Developing Environments – History
In the late nineteen sixties, a small group of artists, inspired by a flourishing but already full San Francisco artist building on Howard Street called Project One, began seeking an affordable space in which they could live and make work. They discovered a vacant three story warehouse at the corner of Alabama and Mariposa Streets that they could transform into an artist community. They moved in, created make-shift studios divided by improvised cloth barriers and tents. The community was dubbed “Project Two” or “P2”, but the name was eventually changed to “Developing Environments” or “DE”.
The landlord, Ken Royce, soon became aware of their presence in his building and chose to help them rather than evict them. With his advice and assistance, they were able to obtain a low-interest loan to finance sheet rock walls, electrical wiring, plumbing, lighting, and the installation of a sprinkler system. They sledge-hammered openings in the external walls to create ample windows and an Alabama Street entrance. In 1972, they brought the building up to code, obtained a long lease, organized an internal system of self governance based on consensus, and formalized their structure as a legal Artist live/work community.
Over the years, they have undergone major building improvements to meet city zoning and safety codes, lease renewals, and a steady shifting and growing of their membership. In 2002, the community celebrated its 30th anniversary and was honored with a resolution of commendation from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors congratulating them on their longevity. 2012 marks the community’s 40th anniversary, and the building continues to thrive.
The Developing Environments community encompasses a broad range of backgrounds and creative practices. Painters, sculptors, print makers, sound artists, graphic designers, computer artists, dancers, photograhers, circus and theater artists occupy its thirty-six studios. Through the resourcefulness of its members, Developing Environments continues to provide affordable housing and studio space for active, working artists.