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Tech workers in San Francisco plan to create a square-mile downtown ‘commune’ that allows people to ‘live, eat and work’ all within a 15-minute walk

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Tech workers in San Francisco have planned to create a downtown ‘commune’ that will allow people to ‘live, eat and work’ all within a 15-minute walk. 

Set to be launched on May 11, City Campus, a nonprofit, plans to create a one-square-mile ‘campus’ in the Hayes, Alamo and Duboce neighborhoods. The exact location of City Campus has not yet been established. 

According to the nonprofit’s website, the goals of the new urban space is for people to ‘find and pursue you life’s work, meet inspiring collaborators, live near friends, raise kids in community, do focused work and engage in civic and social life.’ 

The plan was created by four ‘community builders’, Patricia Mou, Thomas Schulz, Jason Benn and Adi Melamed. 

‘The synergy of bumping into people that are working on or doing the same stuff creates this very positive cycle,’ Schulz told the San Francisco Chronicle

Set to be launched on May 11, City Campus, a nonprofit, plans to create a ‘campus’ in the neighborhoods of Hayes, Alamo and Duboce. (pictured: a futuristic picture of the planned space) 

The location of City Campus is set in the center of San Francisco, near the infamous Painted Ladies houses, and just outside of the drug-infested Tenderloin District

The location of City Campus is set in the center of San Francisco, near the infamous Painted Ladies houses, and just outside of the drug-infested Tenderloin District

‘A campus is a place where you can find really incredibly meaningful work and relationships all within one highly walkable area.’ 

The location of City Campus is expected to be in the center of San Francisco, near the infamous Painted Ladies houses, and just outside of the drug-infested Tenderloin District. 

The progressive Tenderloin downtown district, once known for its rich cultural history, trendy restaurants, galleries, museums, and nightlife, has deteriorated as homelessness and drug use ramp up in the Democratic-led city.

‘The city is in need of help,’ Schulz said. 

Financially, the group has asked people to donate $750,000 to help create City Campus. The funds will cover investments every six months for two years, plus a 20 percent overhead fee. 

A GoFundMe page called ‘Help us Launch the City Campus Fund’ was created to accept donations. As of Tuesday evening, $380 has been raised. 

‘The City Campus fund exists to bring this vision to life. It exists because community spaces are harder to start than traditional commercial spaces, given the long time horizons it takes to nurture true community,’ the manifesto read. 

Some of the places expected to make up the utopia-like community are communal cafeterias, late-night cafes, civic spaces, debate halls, community experiences, ‘pluralistic and secular spiritual spaces,’ ‘multi-purpose co-working spaces,’ and ‘mixed-use daycares,’ 

‘It’s finding everything you need and everyone you love within a 15 minute walk.’ Benn said.  

Patricia Mou, one of the four founders of City Campus, also founded The Commons, a 'members-only co-working space and social club'

Patricia Mou, one of the four founders of City Campus, also founded The Commons, a ‘members-only co-working space and social club’

Ali Melamed is another founder involved in City Campus is also the other co-founder of The Commons

Ali Melamed is another founder involved in City Campus is also the other co-founder of The Commons 

The City Campus project has also set out to solve the issues of the city’s ‘current social infrastructure,’ and help residents with their ‘belonging, emotional resonance, and safety,’ according to the manifesto. 

‘Many of us are missing deep relationships, feel siloed in our interactions, dampened in our self-expression, stalled in our journey of self-unfoldment, and lack a heart connection to our physical surroundings.’

‘Fortunately, we have an opportunity to create more connection and vibrancy for our city.’ 

Futuristic pictures of what the campus will look like included many people playing in a large park, an abundance of greenery and families enjoying outdoor space. 

Setha Low, an anthropologist and the director of the Public Space Research Group at the City University of New York told the San Francisco Chronicle that a group coming together to build a better community is not a new development. 

‘What seems to be happening is people really want to “stay in San Francisco,” but they want to exit society,’ Low said. 

‘They don’t want to have to deal with the complexity, the differences, the poverty, the needs, the caring for others that was always part of urban culture.’ 

‘They want to escape. They want their own currency, their own culture, their own people. And they wanted it to look like Disneyland.’  

On the official launch day of the utopia-esc community, the founders have planned a ‘City Campus Launch Party.’ 

People who are interested iinliving in the campus have to get on a list, and during the festivities, the group plans to share their ‘vision’ and gather a group of individuals who are ‘the most earnest and optimistic people in SF.’ 

The third community builder involved in the plan is Jason Benn. He is also the founder of the Neighborhood and will run City Campus Real Estate

The third community builder involved in the plan is Jason Benn. He is also the founder of the Neighborhood and will run City Campus Real Estate

Thomas Schulz, the fourth founder of City Campus. He is also the founder of Solaris, an infrastructure-building business

Thomas Schulz, the fourth founder of City Campus. He is also the founder of Solaris, an infrastructure-building business

The Commons, a ‘members-only co-working space and social club’ on 550 and 540 Laguna Street, was founded by Mou and is a ‘fourth place dedicated to meaning-making and self-expression in community.’ 

Mou’s organization is one of three ‘community builders’ that have come together to create the City Campus. Melamed is the other co-founder of The Commons. 

‘The Commons is a community space rekindling thoughtful dialogue, playful curiosity, & community, in the heart of SF. We’re building a multi-purpose space in Hayes Valley featuring a co-working cafe, communal library, event space, and a meditation studio,’ the page said. 

Schulz is the founder of Solaris, an infrastructure-building business. He has built houses, private housing directory and AI startups. 

‘I believe we have a chance this century to live drastically better than previous generations of mankind,’ Schulz said on his website. 

The third community builder involved in the plan is Jason Benn. He is also the founder of the Neighborhood, a real estate organization established in 2021. 

He runs City Campus Real Estate, which donates 10 percent of realtors back to City Campus, according to the site. 

Benn said the difference between other groups coming together to create new communities and City Campus, is that others are about ‘exit,’ while they are about ‘loyalty.’ 

‘Mostly, I see those projects fail. And, actually, one of the great insights of our project is, when you try and make a place that everyone already wants to live in even better, then you don’t have that cold-start problem — and you have all your favorite people already bought in,’ he said. 

Another 'utopian city' was proposed in Northern California known as 'California Forever' in Solano County, which lies around 60 miles northeast of San Francisco

Another ‘utopian city’ was proposed in Northern California known as ‘California Forever’ in Solano County, which lies around 60 miles northeast of San Francisco

Images shared by the group showed rolling landscapes with families enjoying a picnic amongst a cluster of trees, while youngsters are seen cycling

Images shared by the group showed rolling landscapes with families enjoying a picnic amongst a cluster of trees, while youngsters are seen cycling

Another ‘utopian city’ was proposed in Northern California known as ‘California Forever’ in Solano County, which lies around 60 miles northeast of San Francisco.

An ad, launched in March, promised to create ‘walkable, middle class neighborhoods that we can afford’, as well as add a new security zone for nearby Travis Air Force Base. 

It featured people identified as Solano County locals who ask questions like ‘where would this city be built?’ and ‘what is it going to mean for Solano County?’ 

The advertisement also promised $400million in down payment assistance for residents and 15,000 new jobs with ‘good pay in manufacturing and tech’. 

Images shared by the group showed rolling landscapes with families enjoying a picnic amongst a cluster of trees, while youngsters are seen cycling. 

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