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SoMa’s New Filipino “Kapwa Gardens” Opens April 14

Once a parking lot, now an art & wellness pop-up and free garden for the community opens April 14
By - posted 3/30/2021 No Comment

SoMA’s brand new Filipino-inspired community space designed for social distancing, complete with a garden of Philippine calamansi fruit trees that are free for taking, is opening in April. 

Kapwa Gardens — a city-owned parking lot turned art & wellness pop-up and healing space for the community — will open to the public on April 14, 2021.

Please note the opening day is April 14, not April 13 as was originally listed. Also there are some pre-launch events that are intended specifically for invited guests and volunteers who helped build the gardens.

Kapwa Gardens
Opens April 14, 2021
Open Tue – Sun, 10a – 6pm
967 Mission St. btwn 5th and 6th St (SOMA Pilipinas)
San Francisco

Kapwa Gardens is the first public space in San Francisco designed with COVID-19 in mind to create a healing space for people to be outdoors and gather safely. The ambitious project is spearheaded by non-profit Kultivate Labs, in part to develop a commercial corridor for the SOMA Pilipinas cultural district.

Related Story: SF Parking Lot Becomes New Garden w/ Free Citrus Trees – 9/8/2020

By using social distancing as a foundation of design, Kapwa Gardens is intended to be a safe, restorative space from which the Filipino community can also economically benefit in light of COVID-19. With kapwa — a Filipino concept of a shared identity and interconnectedness  — at the heart of the project, the creators designed the pop-up to include murals by local Filipino/a/x artists, music, theater, citrus fruit trees for the public to enjoy, space for food vendors and other micro enterprises and a layout that seamlessly enables social distancing. Keeping in mind that COVID-19 has made performing in enclosed spaces prohibitive, the team is also designing a small, outdoor performance stage for Bindlestiff Studios, the only Filipino American black box theater in the country.

A Reflection of Covid Resiliency and Entrepreneurial Adaptation

Not only is Kapwa Gardens intended to be a safe space to gather during this pandemic, the space will also function as a Covid-19 testing site. Starting in April, every first and third Wednesday of the month, Kapwa Gardens will host free no-appointment necessary COVID testing & yoga for the local community courtesy of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health & Planning Department, the Latino Task Force, and United Playaz.

Republika Storefront Temporarily Pivots To Pop-up Artist Studios

With a partnership from SF-MTA, San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the MOHCD, the long-vacant retail space at Mission St and 5th parking garage that is to become Republika will turn into a pop-up artist studio, curated by cultural center Balay Kreative. Republika will then develop into a fully-fledged retail business incubator & cafe including an art gallery by Balay Kreative. Republika will accelerate the growth of dozens of new businesses in the cultural district while hosting the works of artists such as Ramon Abad and Cir Sayoc.

Kapwa Gardens: A Lush, Creative Oasis

Kapwa Gardens, a healing garden space filled with plants native to the San Bruno mountains, dragonfruit, and Philippine citrus fruits like the Calamansi tree, will involve community members and the public in a number of ways. Weekly programming, hosted by local businesses and figures, will cover self-care, wellness, and self-expression. For local artists, Kapwa will partner with Balay Kreative to host a Mural Residency. Bindlestiff Studio — the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American and Filipino artists — will have an outdoor performance space.

After 4 years of planning, the seeds of Kultivate Labs’ dream of a commercial corridor in SOMA Pilipinas are beginning to sprout. In the past year alone, over 300 volunteers from all over the Bay Area, as far as Bucktown and Antioch, have come to help build Kapwa Gardens. The team is still seeking volunteers to finish building the garden.

Learn more: Kapwa GardensRepublika | Volunteer Opportunities

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