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Grand Opening

#BeSeen: March in PRIDE with LightHouse, Get a Free T-Shirt

It’s Pride month, and here at LightHouse, our staff, students and allies are walking around the city, exploring exciting new ideas, and continuing to build the confidence and self-esteem of those in our community. We’re also thinking, from a blindness perspective, more than ever about what it really means to “be seen.”

At its heart, Pride is about proudly and publicly claiming an identity that society has consistently stigmatized or disregarded. We’re marching on June 25 in celebration of our LGBTQ community members, and to honor our many intersecting identities. People with disabilities are often either stripped of sexuality, or fetishized. This year we’re grabbing our canes, our guide dogs and our rainbow swag and taking to the streets to let the world know we’re blind, proud and sexual to boot.

You can learn more about what we’re doing for Pride month here, and if you are one of the first 35 to sign up for the festivities on Eventbrite, you’ll get a free “Be Seen” t-shirt (pictured below). These t-shirts can also be purchased for $15 in our Adaptations Store.

LightHouse staff member Esmeralda Soto and Ethan Meigs cross the street wearing LightHouse's 'Be Seen' Pride Tshirts. The shirts say 'be seen' in orange uppercase letters and 'SF Pride 2017', with a braille 'L' and 'H' in rainbow.
Two people cross the street wearing LightHouse’s ‘Be Seen’ Pride Tshirts. The black shirts say ‘be seen’ in orange uppercase letters and ‘SF Pride 2017’, with a braille ‘L’ and ‘H’ in rainbow.
Ethan and his guide dog Gershwin show off their LightHouse Pride t-shirts across from the UN Plaza, with a rainbow flag billowing in the background.
A man and his guide dog show off their LightHouse Pride t-shirts across from the UN Plaza, with a rainbow flag billowing in the background.

We introduced the #BeSeenSF hashtag exactly one year ago when preparing for our big grand opening at 1155 Market Street. On June 10th, 2016 more than a thousand people took over the streets of downtown San Francisco and marched into our new building – people with all levels of vision, from all walks of life. It was a spectacle in the best way possible: a display of joy and unity around a state of being that most people identify as a disability.

We didn’t stop there. Over the course of the year, we released several bold statements about what it means to be seen. Standing six feet tall and spread throughout the Civic Center BART station, each ad is a vivid, illuminated burnt orange with artistic rendering of a blind person going about their business – cooking, exercising, or moving through the streets with a cane or a dog. These tasks may seem mundane, but by putting the blind individual front and center, occupying the focus of the scene and popping boldly out of the brightly colored ad, we send a clear message to the public of San Francisco: blindness is just another way of being – and worth looking at in a different light.

Below, you can peruse all of the artwork for our ads, which were designed by J. Renae Davidson for LightHouse from July 2016 to March 2017. Pictured in them are some of the treasured staff, mentors and role models who you’ll regularly see strolling Market Street on any given day.

Bart Ad Compilation Image. Descriptions below.
Bart Ad Compilation Image. Descriptions below.

This compilation of all our Bart Ads features an orange background with the words (in white) “The Best Place to Be Seen”. A tile of six black and white stylized drawings are as follows.

Top left: A man crosses the street in downtown San Francisco with his white cane. White words below the image read “Learning to use a White Cane”.

Top right: A woman stands at a bus stop with her guide dog, reading a tactile map. Words below the image say “Reading maps”.

Middle left: A man uses an Arduino continuity tester in the LightHouse Toyota Innovation STEM lab on the 11th floor. Text reads “Building Electronics: No Eyes Necessary”.

Middle right: A man chops juicy vegetables in the LightHouse Teaching Kitchen. Text reads “Cookin’ Without Lookin’: Now, That’s Delicious!”

Bottom left: A woman in the LightHouse Adaptations Store holds a magnifying glass up to her eye. Text reads, “Adapting Your Vision. White canes, talking watches, magnifiers & more”.

Bottom right: A woman runs alongside her fitness partner using a lead. The Golden Gate Bridge stands out behind them. Text reads, “Taking Strides Together. Find Your Fitness Partner Today!”

A mockup of our cooking bart ad hangs in an underground station with orange, yellow, red, and grey tile in the background.
A mockup of our cooking bart ad hangs in an underground station with orange, yellow, red, and grey tile in the background.

Last year, SF PRIDE had its first ever blind grand marshal, Belo Cipriani, a welcome reminder that not only are our journeys often parallel, but our identities have significant overlap. This year, Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar is taking our PRIDE participation to the next level, and she wants you to join her. For more information, RSVP on Eventbrite or email Laura at lmillar@lighthouse-sf.org.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Photo: Student and volunteer Dennis O’Hanlon tells the story of how the LightHouse assisted him in his journey back to work during the LightHouse Grand Opening Donor Event.

The LightHouse wishes to thank its devoted friends and community partners who have recently shown their support by providing significant funds to help our programs go further and reach higher:

Delong-Sweet Family Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Disability Communications Fund – for Technology Training
Robert Foster – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Patricia Heim and Sergius Lashutka – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Jerry Kuns and Theresa Postello – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Marco A. Vidal Fund – for general operating support – LightHouse of Marin
Jane and Robert Micks – for general operating support – LightHouse North Coast
Mutual of America – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Susan O’Sullivan – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
The Palisades Educational Foundation – for general operating support
Fred Ruhland – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Frederic and Kristine Silva – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Todd Stevenot and Anne Sandbach – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Telecare Corporation – for Superfest International Disability Film Festival
Wells Fargo – for sponsorship for our Grand Opening Celebration and for Employment Immersion
Workday Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp

What a Celebration! LightHouse Grand Opening and “Blind and Proud” Parade Highlights a Momentous Moment in LightHouse’s 114 Year History. Thank you to Everyone Who Participated, including our Fantastic Volunteers.

We came, we marched, and we conquered the streets!

The San Francisco police estimated that more than 1,000 marchers, blind and sighted, took over Civic Center for the most boisterous Blind and Proud parade ever. In addition to our own community, dozens of volunteers from area tech companies and organizations helped with the important logistics that a major event like our Grand Opening celebration requires.

Thanks so very much to all of the wonderful LightHouse volunteers who gave their time to help us get ready for our Grand Opening parade and celebration, marched with us, offered sighted assistance during the parade or assisted us with our packed open house. Your participation made our Grand Opening Celebration a fantastic, best-ever event and we THANK YOU.

ribbon cutting ceremony

Photo: LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin cuts an orange ribbon in front of 1155 Market Street, officially inaugurating the new LightHouse building. Photo credit: Chelsea Dier

The outpouring of volunteering was followed almost immediately by the launch of our new Volunteer Program where 45 new volunteers attended the first Orientation at our new headquarters building. Thank you to all who were able to make it. And for those who are eager to volunteer for the LightHouse but couldn’t join us, be assured that the fun and opportunity to serve our community will continue.

Here’s what we have coming up:

Volunteer in our Adult and Senior Program:
We always need more volunteers to work with our Adult and Senior programs on weekdays. Every Monday, Wednesday and the third and fourth Friday of each month, we invite you to help us setup for the gathering and, upon request, serve as sighted guides for new students in our large new headquarters or accompany students who wish to explore the sprawling farmer’s market just across the street.

Become a Personal Services Volunteer:
Link up with a student who has requested assistance with grocery shopping, reading mail, or needs a sighted guide around the neighborhood. You work with your match to decide when and where you will work together.

Our next Volunteer Orientation is Saturday, July 9th and we’d love to see you there.

Please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320 to RSVP or get more information about the Orientation or any aspect of our Volunteer Program. A completed volunteer registration is required and can be found on the volunteer page of our website where you can sign up to stay in the know of upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Thank You for Marching: A Recap of our Grand Opening Day

Last Friday LightHouse brought together as many as 1,000 blind marchers and their colleagues, friends and extended families. As we paraded down Market Street, holding banners, dancing, shouting —led by the ever-festive Extra Action Marching Band – each of us felt an immense sense of pride and privilege to be part of this vibrant, strong and diverse blindness community. We walked side by side with friends from organizations far and wide, such as Guide Dogs, California School for the Blind, the Hatlen Center, the Earle Baum Center, the World Institute on Disability, the Paul K. Longmore Institute university professors, blindness educators, along with attorneys, political figures, entrepreneurs, technologists and the many other community leaders who turned out for this unforgettable event.

A woman cheers in front of a LightHouse banner
photos by Chelsea Dier

At the end of the parade, it couldn’t have felt more right to finally cut the ribbon and pour into LightHouse’s new headquarters, filling each room with activity. Guests explored our student residences, experimented with Arduino and soldering in the STEM lab, passed in and out of our many communal spaces and, most of all, enjoyed each other’s company and excitement.

What kicked it all off, though, was the speeches on the steps of City Hall; which we are proud to be able to present to you in full on the above video. In addition to these few moments from social media and our photographers on the ground, we will continue to share the memorable sights and sounds throughout the week.

We’ve already seen a tremendous response on social media, but we’d like to continue to hear about your favorite memories from the event. Send your observations, photos, sounds and videos from Friday’s celebration to us on Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox or email.