We had the good fortune of connecting with Linda Kelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Linda, where are you from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am “Linda from Orinda” … a beautiful small country-ish town just about 17 miles east of San Francisco. A creek ran through our half-acre property, and I was always out back playing with frogs and salamanders for hours. I’m a horse girl at heart. Was blessed with my beloved Ben — a Morgan part Clydesdale — as a girl, rode for hours every day, and got into barrel racing with him. That freedom and independence in my youth truly influenced who I am today. That, and rock & roll. My first concerts were Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life tour at the Berkeley Community Theater with David Bowie on keyboards and Blondie opening in 1977 and the Sex Pistols at Winterland SF when I was 15 in 1978. Music saved my soul and drives my life to this day. I was a journalism student at SF State living at 612 Ashbury at Haight, and experienced the immense honor of having Ben Fong-Torres — editor at Rolling Stone from the very early days — as one of my teachers. I’m sure he’s a huge part of why I eventually went on to write a book on the Grateful Dead, “Deadheads” and start my magazine, “Haight Street Voice”. We’re still good friends today! Being from the Bay Area, the vibes and energy of California runs through my veins, and the ever-flowing music fills my soul — and I am grateful.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Inspired by this community I’ve lived in for over 30 years, where the counterculture exploded in 1967, I am proud to keep the message and vibe of the Haight-Ashbury alive and moving forward. Community is more important today than possibly ever in the history of this country, let alone our global community. This reality is why this magazine got born. If there were ever a time when we would have cosmic permission and poetic license to deliver our stories — it is NOW. It is my mission to give hyper-local attention with a global perspective, a voice of the people for the people to help preserve the spirit of the community, the message/light that lit the 1960s, and to encourage the Haight-Ashbury community to honor, respect and carry on the counterculture’s messages, as well as strengthen the connection and communication between merchants, residents, tourists, homeless, old, young, and future born. This magazine is by and for the people — to give people a voice.

I’ve loved listening to stories ever since I was 5 years old when my grandmother (who lived with us in Orinda) would tell me stories all the time. I remember thinking if I could listen to stories for the rest of my life I’d be so happy. And here I am, after earning my journalism degree at SF State, going to NYC for 7 years to sharpen my editorial chops, and then coming back to my native Bay Area, working at Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Ranch, and NBCUniversal for 10 years as Managing Editor with various other gigs along the way — collecting stories and living my truth. It certainly hasn’t been easy the whole way here, but I am most proud that I’ve stayed true to myself, following my passion for words and stories — all the way full circle back to the Haight-Ashbury where it all began. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I’ve truly moved from black & white into color and discovered there really is no place like Home!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We got it all here in a 6 block radius! Walk down Haight window shopping at the various headshops, go into Love of Ganesha to pick up a crystal perhaps, explore the vibes, then to Psychedelic SF art gallery to soak up some inspiring trippy art of the ’60s and now, say hey to our friend owner Sunshine Powers at Love on Haight tie-dye, pop into the Club Deluxe on Haight, like stepping into the 40s, listen to live jazz, a Spa Collins cocktail. Walk over to GG Park to the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden and Hippie Hill, lay in the grass a spell, take in the vibes. We’d head back to my place a block off the Haight, chill in my backyard overlooking the Panhandle. On another day we’d play some tennis up at Buena Vista Park, a secret gem of 2 courts surrounded by huge trees and gorgeous views of the whole City. Victory beers at The Page Bar in their parklet watch the people walking by. We’d hit up a show at the Independent, live music heaven. The truth is, you can pretty much wander out my front door here in the Haight-Ashbury and magic is gonna come atcha no matter what you’re looking for. It’s all here: the weird, the beautiful, the kind, the musical, the cosmic vibes.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ben Fong-Torres – original journalist at Rolling Stone and my teacher at SF State

Dr. David E. Smith – founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic 1967, and the Haight-Ashbury Psychedelic Center 2022!

Barnard C. Johnson – father RIP, architect extraordinaire, artist and best friend who always encouraged me to be myself and do what I love

Joseph Campbell – Hero of a Thousand Faces. Be the hero of your own journey.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/linda-kelly-73358710/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HaightStreetVoice

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/HaightStreetVoice/

Other: Help support community journalism! Subscribe here: https://www.patreon.com/haight_street_voice Donations [tax-deductible]: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=73FHPDPRWL8M8

Image Credits
Aimee-Duddridge-Picard Linda Kelly

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