That tech-money-funded advocacy group TogetherSF, as part of its bizarre ad campaign to convince us of a drug-crisis problem we're all well aware of, has put out some misinformation about the Heart of the City Farmers' Market. They were called out on it, now they're apologizing.
It's unfortunate that we have to waste time talking about a strange, billionaire-funded ad campaign with a tone-deaf, essentially pointless message about the city's perceived apathy toward the fentanyl crisis. TogetherSF's "That's Fentalife" campaign, which launched last month with a series of posters around town, is intended to sound glib as a way of "draw[ing] a sharp contrast to the darkness of the reality," says the group's executive director, Kanishka Cheng.
But one of those ads reads "Open air drug markets are in. Farmers markets are out," and it goes on to say in smaller print that Heart of the City Farmers' Market "has lost so many vendors and customers due to unsafe conditions, we may lose it entirely."
TogetherSF tweeted this same message on Wednesday, using a stock photo of an empty farmers' market, which is not even Heart of the City Farmers' Market, and this got many people's attention. Now the Chronicle's Soleil Ho has set the record straight, speaking with the market's executive director, Steve Pulliam, who says no, the market is not in danger. And, in fact, TogetherSF never reached out to him before launching the ad.
"I’m a little bit flabbergasted at the moment,” Pulliam tells the Chronicle. "I do not like being used."
they searched stock photos for “empty street market”, slapped their “fentalife” logo on it, and used it in a post about the heart of the city farmers market pic.twitter.com/sVfICB2kNx— chris arvin (@chrisarvinsf) June 1, 2023
The tweet has since been deleted, and Chang has issued an apology.
"Our goal is to push City Hall to build a city where all can thrive," the apology reads. "This post could have inadvertently harmed the reputation of the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market, which wasn't our intention. We apologize for our inaccurate inclusion of the market, and we removed the post."
So, it's just another misstep by a tech-funded entity, moving fast and breaking things along the way, this time dabbling in politics in a fairly hamfisted way. And the goal of all this is to influence city leaders to do what now? Not look the other way from the fentanyl crisis?
Pulliam says that what would actually help the Heart of the City Farmers Market would be if the city lowered the permitting costs for vendors — which can be a few thousand dollars per year. Or, maybe, as Ho suggests, some wealthy advocacy group should think about subsidizing these instead of wasting $300,000 on stupid ads.
"That would be more productive than whatever it is doing now, anyway," Ho writes.