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This week in civics: 826 Valencia’s 20th birthday bash, poetry for Haiti & gearing up for November 2022

826 Valencia's 2017 Block Party. | Courtesy of 826 Valencia

Valencia Street Block Party 

826 Valencia St. between 19th & 20th streets
Saturday, Aug. 27, 12 - 4 p.m. | Free

The literary imagination of 826 Valencia—a nonprofit youth writing center co-founded by acclaimed author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari—will spill onto the streets of the Mission on Saturday for its 20th-anniversary celebration. 

The birthday bash will happen on the block of the literary nonprofit’s nautically-themed writing center and “Pirate Supply Store,” where under-resourced students develop creative and expository writing skills. In addition to carnival games and giant board games like scrabble and Jenga, the event will showcase the work of student writers participating in readings throughout the day. 

826 Valencia celebrates its 20th anniversary with readings by its student authors. | Courtesy of 826 Valencia

“It’s very powerful to see students onstage sharing their writing and being applauded and recognized for that,” Maya Makker, Communications Manager at 826 Valencia, said in an interview. “A big part of our mission is amplifying these young people’s voices and giving them platforms to do that. We think everyone should hear what they have to say.” 

The readings will predominantly feature elementary and middle schoolers, but 826 Valencia serves student writers at every stage of their school journey, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The readings will include a mix of poetry, nonfiction and speculative fiction that touch on futuristic themes. 

826 Valencia helps student writers build confidence by developing their creative and expository writing skills. | Courtesy of 826 Valencia

The heart of 826 Valencia is the writing center, an imaginative and whimsical space where student writers can tap into their creativity aboard a pirate ship. The space on Valencia Street, which birthed youth writing centers across the nation as part of Eggers’ 826 National, doubles as a “Pirate Supply Store” selling nautical novelties and student-penned publications to benefit 826’s free writing programs.

In the last school year alone, 826 Valencia published 33 books written by students, some of which were as long as 300 pages. These books will be available for purchase on Saturday, and many of the young authors will be holding book signings at the event. 

826 Valencia will celebrate its 20th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. | Courtesy of 826 Valencia

826 Valencia is dedicated to helping students develop confidence in their own voices as writers. In addition to programming around genres like poetry and speculative fiction, the nonprofit also offers a range of expository writing opportunities such as college prep writing and letter writing to politicians. The confidence, leadership and communication skills that former students developed at 826 Valencia have propelled them into a variety of career paths—from becoming SF public school teachers to lawyers to professional writers. 

Makker credits the thousands of talented student writers and the broader community for sustaining 826 Valencia over the last 20 years. 

“We want to celebrate today but also imagine what tomorrow might look like,” she said. “Because these are the people who will be creating the future.”  

— Blue Fay

Monday, Aug. 22

Housing Action Team Monthly Meeting 

Excelsior Works, 5000 Mission St.
6 - 8:30 p.m. | Free

Guided by their mission to organize local Latino families, ¡PODER! is an organization grounded in the belief of giving power to the people to make the difference they want to see. In a city facing growing housing, health and social inequities, the organization hopes to boost democracy and economic resiliency. As a part of their work, ¡PODER! is hosting its monthly Housing Action Team Meeting. The meeting will discuss efforts to reclaim land, build a voice for working people and promote housing justice. (LM)

Tuesday, Aug. 23

Gaming the End of the World

Manny’s, 3092 16th St.
6 - 7 p.m. | $5 - $10

Are you a big fan of video games such as Fallout: New Vegas or The Last of Us, where players have to complete missions in a world falling apart or escape from zombies and monsters? Post-apocalyptic games provide players with an immersive experience in an imaginary future, but how do these these games impact players and society? Join an evening talk with Dr. Emma Fraser and Dr. Ian Kivelin Davis on the role of video games in society and what it means to game in imagined ruined worlds. (JT) 

Wednesday, Aug. 24 

Week to Week Fall Election 2022

The Commonwealth Club of California, 110 The Embarcadero
6 p.m. | $10 - $20

With less than three months until November, Commonwealth Club is having an in-person and virtual discussion about the big ticket issues this election cycle and what will drive voters to the polls. Join Los Angeles Times political columnist Mark Z. Barabak, San Jose State Emeritus Political Science Professor Larry Gerston, and political journalist Carla Marinucci in a discussion about whether Republicans could gain full control of the legislature or if Democrats will keep their hold on the Senate. (GL)

Thursday, Aug. 25 

Creating a Climate of Justice 

Manny’s, 3092 16th St.
6 - 7 p.m. | $5 - $10

Manny’s hosts a conversation with Marvin Brown, leader of the Climate of Justice Project, about his 2021 book, A Climate of Justice: An Ethical Foundation for Environmentalism. In the book, Brown discusses the racial and environmental barriers to creating a sustainable future and how our social climate perpetuates systemic inequities. Visit the Climate of Justice Project website to obtain a free e-copy of his book in either PDF or EPUB format before the talk. (GL)

Friday, Aug. 26

Women and Non-Binary Bike SF Friday Morning Ride

McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan St.
7:15 - 8:45 a.m. |  Free

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hosts a bike ride for women and non-binary people to socialize. | Courtesy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

The early bird gets the worm, and the best way to start your weekend may be with an early bike ride around the Sunset, Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway. Every two weeks the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hosts a paced-out bike ride for women and non-binary people to socialize between legs of the ride. The group will meet at 7:15 a.m. at McLaren Lodge. Bring your bike, a helmet, a snack and maybe even a sweater because Karl the Fog seems to love to hang out around the Sunset and Richmond districts. (YM)

Saturday, Aug. 27

First Annual American Indian Cultural District Activation 

1979 Mission Street Parking Lot
Aug. 27 & 28, 11  a.m. - 3:00 p.m. |  Free

Founded in 2020, the American Indian Cultural District (AICD) will host its first annual activation in the Mission District. AICD’s goal is to create a space to empower Native voices and increase Native visibility in the city. The two-day family-friendly event features Native comedian Jackie Keliiaa and cultural performances. There will be opportunities to learn about Native arts, culture and health as well as support Native businesses and vendors. (YM)  

Poetry for Haiti Benefit

3 - 5 p.m. | Free; donations encouraged

San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin reads for a virtual benefit for Haiti on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

If you’re looking to support the country of Haiti and you have a love of poetry, check out this event held by the Haiti Action Committee. This virtual event features readings by some talented Bay Area poets, including San Francisco poet laureates devorah major and Tongo Eisen-Martin joined by poet-playwright Avotcja, singer-songwriter and organizer Francisco Herrera and poet Shanga Labossiere. An open mic follows. Donations will go toward the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund and support sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.  (XL)

Sunday, Aug. 28

ItsQwere’s Back Outside Brunch! 

Manny’s, 3092 16th St.
2 - 4 p.m. | Free

ItsQwere, a community of multidimensional and diverse queer folks, is holding its first in-person event since the pandemic. Kick off Sunday Funday with a DJ playing the best ’90s music, a delicious brunch and fresh drinks. ItsQwere holds events that uplift Black and Brown queer folks and explores their experiences, culture and relationships to media representation. (XL)

Blue Fay, Yeily Mendez, Lisa Moreno, Garrett Leahy, Jiyun Tsai and Ximena Loeza contributed additional reporting for this story.

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