Bolinas locals open new commons space

David Briggs
COMMONS: Members of the newly created Bolinas Commons cleaned up their space at 22 Brighton Avenue prior to a dream analysis group with Mimi Calpestri on Tuesday morning. The collective's 24 members share the cost of rent. Classes are now posted on a window.   

A new community-oriented, multi-purpose space dubbed the Bolinas Commons has opened off Brighton Avenue in Bolinas, occupying the storefront that formerly housed the variety shop Uniquities. Funded by more than 20 residents, the Bolinas Commons has been billed as a more intimate alternative to—though by no means a replacement of—the town’s community center. The smaller size allows for a looser, more spontaneous setting for artists, teachers and other interested folks to participate in a communal gathering space. “We all come from creative backgrounds and have brought really great ideas for utilizing the space,” said Shabnam Azadeh, who has lived in Bolinas for over a year. “For myself, it’s about having just a creative space.” Ms. Azadeh, who works as a creative marketing consultant, envisions the commons becoming a hub for a much-needed network of Bolinas residents, such as her friend who is interested in using the space as a retail popup spot to sell her quiches. Cleared of Uniquities’ shelves of knick-knacks and unique Lego stations, the commons building recently hosted a meeting of the Bolinas Community Action Network that was attended by nearly 50 people—a “packed house,” said another funder, Melinda Stone. She said the building’s relatively cheap rent makes it an ideal space for the kind of collective investment that’s happening now, and she hopes that the space will be self-funded in the future by taking a percentage of revenue earned from outdoor food popups. Currently, funders have each chipped in $40 a month to cover rent since taking over the building in early February. “We consider ourselves a startup,” said Ms. Stone, a four-year resident of Bolinas and filmmaker who teaches at the University of San Francisco. “It’s about saving an important place for the community.” On Saturday, Mark Lakeman, the founder of the Oregon-based nonprofit City Repair Project, will host a talk on creating community-generated and human-centric spaces. The talk takes place at the Bolinas Commons on Saturday at 5 p.m. $10 suggested donation.