Today Sunday Streets returned to my neighborhood in San Francisco’s Mission District. Sunday Streets is an event organized by the City of San Francisco, MTA, and Livable City that creates a large, temporary, public space by closing off stretches of a neighborhood’s streets to automobile traffic, and opening them to pedestrians, bicyclists, and activities. Or to be more specific, a huge street party for old and young to come out and be human for a day.

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

I’ve posted about Sunday Streets quite a few times and I keep telling myself that I don’t need to do it again, but what makes this event so special is that it’s never quite the same. Each time I go, even for just a couple of hours, there are new sights and sounds. The people who’ve been there before keep reinventing themselves, and all the first-timers add so many new layers of fun and creativity that it’s hard to keep up. I really can’t say it enough, but when the streets are for the people and the people get out of their cars, really cool, creative, and unexpected stuff happens, just like that.

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

Of course, there were the usual suspects, like the lindyhoppers…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

the hula-hooping kids…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

and the finger-pickers…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

there was serious chillin’ out…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

and the roller-blading acrobatics…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

There were some variations on familiar themes. For example I’d seen lots of cute pets and heard cool tunes, but I hadn’t seen the bulldog standing in as a flyer for a sidewalk sale…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

or a Balkan brass band smokin’ it up…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

But I knew something was up when even bubble girl — a Sunday Streets institution — was stopped in her tracks. Was that really what I think it was?

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

Yup, it was a mechanical pony, a modern day hobby horse made for streets of few cars. Bubble girl couldn’t resist a closer encounter…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

But wait, that wasn’t it. As we kept walking, they kept coming in our direction…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

as if it was the most normal thing in the world, like checking your emails…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

Indeed, this could become a daily sight if it’s up to these guys bringing horses back to the mission district…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

This kind of transportation may seem a little unusual, but I think it really signifies the bigger kind of changes we need to see in how we get around in our cities, if not literally but definitely symbolically. It’s all nice to tinker around the edges, a bike lane here and a Smart Car there, but I think it’s not just about physical changes but about a different kind of thinking, a more imaginative way of being together, if we really want to have cities and settlements that are on a people scale.

Most ideally, a little people scale…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

In order to create a whole new paradigm we really have to dare to embrace the impossible, and as we were walking back towards 24th Street, we were stopped in our tracks by a perfect demonstration of what’s possible when we collectively attempt to rearrange the existing pieces…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

Yup, there it was, the leaning tower of street jenga…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

With the slanted table and a fierce San Francisco wind blowing we thought that we were pretty much witnessing the end of the game, but what happened next…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

was really amazing.

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

One guy after another kept stepping up, pulling out piece…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

after piece…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

There were so many oohs and aahs, and people were having a great time, laughing and cheering each other on…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

With each move it felt more and more like we were all in this together. This kid was amazing, he literally took out the foundation of the tower…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

and unbelievably, with its entire bottom corner missing, the tower stood…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

It was nothing short of a miracle, but then again I kept thinking to myself that this is what we can do on a larger scale, to re-envision our entire foundation without collapsing the whole thing. We just have to work together and support each other. And we’ve got to be bold!

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

In the game, however, we know what must happen…

Sunday Streets, June 3, 2012

but in life it’s the process of collaborating, pushing each other further, and expanding our horizon that frees us from the same old building blocks that got us stuck in the first place. The future we want is in our hands, and in our streets.