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Shaping San Francisco and writer/researcher Adriana Camarena receive Grant Award from Cal Humanities for "Unsettlers: Migrants, Homies, and Mammas in the Mission"

Media Contact: Chris Carlsson, or LisaRuth Elliott, co-Directors, Shaping San Francisco
415-881-7579 or shaping (at) foundsf (dot) org

February 4, 2013, San Francisco: Cal Humanities has recently announced the Fall 2012 Community Stories grant awardees. Shaping San Francisco, an affiliate project of Independent Arts & Media, has been awarded $9,850 for its project entitled “Unsettlers: Migrants, Homies, and Mammas in the Mission of San Francisco” with writer and researcher Adriana Camarena. San Francisco writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit will serve as advisor for the project.

Community Stories is a competitive grant program of Cal Humanities. Grants are awarded to projects that give expression to the extraordinary variety of histories and experiences of California's places and people to ensure that the stories can be shared widely. These narratives help us find our commonalities, appreciate our differences, and learn something new about how to live well together. Camarena's “Unsettlers” gathers stories based on interviews she carries out, some of which are featured in her essays “Geography of the Unseen” in Solnit's INFINITE CITY: A San Francisco Atlas (2010) and “Street Food” in n+1 magazine (Issue 14, Summer 2012).

Rebecca Solnit writes: “A few years ago, for the Infinite City collaboration, Adriana Camarena engaged her neighbors in interviews. With incredible grace and warmth she got day laborers and inner-city kids to talk about their deepest hopes, their daily lives, and the dangers that surround them. The results were breathtaking, and I’ve been excited to follow her further developments in Mission District neighborhood investigation ever since—and here it comes. The combination of her generous heart and her acute mind opened a space for a portrait of a place as an intersection of global forces and human natures like no other. Prepare yourself for something tremendous."

“Unsettlers” is a collection of stories told by the most precarious residents of the Mission District of San Francisco. Living in the Mission are multi-generation families of Latinos, Asians, and African Americans; migrant day laborers; single moms; kids in gangs; homeless veterans; young white artists; and older Leftist bohemians alongside newly minted radicals. The stories in this collection resonate with a two century old tale of living outside abundance in the Mission, and seeking belonging in a land. Present day tales of immigration by Latin Americans are set against the backdrop of historical migrations: from the arrival of the Spanish priests and soldiers, through the successive waves of European immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries, and into the contemporary history of eviction by rapid gentrification. These are stories of abandon, but also of love, loyalty, laughter, and a fierce will to survive in adversity.

“With our state's incredible diversity, fostering communication and connecting people to a range of ideas is vital for our general welfare,” said Ralph Lewin, president and CEO of Cal Humanities. “Our grant award enables awardees to pursue the important work of engaging new audiences in conversations around stories of significance to Californians.”

Since 2003, Cal Humanities has supported approximately 400 story projects and granted over $2.8 million to enable communities to voice, record, and share histories–many previously untold or little known. Through video, photography, murals, zines, documentary theater, audio projects, and more, these collected stories have been shared with broad audiences, both live and virtual. Cal Humanities is an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


For more information on Cal Humanities please visit

For more information on Shaping San Francisco's ongoing and special projects, please visit

For regular updates on Adriana Camarena's writing and research, please visit