The Right of Return: Bobcat Ballet Act II (ten years later)
The Right of Return: Bobcat Ballet Act II (ten years later) by Jessica Tully
In 2000, artist Jessica Tully developed the performance piece, "The Machines Next Time - Bobcat Ballet" as a site-specific ballet using synchronized Bobcat Skid-steer loaders. It was choreographed by resident children at the North Beach Housing Development prior to its demolition.
Ten years later, Ms. Tully researched, choreographed and performed the next phase of the project as a duet, "The Right of Return" along with and longtime collaborator, Audio Angel. The choreography depicts stories of the former and current residents of the now rebuilt and renamed North Beach Place.
"Researching this has been an amazing process is it is one of those incredible stories where the activism of poor people on behalf of other poor people made all the difference in the outcome," said Tully. The families who held out in 2000 and did not move until then Mayor Brown guaranteed that 100% of the low-income housing would be rebuilt and returned to the current residents. A first.
Ms. Tully, along with SOMArts Cultural Center, invited residents involved with the project to reunite and explore how they were affected by San Francisco's tinderbox issue: displacement, demolition and the right to return to North Beach Place.
The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.