Last week the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association debuted ASNA's "Neighborhood Best" Tournament on their Instagram stories which quickly became a well-received hit with neighbors and Divisadero Merchants.
The Instagram turnaround and fun-spirited tournament was the brainchild of President Jason Jervis, who is entering his third year as President of ASNA. He sat down with us at the park to talk about his experience, the surge in Instagram followers and ASNA memberships.
Q: What was your northstar when you were elected President of ASNA?
Jason: "Well, first I'd like to point out that I became the President of ASNA in 2019 after my predecessor stepped down to relocate to Southern California. Before that, I was the Vice President and had no desire to be the ASNA President. In fact, I was in the process of stepping down due to my Mother's terminal illness when I received a call from our President that he had accepted a new job in San Diego. My Mom encouraged me to go for it, so I decided I would. When I was officially elected as President, I outlined a pretty straightforward agenda:
- Make the neighborhood association more fun by investing in more socially engaging events.
- Lead a digital transformation
- Elevate the perspectives of neighbors of color and our younger neighbors.
- Bring together the community through the park, surrounding neighborhood, and merchants.
Q: This all sounds great, how successful have you been at achieving these goals?
Jason: "Well, it hasn't been easy. When I started I think I came on strong and possibly ruffled a few people's feathers. I have a clear vision and wanted to lead differently than my predcessor, and I've always believed you can't make an omelette without cracking some eggs. This experience has reminded me to stay focused in the face of resistence; transformation takes time and an intentional movement in the direction of change."
Q: So what changes during your tenure are you most proud of?
Jason: "Well, first I'd say that transformation isn't possible without the help of people who believe in what you're doing and support your efforts. Our Vice President Cynthia Chapman has been a true supporter, confidant, and has become one of my dearest friends. Board members like LaVonne Hickerson, Bob Mason, Lisa Zahner, J. Lee Stickles, Tarik O'Regan, and AJ Thomas have all been sources of knowledge, wisdom, support, and guidance to help enable much of the transformation that is underway.
As far as the changes I'm most proud of- I'd say, our pre-pandemic general meetings at the Archbishop's Mansion were pretty awesome. Prior to that, our general meetings were a bit ho-hum. I noticed that ASNA was not attracting or retaining younger members which is never a good sign for the longterm health of any organization. Cynthia and I decided to bust out the wine, appetizers, and breath some new life into our meetings in a setting that was fitting of ASNA's historic stature. I'm also extremely proud of the Evening with the Candidates, our Final Friday Happy Hours, our awesome new website and of course, the instagram turnaround. But we're just getting started, I'm working on continuing to build our member benefits program so that people really see the benefits of being involved and being a supporting member. Through implementing new strategies I hope we continue this wave of renewed interest in ASNA."
Q: Speaking of Instagram, how did you manage ASNA's Instagram turnaround and the "neighborhood best" tournament?
Jason: "Well, I started by spending time analyzing our IG page. The content wasn't engaging to our younger audience and we only had about 200 followers. After looking at neigboring organizations who have double and triple the followers, I came up with a content strategy and set my sights on matching or exceeding their numbers. It's been about a month and we've gone from 200 to 500 followers!
The tournament started with a test question, "who has the best fried chicken sandwich in the neighborhood, Brenda's or Popeyes?" I was blown away by the engagement it received. I knew we had stumbled onto something amazing. Seven different restaurants serve some version of a fried chicken sandwich in our neighborhood, so I got to work designing and building out a full tournament bracket as well as graphics for the tournament. It wasn't perfect, but pretty soon we had over 200 views with over 150 people participating in the voting! I got such a kick out of the fact that people were feeling it and into the vibe. It was even more satisfying to receive messages from merchants who loved the campaign and were looking forward to future matchups. This is a different form of building community, but it is building community and neighborhood pride nonetheless."
Q: So, did you actually try all seven Fried Chicken Sandwiches?
Jason: Of course! I'm embracing my post-pandemic Dad bod, and I'm eating some Fried Chicken baby!
Q: And which was your favorite?
Jason: No comment...
Q: So what does the winner win?
Jason: "Well, in my mind it's not about who wins because each sandwich is pretty unique, just like each restaurant is unique. It's about highlighting the amazing variety we have available to us in our neighborhood, sparking people's interest in trying something new, and showcasing the passion and skill that each of these food purveyors puts into their dishes.
Brenda's won the title of neighborhood best this year so we'll be doing a feature story on Brenda and her Big Mama Fried Chicken Sandwich soon as well as incorporating her delicious sandwiches into an upcoming event."
Q: Any final thoughts for your supporting members and neighbors at large?
Jason: I just want to convey my sincere gratitude and appreciation to our long time members who've stuck with ASNA through thick and thin. I also want to thank and welcome our new generation of members who are seeking community and let them know that this neighborhood and specifically ASNA is a place where you can experience real community. We all love this neighborhood and our park. We are so fortunate to have the privelege of living in one of the most historic and close knit communities in San Francisco. There's a lot to look forward to: it's looking like we are finally able to get our movie night in the park moved from July to September, we have a neighborhood picnic in conjunction with Sunday Streets, and we have monthly opportunities for you to socialize with great folks in a safe space. There's more to come, but I don't want to spoil the surprises. You'll have to stay tuned and see for yourself.