A Neighborhood Romance
Joe Gratz and Dinah Sanders
Members since 2013
Intellectual property attorney Joe Gratz and writer Dinah Sanders credit SFJAZZ for a lot of good things.
These include playing a small but important role in bringing them together, for making their Hayes Valley neighborhood a better place to live, and for opening them up to musical discoveries and experiences.
Author of the books “The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level” and “Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff,” Dinah says, “We started out as SFJAZZ members because it made sense: We were going to buy a lot of tickets because the season was exciting and there was a discount – or, something like that. We’d bought season tickets for other things before – but making that commitment and going to all those shows brought jazz much more into our lives.”
Going to concerts comes back to this principle of experiences being something you treasure more than objects.
It was 12 years ago when the two met for the first time at a friend’s party. The young avid concertgoers had divergent musical tastes, ranging from Dinah’s “weird British folk” to Joe’s love of indie rock.
But, says Joe, “Jazz was the overlap between the kind of music we listened to at the time we met.”
Early on in their relationship, the couple found themselves going out to see Anat Cohen with guitarist Gilad Hekselman at the Legion of Honor, a concert presented by SFJAZZ.
“It was the first serious jazz show that we had gone to together,” remembers Dinah.
As time marched on, they went to more shows presented by SFJAZZ. In harmony with her philosophy of “more life, less stuff,” Dinah says, “going to concerts comes back to this principle of experiences being something you treasure more than objects. We get experiences that are richer than just spending the money on stuff you’ll want to get rid of in a year..”
So, when the Center broke ground in their own neighborhood in 2013, they were excited.
“We live four blocks from the corner of Franklin and Fell. When the Center got built, we started going to a whole lot of things and very quickly became members, and pretty quickly after that, joined Leaders Circle.”
Joe and Dinah in the San Francisco Hayes Valley Neighborhood
So why, exactly, did they make the decision to become Leaders Circle members?
“For us,” says Joe, “there’s three parts to it.”
One, was wanting to support the education and community programs. “Every week in the evenings, we walk by the Joe Henderson Lab and see the Monday Night Band [SFJAZZ’s non-professional community ensemble] or the High School All-Stars rehearsing. That’s great to see, and it’s something we want to help out with. I used to work in the arts, and I know that ticket sales don’t fully support everything, especially education and community outreach efforts.”
Another part was purely self-interest. “We really like seats F1 & F3 a lot,” says Joe as Dinah laughs. “We go to a lot of shows and being able to have an advance shot at the whole season and grabbing a raft of tickets is a big benefit.”
The third is meeting others who are committed to the same institution. “Getting to know other [SFJAZZ] members at the shows and through the Leader’s Circle Lounges and other events has been really great.”
And for Joe and Dinah, going to more shows means more opportunities to de-stress and unplug.
“What SFJAZZ provides for me,” says Joe, “is a way to scope down and focus with a bunch of other people on having an experience together and being brought someplace by these artists. It's having the chance to step outside of your regular life …”
Dinah finishes his sentence: “… without thinking about something you did before or about what you’re going to do next; it grounds you very firmly in the present moment with the present people.”
But perhaps most important, being Leaders Circle members continues to expand the musical common ground they both share.
“We listen to jazz at home almost every single day now,” says Dinah.
“Joe subscribes to ‘Downbeat’ now and listens to every new artist. Bringing jazz into our daily life is one of the biggest, most transformative things that SFJAZZ has done for us—and being members was the line where that happened.”
This article is part the SFJAZZ Leaders Circle stories. The Leaders Circle is SFJAZZ’s premier philanthropic group of individuals who believe in the transformative power of the arts.