San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood sits at the epicenter of a 21st century tech gold rush. But in the shadows of Silicon Valley, a different class of entrepreneurs survives and thrives on the streets.
Created back in 2016 in the hope of inspiring people to pay attention to what’s unfolding on the streets around them and to reconsider what is classified as trash and what is seen as treasure, Mission Gold is an independent photojournalism project about looking and elucidating the lives and art of the overlooked and disenfranchised street residents of San Francisco.
According to Recology, San Francisco’s trash collector, over 1,400 tons of cans, bottles, cardboard, plastic, electronics, foods scraps and God knows what else were disgorged as garbage everyday in 2016. For those prepared to roll up their sleeves, extracting an income from this messy mother lode can happen one of three ways.
First is the street recycling of aluminum, glass, paper, plastics and other materials with an official California Refund Value (CRV). It’s a reliable earner, but wrestling 100-pound shopping carts down the highway to the Bayshore recycling district isn’t everyone’s idea of an easy buck.
Second are various street…
On any given day in San Francisco, there are at least 100–200 apartments in little black bags. Tonight, the treasure hunt starts, and I wanna live stream it.
Alphelus X is a trashcan connoisseur, silky raconteur, pro recycler, homeless detective and amateur Egyptologist. In short, he is a legend, wrapped within an enigma, hidden within a garbage bag.
If that sounds like a random laundry list of awesome, spend a few nights mining trash bins with this man and witness the insane inventory of shit we apparently don’t need, but that Alpheus X will scrape off, soap down and turn…
Millennia before Google, Facebook and the other tech titans sent seismic shifts through the Bay Area landscape, disruptions were already underway. Deep beneath Silicon Valley in the rocky seams of the San Andreas fault, mother nature’s own venture capital was flowing — golden veins that later gave the first rush of economic life to San Francisco.
Since the initial gold claims at Sutter’s Creek in 1849, the city has been built on disruption at every level. From the psychedelic shake-up of Haight-Ashbury, to advances in virtual reality, it’s the city’s frictions that make it such a force.
The technology industry…
Mission Gold is an independent photojournalism project exploring street entrepreneurship and alternative value in SF. All profits to homeless charities.