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Uptown Art Park grand opening this Friday night!

3 Apr

Four years after several Oakland advocates, bloggers, and blog readers saved the space from becoming a surface parking lot, the Uptown Art Park is opening this Friday night! Thanks to hard work by staff in the City’s Public Art Program and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Oaklanders and Uptown visitors will soon be able to enjoy several sculptures by local artists. (Read more about our advocacy for the art park in the many blog posts listed at the bottom of this post.)

Here are the details for the grand opening event:

Uptown Art Park Grand Opening!

What: Nine Sculpture Art Pieces by Local Artists, Music, Tours, Food Trucks

Where:  Telegraph & 19th Street

When: Friday, April 5th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Facebook Event:

Get There: 19th Street BART Station or Free Broadway Shuttle… or bike there from West Oakland with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bikes4Life: Riders of all ages gather at 5:30pm at Bikes4Life, 1600 7th Street @ Willow in West Oakland (take BART to the West Oakland station) for 1.5 mile ride to the event. Free bike lights courtesy of the City of Oakland (limited supply –arrive by 5:30pm). Bike valet parking provided by Richmond Spokes.

Continue reading

Uptown art park to open this fall, City puts out call for art

7 Sep

Throughout my blogging hiatus this year, I’ve many times been tempted to blog about things happening in Oakland (particularly upcoming decisions at the Planning Commission and City Council). I’ve stopped myself because I just don’t have the time to start blogging again while I’m campaigning for BART Board and maintaining my full-time job. But I came across news on Facebook yesterday that was far too exciting not to share, since this blog, other Oakland blogs, and dozens of blog readers made this news possible.

The Uptown lot that we saved from becoming a parking lot back in 2009 is finally becoming a public arts space!

I know, I know, I’ve shared this news a couple of times here already. Unfortunately there were major delays due to funding issues after the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. But now it really is happening. And by now I mean that construction should start this month, and if construction stays on schedule, the art could be installed as early as mid-late October.

The City of Oakland Public Art Program has put out a call for art, with applications due on September 18th. With such a short timeline for submission, acceptance, and installation, they’re currently looking for existing artwork, to be displayed for 6-12 months. After that, they might commission some new artwork. From the call for art: Continue reading

Honoring Sanjiv Handa & Ron Bishop through civic engagement

28 Dec

Updated with memorial service information for Sanjiv and Ron at the bottom of this post.

Yesterday I found out that Sanjiv Handa had passed away from this tweet from Chronicle reporter Matthai Kuruvila:

Larry Reid just told me that Sanjiv Handa, a fixture at Oakland Council meetings, passed away. Don’t know much more. #oakmtg

I was in complete shock for several minutes. I had heard that Sanjiv had looked sick at last week’s Council meeting, but I had a hard time grasping that he was gone. I had an even harder time imagining what City Council and other meetings would be like without him.

I was equally saddened and shocked a few weeks ago when I found out that Oakland bicycle advocate Ron Bishop had died. I hadn’t seen him at Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meetings for a few months, which – now that I’m looking back – should have alerted me that something was wrong, as he had been a founding member of the BPAC, was chair for many years, and rarely missed a meeting. But reading the news on Facebook surprised me and brought tears to my eyes.

Oakland is so lucky to have benefited from the watch-dogging and advocacy of these two men. I could write pages about each of them, but I won’t, since others have already done that. I highly recommend reading Dave Campbell’s blog post about Ron Bishop on the East Bay Bicycle Coalition website. For more on Sanjiv Handa, read this 2006 East Bay Express in depth piece about him.

And if you’ve never seen Sanjiv in action at a Council meeting (though I have a hard time believing that’s possible), watch this video of him speaking for 8+ minutes at a Council meeting last year: Continue reading

Joyce Roy: Senate Public Hearing on Regional Governance in SF this Thursday

6 Dec

This guest post was written by Joyce Roy. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures.  She is an active member of ULTRA.

This is for those of you who were disturbed by the recent decision of MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to leave the headquarters they share with ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) and use Bridge toll funds for real estate speculation by purchasing a too-big warehouse in a transit-challenged location. It was not just in itself an unwise, and possibly, illegal action, but a loud and clear symptom of the Bay Area’s transportation/land-use disconnect due to the difficulty of comprehensive planning without regional governance which would combine the functions of MTC, ABAG, the Air District and BCDC.

Here is your chance to have your concerns heard by our State Senate:

Senate Transportation & Housing Informational Hearing-
SUBJECT: Regional Governance and Bay Area Economic Development

December 8, 2011
10:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Legislative Chamber of San Francisco City Hall, Room 250

You can be assured that your comments will be given serious attention because the Chair of the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, Mark DeSaulnier, has served on MTC, ABAG, and the Air District so he understands the dysfunctional separation of those regional agencies. Continue reading

Seeing past the facade of equality: My experience at Friday’s Occupy Oakland General Assembly

21 Nov

Over the past few days, I’ve been attempting to process what happened on Friday at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. In my head I wrote and re-wrote parts of this blog post throughout the weekend. But before I began typing on yesterday’s cold, rainy afternoon, I decided to reread the blog post I wrote just two and a half weeks ago (it’s baffling to me that so little time has elapsed yet so much has happened) about my transformation from an Occupy Oakland spectator to a participant. I ended that blog post with the following paragraphs:

At this point I’m satisfied with participating in ways that make sense to me, like helping with media, donating books to the library, and tweeting as much as I can about what’s happening.

Because that’s the beauty of the Occupy movement. Everyone can participate in their own way, and that might not even involve coming to Frank Ogawa Plaza or taking off work for the general strike.

Up until Friday, I was still satisfied with the way I was participating in Occupy Oakland and thought that my participation and the participation of others like me who supported OO but did not camp was thoroughly appreciated by the folks who were camping. I felt that Occupy Oakland was a very open space, and that anybody could participate at any level they wanted to and that was accepted. Whether you had been to ten General Assemblies or one, you had the same vote. Whether you camped with OO every night or only showed up for the GAs, you still were allowed to speak on any proposal (or even submit a proposal).

On Friday I found out that while all of that still technically is true, in practice many people camping at OO did not see me and other supporters as equals. Even worse, a very small group of occupiers had a huge amount of control over the decision-making process and, at least on Friday night, used this power to attempt to manipulate people.  Continue reading

Occupy Oakland plans to occupy lot and park at 19th & Telegraph… unless the vote is rescinded

18 Nov

UPDATE: The facilitation committee has put this proposal on tonight’s GA agenda as the first item. This proposal has been merged with another proposal – see the new proposal below.

On Wednesday, for the first time in weeks, I decided to take a full afternoon and evening off from Occupy Oakland and Twitter. I had left work early – the cold that had been trying to catch up to me for weeks finally caught me – and I thought I could use some rest. When I finally logged into Twitter later that evening, I found out that the Occupy Oakland General Assembly had voted to occupy the lot at 19th and Telegraph and the adjacent park.

At first I was upset because of all the work I and many others have put into that space, to save it from becoming  a parking lot. (You can read a quick synopsis of that story here or check out the many blog posts about it linked to at the bottom of this post.) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the wrong space to occupy for many reasons. And it became clear to me, from the General Assembly minutes and from the proposal text, that the people voting on this proposal might not have understood the full context of the space they voted to occupy.

I tweeted a bunch on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and saw that many people agreed with my perspective. So last night I drafted a proposal to rescind the vote and worked with several other people to refine the proposal. A few of those people signed on and we’ve submitted it to be heard at tonight’s General Assembly. Continue reading

Oakland General Strike: Support local, independent businesses

2 Nov

Before heading to downtown for the general strike, I wanted to put up this quick blog post urging folks to support the small businesses downtown – both those that are closed today and those that are open. Some businesses downtown have been hurting for the past couple of weeks, either because of the occupation or because of the heavy police presence in Frank Ogawa Plaza last week. Sadly, a few businesses have had their windows broken by protesters.

Some are urging folks to buy nothing today. I don’t support that message. Instead, I urge you to buy locally and to spend money at the downtown businesses that have been most effected by Occupy Oakland and the police response. Continue reading

From spectator to participant: How the last week changed my relationship with Occupy Oakland

1 Nov

When Occupy Oakland first started, I was skeptical and frankly unimpressed. I stopped by the rally on that first Monday at 4pm and was underwhelmed by the turnout. At most, a couple hundred people were there. The rally took place on the corner of 14th and Broadway and the sound system (or maybe just a bullhorn) wasn’t loud enough and it was difficult to hear. I chatted with some friends I ran into and went back to work.

Day by day tents went up in Frank Ogawa Plaza and I became much less underwhelmed, especially once infrastructure was developed. The occupiers organized a communal kitchen, library, schedule of events, and of course port-o-potties. I work in Frank Ogawa Plaza so passed the encampment every day, often multiple times per day. I appreciated that it was mostly quiet during the day and amplified sound never started until 4 or 5pm. At night I felt safer walking around in the area, as there were tons of people around. I developed an admiration for the occupation and defended the occupiers to friends who were frightened and annoyed by the encampment.

Yet I was still skeptical. I expressed to many that while I thought the Occupy movement was doing a great job changing the dialogue in our country, it wasn’t a movement I could participate in because I didn’t understand the end game. I’ve taken part in much advocacy and several movements, and I’ve always had a clear goal in mind (even if it was a goal I knew wouldn’t be attained for many years, like stopping the federal attacks on medical marijuana – a goal I chipped away at for nearly a decade and which still hasn’t been met). Continue reading

Nathan Stalnaker: Moving Oakland Forward

27 Oct

This guest post was written by Nathan Stalnaker, who spends the day organizing in West Oakland and serves on the Board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is an elected at-large member of the East Bay Young Democrats.

The City of Oakland suffers from gridlock and a fiscal crisis that just won’t quit.  Even so, again and again, the same characters are repeatedly elected to the same positions.  Our system is broken.  Our local races are anti-competitive.  New people enter the races and win only when an incumbent steps down.  It begins to seem that to become an elected official in Oakland, you already have to be or have been an elected official or spend your time currying favor with those already in office.

A Catch-22?   Sure.  Could an initiative calling for term limits for City Council stir things up sufficiently enough to get fresh policy thinking in City Hall?   Absolutely.  Read the petition yourself.  To balance experience and fresh ideas, the petition was crafted with a three-term (12 year) lifetime limit. Continue reading

Occupy Oakland raided & dismantled by police this morning

25 Oct

I know, I know – I promised yesterday that today I’d publish my endorsements for the November Oakland ballot measures. But when I turned on my computer this morning I was met with several press releases about the Occupy Oakland early morning raid and hundreds of #OccupyOakland tweets. I got a bit wrapped up in what’s happening so my endorsements will have to wait until tomorrow, though you can join in the discussion in the election open thread.

I wasn’t there this morning, so I don’t have much to say about what happened at this point, but plenty has been written about the raid and I’ve gathered some of that coverage below. I’ll add links throughout the day week so if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below. And if you took any photos that you’d like to share, please email them to me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com and I’ll post them here. Continue reading