Tuesday, July 2, 2024

BollyBE: Uniting Communities and Overcoming Barriers through Dance

There are so many excellent resources, events, and free classes offered by San Jose libraries. I'm starting to take advantage of them myself with a toddler running around. 

Below we have a guest post from Anusha Upadhyayula. The library played a crucial role in shaping her identity as an Indian American. Inspired by all of the great multicultural events local libraries host, the author founded BollyBE, a community-driven initiative that uses Bollywood dance to promote cultural understanding and inclusivity. BollyBE workshops at the Morgan Hill Library have been well-received, with attendees praising the multicultural environment and the fun, easy-to-follow dance routines. Anusha's goal is to spread the joy of Bollywood dance and create a welcoming space for all to learn and celebrate South Asian culture, aiming to break down cultural barriers and promote inclusivity.

You can sign up your kids for free classes hosted by BollyBE over here. Even if you are not interested in dance, it's a great story that showcases one of the many benefits of living in a diverse city.

BollyBE: Uniting Communities and Overcoming Barriers through Dance

The cozy book-lined walls of the library and the memories of the time I spent there attending “Family Time” story sessions and “Mommy & Me” dances are forever etched in my mind. The library helped expand my boundaries as I participated in Lunar New Year and other cultural events and learnt about cultures of the world. Slowly, as I grew older, my sense of identity became increasingly complex. As an Indian American, I struggled with which part of that word I resonated with more closely. Should I embrace my Indian heritage? Or should I be just American? The lack of representation of my South Asian heritage in my community made me feel that it was an insignificant part of who I was. That’s when I fell in love with Bollywood music and dance.

When we listen to a song, regardless of the language, the human body naturally responds, whether it’s tapping feet or swaying to the rhythm. Rhythm, music, and dance transcend language barriers and cultural divides. They possess a unique power to convey entire stories without the need to understand the words themselves. Through Bollywood dance and music, with its soulful melodies and energetic beats, I discovered a way to connect with my heritage. Bollywood movies played a significant role in this discovery, as they seamlessly intertwined dance and music with cultural storytelling. Attending Indian weddings and community events further deepened my love for Bollywood dance, as I witnessed how dance and music were not only integral to the culture of South Asia but also to the community. 

Inspired by the key role dance and music play within a culture and a community and eager to share my own South Asian culture with the rest of the world, I founded BollyBE. From there, it only felt fitting to give back to the library community and share a piece of my own identity in the place that played such a key role in developing it throughout the years. BollyBE is not just about teaching dance steps; it’s about creating a welcoming space where people of all backgrounds can come together, learn, and celebrate South Asian culture.

When I first taught a beginners’ garba routine (a dance style from the state of Gujarat in India), many attendees were eager to delve into the complexities and historical roots of the dance, highlighting the appreciation people have for South Asian art forms and cultural representation. The overwhelming love and enthusiasm for our workshops, especially at the Morgan Hill Library, is a testament to the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere we strive to create at BollyBE. Durdana, who attended one of our Bollywood dance classes, shared her experience, highlighting the unique and multicultural nature of our events: “I attended Anusha’s Bollywood dance class in Morgan Hill, CA. My friends and I had decided to go because we thought it might be fun. We are Pakistani, so we are very familiar with Bollywood music and dance. It was very interesting to see a very diverse group of people turn up for the dance class - not just Indian/Pakistanis. Everyone had a lot of fun, and I think it was great as a multicultural immersion event.”

BollyBE not only provides a platform for cultural immersion but also offers a free and enjoyable way to incorporate physical exercise into people’s routines. Dance experience doesn’t matter at BollyBE; it’s easy for beginners, and participants are encouraged to have fun while dancing. This inclusive approach was highlighted by Kiran R., who attended a BollyBE workshop at the Morgan Hill library with three friends. Kiran shared, “We had a blast. It was fun, great music, easy steps (for women with not so great hearing and body coordination). Anusha broke down the steps and made them easy to follow and didn’t mind the giggles we dissolved into while laughing at ourselves. She is a fantastic teacher, can’t wait to take another class with her.”

As I continue teaching in different library branches across Santa Clara County, my goal is to spread the joy of Bollywood dance and create a welcoming space for all to learn and celebrate South Asian culture together. Through BollyBE, I aim to break down cultural barriers and promote inclusivity. I believe that by sharing the beauty of Bollywood dance, we can inspire people to embrace and celebrate their own cultural identities while appreciating the richness of other cultures. In this way, BollyBE is not just a dance initiative; it’s a cultural movement, bringing people together through the universal language of dance.

-Anusha Upadhyayula

Monday, July 1, 2024

New renders of a slightly downsized Gateway Tower in SoFA

A tower proposed for the edge of Downtown San Jose in the artsy SoFA District has new renders. It's appropriately called the Gateway Tower as it will welcome visitors and residents to the Downtown area. The latest render has been reduced from 20 floors to 15. It still looks fantastic with different facades on each side and even incorporates some of the the historic buildings on the ground floor into the project.

The tower will have a total of 220 units, which now appear to have been allocated to affordable housing. Originally the Gateway Tower was supposed to contain luxury apartments, but they have likely been converted to make approvals and financing easier. If you want luxury, The Fay is just down the street. There will also be 3,800 SQFT of retail along the ground floor.

One exciting aspect of the project is that there will be a small plaza and area for live performances, which jives really well with the character of the SoFA District. The area is known for art festivals and live music.

Another interesting twist is that it will include a historical exhibit to commemorate the career of "Doc" Herrold, who was the first entertainment radio broadcaster (yes, from San Jose). This will pass on some of the legacy of the Herrold College that used to sit on this site.

There is still no ETA for construction, but hopefully they will be able to break ground as soon as possible.

Source: SiliconValley.com

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Scott's Seafood is expanding to a banquet space on 4th Street in Downtown San Jose

Scott's Seafood is one of my favorite restaurants Downtown. However, I still do miss it's old location that was on top of the City Plaza parking structure, overlooking Plaza de Cesar Chavez. It was one of just two places Downtown where you could enjoy an elevated view with your meal, the other being The Capital Club--which is not easy to get into.

Fortunately, Scott's is expanding to the roof of another parking structure. The space was previously used by the San Jose Rotary on top of the 4th Street Parking structure. Now it is called the Fourth Street Summit Center and will be managed by Scott's Seafood. It's located at 88 S 4th Street on the 7th floor.

The ballroom has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, two open-air balconies, and a variety of spaces. Indoor capacity is a whopping 450 people. Unfortunately it will only be used only for events, not everyday dining.

You can learn more about the space over here.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

New Costco mixed-use concept adds residential housing

Costco already sells everything else in bulk, why not add apartments to the list and help out with our housing crisis? That is exactly what they are doing in LA (Baldwin Village/Crenshaw area in South LA).

The new concept combines a 185,000 SQFT Costco Wholesale store with 800 residential units, 184 of which are set aside for low-income renters. The units are all contained in a five-story mid-rise building on top of the Costco along with amenities like a basketball court, lounge areas, and multiple courtyards. To make it as affordable as possible, the apartments are on the smaller side and are mostly prefabricated and installed in modules like Legos.

The parking for both the Costco and the residential units are all underground across multiple levels. In fact, they will dig almost as deep as the building is tall. The project also happens to be close to transit, although that might not be the best option if you are purchasing bulk items.

What is relevant for San Jose is they plan to roll out this concept outside of LA in the near future. San Joseans love their Costco's and we are about to get our first one with parking on the roof so that it can fit in a more urban area (West San Jose). So the question is, would this mixed-use concept make sense in San Jose? It could be a relatively quick way to add large amounts of housing by remodeling existing locations or as part of future Costco projects in Silicon Valley.

Source: SF GATE

Friday, June 28, 2024

Exciting new restaurant coming to Downtown San Jose's 50 West San Fernando building

The owners of Waterbar and Epic Steak in SF and Hurrica in Redwood City are going to build a new 4,000 SQFT restaurant on the ground-floor of 50 W. San Fernando. This was previously the location of KQED offices. Instead, this prime corner in between the San Jose Museum of Art and the Signia Hotel (formerly Fairmont San Jose) is going to become a new flagship restaurant.

There is not a lot of information yet on the restaurant but we do know it will offer lunch, happy hour with specialty cocktails, and dinner. The source article also mentions that it will be an indoor outdoor concept, which is perfect for San Jose weather. That likely means that the windows will be replaced with glass doors that fully open and the outdoor seating will open up to the Circle of Palms. This area also happens to be used for the ice skating rink during Christmas in the Park, so it will be interesting to see how the restaurant will function during the holidays.

The building used to have a coffee shop called Crema using part of this space, but I think it will be much better suited for an upscale full-service restaurant. The building also hosts the Capital Club on the 17th floor, which has a private restaurant and two large outdoor balconies. It's also the only restaurant on top of a high-rise in San Jose and anyone will be able to check it out during Dine Downtown Restaurant Week (more on that soon).

Thursday, June 27, 2024

New mural by the Children's Discovery Museum in Downtown San Jose painted by acclaimed local tattoo artist

A beautiful new mural has been completed along Discovery Meadow, part of the Guadalupe River Park. As a frame of reference this is right outside the Children's Discovery Museum Downtown. The artist is Taki "Ryudaibori" Kitamura, a Japanese-American tattoo artist that founded State of Grace Tattoo in San Jose's Japantown.

The mural is entitled "Serpentine Fire" and is the twelfth mural added to the Guadalupe River Art Walk, enhancing what has become the Bay Area's longest public art corridor. The mural celebrates the year of the dragon and the multiculturalism of San Jose.

Below are several photos of the mural (credit to Lan Nguyen Photography) along with the full press release.

June 21, 2024: San José, CA – New mural painted by local artist and longtime tattoo shop owner celebrates the unifying significance of dragons and serpents across cultures. San Jose Walls (SJ Walls) and Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC) unveil the new mural along the Guadalupe River Park at Discovery Meadow, adjacent to the Children’s Discovery Museum in downtown San José. Entitled “Serpentine Fire,” the new installation is the twelfth mural artwork added to the Guadalupe River Art Walk, enhancing the Bay Area’s longest public art corridor.

This year’s Artist-in-Residence is Taki "Ryudaibori" Kitamura, an acclaimed Japanese-American Tattoo artist, who in 2002 founded the shop, State of Grace Tattoo, currently located in Japantown. Kitamura’s shop serves as a regional home for traditional Japanese tattooing, connecting resident artists trained in Japan and those from the Bay Area to deepen the art of tattooing through exchange, apprenticeship, and collaboration.

“To celebrate this lunar year of the dragon and the multiculturalism of San José, Serpentine Fire represents dragon mythology around the world,” says Kitamura. “With this mural, I am expressing the diversity of serpent divinity and sacred spaces - the dragon and serpent have been symbolic in cultures all over the world and in this, I see our common humanity.” The mural depicts various scenes where the public may interact with the artwork.

The new artwork and public engagement is supported by the City of San José to increase park visitation and usage in the Guadalupe River Park. The mural was curated in response to feedback from the Guadalupe Washington and Gardner neighborhoods just south of San José’s downtown core, favoring themes around community and diversity.

“Art has the ability to welcome people to a space. Growing up in San José, I believed there was a missed opportunity for public art to highlight our rich diversity,” says Natasha Lamperti, GRPC’s Project Manager. “I am so excited to see how future visitors will react to the mural.”

“The goal of the Guadalupe River Art Walk is to envision the Guadalupe River Park as a natural public art gallery and community gathering space” says Stacey Kellogg, San Jose Walls Director. “It has been five years and over a dozen installations since we started and the changes to the trail and park are really rewarding to see.” 

Mural painting will continue through Friday, June 21st and is accessible now to the public. 

Additional support for this year’s artist residency is provided by Applied Materials Foundation and World Wide Walls. For more information and ways to support, please visit https://sjwalls.com/donate.


About Artist-in-Residence Taki "Ryudaibori" Kitamura:

Taki “Ryudaibori”Kitamura is an acclaimed Japanese-American tattoo artist local to San Jose.

State of Grace Tattoo was founded by Taki “Ryudaibori” Kitamura in September of 2002. Originally located on Berryessa Road, Taki moved the shop to the San José Japantown neighborhood in 2009. With the support of the Dobashi Family, State of Grace reopened the second floor of the historic Shanghai Building. While definitely seen as a home of traditional Japanese tattooing, including two resident artists straight from Japan, the diverse staff strives to offer an authentic experience for the discerning collector. In addition to a full time tattoo schedule, the shop has been involved in publishing, museum exhibitions, lectures, art shows, murals and Horitomo’s lifestyle brand: Monmon Cats. 

For more information about State of Grace Tattoo visit stateofgracetattoo.com. You can find Taki on instagram at @stateofgracetaki.

About San Jose Walls:

San Jose Walls (formally POW! WOW! San Jose), established in 2017, is Northern California’s regional branch of the Worldwide Walls network of festivals happening in over 20 cities  around the world. Led locally by Empire Seven Studios —a contemporary urban art gallery and cultural institution in Japantown, San José, California.

Over the past six years, San Jose Walls has grown into the Bay Area’s premiere art festival with a line up and experience that provides some of the best in the world. Much more than a multi-day festival, San Jose Walls is an amenity with substantial economic and community impact. It is also a vehicle to celebrate our city’s  past, present, and future creative culture.

To date, San Jose Walls has produced over 80 murals and art installations throughout the City with a focus on underserved neighborhoods and most recently, the Guadalupe River Park and Trails. The goal is to strengthen community ties by bringing local and worldwide contemporary art to our City as a way  to highlight its rich diversity.


For more information on SJ Walls contact info@sjwalls.com or visit www.sjwalls.com.

About GRPC:

The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC) provides community leadership for the development and active use of the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens through education, advocacy, and stewardship.

Founded in 1996, GRPC is the City of San José’s nonprofit partner leading park programming and management. They envision the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens as a civic greenway that connects people to nature and each other, and uplifts neighborhoods through San José’s front yard.

This two-and-a-half mile ribbon of parkland runs along the banks of the Guadalupe River in the heart of downtown San José. The River Park & Gardens serve as a north/south connector and contain beloved features such as the Guadalupe River Trail, the Rotary PlayGarden, the San José Heritage Rose Garden, and various public art including the Guadalupe River Art Walk.

Programming within the park includes educational opportunities, volunteerism, and a variety of year-round events for the public to enjoy. For more information visit www.grpg.org.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Rendering of a 21-story office building at 50 W. Santa Clara street in Downtown San Jose

The render below is a massing diagram for a proposed 21-story building called "The Clayton." It comes in at almost a quarter million SQFT (242,000 SQFT to be exact) and is nestled in Lightston Alley and Santa Clara Street. Currently there is a two-story building at this site with City Bagels, HotWorx, and Fuji Restaurant on the ground floor.

Today might not be the best time for new office tower developments, but we will have to build more office space again eventually. The proposed project will be sitting on top of a future BART station and the development timeline would actually be tied to BART being completed. Unfortunately that means 2037. Still having a new high-rise right on Santa Clara Street that is not residential is an exciting prospect to look forward to.

For companies looking for office space today, there are many opportunities including the shiny new 200 Park building by Plaza de Cesar Chavez that is roughly one million SQFT. 

Source: San Jose Spotlight

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

TMC Community Capital is setting up shop in Downtown San Jose

TMC Community Capital is moving into their Downtown San Jose office at 44 S. 1st Street. on July 1st. The company specializes in providing affordable microloans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to underserved entrepreneurs. 

I love both their backstory and their mission. Have a look at the full press release below:

San Jose, CA TMC Community Capital is proud to announce the grand opening of its new office in Downtown San Jose, marking a significant milestone in the nonprofit microlender’s mission to advocate for financial justice among marginalized communities in California.

TMC Community Capital is a provider of affordable loans, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, with a mission to support and serve various entrepreneurs, particularly women-owned, low-income, and under-resourced small businesses in California.

TMC Community Capital is not just a financial lifeline; it is a beacon of empowerment. Through tailored financing options, the organization provides vital capital necessary for businesses to grow, create jobs, and make lasting contributions to the local economy. By fostering a culture of knowledge-sharing, TMC Community Capital empowers entrepreneurs to navigate the challenges of business ownership and achieve sustainable growth.

The City of San Jose is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, but local entrepreneurs often face significant challenges. With extensive experience working with hundreds of small businesses in the area, TMC Community Capital is making it clear that they are here to open doors for local entrepreneurs.

At an early age, Daniel Fernandez and his family would wake up early to help his grandmother sell home goods at Berryessa and Capitol Flea Markets. His mother worked night shifts at the Oakland Post Office processing plant and sold handmade apparel on the side to subsist as a single mother to three boys. These experiences instilled in Daniel a deep understanding of the critical role entrepreneurship and informal work play in his community. This personal history fuels his dedication to TMC Community Capital's mission.

"We are thrilled to expand our presence in San Jose, a vibrant and diverse city with immense entrepreneurial potential." said Daniel Fernandez, CEO of TMC Community Capital. "Our new office will enable us to provide even more targeted support to small business owners who are often overlooked by traditional lenders. We are here to ensure that they have the resources and guidance they need to thrive."

TMC Community Capital’s impact is undeniable. To date, the organization has lent more than $7.3 million, served over half the counties in California, created more than $4 million in additional wage earnings, and generated over $14 million in local economic impact. In 2023 alone, 82% of their loans went to entrepreneurs of color, with more than half of their loan volume supporting women-owned businesses.

TMC Community Capital will officially move into its new San Jose office on July 1st. This new chapter in San Jose underscores the organization’s continued commitment to opening doors and creating opportunities for small business owners throughout California.

For more information about TMC Community Capital and their services, please visit tmccommunitycapital.org

About TMC Community Capital: 

TMC Community Capital is transforming the landscape of microfinance by addressing unmet needs and meeting small businesses where they are. As a nonprofit microlender, TMC Community Capital is dedicated to leveling the financial playing field and empowering women-owned, low-income, and under-resourced small businesses in California. By driving financial equity, bridging the digital divide, and delivering an outstanding user experience, TMC Community Capital ensures these businesses have the resources they need to thrive.

TMC Community Capital's mission is clear: to build a world where every entrepreneur, regardless of their background or circumstances, has equal access to capital and opportunities. The organization firmly believes that every individual deserves a chance to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in their communities.

As a CDFI-approved microlender, TMC Community Capital is committed to breaking down financial barriers and fueling innovation. Through tailored financing options, the organization provides vital capital necessary for businesses to grow, create jobs, and make lasting contributions to the local economy. By fostering a culture of knowledge-sharing, TMC Community Capital empowers entrepreneurs to navigate the challenges of business ownership and achieve sustainable growth.