Melonie and Melorra Green were born just a minute apart 35 years ago in Memphis, Tenn. They’ve been a united pair ever since.
The twin sisters seamlessly finish each other’s sentences. They back each other up effortlessly. And when they share a vision, they make things happen.
They have partnered since they were tots on endeavors from running lemonade stands to earning dual college degrees. In doing so, they have learned that together they can be greater than the sum of their dynamic individual parts.
“We have distinct personalities, but our core is the same. Our essences are the same,” said Melonie, the older sister by a minute. “We both genuinely love to help people and genuinely love art.”
Those passions have led the sisters, San Franciscans for a dozen years now, to become a force in the Western Addition. Working with city officials, arts organizations, merchants and others, their aim is to restore this corner of the city to its onetime luster as the “Harlem of the West.”
The Western Addition, particularly around the Fillmore corridor, was once a predominantly African-American neighborhood that drew renowned performers such as Billie Holiday and Miles Davis. But much of that era was lost, as blocks were razed and many longtime residents were pushed out during a failed attempt by the city at urban renewal in the 1950s and ’60s. The area has since struggled with poverty, crime and empty storefronts.
The Greens – known in the neighborhood simply as the twins – are at the forefront of the latest movement to turn the Fillmore around, this time by emphasizing the arts.
For more than eight years, the sisters have fostered its art and culture scene, particularly by showcasing a variety of independent and emerging artists. For several years, they co-executive-produced the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Starting in 2009, they organized the annual Independent Artists’ Week, and later the popular Fillmore Art Walk.
“They have contributed significantly to the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” said London Breed, a friend and supporter who grew up in the Western Addition and is the newly-elected San Francisco supervisor from neighboring District Five. “They (are bringing) people back to the neighborhood and bringing history back to the neighborhood that has sometimes been forgotten.”
Read more: SF Gate