Heartbreaking and Heartening


by Karen Topakian

I bolted out the door a few minutes before 10 this morning to cheer on the students at Mission High, whom I thought would be walking out to support gun control.

Before I could cross Dolores street, I found a lively group of about 30 8th graders from the Children’s Day School, occupying the median strip on Dolores Street.

They chanted and held up signs with vigor and seriousness. They asked me to sign their petition, which they will deliver to Rep. Nancy Pelosi on their class trip to Washington D.C.

I asked permission to stand with them and hold up my RESIST banner. They agreed. After a few moments, I decided the students needed to own this event, so I crossed to the corner to join other adults, mostly parents and teachers, standing in solidarity.

Horns tooted from passing trucks and cars. Pedestrians chanted along and dog walkers remained for a moment or two in support.

As I stood watching them capture our hearts and minds, I found myself feeling two disparate emotions: a heartening spirit and a heartbreaking reality.

These students were not protesting actions and activities in a foreign land or to support a big concept like science. They were protesting to protect their own lives.

Though gun violence in schools, accounts for a small proportion of gun deaths. One is too many. These people are the target audience.

I don’t go to work in fear that someone will burst into my home office with a gun and shoot me. However, students may and do. It’s real for them. Very real. This is the part I find most heartbreaking – this reality in which they live. In which, we have not protected them.

The heartening part lies in their actions. Their organizing. Their use of social media. Their passion and solidarity. Their commitment to solutions. Their hashtag #NeverAgain.

Attention Small Business Owners, Have I Got a Deal for You!

by Karen Topakian

Last year I started my own business, Topakian Communications, a freelance writing and communications consulting business. Coming up with the idea was fun. And the writing life suits me. But running a business is a whole different story. I knew very little and have had to learn along the way.

That’s why I’ll be attending SF Small Business Week (May 16-21). A free weeklong series of events suitable for anyone who runs, works for, owns or wants to start a small business here or anywhere.

If you’re curious about the events, check out the website with all of the listings. http://www.sfsmallbusinessweek.com/

Since I like eating in SF restaurants as much as the next gal, I’ll be going to Flavor, the kick-off event on Monday night May 16 from 5-8 at the Metreon City View. Want to join me as we work our way through the food provided by local restaurateurs? We can eat and schmooze with other small biz owners and community leaders! And it’s free.


Because I need to learn more about finance, marketing, technology and social media to improve my business. I’ll also be attending the all day free Small Business Conference on Wednesday May 18 from 9 to 5:30 at SF State University’s downtown campus at the Westfield Center.


Can you afford to not attend a week’s worth of free activities dedicated to your business’ success?

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs

by Karen Topakian

For a city that’s all about freedom and liberation, my neighborhood, Mission/Castro, sure has a lot of signs. Telling you what you can’t do.

Ten Ways I Can Tell It’s Not Summer


Summer in San Francisco


by Karen Topakian


The temperature never reaches 65

It’s too cold to wear sandals

I can’t remember what the sun looks like

I have to wear a jacket and a sweater

I should be wearing socks

I dream about gloves

                                                                  I drink hot tea to get warm

                                                                 We sleep with an extra blanket

                                                                 We barbecue to keep our hands warm

                                                                  I consider turning on the heat