The equinox has come and the days are getting shorter, but there is more going on than ever in our delightful neighborhood.

Plan your weekend with our lovingly assembled jumble of art shows, social events, and opportunities to flex your civic-engagement muscles. And if there are any goings-on we have missed, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Gray Area Festival starts tonight

Image from Gray Area.

Arts nonprofit Gray Area is launching its eighth annual arts festival tonight at the Grand Theater, 2665 Mission St.

The festival brings together dozens of artists and creators across three days of events, documentaries and exhibitions. They are all loosely connected by the theme of art as an “early warning system” for society and the intersection of art and tech.

You can get in from 4:30 p.m. today, with a documentary about the artist group YACHT creating music alongside artificial intelligence. At 8 p.m., you can attend the festival’s opening party free of charge.

Tickets for the whole festival cost between $150 and $250. However, you can buy tickets for individual events, in person or online, if that’s too pricey. A full schedule and more information can be found on the Gray Area festival website.

Valencia Shared Street is back

Starting tomorrow, Valencia Street is once again closing to cars on the weekend.

Only pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders will be able to romp along Valencia between 16th to 17th streets and 18th to 21st streets at these times:

  • 4–10 p.m. on Fridays
  • 1–10 p.m. on Saturdays

The Shared Spaces initiative was initially halted in July due to concerns from the fire department. But the Valencia Corridor Merchants’ Association has agreed to staff some blocks in case emergency vehicles need access, and permits have been issued once more.

The weekend closures will last at least through October and may be extended for longer.

Feedback on the Valencia bike lane proposal

Image from the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Until the end of the day Friday, the Municipal Transportation Agency will be accepting feedback on its plans to add a bicycle lane into the middle of Valencia street from 15th to 24th streets.

The pilot program is expected to run for 18 months. It is intended to make travel along the road safer, and expands on changes made to the northern end of the street in 2019.

You can explore the proposed changes using the extremely snazzy visualizations on the SFMTA website. You can use the Valencia feedback form to have your say on the plans.

Symposium on Culture & Language Justice

Image from Brava For Women In The Arts.

This Saturday, Bay Area community members, leaders, and advocates will be gathering to discuss collaboration across languages.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen will be on the panel alongside leaders from local businesses and nonprofits. Rumor has it the event will include food and music as well.

The symposium will take place at the Brava Theater from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Attendance is free but spaces are limited, so reserve your spot on the Brava website.

Mission arts in support of Iranian women

Image from Red Poppy Art House.

On Saturday, the Mission Arts Performance Project is dedicating three hours of music to Iranian women who have been fighting for their rights and against police brutality.

Starting at 7 p.m. at the Red Poppy Art House, several local musicians will be playing in solidarity with the protestors and in the memory of slain Iranian Mahsa Amini.

The performance will be free. You can find out more on the Red Poppy Art House website.

Caturday at Dolores Park

Image created from photos by Dan Dennis and Raoul Droog via Unsplash.

This Saturday, cats of all dispositions are cordially invited to congregate at Dolores Park.

Every first Saturday of the month, cat owners meet up at the park to walk their cats and meet like-minded feline enthusiasts. Expect cats on leashes, cats in strollers, and perhaps even free-range cats gamboling in the grass.

You can find out more and invite your friends on the Caturday Facebook page.

Phone banking at Manny’s

Image from Manny’s.

Manny’s is starting up a phone bank in support of pro-equality candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, with the aim of “flipping red seats to blue right here in California.”

Starting this Sunday and running every week until the mid-terms, the phone bank will take place from noon until 2 p.m. Volunteers are asked to bring a laptop and phone if possible. Experience is not necessary, as scripts and training will be provided.

You can find out more about the campaign on Manny’s event page.

Visit the newly restored Japanese pagoda

Image from Baris Selcen via Unsplash.

On Wednesday, the Japanese pagoda in Golden Gate Park was unveiled following its $1.1 million restoration.

The restoration involved replacing rotten wood, reshingling the roof, and adorning the building with traditional bells for the first time in a century. A second phase of repairs to the rest of the Japanese tea garden is expected to finish by fall of 2023.

San Francisco residents, veterans, and children under five can all visit the pagoda for free. For everyone else, tickets cost between $3 and $25 on the tea garden website.

Education center receives funding for meals

Associated Students, a nonprofit group with the San Francisco State University, received federal funding for its Early Childhood Education Center this week. The new money will pay for meals for students and their children.

The center aims to help student parents get a college degree by providing their children with “high-quality, convenient and affordable childcare.” The center is open year-round from Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can find out more about the Early Childhood Education Center on their website.

500 Capp Street benefit auction

The David Ireland House at 500 Capp St. is hosting an online auction until Oct. 14.

Proceeds from the auction will be split between the artists, each of whom is offered up to 50 percent commission, and the house, which celebrates David Ireland’s artwork and the life he made in the Mission.

The auction will be capped by an in-person “Benefit Auction Party” on October 13. More information can be found on the 500 Capp Street website.

Bilingual toddlers’ storytime

Image from the San Francisco Public Library.

Next Thursday, the San Francisco Public Library is hosting a storytelling morning for English- and Spanish-speaking toddlers at Garfield Square Park.

The half-hour session starts at 10:15 a.m., and will be tailored for kids from 16 months to 2 years. The storytelling will be free, and there are places for up to 50 toddlers to sing songs, read books, and move around.

Take a look at the Public Library website to find out more.

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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