Change starts with you whether you want to change your life or the world.

Sometimes you just need to look at what’s going on in your own backyard for inspiration. I decided to do a city walk over the holiday weekend to see what was going on in my own backyard. It was definitely an enlightening experience.

The streets leading into Pier 39 were parking lots, the crowds were overwhelming and the streets are now lined with candy stores, t-shirt shops and fast food restaurants. Memories of the Vegas strip quickly surfaced as tricked out cars and street performers vied for the attention of tourists. I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would pay San Francisco prices for this experience.

The crowds thankfully thinned out close to Aquatic Park. I sat on the sea wall for a few minutes for a breath of fresh air and posted to Facebook “San Francisco should be ashamed of Pier 39. It represents everything wrong with America”. One of my friends posted a simple reply ????. Evidently few have noticed the change that has taken place over the last several years or maybe they just don’t care since it’s not a destination for locals. However, the reality is that we should all care because the cost of healthcare depends on how each and everyone one of us choose to live.

As I continued to weave through the crowds, my mind filled with potential ideas to make the space better and healthier. By the time I got to Fort Mason, the answer was right in front of me. The locals were sprawled out on the lawn enjoying picnics and playing various games as other people walked and biked past them. I couldn’t help but notice, everyone seemed to look healthier than those at Pier 39.

What became really clear in that moment is that cities and local businesses need to be part of the solution if we are going to make populations healthier and curb the cost of healthcare for all. With San Francisco ranking high on the list of best places in America to visit, we have the opportunity to mirror what locals value and love about the city rather than herding visitors to a tourist trap that does nothing to inspire health and wellbeing.

I went back for another look and to imagine what it could be like with more green space for outdoor eating, stage areas to highlight street performers and food trucks offering more choice and healthier options. Add some technology to help manage the crowds, restrict cars to the area except for authorized car shows, service and emergencies and the area would feel like more of a refuge for tourists while retaining the elements that everyone seems to enjoy. 

San Francisco can do better and should do better. With that said making big changes in a city takes time. So in the mean time, if you visit and manage to escape Pier 39 by bike or foot please note the signs on the lanes and respect the basic rules of the road. We know the views of the bridge and from the bridge are breathtaking but no selfie or picture is worth risking your safety or the safety of others. Follow the signs, stop off to the side to take pictures, look both ways when you cross a path and as Allan from Reeves Training taught us, wait your turn at stop signs. We want you to go home healthy [or maybe even healthier] and happy that you made the trip to San Francisco.

With that I leave you with a questionWhat change do you want to be in the world? 

About the Image: The window to the world from Pier 39.

~S