Farewell, Civana House

Lucian Tarnowski
5 min readNov 12, 2020

I am transitioning with my family to Europe. I am leaving Civana House to establish the next United Planet Lighthouses in Paris and Ibiza. I am sad to leave but excited to arrive! I will miss my San Francisco friends and community but hope to be back relatively often.

Since August 2019, Civana House has endeavoured to be an oasis of hope, a lighthouse for the future and a hub for transformation in San Francisco. In our first six months since I took on the stewardship, we hosted over 3000 people from over 1000 organizations. We hosted dozens of unforgettable dinners — some with up to 90 guests on one dining table. I am deeply grateful for the experience and with 2020 hindsight would unquestionably do it again. Community spaces are an essential part of reimaging our world.

We invited guests to come as their best selves, sharing visions for a thriving future. Many of the hundreds of conversations I had in Civana House focused on solutions around the transformation of society and delivery on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Following this experience, I remain optimistic for the future. Despite present circumstances, I have child-like faith that we get through these times and this will be the Golden Decade. There are millions of us around the world connecting dots and accelerating the solutions already in existence. But more than anything else I learnt that the frontline is the narrative. I believe we need unifying story that raises our ambitions for a thriving #UnitedPlanet.

Civana House has been the birthplace of the United Planet — a movement for the creation of a thriving civilization in harmony with all life. We are gathering the storytellers of a transformed society by 2030. We aim to unite people and places through play. The United Planet (UP) Game turns systemic transformation into a sport by unleashing the collective intelligence of teams to accelerate community solutions for planetary thriving. Our goal is to be a Premier League of transformation. UP teams participate in 2030 civilization prototyping that breaks free of the present-day limitations and raises the bar for our collective imagination and goals. We seek to align capital with solutions sourced through collective intelligence. We’re prototyping a ‘Common Wealth Engine’.

We launched the United Planet on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd 2020 with a festival that reached 40,000 people online with our partnership with Unify. We had 100 speakers and performers including Charles Eisenstein, Jamie Wheel, Janet Stone, Daniel Schmactenberger, Amanda Sage and Gone Gone Beyond. Civana House has been home to many UP Games, Dinner Portals and so much magic.

Civana House provided the perfect prototyping environment for the role of physical places in systems change. Societies that have lasted the test of time have always centered around physical locations such as lodges, temples, safehouses and other such gathering places. A key pillar of the United Planet strategy is the formation of a network lighthouses, temples and embassies that connect transformational communities around the world. The United Planet has an ambitious 2030 goal to establish 10,000 Lighthouses, 1000 Temples and 100 Embassies around the world. Lighthouses will be a network of members (UPers) homes that can be used to host UP Games, dinners and other immersive experiences around the thriving future. Temples will be places of transformation and communion. Embassies will be places that serve the interests of the planet and future generations.

Physical space enables the United Planet to create immersive experiences for UPers to come together to apply collective intelligence for transformative systems change. These spaces form the backbone for multi-stakeholder teams to envision the #UnitedPlanet. We are designing ways to establish deep community and support people realize their purpose and potential. For now, we are still prototyping the vision with Ibiza and Paris being the next stop.

I’ve often described Civana House as a prototype planetary embassy. The history of the house is suitably mythically coherent. The 8000 sq foot historic mansion is built upon of the well of the Ohlone people, making it the oldest gathering place in the Bay Area. The house was then built by William P. Filmer, the Grand Master of the San Francisco Masons and President of the Golden Gate Bridge Project. As I welcomed thousands of guests into our home, I would add to the lore of the birthplace of the Golden Gate Bridge by saying ‘This is an icon of the past, a relic of the future and a portal for the present.’ This functioned as a spell of serendipity as guests began to open themselves more to the magic of what is a portal space. You can really feel the energy of the space. But more important than the space is the people that fill it — the Scenius — the genius is the scene.

The purpose of Civana House was to be a hub for systemic transformation, and I believe we can call this a successful first step. Our clients and partners included Verizon, Adobe, Summit Series, Planet Home, Good People Dinners, SOCAP, Align 17, BMW Foundation, 17 Asset Management, Nexus, Katapult Future Fest, Foresight Institute, Buckminster Fuller Institute, ReHumans, One Project, Voyaj, Ornatista, Nexxworks, Roche, Dreamporting, the Regenerative Village Alliance, Bloom Network, and many more. Our guests were leaders of multinational companies, regenerative communities, foundations, startups and other leaders such as Wyclif Jean DJing at one of the parties we hosted!

But the community highlight was the 100–300 people we gathered each week. I made so many new friends and partners. The role of the house completely changed on Friday 13th March 2020 when the lockdowns were announced. We cancelled all our events and moved everything online. Our family of 8 residents became our Quaranteam. We leaned deeply into our practices which included resident Hunter Cressman teaching us all Vedic meditation. We would meditate together twice a day, work out together, dance together, eat together and generally keep our spirits up. We all saw the value of living in community during the lockdown.

Ultimately, Civana House has been a happy home. She has nourished the hearts and souls of many. It has been an unforgettable 14 months of my life. Saying farewell to her has not been an easy choice but moving back to Europe is the right choice for my family for now. I want to thank everyone that shared their magic to contribute to Civana House — residents, support family, chefs, artists, performers, sponsors, partners, clients and of course our guests. Thank you and see you soon!



Lucian Tarnowski

Founding Curator of United Planet and the UP Game: a time travelling immersive reality game to design a thriving civilisation in harmony with all life. WEF YGL