Speak up for a people-first San Jose

communities / Article

June 20, 2018 by Daniel Harris


Veggielution First Friday. Photo by Danny Harris on Twitter.

In San José, Knight seeks to create one of the nation’s most engaged cities. We seek to place people at the center of the city’s present and future. From walkable and bikeable neighborhoods to more user-friendly design of city services to building vibrant public spaces for all, Knight’s work aims to help San Joseans fall in love with and work in support of their city every day.

To advance these efforts, Knight is launching Speak Up San José, a yearlong initiative that invites all residents for conversation and action to advance our city’s future. Specifically, the foundation is committing $150,000 to fifteen community groups to host 28 events over the coming twelve months. From community dinners to street parties to salons, each event is conceived by local organizations, community groups and neighborhood know-it-alls to advance locally relevant issues. Most importantly, every event is free, open to the public and/or engages a diverse group of individuals, and built around a specific action point.

In bringing together San José’s diverse residents, Knight seeks to create more opportunities for San Joseans to feel a sense of attachment to place. In Knight’s 2010 Soul of the Community Report, only 27.1 percent of San Joseans described feeling “attached” to San José. Working together with our partners, we aim to provide residents more opportunity to connect with each other, experience new neighborhoods and support a more informed and engaged populace.  

And, as Knight recognizes both our and our partner’s limitations on hosting a truly citywide conversation, we are pleased to offer $6,000 for up to twelve additional events hosted by the community. Should you be an individual or organization interested in gathering San Joseans in support of a big idea, hopeful action or neighborhood gathering, please fill out this form.

We look forward to gathering with you across this wonderful city in support of San José’s vibrant, engaged and people-obsessed future.

Past Speak Up San José events:

Walk San José

Future Proof: Conversations on the future of mobility in San José 

(June 28, July 26, August 23, September 27, 2018 happy hour talks)

San José Institute of Contemporary Art (SJICA)

On Your Left: Bike Boogie 

(August 4, 2018 street festival)

The Tech Museum of San Jose

Supporting our City: Exploring the role of cultural institutions in San Jose’s environmental sustainability  

(August 15, 2018 dinner)


Building Community 101: No one can know everything, but everyone can share something  

(September 5, November 7, 2018 and January 31, March 6, 2019 forums)

Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site

San José Underground and Beyond 

(September 21 interactive installations and conversations)

African American Community Services Agency

Gumbo Discussion: Truth about ideas and action needed in to maintain and build our future city

(September 23 block party)


DIY Design: Drawing the future of public space in San José

(September 25, 2018 PechaKucha/hands-on design event)

Red, White & Blue Charity

Roundtable community discussions 

(September 26 shared meal and conversation)

The School of Arts and Culture at MHP (SOAC) in partnership with Somos Mayfair 

Cafécito – Coffee, Community, and Conversation 

(September 27, October 25 and November 29, 2018 coffee gatherings)


Down the Eaten Path: Inclusivity and empowerment through street eats

(October 11, 2018 dinner)

San José Museum of Art (SJMA)

Pecha Kucha Night: Mobility San José 2040

(October 18, 2018 PechaKucha event)


Ballots and Brews Voter Party 

(October 30 discussion and party)

Chopsticks Alley

Protecting the Veins of San Jose: Keeping our creeks free of trash by 2040

(December 13, 2018 panel discussion & luncheon)

Works/San Jose

How Do You Feel in San Jose? 

(January exhibit) 

[email protected]

Affordable Housing Utopia in 2040: Is it possible?

(January 18, 2019 PechaKucha happy hour)

The Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the San Jose Public Library

Speak Up San José Digital Equity Community Roundtable

(January 31, 2019 roundtable discussion)


Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian: 13 Tips for Successful Community Advocacy

(February 7, 2019 interactive presentation)

Japanese American Museum 

Day of Remembrance: Radio Discussion & Community Art Project 

(February 17, 2019 Day of Remembrance discussion and art event)


A New Civic Imagination for San José: A dinner and conversation with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

(February 27, 2019 dinner)

Exhibition District

Perspective: Seeing and Understanding The Other Side

(March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17, 2019 talks)


Community Gathering

(March 2019 street food style event and talk)

Bay Area Creatives Klub

San José Day: What does San José mean to you? 

(April 8, 2019 street festival) 


Neighborhood Eats: Saturday suppers to discover and elevate the best food in East San José

(April 13, May 11, June 29, 2019 dinners)

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

Can Art Change San José’s Local Water Consciousness?

(May 5, 2019 salon conversation)

Content Magazine

The Gathering: People from various parts of the community and life stages, networking, informing and inspiring one another 

(May 23, 2019 salon dinner)

Neighborhood Eats: Saturday suppers to discover and elevate the best food in East San José
(June 29, 2019 dinner)

Additionally, Knight will be offering monthly mini-grants of $500 to individuals and organizations for community conversation ideas. Apply here.

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