Beloved Mutual Aid Hub Omni Commons Launches Fundraiser to Save its Oakland Home

Omni Commons is calling upon community members to help save its building in the rapidly gentrifying Temescal district. Communally operated by a grassroots collective, the multi-purpose space functions as a community center, event venue, mutual aid hub, free food distribution network, unhoused drop-in center, movement space, hackerspace, and citizen science lab.Omni Commons has reached crunch time in its private mortgage on the building; it must raise $900,000 by December 1, otherwise the building may be foreclosed upon, causing more than 10 collectives to lose the place they call home. The collective has launched a GoFundMe to raise the amount.

Since 2014, Omni Commons has served as a meeting place for collectives such as Acta Non Verba, an urban farming initiative led by women of color; Counter Culture Labs, one of the world’s oldest community biotech labs; East Bay Food Not Bombs, which recovers vegan food to serve hundreds of people every day; and Sudo Room, which provides wifi to encampments of unhoused folks and refurbishes and distributes hardware. A nonprofit owns the building and each member collective is represented by a board member. Governance happens at delegate assemblies, where decisions are made by consensus.

During the pandemic, the Omni became a vital community fridge and mutual aid hub. Meanwhile, the organization’s finances were severely impacted due to the suspension of in-person events and tenants’ inability to pay dues.

“There’s so many amazing people, grassroots projects, and mutual aid groups around here, but so few places for them to work, because of inflated land prices and very few legal protections for non-residential spaces,” said Yardena Cohen, one of Omni’s many co-founders. “If we raise enough money, we can keep these resources around for another decade and
another century.”

Cohen encourages supporters to donate, visit, or host an event at Omni Commons, which is located at 4799 Shattuck Ave. GoFundMe donations from 290 community members have already raised $25,000. On November 4, the collective will hold a fundraising party featuring local artists and vendors. Further updates will be announced on the collective’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. More information about how to visit or host an event at Omni Commons can be found on the collective’s website.

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