What makes a house a home and a county a community? The following establishments, locales and activities give us a place to congregate and enjoy the company of fellow Marinites.


Started by Bill and Elaine Petrocelli in 1976, Book Passage, the Corte Madera bookstore and outright community institution, has possibly exceeded even its initial goals. Sure, the selection of books is impressive, but it is everything else the store does that puts it on top. A huge staff helps facilitate more than 700 author events a year — you heard that right — in every conceivable subject. The Martian author Andy Weir and HGTV stars the Property Brothers were recent crowd pleasers. And as if that isn’t enough, the store even gives you the tools to publish your own books with conferences and classes on writing, editing and the business of books.


There are very few parking lots that fill up before dawn, especially here in Marin, but Susan Hauser’s New Om World in Corte Madera changes all that starting at 6 a.m. As most of us are still sleeping, Hauser, famous for her rock ’n’ roll approach to yoga and/or Lori Holscher, who teaches a more traditional, shoes required, butt burner, pack the house. And for good reason — after walking in dronelike, carrying a rolled-up mat and possibly a coffee, the crowd leaves chatting, dripping sweat and ready for the day.


You’d be hard-pressed to find a more packed event calendar than the one at Gamescape North in San Rafael. Weekly gaming meet-ups range from Dungeons and Dragons (D&D for the initiated) to Magic the Gathering and include board game demos too, putting reclusive gamer stereotypes to rest. And that’s barely scratching the surface. With a focus on building community and expanding creativity, store owners Andre Sisneros and Darren Layne bring together a diverse group of people every night of the week for all kinds of conversation, inspiration and fun.


There’s a transit revolution taking place in Larkspur. Of course there’s the ferry, but this year marks three more earth-friendly additions: the newly completed bike-pedestrian bridge over East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the arrival of the New Wheel electric bike shop and the SMART train that’s due to start running at the end of the year. With all these alternatives in place, encouraging people to ditch the car has never been more enticing. Who knows, the lower traffic volume might even help convince those of us who haven’t yet made the switch.,


Every December since 1975, a group of people has been gathering in southern Marin to participate in the Marin Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count. The count, which is open to all and free, is a part of a larger census of birds in the Western Hemisphere and helps scientists track populations. So whether you’re an avid birder or are looking for a newholiday family tradition, check out this long-running one.

Standing O

We were saddened to learn that Once Around made its last lap as we were wrapping up the August issue. However, it was the perfect time for us to give Julie Stanton and her crew a well-deserved standing ovation for helping the community of Mill Valley (and beyond) to make Pinterest-worthy crafts for nearly a decade. The impressive stock of textiles, quirky doodads and art supplies was only a small part of why we loved this place. The true value came from the store’s ongoing papier-mâché, knitting or needlepoint classes. It was a place for kindred crafters to gather.

Up 'n' Over

Hitting both marks on the “oldie and goodie” designation, this century-old race is much more than a competition to see who can run from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach the fastest. Every second Sunday in June, more than 1,500 run the Dipsea (pictured below), dozens volunteer and hundreds wait at the finish line as longtime announcer Barry Spitz welcomes the finishers. You don’t have to be in any of these aforementioned categories to enjoy the fun — there’s always the joy of people-watching.

Take the Mic

We all have to start somewhere. These open mics offer anyone the chance to be a star for the night.

FENIX In San Rafael at the Pro Blues Jam, the Fenix Band pays tribute to a famous artist or genre. Guests are invited to join and can get a video of their performance for $25.

HOPMONK TAVERN Every single Wednesday, burgeoning performers head to HopMonk Novato’s Session Room and try to make it big. Artists get eight minutes max or two songs, whichever comes first.

PERI’S It’s only fair that this Fairfax bar known for nightly music performances gives the community a chance to show what they can do, and every Monday, it does.

SWEETWATER MUSIC HALL Austin de Lone hosts this open mic night most Mondays in Mill Valley. Contact the venue before 4 p.m. to sign up.