Hope on the Street

Byron and JJ the Florists

Back in the day he sold bouquets around Seventh and Market. Petals easy for the picking had to lay on the varnish. Seasons passed and he drifted down the Embarcadero. Present day the skid row’s gentrified straight to the marrow. Back then Cal had Savio for the civil rights scenarios. Pacifist, Pro-Free Speech, fought against the Machine. Nowadays they silence speakers before riots and rallies grow. Yelling the obscene to be seen, radical no in between.

Way back when he had to carry on the family business. Handing out red and green past Valentines and Christmas. Lost his father, found a partner, revitalized cured from sickness. Others witnessed this miracle, it was far from discreet. But then again why would anybody take on this burden? Placing trust in another when survival’s uncertain. Without outreach service it’s hard to break the surface. So cultivate and bloom, push straight through the concrete.

Byron is a veteran florist with over half a century of experience, and his flower stand is located directly above the BART station that I stop at for class. His expertise expands far beyond his flower business roots, as evident through his UC Berkeley background, and extensive knowledge of Bay Area sociology and political activists. John Joseph is an upstanding man, Byron’s colleague, and friend, that made the most of a chance given to him 20 years ago. Furthermore JJ’s rise from vagrancy is documented in the documentary “Hope on the Street”.

Hope on the Street exists because of the available soup kitchens, shelters, and services centers that address people of low SES (socioeconomic status) instead of relocating them. The first verse documents Byron’s history, and the second verse reveals his run in with JJ. The initial lines describe Byron’s decision to move his business in order to avoid the constant threat of vandalism, explaining the application of varnish. The specific skid row mentioned is the Tenderloin a neighborhood near SoMa (South of Market), an area where subsidized low income housing and SROs (single-room occupancy) are displaced by the perpetually rising living costs of the city. In terms of speakers that have spoken at Cal, Mario brought vital change compared to the discord instigated by a personality like Milo. Trusting in others is a valuable skill, just like an investment be selective of whom you choose to devote your time and give responsibility.

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