Alternative Grants Takes Root in San Francisco


Alternative is committed to being a change agent in its local communities, believing in the ability to make a positive impact, inspire and empower individuals, and to be creative and playful in the process. Through Alternative Grants, our ongoing program designed to support grassroots community improvement projects, we seek to spread and nurture these values by engaging with those working to create a better future.

With the opening of our new Hayes Valley store in San Francisco, ground zero for innovation through technology, we enlisted the help of local social entrepreneur Mike Del Ponte of Soma Water to find new thinkers working in the field of sustainability in design and technology. Five finalists were selected with thought-leading ideas covering public art in the form of sculptural bike racks, vertical farming for urban dwellers, personal water consumption monitoring, a redesign of a reusable coffee cup and 3D printing for clothing.

Voting was opened to the public to select a winner to receive a one-year membership with TechShop San Francisco, residency classes and $1,000 to support the creation of a product prototype. This second installment of Alternative Grants culminated in a celebration at our Hayes Valley store, with all finalists presenting their proposals to a packed house following introductions from our own Erik Joule and Alternative Grants Ambassador Mike Del Ponte.

That evening, the final votes were cast and tallied and we are proud to announce Aaron Rowley of electroloom, a concept for a 3D printer for clothing, as our second Alternative Grants recipient. Aaron’s idea won the hearts and minds of those in attendance and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for electroloom.

Thank you to all who came out to support our finalists and welcome Alternative to the city. The evening was filled with inspiring ideas, good conversation and a palpable positive energy all in the setting of our newly opened SF outpost. We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this vibrant community.

Please be sure to join us for more events in the future, including the Hayes Valley store’s official grand opening party January 15th (more details to come soon).







Written by Rachel Maniago

Photos by Matthew Reamer

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