Bold new experiments in social innovation launch this week

 In Community, Nonprofit Journalism

As the aphorism goes: “Out of adversity comes opportunity.”

It was Benjamin Franklin who said these words. In addition to being well known as a “founding father” of this country and an inventor, Franklin was a successful newspaper editor, printer, and merchant in Philadelphia, where he published Poor Richard’s Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Yet in the 21st century, the traditional newspaper business models of yesteryear that thrived on advertisement revenues no longer work. In the Bay Area, this is playing out with major layoffs of newsroom staff. maintains a running tally of layoffs and newspaper closures across the country.

It should come as no surprise that the San Francisco Chronicle’s shrinking operations have pushed the 145-year old newspaper to lease the first floor of its building at Mission and 5th Streets in the SoMA distirct, which has housed the Chronicle since 1924 (full history and timeline here).

Now, new groups of social entrepreneurs have moved into the space at 901 Mission Street, under lease with the Hearst Corporation, owners of The Chronicle.

Meanwhile, moving north across Market Street to 126 Post, another startup, The Bay Citizen, officially launches tomorrow to begin filling some of the gaps left by the Bay Area’s losses of high quality journalism, namely in depth coverage of civic and local news. They join a growing number of member-supported nonprofit ventures nationwide and other entrepreneurs and bloggers around the Bay. I list a few here and here. [Full disclosure: As a consultant I supported the launch of The Bay Citizen.]
The two organizations launching this week in San Francisco are completely unrelated, but both seek to innovate and experiment boldly.

The Bay Citizen celebrates tomorrow night, May 26, at the Great American Music Hall after their new website site goes live with its first news articles. The launch party is for founding members, and with a donation of $50 or more, they will list your name as a founder on their Web site permanently and give you two tickets to the launch event.

Then, on Thursday May 27, billed as a “radical collaboration” of innovators and social enterprises working to create social change, Hub SoMA celebrates in its new 8,600 square feet of work and event space for social entrepreneurs. The event is free for members and $10 for non-members.

Many might mistake The Hub for a nonprofit because its mission is built on social and environmental values. The global network with 22 locations from Stockholm to Oaxaca first opened doors in the United States in Berkeley’s David Brower Center in September 2009. The HUB SoMA constitutes the second in the Bay Area Hub network, which might expand to San Jose in the future. Members, referred to as “changemakers,” can work in any of the Hub’s worldwide locations.

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