Championing New Deal Public Art

Urban Affairs faculty member Rachel Brahinsky contributed to this lovely mini-documentary on the life of Masha Zakheim, daughter of a New Deal artist and protector of many of San Francisco’s New Deal murals. Zakheim, who passed away in 2014, wrote the key text on the history of the Coit Tower murals, and was a champion of the kind of political public art that was funded by FDR’s New Deal.

In her urban history classes, Brahinsky explores the tension between public and private spending in the evolution of urban space, including art and architecture. She also serves on the board of directors for the Living New Deal Project, a non-profit group that is mapping New Deal art and infrastructure nationally. She was interviewed for the documentary by Laura Paull at 3200Stories, a cultural/political blog produced by the San Francisco Jewish Community Center’s

An Afternoon With MAGIC ZONE


This gallery contains 9 photos.

My fellow members of Urban Cohort 2 are super humans: juggling a full class schedule, adjusting to being back in the classroom, working full time or multiple part time jobs, volunteering for incredible causes all over the Bay Area and … Continue reading

Election Day Reflection: Supporting Stevon Cook’s Campaign for Board of Education

“”Our campaigns have not grown more humanistic because candidates are more benevolent or their policy concerns more salient. In fact, over the last decade, public confidence in institutions- big business, the church, the media, government- has declined dramatically. The political conversation has privileged the nasty and trivial. Yet during that period, election seasons have awakened a new culture of volunteer activity. This cannot be credited to a politics inspiring people to hand over their time but rather to campaigns, newly alert to the irreplaceable value of a human touch, seeking it out. Finally campaigns are learning to quantify the ineffable- the value of a neighbor’s knock, of a stranger’s call, the delicate condition of being undecided- and isolate the moment where a behavior can be changed, or a heart won. Campaigns have started treating voters like people again.”- Sasha Issenberg, Victory Lab

As campaign workers we canvassed the city, precinct by precinct.

As campaign workers, we canvassed the city, precinct by precinct.

The last ten months have been quite the journey in supporting my friend Stevon Cook’s campaign for San Francisco Board of Education for the November election.  From attending an intimate house party back in January in his apartment where he formally announced to 30 of his closest friends he was launching the campaign, to these last few weeks of early morning and late night voter outreach and canvassing, this has been an intense, memorable, and impactful community-building experience. My role in the core campaign team has primarily consisted of field organizing and voter outreach, which includes targeting key areas of the city to generate support for his candidacy. The last few weeks have been packed with precinct-walking, campaign literature distribution, and speaking to voters all over the city leading up to November 4th .

San Franciscans often say ours is a “small city”- it certainly doesn’t feel that way while canvassing block by block, precinct by precinct to generate support for our candidate in a city-wide election. While precinct sizes vary, I’d estimate that the average precinct is comprised of about 200-300 homes. If working in pairs, two people can complete an average-sized precinct in about three or four hours. Over the last few months, our team has collectively walked dozens of precincts, distributed tens of thousands of pieces of campaign materials, secured pivotal endorsements from elected officials and political clubs, and expanded our reach to increase visibility and support leading up to tonight.

One of the lasting lessons I’ve learned throughout this experience is that every prospective voter we speak with matters, from those first 1000 registered voters who lent support to get Stevon qualified to appear on the November ballot before the June deadline, to those that will vote for him throughout this evening.  While the year has been a blur of campaign madness, before my involvement in this race, I had not reflected on the full journey for a campaign team to simply have their candidate listed on the ballot and all the work this process entails leading to election day.  In hindsight, more than anything, I’ve learned to appreciate that process as I have had the privilege to experience the full cycle of this race from campaign inception date to election day. As a native San Franciscan, graduate of SFUSD K-12 schools, and having the privilege to call Stevon a colleague and friend over the last five years, I can think of no better candidate for the San Francisco Board of Education, and I’m thankful to have been part of this journey leading up to today’s election.
Fernando Enciso-Márquez
Coordinator of Community Partnerships

Urban Affairs student joins the Ferguson Freedom Ride

Nolizwe_Screen Shot

We’re proud to see Urban Affairs graduate student Nolizwe Nondabula featured in a gofundme campaign designed to send activists to Ferguson, Missouri with the group Black Life Matters. Nolizwe joins the USF community and many others who are deeply troubled by the Aug 9, 2014 killing of Michael Brown, and by the militarized police response to community protests ever since. The Black Life Matters campaign is bringing awareness of the connections these events have to everyday violence against people of color across the US. For more information on the campaign, go to

The Single Stories: An ACE Reflection

Advocate for Community Engagement Aundraya Martinez had her final reflection with Professor Evelyn Ho’s “Ethnography of Communications” class last week.



Students wrote the “single stories” and preconceptions they had about the Tenderloin prior to engaging in service at the St. Anthony Foundation Tech Lab and placed those inside the box.

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Then, thinking “outside the box,” they taped new stories they learned about the assets and gifts of the wonderful folks and community they engaged with at the Tech Lab.


Great reflection and great learning!