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Pencil Sharpener: Documenting SF’s Shadow Economy

In the midst of a “21st century tech gold rush,” Nick Marzano is more interested in what’s happening in the shadows of Silicon Valley. In 2016, Marzano was hosting a writer’s workshop at a McDonald’s in San Francisco’s Mission district. He befriended a group of homeless and street-involved people who schooled him to the bustling business of recycling, dumpster-diving, and street sales. “The story of this shadow economy needed to be documented,” explains Marzano. So he founded the non-profit magazine Mission Gold, which highlights the ingenuity and resourcefulness of these often-over-looked entrepreneurs. Street vendors who sell Mission Gold keep 100% of their profits. The upcoming third issue will highlight the variety of reasons people end up “misfitted to the system,” says Marzano, including “many pieces of the homeless puzzle — psychic, physical and social — thrown down and fitted with love.”

Visit to purchase an issue, or contact [email protected] if your organization would like to help fund issue 003.