Kristin Houk: It’s All Good. The True Heroes in BVHP, Kale Converts and more…
Kristin Houk at All Good Pizza weighs-in on HER ‘Local Heroes’, Sustainable Growth in #94124, how ‘Community Building’ means more than making dough, and has some inspiring words for those with a passion and the drive to make their dreams come true. After hearing from Kristin, I’m feeling a bit inspired myself!
Q: It seems you are someone whom was built to spread “Goodness”. In addition to your thriving new(er) #BVHP business – All Good Pizza , you are also Namaste Direct President and CEO , which provides business development programs and ‘Economic Empowerment’ to low income business women in the developing world. Where or from whom have you found inspiration to better your corner, your neighborhood, your world?
Kristin: My earliest and greatest memories come from the many opportunities I had to be a part of helping others. I actually don’t like the word “helping”, as I feel it is too condescending. Most people have the internal capacity to help themselves, but often lack resources and opportunities. In my work with Namaste, I’ve had the great fortune of being in a position to offer opportunities to women interested in bettering their businesses, and ultimately themselves and their families. In many ways, they help me way more than I could ever help them by offering a perspective that is unique to their struggle and societal exclusion. I feel the same way with All Good; we are here to offer the opportunity to eat better and therefore better your body- my greatest reward comes from someone who comes in and doubtfully says, “what is kale?” and then ends up coming back later that week and throughout the month to order the kale salad that they never thought they’d eat.
Q: 94124 has been home for you for many years. What do you love most about BVHP? Do you have a local hero?
Kristin: What I love most about the BVHP community is the abounding sense of community. We know most everyone on our street and are daily greeted with hellos and stories of growing/changing families. I’ve watched local kids turn into young adults and seen a similar pattern with the neighborhood overall. In many ways it stands in contrast to other neighborhoods I have lived in in San Francisco where people busily buzz in and out of their houses and you rarely know your neighbors. The BVHP reminds me of the Midwest where if you run out of sugar or milk, you can always go to a neighbor in a pinch.
I have many local heroes but the first that come to mind are the kids I’ve watched grow up who have been given so little in comparison to other San Francisco neighborhoods (schools, parks, rec, etc), but have made the most of it. They’re football stars, family care-takers, landscapers, artists, etc. They’re often labeled as gangsters, but to me they are the sweet boys that grew up playing with our dog at the park, cruising down the cement slide with my son, and joining us for birthday celebrations.
Of course, my greatest local hero is my boyfriend and business partner Matt Trahan, who has the rare gift of being able to interact and connect with anyone in the world and constantly inspires me to work hard to reach our goals and dreams.
Q: Outside of All Good Pizza, what is your favorite neighborhood restaurant and what would you recommend on the menu?
Kristin: We love La Laguna Taqueria (green chile vegetarian enchiladas), Old Skool Café (shrimp and grits), Las Isletas (vegetarian papusas with cabbage slaw) and I never make it up there often enough, but Yvonne’s red velvet cupcakes are amazing.
Q: Any words of wisdom or advice to a young person aspiring to own their own Bayview – Hunters Point Business?
Kristin: Do it! Take a risk. It’s better to fail knowing you tried than not to have tried at all. I read a quote recently that said, “the adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days” and I think it captures precisely how I feel about working two jobs and balancing our home life. There are days that we work until we literally fall over, but I feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing and to be a part of the community that is my home. Since I was very young I knew I wanted to be doing something that created community and provides an experience for people where they feel happy, healthy and vibrant. Food is a perfect catalyst for that and the joy I get in seeing people gather at All Good makes me feel successful in a way that money or prestige never could.
Q: We love your programs for ‘Locals’! Want to share a little bit about the opportunities you offer to guest chefs, special incentives to 94124 students and those with a green thumb?
Kristin: I love our guest chef BBQs that we do on Sundays. We held our first event on Mother’s Day and Andre Ned, our friend and neighbor, cooked in honor of his mother, who for years owned a restaurant in the BVHP. Our little corner in the hood looked like the United Nations summit, with people from every ethnic and socioeconomic background- all gathered for one reason: to enjoy Dre’s great BBQ. I had to sneak a little kale salad on everyone’s plate for a little extra iron, vitamins and antioxidants. And believe it or not, we had some kale converts that day!
Q: Any new events, collaborative programs or additions in the works that we might look forward to at All Good Pizza in 2013?
Kristin: We are currently in the process of building an aquaponic farm on our lot. We have partnered with the California Aquaponic Design Institute and are in the process of raising funds to create a 700 gallon fish tank that will continuously produce fresh, healthy organic greens for All Good. We will also hold workshops to teach others how they can sustainably grow their own food. The project is modeled after the success of Growing Power, an initiative created by Will Allen in Milwaukee that aimed to provide healthy food to marginalized neighborhoods. The BVHP is a food desert, with very little access to healthy food both for purchase and consumption. We hope that this project will shed some light on the need for better grocery stores and access to healthy food that is not prohibitively expensive.
We also have a new mural depicting the Bayview in the 60s going up soon that was created by SF artist Camera1 – Cameron Moberg. We’re excited to organize an event around the unveiling of this amazing work of art, which will be held in September.