Helder was hanging out at UN Plaza on a beautiful sunny day. He typically visits two or three times a month.
“Usually, UN Plaza is where I come. I’m familiar with it. I know where it’s at. It’s nice today. I know some people around here. I’ll eat, I’ll relax, listen to the water. Smoke a cigarette, drink a soda.”
When he’s not at UN Plaza, you can find Helder at Dolores Park or at Yerba Buena Gardens.
“You know the IMAX theater? That park right there. I love that one. It has grass and a waterfall. And it has shaded trees. You can lay down, you can eat. You can do whatever you want, just hang out.”
He doesn’t typically visit Civic Center plaza even though it has similar features as Yerba Buena Gardens.
“Once in a blue moon I’ll hang out at Civic Center plaza. It’s wonderful there, it’s beautiful but it provides no sitting area. The grass, all it is is straight sun; as you can see I’m burnt up a little bit.”
Helder thinks UN Plaza could be made a lot safer than it is now.
“Sometimes [I feel safe]. It depends on the day. At night unfortunately, it’s a lot more dangerous. I personally think there should be more video cameras and more awareness of any violence or crimes that happen. I think that’d really help the space and not just this space but throughout the city. I mean, unfortunately, the City attracts people and it takes care of people, there’s also a lot of violence, illegal activity. I think more police. It helps no matter what.”
Despite feeling unsafe at times, Helder says having access to UN Plaza has impacted his life in a positive way.
“It gives me a place to feel like a part of something. Like you come and that’s your space and you get to know the people that are around you. It makes you feel like you belong somewhere, not just an outcast.”
His favorite thing to do in UN Plaza is exactly what he was doing when he was asked to be interviewed.
“My favorite things to do here in this space: eat, drink a soda, and smoke a cigarette…That is it…sit back and enjoy the water and you’re just like ‘Ahhh’ and have the sun beating down on you.”
Helder is from Modesto and has only been in San Francisco for seven months, but thinks it’s a welcoming city which is what makes it so great.
“My experience has been kinda raw. I’ve gone through some hard hardships but it doesn’t change my feelings towards the City. I think San Francisco is an incredible city that bleeds to help people and the poor and when a city does that and it gives everything, it also pays a price by attracting things it doesn’t need. So to be great you have to kinda go through some struggles as a city.”