The Mission Story

The Mission Story Video

Reviewing the past reveals its relevance

The Mission Story

The Mission Story is about my arrival in the barrio in 1961 when I first began gathering impressions that became the setting for my historical novel, Nicaragua Way which is set in the Mission district of San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s. While writing the book, I was surprised to discover one fine morning that video producer Jesus Contreras had made my poem into an inspirational documentary video. 

He used my audio recording of the poem as the video’s sound track and added wonderful music. Contreras filmed live action street scenes and events focusing with an artistic eye that revealed a deep understanding of the implications of my poem. Could a writer ask for more? Now with the publication of Nicaragua Way, the video offers viewers a visual journey into the milieu of Lorna Almendros, my protagonist, a woman poet, in her activist world.

If Nicaragua Way were a movie, these video scenes would be in it.

The Mission Story and Nicaragua Way

I had submitted the audio recording of the poem to a group off Mission district musicians in San Francisco’s barrio gathered around artivists Frank Ferrer and my beloved Mamacoatl (Silvia Parra). They documented the musical and street sounds of the Mission including the real voice of a BART train driver announcing the 24th and Mission Streets Bart station, the very heart of the barrio. The production team of mostly Latin American immigrant musicians concerned with international political and social issues played their original compositions and old favorite popular songs at Latino community events.

As gentrification today defuses the Latino cultures of the Mission District, this video captures its fighting spirit that made the Mission an important source of solidarity with Nicaraguan, Salvadoran and other Central and Latin American progressive movements.

Conterra’s video amplifies my writings, pole vaulting them into the future. In the The Mission Story poem and in the novel, Nicaragua Way, I am describing the past to show its continuing relevance to our present. What a gift this video is in documenting an endangered community still fiercely battling extinction. This vital Latino culture is where this poem and my novel’s characters flourished.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577;

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