The Blogoaksphere in 2009: New Blogs

30 Dec

Over the next few days, I’m going to be writing a series of posts on the blogoaksphere in 2009, both looking back on this year and looking forward to 2010. For the first post in this series, I wanted to highlight eleven new Oakland blogs that were started in 2009 and are still going strong. It’s been very exciting and eye-opening to put this post together. You might remember a post that V Smoothe wrote about a year ago listing and describing all the Oakland bloggers, and it’s great to see that most of these blogs are still around and so many new blogs have joined the blogoaksphere.

Here are several blogs I found, listed in order of when they were started. If you’re not already following these blogs, I recommend checking them out, as I’m sure they’ll continue to post thought-provoking and informative material in 2010. (Note: I didn’t include organizational blogs or websites that have blogs but are not primarily blogs.)

Oaklander Online (12/14/08): I’m cheating a bit by including this one, but I thought it made sense, since it started at the very end of last year and developed mostly through 2009. This blog has covered all sorts of issues, including local shopping, restaurant reviews, and Glenview neighborhood updates, but where the blog has really shined is in its history posts. There were a couple of posts on the Parkway, including some incredible photos from its early past and some more general Glenview and Oakland history posts with equally impressive historical photos. Oaklander Online even dug up a reaction to the installation of parking meters in Glenview in 1979. If you’re looking for Oakland history and Glenview neighborhood updates, this is the place to go.

Fragmentary Evidence (1/1/09): If this was a competition, I would easily pick Fragmentary Evidence as the best new Oakland blog of 2009. Since its start, this blog has always been thoughtful, insightful, and filled with gorgeous and sometimes unexpected photos of Oakland. As a bonus, it’s written by an avid bicyclist who sees the importance of alternative means of transportation and how the needs of transit users have often been sidelined in Oakland by car drivers and automobile-centric planning. One of my favorite posts dc wrote this year was “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Parker Scorned,” about this summer’s parking rebellion, though whether you agree with dc’s pro-bike and alternative transportation leanings or not, you’re sure to find something to enjoy on his blog.

Our Oakland (1/13/09): If you’ve ever read Our Oakland, the first thing you probably think of is Gene’s incredible focus on Oakland signs. He’s photographed dozens of neon and other interesting signs throughout the city and catalogued them on this pretty astounding Google map. But there’s more than just signs at Our Oakland, including urban farming, restaurant and festival reviews, neighborhood musings, and a little bit of nearly everything else. One of the things I appreciate most about Our Oakland is that Gene covers geographical locations that are spread throughout East, West, North, and central Oakland so no matter where you live, chances are he’s written something about your part of town.

Defending Measure Y (2/14/09): I have to admit that I didn’t start reading this blog until a few months ago, but I’m glad that I finally did. Written by Marleen Lee, who sued Oakland over its failure to fully implement Measure Y, this blog provides a fascinating look into the details of Measure Y and its implementation. Whether you’re interested in public safety, legal issues, or just want to read about how the City functions (or fails to function), this blog is worth checking out.

Rebuilding Oaktown (2/26/09): This blog is written by Ken O, an Uptown resident who runs a pedi-cab and advocates for better urban planning in Uptown. Rebuilding Oaktown covers all sorts of topics, ranging from positive musings about Uptown’s cultural offerings, to complaints about how the city is run. While I don’t always agree with Ken’s ideas, I appreciate his creativity and willingness to propose new ideas, like his proposal to grow hemp in the empty uptown parking lot.

21st Century Urban Solutions (3/31/09): This blog isn’t just about Oakland, but since its author, Daniel Jacobson, has covered so many Oakland transportation and planning issues this year, I thought it was worth including. Particularly, Daniel did an excellent job covering the Oakland Airport Connector debacle, explaining the problems with the project and providing alternative solutions. Daniel also wrote about other Oakland issues, including Oakland’s hotel policy and surface parking in downtown Oakland. Even when he’s writing about other cities, Daniel’s posts often provide a framework for comparison with Oakland. Particularly, his series on urbanism in Colorado was inspiring and provided lots of great ideas that Oakland should investigate and implement.

Sweeeeet Oakland (7/25/09): Written by Graham Patterson, who moved to Oakland early this year, Sweeeeet Oakland focuses on the lighter side of Oakland, covering arts, events, food, and once in a while treads into the heavier areas of politics and policies. Graham’s blog is a great supplement to the O-Scene for finding out about fun stuff going on in Oakland so if you’re looking for entertainment, check this blog out.

In Oakland (8/19/09): Blogoaksphere veterans V Smoothe and dto510 began blogging this summer at In Oakland, one of the Chronicle’s new local blogs. Though their posts at In Oakland are not nearly as in-depth as their writing at A Better Oakland and Future Oakland, this blog is a great place to get quick updates on breaking Oakland news and events. So check it out and consider writing some comments there to balance out the incredibly anti-Oakland bias of Chronicle commenters.

Oaktown Art (8/31/09): One of the things I’ve been meaning to do since I started my blog was to go around Oakland and snap photos of all the public art and write a series about it. Thankfully, I no longer have to feel guilty about not following through with this project because Oaktown Art has done exactly that and more. Whether you like gallery art, murals, Christmas decorations, graffiti, or just about any kind of art you can imagine, Oaktown Art is the place to see photos of all the art that can be found in Oakland.

OakSnap (10/27/09): OakSnap is a game within a blog, where photos of various places in Oakland are posted and you’re supposed to guess where they were taken. Whether you want to see how you fare at this game or you just want to see more Oakland art, OakSnap is worth checking out.

Back to Oakland (11/6/09): The newest blog in the blogoaksphere is Back to Oakland, a super sweet blog about a journey of a couple moving back to Oakland from the Midwest. I found out about Back to Oakland via its participation in the Bloaksphere Holiday Food Drive and have been captivated ever since. It’s refreshing to read positive stories about Oakland’s natural beauty, excellent food, and diverse community from someone who’s not jaded in the least. If you’re ever feeling down on Oakland, head over to Back to Oakland for a reminder of why this city, even with its myriad of problems, is still the best place to be.

Check back tomorrow for the next post in this series about the biggest blogoaksphere stories of 2009.

17 Responses to “The Blogoaksphere in 2009: New Blogs”

  1. Gene December 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    Thanks for the link love, and thanks for the list! There were a couple I didn’t know about, so I’ve added them to my blogroll on Our Oakland.

  2. susan mernit December 30, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    Becks, you missed including Oakland Local,which launched October 19th, 2009.

    • Leslie December 31, 2009 at 10:10 am #

      Maybe she left Oakland Local off the list because Oakland Local sucks and theres no reason for anyone to read it.

    • Daniel Schulman December 31, 2009 at 10:27 am #

      While I certainly don’t claim to speak for Becks, maybe it was omitted because your posts are frequently self-serving and disrespectful of others. Just today my RSS reader contained this gem of a quote from you on the Oakland Local feed–

      “I’d always thought many people in Oakland lacked a media outlet—blog or news site—that reflected who they were and what they cared about.”

      In fact, I found that whole post rather disgusting when you claim the “impetus” for starting your site was the death of Oscar Grant. How does that make any sense when as you claim above you launched on Oct 19th (and planned for months before) and Oscar Grant was killed on New Year’s Day?

    • Becks December 31, 2009 at 11:48 am #

      The reason I intentionally did not include Oakland Local is because I don’t see it as a blog. It’s a news site that has some blogging incorporated, but it’s a different model than the blogs listed in this post. That’s why I incorporated the note above that explained I wasn’t including sites with blogs that weren’t solely blogs.

      Susan – I’m curious whether you think of Oakland Local as a blog. Because it’s not described that way on the site.

      • susan mernit December 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

        Becks, I thought that might be the reason. I think of us as a site that uses blogging as a key component, but I agree it’s possible to consider us in a different category since we have both reported stories and blog posts. Thanks for qualifying; I enjoyed the list.

  3. mark December 31, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    Thanks for the kind words about the journal of our new adventure here in Oakland. And I am so making that ginger soup for which you shared the recipe. Not only do I need the boost, it sound delicious. Thanks, and feel better.

    • Becks December 31, 2009 at 11:49 am #

      I’m glad you like the recipe and I’d love to hear how it turns out. Welcome to Oakland!

  4. susan mernit December 31, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Daniel, if you read the piece you would see it was about being moved to start the site in part because of Grant’s death. That was Jan 09. The site did not launch until October 2009.

    I am not going to address the ugly tone, use of the word disgusting and anger you present because it is so atypical of everyone else I have met through blogging in Oakland, especially Becjks, who works so hard to share information she considers valuable and does a service for so many.

    • Daniel Schulman December 31, 2009 at 12:26 pm #


      I do apologize for bringing up your Oscar Grant comments. Maybe you are not being self-serving and truly did have some type of epiphany. It is not my place to question the spirituality of others. Further, if anywhere, I should have added my comments on your post instead of here (apologies to Becks) – I just don’t like using censored comments systems.

      My comments on your use of Oscar Grant also seem to deflect from my main reason for commenting. You say I am being ugly, but I think I’m trying to be helpful. You do not seem to understand that the Oakland Local creation story that keep telling over and over which boils down to — a) Oakland deserves local news and commentary; b) all pre-Oakland Local news sources and commenters do a crap job; c) Susan Mernit saves the day — might be somewhat disrespectful to existing commenters and news sources.

      I seem to even remember prior to the launch of your site you doing some type of report card where existing bloggers all got really bad grades. Well, I among many, really like some of those other blogs that you pooh pooh all the time.

      BTW – you seem to imply that we’ve met. I don’t think that is actually the case – have you been to any of the Oakland Blogosphere gatherings? Or, maybe did we meet down at City Hall? Or, some other community meeting?

  5. A Rockridge Life December 31, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    Great list!

    While my blog bears the name of the Oakland neighborhood where I live, I think it would be unfair to consider it an “Oakland blog.” It isn’t very locally focused, though in its beginnings it featured a lot of writing about being a public educator in the Bay Area.

    I’m writing because I want to draw your readers’ attention to Oakland North, that, while not a blog, is an online news site that is very locally focused.

    I myself have reservations about the model (a generous Ford Foundation grant to the UC Berkeley School of Journalism that funds the operation of the site and ones like it, but does not pay its journalists). That said I think the site is diverse and well edited.

    Happy New Year. I hope for all the best for Oakland in 2010. We need it.

  6. oaklandhappenings January 1, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    Becks, I don’t recall a listing of OaklandSeen on your list,
    if it falls under your criteria. Regardless,
    it is described as a “weekly radio show and blog all about Oakland…”
    and has a wonderful Facebook® page to go along with its website.
    Pardon my sounding promoting, but it is worth a first look for anyone not familiar with it.

    • Becks January 1, 2010 at 11:12 am #

      I know about the radio show but had assumed the blog hadn’t launched yet, since I’ve been unable to find it. Have you seen their blog? If so, can you direct me to it?

  7. oaklandhappenings January 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    sorry, have not, but can contact the individual who started OS to find out what’s up.

  8. studiodeb333 January 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Hi Becks… I’m pretty new to this blogging stuff and really appreciate your shout-out, as well as the comprehensive list of all the folks out there doing great work… I’d found a bunch of these on my own, but you highlighted many I hadn’t yet heard of. Thank you. I’m also curious about the Oakland blogosphere gatherings you mention above. Could you provide more info?? Thanks, OaktownArt

    • Becks January 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

      Welcome – your blog is awesome and a great addition to the blogoaksphere!

      dto510, V Smoothe, and I have hosted a few informal gatherings for bloggers and blog commenters at Oakland bars. They’ve been invite only in the past, mostly because we had small spaces. But we’re going to host a larger one this year that will be posted widely. Beyond that though, I’m thinking about some ways to set up better, more regular communication and gatherings for Oakland bloggers and the blogging community and I’ll be writing about these ideas later this week.

  9. Dave C. January 3, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks, Becks! The number of high-quality Oakland blogs these days is making it hard to keep up with them all. That’s a far cry from when I started reading local blogs just a couple of years ago, and there were only a few of you who posted with any regularity.

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