Innovative entrepreneurship and art celebrated in Downtown San Jose by OED programs

Showcasing the diversity of programs and initiatives that OED manages, a event on a Friday night in December saw crowds of dignitaries, performers, entrepreneurs and bystanders gathering in the Hammer Theatre Plaza for a joint inauguration – the launch of Eastside-Grown Street Food Hub and the welcome to San Jose of two new artworks shared by the Burning Man Project, HaHa and XO, all in the context of Downtown holiday festivities.

The Eastside-Grown program is a pilot project for activating public spaces through street vending while helping individual vendors pursue economic resiliency.  The vendor program is being implemented by local agricultural/food not-for-profit, Veggielution,  with stylish carts selling hot and cold food and beverages, in a setting that includes seating and cozy blankets.

Mayor Liccardo and Cayce Hill of Veggielution were joined by representatives of other City Council offices and staff members in launching the Street Food Hub.

City of San Jose Director of Cultural Affairs, Kerry Adams Hapner opened the celebration of the Burning Man Project art works by artist Laura Klimpton, at the feet of the towering HaHa metal sculpture in the Plaza. While music played and festively costumed performers danced, she introduced Klimpton, the artist responsible for HaHa in the Hammer Theatre Plaza and XO in City Hall Plaza. The loan of these two pieces is part of the City’s partnership with the Burning Man Project, which brought us Sonic Runway last year, and Tara Mechanica and Ursa Mater during the summer.

While many attendees had come specifically for the inaugurations, others who were visiting Christmas in the Park, Winter Wonderland, or Downtown Ice events also came by to see the excitement. It is rare for three of OED’s functional divisions to share a celebration, and the event was a great opportunity for Office of Cultural Affairs, work2future and Business Development to share a moment in the context of a lively, celebratory activation of one of Downtown’s most iconic plazas, and it was a great kickoff for the holiday season.