Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
The California Central Valley and its agriculture aren't too far from the Bay Area. But, as Marcy Coburn knows well, they're worlds apart.
Today, Marcy is the creative director at San Francisco's Pier 70, a mixed-use development just south of Oracle Park. Her mom's family moved west from Oklahoma and her dad migrated to California from his childhood home in Central Florida. The two met at Cal Poly Pomona near LA and moved to Visalia to raise a family.
Her folks split up and Marcy lived with her mom, who relocated to Stockton when Marcy was 13. She had dabbled in neon in punk before the move, but the kids in her hometown weren't ready for that. Stockton proved to be a better fit for the teenager.
Once they were 16, she and her friends started taking car trips to Berkeley and San Francisco. But Marcy's move to The City took quite a detour first.
She and a friend took a bus to New York City and walked across the country on a "peace walk" in solidarity with American Indians whose lands were being used for nuclear testing. That lasted nine months and ended with them at a test site outside of Las Vegas on Shoshone land.
It was on that walk that Marcy came out.
In Part 2, Marcy talks about coming out to friends on a walk across the country, but then, when she returned to California, had to go through that process again with her parents. Turns out her mother had "met someone" too. Her dad didn't take the news so well.
Marcy made the move to San Francisco in 1994. She talks about what we now call the LGBTQ community in the Mission back then, and how special a time it was.
She left for the East Coast, where she lived briefly. But, because it was a much different place back then, was easily able to move back to The City.
Marcy ended up directing the Eat Real Food Festival in Oakland for a while, as well as other food and agriculture gigs. Then she ended up at CUESA, which runs the farmer's markets at the Ferry Building here in San Francisco. It was there that Marcy began to work on establishing "third places," which start with food and agriculture but go beyond that to create full experiences that are memorable and important. She levied her work with CUESA to get involved at Pier 70.
Shortly after joining Pier 70, lockdown happened. But Marcy is excited to be with them nonetheless.
As she talks about in the podcast, Pier 70 is a project that honors San Francisco's industrial and maritime history while also creating spaces for artists and makers and looking toward a more inclusive future.
We end the podcast with Marcy talking about the potential for what's next here in San Francisco.
We recorded this podcast at Pier 70 in June 2021.