From left: Kimberly Ellis; Katina and Kyle Connaughton; and Andress Guerrero. (Photography by Sothear Noun)

The Hot 20: Meet the 2017 Cast of Perennial Bay Area Innovators


For more than a decade, 7x7's annual Hot 20 has honored the Bay Area's best and brightest people in every field—arts and letters, gastronomy, technology, politics, science, philanthropy, sports, goes on.

Our 2017 feature benefits from a bit of refresh thanks to our co-curator Gina Pell, the content chief at TheWhat whose recently coined term Perennials has been making a global splash. This year's Perennials edition promises you'll meet intriguing new people, and celebrates innovators of literally all ages. Get to know an extraordinary 15-year-old artist-activist, and get reacquainted with a legendary chef who, at 74 years young, just opened his second restaurant. But first, find out what it means to be a Perennial. Take it away, Gina.


In October 2016, I published an article, "Meet The Perennials", introducing a term I had coined to describe a mindset of ever-blooming, curious people of all ages who have an insatiable thirst for learning, defy stereotype, constantly push up against their growing edge, and never let their age limit their behavior, interests, or social groups. Perennials don't define themselves by their year of birth, they focus on what interests and excites them. We live in a time that allows us to transcend linear thinking in the same way hyperlinks broke us out of a prescribed narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. We're capable of more than simply following the social script from birth to death, punctuated by milestones of school, work, marriage, children, and retirement. Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers: These classifications are a failed way to categorize people. Perennials march to the beat of their own drum and find connections between themselves and the world around them, based on interest not age.

When Chloe Hennen, 7x7s editor-in-chief, asked me to help curate the Hot 20: Perennials Edition, I thought of Bay Area people who exemplified this spirit of creativity, independence, compassion, intelligence, and innovation. The result is a list of people of all ages—some you may already know, others who may be under the radar—who will pique your curiosity no matter how old you are. —Gina Pell

The Funny Girl: Sarah Cooper

(Scott R. Kline)

When we first came across the graphic article of comedian and writer Sarah Cooper poking fun at both San Francisco and New York City by drawing out their differences (each of them terribly, laughably dead on), we became instant stalkers of The Cooper Review.

The satirical blog of the NYC to SF transplant is a laughternoon break goldmine for corporate cogs, stocked with original articles, videos and cartoons mostly inspired by the office—we like "9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women" and "How to Get to Know Your Coworkers Without Talking to Them." While we'd like to take credit for having discovered Cooper ourselves, turns out the former Googler was already a thing: Check out her recent book debut, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. //

What are you curious about?

"I'm curious about people. Why they say what they say, what they really mean, what they're thinking but not saying. I love observing how people interact with each other, and even watching how I interact with people, to see the small observations or connections I can make that give me insight into what people are going through, or who they're trying to impress or what they're hiding. I guess a lot of it is about secrets, but silly secrets like she ate a bite of salad and said "mmm" even though she hated it, or he only said that to impress his boss. I also love observing mannerisms in people and trying to figure out where those mannerisms came from. A lot of what I write about is observational, so my best ideas come from just watching people."

What's not funny?

"Anything that makes fun of the little guy or someone who doesn't deserve to be made fun of. Anything that's trying too hard to be funny, is usually not funny. Anything that's described as funny is often not funny as well."

SF or NYC?

"I moved to SF from New York in 2015 and was surprised at how different the two cities are. I created a series of cartoons comparing the two cities for my blog, and they really took off. Ironically everything I was getting annoyed with about NYC is exactly what I ended up missing about it. For example, NYC is so busy all the time—the always-on nature of the city was starting to get overwhelming. But now that I'm in SF I'm like, where is everybody? Why aren't things open all night? SF is beautiful, but I think I'm an NYC girl at heart."

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