It’s a Rap!

June 17, 2015

Featured, Multimedia

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission produces rap video to educate the public about aging wastewater infrastructure
 
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has released a rap video educating about the city’s aging collection system and the services it provides. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has released a rap video educating about the city’s aging collection system and the services it provides. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

For water resource recovery facilities, there’s more than one way to conduct public outreach — and some methods are more innovative than others. In March, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) took a unique route to reach ratepayers. To communicate the services it provides both within and outside of San Francisco, SFPUC released the video, “You Can’t Live A Day Without Me,” featuring a rap song about the city’s aging collection system. The video features SFPUC staff, former 49ers football great Ronnie Lott, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr.

The video is aimed at connecting with a younger generation and encouraging these residents to become environmental stewards. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

The video is aimed at connecting with a younger generation and encouraging these residents to become environmental stewards. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

“SFPUC is using the power of lyrics and music to connect with young people. We want more youth to be engaged with our program to upgrade our aging sewer system and become better environmental stewards,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly Jr., in a news release.

Jean Marie Walsh, communications manager at SFPUC, said the commission had been talking about making a rap song and video for years. “It had been in the works for a while, but it took several months between shooting and editing to complete,” Walsh said.

The video, which features 100 SFPUC staff, former 49ers football player Ronnie Lott, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., was developed in partnership with the nonprofit BAYCAT (San Francisco). Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

The video, which features 100 SFPUC staff, former 49ers football player Ronnie Lott, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., was developed in partnership with the nonprofit BAYCAT (San Francisco). Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

SFPUC worked in partnership with BAYCAT (San Francisco), a nonprofit that trains the city’s underserved youth in digital media. BAYCAT employed eight graduates from its TechSF Internship Pathways program to develop the story, film, and edit the music video in partnership with the SFPUC Sewer System Improvement Program, according to a SFPUC press release. The SFPUC program will upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure through capital improvement projects.

“The internship was a tremendous opportunity,” said Desmond Hatter, former intern, in the news release. “I knew almost nothing about the sewer system. Being able to turn my passion into something educational for young people is really cool.”

The video joins SFPUC’s other unique messaging as part of its Sewer System Improvement Program to spread the word about the value of its wastewater treatment system and link messaging. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

The video joins SFPUC’s other unique messaging as part of its Sewer System Improvement Program to spread the word about the value of its wastewater treatment system and link messaging. Photo courtesy of SFPUC.

Hatter, who now is studying business at Saint Mary’s College of (Moraga) California, helped write the song with SFPUC staff members including a representative from SFPUC’s collection system crew and a program administrator who was a former film major. Even Walsh, who sings, participated as an extra in the underground club scene in the video that features 100 SFPUC staff members, Walsh said.

“We got excited about this because we love this work and want to share it with people,” Walsh said. “We are spending a lot of money upgrading our plant, so anything to get the word out to the public about what we do, is great.” Read more about SFPUC’s unique public outreach efforts in the Highlights article, “San Francisco’s Sewers Speak Out,” and view the new rap video below:

—    LaShell Stratton-Childers, WEF Highlights

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