Cultural Institution

Active Urbanism

Working with SF Jazz, Active Urbanism worked with the local community to develop bottom-up activation of Hayes Valley’s alleyways.

The seminar partnered with SF Jazz to work on proposals for an urban intervention on Linden Alley as part of the San Francisco Planning Department’s Living Alleys project. This new two-year city initiative was developed in conjunction with the Market-Octavia Neighborhood Plan, and aims to provide tools to the community for the bottom-up activation of Hayes Valley’s alleyways through Public Private Partnerships. It constitutes a new test case for the integration of bottom-up and top-down efforts. The long-term goal for the SF Planning Department is to create similar programs for other areas of San Francisco. Students actively participated in putting forward a specific proposal for tactical and permanent urban interventions that have the potential to be realized as part of the first prototypes that San Francisco Planning approved for realization.

The project resulted in 4 different proposals that included a phased deployment of short-term and long-term interventions for Linden Alley. Each project aimed to provide better links with the rest of the Hayes Valley alleyway network while reinterpreting the alley’s potential as an urban event space. In addition to phasing, the proposals included recommendations for potential collaborations between local organizations to support and structure both interventions and urban events.

SF Planning submitted the proposals to the Planning Department. As a result of the seminar’s work, this part of Linden Alley was selected as one of three prototypes supported by the Planning Department.


Navajo Mountain School Project

The Navajo Mountain School Project was conceived to empower the Navajo community through renovating a disused building of historical importance.


The team planned to collaboratively transform an old school building into a site for community arts and culture education.

"Within this specific community, there is no lack of ideas that are needed to fill the spaces we were renovating. I’ve discovered a different level of collaboration, learned the nature of my community at Navajo Mountain, and taught myself to listen when I’m so used to just charging ahead with projects of this nature."

The project included public engagement opportunities and a craft workshop during communal renovation efforts. It aimed to provide tools and resources for the community to leverage its own creativity in continuing to develop Navajo art and culture programs after reconstruction.


Marcus Books

Team Marcus Books partnered with Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex to recreate the prominent Marcus Bookstore within the AAACC’s physical complex.


The Marcus Bookstore was a major hub for the San Francisco African American community in the Fillmore since the 60’s. It was a critical site for intellectual and communal activity, but was evicted in 2014 against major public outcry. Team Marcus Books partnered with the Marcus Books and the African American Arts & Culture Complex Initiative (AAACC) to recreate the space within the AAACC’s physical complex.

“We will always face contrasting goals within teams, talking through these goals and prioritizing helps to get everyone on the same page.”

The team acted as design facilitators, creating and testing prototypes, devising business strategies, and providing architectural renderings and visualizations. They also supported a dynamic relationship between the community and the organization, actively incorporating community voices into the design process. The tools and resources they developed will be used by the AAACC to carry the project forward.



Externs at SOMArts Cultural Center serve as community liaisons for artistic programming helping to publicize and promote exhibitions and events through on- and off-line outreach, as well as marketing activities.

Organization Description:

SOMArts is a beloved cross-cultural and community-built space in San Francisco, with a rich history spanning over 40 years. As an incubator for ideas that lie outside the mainstream of contemporary art funding and consumption, SOMArts provides a space where cutting-edge events and counterculture commingle with traditional art forms to open up, engage, and inspire the community.

Externship Description:

Externs at SOMArts Cultural Center serve as community liaisons for artistic programming helping to publicize and promote exhibitions and events through on- and off-line outreach, as well as marketing activities. In addition, CCA Externs identify and activate opportunities for SOMArts to engage with community groups, schools, and neighborhoods.

“CONNECTS taught me to appreciate my role as an artist in my community. Artists aren’t here to just make art, we’re here to bring people together, to educate others!” – Michelle Lagasca, BFA Illustration (‘14), 13-14 CONNECTS Extern


Beyond Census

The U.S. Census does not represent an accurate number of Arab Americans. ENGAGE students gathered personal narratives from Arab American individuals living in the Bay Area.

Project Objective:

“Beyond Census: The Lives of Middle Eastern Immigrants in Post -9/11 America” explored the political, cultural, and social logic proliferated by US Census data about the experience of recent Middle Eastern immigrants .
In partnership with The Arab Cultural and Community Center of San Francisco [ACCC], ENGAGE students gathered personal narratives from (Arab American) individuals living in the Bay Area.  Students aggregated data from multiple sources to reflect a more accurate census count, both by country and across all residents of Middle Eastern descent aiming  to expose the myths perpetuated about the Arab American experience through Census data. Finally, “Beyond Census” visualized the data sets said to represent the Middle Eastern experience and presenting them alongside personal stories from Arab American community members.


Project Outcome(s):

The ENGAGE course culminated in the publication of qualitative and quantitative data uncovered by research conducted throughout the class. In their publication ENGAGE students visualized American Community Survey GIS data sets and detailed their findings. ENGAGE participants also curated the personal stories (lectures/ films) of Arab American community members amongst the datasets, complicating (or as a way to speak back to) the restrictive (limited/obscuring/ inaccurate) representation communicated by the visualized data.