Cascadia Living

Exploring the nexus between work and play with a sense of wonder in the Pacific Northwest.

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Inner City EQ Risk – Telling the Story


Earthquake Risk in San Francisco’s South of Market District: People, Place, & Policy (2002) Practitioner-based qualitative case study involving inner city vulnerable populations.

This documentary video project evolved from two attempts at traditional surveys about earthquake risk with residents of the South of Market District. After I was dissatisfied with how poorly the “agree or disagree” options reflected the complex nature of the life options and timelines for the vulnerable populations I interviewed, it became obvious they should directly express themselves through video interviews.

Interviews were conducted between 1999 and 2002 with residents, government and NGO staff, and utilized direct visual references to documents, plans, and historical materials to tell the story that connects the settlement of this area in the 1850’s to impacts from the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, and the continued concentrations of earthquake risk there today.

This geography graduate project became an experimental case study video project using only a Sony TRV 20 video camera and a Radio Shack microphone, with all interviews being hand held. The emphasis of the production was to demonstrate the use of guerilla-style video for geographical field research that focused on the people, the place, and policies related to earthquake risk in the SOMA. This experimental video project was completely self-funded on a shoestring budget and created with lots of heart in the neighborhood I worked in for over ten years.

I hope this video documentary can bring some context for stakeholder discussions and provoking more understanding and investment in whole community engagement for the pursuit of disaster resilience.

Section Titles and Start Times:
Preview – People, Place & Policy                              00:00
Introduction – Study Description                             02:25
Living in the South of Market                                    08:53
Shaping the Land: SoMa after 1850                         11:33
Comparing Earthquakes: 1906 vs. 1989                  15:04
Did You Feel It? Loma Prieta – 1989                        19:05
SoMa Project Area Committee (SOMPAC)              22:16
Vulnerable Populations – Do you know them?      30:18
The Sixth Street Corridor (AKA Skid Row)               35:12
Seismic Policies and Practices                                 37:47
When the Ground Shakes                                         41:39
Communicating Earthquake Risk                             48:41
Are You Ready?                                                          51:50
Study Implications and Conclusion                         54:12