2018 Holiday Season in Civic Center Commons


Along with our festive Civic Center Plaza Holiday Tree Lighting on December 5, 5pm-7pm, which includes snow flurries, festive foods and drinks, a toy giveaway from the SFPD for 400 kids, and a wonderful lineup of holiday programming led by Artistic Director Nick A. Olivero — there are an assortment of other wonderful cheerful activities happening in, and adjacent to, Civic Center Commons this holiday season. Here are few highlights:

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The Inside Scoop: New Bi-Rite Cafe coming to Civic Center Plaza

UPDATE October 2018: The Civic Center Plaza Bi-Rite Cafe is now open!

Original post: As a result of yet another major gift, the Civic Center Commons will soon offer a street cafe to serve as a central gathering space for Commons visitors.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and Civic Center Community Benefit District (CCCBD) announced that Helen Diller Family Foundation expanded its $10 million donation (made in 2015 to fund the design and construction of two new vibrant, state-of-the-art playgrounds), with an additional $1 million street cafe, and idea prompted by extensive outreach regarding the playgrounds.

The original gift has served as a catalyst for a renewed focus on improving and activating San Francisco’s central public spaces through the Civic Center Commons Initiative.

CCCBD selected Bi-Rite, a family-owned San Francisco institution since 1940, to be the operator of the cafe, which will provide soft serve ice cream and a variety of fresh foods.

“Creating community through food is why we exist,” said Sam Mogannam, second-generation owner of Bi-Rite. “And we’re honored to be asked to be a part of the fun and togetherness that this project is going to create in the heart of the City.”

The Street Cafe is still in design phase, but shouldn’t be too far behind the completion of the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds set to open in spring of 2018. But that doesn’t mean Commons visitors had to wait to sample some of Bi-Rite’s delicious, world-renowned ice cream.

San Francisco came out in force during the October edition of Commons Thursdays to redeem the several hundred tokens—good for one flavorful cup—Bit-Rite in collaboration with CCCBD donated and distributed ahead of the October event.

The street cafe, to be located at the corner of Grove and Larkin Streets, will offer a variety of food and drink selections as well as movable tables and seating for the public to relax and enjoy recreation activities at Civic Center Plaza.

Currently in the Commons, SF Rec and Parks Department offers Zumba classes, youth soccer, adult bocce ball, adult kickball, and volleyball games as well as food trucks in partnership with Off-The-Grid on a weekly basis.

Art, music, sports, and perhaps most of all, food, are among the things we look toward in bringing people together, illuminating that which we have in common. We hungrily await the arrival of the Civic Center Street Cafe, soon to be yet another vehicle for you to find what #wehaveincommons.

Read more on SF Eater and  SF Weekly.

World Cup 2018 Finals at Civic Center Plaza

Calling all soccer fans! Cheer on your favorite team at Civic Center Plaza on July 15 at 8 am, as the two last teams battle it out on the big screen.

The live and free viewing will also feature bites and drinks from food trucks, and soccer games and activities for all ages. More info can be found at worldcupsf.com.

Please note: The semifinal games on Tuesday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 11 at 11 am have moved to Embarcadero’s Sue Bierman Park (Washington and Drumm Street). These games will also feature food trucks and activities for all!

StreetBeats at the Village Artist Corner

Facilitated by Dr. Elliot Gann, aka Phillipdrummond of Today’s Future Sound, StreetBeats: An Exploration of Culture through Hip-Hop is an intergenerational activation exploring the many different ways to experience and engage with Hip Hop at the Village Artist Corner (aka the Art/Lit Living Innovation Zone) on the first Sundays of March, April and May 2018.

Curated by the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Public Library, the Village Artist Corner, outside the Asian Art Museum on Fulton Street at Larkin Street, serves as a venue for art to inspire change through shared experiences through rotating murals and monthly participatory programming created by the Village Artist-in-Residence.

The March and April 1st Sunday StreetBeats Workshops brought members of the public together to learn from professionals instructors on the many ways Hip Hop has shaped culture – from mixing songs with Daryl Anthony Mc Gee, Ko Wong-Horiuchi, Mike Maitre’d Cochran aka Maitre D , dance like a b-boy or b-girl with Rahman Jamaal Mc, listen to original beat sets from Knxout, Phillipdrummond aka Philthydrummond aka Pd, and Aye, Yu of The Soul Dojo, and practice how to put together freestyles on the fly with with Marlon Richardson.

Join the Asian Art Museum and StreetBeats at their last of 3 installments of this activation on Sunday May 6th from 11am – 2pm at the Village Artist Corner!

Images by Justin Yee / Asian Art Museum.

Lava Mae’s Pop-Up Care Village

With dozens of resource tents and tables flanking the steps of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), multilingual signs waving in the wind directing guests, and a stream of volunteers in bright blue shirts ready to help, Lava Mae hosted an employment-focused Pop-Up Care Village in the Commons on March 27th. The event provided a one-stop-shop for employment services for people experiencing homelessness, from free job preparedness advice, to hygiene kits, adult education opportunities, clothes, health services, food, books, and haircuts.

Founded in 2013, Lava Mae is a non-profit organization that fosters Radical Hospitality – transforming how essential services are deployed to unhoused individuals in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Converting buses into showers and toilets, Lava Mae has served over 10,000 guests providing much needed access to hygiene resources. Lava Mae offers free hot shower services in the Commons every Tuesday from 8am – 1:30pm adjacent to the SFPL on Fulton Street and hosts Pop-Up Care Villages quarterly.

At the quarterly Pop-up Care Villages, many partners work together to provide key services for Lava Mae’s guests in one centralized location. Partners include: Project Homeless Connect, SFPL, San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium’s Street Outreach Services, GLIDE, Code Tenderloin, Toolworks, Episcopal Community Services – Adult Education CenterOne Degree,  and others. Beyond convening  partners, Lava Mae also creates a vibrant street fair atmosphere at their Pop-Up Care Villages – with brightly colored Civic Center Commons bistro tables for breakfast and lunch, cornhole games and musicians playing for the guests.

If you want to join Lava Mae’s efforts to practice Radical Hospitality, volunteer as a group or individual to help support these community events.

Asian Art Museum to Transform Café Experience with Sunday at the Museum

Opening in early Spring 2018, Chef Deuki Hong of the pop-up Sunday Bird in partnership with Andrew Chau and Bin Chen of Boba Guys is bringing Sunday at the Museum to the Asian Art Museum, a new cafe experience focused a rotating menu featuring an array of Asian cuisine – menu items will include variations of bahn mi, dosa, soup dumplings, jianbing, milk buns, fried chicken wings, bao sandwiches, khao mun gai and much more. Reflecting the Museum’s mission of developing new ways to connect diverse communities to Asian art and culture, Sunday at the Museum aims at make their menu accessible to museum patrons and the local community by celebrating the diversity and ubiquity of Asian and Asian American cuisine.

The renovated cafe is the first part of the Asian Art Museum’s $90 million expansion – this project will include a 13,000 sq.ft. pavillion, rooftop terrace and exhibition space designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast and is scheduled to open to the public in mid-2019. Sundays at the Museum will be open to match the Museum’s hours: Tuesday—Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Read more about this revitalized cafe concept at the NY Times and SF Eater.

Images from Asian Art Museum.

Compton’s Queens in UN Plaza

On February 21st, the Tenderloin Museum sponsored a pop-up drag performance during the Heart of Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, featuring the cast and creators from the The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot.  With appearances by Collette Le Grande, Shane Zaldivar, Donna Personna, Pleasure Bynight and Miss J, the outdoor performance drew crowds of Farmers Market shoppers, local workers and residents who got a sneak peak of the talented performers bringing the story of protest from drag queens and their allies against police harassment at the Tenderloin’s Compton’s Cafeteria.

The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, an original, interactive theater experience inspired by the historic riots that launched transgender activism in San Francisco, runs through May 4, 2018. Play patrons convene for an evening breakfast at the New Village Cafe where a 12 person cast dramatizes the inequalities facing the transgender and drag queen communities and their acts of resistance.

Don’t miss this unique play about a key historic movement in the Tenderloin community – buy your tickets now!

Images from Civic Center Commons.