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Building Community, One Stitch at a Time

The Tenderloin District of downtown San Francisco is not filled with cafes and cable cars, but instead is known for drugs, crime, and homelessness.  However, Michael Swaine doesn’t see it that way. “I find the Tenderloin the most beautiful, magical place,” he explains.

Once a month for the past 15 years, the college art teacher sets up an old White Rotary sewing machine on the sidewalk and repairs whatever people bring him – for free. “I really appreciate from the bottom of my heart what he does for the neighborhood,” said one person.

“The sewing machine has become more than just a tool for mending,” says Swaine. “It’s also the tool . . . that people feel really comfortable around.” So, while he is fixing clothes and bags, people are chatting and telling stories, and that is payment enough for Swaine.