san francisco

The annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race happens every year in San Francisco.

If you grew up in the U.S. from 1968 on, you're most likely familiar with the Big Wheel tricycle. There's a good chance that you have your own visceral memories of riding one, whether you were lucky enough to have one or just mooched from a kid in the neighborhood.

The the sound of the wheels rolling over pavement. The invincibility you felt flying down the sidewalk peddling as hard as you could. The pain in your butt when you hit a rogue rock. The smell of plastic as you skidded to a stop. The impossibility of driving that thing over grass. The Big Wheel was a portal to grown-up driving—no shaky balancing required like a two-wheeler, just pure power and speed in a flash of bright red and yellow.

And every year, fully grown adults relive that 3-wheeler childhood thrill in San Francisco's Bring Your Own Big Wheel race.

Bring Your Own Big Wheel (or BYOBW) has been delighting people in San Francisco for 24 years. The event takes place at 20th and Vermont Street on Easter Sunday afternoon. While some kids go hunting for eggs in their Sunday best, others are racing Big Wheels down San Francisco's crookedest hill. Kids 12ish and under go first (this year, they had the 2:00 to 3:00 time slot) and then the adults get their turn. It's quite an event to witness.


The event is free, with participants being asked to make a small donation to cover the costs associated with putting on the event (permits, hay bales, port-a-potties etc.). And there is no advertising or corporate sponsorship allowed in the event—just pure, childlike fun—with helmets, gloves, knee pads and elbow pads recommended, of course.

Clearly, people take "Big Wheel" loosely, as people brought a whole range of tricycles, but the effect is still sheer delight. A former BYOBW participant called it "terrifyingly fun." As one commenter wrote, "Ya know - society would be so much better if we just did a bunch of fun events like this. It's certainly a lot more fun than the 'red vs. blue' routine we got going now."

I mean, check out these dudes in suits up front:

And every video is more fun than the last.

Learn more about BYOBW at bringyourownbigwheel.com.

DICK'S Sporting Goods

In 1951, the University of San Francisco football team was living out a Cinderella season the school had never seen in its history.

This small all-male school’s success was as unlikely as it was unexpected. Finishing the regular season undefeated, the team was poised to make a run at the national championship.

But despite its success on the field, the football team struggled to cover its mounting expenses. Keeping up with teams from bigger schools wasn’t cheap — USF’s football team had tallied a $70,000 deficit that year alone. USF’s ability to save not just its season, but the team’s future, hinged on the type of financial windfall that only a bowl game provides.

Shortly after their last game, the USF team got their bowl game invitation, but with it came a caveat:

In order for USF to play in the Orange Bowl, and collect the game’s $50,000, two players — Ollie Matson and Burl Toler — would be excluded for no other reason than the color of their skin.

[rebelmouse-image 19346265 dam="1" original_size="560x291" caption="The USF 1951 team. Image via San Francisco Foghorn/Flickr." expand=1]The USF 1951 team. Image via San Francisco Foghorn/Flickr.

As one of the few desegregated teams in the top tier of college football, this wasn’t the first time that the 1951 USF team had experienced racism.

"Our first inkling of it came a year before when we went to play in Tulsa," Bob Weibel, a white player on the team, told the NFL. "They wouldn't let Burl and Ollie stay in the team hotel because it was white-only. They had to go across town and stay at the other one."

Racial slurs from opposing teams were also common.

But the players from San Francisco weren’t aware of how embedded racism truly was throughout institutions — like college football — until they got their ultimatum.

"These guys were very naïve," Kristine Setting Clark, author of the 2002 account "Undefeated, Untied, and Uninvited,” told the NFL. “To them, there was no color barrier. They looked at things like what happened in the Orange Bowl and thought, What's wrong with these people?"

Despite the success of Jackie Robinson knocking down the color barrier in baseball, systematic racism in sports was the rule, rather than the exception, in 1951. And the expectation at the time was that USF would need to bend to the will of the bowl organizers to continue their season and save their program.

The ultimatum could have driven the team apart, but instead, it brought the players closer together.

The team’s response didn’t take long. Within minutes after arriving home and learning of the unacceptable stipulation to partake in a bowl game, the response was singular and resounding:

We told them to go to hell," said Bill Henneberry, USF’s backup quarterback that season. "If Ollie and Burl didn't go, none of us were going. We walked out, and that was the end of it."

At the time, the team’s act of solidarity didn’t serve as a springboard for change or progress. In fact, the entire series of events went unreported and undiscussed for decades.

With their unequivocal response, the USF football team had sealed its fate — the program, now out of money, shuttered prior to the next season.

The Orange Bowl announced that it was the team’s “soft schedule” that cost USF a chance to play in the game.

And San Francisco sports journalist Ira Blue, who had been covering the Dons’ season, reported from his sources that the Gator Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Orange Bowl — all steeped in “Southern tradition” — mutually agreed to overlook teams with black players.

It wasn’t until 1990 that the vast majority of sports fans learned the true story.

39 years after the team’s decision was made, Sports Illustrated chronicled USF’s season and the fallout from their trying decision in “Best Team You’ve Never Met,” the first account of the events shared with a broad audience. The players and their courage were finally getting their due, albeit long after media coverage could have effected any real change in the sports world.

That feature proved to be the first of many later celebrations of the team’s quiet integrity in the face of grave consequences.

In 2006, the surviving team members were flown out by the Emerald Bowl so they could be honored at halftime. Two years later, Fiesta Bowl officials extended the same invitation.

Both the NFL and ESPN raced to turn the Dons’ story into a film. ESPN won, putting out “The ‘51 Dons” in 2014.

Many USF players from the 1951 team didn’t live long enough to enjoy the belated honors bestowed upon the team, but their mark on sports history remains nonetheless.

Their story conjures the very definition of integrity: doing what’s right regardless of the consequences. At the time, few would have faulted the team for accepting the conditions and taking the bowl bid. But the 1951 San Francisco Dons football players made their choice — because to them, the alternative was worse than the end of their football team.

“When you look back on it, I guess you could say we really were a team that was ahead of our time," saidUSF’s Henneberry in an NFL interview.

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.


In 1989, a large earthquake destroyed part of a San Francisco freeway that ran by the ocean.

The local community, however, managed to find a silver lining in the rubble — all thanks to a seemingly unassuming development: a farmers market.

Just a few years after the quake, they took what had once been a roadway in front of the historic Ferry Building and turned it into the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Today, it's one of the top farmers markets in the country.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. All photos via CUESA, used with permission.

Aside from that, what makes the market particularly special is the organization that backs it — the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. They're all about cultivating a sustainable food system through community-based events, such as farmers markets and educational events.

And these local efforts are addressing a major, lesser-known challenge: food accessibility, particularly for those living in food deserts.

A boy grating a lemon at the farmers market.

Farmers markets like the one at Ferry Plaza bolster communities by bringing together those who actually make and grow food and the people who buy it. That, in turn, helps us learn more about where our food comes from and what it takes to keep it coming.  

These markets also offer Market Match, which helps make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for low-income families by doubling their food stamp benefits at the farmers market. This may act as extra incentive for families living in food deserts to make the trip for healthier, locally sourced food.

But for CUESA, saving the planet starts with educating the next generation about sustainability.

A kid in the Foodwise Kids Program.

"Education is at the heart of our work," writes communications director Brie Mazurek in an email. "We aim to inspire and empower people of all ages to become informed eaters and co-creators in a healthy food system."

They offer market-to-table demonstrations at their markets as well as farm tours where people can learn from the growers themselves and discover cool new recipes.

And if you're a kid, you can get even more involved with two awesome programs.

Students in the Schoolyard to Market program.

Foodwise Kids is a free experience for elementary students where they go on a field trip to a farmers market. They get to meet farmers, taste local foods, and prepare a meal together, picking up basic kitchen skills along the way.

Meanwhile, high schoolers have Schoolyard to Market — a semester-long garden and youth entrepreneurship program. They start a garden at their school, learning about the importance of sustainability and nutrition and how to run a successful food business. At the end of the semester, they actually sell their garden produce at a farmers market.

Kids leave the program with a much better understanding of how food systems work, and growing their own produce reminds them that fruits and vegetables can actually be delicious.

Sellers at one of CUESA's food markets.

CUESA's certainly done their part for sustainable food systems over the last 25 years. Now it's time for every one of us to step up.

Some grocery retailers are already ahead of the curve. The Kroger Family of Companies, for example, makes it a priority to source locally, reducing their carbon footprint. They're also working on reducing waste with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance and helping improve the food supply chain, which has an overwhelmingly positive impact on the economy and environment.

And there are many ways that you can support the growth of this vital food movement, even if you don't own a grocery store or like digging in the dirt.

You can support local farmers and growers by doing your research and knowing where your food is coming from. Or you can go political and put pressure on your policymakers to support programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP brings nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families. It also provides economic benefits to communities and works with educators and state agencies to make sure people are aware of the food benefits available to them.  

Volunteers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

If communities everywhere start supporting the sustainable food movement, our world's food future will look much brighter.

The next time you're planning a big dinner — or just a Tuesday night family dinner, for that matter — take a moment to consider where you're getting your food. Deciding to choose a place that supplies products from local farmers may not sound that heroic, but over time, it absolutely makes a difference.

Whether it's farmers markets or sustainability-conscious grocers that get your business, you'll be putting money toward better food for future generations and a better life for food producers today.


How do we get more diversity in tech companies? Easy: Pay for it.

Too often, inclusion takes an 'add women or people of color and stir' approach. Not this time.

State Farm

If the tech industry is serious about diversity, it’s time for them to invest in it.

That's the way one woman saw it, at least.

WhenMichelle Glauser realized that less than a third of people in the industry are women who will likely never see the boardroom and that many major tech companies are employing people of color at astonishingly low rates — black Americans in particular make up just 7% of the workforce — she saw an opportunity.

"It’s not easy to find teachers who are willing to leave the industry in order to teach," she explained. But that’s exactly what Glauser did.

Through her company, Techtonica, Glauser is teaching women from all walks of life how to code — and she’s called on companies in the industry to back her.

Techtonica is diversifying tech in the Bay Area by offering a tuition-free program that prepares women and non-binary people for careers in software engineering. The tuition is paid for by partner companies, who are then matched with students to hire after graduation.

"If the people who aren’t able to afford this education could partner with the companies, they could help each other out," Glauser explains.

In a way, then, Glauser is playing matchmaker.

Tech companies have a diversity problem. This woman raised her hand to help solve it.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, July 20, 2017

Too often, calls for inclusion take an “add women or people of color and stir” approach.

But this assumes that diversity is about hiring more people, ignoring the serious lack of access to opportunity. Her company is addressing both by asking for mentorship and the chance to hire disadvantaged residents within their respective communities.

If we want marginalized people to get a foot in the door, we have to open that door first.

In the Bay Area especially, the tech industry has priced low-income residents out of the cities where they grew up, driving up the cost of living and increasing the wage gap.

The irony here, then, is that the tech workforce hardly reflects the communities where they’re based.

If tech companies are as serious about diversity as they say they are, are they now willing to invest in it? Techtonica is betting on it.

"I didn’t feel like there was the support to actually succeed in computer science as both a woman and as a person of color," Tonka, a Techtonica student, explained.

That’s the real drive behind coding academies like Techtonica. Students of color like Tonka can’t — and shouldn’t be expected to — make support appear out of thin air.

Considering the cost of education (not to mention child care, a laptop, and living expenses), there are countless barriers to tech, so a tuition-free model seems like the solution.

This model relies on the good sense and good ethics of tech companies.

Diversity can’t just be a hiring philosophy. When combating a system that keeps marginalized folks out of tech, it also costs money.

It’s money well spent, though, as evidenced by the first Techtonica cohort. 71% of these students are low-income people of color, all with a serious passion for computer science.

Nefis, a student at Techtonica, shared, "I’m following something that used to be a dream and is now a goal. I’m a part of the world that I feel I belong in."

The students at Techtonica aren’t just learning to code either — they’re organizing.

This team effort is not only getting Techtonica off the ground, but it’s challenging an industry that for too long has ignored the needs of their communities.

Utilizing social media and outreach efforts, they’re hard at work securing sponsors and mentors. The company also provides diversity training to the teams where graduates are placed, and they organize local coding workshops in an effort to maximize their impact.

Diversifying tech, however challenging it might be, is an important and necessary step. Not only do we create more access to exciting and stable careers for marginalized people, we also better the industry itself with new perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

Companies are truly only as strong as they are diverse. But the question remains: Are they willing to pay for it?