The Village Launches Impact Program With 'Farm To Fork' Event

The Village, the private events space at 969 Market St., has something almost every nonprofit organization in the city needs: space. One year after the company's launch, its nonprofit arm, The Village Impacts, is preparing to share The Village's 17,000 square feet with community organizations that need it.

Uday Joshi, the director of The Village Impacts, is a fellow at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and a former commissioner of cultural affairs for the City of Oakland. He's focused his career on the juxtaposition of the arts and social action, and what the two mean for young people, he said.

He's known Jonathan Rowe, founder of The Village and Madrone Studios, for the past 15 years, he said. So when Rowe began building The Village, which is housed in a quickly gentrifying area just outside of one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, he reached out to Joshi regarding the space's potential as a community arts center, when not in use for corporate clients.

After many conversations, they decided to use the space to foster creative cultures, communities and collaborations. Their mission is "purposely vague," Joshi said, because they're still inventing the organization and surveying the community's nonprofits and arts organizations to identify their most pressing needs.

However, they don't need any surveys to tell them that their number-one asset is their space. The innovative technologies Madrone Studios uses to help its corporate clients tell their stories could also be gamechangers for local nonprofits. "Media is a powerful tool, and it can be used to impact the world in a way that's positive," Joshi said.

The Village's 5,000-square-foot third floor, waiting to be transformed for an event.

While Joshi and his team continue to work out how to most effectively bring in the surrounding community, they're also preparing for the nonprofit's first major event: Farm to Fork SF. To be held next Saturday, August 29th, the event is designed to educate people on where the food on their plates comes from and where their leftovers go once they're thrown out, Joshi said.

During the day, the public is invited to a free food sustainability exhibition. A variety of local, sustainable food and beverage producers will be on hand to provide interactive demonstrations and free tastings. 

Guests can also purchase tickets ($35) to attend an afternoon conference, with more than 20 speakers, including nonprofit organizers, activists, artists and musicians. Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Ron Finley, the "gangsta gardener" who's turning abandoned lots in South Central, Los Angeles, into lush edible gardens for the community. 

Other speakers will include Zen Buddhist teacher Paul Discoe; Mariela Cedeño, a director of social enterprise at Oakland co-op grocery Mandela Foods; and Julio Aguilera, chef of the space's upcoming The Village Cafe, who will offer samples from his menu, debuting this fall. 

As the nonprofit arm of an entertainment venue, all events hosted by The Village Impacts will combine education and entertainment value, Joshi said., a rapper with Dead Prez and founder of the RBG Fit Club, will speak at the afternoon session and perform at an evening concert, also featuring AshEl Seasunz and Mobando. (Conference admission includes a ticket to the concert; for those just interested in the concert, tickets are also being offered separately for $21.) 

Farm to Fork is a first in a series of events focused on "The Elements." Future events will examine issues like the drought, energy conservation and air pollution, and how social communities, the arts, innovation and media can combine to effect policy change.

But first and foremost, The Village Impacts aims to meet the needs of fellow nonprofits in the area, Joshi said. So anyone with an idea for a creative, social-driven use for their 17,000 square feet should get in touch. "We'll figure it out together," Joshi said.

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The village launches impact program with farm to fork event