybe.
Nicole: Maybe we could hold dramatic readings at the Problem Library. We could all talk it out together.
Daniel: Yeah, I do wonder, I mean, if, because, you know, hearing that she had studied at the Arts Academy, or Academy of Foreign Arts, I do wonder if the document is meant to be read as a sort of, you know, more straightforward. Like this person and then this person because of that story and then this person because of this [00:37:00] story. Or if there is some kind of more intuitive sense that she was working from, you know, you called it a manifesto. I don't know. Is it more like an artist statement? Hard to know until we see. I'm, I'll definitely follow up with Ken. I had asked him, but you know, I wonder if there's a reason there's like some guardedness around it or something. But be very interesting to see either way.
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. You know, now that we are talking about this in depth again, I'm thinking Chelsea may have found it, because in the notes that she pulled together for me, she was like, oh, this talks a lot about her process. And I'm wondering if that's the document or something different. Anyways, mental note, I'm going to go check that when we're done with this. But yeah, because when we're, when Ken, bless him, was telling us all about the friezes and he was like, it's not like a linear story. Like there's some artistic license happening with like the vignettes that are depicted here. He was like, like, I don't know what she's doing [00:38:00] here, Judith, just hanging out right here. And like Daniel and I looked at each other and we were like, well, like, I have some…
Daniel: Because there's like a woman holding a severed head.
Nicole: I was like, well, I mean, you know, if you're just going to slip in a little bit of a feminism to this extremely religious phrase, it's a pretty heavy-handed way to do it, right?
Daniel: Yeah. I mean, there's a pretty big tradition of, I think, especially sisters and just female artists throughout, you know, all of history, doing that sort of stuff. You know, you look at someone like what's her name? Artemisia, Artemisia Gentileschi. I don't, I do not know how to pronounce that name, but I think you probably do.
Nicole: No, there's no way I could pronounce something properly. If you, if someone else, cause that's not what we do here is pronounce names properly on the podcast unfortunately. So you're fitting right in Daniel. Yeah. So, there's a lot of information that we haven't dug up about the friezes. Maybe that will be a [00:39:00] forthcoming project that we both work on. I don't know. Stay tuned. This is a really long way of saying that with this big, beautiful church here, the novenas, and they just get bigger and bigger. And like, these were, these are nine day events. There were processions throughout the neighborhood, like a hundred thousand people would come to these events, and they had to stage several different masses. Like they staggered them. They actually held services outside, because they, people couldn't fit in the church, So, this was really huge, probably up until like the ‘40s and the ‘50s. But in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the neighborhood’s demographic starts to change. And also, like going up into the present, people who will acknowledge that they subscribe to any kind of particular, like, house of worship or who regularly attend services, the number is rapidly declining. It's only gotten worse since the pandemic. [00:40:00] Which I find really interesting, actually, because, like, you would think some sort of critical worldwide pandemic would inspire people to be more religious. Well, that's not what happened. It's like people, just maybe the in-person thing was too hard, that people just turned away from it completely. I'm not sure. But there are reports on this decline in, in religious affiliation. And the church did a good, you know, the church is trying to meet the needs of its community. And it's doing a pretty good job of it, but, but attendance continues to decline. So, we started to kind of get into like, is, this seems, please don't write me an email about this, this seems heretical to say, but like, is St. Anne's going to be around for another 100 years, you know? And it's not a given. Like people, it's easy to think of building this big or an organization as big as the Catholic Church, like it's too big to fail. Too big to go away. [00:41:00] But it's not, right? There's a Catholic church in the Fillmore that's no longer there. It's, you can roller skate in it now. It's the Church of Eight Wheels. And, of course, the Church of Scientists which is now the Internet Archive. So, like, what, is it okay that these churches are transitioning into secular spaces? Could that possibly happen here? I don't know. And then, we kind of, like, got into this, like, really esoteric conversation about what churches do for people, right? Like my thing is churches are just places that make people feel like they're at home, right? They're places that, like, we all can gather in and commune around a common interest. And when you boil it down to that kind of a description, there's actually a lot of spaces in San Francisco that meet that level, that meet those needs, right?
Daniel: But yeah, I mean, I think what [00:42:00] you were talking about, this goes back to what we're saying in the beginning, right? This notion of like sites of conscience or just what are the types of spaces where we kind of come together as community or just in places where we're able to have sort of more real kind of human experiences or exchanges. I think that there's a lot of places like that. And I think one thing that I found interesting is, you know, you mentioned a few things, but I do think that what I've noticed is that there's been a lot of that movement, especially since the pandemic in San Francisco. I think there's been a really big number of new small spaces opening up, kind of all over the city that I think are trying to, you know, get at something like this question of how do we kind of come together again in ways that feel very generative and, you know, for lack of a better word, healing or something. Kind of allow us to express ourselves in whatever ways makes sense. You know, we were talking about this earlier the other day. I don't remember, but the sort of notion of [00:43:00] like, how does a bar function versus a church versus a neighborhood theater? They all seem to kind of, in my mind, there's the sort of common thread of this notion of like dealing with the human experience, right? Whether that's sort of going something more towards like escapism or more towards like a religious devotion or being more place based versus being more kind of placeless. And probably a bunch of other dimensions too. But I do think that's a very interesting sort of thread to follow. And I thought that you're reference now, and when you were giving a presentation, of, you know, the Internet Archive or the Church of Eight Wheels, like those are very interesting to think about. The honest truth that like those things are kind of still functioning in a very similar way. Obviously, with very different outcomes. And you can kind of argue one way or the other, however you want, about, you know, is a bar better for you as a human being than, you know, a church or a library or whatever. But, I think at the end of the day, like honoring all the different sides of [00:44:00] what humans need and how we sort of navigate experience and this, this experience, whatever you want to call it they're necessary. And I don't think that, you know, I'm not going to be like, put myself in the business of judging. I have my own opinions about what's best, but those are my opinions, you know.
Nicole: Yeah, my, when I, my point was like, I found a lot of similarities between how people unburden themselves to historians and bartenders and priests. And I kind of put that together when I was working at the pop-up museum in the Cliff House, because I was standing behind the bar a lot and I was trying to answer emails, which was a fool's errand. But, but people will come up to me and they would just be like, they would just share all their memories with me. And working as a historian, like you really do a lot of listening. And it's so cathartic for people to tell you about what their lives have been. About what they experienced. About their connection to this place. And like [00:45:00] people get really emotional telling their lives to me. Which is great, you know? Like that's, we want to provide that role. And people do that at bars too. Like bartenders sit there and there's an exchange happening there too. Although when we were talking about it earlier, Daniel was like, I don't know that this is a one to one.
Daniel: Well, but I mean, I think what, I think the point I was also trying to make there is just that, yeah, it's not a one to one, but there are, there's sort of like different dimensions, right? And whether or not, like whatever the kind of version of unburdening yourself and what you're doing while you're doing that, if you're praying or if you're drinking, at the end of the day, it's a space where people are able to or have some capacity of being more vulnerable in a way that is really difficult. I think, you know, for a lot of reasons that we can, again, another podcast can get into, you know, our kind of day to day lives don't offer us a lot of those spaces outside of like family. And maybe not even then, right? So, I [00:46:00] think that again, like I, I might have my opinions about whether or not like one thing is better than the other, but at the end of the day, spaces where we can be vulnerable with each other and kind of create, you know, I think in my, my, my definition, your sites of conscience thing, right, it's like, what is the kind of energy of this space and more spaces where people are being kind of honest and authentic and true to who they are and what they want to be and feel free to say things that might seem crazy and help them kind of process things, because that like sort of sharing and unburdening yourself, as you put it, are very important. And whatever, like, however, that takes shape, I think is good.
Nicole: Yeah, and when I was thinking about how people utilize churches and bars and theaters, which are the just the three main like, you know, sites that I kind of conceptualize, there's obviously more that you could bring into this conversation, but I thought about how churches, and I pulled this also from the film Before [00:47:00] Sunrise with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, because they go into a church and they talk about this where, you know, you bring your sorrow and you commemorate your sorrow in churches and you bring your joy and you celebrate like key events in your life. And I was walking around the church, sort of preparing for the talk and I saw that totally happening or, you know, some version of that. You know, there's a quinceanera happening downstairs, and like an elderly Irish man walking in upstairs, very slow and kind of in a poignant manner. And like, you know, who knows why he was there? I'm projecting a lot. But for me visually, like I just watched. I watched the dynamic. I was trying to come to terms with happening. And like people bring that, those motivations into bars, you know, like people come there because they're upset about something and they just need to be quiet. And then people, you know, that could be sitting right next to on the bar stool next to somebody getting super drunk because it's their 21st birthday. So, like same kind of energy and like theaters [00:48:00] too, you have people who will just go see a film and cry because, because the film, you know, brings that energy. But, you know, we respond to whatever we're experiencing based on what's going on with us. Something that makes me cry may not make you cry, because I'm coming with my own experiences. So, it's just beautiful that all these different spaces can hold us in the same way.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. And I do think, one thought that I was having just right now, is that it has a lot to do with the history of a space. Just to kind of bring it right back around for you.
Nicole: Yes. And when I look at, when I look at the church, right, I'm not religious. I've studied a lot of different religions. None of them really did it for me. But I respect all of them for how they serve their communities. But when I look at the church, when I look at St. Anne's, I don't think of like God or religion or even Catholicism. I think of my connection to that church, which [00:49:00] I hadn't even been inside it until Sunday. But the man, the Frank McIntosh, the man who owned the home that I live in before me, there was this epic story that I was told when I moved in. Like, oh, Frank came home from the war where he was a fighter pilot in World War II. And he was delivering the P-29 bomber. I probably got that wrong, but he was delivering a bomber to an airfield upstate. And he called his mom and told her to be outside St. Anne's at noon. And he flew the plane through the towers of St. Anne's. And when I was told that story, I was like, yeah, okay, yeah. I mean, that's a great story. So, but then I managed to get in contact with Janice McIntosh, his daughter, through a WNP event. And she sent me this video that her brother had made about her dad's life and they very, very much were devout Catholics. You can see St. Anne's from my kitchen. And apparently that's how [00:50:00] Frank would like drink his morning coffee, just sitting there and staring at St. Anne's. And this video was so great. I was able to show a clip at Problem Library. And it's, it has a photo. There is a photo of him flying through the towers, which Woody was like, no way, there's, not real. No, can't be real. And it was great.
Daniel: It looks pretty real to me. I think when you got to that slide, everybody was like, what the heck am I looking at? Because it is very surreal to look at it. But I don't know, it seems pretty real to me unless this is another famous historical prank.
Nicole: Yeah, I mean, like this, I mentioned it a couple of times with some other folks who grew up in the neighborhood. They were like, oh yeah, that was legend or something like that. So.
Daniel: I mean, yeah. That would definitely be legendary.
Nicole: And in the video, it's really cute, Janice is like, the priest made everybody go out and say, like, 10 Hail Marys or something like that. [00:51:00] So, you know, when I look at a church like that, I think of, I think of all the people who were really connected to that church who built the Sunset. Like, Sunset was very Irish and very Catholic. And so is, was St. Anne's. And so, that's, that to me, that church grounds me in the history of the Sunset District because of the people who were involved in it. Not so much, you know, the scripture that folks are passing on to each generation.
Daniel: Well said.
Nicole: I think we're, I think we're all, I think we're both a little tired and at the end of a long day. But I do want to say one more thing about sites of conscience. I got that because there's a group called the International Coalition of the Sites of Conscience and they define what that means, right? And one of their main definitions is any memorial museum, historic site, memory initiative, or non-governmental organization that commits to interpreting history [00:52:00] through sites. And like, that's totally what we'd do, but that's totally what the Catholic Church does, right? Like, the Catholic Church is just reinterpreting your history, human history, in a way that makes sense to them for their parishioners. And they're doing it really well. Like I was researching all this, I was consistently impressed by the marketing machine that is the Catholic Church. They're like, “having trouble with your faith, come look at all this art. We've got music too.”
Nicole: Come on in here and give us your money. We're, there's going to be a show and it's going to be beautiful in here. Oh, my cat did not like that.
Daniel: Well, I love that description and definition. I think it's, you know, I love that notion of a memory initiative. That's like a very interesting way to put that phrasing. I had never heard of sites of conscience before you and I think it's just a really great turn of phrase. Yeah. I definitely agree with you about the way that [00:53:00] churches function, both like as spaces of, you know, architectural and artistic beauty, and then also like they have this sort of religious function. But there's just this, and I think that really speaks to the original reason that I thought St. Anne would be interesting and what's driven my own kind of interest in churches. I have a history of religion in my family. But what's really always kind of drawn me to churches is that sort of notion of like, I think, you know, the most impressive ones, I mean, St. Anne is a great example of this, where you look at something like, especially, you know, I think a lot of parts of it, but the frieze on, in the front and the way it's all built and you kind of go like, oh, whoa, we're like, as humans, capable of making something like that. And it's kind of always inspiring just in that it just in that notion right itself, right? Like, I had that same feeling when I went to went to Rome for the first time and just, you know, looking at some of these incredible sculptures and buildings and all this sort of stuff. And you go, oh, my gosh, like, what [00:54:00] is like, what's possible to think really highlights a lot of issues that you see with other things that you've mentioned in terms of taller buildings, don't make me feel that way for a lot of reasons. Yeah. I don't know. I love that notion that it's not just that, but it is, there's a sort of like memory of like, what's possible which again, I think in my mind speaks to that notion of you can remember what has been done and what has been possible in the past, then you can think about what you can do in the future in a very different way.
Nicole: Yeah, and in that respect, it is very awe inspiring just to, just to think of it as a site of collective memory and encourage us to continue to build and make things beautiful and pursue our own interpretations of truth and beauty.
Daniel: Yeah. Absolutely.
Nicole: Which is what you're doing a few blocks away.
Daniel: We're trying. I don't know. It's a constant pursuit, but I think that's, you know, the same as history and all that sort of stuff. It's a constant conversation and constantly trying things and trying [00:55:00] to push things forward in whatever ways makes sense to you. And with as much respect and reverence for yeah, both like history, but also just other people. I think that's, you know, I think there's lots of ways that you can talk about religion and stuff that goes against, you know, can make arguments against some of these things that we're saying. But I think what's been fun and having these conversations with you is that, like, thinking about them with that kind of bit sort of set aside, right? What are these things, you know, if you think about it, like, as like an alien or something, if you came to earth and there's no humans here and you just walk around and you see these things. It's like, what would you think, you know, about, it's, you know, it's the same kind of argument or kind of commentary people make about like the pyramids. Obviously, St. Anne of the Sunset is not quite like the pyramids, but there's this similarity, right? There's this kind of attempt right at making something, you know, a hundred years later, two random people go, hey, we should take 19 people to go look at this thing and stand [00:56:00] inside and just like, you know, I mean, one of the people on our tour, like who's, you know, he's not religious now, but he has had it in the past. I mean, he was crying when we went inside and I thought that was just such a strong kind of testament to that sort of collective energy and kind of what happens when you actually put yourself in these spaces that go, sort of push you to think about what's possible.
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And that's what we're doing. You at Problem Library and us at Western Neighborhoods Project. We're trying to push you to be less precious about history, about religion, about art, right? Like, let's just show up and have a human conversation around these things. Oh, which, like, we didn't even get into the whole space between thing, which is…
Daniel: That was the whole reason you went into that before. Oops.
Nicole: But I think that's just going to have to be a different podcast because we're already like…
Daniel: Fix it in post.
Nicole: But yeah, well, I mean, yeah, because like, if we're talking about the [00:57:00] human element, all of this, like, also in Before Sunrise, she talks about how God isn't in us. It's not, you know, it's in this little space between us. And it's in the attempt to find each other to connect with each other that really brings this, like, godly quality to, to our lives. And I totally connect with that. And like, that's what art does. And that's what history does, right? It provides the context and the understanding necessary for us to meet each other in the middle.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. We did it.
Nicole: Get it in at the end.
Daniel: You made it there.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. It's perfect. I mean, this could, this conversation, I think, can go on for a long time, which is part of the point, but I'm guessing we probably need to wrap this up. Although this has been a lot of fun, at least for me. We'll find out if listeners enjoyed the space between us as well.
Nicole: I know. Yes, we will. They will let us know Daniel. Don't worry. [00:58:00]
Daniel: Great. I'm glad I'm not on that email.
Nicole: I'm glad I'm not on those emails anymore. Chelsea does the Lord's work here.
Nicole: So, we're going to move into the next section, which is let's Say What Now? Okay, so, this program has a playlist because it's not a Nicole Meldahl joint unless she puts together a lot of seemingly unrelated music that actually speak volumes about what she's trying to speak about. So, if you go to Spotify and you find my profile, Nicole Meldahl, you can follow a playlist I've started and I continue to add to called Sites of Conscience. I put this together thinking like you could go into the church and you could listen to this and draw from it, whatever you need to draw from it. And there's some very literal things here like Bach actually wrote an entire piece based on St. Anne, and then there's liturgical thing, piece from Before Sunrise too, but then there's also Modest Mouse and some other [00:59:00] pieces in there that maybe take you in a different direction. But they're all supposed to help you critically think about what kind of experiences people have had in this church, why people come to this site, what they're trying to get from it. So, but you can also just listen to it when you're working out. I've been listening to it while I go on my walks. So, multi-dimensional playlist. And I'm now remembering that I didn't share the coolest thing we saw in St. Anne's, which is not a piece of St. Anne.
Daniel: Oh, right. The Doelger houses, right?
Nicole: Yes. There's a mosaic of St. Patrick because Irish Sunset and he's holding like three Doelger houses.
Daniel: It's pretty cool.
Nicole: It's awesome. I was like very into that. I texted Chelsea that immediately. I was like, oh my god, look what's in St. Anne's.
Daniel: And the other one it's like, St. Francis of Assisi holding a mission, right? [01:00:00]
Nicole: Mission Dolores.
Daniel: Right. Yeah. Okay.
Nicole: Yeah. And all those mosaics were done by Hungarian, two Hungarian women who were refugees here. So like, I was like mental note, I got to go back to this later because this is awesome.
Daniel: Wow. So many women involved in the art of this church. It's quite impressive.
Nicole: I mean, in general, people like women involved in stuff.
Daniel: I probably shouldn't feel impressed. I should just think like, yeah, that's great.
Nicole: Yes. Yes. And now we're going to move into a listener mail. So, if you've listened to this podcast before, then you already know that to send us listener mail, you just type in email@example.com. Or if you mess up and you add an extra S at the end, it's okay. We got you. It'll still get to us because we have that email address as well. You can mail things to [01:01:00] us, although I'm not great at mail, traditional old-fashioned mail that goes into a mailbox. Or you could also take advantage of our social media presence on Instagram, Twitter, or whatever the heck we're calling it now and Facebook. You can post a comment there and it'll find its way back to us.
And this week's listener mail is uniquely awesome because it was sent in by one recent podcast interview subject, and it's about an even more recent podcast subject. So, back in podcast episode number 513, we interviewed Sunset artist Douglas Gorney about his life in art and the Sunset Sketchers. And after our interview with the owner, publisher, and editor of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon in episode number 518, Douglas wrote in and said, and I quote, “your interview with Michael Durand left me even more impressed with the man than I was before, if that's possible. The newspapers are great community resources [01:02:00] as are Outside Lands and WNP. Thank you for shining a light on West side treasures every week.” End quote. Thank you so much Doug and like we couldn't agree more. Michael and his papers are great. We also think we're doing okay. And we really appreciate the kind words, Doug. So, and I'm sorry, Doug, that I missed your opening last weekend, but it was a crazy time for me. I'll come to the next one, I promise. So, remember to write in. We want to hear your comments as long as they're nice. And maybe we'll share some of your comments live on, not live, we record this in advance, but…
Daniel: It's live right now.
Nicole: Live right now and it is on the radio. We are on the radio. KSF, KSFP, call sign I can't remember. But anyways, that's why we can't curse.
Anyways, now I'm going to run through the benefits of membership and donating. Which if you just clickety, clickety, clack the big orange button at top of [01:03:00] any one of our pages on either website, outsidelands.org or OpenSFHistory.org, and you donate at least $50 to us, we will send you a quarterly membership magazine, paper if that's your jam. You get discounts on events and other exclusive perks as well. And, of course, your membership supports everything that we don't charge people for, right? You've got OpenSFHistory, which has over 50,000 photographs that you can download and do whatever you want with. We don't care. We've got the Cliff House Exhibition, which only continues to grow and is extremely expensive. And, of course, this podcast that you listen to, have listened to, will be listening to. We don't charge anything for any of this. So please consider donating if you have some extra cash to spare.
And I will tell you what's up with WNP. So, you know, all about the other stuff that we're doing with your money. [01:04:00] So, first of all, we all survived Shipwreck Week. Pretty amazing, right? Like this is one of the biggest things that we have ever done in our entire non-profit lives. An entire week of programming. Did you love it? Did you hate it? Just kidding. Please don't tell us if you hated it. Cause we're real people with feelings. But do you want us to do it again in 2024? Somebody already requested Shipwreck Month next year. So that sounds even more exhausting. But maybe we can spread out the shipwreck love over, you know, three or four successive weeks. I don't know. Let us know what you want. We genuinely want to know your opinion.
And we came right out of Shipwreck Week and started running back into what we were doing before then. Our Alexandria theater exhibition is just about there. It's mostly up in the window and we've got most of the artifacts installed inside. So thank you, Lindsay Hanson and Gary Parks. So incredible. [01:05:00] John Lindsay, who just keeps printing things that I keep sending him. He's a godsend to the Sunset District. And we're getting ready next week. We're installing actual Egyptian artifacts from the Global Museum. So, this is so cool. You won't want to miss this. And we're gearing up to do some open hours. So, you'll get to come drink and look at all this stuff and talk to us about whatever. You know, a good old fashioned open house, happy hour.
And, you know, mostly what's up with us, and I'm going to be very honest with you right now is we are tired. We are very tired because WNP is in a little bit of a precarious situation in which we're doing bigger and better things. We have more members than ever before. We are selling out all of our public programs. We're working with different groups like Problem Library and local businesses. But we just aren't making enough money to pay two salaries from our general operating budget. So, we're really sailing into some rough seas and we're going to have to make some tough choices ahead. We might lose one of the two [01:06:00] employees that work at Western Neighborhoods Project. So, we need your help. We also need any kind of creative fundraising ideas you have. Like, email us. Let us know what you think we can do to stay a two-person non-profit, because people are who get the work done. I know that's not what you're supposed to say in any kind of fundraising drive. You're supposed to hammer home like impact and you're supposed to talk about all the amazing projects you do. But what it comes down to is two people need to do this work. So please consider giving us some amazing fundraising ideas in the next three months.
And other than that, we're pretty much winding down our public programs for the rest of the year. But, you know, you can find whatever we have left for you as we finish out 2023 by going to the events page on our website at outsidelands.org. Or the easiest way to keep in the know with WNP is by following us on Eventbrite. Because then you get your own very special email the [01:07:00] second we drop a new event. There's over 415 of you following us on that now, which is crazy because we haven't been on the platform very long. So thank you.
And with that, we are done this evening and we'll be doing a third straight interview podcast next week, talking to not one, not two, but three special guests about a local immigration station and the 40th anniversary of the foundation that preserves the history of it, because it has connections to a West side institution. So, until next time, I'm Nicole Meldahl. Thank you, Daniel, for being with us today.
Daniel: My pleasure, Nicole.
Nicole: And he hung in for all of that WNP business. Such a gent.
Daniel: This way I don't have to listen to the podcast later.
Nicole: Yeah, who wants to do that? Fun fact, I don't listen to any of the podcasts. Anyways, this has been [01:08:00] another episode of Outside Lands San Francisco. Thanks for being with us, history friends.
Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.
Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.