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News Briefs: Milk plaza design winner named

by Cynthia Laird

A design for Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro that features a "soapbox for many," where rallies and protests can be held, was selected by the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and the American Institute of Architects San Francisco as the winner of a competition for reimagining the dreary public space.

Perkins Eastman led the design team for the project, which is described as a large, open plaza at the Castro corner sitting at the foot of an amphitheater which steps upward, pointing toward Sutro Tower. The amphitheater is composed of a series of "stages" for seeing, hearing, and watching, connected by a series of ramps and benches for pausing and listening. Lighting treatment in the plaza also creates a permanent "candlelight vigil."

Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, has also been involved in the project. In an October 31 news release she said that the three finalists for the plaza received over 20,000 responses from 9,645 people who participated in a two-week survey in September.

"While each of the three finalists delivered wonderful concepts for the future plaza, what set the submission from Perkins Eastman apart was their bold, immersive idea; passion for Harvey's message; and willingness to iterate the design based on feedback during the competition process," Aiello said in the release.

In terms of next steps, the Friends group and Perkins Eastman will begin meeting this month to process information gathered and learned during the competition, and to continue development of the design proposal. Aiello said that like any project in its early stages, substantial changes to the design are expected based on more public feedback, technical, and engineering concerns. The Friends group plans for future meetings at various stages of design development.

Plans for the design competition started after the Friends group held community meetings in January. During the competition period, 33 entries were submitted from the Bay Area, Canada, Sweden, and one from Mobile, Alabama. A design jury whittled those down to the three finalists.

Perkins Eastman is based in San Francisco.

Book highlights lesbian activists
A launch party will be held Thursday (November 2) at El Rio, 3158 Mission Street, for Robin Lowey's new book, "Game Changers: Lesbians You Should Know About."

The event, from 5 to 8 p.m., will feature comedy by Monica Palacios, music with DJ Page Hodel, and guacamole by Eleanor Palacios. Several of the women featured in the book, including Kate Kendell, Jewelle Gomez, Franco Stevens, Kathy Belge, Crystal Jang, Bonnie J. Morris, and Mariah Hanson, will join Lowey in signing books that will be for sale.

Published by Epochalips Books, "Game Changers" was created as a resource for students as a result of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act, a California law that requires K-12 history and social science classes to include historical contributions of LGBT and disabled people. Lowey said the book is about lesbians who made significant contributions to LGBTQ culture over the past 30 years.

There is no cost to attend and the launch party is open to the public. To RSVP, visit For more information about the book, visit

Horizons offers update on LGBTQ movement
Horizons Foundation will give its annual state of the LGBTQ movement Wednesday, November 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Merrill Lynch, 555 California Street, eighth floor, in San Francisco.

The LGBTQ grantmaking and philanthropic organization's Q Series wraps up with a comprehensive analysis by community leaders, including Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force; Isa Noyola, deputy director of the Transgender Law Center; Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International; and Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. The moderator will be Horizons President Roger Doughty.

There is no cost to attend, but people should register online at or send their RSVP to A valid ID is required to enter the venue.

Project Inform to hold Evening of Hope
Project Inform will hold its annual Evening of Hope benefit Saturday, November 11 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Lodge at the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter Street (between Van Ness and Polk) in San Francisco.

The evening will include cocktails, food, music, education, comedy, and inspiration.

The agency will be featuring stories from around the country about the many ways in which Project Inform's leadership in the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics has touched and transformed people's lives.

Special guests include gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Comedian Casey Ley, Scott Wells and Dancers, Kitten on the Keys, aerialist Gemiah Kurzfeld, and Synchronicity Strings will perform.

Tickets are $200 and can be purchased online at

Nonprofits can apply for SFPOA grants
The San Francisco Police Officers Association has announced that local neighborhood nonprofits can apply for the next funding cycle of its Community Investment Grant.

The grant is awarded quarterly to a nonprofit to fund improvement projects that address the specific needs of the community, whether it's purchasing new sports equipment or supporting workforce development programs.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the awardee will be announced in December. To apply, visit


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