Sign of the Times

Sunday, October 18, 2020

This submission won first place in the photography category of the Synapse Storytelling Contest.

Throughout shelter-in-place, I took daily walks around the Inner Sunset neighborhood.

From March to May, warm words of appreciation towards essential workers braving the fears of COVID-19 appeared in the windows of houses all around my own. With June came calls for justice and reform, a reflection of renewed vigor for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This collage showcases the community coming together in solidarity first through the stresses of the pandemic and now also in the rejection of racism. The sense of unity within and widespread prevalence of these signs make me optimistic.

I imagine the children drawing some of them, a deeper love for their neighbor shaping their character with every stroke of the crayon — poised to be the next generation of changemakers. I picture them hoisted above the heads of their designers at protests.

I see them prompting thoughtful conversations over family dinners, bringing smiles to the faces of passing nurses or grocery managers, and otherwise inspiring their readers on the street, like me.

In my eyes, these window messages provide a glimpse into the heart of the San Francisco

community. They have sparked in me a newfound hope for the future. They are signs of the times, pointing to the power of a community empowered and connected by love.