Living in the O’s Fifth Birthday

8 Jun Sunset City Hall Federal Building

Though Living in the O is on hiatus, I couldn’t let my blog’s birthday pass without acknowledging it here. I’ve really wanted to write lately. It’s taken self-restraint to not write about the June election, so many fantastic restaurants and other businesses opening, and most of all, everything I’m learning about BART and the East Bay through my campaign. I haven’t blogged because I’ve needed to focus on campaigning to be elected to the BART Board.

But today I felt compelled to write because writing this blog and building a community around Oakland blogs is part of why I’m running for office.

Five years ago, many things rapidly changed in my life. Over a span of three or four months, my sister (who I’m very close with) and my two best friends moved away from the Bay Area. And right after that, my girlfriend (now wife) was diagnosed with a major health issue. To say it was a tough year would be an understatement.

I needed something positive to focus on outside of work, so I decided to start blogging, but I couldn’t have imagined how much blogging would change my life for the better. Continue reading

Will Lowry: Don’t leave apartments out of Oakland Zero Waste plan

30 May compost

This guest post was written by Will Lowry, who was born in San Francisco, where he lives with his family. Will has worked in Oakland’s public schools and currently does online communication for the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter. He considers it part of his online mission to encourage you to leave your computer off, and to go outside.

Oakland is designing a new “Zero Waste” collection system to be implemented in 2015, which will last for 10 years or more. The proposal has many excellent points, but it still needs an essential improvement.

Under the current proposal, single-family residences would continue to put out separate carts for recyclables, compostables, and garbage. Multifamily buildings, however, would receive pick-ups just for recycling and garbage, with compostables mixed in the garbage. This mixed garbage would be processed at a mixed-materials processing facility, which would try to sort out the compostables (organic matter) from the items going to landfill.

This distinction between residential and multi-family buildings is wrong — both for the environment and for the people. Compost derived from mixed garbage is contaminated (sometimes by hazardous waste in the dumpsters), and can’t be used for farms and food crops. Further, treating apartment-dwellers as second-class residents, unable to learn to distinguish between compostables and trash, is insulting to them, and leaves them out of the city’s efforts to achieve Zero Waste. Continue reading

Ratna Amin: Open Data is SO Oakland

27 Apr oakland_crimespotting

This guest post was written by Ratna Amin  (@ratnaamin), an urban planner, former Oakland City Council staffer, and Government 2.0 explorer. She is organizing OakX (@Oak_X) – a collaborative effort to grow civic innovation (email: oakXinfo [at] gmail.com).

Should the City’s data be free? The Oakland City Council will decide this Monday night on an Open Data Resolution, which would liberate City data from paper and PDF and make it readable by civic web sites and smartphone apps. The resolution, first proposed by Council Member Libby Schaaf, has been watered down and delayed – yet Open Data is the key to unlocking incredible assets.

What is Open Data? It is government sharing data with the outside world, in a format that computers can read. Anyone can use that data to inform citizens, engage communities, and help government do its work. Open data is typically used on web sites or smartphone apps. What kinds of government data? All kinds: public facility locations, job listings, crime data, meeting schedules, street sweeping schedules, test scores, transit schedules, wastewater data, anything.

Earlier this month, at the 55-country Open Government Partnership meeting in Brazil, Hillary Clinton stated that she and President Obama “believe that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies will increasingly flourish. They will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.” Oakland should comprehensively embrace open data, a City with a legacy of supporting citizen participation and openness. A few other reasons open data should thrive here:

Continue reading

I’m running for BART Board

21 Mar Logo for Facebook cover

Two months ago I abandoned this blog, and I apologize for that. Soon after BART Director Bob Franklin announced that he would not seek reelection and would instead run for Oakland City Council, I decided to run for the open District 3 BART seat. The campaign has taken up the vast majority of free time in my life, including the time in the early mornings and late evenings that I used to dedicate to blogging.

As has happened in the past when I got busy, I optimistically thought I’d find some time to write a blog post here and there, but clearly that has not happened. So today I wanted to let Living in the O readers know that I’m taking a blogging hiatus, and I of course wanted to share the news that I’m running for BART Board. Continue reading

Two great Oakland parties for two great causes

13 Jan Emerge Logo

In the next few days there are two fundraising events happening in Uptown for causes that I care deeply about. I hope you’ll consider joining me at one or both of these events.

Emerge California East Bay Reception
Saturday, January 14th from 6:30-8:30pm at Make Westing

I wrote about Emerge California when I graduated from the 2011 class back in June. Emerge California is the premier training program for Democratic women who want to run for office. The goal of Emerge is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office.

I learned so much through the seven month training program and met some amazing women leaders from throughout the Bay Area. I want to do everything I can to make sure women – particularly Oakland women – have the same opportunity as I did, which is why I’m on the host committee for this Saturday’s East Bay reception. Continue reading

Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Cafes

2 Jan Farley's Tiles

Several weeks ago I promised to restart my Rediscovering Downtown Oakland series and asked for suggestions on what categories to cover. I’m starting off with Cathy’s request: “how about coffeeshops? with room to sit in?” I was a bit surprised, looking back at my 2009 series, that I had not covered cafes, especially since there are several fantastic places to sip coffee and tea downtown. It seemed like an appropriate place to start, since as many of us return from vacations to work this week we might need or benefit from some extra caffeine.

Here are a few of my favorites. (Note that besides being great cafes to enjoy with friends or colleagues, all of these places also offer free wi-fi so they’re great places to work too.) Continue reading

A cheap, car-free New Year’s Eve in downtown Oakland

30 Dec Broadway Shuttle Map

New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite nights to go out. Clubs and events are absurdly overpriced. Everywhere is at least twice as crowded as usual. It’s close to impossible to catch a cab. So many years I stay home or do something low-key with some friends.

But this year my wife and I decided we wanted to go out and when I found out that the Free Broadway Shuttle would be running its usual Saturday night schedule of 6pm-1am, I realized we could bar hop around downtown Oakland. Getting around will be super easy (and free), and if any of the places we go to are too crowded, we can move on.

I researched free or cheap bars and clubs in downtown and put together this list, which I figured I’d share here. Continue reading

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