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Why Blacks Are Leaving San Francisco Faster Than Any Other City In The Country
by Maurice Campbell
Saturday Dec 29th, 2007 3:09 PM
Black Plight Black Flight san Francisco

When you have a population of black people with the highest home ownership of any part of San Francisco, then why are black people fleeing from San Francisco? First let’s look at the South East Sector of San Francisco where most of the black people reside. Then, let’s examine the most vulnerable part of the population, which is the low income residents and people in public housing. By the San Francisco Housing Authority’s count it has 12,000 residents and 21,000 Section 8 Participants with the majority of those in Bay View Hunters Point. Well, as many people know the San Francisco Housing Authority is on HUD’s “Troubled Agency” list for mismanagement and corruption. Moreover, people are leaving many units (for whatever reasons), then the units are boarded up and left vacant. Many units are in disrepair and left that way when there is no shortage of people there in need, why? The Federal Government is working towards a takeover of this 501C3 troubled agency which is failing to help the residents that need help the most. If the housing locations are left in a vulnerable condition it makes it easy for a private developer to make a proposal to take over those troubled housing locations.

Let’s move on to health per Dr. Mitch Katz: “the highest hospitalization rates are from the people of Bay View Hunters Point”, which has a population of approximately 32,000 people. Some of the health problems that have been reported and written about are high infant mortality, some of the highest asthma rates, cancer rates, heart conditions and diabetes. We all know about the Superfund site, the former PG&E power plant site, The Sewage Treatment plant and over 900 other toxic locations around Bay View Hunters Point. Well the people have met, demonstrated, asked for help and prayed for an answer. Please read San Francisco Grand Jury report “The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same”. There are numerous other articles that can be Googled on Hunters Point Health that shine a light on the chilling lack of sensitivity or help for the people of Bay View Hunters Point.

The Economics of the area are reflective of how the people have been treated, promise after promise has been made to the people of BVHP about jobs, using the carrot and the stick approach yet the unemployment remains more than 30% with numerous broken promises about employment. The people of BVHP have been promised various tax incentive programs, however none have materialized. Have you asked about Community Reinvestment Dollars? What happened?

The Redevelopment Agency attempted and received a Project Area Designation for most of Bay View Hunters Point which simply means most of the community can be bulldozed because it is said to be a “Blighted Community”. Remember the Fillmore, remember the promises. This sure looks good for the developers of a blighted community. Have you asked yourself if they had or have the highest home ownership what happened to the tax money for services, where did it go? Who will make money on the bulldozing of the community? Will it be the residents or whom?

With many dollars having been spent in Hunters Point on Redevelopment and Transportation why didn’t the local community benefit? The local contractors didn’t, the local laborers didn’t, who really benefited?

What avenues have been provided for young people? Most of the young people are in the South East Sector. Is there a no way out environment created for them no matter what they do?

In reality if you look at what has been or is being provided for the Black people of Bay View Hunters Point, who have paid the taxes for their home ownership, who have provided critical support for our country in time of war by ship building during a very critical time for the United States, you will see that the people have been repaid by lack of city services, denials by the Health Department, and left in a toxic polluted environment, Redlined, lack of jobs, and faced with insecurity through Eminent Domain, public housing residents being relegated under the stewardship of a troubled San Francisco housing authority agency. Exposure to Racism. Please go on line and research the facts about BVHP. All you have to do is put in Bay View Hunters Point and the subject. an example of the subject would be Environment, Health, etc. Then ask yourself are these issues to benefit the people or private interest?

Then one needs to ask why are Black people staying?

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by SF Person
Saturday Dec 29th, 2007 4:46 PM
Looks like the politicians are in the pockets of the private developers.
Taxiation without representation or services. In other words RACISM.
It really heartens and encourages me to see articles like this written and shared with the community. It is extremely important to continue to keep this struggle, and information about this struggle out there for people to see since the Chronicle and other "mainstream" media sources report almost nothing about what the city government is doing with Lennar Corp. We all must keep ourselves informed, get the information out to our friends to keep the community informed.
by krand
Saturday Dec 29th, 2007 9:55 PM
I originally come from a city in the Midwest where, as an African American, I saw black communities thrive at all economic levels, even during times of civil strife. San Francisco has never really been such a city, like Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta or Philadelphia where blacks enjoyed more of the illusion and some of the reality of social mobility.

You need four things to build a strong community that San Francisco lacks for black people. First, lack of home ownership. This has always been primarily a renter's city. Blacks came here in the 40s looking for jobs during WW2 and fought for rental housing, such as "Section Eight," which was the best most blacks could hope for under Jim Crow. To this day, San Francisco is a renter's city. Second, you need long time rootedness. San Francisco has always been a transient city, which is not conducive to sustainability of any kind. Transience is more conducive to renting. Thirdly, lack of sustainable community supported business development. If community members are not able to purchase or maintain property ownership, there is no long term commercial or residential investment. No investment means no voice at city hall. I'll get to the last thing later.

I hope you're not assuming that blacks are necessarily open to ethnic diversity merely because they have been the victims of discrimination. Everyone wants to be accepted by others but no one wants to be 'the other.' Black are leaving but whites are too as the population of the city reflects changing demographics. Blacks will now have to accept that they no longer represent the only or the largest share of the 'diversity pie.'

The fourth thing? I didn't forget it. Lack of population. Which ends up perpetuating a 'catch 22.' Few black folks stay here because few black folks stay here.... And on it goes.

Why stay? While I'm in no economic position to purchase property (I too, am a renter), I stay because San Francisco, with all of its problems, is more progressive and diverse than other parts of the country and more reflective of the world.
Check the facts

The Grand Jury Report
Troubled Agency Recovery HUD
Self Determinination
redevelopment Contracting
Home Ownership and Gentrification,_San_Francisco,_California
Failure of the city
The developers lie with gentrification in mind
by Resident
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 10:54 AM
Blacks Hit by Housing Costs Leave San Francisco Behind
Published: August 2, 2001
At 21 years old, Shanika Long is giving up on San Francisco, the city she was born and reared in and would rather still call home.

Her mother tells her of a time when blacks owned certain parts of town, when the Fillmore District, for one, was a vibrant neighborhood with, she recalls, ''a black-power-type mentality.''

But, like the Fillmore's nickname, Harlem West, those days are history. And Ms. Long, a clerk at the Labor Ready agency for temporary workers who has a 3-year-old daughter, says she wants to live where black people can afford to buy houses and rear children.

''I'm moving out and I'm feeling like I'm being pushed out of San Francisco,'' she said. ''The community now is, like, dead.''

African-Americans, like Ms. Long, are leaving this city in droves. Over the last 10 years, as public housing and low-income projects have been torn down and as rents and house prices climbed to record levels, African-Americans have left San Francisco like no other city.

Census figures show that while the city's overall population increased more than 7 percent in the 1990's, the number of people who list their race as black fell from 79,039 in 1990 to 60,515 last year (with an additional 6,561 reporting some black heritage combined with another race, the first time the census allowed people to check a mixed-race category). That leaves the city of 776,733 with a black population of 8.6 percent.

Other cities have had notable declines in their black populations over the last decade -- Washington, for example.

But blacks in other cities appear to be migrating to the suburbs in a pattern of upward mobility. In San Francisco, many are leaving because they have no choice. Gentrification during the dot-com boom gave the city the distinction as the most expensive in the country.

Landlords in black neighborhoods, much like others, cashed in, raising rents and evicting long-term tenants. The recent technology bust has had little effect in lowering housing prices, real estate experts say. And since blacks have always been a relatively small minority here (13 percent of the population at its height in 1970) the consequences are striking.

The result, in one of the few major cities with a black mayor and a liberal political sensibility in sync with a majority of African-Americans, is a San Francisco with whole neighborhoods where it is rare to see a black person. It is a city where blacks have little clout, few cultural institutions and only one remaining neighborhood, the homely, lonely Bayview-Hunters Point, best known for a sewage treatment plant and radioactive Superfund site.

For many blacks here, San Francisco is the sweetheart who loved 'em and left 'em, who promised the moon and stars only to forget them when new blood came to town.

In the Fillmore, there has been much talk over the years of establishing a jazz district in honor of the jazz scene that emerged in the neighborhood from 1940 to 1950. It was the heyday of the community, when the black population of the city grew tenfold as thousands of blacks came to San Francisco looking for war jobs, many of them at the Navy shipyard at Hunters Point. But the jazz project has been in the planning stages for years with little action.

In 1997, Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. promised to bring Bayview-Hunters Point thousands of jobs, a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers and a megamall to go along with it. Voters approved the project in 1997, agreeing to finance it with $100 million in bonds. But the project was stalled when the 49ers owner, Eddie De Bartolo Jr., became embroiled in legal troubles and lost the team to his sister and her husband. The mall project is still in the talking stages.

Many blacks have little hope of things improving anytime soon. Even the black churches, the soul of the black community, have lost their influence. The Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of the Glide Memorial Methodist Church, perhaps the sole remaining influential church, with more than 50 social and community programs, says that as blacks have moved, the churches have lost their base.
Census shows black population plummeting in last decade in S.F.
Erin McCormick, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, June 17, 2001
Blacks leave SF in droves (6/17/01)

African-Americans leaving cities for suburbs (4/17/01)

It's a city that prides itself on tolerance and has the nation's most prominent black mayor.

Yet San Francisco's African American population declined faster than in any major U.S. city in the 1990s, a Chronicle analysis of 2000 Census data shows.

The city lost more than 1 in 7 black residents in the 1990s -- the highest rate of decline of the nation's 50 most populous cities. At a time when most large cities saw their black populations grow or remain stable, San Francisco's dropped by at least 11,900.

The rate outstripped that of Washington, D.C., which saw 1 in 8 blacks move to suburbs in a demographic shift so dramatic it has left parts of the capital nearly empty. Miami and Los Angeles also had big drops.

Demographers say blacks may be getting pushed out of San Francisco by two trends: Nationally, blacks are heading to suburbs and, locally, housing prices are driving lower-income residents out.

"The city has become so expensive that the only people who can afford it are those who make over $100,000," said John Landis, a professor of city and regional planning at the University California at Berkeley. "Since blacks tend to be lower income, it affects them disproportionately."

Black families in San Francisco are three times more likely to live below the poverty level than others, according to a 1999 Census Bureau survey of 1 out of 33 households in the city.

Hundreds of low-income families had to be relocated during the 1990s, as more than 1,300 federally subsidized housing units were torn down for reconstruction.

Rebecca Logue-Bovee of the Housing Rights Committee, a San Francisco tenants advocacy group, said despite efforts to find housing within the city for displaced residents, many of them -- including many blacks -- left San Francisco and never came back.

The city's black population began to swell in the 1940s, as the booming shipping industry lured workers. Since the 1970s, it has been declining from a peak of 96,000.

But no decade hit harder than the 1990s, census data show. The decline accelerated, sapping between 15 and 23 percent of the city's black population in a decade. The number of blacks now hovers between 60,500 and 67,000, depending on whether you include those who listed themselves as being of more than one race in the 2000 Census.

"A lot of older people have been selling their homes and moving to the South, where they can get more for their money," said Cheryl Towns, a 25-year Bayview resident, who has watched one friend after another leave the city. "At the same time, lower-income blacks are being pushed out by the prices and many of the kids go off to black colleges and don't come back -- even for vacation."

Jule Anderson, a former school board member and 30-year Richmond District resident, abandoned San Francisco in search of a stronger black community. After raising her kids here, she moved to Atlanta in 1991.

"San Francisco was a cosmopolitan city, but I didn't see enough black people around even then," she said. "I wanted to be around more black people."

By selling her house in San Francisco, Anderson said she was able to bank enough money to live very comfortably in Atlanta. There, she said, blacks are at the center of the community rather than stuck on the edges.

"The idea that San Francisco is so tolerant is a myth," she said. "San Franciscans are tolerant of different lifestyles, but there's a lot of tokenism. If you represent one-tenth of the population, you're lucky if you get one-tenth of the spots (on boards and committees). But really it should be based on who is the best person."

Donneter Lane, an Ingleside resident who helped develop San Francisco's school desegregation plan in the 1960s, said the city was once the national model of an integrated community. But now, she said, "the dream is dead."

As she approaches age 70, Lane plans to leave San Francisco in the next few years to be with family in Atlanta.

"Everyone was so set on San Francisco being the city to live in because it was so integrated," she said. "But that was superficial."

Instead of achieving the dream of integration, members of her generation lost their children to drugs and violence, she said.

"I watch my friends dying and their children getting killed. It makes me feel like going somewhere where I know people," Lane said.

A survey in next month's issue of Black Enterprise magazine ranks Atlanta as one of the nation's 10 best cities for blacks to live, work and play in. The top city was Houston, and Washington, D.C., ranked second.

Among the factors that survey participants ranked most important: availability of jobs with good pay, cost of living and reasonable housing prices.

San Francisco didn't make the cut.

For two decades, demographers have traced an increase of blacks moving from the Western and Northern United States to the South. In the 1990s, census records show the South gained more than 3 million black residents, seeing its black population grow more rapidly than in any other part of the country.

"Many people who are leaving here have roots in the South," Lane said. "They tried to transplant those roots, and it didn't work."

But many blacks who leave San Francisco don't go as far as Atlanta. Demographer Hans Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California noted that many cities with large black populations -- including Oakland and Richmond -- have experienced declines of black residents, while cities on the outer edges of the Bay Area, such as Vallejo, Antioch and Tracy, have had huge increases.

Newly elected San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, a longtime Bayview-Hunters Point resident, said blacks who improve their financial situations don't want to stay in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods that lack banks and grocery stores. Yet many can't afford to buy homes elsewhere in the city.

"If you move up and get a better job, are you going to want to stay in the Bayview, where the only bread you can buy is Wonder Bread?" Maxwell said. "No. When people do a little better, they say, 'I'm outta here.' "

Maxwell said San Francisco stands to lose an integral part of its personality unless it does more to retain its black population.

"We need to remember what made San Francisco great," she said. "With any boom that comes, there's always a bust. We need some good long-range planning to encourage people to stay here."

E-mail Erin McCormick at emccormick [at]

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

What happened to black San Francisco? - page 1 of 6
Once home to the famous Fillmore and a thriving black middle class, San Francisco has suffered the steepest drop in African American population of any major U.S. city-and no longer has enough black residents to fill the seats in Monster Park. As their progeny disperses, the matriarchs and patriarchs of prominent families fight on in a traumatized Bayview, the last black community in what's supposed to be one of the greatest cities on earth.
By Jaimal Yogis

It was a dice game among friends. No one thought it would end in gunshots, much less murder. But few were really surprised, either. This was Bayview–Hunters Point, a neighborhood where just about every resident had lost a loved one at some point to bullets or drugs. This was San Francisco’s ghetto, and still is, a place many San Franciscans have never come and never will.

No one was willing to testify against the dice-game killer. Just as in ghettos across the country, a code of silence had developed in the neighborhood. It works like this: you don’t snitch unless you want to die or relocate to another state. So this murder, too, went unsolved and unpunished. When the screaming died down, it was just another funeral to attend.

The murdered man was Charles Oliver’s father. Charles, now 21, was 3 at the time, too young to understand, but he says he knew his dad was in a special place. Life in Bayview–Hunters Point remained tough for this family. When Charles was 9, he was beaten up by some kids from a rival block. This was just as the 1990s gang wars in the area were getting started. Stacked on top of his father’s murder, the beating was too much for his mother, Tonette Lane. She grew up here, too. But enough was enough. If her children were going to beat the statistics, she decided she had only one option: get out.

So she did. Like so many black families from San Francisco’s last remnant of an African American community, Lane moved her family to the suburbs. Their house is nothing fancy, but it’s a big improvement over those moldy, boarded-up projects in San Francisco. “I just remember it smelled bad over there,” says Lovetia, Tonette’s 15-year-old daughter. She was 5 when they left San Francisco. “It always smelled like pee,” she says, laughing. Everyone else laughs, too, because apparently it’s true. It did smell like pee.

Census figures show that from 1990 to 2000, while San Francisco’s overall population increased more than 7 percent, the number of people who listed their race as African American fell from 76,343 to 58,791, a decline of 23 percent, more than any major city in the country has experienced. The black population has been decreasing steadily since its peak of 96,078 in 1970; since then, the percentage of San Franciscans who are African American has dropped from 13 percent to 8 percent. Local residents swear that Bayview–Hunters Point was about 80 percent African American in 1970. Now, the percentage has dropped to 45, which means there is no majority African American neighborhood in San Francisco at all.

Partly it’s the city’s extraordinary real estate market, which is pushing nonwealthy families of all races out of San Francisco. In a city with little room to expand, median home prices hovering around $800,000, and an affordable housing quota that lags 5,000 units behind official state and local targets, it is only natural that residents who can never expect to afford a home—or those for whom the only way to make any real money is to sell a home they bought cheaply years ago—are leaving. San Francisco has also become a city where manufacturing jobs have steadily been replaced by professional jobs requiring high levels of education, which low-income African Americans are less likely to have. The resulting stats are disturbing. The median household income for blacks in San Francisco is about $30,000; for whites, it’s $63,000.

But the streets of Bayview–Hunters Point teem with alternative theories. This is ethnic cleansing, some people say. It’s the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency trying to kick the African Americans out once again. It’s the result of the crack the CIA spreads so blacks will kill each other off. Or it’s an experiment the Navy has been conducting on toxicity: how long can these Negroes last near two Superfund sites? It’s the large-scale industries out here that won’t hire enough black youth. Or maybe it’s the white-owned media—MTV, VH1, and even BET—glorifying gangster rap, brainwashing young men into quitting school and selling drugs.

Or maybe it’s just history, others say. Residents speak of a dark cloud hanging over this part of the city, a cloud that will not disappear.

by Plato
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 12:04 PM

Thanks a lot for your most informative article regarding the plight of Blacks in polluted neighborhoods in San Francisco. We must also consider that the terrible conditions you so eloquently write about are quite evident in black communities across the country, including, but not limited to, Los Angeles, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, Providence, RI, not to mention many major cities in the South. To that extent, this obvious assault on blacks and their dignity is by no means accidendal or coincidental, but instead systematic and intentional given the historical fact that black misery, starvation, and poverty in general have for nearly four hundred years been bound up somehow with white prosperity. This indeed constitutes a psychological phenomenon that must be systematically altered to ameliorate black suffering and to free white Americans from the belief that as long as blacks are suffering and impoverished, everything in their small worlds is just fine and dandy. This belief system, nearly four hundred years old, is thus the root cause of black suffering and disease, and, as such, most decisions whites make concerning how blacks live and under what conditions, should be viewed with great suspicion. Of course, such a belief binds the psyche to a pathology that manifests itself in the conditions you discuss. This dreaded pathology has given us war, violence, gangs, drugs, hegemony, conquest, slavery, segregation, racism, apartheid, and environmental destruction on a scale that threatens the continuted existence of the world. However, conditions of suffering in the white community itself, generally speaking, may provide the opportunity for many white Americans to rid themselves of this pathological belief system hidden within their psyches. In other words, as bad as the conditions are in the black community, whites themselves are being given a chance to join the world community and to see themselves as equal to, not better than, those they refer to as minorities. White Americans suffer because of what their mental patholigies are capable of creating. They suffer because of war, but they have played a crucial role in its creation. While it is true many of them did not vote for the current American leader, their palpable silence during obviously stolen American elections, featuring the disenfrancisement, or the caging, of African American voters, assisted in dispensing power to the war-mongers who now seek global dominance and control.
by Unfinished Agenda
Sunday Dec 30th, 2007 4:37 PM
What would martin's view be on Bay View Hunters Point maybe we can extract an idea from his history.

Martin Luther King, Jr. catapulted to fame when he came to the assistance of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery, Alabama Black seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus to a White passenger. In those days American Blacks were confined to positions of second class citizenship by restrictive laws and customs. To break these laws would mean subjugation and humiliation by the police and the legal system. Beatings, imprisonment and sometimes death were waiting for those who defied the System.

We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because he showed us the way to mend those broken fences and to move on in building this land rather than destroying it. He led campaign after campaign in the streets of America and on to the governor's mansion - even to the White House - in an effort to secure change. Today Black Americans have federal legislation which provides access and legal protection in the areas of public accommodations, housing, voting rights, schools, and transportation. These rights were not easily won, nor readily accepted, but the good will and conscience of an enormous spectrum of our society both Black and White said "Move On."
On May 17, 1954, the U.S Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, ruled unanimously in Brown vs Board of Education that racial segregation in the public schools of America was unconstitutional.

Now they just move the population out by any means possible.

by Rochelle Metcalfe via Beyond Chron
Wednesday Jan 2nd, 2008 5:48 PM
"I Heard That" -- Black Exodus from San Francisco
by Rochelle Metcalfe‚ Jan. 02‚ 2008

2008 promises to be hot in the City! The exodus of Blacks has become a major issue; so much so that Reverend Amos Brown, Senior Pastor Third Baptist Church, and President San Francisco NAACP called an emergency meeting on Sunday December 23, at the church to address the critical subject!

Earlier last year, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a press release that stated his concerns over the declining African American population in the City, appointed the African American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee, which after several months of study, filed recommendations for the retention and attraction of African Americans in San Francisco.

Out-Migration has hurt Black churches; membership down, hard to attract new members, for the cost of living too high for young families who are forced to move further away. When I moved to San Francisco in the late 50s, the black population thrived across the City in Bayview and Western Addition - Black churches packed with worshippers; the population then about 17-20%. Life was good!

Obviously, Brown is going to take Mayor Gavin Newsom at his word that he’s concerned over the declining African American population in the City. Statistics show African Americans make up about 6% of the population.

Startled when I heard that he would urge Mayor Newsom to call for a “Marshall Plan” to stop the flight of Blacks from the City! The Plan was an American program of economic aid and reconstruction in Europe after World War II. Interested in Brown’s vision, attempted to call the City Preacher; left a message on his phone, but unable to converse with him before deadline.

Are Blacks getting a piece of the economic pie in contracts? Read where Rev. also want the Mayor to appoint a “czar” to focus on issues facing African Americans living in San Francisco. Demand jobs for Black contractors on City projects. There’s plenty of construction work on the table. Parkmerced, San Francisco’s largest apartment complex, located West of Twin Peaks, in the vicinity of San Francisco State, have huge housing plans to redevelop the community that will effect the entire area and transportation!

Affordable housing high on the agenda. Dr. Brown was quoted as saying the housing lottery system is killing our seniors!!! Overall Blacks fall short and do not fare well in the lottery system mix with White and Ethnic groups. One senior housing staff person told me information is not getting to the Black community in a timely manner (some never aware) thus other groups get the jump start to file their applications.

Rev. Brown, a Commissioner on the San Francisco Housing Board, and Pastor Third Baptist Church in the Western addition, is well aware of the plight of seniors in particular. And suggest the City should reserve three-quarters of its low income housing slots for poor Black families!

African-American Developer Michael Simmons plan to develop new affordable condominiums at 1345 Turk Street, behind the MUNI Substation Building on Fillmore. Next Wednesday, January 9, he will present the preliminary schematic design, give a basic overview of the project at a Community meeting to be held in the Northern Police Station Community Room, Fillmore at Turk Street.

31 years writing about personalities in the African American community, my mind reflect back to one successful black businessman - Mr. Todd Cochran, the first African American Dodge automobile dealer in the U.S.; the first African-American new car dealer in San Francisco, and proprietor of K.C. Dodge located in the Mission District, in his native City for 21 years.

Mr. Cochran was a trailblazer, one of the six founders of Chrysler (Daimler Chrysler) Corporation Minority Dealers Association which at the time of his death consisted of top performing minority dealers
throughout the U.S. After retirement in the 90s, he and his wife Inis Cochran moved to Southern California where he passed on November 3, 2001.

During the waning days of the year - the Jazz world lost two icons - legendary virtuoso Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and sweet horn blowing trumpeter Frank Morgan; both would have made their way on both sides of the Bay to headline at Yoshi’s!

As I pen this first column of the year, to borrow a few phrases from the late Jazz vocalist Shirley Horn’s memorable rendition “Here’s to Life,” in all its splendor, may all your storms be weathered and life gets better as we move forward in the New Year!

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