Chasing the Flowers


After so many years of thinking about it, I finally did it and wrote a book about San Francisco Gentrification process. It was good to collect my thoughts around it. It is a little side track on this website, but it also has to do with technology, so it is not to far off.

It is available on On May 1st available on

Technology continues to rapidly change our lives. In Chasing the Flowers, author Christel De Maeyer focuses on San Francisco, known for Silicon Valley and as a major innovation hub in technology. Technology has brought with it, gentrification: an ever-growing divide between the rich and poor and the disappearance of neighborhoods and a middle class. Citing flowers, an ancient symbol of love and hope, De Maeyer maintains that if technology is used with honesty, transparency and open communication, those “flowers” can continue to blossom. She portrays San Francisco’s quintessential personality with its constant heartbeat of diversity from immigrants who sailed to its shores in the 1800’s to the multiplicity and acceptance still characterizing the city today. San Francisco has nurtured ground-breaking movements from the Beat Generation with its radical poetry and content, the Hippie – make love not war movement, avant-garde magazines promoting a cyber world and smart drugs to today’s techie culture. The major technology industries that call San Francisco home and the techie culture these industries have brought with them pose a threat to the quintessential personality that has characterized San Francisco.  Can wisely utilized technology create well-planned, all-inclusive cities and counteract gentrification? Seek the answers in this book.

First reviews came in:

“Wat een ontzettend mooi boekje heb je gemaakt! Prachtige en treffende citaten gebruik je. En de persoonlijke notes, die hoor ik je ook vertellen. Ik heb het nog niet geheel uit maar weet nu al dat ik een volgend bezoek aan San Francisco heel anders zal beleven.”
Marijke van Benschop

“I enjoyed your book and thought it provided a terrific background on understanding the nature of the tech world and how it impacts San Francisco”.
Mary Stevens – AutoDesk Innovation Gallery San Francisco

Through her foreign eyes, Belgian techie Christel De Maeyer explores the essence of technology’s effect on the social fabric being played out today.  Her focus is rightly on the San Francisco Bay Area where that expanding gap between the haves and have nots, brought on largely by the tech boom, feels most acute.    
Given its history as a destination for dreamers, entrepreneurs, immigrants, visionaries, it’s no coincidence that San Francisco should be at the heart of this latest social upheaval.  One consequence of gentrification is increased homelessness, particularly in what may well be America’s most expensive major city.  
A few hours spent walking SF’s Tenderloin district affords a rather sobering look at that downside.
However, starting with the Gold Rush, San Francisco has survived any number of boom-bust cycles in its history and, as the author optimistically implies, is likely to survive this most recent dilemma as well. 

The book is in many ways personal, and her affection for this unique city she frequently visits is apparent.  That quality which attracted her and so many others to San Francisco over the years, ‘The Flower’, continues to bloom.
David Olivier San Francisco – Tour Guide –  US South West Tours California

Zelf nog nooit het kleurrijke San Francisco kunnen bezoeken, maar door de wervende beschrijving en origineel beeldmateriaal doorheen het boek, waande ik me wel even enkele kilometers verder.

Interessant om te lezen hoe de tech industrie de stad heeft beïnvloedt de voorbije jaren. Ook de terugblik op de jaren zeventig en tachtig zijn als twintiger heel fijn om te lezen.

Leest trouwens als een trein! Christel weet vanaf het begin je aandacht te triggeren en houdt dit vol tot het einde.
Sasha Herssens, Artevelde Hogeschool