EFF New Digs

Yesterday evening I went along to the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s new building for the Fall 2011 Speakeasy, which was an excuse to show off their new location, and share the plans for what they will be doing. It’s a building along Mission Street, which used to be a bridal shop, and the top floor was what can only be described as an “independent specialist film studio”, complete with built-in jacuzzi, some form of platform bed with power and network connections, and glass-brick shower. There was a couple of kegs, buffet snacks, and a tour of the place, complete with basement under the sidewalk with those glass bricks to let in light that you see when you walk above. Couple of mysterious structures as well, like the chute from the sidewalk (probably for deliveries), and the steep wooden steps which led up to the ceiling. There was also that old covered well, but we were told not to open that, no matter what we heard.

Saw my friend Rebecca, EFF’s Media Relations Director, and fellow East Bay resident, and we got talking to a journalist from the Bay Citizen, who said he used to write about the issues EFF is concerned about, but now writes about public tranportation. He was very interested to see my California High-Speed Rail lapel pin, so I had to be careful about what I said – joking, he was very nice, very pro-rail, and keen to see it succeed.

I don’t read paper newspapers, but having checked it out, the Bay Citizen turns out to be a “nonprofit, nonpartisan, member-supported news organization dedicated to promoting innovation in journalism”. I’ll add it to my feeds and make sure I keep up with stuff.

If will be great for EFF to have their own place – they rent at the moment, and they’re running out of space. I compare it to the situation we had with the Carlton Dramatic Society, where we had to book rooms in the community centre to rehearse in, rent the theatre for huge amounts, get in and out of the theatre in a short time, rent a garage lockup for costumes, and generally scrape together everything. Compare that to other groups which had their own space, with rehearsal, storage, and even simple performance spaces – it makes the life of a group so much easier.

There will be particular challenges for the remodelling (apart from getting the stains out and painting over the exotic murals). Because of the large amnount of legal advice given by the group, there will have to be many small offices to allow the lawyers to talk to clients in private. There will also be open work spaces and all the usual modern work features, as well as (hopefully) a light well in the center.

Work is going to take at least a year, and lots of money of course. The reason they need new digs is because they are growing, and the reason they are growing is that they are needed more than ever. So donate! Become a member! See you at the next Speakeasy!