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Storied: San Francisco

May 2, 2023

This episode is all about the Women's Building, a structure on 18th Street in the Mission that has served so many purposes for more than 50 years.

In Part 1, we talk with two members of the Women's Building staff—Maria Arteaga, Women's Building content specialist/social media manager, and Kristen Acosta, their community engagement coordinator. Maria starts us off by sharing her life story. She was raised in Puebla, Mexico, and was there until she was 28. That's when she went for PhD in Barcelona for four years, followed by a stint in Zurich, Switzerland.

After Maria's partner moved to San Francisco for work, she visited and loved it here. She arrived in March 2019, soon discovered the Women's Building, and the rest is history.

Then we hear from Kristen. She's from El Paso, Texas, originally. She went to college in San Antonio, worked there a little after graduating, then made her way out west with her partner. Kristen volunteered at Glide and St. Anthony's before her arrival at the Women's Building. She first volunteered, became the receptionist after that, and then moved into her current role.

Both guests share the history of the Women's Building, which goes back more than 50 years, when a group of activists formed the San Francisco Women's Centers. Soon in need of their own venue to hold events and generally be able to do more, they found their current home on 18th Street. Fun fact—back in the day, Valencia Street's Dovre Club lived in the corner of the building.

We go through some of the intentions and accomplishments of the building. From the outset, the aim was to be collective and inclusive. Maria says that the founders were the "original intersectional feminists." The first Black lesbian conference in the US was held there in the 1980s. Over the years, there have been many programs at the Women's Building for the LGBTQ and Latinx community, in addition to poetry readings and other art events.

Check back next week for Part 2 with Maria and Kristen all about the many things that go on at the Women's Building these days.

We recorded this podcast at The Women's Building in April 2023.

Photography by Jeff Hunt