Reflections on Berkeley REACH

This post cov­ers my find­ings so far in the ex­per­i­ment of run­ning the Berkeley Ra­tion­al­ity and Effec­tive Altru­ism Com­mu­nity Hub (REACH). Cross­posted on EA Fo­rum and LessWrong.

tl;dr

  • REACH has been run­ning since March 2018 (around three months)

  • It’s do­ing well

    • Hun­dreds of peo­ple have en­joyed REACH

      • Dur­ing the day, there are gen­er­ally be­tween 3 and 10 peo­ple coworking

      • Reg­u­lar events draw 10-40 people

      • Large one-time events draw around 100

    • It has broad sup­port—over 100 peo­ple have donated sig­nifi­cant time (from one af­ter­noon of work up to around 40 hours) and/​or money

    • Pa­treon, one-time dona­tions, and guest rooms have cov­ered the rent un­til it was re­cently raised

    • Com­mu­nity guests can stay there for rel­a­tively low prices for the area

      • It has been full 75% of the time in May

  • I’d like you to be involved

    • Visit and at­tend events at REACH

    • Vol­un­teer (see this doc for some ways to help)

    • Host events

      • Mon­day, Thurs­day, and Fri­day nights are cur­rently available for re­cur­ring or one-time events (see cal­en­dar)

    • Help bridge our fund­ing gap

      • Rent has gone up to $6k/​month un­less we find a new venue

      • We need to be able to pay a manager

        • Manag­ing the space takes 10-30 hours per week

      • Help us find and ap­ply for grants

        • already plan­ning to re-ap­ply for CEA and BERI grants

      • Put your own money in the pot if you find the pro­ject valuable (see Pa­treon or Pay­pal)

      • Provide spe­cific items to im­prove the space

Why We Needed a Com­mu­nity Space

What A Phys­i­cal Space Can Do for Community

Around De­cem­ber 2017, I started think­ing that it would be re­ally nice to have a cen­tral place where com­mu­nity mem­bers could:

  • Con­ve­niently host events (a func­tion that had been fulfilled by the CFAR office be­fore the switch to badged ac­cess)

  • Cowork with com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing the day

  • Come for low-key spon­ta­neous socializing

  • Bring kids to play together

  • Be a de­fault place to meet up with some­one to chat about EA/​R things

  • Crash on a couch or grab a bed and stay for a while

My ini­tial thought was “we should buy a de­com­mis­sioned church build­ing!” How­ever, I re­al­ized that fund­ing such a large pur­chase would be pretty tricky, and that I could and prob­a­bly should try out my ideas in a rental first and work to­ward buy­ing a venue later.

Even Berkeley Can Be Lonely

Peo­ple of­ten talk about Berkeley as if it’s a mag­i­cal com­mu­nity hub, but ac­tu­ally many com­mu­nity mem­bers feel lonely, de­pressed and/​or anx­ious (in­clud­ing my­self). This has been a theme that has been com­ing up in pub­lic spaces as far back as win­ter sols­tice 2014. I have seen sev­eral at­tempts to miti­gate this is­sue, but none have seemed to stick.

New­com­ers to the Berkeley com­mu­nity of­ten find it difficult to be­come a part of the phys­i­cal-space com­mu­nity—likely be­cause much of the so­cial­iz­ing hap­pen­ing in pri­vate spaces such as group houses, mean­ing that peo­ple only in­vite the folks they already know and trust.

There are LessWrong mee­tups in Berkeley and SF, and EA mee­tups in the South Bay, but trav­el­ling for at least an hour to get to a reg­u­lar EA meetup felt too difficult to work into my sched­ule, and the Berkeley LW meetup hasn’t felt like the right space for me.

The Hopes of Pro­ject Hufflepuff

In 2017, Ray Arnold ran the Hufflepuff Un­con­fer­ence. At that event, I vol­un­teered to join the bay area ra­tio­nal­ist Wel­com­ing Com­mit­tee. That group ac­com­plished a few things in the at­tempt to make the bay area com­mu­nity more invit­ing:

  • En­sured that larger, more open events hap­pened ev­ery few months (pre­vi­ously there was only 1 com­mu­nity-wide open event per year)

  • Took over up­keep of the bayra­tional­ity.com website

  • Created a doc­u­ment with trig­ger ac­tion plans for be­ing more welcoming

  • Started a dis­cus­sion around doc­u­ment­ing group norms

There were sev­eral other ideas which were dis­cussed at the Pro­ject Hufflepuff meet­ings, but those saw less trac­tion. In sev­eral cases, there were ideas for spe­cific events or meetup se­ries, but these failed in part due to lack of a con­ve­nient host­ing venue.

Th­ese ac­tivi­ties helped me see more of what was go­ing on in the com­mu­nity, which led to me be­come the point per­son for new folks to con­tact (through the bayra­tional­ity site) when mov­ing to the area or first get­ting in­volved. I found that many of them wanted to know how to get in­volved with the lo­cal EA and ra­tio­nal­ist com­mu­ni­ties, but I didn’t have a great an­swer for them be­yond point­ing to the meetup links that were already on the site. The best I could come up with given the state of so­cial ac­tivi­ties was to say some­thing to the effect of “Most of the in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen at pri­vate events, but I can’t re­ally in­vite you to other peo­ple’s events. Maybe we could meet up in per­son so I can get to know you so I can vouch for you?” They rarely took me up on it, and I gen­er­ally never heard from them again.

Per­sonal Back­ground and Com­mu­nity Ties

I have been around and in the ra­tio­nal­ist and EA com­mu­ni­ties since 2014, dur­ing which I at­tended a CFAR work­shop and vol­un­teered at work­shops both in Berkeley and the UK. I at­tended the 2014 EA Sum­mit and have at­tended or vol­un­teered at EA global ev­ery sub­se­quent year. I worked as a soft­ware de­vel­oper at CEA from Septem­ber 2017 - Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Since 2015, I have lived in ra­tio­nal­ist and ra­tio­nal­ist-ad­ja­cent group houses in Berkeley which I have helped find, fund, and co­or­di­nate.

How I set up the Berkeley REACH

Through­out Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2018, I thought more about the com­mu­nity cen­ter idea and brought it up with sev­eral com­mu­nity mem­bers. Most agreed that such a pro­ject should hap­pen but that it would be a lot of work. I was work­ing at CEA at the time, and sev­eral of the other staff mem­bers thought that cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity cen­ter might be a good idea. How­ever, it nei­ther fit into my role there, nor into CEA’s role as the co­or­di­na­tors of the global com­mu­nity.

Find­ing A Space

On my own time, I started a reg­u­lar weekly EA meetup in Fe­bru­ary. CFAR let me use their office to host the first few meet­ings, but I found the pro­cess of get­ting will­ing peo­ple in the door to be challeng­ing (there was a some­times-locked gate, a locked door, and a locked ele­va­tor be­tween par­ti­ci­pants and the space—mul­ti­ple literal bar­ri­ers to en­try). I looked around for an al­ter­nate space to use and dis­cov­ered that the first floor of Event Hori­zon (a ra­tio­nal­ist group house), which had pre­vi­ously been Cafe la Re­nais­sance (home of reg­u­lar ra­tio­nal­ist mee­tups be­fore it closed, and home to the CFAR and MIRI office be­fore it was a cafe), was go­ing to be­come available soon. Seven months be­fore, it had been hastily con­verted into a liv­ing space with 4 bed­rooms. I de­cided that it would be a good venue for a trial of the sort of space I’d been en­vi­sion­ing.

Ini­tial Costs and Fund­ing

Us­ing my own money, I rented the space for the month of March for $4500. I started clean­ing the space and buy­ing snacks, office sup­plies, and other items to make it us­able as a com­mu­nity cen­ter, amount­ing to about an­other $1000. I moved my weekly EA mee­tups to the space, and soon I had a few other re­cur­ring events set up as well as reg­u­lar cowork­ing hours.

At this point, I ap­plied for an EA com­mu­nity build­ing grant. I heard back at the be­gin­ning of April that I had not got­ten the grant, so I paid for April out of pocket as well. CEA’s stated rea­son­ing was that my newly formed EA group in Berkeley lacked a track record, and that my met­rics for suc­cess or failure were not defined clearly enough.

Shortly af­ter re­ceiv­ing this news, I de­cided to at­tempt crowd­fund­ing on Pa­treon. I got sig­nal boosted by slat­estar­codex (thanks!), Ben Hoff­man and Ray Arnold and sev­eral folks on Face­book. In just over 2 weeks, we reached the first Pa­treon goal of $2,500/​month, which in ad­di­tion to money col­lected from peo­ple stay­ing in the guest rooms or mak­ing one-time dona­tions was barely enough to cover the rent on the space.

I started talk­ing to BERI about the pos­si­bil­ity of a grant in early April, and re­cently heard back that I did not get it, at least par­tially be­cause of not yet be­ing a 501(c)(3). They have men­tioned that their newly an­nounced pro­ject grants pro­gram is ex­plic­itly more open to folks with­out 501(c)(3) sta­tus, and sep­a­rately I’ll be achiev­ing that sta­tus soon, so I will definitely be ap­ply­ing to the new pro­gram.

Since I cur­rently don’t have enough fund­ing to pay for the space plus my time man­ag­ing the space and I do need to pay my per­sonal rent and other bills, I have taken on a part time (2 days per week) job, which means I have less time and men­tal ca­pac­ity for run­ning REACH op­er­a­tions than I would if I were able to do this as a full time job.

Other Resources

In May, a com­mu­nity mem­ber gen­er­ously gifted the REACH with their old SUV.

Since then, I have worked to pro­cure more/​bet­ter fur­ni­ture for the space (mostly cheap finds from Face­book Mar­ket­place, picked up in the SUV). This has in­cluded a large book­shelf to house the many donated books for the shared library (cur­rently us­ing a pa­per-and-pen loan sys­tem which has to be en­tered into a spread­sheet—a bet­ter sys­tem may be forth­com­ing).

Results

Usage

I have tried a few ways of col­lect­ing us­age data for the space. In late April, I tracked it man­u­ally for a week, with a to­tal of 50 to­tal tracked guests, pos­si­bly with some dou­ble count­ing of the same per­son on mul­ti­ple days. I likely also missed some peo­ple who were here since I was not around on the week­end days or non-event evenings that week. The largest spike that week was at the EA meetup, which had 23 at­ten­dees. The largest event so far was the LessWrong 2.0 Launch Party in early April, which had at least 100 guests (for that party we co-hosted with Event Hori­zon up­stairs and had mul­ti­ple hang­out spaces).

Usage Statis­tics Data Col­lec­tion

I have tried mul­ti­ple data col­lec­tion meth­ods (shared spread­sheet, a Google form, pen and pa­per). The sys­tem that has seen the most suc­cess is the pen and pa­per sys­tem, though it de­pends on how promi­nently the sheet is dis­played upon walk­ing into the room. The more tidy and out of the way, the less peo­ple no­tice it—more peo­ple no­tice it when it is es­sen­tially block­ing peo­ple from com­ing all the way in. There is clearly a trade­off be­tween data col­lec­tion and us­abil­ity of the space, so I have cho­sen to make it some­what less ob­tru­sive at the ex­pense of data in­tegrity. I was go­ing to put some statis­tics from the pen and pa­per sign in sheet but I haven’t done the data en­try to an­a­lyze it yet and I want to get this post up sooner rather than later :)

Reg­u­lar Meetups

Over­all, EA mee­tups tend to get be­tween 10 and 25 at­ten­dees de­pend­ing on the topic. Game days get more at­ten­dees (closer to 40 over the course of the event) but at­ten­dance is difficult to guess from the Face­book events, even af­ter the fact, due to many peo­ple opt­ing for just hit­ting “in­ter­ested” vs “go­ing” even if they in­tend to go.

Re­cur­ring mee­tups (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly)

  • EA meetup

  • Ra­tion­al­ist meditation

  • Bio-risk Meetups

  • Game days

  • Mu­si­cal the­atre karaoke

  • Statis­tics study group (this since moved to a house nearer where the peo­ple live)

  • Pro­gram­ming help ses­sions (no longer reg­u­larly oc­cur­ring at REACH due to low turnout, but available upon re­quest)

One-off events

Some of these have been one off events:

  • Ra­tion­al­ist Seder

  • LessWrong 2.0 launch party

  • Birth­day parties

  • D&D sessions

  • Bayesian Choir re­hearsal (nor­mally meets el­se­where)

There have typ­i­cally been be­tween 3 and 6 events each week, not count­ing cowork­ing.

Guest rooms

The two guest rooms were oc­cu­pied about 25% of the time in March (I was not mak­ing a big push for this dur­ing the setup phase), in­creas­ing to around 60% for April, and around 75 or 80% for May.

I have got­ten some crit­i­cal feed­back around the space not be­ing very pol­ished be­cause of it still be­ing a work in progress. My main thought here is that peo­ple who want a pol­ished, nice place to stay should likely go for an AirBnB in­stead, but if peo­ple want a com­mu­nity-spe­cific space, don’t yet know any­one in the lo­cal Berkeley com­mu­nity, and are ex­cited about get­ting to know peo­ple here, REACH is a good op­tion. REACH is not the best op­tion available for a sev­eral-month stay; REACH is bet­ter for peo­ple who want a crash pad for a few days or up to a few weeks while they get to know peo­ple and look for longer term ac­co­mo­da­tions.

There has also been some awk­ward­ness around com­mu­nity mem­bers not know­ing how or whether to in­ter­act with overnight guests, and I hope to miti­gate this by set­ting the ex­pec­ta­tion for vis­i­tors that they are likely to have folks try to talk to and get to know them :)

My take on the cur­rent level of success

REACH has pro­vided a much eas­ier path to host­ing new events, caused more ac­cessible com­mu­nity events to hap­pen, and re­sulted in a large num­ber of con­nec­tions and con­ver­sa­tions that would likely not have hap­pened in the coun­ter­fac­tual world-with­out-REACH.

Cowork­ing has been nice, es­pe­cially when the group de­cides to do ex­er­cise po­modoros (25 min­utes of work, 5 min of ex­er­cise and chat­ting). There are some days when the only peo­ple around are me and vol­un­teers. The space is good for work­ing if you’re up for us­ing a lap­top on a couch or at a table in a large room, but not as good for things like Skype calls (there is a side room, but the in­ter­net there is of­ten spotty) or tasks that re­quire ex­ter­nal mon­i­tors (there are cur­rently 2 that are available to bor­row but there isn’t a ready-to-use setup where you can just plug in a lap­top).

I have been able to offer crash space to al­most ev­ery­one who has re­quested it. I could likely be filling the rooms more fully with AirBnB (non ideal since I want to keep it com­mu­nity-ori­ented) or ad­ver­tis­ing the space more ag­gres­sively within the com­mu­nity (which I am ar­guably do­ing right now).

There has been a fair amount of low-key spon­ta­neous hang­ing out, es­pe­cially on week­ends. I am not sure if it has be­come the de­fault place to meet up with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, but there is at least a sub­set of the com­mu­nity us­ing it that way.

The goal that I’ve had the least suc­cess with so far is hav­ing a place that is es­pe­cially kid-friendly. This is largely be­cause the space does not have good sound-iso­la­tion and is not big enough to have kid-cen­tered ac­tivi­ties (of­ten loud and bois­ter­ous) at the same time as adult-cen­tered ac­tivi­ties (of­ten re­quiring rel­a­tive quiet for dis­cus­sions), and right now there are sig­nifi­cantly more adults than chil­dren in the com­mu­nity.

Com­mu­nity Feedback

Most of the feed­back I’ve re­ceived from mem­bers of the Berkeley com­mu­nity has been quite pos­i­tive, with sev­eral mem­bers choos­ing to in­crease their pledge amounts af­ter spend­ing sig­nifi­cant time in the space and find­ing it valuable. Many peo­ple have ex­pressed grat­i­tude that the space ex­ists.

If you have any­thing you’d like to share about your ex­pe­riences with REACH, please add it in the com­ments! I would pre­fer to keep the com­ments on this post mostly fo­cused mainly on peo­ple’s in­di­vi­d­ual ex­pe­riences with REACH and clar­ify­ing ques­tions about the pro­ject. I am host­ing a pre-EAG party tonight and will be vol­un­teer­ing at EAG this week­end so may be slow to re­spond to com­ments. If you have harsh crit­i­cal feed­back for me, I’d pre­fer to re­ceive it pri­vately and have a chance to con­sider and ad­dress it be­fore it is posted pub­li­cly.

Next Steps

Is­sues with the Landlord

The land­lord raised the rent fairly steeply this month from $4,500 to $6,000 (pos­si­bly ille­gally, look­ing into that—I thought she wanted to raise it start­ing in Au­gust when she wants me to sign a year-long lease). I had a few days of panic while pul­ling to­gether the funds to make the pay­ment, but af­ter reach­ing out to some com­mu­nity mem­bers, the short­fall was quickly made up with one-time dona­tions. I am plan­ning to con­tact the Berkeley rent board and will also be scout­ing po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tions in case that doesn’t work out. If any­one has ex­pe­rience with the rent board, or knows of po­ten­tial al­ter­nate lo­ca­tions, please let me know! The land­lady wants me to de­cide whether or not I will sign a new lease by July 1 (I have in fact not signed any­thing with her yet, as I am cur­rently sub­let­ting).

Non-Profit Status

I have filed pa­per­work to turn REACH into a 501(c)(3). The pa­pers have been sub­mit­ted but I’m still wait­ing on a few things be­fore I can set up tax-de­ductible dona­tions and em­ployer match­ing. I don’t know enough to have timelines on when that will be­come pos­si­ble. If you have ex­per­tise in this do­main and would be up for giv­ing ad­vice, I would be very grate­ful! Use the­berkeleyreach@gmail.com to REACH out about this.

Fu­ture Fund­ing Plans

I am plan­ning to re-ap­ply for the next round of CEA’s EA Grants now that we are more es­tab­lished. The space re­quires at least one per­son to man­age it, and it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to re­cruit good can­di­dates to work for free long term. There are plenty of peo­ple will­ing to *help*, but with­out some­one co­or­di­nat­ing and mak­ing sure that offers are fol­lowed up with con­crete ac­tion, pro­jects like this tend to falter. I am not sure if that per­son should con­tinue to be me or if I should hand it off to some­one else and get an­other tech job so that I can con­tribute fi­nan­cially in­stead of via la­bor. That said, I plan to be the per­son run­ning it un­til it gets fully funded so that I am not ask­ing some­one to take on an un­paid job. If you know of other ap­pli­ca­ble grants that I (as a com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer) or REACH might ap­ply for, let me know. If you have nom­i­na­tions for a bet­ter per­son to run the day to day op­er­a­tions, let me know about that as well, or REACH out to one or more of the peo­ple in the ap­pre­ci­a­tion sec­tion at the end of this post.

How you can be a part of it

Use the space

Come join us for cowork­ing or events! If it wouldn’t be a hard­ship for you, pay what you can based on how much you value the events ei­ther through Pa­treon or one-time dona­tions, but if money is a bot­tle­neck for you, please don’t worry about it. Just to prime peo­ple with some pos­si­ble amounts, maybe $5 - $10 for in­di­vi­d­ual events that you find valuable.

Host­ing Events

The REACH cal­en­dar still has room for hold­ing evening events (ei­ther re­cur­ring or one off). Th­ese would need to be co­or­di­nated by com­mu­nity mem­bers, since I am already at ca­pac­ity with the re­cur­ring events that I run. For folks who are new to the space, I would pre­fer to over­see any large events the first time or two they host to get a sense of their lo­gis­ti­cal ca­pa­bil­ities. After I feel com­fortable with them, I would be happy to have them run events with­out my di­rect in­volve­ment (be­yond en­sur­ing the event goes on the cal­en­dar and Face­book page). To run an event, first check in with me about the idea, and if I ap­prove the event idea, check the cal­en­dar for available dates and fill out this form to offi­cially re­quest your event. I ask for a con­tri­bu­tion to the space for pri­vate events that re­quire ex­clu­sive use of the main space (usu­ally around $100, but could be more or less de­pend­ing on the type of event and level of im­po­si­tion on guests, as well as tak­ing your bud­get into con­sid­er­a­tion), but events that are free and open to the com­mu­nity are free to host. If you are plan­ning to charge at­ten­dees, talk to me about it and we’ll work out rates.

If you have an event idea but don’t want to host it alone, I can try to put you in touch with some­one who can co-host (pos­si­bly my­self). I can also provide snacks and help with cater­ing if you are will­ing to re­im­burse me for those things. I can also help you with fur­ni­ture re­ar­range­ment, speaker and pro­jec­tor setup, and other lo­gis­tics.

Tessa Alex­a­nian, the main or­ga­nizer be­hind the bio-risk mee­tups, has also offered help and ad­vice for peo­ple want­ing to start new re­cur­ring mee­tups (though please wait un­til af­ter EA Global to con­tact her, since she is co­or­di­nat­ing vol­un­teers at the con­fer­ence!).

Vol­un­teer­ing at REACH

As men­tioned above, there is still a lot that can and should be done to im­prove the space. If you are in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing time and effort rather than donat­ing and it would not be a hard­ship for you, please REACH out to me (no, that joke hasn’t got­ten old yet). Cur­rently, the best way to con­tact me about REACH-re­lated mat­ters is the­berkeleyreach@gmail.com

Find­ing out more

Check out the Face­book page or the REACH sub­sec­tion on the bayra­tional­ity site if you want more info. There is also a Dis­cord server, which I will not link here for pri­vacy rea­sons, but if you want to join it send me a bit of in­for­ma­tion about your­self and why you would like to join the server at ther­berkeleyreach@gmail.com. It is pri­mary for peo­ple who at least oc­ca­sion­ally use the space or have con­tributed to the space in some way.

I haven’t done this alone

Recog­ni­tion and Ap­pre­ci­a­tion for In­di­vi­d­ual Effort from Com­mu­nity Members

Sev­eral folks have helped set up and im­prove the space.

In­di­vi­d­u­als:

  • Oliver Habryka helped me se­cure the space

  • Oliver and Ray helped me scheme how to set it up

  • Eric Rogstad agreed to let me sublet

  • Kurt Brown moved up­stairs ear­lier than ex­pected on short notice

  • Claire Wang helped with the lo­gis­tics shuffling fur­ni­ture be­tween Event Hori­zon and REACH, as well as be­ing a li­ai­son be­tween me and the Event Hori­zon res­i­dents generally

  • Dony, Rick, and Ryan helped me with the ini­tial clean­ing spree and fur­ni­ture arrangement

  • Nate Thomas pro­vided wise coun­sel, emo­tional sup­port, and oc­ca­sional lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port (mov­ing heavy items)

  • Ratheka has helped keep the space run­ning while I have other things on my plate (my part time job)

    • Me­lanie Heisey, Cody Wild, Oliver Stan­ley, and a few oth­ers have helped with this as well

  • Yu­lia has helped me or­ga­nize and set up the space.

  • Paul Crowley and Jes­samy Barker for the dona­tion of their SUV (Be­he­moth)

  • Tessa and the rest of the bio-risk team, Yu­lia, Her­schel, Gor­don, and a few oth­ers have con­sis­tently shown up to host their re­cur­ring events, which have been a key part of get­ting the space up and run­ning with reg­u­lar us­age.

  • Scy Yoon for de­sign­ing and paint­ing an ex­cel­lent sign for the front door, and dog-sitting

  • Scott, Ben and Ray have pro­moted the space and sig­nal-boosted the Pa­treon. Sev­eral oth­ers have sig­nal boosted on Face­book.

  • Katja Grace for or­ga­niz­ing and host­ing AI risk cowork­ing days

  • An­drew Ret­tek and Doe for agree­ing to be mem­bers of the REACH non-profit board

    • An­drew for helping with the pa­per­work/​phone calls

    • Others for be­ing up for con­sid­er­ing it and say­ing no when they re­al­ized they wouldn’t be able to put in the time and effort to do a good job

  • Nate, Tessa, and Ray for helping edit this post, and the oth­ers on this list for check­ing off on me us­ing their name in a pub­lic post

  • The 93 pa­trons on Pa­treon, and ~30 one-time donors (there is likely some over­lap be­tween those; I have not care­fully looked through this data)

All of this sup­port has been in­cred­ibly valuable. A com­mu­nity cen­ter can­not func­tion with­out a com­mu­nity. The com­mu­nity has shown up to make this this place a real com­mu­nity hub.

Conclusions

While REACH is still a work in progress, it is get­ting a fair bit of us­age and many of the peo­ple who fre­quent it seem to be get­ting value out of it. Per­haps we should find a cheaper venue, but there are definite ad­van­tages to the cur­rent lo­ca­tion (near BART, walk­able from many com­mu­nity mem­bers’ homes). I think it is im­por­tant to keep it mostly free to use the space.

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