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1.25.05

Matchmaking on a Personal Level and a Citywide Level

By Kim Knox

The organized will inherit the city.
Jake McGoldrick

In online matchmaking services, you have to choose qualities that describe yourself and qualities that you want in a potential date.

Those qualities can range from "loves to travel" to "spiritual not religious," from "latest books that you read" to "most romantic scene in a movie." All of other superficial information (like weight, color of eyes, color of hair) is of course included to create a profile.

I've gotten responses from men whose main hobby is exploring expensive but unknown wines and men who like country/western bars in Boise, Idaho. Since a glass of wine per week is my usual intake and I turn off country and western stations on the second note of a song, this experiment has not been a smashing matchmaking success.

But it has been an interesting experiment in learning how your definition of yourself can create a response that you didn't want to get.

And it raises a question about politics and the state of our city when faced with an $84 million budget deficit, is the reality that we see determined by the way that we define our city and its services?

For example, do we see our city providing the most vulnerable with services such as counseling, shelter, food, and job training, or do we see it providing tax credits to companies that want to build large housing developments at Treasure Island, Hunters Point, and Mission Bay?

Do we see our city providing opportunities for all people in all areas to play and explore nature, or do we see it allowing millionaires to create a garage so that those who can afford cars may drive into our city's largest park rather than walking into it and exploring the nature there on foot?

Do we see our city listening when the community members, including parents, aunts, uncles, church leaders, and others, talk about stemming the violence that took the lives of 87 people in homicides last year, or do we see this violence as an intractable problem that can only be solved by a troubled juvenile justice system and the police (so that we continue to fund the overtime costs of the police department without a murmur)?

Is that why we allow cuts in the recreational programs that serve children in the Mission, Bayview, Western Addition, OMI, and other primarily low-income parts of the city? Is that why we ignore the students who attend our Community Schools after being expelled or dropping out of other schools?

Because we want to continue to give revised and lowered tax assessments to large corporations with skyscrapers in downtown San Francisco? Because we shy away from amending our business tax program after large downtown interests sued the city for setting up a more progressive tax five years ago?

No matter who we are, we have the power to define ourselves whether we are participants in an online matchmaking service or residents and shareholders of a city. And how we define ourselves and our city is how we define our future.