San Francisco is cool. An ideas incubator, an innovator of global trends (hello dotcom boom), a hive of creativity boasting the second highest standard of living in the US. What makes this so interesting is that this sexy city has been built on the back of two major earthquakes – the 1906 earthquake and raging fires which destroyed 75% of the city and lead to the exclamation: “Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone.”
The ground shook again in 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake came to town, fortuitously during the 1989 World Series baseball championship game, significantly reducing the numbers of fatalities on the freeways. I was reflecting on this while waiting in the sun for the airport shuttle when the ‘quake city airport shuttle’ rocked up – a sharp reminder of my mission in San Francisco – to absorb the energy, ideas and wisdom of SF the experience to enhance our New Zealand Red Cross recovery work.