I’m from Antioch. Ever heard of it? If you haven’t, you’re probably one of the select few that wasn’t pushed into the East Bay due to gentrification. The outrageous cost of living in and near San Francisco even affects people like me that live 50 miles east of the city. It’s too expensive to live anywhere else. But in Antioch, what I save in rent, I pay for in time. It takes about two hours from the moment I leave the front door of my house to the time I get into my office in Mission Bay, San Francisco. Some days, I’m exhausted before I even get there and I still have the entire day ahead of me. Just getting to and from work is a pain in the ass. But everybody in Antioch and the East Bay does it. We have to. We don’t have a choice. I mean, I guess we do. We can either choose to sit in traffic for several hours, risking falling asleep at the wheel, OR we can cram ourselves into a BART train well above its maximum capacity.
Neither option is great… but I choose BART. At least I can squeeze in a quick nap before work.
When I manage to keep my eyes open, I can’t help but notice the hundreds of people surrounding me. Mothers, fathers, the young, the old, people of all ethnicities… The scene is beautiful. People of all backgrounds coexisting peacefully despite the close quarters. Encapsulated in each train are small yet special moments of human interaction and interconnectedness. A mother softly singing into her baby’s ear to prevent him from crying in a crowded train. Complete strangers falling asleep on one another. Coworkers sharing stories from happy hour last Friday. Parents re-watching their son’s t-ball game on their phone. People staring out the moving train engaged in deep thought. It is all beautiful in my eyes. I am witness to one moment in the grand scheme of these people’s lives, and I feel lucky to share the same time and place as them in this BART train.
After recognizing all this life happening around me during my commute to work, an idea struck me. Why not capture these moments of human interconnectedness through art? And what if we could display these works of art in the trains and stations themselves? My idea is to combine public art with public transportation. To recognize all these people for who they are and how they got there. For those taking BART all the way from Antioch, Richmond, Dublin/Pleasanton, South Fremont and every city in between just to get to work. How about capturing the madness of BART after a Warriors championship game, the craziness of New Years Eve, or even just the surprise of seeing an old friend on the way to Berkeley? Through art, the possibilities are endless.
By combining public art with public transportation, we can transform the space into a public good beneficial for all people. Imagine. The world’s longest museum filled with stories of us, the people of the Bay Area. I am looking for artists and storytellers to help me push the culture forward and share our story with the world as it unfolds.