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News Briefs: AIDS grove to launch virtual 50-state quilt exhibition

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The National AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed on the Ellipse of the White House in 1988. Photo: Courtesy National AIDS Memorial Grove
The National AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed on the Ellipse of the White House in 1988. Photo: Courtesy National AIDS Memorial Grove  

The National AIDS Memorial Grove, which took over stewardship of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt last year, is set to launch a 50-state virtual exhibition of it in conjunction with World AIDS Day December 1.

The exhibit will feature more than 10,000 panels representing all 50 states and U.S. territories. Interested panelmakers, individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations can be part of this historic effort, according to a news release from the grove.

Each year on World AIDS Day, the quilt team works with hundreds of partners to arrange more than 1,000 in-person displays across the country at universities, schools, places of worship, museums, businesses, and community centers. Due to the pandemic, that won't be possible this year, officials said.

"World AIDS Day is taking on new meaning this year, as COVID-19 has brought an enormous loss of life and grief to millions of people," stated John Cunningham, executive director of the grove. "During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the quilt was a source of immense comfort, inspiration, and used as a tool for social activism to open the eyes of the nation to injustice and to help survivors grieve and heal.

"Through this exhibition, we hope the power and beauty of the quilt can serve that same purpose for those who are experiencing loss and grief due to COVID-19," he added.

The virtual exhibition provides a unique way for individuals and organizations to host a display of the quilt. Each host will be able to feature a selection of quilt blocks of their choice and curate a personalized display narrative that will accompany it.

The exhibition will be free to the public, with a soft launch November 16 at www.aidsmemorial.org/virtual2020

Displays will be categorized by state under the individual or organization host name. It will run through March 31.

Display hosts have until November 1 to apply. The fee to be a host is $500. Proceeds from the exhibition will be used to ensure the continued care and conservation of more than 40,000 individual panels of the quilt, which are housed in a specially configured warehouse near the Oakland International Airport.

Interested hosts can go to http://www.aidsmemorial.org/2020virtual, where it has a sign up form/email for Brian Holman (bholman@aidsmemorial.org). They can also see a sample of what the pages will look like.

SF nonprofits can reserve drug store window for 2021
San Francisco LGBTQ nonprofits can now reserve window space at the Castro Walgreens to promote their agencies in 2021.

Since 2001, Walgreens at 18th and Castro streets has generously offered its window, which enjoys an abundance of foot traffic on Castro Street, to nonprofits serving the San Francisco LGBTQ community for free.

OurTownSF.com, a reference guide to over 300 San Francisco LGBTQ nonprofit service agencies, arts, and athletic groups, oversees the initiative and offers 13-day reservations to these groups. The only caveats to the window displays are nothing pornographic, political, or provocative.

Organizers noted that past experience demonstrates that displays with eye-catching artistic creativity attract the most attention of passersby. Groups are encouraged to promote themselves, the services they offer, and their upcoming major events.

Interested organizations can contact Gary Poe, OurTownSF's window reservation coordinator, at window@ourtownsf.org to be notified of open reservation dates for 2021. The reservation coordinator prioritizes reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.

SF health center gets quake grant
San Francisco's Castro-Mission Health Center will receive a $1.6 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to protect its patients, staff, and facilities in the event of an earthquake.

According to a news release from FEMA, outdated building materials left the health center with a brittle, inflexible foundation vulnerable to seismic forces. Apart from the addition of an elevator, it has undergone no structural alterations, modifications, or additions since construction in 1964, the release stated.

The grant money will help modernize the health center with reinforced concrete walls and new foundations, which will significantly reduce lateral sway, minimizing damage to the structure and its contents. A new fire alarm system will also be installed to prevent the common threat of gas and electrical fires after earthquakes.

The $2.1 million project at 3850 17th Street includes the $1.6 million from FEMA; the remainder will come from non-federal sources.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a January story, the health center is one of three San Francisco clinics that were slated for interior renovation work this year. It closed to patients in 2019. The work done by the city includes additional exam and consultation rooms. When the pandemic started, the center was the site of referral-only testing for the novel coronavirus.

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