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How can a [freespace] revitalize a neighborhood?

What would you do if you were being evicted from your home in a neighborhood where housing is becoming increasingly scarce, rent prices are climbing, and homelessness is nothing short of an epidemic? For San Francisco resident Zaria Gunn and a small team of big-hearted volunteers, the answer was simple: do something to make a positive impact in their community in the short time that they had left.

On Saturday, April 19th, Refried Friends hosted The Free Shop Pop Up at [freespace], located in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. At 10am, they were hard at work setting up rack after rack of new and gently used clothing, donated by people within their neighborhood. By mid day, the building was filled with people who were finding everything from new coats to button down shirts, blazers, and even the occasional book or piece of artwork. By the end of the event, over 250 residents of the neighborhood had participated.


And everything, of course, was free! Over the bustle of excited shoppers, curious passer-by’s, and the [piano] just outside the front door, it wasn’t uncommon to hear exclamations of gratitude, disbelief, and the occasional “I love you!”. The latter was from Oliver, a window washer in the neighborhood who stopped in when he heard the piano being played. “Do you understand how important this is?! If I saw these people walking down the street, I would have no idea that they were capable of doing this. Music is such a release, it’s so important… You guys are revitalizing the Tenderloin.”

The Free Shop Pop-Up is fulfilling a mission of engaging communities by allowing residents and business the fortuity to support individuals in need through non-monetary means. Participants in Saturday’s event walked away with new clothing, and an increased awareness of what’s possible when someone who cares about their community has a lot of passion, and a little free space.

Read more about the Free Shop and Refried Friends, their projects, and ways to get involved, on their website.

[Coming Together] Day 12 Update



Today’s events included Maura Dilley and Marc O’Brien’s Ideas -> Action workshop in the [movement room] section of the third floor. Nima noted, “It was a constructive and fun way to brainstorm and explore ideas and existing projects… The learning shelter, freegarden, community engagement, the bikeshare/yellow bike project ( for more info) each broke in to groups with their respective leaders, and the workshop encouraged participants to define the mission of each project beyond the level that the project coordinators had done previously.” Techniques involved included rapid prototyping and speed feedback.

New artwork, paintings, and installations have been added to the space, along the walls and staircases. Alan Macy’s Heartbeat Amplifier chairs ( were explored by new cadets as they toured the space, and Peter Nelson and Erin Rapacki continued work on their 20 ft long slide that they plan on having up and running by the end of the week.

Sundays are for Dancing, Gardening, and LED Walls

Today [freespace] received a beautiful new installation by Ping Yee and Benny (, who created and programmed a wall of 625 LED’s in front of freekitchen. The lights are individually programmable, and all are welcome to participate by hacking away at the LED wall. Check out for more information.


Freegarden was bustling with cadets today, and rumor has it that parkcycle (the giant pedal+solar powered mobile garden parked out back) is almost ready to roll. The day ended with a silent disco contact dance session led by Natel and an abundance of hugs as we wrapped up day 9.