Commotion West Berkeley
Perhaps you’ve noticed the "Welcome to West Berkeley" mural by the railroad tracks just off of Gilman Street, or the "Teach Youth The Truth" mural on the side of Metro Lighting, featuring the faces of seven educators and social activists twelve-feet-tall. Those and other public art projects were sponsored by Commotion West Berkeley, a private crowd-funding group with a unique mission. Commotion supports projects that foster pride of place, buzz, excitement, fun, quirkiness, and design. They sponsor community-centered events that bring people together to celebrate all that is unique about West Berkeley – the history, industry, arts, people, and nature. It is hyper-local in focus and impact.
The Commotion model can be summed up in the following statement: “We have some money. What would you like to have happen in our community? Submit an idea, and if we like it, we’ll fund it!"
Since organizing in 2019, Commotion has funded 3 murals, a set of pop-up performance events, community gardens and portable planters, a sustainable fashion show, and more.
"It’s so satisfying to be a part of a group that brings art, events, and whimsy to our neighborhood. For the price of a sweatshirt, I feel like a philanthropist of fun."
- Scott McGlashan, McGlashan Architecture, Commotion member
Virginia and Wayne Jeronimus
Commotion members pledge monthly contributions, then periodically announce a Request for Proposals (RFP), an open invitation to the community to submit creative ideas for the group to fund.
This idea isn’t new; Commotion founder Lawrence Grown was inspired by a similar group organized outside of Cincinnati, Ohio by his friend Jim Guthrie. Jim’s group has funded dozens of fun events anonymously in Covington, Kentucky over a number of years.
In a similar model, called SOUP, people are invited to a large dinner gathering and pay for a simple meal – usually soup, hence the name. During the event, a handful of folks present their project ideas and answer questions. By the end of the night, votes are counted and the recipients take home what was raised. They come back to a future SOUP event to present their outcomes.
Commotion West Berkeley is supported by 501c3 non-profit One Future Arts Alliance (OFAA.) Join today as a supporting member and you can decide on future grant recipients. Or start a Commotion in your own community! OFAA is available to help you set it up. Visit the website for details.
"Public art can lift people up when they are feeling down, or offer a break from the daily routine. Some days it's just nice to know that someone cared enough about your experience to create something for you to enjoy."
-Lawrence Grown, Commotion founder
Teach Youth The Truth
On the side of Metro Lighting
Features the likenesses of seven educators/social activists including Yuri Kochiyaman, Dennis Banks, Howard Zinn,
Beatriz Levya-Cutler, Juana Alicia, KRS-1, and Sylvia Mendez.
Designed and painted by Pancho Pescador, Deredwrk, Irine Shiori, and KiliMunoz.
"In the summer of 2020 my friends and I were painting almost daily in protest of police brutality, but many pieces were temporary. Working with CWB we were able to paint a large scale and more permanent message. In these days when Florida and other fascist leaders are banning books, knowledge is power, and communication through wall drawing is one of the oldest forms of communication."
-Shawn Gibson, aka Deredwrk, grant recipient
Welcome to West Berkeley
On the side of SHOH Gallery facing the railroad tracks along Gilman Street
Features West Berkeley Iconography.
Designed and painted by Nigel Sussman.
"It has been so rewarding to make monthly donations that grow into beautiful art projects around West Berkeley, while
also supporting local artists."
- Joe Cordes , Commotion member
Songs While You Wait
Pop-up performances by young artists, singing to pandemic lines outside West Berkeley establishments Mi Tierra,
BPG Dispensary, Tokyo Fish Market, and Acme Bread Co.
Produced by Anaiz Azul. Performers: Yaadi Erica, Mazin Jamal, Tafia Nia, Yiann.
“The musicians expressed joy and gratitude for opportunities to perform live in a time where everyone needed to be
masked and/or outdoors. We helped create a musical balm for our collective grief while standing in pandemic lines.”
- Anaís Azul, artist, grant recipient
Community Garden planters for West Berkeley Horizon Transitional Village on Grayson, with Rebuilding Together East Bay North.
Six freestanding 4ft x 8ft Community Garden planters were built for residents to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
"There is no better example of 'think globally, act locally' than Commotion West Berkeley."
- JW Frye, RTEBN, grant recipient
Bancroft Community Garden irrigation system materials
Materials for the vegetable garden drip irrigation system.
"We are very grateful for the grant, which allowed us to rebuild and expand drip irrigation in our vegetable farm. Since then our output has tripled! This greatly helps our mission to provide organic, fresh picked, free produce to local residents in need, while saving water."
- Steve Moros, Bancroft Community Garden, grant recipient
Styling The Future: BHS Student-Run Sustainable Fashion Show
Student designers assembled and fabricated outfits for their models from used and thrifted materials.
A show was held at Ciel Creative Space in West Berkeley, along with live music and other arts.
Jeronimus Alley mural and community guidelines
Berkeley Path Wanderers Association and Youth Spirit Artworks teamed up with Commotion to create a mural in Jeronimus Alley, first
surveying adjacent residents to determine community preferences for this and future mural content: local plants, animals, and history.
This mural includes images of Ohlone people, along with a coyote, quail, great egret, hummingbird, crow, blue jay, and deer.
"This project encouraged me to learn more about the Ohlone people and the history of West Berkeley. It also introduced me to wonderful people who I would have not met otherwise, especially the local muralists who do so much to beautify our city."
-Tamara Gurin, Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, grant recipient