Excelsior Rising

The Excelsior, a culturally rich, working-class neighborhood of San Francisco, experienced eight violent murders in 2008. After nearly 9 months with no homicides, Excelsior is shocked with the news of a vicious and unprovoked murder on October 12, 2009. This random act of violence throws the community into a turbulent state, uncertain about their neighborhood's safety. Through the voices of community leaders, local activists, and neighborhood residents, EXCELSIOR RISING explores the mechanics of how a small, close-knit community begins to take steps to strengthen relationships and improve safety by starting right at the heart of the community.


Discussion Guide*

This discussion guide is a tool to promote a deeper discussion about public safety in the classroom and in the community with residents, government agencies, community based organizations and other stakeholders. A resident's contribution in their neighborhood is the most powerful force to change their community.


  • Violence in our communities: prevention, response, and action.
  • Political, police and community strategies for public safety.
  • Community responsibility: making a difference in your neighborhood

Discussion Questions

  • In 2008, the Excelsior had eight, violent homicides. What response would you want from your police department, political leaders, and fellow residents?

In Excelsior Rising, Professor Vivian Chavez describes healthy communities as places where "members care about each other: their health is important and other's health are important."

  • What do you think makes a healthy neighborhood?
  • What kinds of projects are happening in your community?
  • How are you, your family, and friends involved in your community?

In the Excelsior community meetings, residents talked about how "getting to know your neighbors" is a great way to strengthen the bonds of your community.

  • Where can people in your community gather to socialize?
  • Do you know your neighbors? 
  • What do you think are the benefits of knowing your neighbors? 
  • What might be the challenges in getting to know them?

In the film, community members were part of neighborhood groups such as the Excelsior Action Group (EAG) and the Excelsior District Improvement Association (EDIA) to address public safety issues, strengthen community relationships, and to beautify the neighborhood. 

  • What are 3 issues that affect your community? 
  • Do you know of community groups for the issues? 
  • Could you create a community meeting to discuss an important issue in your neighborhood?

In the film, Excelsior residents spoke to their local police and political representatives about getting involved in an effort to prevent violence in the neighborhood.

  • What is the community policing in your neighborhood? 
  • What kind of relationship would you want with the police?



1. In the United States, almost 30% of violent crimes occurred in or near the victim's home. For violent crime, about half occurred within a mile from home and 76% within 5 miles.

2. Ethic Diversity in Excelsior: White 30%, Black 7%, Hispanic 26%, Other 13%, Two or more races 5%, Pacific Islander 1%, Native American 1%.

3. Community policing is a strategy that promotes organizational strategies, which supports the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. Collaborative partnerships between the law enforcement agency and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions and increase trust in police.

4. Community partnerships are about the tremendous power created when organizations and individuals come together to act proactively on important issues in their towns, schools or neighborhoods.

5. Advocacy is making your organization heard to those elected officials who are making decisions and choices for your community.


1. United States Department of Justice

2. SF Gov www.sfgov.org, Statistics from 2000 Census

3. United States Department of Justice, COPS- Office of Community Orientated Policing Services

4. and 5. Hogg Foundations Publications - "Civic Link: A Guide to Civic Relations and Community Advocacy"

Online Resources

1. Excelsior District Improvement Association (EDIA)

2. Excelsior Action Group (EAG)

3. San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors
John Avalos, District 11

4. San Francisco Police Department
Captain David Lazar- Ingleside Station



Meet the Filmmakers


KEVIN BURKS, an amateur photographer, writer, and budding filmmaker, has graduated from San Francisco State University with a major in Cinema Production. From his early days as a child shooting his Legos on his first webcam, to  avid filmmaker for social change, his passion to become a director of films has only increased tremendously over the growing number of years. "Excelsior Rising" is his first documentary and hopes to continue to explore the journey of film making by participating in future documentaries while also pursuing a career in narrative directing to find new way to evoke emotions, tell humanistic stories, and to hold up a mirror to those who recognize themselves in the refection.


CLAUDIO CAPELLINI is an Italian study abroad student at San Francisco State university, coming from Italian accademy of fine arts "nAba" in Milan where he is a media design major. Always interested in storytelling, drawing and arts, during his last year in nAba he fell in love with the documentary practice of filmaking after had seen The Wild Blue Younder of Werner Herzog. Once at San Francisco State, he decided to follow the documentary of social and health justice with the wish of improving his skills in documentarys technics and to find a way to be socially engaged with his work. He did.


CARRIE HOLLIDAY graduated SF State in Spring 2010 with a degree in Radio & Television. Her dream job is a creative, meaningful career of visual arts and social consciousness. EXCELSIOR RISING is Carrie's first film, and she hopes to work on future documentary projects. She is also exploring interests in video editing, creative writing and musical theater. Radio was her first media passion; Carrie has been known on the air as "Zoe" since 2005. Her love of radio stems from years of experience at KVHS "90.5 The Edge," in Concord, CA, where she held the positions of Operations Manager, Public Service Director, Prize Wheel Operator and Station Tour Guide for Cub Scouts. Carrie enjoys dark comedy, thrift stores, music festivals, social activism, and kittens.






*The information on these pages is provided by the student film makers and does not represent an endorsement or verification of statements from the Health Equity Institute