See San Francisco through the eyes of Jim Sommers, public television executive and film buff.

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June 6, 2019

How I See San Francisco: Jim Sommers

Jim Sommers serves as the Senior Vice President of Content at the Independent Television Service, Inc. (ITVS). He oversees ITVS’s Content Portfolio, maintaining a commitment to quality, diversity and innovation. In addition, he provides leadership and strategic direction to core service areas of the organization. Jim has lived in San Francisco for 15 years and has explored every nook and cranny of his adopted home city. Check out his suggestions for the things every visitor must do in San Francisco.

What does a typical day in San Francisco look like for you?

I have a 30 minute commute to work in SoMa that involves walking and taking public transportation. I enjoy my commute, as it prepares me for my day and is a time to unwind at the end of the day. 

I don’t often bring my lunch, as I will do my best to get out of the office and wander through the blocks of SoMa for a break each day and get a bite to eat

After work, I will meander through the Mission, sometimes meeting up with friends for a chat and a bite to eat. I enjoy cocktails at Wildhawk or Laslo, dinner at Prairie, and dinner and a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.  

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?

I’m a huge fan of riding the cable cars.  It is a classic experience to ride up and over the streets of San Francisco on the cable cars. The combination of the incredible views accompanied by the sound of the cables dragging below and the bells clanking above is a complete and particular souvenir one will save from their time in the city.    

Which neighborhood, other than your own, do you like to explore?

The Mission District provides a great opportunity to experience the rich and diverse culture of the city.  I suggest wandering off the main streets and into the neighborhoods, allowing the incredible murals of the Mission to be your guide.  

What are you most proud of working at ITVS?

I am proud to work for a public institution that has a mission of bringing underrepresented voices and consequential stories to the public, for free on PBS. Every day, I am able to collaborate with a very talented and dedicated staff;  co-produce with award-winning filmmakers; and partner with organizations who are committed to a shared mission. I meet filmmakers and subjects that introduce me to new ideas and alternative perspectives that can change lives in extraordinary ways. 

Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?

I spend a lot of time watching and talking about documentary film during my day job.  One thing I love to do is see films on a big screen with an audience. San Francisco and the Bay Area have a wealth of film festivals representing diverse communities that are dedicated to bringing incredible stories to their audiences. 

What's your favorite annual event that happens in San Francisco?

Springtime in San Francisco is extraordinary.  After the first rains, the city becomes green and the flowers bloom even more than usual.  I’m a big fan of camp and drag.  Therefore the Hunky Jesus-Foxy Mary-Easter Bonnet Contest on Easter Sunday sponsored by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is dear to my heart.  Outside of that, Springtime is a wonderful time to explore both urban hikes throughout the city in our neighborhoods and our parks

Any last advice for visitors coming to San Francisco?

Go beyond the obvious. Venture into the depth of diversity that San Francisco has to offer. Visit Creativity Explored Art Gallery in the Mission. Hike in Glen Park Canyon. Explore the staircases of San Francisco. Dive into a drag performance at Oasis .

Where do you like to view sunrise and sunset?

Bernal Heights, Corona Heights, Glen Park Canyon, or Twin Peaks.

What’s one part of San Francisco that you wish visitors knew about?

I moved to San Francisco from Chicago in 2000 and I’ve lived in the Sunnyside neighborhood for over 15 years. A great foundation of friends and work, the open-minded and bohemian culture, and the gorgeous natural beauty of the city and its surroundings were my  main reasons for moving here. Only recently did I discover the Glen Park History Project. I have taken advantage of some of their walking tours of the area to learn about my neighborhood.  Learning about the dairy farms that populated the area helped to explain the twisted and winding streets I travel daily.  It was exciting to hear about the Nobel Dynamite Factory that used to be where the ballpark is located in Glen Park Canyon.  It was fascinating to see the blue prints for high rises in Diamond Heights and even an exotic zoo that were both planned for the neighborhood.  

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