Why San Francisco doesn't need to be the loneliest city.

Our latest post on Medium looks at how San Francisco is building out of itself all those accidental meet-ups, of human contact and varied social interactions. And how that leaves San Francisco susceptible not just to loneliness and social isolation, but also depression, stress, anxiety, and dare we say it boredom and disconnection. Read the full article here.




Subscription Service

Here on the blog, we’re starting a new (occasional) series of things that we’ve found in our constant research, sometimes travels, and diverse experiences, that we love. Things in which ideas for living take on object form, or that do some of the work that Storefront aims to do around connection - social, intellectual and practical – in material / physical forms. (There’s that curator bit coming out.)


As we’re embarking on a new collaboration with Case for Making (see here), we thought we’d start with their studio subscription. Each quarter, Alexis Petty & her team of practitioners handpicks items from their shop collection roughly arranged around a theme (with their own stories and advice added in). So far in 2016 they’ve had sets around Grayscale / Drafting (Jan, Feb, March), and Ultramarine / Watercolor (April, May, June). They are about to send out Gold / Additive & Subtractive (July, August, Sept) and are currently working on the theme for the Oct, Nov, Dec set. It’s $45 for a three-month subscription, which is kind of a bargain.


We love the idea of this studio subscription for the amateur or the expert; they encourage dabbling and experimentation, but also build on knowledge, craft, and talent where you have, and if you have, it. Plus, it’s personal, because it’s the creative obsessions of Alexis and her team taking material form and being sent to you, so that you can have your own in whatever shape or form makes sense in your own life / practice. It's like an intimate dialog, that takes place over a year, one finely-curated package at a time. 

A few things we wanted to tell you

We have a few things going on that we're super excited about:

1. We've just announced our next day of programs: on June 12th we'll be over in Point Richmond for the day with potter Jered Nelson, poet Sarah Kobrinsky and friends, and artists Napoleon Dargan and Hugh Shurley. Details here on the website and over here at Eventbrite. We hope to see you there!

2. We just sent out our latest newsletter. If you are on the list, brilliant; if not, enjoy!

3. We're over on the Good Therapy Blog today with Claire's latest piece on why it matters to talk, and write, about our mental health.



Pajamas, pot and pie: our practitioners on creative rituals

Richmond-based poet Sarah Kobrinsky will be part of our Point Richmond pop-up on June 12th. She’s invited friends and fellow writers John Oliver Simon and Stacy Carlson to join her in facilitating an Open Classroom on the life span of creative rituals.  We think you’ll want to be part of the conversation – if you don’t believe us, just see what they said when we asked the trio to tell us a bit about their own current creative rituals:

“I write best first thing, anywhere between 5:30am & 7am. On an ideal day, I get up before my family, make coffee, light a candle, and set to work. Yes, in my pajamas. Coffee is a major part of my ritual. I boil water in an old battered kettle on an old Wedgewood stove, then pour it over fresh grounds into my cafetiere. I listen to music on my headphones so as not to wake said family. My go-to is The Brandenburg Concertos. It is a fail-proof way to get me going – mentally, creatively. And I work until my five year old wakes up, comes down the stairs, and blows out the candle. I write entirely by hand, and I am very attached to my notebooks.” -Sarah Kobrinsky, Poet (Point Richmond)

Sarah Kobrinsky writes in her pajamas

Sarah Kobrinsky writes in her pajamas

“I’m a morning person, so this process starts between 6 and 8 am. I generally eat a small sliver of medically prescribed marijuana, fill my tall mug with coyotes howling at the moon with strong coffee, and walk out to my bench in the garden which I have been tending for 40 years. I contemplate the plants: tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, kale, lettuce, collards, chard, and the herbs, echinacea, tarragon, comfrey, valerian, skullcap, feverfew, all-heal…always something that needs to be done in the garden, but now I’m looking for a poem. Or the poem is looking for me. I may do some breathing meditation. When an 11-syllable line comes through, I write it in my blue notebook, currently the 276th in a format going back four decades. The poem might start anywhere, be about anything (I’m not sure poems are ‘about’ anything). Once it begins, it will follow its own course. I write an unrhymeschemed hendecasyllabic sonnet. I’ve written hundreds of these. I read it aloud, make some changes. Each time it changes I say it aloud again. When this draft is finished, I go inside and type a second draft of the previous day’s poem on the old Sears typewriter I have on long-term loan from Sarah Kobrinsky. Then I go to the computer and type a third draft of the previous day’s second draft. I usually find some good energy remaining either for translation from the Spanish or working on a manuscript or sending poems out… it’s a whole cottage industry.” – John Oliver Simon, Poet (Berkeley)

John Oliver Simon practicing Grandpa's syllables

John Oliver Simon practicing Grandpa's syllables

“As a novelist, I create rituals that serve as portals into the deepwoods of my imagination – there lies the source material for my fictional worlds. Over the years my rituals have taken many forms, from Jungian dream work to book making, collage, and seance-type communions….and I've drawn from various traditions, including body awareness and shamanic practices, poetic mindfulness, vipassana meditation, and free writing. Over the years I've eliminated my need for ‘inspiration’ in order to write, but I rely on my arsenal of tiny rituals as tools of my craft.” – Stacy Carlson, Novelist (Oakland)

Stacy Carlson on a pie break

Stacy Carlson on a pie break



We've found our Medium

We love to write (you've probably noticed that already), so we've just started our Medium page. Here we'll talk about all those things that are currently on our minds, whether that's how to narrate the most important relationships in our lives, bring our private lives into our public spaces or find those individuals and organisations who are collectively focusing on why people matter.  We're just getting started, so please follow us, read us, connect with us here: Storefront on Medium.

Private Lives and Public Space, Posted by Kate Griffin

In 2011, I went home – a small town in Northern New England, close to the Canadian border – for the funeral of a close family friend. More than 300 people filled the pews and balcony of the congregational church (seriously!), there to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of someone we knew as family, friend, business associate, school or political or religious or cultural connection, neighbor, acquaintance.

Around the same time, I went to another funeral at an Episcopal church in San Carlos. My partner’s grandmother was the matriarch of a big, close-knit extended family, many of whom had traveled from across the country to be there – she was well-loved and cherished and had a good life. Yet there were only about 40 people in attendance, almost all of us related by blood or marriage.

The funeral I went to at home was a public event, the one I went to in metropolitan California, where I live now, a private one.

These funerals got me thinking about how, as human beings, we need public space in a really fundamental – and really personal – way. What seems like a gazillion years ago now, I went to grad school because I believe ideas are important (and as a poor kid from a rural area didn’t have a good understanding of career options)…but I ended up sitting in my dissertation defense explaining that I wasn’t going to be an academic. What I wanted from engagement with ideas wasn’t what academia traditionally “does.” I wanted a relationship to ideas that was public and personal,  where I could listen to a thoughtful eulogy about ordinary lives lived extraordinarily and hear people talk about personal anecdotes while also referencing big ideas – and reflect on their meaning in company. It’s in public spaces that the life of the mind and the life of the community meet: by sharing our lives and talking about ideas about our lives, we better understand ourselves and other people.

We’re going through (all of us humans) huge changes in our experiences of work, family, community, learning, nature, creativity, purpose – life. Doesn’t it make sense that the rather dim state of our collective psychological and emotional “wellness” (all those anti-depressants and therapy hours and the sheer pervasiveness of mental health conditions that touch all our lives but that we don’t talk about) is tied to the fact that we go through so much of what matters in our lives in private (or alone)?

Our individual anxieties, stresses, occasional run-ins with sadness and powerlessness, and bouts of self-doubt and self-blame aren’t just personal. They’re about the stuff that’s happening to all of us – right now. Which is why we need a new kind of space that is both public and personal.


Announcing Pop-Up Office Hours

We have a new program strand: Pop-Up Office Hours. Over May we’ll be prototyping one-on-one sessions with smart, creative and interesting people in great venues (cafes, co-working spaces, artist studios) around the Bay Area. Up first are some of our favorite people: artist and therapist Amber Cady, artist Hugh Shurley and finanseer Megan Lathrop. So if you have any unfinished creative business, how no idea how to balance your professional life with your creative one, or have been wondering what financial intelligence is, sign-up for a session. We've got you covered. 

Coming Next: Self-Shop Week at Impact Hub Oakland

Over the next few months our programs are going to be popping up around the Bay Area. We’ll still hold our Lessons, Practice Studios and Office Hours at Makeshift Society, but we’ll also be crossing town and the bay.

First stop is Impact Hub Oakland. We’re thrilled to be part of their first Self-Shop Week that starts this Saturday and runs through Friday 22nd. Self-Shop Week is a workshop series where people can pick and choose effective workshops in areas they’d like to best improve. Sessions are open to both Impact Hub Members and Non-Members (at different prices).

Storefront is presenting two programs as part of the week. We have Flynn Coleman giving Office Hours next Thursday with 50-minute one-on-one sessions at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, and 5pm. Flynn is an international human rights attorney, mindfulness and creativity teacher, author, TEDx speaker, Huffington Post writer, former competitive athlete, social entrepreneur and innovator, and founder and CEO. Her Office Hours will focus on how we can define success, and those metrics that we traditionally use to define what we want in our jobs and in our lives. Her approach draws widely on concepts from philosophy and psychology to business and history, literature and neuroscience to mindfulness and art, sociology, and political thought. You can reserve a session here!

We also have Ruth Whippman returning with her group Lesson on what it is that really makes us happy. Her forthcoming book The Pursuit of Happiness, and Why It’s Making Us Anxious is already much anticipated (and was recently featured in Newsweek’s nine books to make you think in 2016). She’ll take the research and learnings that went into it and reframe that in an engaging session that makes you question how you think about what happiness is and how to get it. Sign up here!

Hope you can join us for either/both programs over in beautiful Oakland, as Roman Mars like to say!

The new bit of New Year's resolutions - value setting?

Save money. Enjoy money. Make more of the day. Relax more. Be more fun. Take things more seriously. Do more socially. Take more time for yourself. Eat better. Eat less. Read more. Read better.

Activate and cancel subscriptions. Start a gym membership. Sign up for online courses. Join social media, take a break from social media. Clean out the closets.

It’s that week. When we set our intention for the year. We mull over resolutions, write them down, say them out loud or tweet/instagram/facebook them for all to see and to create some public accountability. Maybe there’s a new yoga practice, a new diet, a workout regimen - things to get you moving after seasonal inertia. Or maybe there’s a new job to get, a new career path, a professional life to get into shape.

We’ve made resolutions like that too. But we also started thinking that maybe we should resolve to work on who we are, figure out what’s important to us and why, and how that all lines up with what we do day in and day out. What if our resolutions were not just around setting goals, but really getting to know our values? So rather than simply balancing that checkbook, we resolved to figure out the underlying values we have around money. Rather than trying to find a mate, we focus on working out what we really think and feel about commitment and love. Instead of trying to shed pounds, we practice listening to our bodies and thinking about how that changes our expectations, our sense of self, and our goals for our physical selves.

We all need help to do things differently – and better. Which is why we go to personal trainers to help with fitness goals, meditation retreats to teach us mindfulness, life coaches to get us to a place where we can map out a career path and next steps. And that’s why we do what we do at Storefront Institute – we’re for the new bit of the resolution, where we value our emotional and psychological lives as much as our ability to touch the floor, do downward dog, or run that 5k. What if you began 2016 with what you think about something important in your life and why, what your values are, and how you might apply them to what you do everyday? Then see where that takes you.

Thanks for a great start!

We’ve just wrapped up our first season of programs - yay! Thanks to everyone who came by, our practitioners and participants, Jon Sueda of Stripe SF for the graphics, and Rena Tom and the team at Makeshift Society for making great hosts. There's lots more to come in 2016 -  check back soon for updates on more programs to help us with the practice of our lives!