An unpermitted “Human Be-In” at Golden Gate Park this weekend will take aim at The City’s practice of drawing revenue from private corporate-sponsored events in public spaces.
The event’s title takes its inspiration from San Francisco’s hippie counterculture be-ins of the late 1960s. But instead of rallying around poet Allen Ginsberg as a spiritual guide, these modern-day revelers will be raging against the practices of Phil Ginsburg, the head of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department.
A group called Space TranSFormers — which will present bands, DJs, small-scale agriculture workshops and herbal-healing instruction starting Friday — are miffed at Rec and Park on several fronts, including its facilitation of the financially successful annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, the eviction fight over a recycling center and plant nursery at Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Triangle, and what they call “misuse” of funds as the department seeks a $195 million bond for improvements on the November ballot.
“This is a big tradition in San Francisco — people gathering freely to share music and discussions,” said Ryan Rising, one of the event’s organizers. “We feel like it’s kind of fading away.”
Rising said the event will attempt to “re-skill” attendees in the art of self-reliance in a society that encourages consumerism as the basis for survival.
“We will be thinking about how to grow our own food, heal each other with herbal medicines, build natural structures,” Rising said. ‘This is about reaching a permanent relationship of balance with the earth.”
The Be-In group also takes issue with the second straight year of cancellation for the Power to the Peaceful event headlined by Michael Franti and Spearhead. It had been organized by a management company that said in August it had to drop the once-free soiree due to “city fees which have ballooned our operating costs.”
Rec and Park did not respond to requests for a response about this weekend’s unsanctioned event. The department has drawn similar criticism from some of The City’s progressive politicians and neighborhood groups, which are taking a largely unprecedented stance against the parks bond.
Rising said organizers are aware of the possibility of an effort to shut down the festival, but he’s confident that it isn’t likely.
“We think it will be a thought on the authorities’ minds,” Rising said. “But there is a history here, so we’re not anticipating a reaction.”